Admittedly, some of us can’t tell net neutrality from a gill net, but a large group of tech-savvy consumers praised last week’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission to preserve net neutrality. Search for a definition on the web and you will find that net neutrality is “the principle that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.” “In essence, it argues that no bit of information should be prioritized over another.” Given that is the goal, it does seem that the consumers are winners in the FCC decision.

While that decision – 3-2, Democrats over Republicans – resonates nationally, another FCC decision last week hit closer to home, in Wilson. The FCC overturned state laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. Wilson was one of two cities filing a petition with the FCC seeking the ruling. Chattanooga, Tenn., was the other city.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the decision was largely based on the fact that high-speed Internet access would not have been available in Wilson otherwise. It was an area where private companies have declined to expand, according to an article in the Wilson Daily Times. Wheeler said that state law had created barriers to competition. He said the FCC has the authority to preempt state law that overturns state laws that limit municipal broadband networks. “You can’t say you’re for competition but deny local elected officials the right to offer competitive choices,” Wheeler said.

Which is why reaction by Thom Tillis, North Carolina’s junior senator, to the decision seems odd. Tillis quickly introduced legislation to prevent the FCC from overriding state law. “It is disturbing, yet not surprising, that the FCC and Chairman Wheeler are attempting to deny the sovereign right of states to make their own laws,” he said in a press release. But really, isn’t that what the state did to the City of Wilson? North Carolina’s lawmakers put limits on what the city could do to improve the lives of residents and the business climate of the community.

By removing the burdensome limits imposed by the state on Wilson, the city will now have a chance to move its broadband service into the black and attract high-tech jobs – hopefully high-paying jobs – to the people of Eastern North Carolina.

An effort to thwart that opportunity smacks of double-speak.

(2) comments

Capt Grumpy

Thom Tillis is just looking after his friends!

David Collins

The quickest way to wreck the Internet is to let Govt. get involved in any way.

Welcome to the discussion.

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