Houlton Pioneer Times

Net Neutrality is topic of Houlton Rotary meeting

HOULTON, Maine — At the Houlton Rotary Club’s luncheon meeting on Monday, Jan. 29, Rotarians heard a presentation about “Net Neutrality” from Tim McAfee, chief technical officer of Pioneer Broadband. 

President Matthew Nightingale reminded members that Ann LePage, the wife of  Gov. Paul LePage, will be a guest of the club on Feb. 12 to speak about the Read to Me challenge.

At the Jan. 29 meeting, McAfee said as an internet service provider, Pioneer Broadband works to provide an internet connection that is the fastest and the clearest they can manage. The guest of Rotarian Mac Randolph, McAfee said there has been incredible growth and innovation in the industry. Net Neutrality allows for entrepreneurship and freedom of speech. Anyone can go online and google something at no extra cost. Anyone can set up an internet business.

Consumers use Google with no blocking, no “throttling” of speeds and no paid prioritization. Throttling is an internet term that involves bandwidth. It is the intentional slowing or speeding up of an internet service by an internet service provider. Throttling is a measure that is used in communication networks to regulate traffic and minimize bandwidth.

President Obama put forth Net Neutrality rules that are good for the consumer. If these rules are repealed this would help big business but not small businesses like Pioneer Wireless.

There would no longer be a level playing field. When carriers and providers are one and the same entity problems arise and a lobby grows in D.C. Businesses like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Netflix support the Obama Net Neutrality legislation, but those who oppose it and seek a repeal are AT and T, Verizon, Comcast and Spectrum.

If the law is repealed, the latter companies could push content to the consumer whether the consumer wants it or not. As McAfee said, the “frog is boiling in the water.” If a consumer sees degradation in their internet service that is caused by interference to the broadband width (throttling) they may call for an upgrade in service not knowing the interference is intending that result, costing the consumer more money.

With Net Neutrality there is a free and open internet with all content being unrestricted by internet service providers. Under current law, ISP’s cannot favor or block particular websites or services. Equal access to content at uniform speeds is allowed.

The law currently restricts ISP’s in how they may collect and use consumer data. If the restrictions are repealed by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, existing protections on accessing the Internet will be undermined as well as freedom of speech and entrepreneurship.

New charges would exist for video viewing and in the cost of doing photos. The partisan argument hovers around content (Democrats) versus network (Republicans). Justice Scalia used a pizzeria analogy. If a pizzeria makes pizza, but does not offer delivery of the pizza, a taxi might be hired to bring the pizza to the buyer. Revenue streams based on content delivery have huge potential. If Pioneer Broadband has to pay for delivery to its customers the cost will probably be charged to the consumer. This could potentially double the cost to its customers for the company to stay in business.

Other guests for the day were Mark Putnam, a member of the Presque Isle Rotary Club, who was a guest of Rotarian Steve Fitzpatrick; and Alex Crone was a guest of Rotarian Dana Delano.

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