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Tech experts react to FCC's net neutrality rollback

Colton Shone
December 14, 2017 10:04 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The term net neutrality has been thrown around a lot lately. It ensures fair access to the Internet.

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The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday voted along party lines to do away with it in a 3-2 vote. New Mexico tech experts and elected officials are speaking out.

"We're really starting to see a robust ecosystem happening," said Nykia Allen, the president of the New Mexico Technology Council. "We have very small startup companies that are just starting to grow their ideas to having companies that are receiving millions of dollars in their second round of funding."

Allen said that momentum could potentially be threatened if Internet providers do decide to make a huge change in the way consumers access the Internet.

Internet providers say doing away with net neutrality rules enacted under the Obama administration would allow for companies to make broadband faster and more reliable, arguing Internet users won't notice a change.

Outspoken opponents fear Internet service providers could throttle the speeds or even block access to certain sites they do not have a partnership with.

Others fear tiered service packages like those in the world of premium television. For example, basic service might include web surfing and email. However, streaming video or social media sites might cost you more.

For now, Allen said all those scenarios are just hypothetical. Allen said if any drastic changes do get made our startup scene will be just as much affected as in other places.

"You know I think for some technology companies they're a little nervous a little upset that the decision is up to a few people and that certainly they would like to have their voices heard as well," she said.

New Mexico lawmakers also weighed in on the decision:

"I am extremely disappointed with the FCC’s short-sided vote to overturn net neutrality and create 'fast lanes' which would allow internet service providers to unfairly discriminate against certain companies and consumers. After explicitly ignoring millions of Americans supporting net neutrality, the FCC’s decision to dismantle equal access to the internet undermines important protections for users. This will jeopardize economic growth in New Mexico and across the country, where innovators and small companies depend on an open, free, and fair internet."

-- U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.

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"Today's vote is a major blow to the internet as we know it. Chairman Pai's legacy will be leading the surrender of the free and open internet to corporate giants, letting Internet Service Providers create internet toll lanes, and stifling the competition, innovation, and dynamism that has made the internet a bedrock of modern life. The FCC has abdicated its responsibility to protect consumers from harmful practices – and instead is passing the buck to the Federal Trade Commission to monitor these practices. The FTC is not the expert agency – and is not prepared to stop harm from happening.

 "The real world implications of today's vote could be severe and far-reaching — in New Mexico, and across the country. Ending net neutrality will make it harder for small business owners and entrepreneurs to build up a significant web presence and sell their products online. It will likely worsen the user experience of the countless New Mexicans and Americans who use the internet to stream television shows and movies instead of paying higher costs for cable. It will undermine the internet's platform as a catalyst for free expression and innovation. 

"Too many New Mexicans, especially those in rural areas, are already stuck in an internet slow lane. When it comes to internet policy, we should be working to expand broadband access and bridge the digital divide — not destroying the essential protections that keep the internet free and open."

-- U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M.

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Colton Shone

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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