Statement of REC: Today's "Destroying Internet Freedom (and due process)" decision at the FCC
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As someone who worked in the Title II industry in telephony, cable and high speed internet, I had not taken a strong stand either for or against Net Neutrality. I do strongly support those who have taken to the streets today in DC to protest today's vote, which was more intended (in my opinion) of Trump's erasure of the Obama legacy. There is now increased interest on the right side of the aisle in this issue and today's FCC vote is not the last word on the issue. First, this issue will likely go to reconsideration once the Order is published. It may go to the courts and perhaps, based on the results of the mid-term elections, it may be a legislative issue in 2019.
Even during the time when NN was the law, providers were permitted to engage in throttling and caps. Some of the major wireless providers did (and still do) throttle back after a certain amount of transfer is used in a month based on the customer's plan. Therefore, NN did not do anything to stop these data plans for being offered.
The trend over the past few years has been unlimited data. This trend towards unlimited data plans is not because of NN but because America is traditionally a flat rate culture. Unless you lived in NYC or Chicago, you lkely grew up with flat rate landline phone service that allowed you to make unlimited local calls to a designated area. Cellular service (and pre-cellular services like IMTS) charged for "airtime" (IMTS rates progressed higher per minute the longer you were on the phone). This type of airtime pricing gave way to packaged minute plans with higher monthly rates and that would eventually give way to today's "unlimited talk and text". America does not want to count minutes nor do they want to count gigs. For the wireless/cable/telecom industry to return to that kind of thinking is going to require a lot of mind changing and a lot of phasing in. Yes, it is true that many areas have an internet monopoly and some companies feel entitled to do "whatever they want". I live in one of those areas. I don't see a quantum shift in service plans anytime in the immediate future.
My point is that with the elimination of NN, the sky is not going to fall tomorrow. There's still other actions that can be taken by organizations and Congress and I don't feel that providers, that already have flat rated bundled services will be quick to change the rules overnight.
One of my biggest issues with today's decision was that it was based around much controversy regarding "stuffing" the Commission's ECFS comment filing system. Even though any decision by the FCC that directly impacts consumers is not a popularity contest or a referendum vote in the ECFS, the Commission (mainly the majority) needed to take more public comment into consideration and should have held public hearings on this issue.
I am deeply concerned about the national TV ownership NPRM which will propose the elimination of the UHF discount. This is yet going to be another issue that is going to be shoved down our throat like today's NN decision was.
If NN and media ownership are very important issues to you, please keep that in mind come November, 2018. The right people in Congress can make changes that are pro-community. In 2020, let's work towards getting a pro-community radio, pro LPFM and pro-consumer FCC. Not today's shill of Verizon and Sinclair. Hats off to Commissioner Mignon Clyburn who put up a very hard fight and for her very emotional statement today.
Again, thank you to all of the organizations and individuals that fought their hardest to protest this bad proceeding. The fight is not over.
P.S.: Despite where we stand on this issue. There is no place for racist and insulting statements towards Commissioners and staff (as well as bomb threats to the FCC, like what happened today).