Law State The FCC could dismantle net neutrality. What does that mean? By William Meyer Posted on November 20, 2017 6 min read 0 7 1,778 The FCC could put an end to net neutrality. Photo via Pixabay. The FCC is expected to unveil a plan that would dismantle net neutrality. What does that mean and what could it mean for Southeast Ohio? The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is expected to unveil his plan to dismantle net neutrality as soon as Nov. 22. If dismantled, many believe profound consequences await an asymmetric net. Net neutrality is the principle that no internet service provider (ISPs, such as Comcast and Verizon) can inhibit the speed of internet traffic to any particular websites. These providers can provide the means to access the internet, but they do not have a say in what their users are allowed to view. In short, net neutrality means that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. Should the FCC vote to dismantle net neutrality, Comcast, for example, could choose to increase its users’ connection speeds to websites owned by Comcast, such as NBC. Conversely, ISPs would have the ability to slow down connection speeds to rivals’ websites. Athens county is no stranger to slow internet speeds. In a 2016 report, the FCC shows the percentage of people that are without high speed internet on a county by county basis. Slightly over one-third of Athens county does not have access to high-quality broadband internet, defined by the FCC as a 25MB/s download speed and a 3MB/s upload speed. Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, said that his focus is on trying to get broadband to Southeast Ohio and make sure people have reliable internet. “I don’t think net neutrality is really an issue, if you don’t already have access to broadband,” Edwards said. “I think that the internet should be open. It should be an open place for everyone.” Americans are overwhelmingly in favour of keeping net neutrality. A study conducted by Empratta LCC, a data counseling firm based in Washington D.C., analyzed over 20 million comments submitted to the FCC from May to August that were either in favor of or against the repeal of the current Title II classification of broadband providers under the Communications Act of 1934. The firm determined that the general sentiment was 60 percent against the repeal of Title II, and 39 percent in favor of the repeal. Why then, is the Trump-appointed FCC Chair Ajit Pai planning to dismantle net neutrality? Simply, Pai wishes to deregulate ISPs. In an interview with William Brangham on PBS Newshour, Pai said he did not want to impose “heavy-handed economic regulations” on ISPs. “We could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out Internet access to a lot of parts of the country, in low-income, urban and rural areas, for example.” Still, there is a mounting concern for the potential for ISPs to treat internet service similarly to cable subscriptions, packaging websites by category and charging a premium for faster connection speeds. In Portugal, this is already the case. In Portugal, with no net neutrality, internet providers are starting to split the net into packages. pic.twitter.com/TlLYGezmv6 — Ro Khanna (@RoKhanna) October 27, 2017 The potential impact on broadband internet access remains to be seen. If the FCC votes to dismantle Title II net neutrality come December, ISPs will in fact go through less regulations to give internet access to consumers, undecidedly proving both helpful or harmful to rural areas in which 39 percent of all Americans do not have access to high-quality internet. However, one thing will be for certain—the face of the internet would not be the same.