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Rural broadband: better off with or without net neutrality | Rural Radio Network

Rural broadband: better off with or without net neutrality

Net neutrality was voted down yesterday and the Federal Communications Commission, F.C.C., will move forward with dismantling the rules regulating businesses that connect consumers to the internet.

While the new rules won’t take effect for at least several months, there has already be a great deal of speculation by those against and those in favor of the repealing of the law.

Net neutrality, or the 2015 bill, Open Internet Order, was intended to have broadband internet service providers, ISPs, treat internet equally.

But what does this mean for rural communities, which struggle with getting broadband services and many communities relying on smaller broadband ISPs.

For rural communities, one of the issues with the regulation was it made it harder for small ISPs to comply with the law.

“With net neutrality you (service providers) have to treat everything as equal, if someone is sending you junk email and you get a virus, is that traffic supposed to be treated equal? How do you deal with that, most people would want everything to work the way they want it to work and not have to worry about something else taking over their connection,” said Matt Larsen, CEO of Vistabeam headquartered in Gering. “It (net neutrality) made it harder for internet service providers to comply with the law and do good network management.”

In the long run, net neutrality, didn’t really help rural areas, where smaller ISPs have had to work under a the heavy regulatory law.

“I think it will make it better for smaller ISPs to work on providing better service,” Larsen said.

Critics of the repeal say that consumers will have more difficulty accessing content online and that ISPs might create internet service  tiers, like cable television. For now, most believe consumers will see little change if any to their internet providers services.

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