How much would be the impact of net neutrality repeal to those who are in rural areas?
Net neutrality rules are very important in our lives and that the very essence of having the internet open and free for consumers is essential. Net neutrality as how we understand it is when internet providers or telecom companies are prohibited from censorship or discrimination of contents, websites, and apps, shouldn’t throttle with the internet traffic, block websites, eliminate competition by any acts of controlling or influencing cyberspace.
In urban areas where high-speed is present, a definition of this of the net neutrality is common for advocates and activists. However, we look at a broader perspective when we talk about the rural areas.
In rural areas, net neutrality policies must include developing new high-speed connectivity. Almost 40 percent of the rural areas still don’t have access to a high-speed connection and, if this is the case, a neutral internet wouldn’t have much importance.
A quick fix to the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality law last December 2017 was made through a proposal called the Congressional Review Act, which serves to bypass Senate rules and can cite the open internet rule on discrimination, throttling, and blocking.
However for the rural Americans, even if it will restore net neutrality principles, it also applies a separate set of intrusive economic regulations for broadband, also referred to as Title II, which will dispel investment to bring high speed networks to the communities.
For internet providers, like Hardy Telecommunications, a small internet provider who has been one of those who was most successful, putting the net neutrality rules have been the same for the consumers since they have been practicing it, however, has imposed regulations for them. They offer fiber-optic internet speed faster different from what most West Virginians use.
In West Virginia, the majority of the counties is indicated as rural. In 2010, the state had 51% rural population while the 49% is urban.
Derek Barr, in charge of overseeing the company’s sales, marketing and HR, stated large internet companies possess some other companies which create web-based content that they can favor.
Erin Fitzgerald, a regulatory counsel for the Rural Wireless Association, agreed that small internet companies won’t be able to convince large companies to pay more for easy access to their websites. Because if small companies do this, they will just lose their customers.
Barr is thinking that as of now, the impacts of net neutrality repeal are yet unimaginable in terms of helping rural broadband development in West Virginia.
For small internet providers though, it wouldn’t have noticeable advantages, and it still is costly to start a business like Hardy Telecommunication.
In West Virginia, 30 percent still lack broadband access according to the FCC. Rep. Evan Jenkins claimed that it’s necessary that they welcome new businesses and industries to West Virginia however many rural areas still don’t have broadband access to be active players in the market. He added that nearly 50 percent of rural WV don’t have access to a high-speed connection. One of the factors that businesses look for in their business location is infrastructure which the broadband is a consideration for success.
This disadvantage has been clear as a concerned citizen in West Virginia wrote, net neutrality has been important to free speech, economic modernization in the US and fair opportunity. That if the net neutrality law were abolished, it would harm his ability to share information, connectivity and participate in the modern-day democracy and economy.