End of “Net Neutrality” Already Benefiting Vermonters

June 12, 2018

by Rob Roper

The 2015 “net neutrality” rules passed by the FCC in 2015 are now officially dead. When the Trump administration announced that it would eliminate the Obama-era policy there was much tearing of garments and gnashing of teeth here in Vermont. Our legislature even went so far as to pass a law creating a state version of net-neutrality that would punish Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that do not continue to operate under the repealed rules by disallowing the state to contract with such ISPs, although it’s not clear how the Vermont rules would be or could be enforced.

However, opponents of the 2015 rules argued that to regulate the internet under a 1934 law as if it were a telephone company was a ridiculous mistake that would deter innovation and discourage critical investment in building out and expanding broadband networks. It very quickly appears that these critics were correct, and Vermont is ground zero for evidence.

In a recent op-ed by FCC chairman Ajit Pai he cited an example from the Green Mountain State:

For instance, recently I heard from a rural broadband provider in Vermont called VTel. VTel wrote to say that “regulating broadband like legacy telephone service would not create any incentives for VTel to invest in its network. In fact, it would have precisely the opposite effect.” The company went on to say that it’s now “quite optimistic about the future, and the current FCC is a significant reason for our optimism.” Indeed, VTel just announced that it has committed $4 million to upgrade its 4G LTE service and to begin rolling out faster mobile broadband that will start its transition to 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity. (Our job is to protect a free and open internet)

Let’s hope our legislature is paying attention and that their actions don’t damage this kind of much needed investment in our future.

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