Broadband Regulation: What Title II reclassification means to rural Wisconsin

Recent events have questioned the ability of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to oversee the activities of broadband access providers and the FCC’s ability to protect consumers.
•    In 2008 the FCC found that Comcast has intentionally manipulated or blocked its subscribers’ access to the legal application BitTorrent.
•    In April 2010, an Appeals Court sided with Comcast.  The court questioned whether the FCC had authority to regulate broadband-related issues.  It also left in doubt the FCC’s ability to adopt policies and rules that promote broadband deployment and adoption.
•    Many advocates are encouraging the FCC to “reclassify” what the FCC has called “broadband Internet connectivity service.”  This would put broadband providers more clearly within the reach of the FCC’s ability to oversee broadband providers and protect consumers.
Without clear oversight authority, it will be difficult for the FCC to take any action related to broadband, including actions that will promote broadband adoption and broadband deployment in rural communities.
Why does this matter to rural Wisconsin?
•    A new study from the FCC has found that between 14 and 24 million Americans lack access to broadband….and aren’t expected to get it any time soon.  Millions of Americans live in sparsely populated areas deemed unprofitable by large communications companies.
•    The Universal Service Fund (USF) was created to address disparities of those who lacked access to affordable traditional telephone service.  Almost all parties agree that changes must be made to the USF to allow USF funds to address the disparities of those who lack affordable broadband.
•    “Net neutrality” ensures that Internet users can access any website, service or application of their choice without interference of their broadband provider.  This means that once a consumer buys an Internet connection, he or she can access any lawful content without fear that the provider will block it.  This issue is especially important for rural areas that may rely more on wireless Internet access, which has become most vulnerable to the possibility of not being subject to Net Neutrality rules.
Want to do something about it?  Contact the FCC.
Go to:  Click “Proceeding Number 10-127”.  Fill in the form with your desired message and submit.
You can also call your Congresspeople and Senators.

(Note – thanks to the Media Access Project, whose information is the basis for this article.)