Today, I received this response to my letter.
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2015 Open Internet Order. I appreciate your thoughts on this issue and welcome the opportunity to respond.
For the last 20 years, there has been bipartisan consensus favoring free and open Internet policies, with the FCC working together with both Democrats and Republicans as an independent agency. On November 10, 2014, former President Obama issued a statement urging the FCC to develop and implement stringent restrictions and regulations on broadband Internet. On February 26, 2015, in an unprecedented response, the FCC voted in favor of regulating the Internet by reclassifying broadband service as a utility. In doing so, the FCC granted itself the authority to impose new rules advocated by the President to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act.
These actions are an example of executive overreach. In this case, the FCC, which is an independent agency that is required by law to develop policies in accordance with laws passed by Congress versus taking directives from the White House, nevertheless issued an order that appeared more driven by a White House directive than the law. On January 23, 2016, President Trump designated Ajit Pai as the 34th Chairman of the FCC. As a Commissioner under Chairman Wheeler, Pai was an avid opponent of regulating the Internet. On April 26, 2017, Chairman Pai announced his intention to roll back the previous order on net neutrality. On May 18, 2017, the FCC voted to propose an order that would end the regulations established by the 2015 Open Internet Order.
I believe keeping the Internet affordable and accessible to all consumers is an essential principle in Internet governance. I also support Chairman Pai taking the proper, lawful approach to determine which policies and regulations will best enable the Internet to remain open and accessible to all Americans while still allowing for continued innovation. I look forward to working with Chairman Pai and the other FCC Commissioners on these issues, and will be sure to keep your comments in mind.
So I decided to send my own non-form response back to him. If you are one of the 750,000 people that call Alaska home, this is an important debate being raged right now that will affect the future of this state.
I appreciate your response. Unfortunately, you’ve confused regulation of the status quo vs. regulation of new rules. As it stands, regulating the broadband carriers as a utility is correct. This is no different than what they are doing currently.
Allowing deep packet inspection specifically for QoS (Quality of Service) is what Ajit Pai is considering by not regulating the cable companies as utilities. By repealing Title II, cable companies will begin Quality of Service inspection on traffic. This is, on its face, not a horrible idea. Many home networks can be set up to do the same. The issue comes with pricing and availability power. When you control the internet at home, you can theoretically charge your family more to watch Netflix than go on Facebook (or decide to block Facebook without Facebook even having a say in the matter). You can believe that GCI (or Comcast in the Lower 48) will immediately do the same if given the ability.
This is what the cable companies will do and have stated they wish to begin doing. Under the guise of “fairness”, they will begin separating the internet into the “fast lane” and the “slow lane”, aka, QoS traffic inspection. This preferential treatment of traffic, once initiated, will be the demise of Internet-based innovation in the US.
Your vote for the current plan put forth by the FCC will literally kill US entrepreneurship on the Internet and immediately impact the economic viability and upward mobility of many remote Alaskan areas and citizens. Your vote for the FCC’s plan will ensure that remote Alaskan areas are permanently stuck behind their peers in the Lower 48.
Why you ask? “I thought this was all about stopping regulation,” you may say.
Because the individual in Homer, AK could have sold their crafts in their own online store and launched a business. But, instead, because they don’t pay for the “fast lane” experience, their website will load slower. This means their consumers will gravitate towards larger hubs, like Etsy, that can afford to pay the “fast lane” price for their site to load quickly. Don’t believe me? Try waiting more than 10 seconds for *anything*on the internet these days and I can tell you that you are mentally thinking “I should refresh this page…it isn’t working”.
Now, let’s talk consumers. Allowing QoS traffic inspection, which is what the FCC is not explicitly prohibiting, will make the internet access read like this:
- Social Internet: $15/mo
- Business Internet: $20/mo
- Unlimited Internet: $80/mo
Great! We’ve lowered prices for people that only use Facebook and their email. Except that is killing traffic to small businesses and ensuring that monopolistic businesses thrive, because the user can’t go anywhere else. Why is that bad? Think about the websites you may access that aren’t on Facebook — your retirement account, your child’s school website, your favorite charity’s information, the local dinner theater’s show times.
Sound crazy? If you’ve ever travelled internationally, you know that this is already happening in other countries.
Don’t go down in history as a vote for monopolies and forcing Alaska to always lag behind others. Vote against the FCC’s proposed rollback of Title II.
- Your local entrepreneur who is trying to bring Alaska into the 21st century