The Federal Communications Commission's upcoming vote on whether to repeal net neutrality regulations will likely have an outsized effect on rural America, Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reports for The Progressive Farmer: "The neutrality debate pits major internet providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Mediacom -- just to name a few -- against a growing industry of internet content providers such as Google, Facebook, Netflix and Amazon Prime. Caught in between are rural residents who lag behind urban residents in quality internet service, but also have growing demands for internet content."
Net neutrality rules guarantee that internet service providers must make all content available at the same speed. Without net neutrality, ISPs can throttle or eliminate access to some websites' content, creating a virtual "fast lane" where companies who pay up can get better access, and small businesses could languish. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, insists that deregulating the industry will spur greater innovation and benefit rural America. Click here for a good explanation of the issue.
The FCC has solicited public comments on the proposal since May. About 800,000 comments opposing net neutrality, out of the 22 million total comments, may have been faked. The FCC has ignored Freedom of Information Act requests for records, causing Democratic senators Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Frank Pallone of New Jersey to call for an investigation.