By Shannon Rapose
Kern Valley Sun
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-to-2 last Thursday, Dec. 14, to repeal landmark net neutrality regulations and now many internet users are concerned about what affect this may have on their online experiences.
Mediacom, one of the many telecommunications company operating in the Kern River Valley, claims no major changes will be made that will affect its customers after the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality.
Mediacom Communications Director Phyllis Peters stated that she believes the proposed change in the way the internet is regulated wouldn’t be necessarily a negative one.
Despite criticism that the move to ease net neutrality regulations could allow corporations to block or throttle internet traffic at their discretion, Peters said she doesn’t believe it will be the end of the internet as we know it.
“We have never blocked, throttled, slowed down or prioritized internet traffic,” Peters said. “We will never do that. So, we don’t believe that there is anything that our customers should be concerned or worried about with this change.”
Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, has said that he believes the abolition of the net neutrality rules will eventually help consumers because broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could offer people a wider variety of service options in the competitive market.
“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Pai told the New York Times before the vote. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”
Pai also stated that investment slowed down under net neutrality and claimed companies spent $3.6 billion less, or 5 percent, during the last two years. It is believed that several rural areas still haven’t seen broadband speeds because of reduced investment.
Innovation was also stunted, Pai claimed. Before 2015, wireless networks had free-data plans available that encouraged consumers to use certain apps and it wouldn’t count towards their data limit. However, that was abolished under the net neutrality Title II regulations.
Net neutrality advocates argue that discouraging free-data plans is a good thing because all data should be treated equally. Other claims by net neutrality advocates state that if Title II is repealed in favor of Title I, Internet Services Providers (ISPs) could sell services in packages rather than full access, like many telecommunication companies in other countries that do not have net neutrality regulations.
In Portugal, the telecom MEO offers a base price for internet service, but then consumers must purchase add-ons or bundles in order to use popular internet sites and apps, such as Facebook and Netflix.
Peters stated that Mediacom won’t resort to that practice here in the United States and much of that talk is speculation.
“Since 2015, the way the changes in the regulatory regimen is very one-sided for the internet service providers, not for the companies whose traffic flows through our networks,” said Peters. “If you want true neutrality, you have to have the regulations apply on both sides.”