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On May 18, 2017 the FCC voted 2 to 1 to start the process of eliminating net neutrality rules and the classification of home and mobile Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

Net neutrality is the equivalent of the First Amendment for the Internet.

Net neutrality is a phrase that is often misunderstood and elicits widely divergent reactions. Without net neutrality ISPs could establish a system of paid prioritization for the processing of data conveyed via the Internet. This approach would discriminate against libraries, schools, not for profits, and small and medium sized businesses which are unable to pay for "priority access." It would also hurt individuals who would be unable to pay the premium for this enhanced access.

Net neutrality is NOT another term for bandwidth. Bandwidth refers to the "volume of information per unit of time that a transmission medium (like an Internet connection) can handle. An Internet connection with a larger bandwidth can move a set amount of data (say, a video file) much faster than an Internet connection with a lower bandwidth." Bandwidth can be compared to plumbing, just as the size of a pipe determines the volume of water that can flow through it in a given time; the greater the bandwidth the more data can be processed. Maintaining net neutrality does not affect an ISPs ability to charge different rates for increased bandwidth. If you have a 75mbps account you will and currently do pay more than someone who has 25mbps account. Bandwidth refers to the "rate of data transfer," while net neutrality refers to the equality of all data transferred, that is, data is processed in the order it is sent.

Internet-speedEverything you do on the Internet involves packets. For example, every Web page that you receive comes as a series of packets, and every e-mail you send leaves as a series of packets. Net neutrality ensures packet equality, that is, all packets are treated equally and transmitted in the order that they were sent. Eliminating net neutrality will create an environment where the packets generated by companies or individuals who pay more will receive preferential transmission.

Imagine if you picked up the telephone to make a call and after dialing the number you heard the following message, "Your call is being processed and based on your account type it is estimated that your call is the 23rd call in line to be connected." This is what it would be like if net neutrality was eliminated.

The Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, served as Associate General Counsel at Verizon Communications Inc., between February 2001 and April 2003. Verizon is one of the telecoms that have lobbied for the elimination of net neutrality. Mr. Pai has made many statements recently that net neutrality under the Title II order has diminished broadband investment and stifled innovation. However, the Internet Association (IA) recently released a document titled Preliminary Net Neutrality Investment Findings, which challenges Mr. Pai’s claims. The IA is "the only trade association that exclusively represents leading global internet companies on matters of public policy. The association’s mission is to foster innovation, promote economic growth, and empower people through the free and open internet."

You can read the FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - WC Docket No. 17-108 by downloading a PDF copy.

You can comment on the Proposed Rulemaking by using the Standard Filing Form, which allows you to upload a file with your comments, or you can use the Express Comment Form, which allows you leave a brief comment. In either case you must insert the correct Docket number 17-108 in the first field - Proceeding(s).

As of Sunday, May 21 there were over 1.6 million comments.

Please take the time to let the FCC know that net neutrality is essential for open access to the Internet. Net neutrality is the equivalent of the First Amendment for the Internet.

Here are some additional articles about the importance of net neutrality:

A May 18th article from Ars Technica, a publication founded in 1998 devoted to technology that caters to “alpha geeks” technologists and IT professionals.

The May 17th posting District Dispatch from the ALA Washington Office.
A March 29th posting to District Dispatch.

If you prefer to have your information delivered with a bit of satire here are three links to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

1. his original net neutrality segment from June 1, 2014
2. his follow-up piece in response to the recent Proposed Rulemaking from May 7, 1017
3. his web only segment from May 14, 2017

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