Internet Freedom Explained
Not very well, mind you, but there it is.
November 22, 2017

According to an FCC report, ten percent of Americans don't have access to a permanent (not-a-mobile-phone) broadband internet. As a big consumer of lots of internet-related stuff, that's awful. On top of that, many of the disconnected ten percent are in distant rural or tribal areas, making it extremely difficult to get a good connection built out to them (it's easier to build infrastructure to urban areas than rural areas).

The FCC has proposed a solution to help those ten percent of people get access to a high-speed internet: they want a deregulated internet.

Wait ... what?

The Chairman of the FCC proposes that by removing certain regulations on Internet Service Providers, they will be able to innovate more and create the connections necessary to get the ten percent the internet they so desperately need.

This sounds noble, but comes with a caveat: the regulations that the FCC included for removal are ones that protect net neutrality, which is a term you may have seen online once or twice or a thousand times in the last few days.

On top of that, in recent history deregulation has led to very bad things (the housing market collapse, the elimination or absorption of almost every airline, etc).

On top of that, many people feel that the removal of net neutrality will give ISPs the chance to divide the internet how they see fit -- you could be charged more for access to Facebook, Reddit, Gmail or any other sites you may visit frequently. We know this will happen, because it already has in other countries.

On top of that, there's no actual guarantee that deregulation will lead to innovation in the form of connecting those last ten percent. Comcast has been paraphrased as saying, "we'll get there when we get there!" I don't think anything short of volunteers digging fiber lines into fields will change their mind.

So there you have it -- the FCC wants to give companies the ability to "innovate" and "connect those who aren't connected" at the cost of everyone else's currently-protected internet. How that is supposed to work, I don't know. Then again, I've yet to see how trickle-down economics works, either.

And what about the disconnected ten percent? What do they have to say about this whole plan? I haven't heard a peep from them. Maybe it's because their internet isn't strong enough.

NOTE: Why the Reese's mug? FCC Chairman and Internet Freedom advocate Ajit Pai has one, but I wouldn't risk an uncredited use of one of his pictures.


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