Thursday, February 26, 2015

In '05 Deb Fischer voted to make Nebraskans hostages of slow, costly Internet service. Obama changed that

Last month, right wing extremist Sen. Deb Fischer called Obama's FCC Net Neutrality lobbying  "a new federal takeover of state laws governing broadband and the Internet," one of her more ridiculous lies.
     In doing so, she sided once again with Wall St. and against Main St. Nebraska businesses and consumers telling yet another whooper to spin her corporate sellout.
     The FCC made two significant rulings Thursday: one, treating Internet Service Providers as common carriers, will go a long way toward insuring Net Neutrality.
     Predictably the three Democrats on the FCC Board voted to protect Net Neutrality and the two Republicans did not. Interestingly, not all ISPs are opposed to Net Neutrality. Sprint and T-Mobile, for example, are not lobbying against it like AT&T and Verizon.
     The FCC's other important decision today slapped down laws in two states restricting broadband services by municipalities. Nebraska is one of 19 other states that do that, because in  2005 the Nebraska Unicameral rolled over for ISPs wanting to ban any municipal competition to their substandard offerings, passing what we here at AKSARBENT like to call the Lousy ISP Protection Act (actually LB645).
     Here's who voted for it (you're welcome):

     The class will note Deb Fischer's "Yes" vote (when she was in the Unicameral) to kill off options for rural communities whose private internet service is so bad that they might want to build their own. Several cities have done that, a prospect that scares substandard, greedy ISPs to death. (Broadband can be very profitable: telecom analyst Craig Moffett points out that margins are north of 97%!)
     In his visit (video below) to Cedar Falls, Iowa, President Obama cited cities like Cedar Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Lafayette, Louisiana which built their own broadband services — and which now offer their residents bandwidth "nearly 100 times faster than the national average and deliver it at an affordable price." (When Lafayette Utilities System announced its intention to build a municipal broadband network, it faced three years of court battles with two private, incumbent Internet providers of inferior speed, costing Layfayette $4 million, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.)

(At 8:33, above): Right now, about 45 million Americans cannot purchase next-generation broadband... And by the way, only 1/2 of rural Americans can log on at that superfast rate. And if folks do have good, fast Internet, chances are they only have one provider to pick from... What happens when there's no competition? You're stuck on hold, you're watching the  loading icon spin. You're waiting... and waiting... and waiting... and meanwhile, you're wondering why your rates keep getting jacked up when the service doesn't seem to improve...
     In too many places across America, some big companies are doing everything they can to keep out competitors. Today, in 19 states, we've got laws on the books that stamp out competition, that make it really difficult for communities to provide their own broadband the way you guys are. In some states it is virtually impossible to create a community network like the one that you've got here in Cedar Falls. So today I'm saying, we're going to change that. Enough's enough. We're going to change that so every community can do the smart things you guys are doing... I believe that a community has the right to make its own choice and to provide its own broadband if it wants to.
     ...The facts speak for themselves: competition works – when it is allowed to. Throughout the country where we have seen competitive broadband providers come in to a market, prices have gone down and broadband speeds have gone up. No wonder incumbent broadband providers want to legislate rather than innovate.
     ...Removing restrictions on community broadband can expand high-speed Internet access in underserved areas, spurring economic growth and improvements in government services, while enhancing competition.
Here are some informative links about the sorry state of broadband in much of the U.S.A. and what can be done to improve the situation
     Telecom industry groups such as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association have argued that municipal networks are risky investments that could drive cities into debt. These firms and their trade groups have donated millions of dollars to state and federal politicians on both sides of the aisle.
     Besides contributions, the cable lobby has directly submitted legislation to restrict municipal broadband networks and taken fledgling networks to court. Last year, according to a report by Ars Technica, the Kansas Legislature squashed a bill to limit municipal broadband networks that was drafted and submitted by the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association.

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