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Supporters Predict Net Neutrality Repeal Will Spur Investment; Opponents Warn of End of "Open Internet"

FCC vote lifts ban on prioritizing some content for faster transmission

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The companies you get Internet service from will now have more leeway in how they deliver it -- and there are wildly contrasting predictions of how they'll use it.

The FCC established the "net neutrality" rule two years ago, and repealed it on Thursday, both times on party-line votes. The rule banned service providers from picking and choosing which content they carry, or how fast. 

But while rescinding that rule means providers could show favoritism, some major carriers, including Comcast and AT&T, have publicly declared they won't. Indiana State Senate Majority Leader Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), who wrote Indiana's telecom deregulation law, says customers would abandon them for competitors if they tried it.

Hershman calls the change a positive step, and predicts it will encourage investments in upgraded networks. Right now, he says, companies like Amazon or Netflix reap the benefits of high-speed Internet without sharing in the costs. He says the law may encourage negotiations among businesses.

And Hershman argues the premise of the 2015 regulation was misguided, using a utilities law originally aimed at telephone companies to regulate ISP's. But Indiana Congressman Andre Carson (D-7th) says Congress should overturn the decision to ensure "equal access to the information superhighway.

Some members of Indiana's congressional delegation had made their feelings clear on "net neutrality" even before Thursday's vote to scrap the rule. Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly urged the FCC to keep the rule. Like Carson, he says he's concerned removing it will hurt small businesses, and make it harder for Internet users to get the content they want. Jim Banks and Larry Bucshon were among more than 100 House Republicans who wrote the FCC supporting repeal. They argue the growth of the Internet is better served by the "light-touch approach" in place before the 2015 regulation. Bucshon argues investment in high-speed networks had grown every year until the regulation was passed.

(Photo: Stefan Irvine/LightRocket via Getty Images)


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