by Stephen Barraclough, General Manager, Burlington Telecom Right now, a battle is raging at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the country’s large, incumbent telecommunications firms try to undo key customer protections that prevent American internet customers from facing new fees, website blocking, and traffic throttling. However, not all telecom providers feel the same.
Since we’re in the business of selling internet access, we know better than anyone that broadband is essential infrastructure for our economy and our democracy. Imagine trying to apply for a job, going back to school, or staying in touch with friends and family without a high-quality internet connection. In 2017, high-speed broadband is critical to our labor market and civic participation.
Beyond high-speed, it is also vital that all information travelling over the internet is treated equally. To ensure that the web remains a level playing field, internet customers have relied on a strong set of consumer protections passed by the FCC in 2015, which preserved “net neutrality.”
You may have heard about net neutrality in the news lately. The idea is that all the bits and bytes traveling across the network are treated with the same priority, and that your provider can’t charge you more for some apps and services that for others.
With net neutrality protections in place, for example, your ISP can’t charge you more for watching video than listening to streaming audio. Similarly, an ISP would be unable to give some websites fast lane access for a fee, while slowing competing sites who can’t afford this privileged access.
As Burlington’s local ISP, we at Burlington Telecom are in full support of the current Open Internet Order and its solid legal foundation under Title II of the Communications Act. It is our policy to use reasonable, non-discriminatory network management practices to improve overall network performance to ensure a high-quality online experience for all users. Regardless of what the FCC may decide, Burlington Telecom will continue to follow the principles of net neutrality, rather than try to cash in on paid prioritization deals.
The fact is, nearly every company and every household in Burlington buys internet access and there is overwhelming bipartisan support for keeping the internet free and open, including from Vermont Congressman Welch, as well as, Senators Sanders and Leahy. Despite this, the FCC is charging ahead with a plan to roll-back these crucial protections, giving large ISPs new controls over what customers see, hear, and do online.
On this matter, Burlington Telecom does not see eye-to-eye with large, national ISPs, or the current trajectory of FCC. The current rules are the only way to ensure ISPs do not discriminate and impose new fees that harm small businesses – and that customers are protected from ISPs acting like gatekeepers.
Internet users and businesses across the Green Mountain State rely on full, unencumbered access to the Internet. It’s what brought Vermont the innovation and diversity that has made us a global competitor. Strong, common sense net neutrality rules simply need to stay in place to ensure this remains the case going forward.
Removing net neutrality protections will have a huge impact on both high-density areas like Burlington and rural communities throughout the state, where the range of internet providers in the market is more limited.
We encourage everyone who believes in startups, entrepreneurialism, and online innovation to contact the FCC to let them know that the current net neutrality rules should stay.
Vermonters wishing to make their views known to the FCC should visit battleforthenet.com for more information. For more information on Burlington Telecom’s Net Neutrality Disclosure, visit www.burlingtontelecom.com/legal.
Burlington Telecom’s mission is to provide every customer with an exceptional service experience that you can only expect to receive from a local business, while providing you with access to the benefits of the most advanced fiber optic network in the US. For more information about Burlington Telecom services, visit www.burlingtontelecom.com or call 802-540-0007.