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Sat, March 23

Column | Repealing net neutrality will have us stuck in traffic like Stockton Hill Road

There are times during the day when the short drive from Detroit to Airway avenues on Stockton Hill Road reminds me of Southern California (from sunrise to sunset mostly), but other than that there aren’t many triggers to bring me back there from here in lovely Kingman.

I spent about two years in Southern California in the mid-2000s before moving back to Arizona. I worked for an interesting employer in Lake Elsinore, and one weekend it came up with a bonding with co-workers exercise. Probably the best one I’ve ever taken part in.

The company paid for a luxury suite at the Staples Center for a Los Angeles Clippers basketball game. It was a fun day with all the food and beverages (nonalcoholic) we could want, great view of the game, and TVs to watch other Saturday afternoon sports. I’m not too sure any of that bonding took place.

On the drive to Staples Center from Riverside, I remember a feeling of jealousy, you could even call it inadequacy. I didn’t have to do much toll-road driving in California, so I didn’t have a reason for my car to be registered with FasTrak. For that Saturday, I wish I had.

As we headed toward Los Angeles on California State Route 91 we had to pay a toll. I had to ignore the FasTrak Express Lanes, which meant I got to sit in one of the long lines to pay for the privilege of traveling on the 91.

I do remember thinking how would I hate to have to commute on the 91. It didn’t look like there would be too much fun to be had on that freeway.

It wasn’t Stockton Hill Road that brought up memories of Southern California. It was sitting in my living room and a thing called “Net Neutrality.”

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former attorney with Verizon, wants to eliminate net neutrality. Do you like your internet now? He wants to end the way it is regulated so that the Verizons of the world and other internet service providers can make even more money off of us.

Your internet provider is going to have permission to bundle websites, much in the same way your television is dictated to you. You may have been enticed to sign up with DirecTV, Dish, or Suddenlink for television with a starter bundle at $49.99 per month. You like sports so that package is added and now your bill is $59.99 per month. Those premier movie channels may wet your whistle, so your bill has crept up to $69.99.

Suddenlink will bundle your television with the internet, so let’s jump to $89.99. If you want faster internet speeds then that can be done for $109.99.

Would you like a home phone? Now we’re at $129.99.

That’s television packaging. Now add on premium websites that would come with the ending of net neutrality. Do you like social media? Facebook is popular, so the anti-neutrality ISP can tack on $9.99 per month for you to access it. Enjoy the new programming on Netflix? That streaming media has become popular, so there’s another $9.99 on top of the $10.99 you already pay Netflix.

What happens when Suddenlink decides it wants its On Demand programming to eat into Neflix’s audience? Suddenlink can take the speed necessary for Netflix and s-l-o-w it way down, so you fire Netflix because On Demand video doesn’t give you the spinning circle of death.

Any business associated with the need of the internet will be open to the ISPs to piggyback upon. You come up with a great internet business idea. It starts to get rolling, product starts to move, and your new business starts to show signs of being successful.

Your ISP notices the new business is starting to garner a significant amount of traffic to its website. Your ISP decides it is going to cost $4.99 per month to have access to the business. Would that affect the amount of customers who shop at your site?

Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps told Forbes magazine, “There can be no truly open internet without net neutrality. To believe otherwise is to be captive to special interest power brokers or to an old and discredited ideology that thinks monopoly and not government oversight best serves the nation.”

Current chairman Ajit Pai wants monopolies to control our access to the internet. Let him know before the crucial FCC vote Dec. 14 at via that you support strong net neutrality backed by Title II oversight of ISPs. Let Rep. Paul Gosar and Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake know as well.

Nobody wants to end up jealous of those in the FasTrak Express Lanes.


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