WILMINGTON, MA — Below is a recent op-ed submitted by State Rep. Jim Miceli:
As a State Representative, my weekly concerns revolve around mostly issues domestic to Massachusetts, such as the proposal of tolls on Route 93, the 2018 budget, or supporting our schools, firefighters, and police officers. While most of my work centers on Tewksbury, Wilmington, and Massachusetts every once in awhile something comes across my desk that raises my concerns from Washington. Currently, in Wilmington, one such issue is the halting of the proposed Transrail facility which the federal government has been pushing. Now Capitol Hill has sent another one our way.
For those in technical based professions, the term “net neutrality” is not new, but for those who have not seen or thoroughly understand the term let me explain. Currently, any computer with an internet connection and service can connect to any website in the world as fast as the computer and internet connection will allow. Simply put, there is no discrimination against what you are trying to see and internet providers cannot purposely intervene due to rules against this.
Recently several telecomm companies, as well as non-telecomm companies, have lobbied the FCC to eliminate net neutrality. Rather, instead of you being able to access a website anytime as fast you as can, they will charge you the right to do so to certain companies. For example, the internet service provider Comcast is affiliated with NBC. If you wish to seek out television produced by Fox, you may find yourself having to pay additional money, or have your internet connection purposely slowed down by Comcast whenever you try to view Fox-produced content. Under the new rules if you want more, and not have your internet purposely slowed, you better be prepared to pay even more than you do now.
This particularly bothers me because I believe that the internet is very important for everyone to be able to access equally. Our young children have access to educational websites, a world-wide library of sorts, teaching them knowledge on every subject available. Fair and free internet allows us to keep touch with family the world over, it allows those with ideas to start businesses, and for us to seek out the entertainment we want. It is a resource which provides great opportunity, a resource we already pay for. Can you imagine the water company purposely slowing down your connection to your shower and washing machine unless you bought a “deluxe package”? Or the electrical company requiring you to pay an additional 45 dollars a month for you to be able to turn on your lamps? Why should the internet provider be allowed to dictate how you use your utility? Well, if net neutrality is abolished prepare for this possibility.
Now the FCC is under the leadership of Ajit Pai, who once served as counsel for Verizon. He has again, despite the FCC voting it down multiple times, proposed rules in favor of eliminating net neutrality and other protections. He believes that disallowing companies to charge you more to visit certain websites is “anti-consumer”, and wishes to allow companies to provide slower, more expensive internet in order to “increase competition.” How he reached these conclusions is beyond me.
The free-market is a great system, and when properly balanced provides the best results. I, along with my colleagues in the State House, will continue of thinking of plausible manners to protect the Massachusetts consumer. However, as the FCC is a federal agency, I ask residents of Tewksbury and Wilmington to reach out to their congressional delegation to make their voices heard on this issue and prevent the end of net neutrality. You are grown adults, paying for a service with your money, shouldn’t you get to decide how it’s used?
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