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Neighbor Questions Internet Service to the Eastside Hill

Submitted by Editor on December 6, 2017 – 2:45 pm | Print or Email »No Comment

The author of this article has been active recently on nextdoor.com regarding internet service to our Neighborhood. He agreed to submit this article for our newsletter. He follows it up with a Huffington Post article.

Net Neutrality and the Charter ISP Monopoly

By Kristoffer Martin

Over the last two decades internet access has become a crucial resource. In the same breadth internet service providers have increased the cost of access to the internet, which was paid for mostly in part by the public. Unfortunately, for many, the only ISP is a large regional monopoly like Charter, Comcast, Time-Warner, or AT&T, all of whom act as gatekeepers to the internet.

In Eau Claire Wisconsin, Charter is the primary ISP. They service over 80% of the residents. Unfortunately this means they have a run on the market, and total car planche when it comes to pricing and servicing speeds. Quite often the service one pays for through them is not the service received. With sporadic, yet persistent, interruptions to service, and both temporary and often permanent reductions in connection speeds.

Beyond the apparent issues with the monopoly that Charter holds in the area, there are two other ISPs who provide service via DSL and Fiber Optic connections in the area with comparable speeds. However their reach is limited due to the various factors, the primary of which is the overwhelming cost of laying new fiber optic lines or gaining access to existing DSL lines in the city.

Further consideration must be made regarding net neutrality. Large ISPs, like Charter, are pushing for the removal of current standards under Title II for internet providers as created in 2015 by the then, Democrat controlled, FCC board. These standards insured that ISPs couldn’t throttle connection speed, limit access to certain sites and 3rd party content providers, or break up access in tiered fashion that would limit the scope and accessibility of internet users. These standards were intended to keep the internet open and to treat all web traffic the same. With their repeal access to Netflix, Youtube, Facebook, and even sites like Change.org, the City Council’s webpage, and countless other pages  would more than likely be limited in some fashion by major ISPs. The idea of net neutrality is to treat all internet traffic the same and allowing anyone to find and visit a site of their choosing. Without net neutrality major ISPs can block whichever site they want, and many of them, like Charter, have a vested interest in doing so. Giving them the ability to charge users extra for access to Netflix or Hulu who are content competitors to their cable service would mean an end to cable cutting without the exuberant costs. How would you feel if you couldn’t access Gmail or Hotmail because Charter has their own email client they want to push, or were forced to use Bing over Google because Google is an ISP competitor to Charter? What if you couldn’t access Facebook, or Twitter, or any number of social media outlets, or Youtube, without paying an extra fee for a special package on top of your already inflated internet costs?

A publicly owned fiber optic network would give the residents of Eau Claire greater control over their ISP choices, allow different ISPs in the area access to new customers and provide actual comparable competition to Charter. And since it would be publicly owned, ISPs who opt-in to use the network would have to agree to standards; like ensuring net neutrality for all users of the service. As a public entity the City of Eau Claire can negotiate better labor costs to lay fiber optic lines, would qualify for various grants to supplement the cost, and would take the network expansion problem out of the hands of competing companies.

Only a third of Charter’s users receive the connection speeds they’re supposed to get, and it is clearly time to make a change in how the internet is accessed in our area by encouraging real competition.

If you want more meat share this article https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-other-thanksgiving-turkey-the-fccs-stealth-net_us_5a1964dfe4b0250a107bff83

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