We think of the Internet as an extension of our everyday lives–a place for us to learn, to discuss ideas, to be entertained, or to engage in commerce–while also serving as our digital town square and connection to the rest of the world. Best of all, these things are available right at our fingertips.
Unfortunately, if the current incumbent Internet service providers (ISPs) have their way, the Internet as we know it may be greatly altered. Without so-called “net neutrality” rules in place, our favorites websites could suddenly become inaccessible unless we agreed to fork over additional fees on top of our already expensive monthly internet bills. Overnight, the Internet could turn into another form of cable TV–requiring us to pay for a “package” just to access all the websites that previously had been available to us for free.
Clearly, the only beneficiaries under such an arrangement would be the industry behemoths like Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon, and CenturyLink. That’s why they’re spending millions to lobby Congress to overturn the wise FCC decision that kept firm net neutrality rules in place.
Net Neutrality is crucial for preserving the Internet as a freewheeling hub of innovation, a place for commerce as well as online civic engagement. With a publicly-owned, citywide fiber network in Saint Paul, we can ensure that everyone has affordable access to the Internet–and that travel on the “information superhighway” is free of electronic toll booths.