Thursday, June 11, 2015

Last Call For Decidedly Un-Neutral

House Republicans aren't about to allow the FCC to do its job, not when it means being mean to the corporations that make sure America has some of the most overpriced broadband internet access on Earth because of forced lack of competition.  

And Republicans are perfectly OK with Americans paying two to five times what users do in Asian and European countries for the same broadband access speed, which would explain why US broadband giants like Time Warner Cable happily make a 97% profit margin on the service.

So when the Obama administration and the FCC released net neutrality rules and agreed that in 2015, broadband internet is as vital a service as water and power and should be regulated as a public utility and made more affordable, Republicans flipped out.

Now their latest attack is to back the broadband internet industry 100% by defunding the FCC's ability to implement any net neutrality rules.

A House appropriations bill released Wednesday would block the Federal Communication Commission from implementing its net neutrality rules until the courts weigh in on the issue.

The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill for the 2016 fiscal year includes funding for the communications regulator that falls $73 million below what the agency requested. In total, the bill grants the agency $315 million. It was introduced by the House Appropriations Committee and includes $20.2 billion in total funding for a number of agencies. 
Included in the bill is a provision designed to stop implementation of the net neutrality rules until the issue has finished winding its way through the courts. It says that none of the funds in the bill can be used to “implement, administer, or enforce” the rules until three legal challenges are resolves.

The cases in question are brought by Alamo Broadband, CenturyLink and trade group U.S. Telecom.

Unless the courts rule otherwise, the net neutrality order will take effect on Friday.

The bill includes a line specifically banning rate regulation by the FCC for either standard broadband service or wireless service. Conservatives say that the net neutrality order will open the door to rate regulation by the agency.

The funding bill also includes a provision specifying that the Commission cannot use funds to implement rules unless they post the text of the regulation online within 21 days.

So not only does the FCC take a whopping $73 million cut if the GOP gets its way, but net neutrality rules that go into effect this week never will, as the FCC would be blocked from implementing the rules until years of future court battles are resolved.  Effectively, the rules would never be implemented.

Why are Republicans so scared of the FCC?  One has to wonder just how much money GOP lawmakers are taking from these internet giants in order to make sure they remain allowed to reap massive profits off American consumers.

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