Will the Net Neutrality Repeal Hurt Rural Broadband?

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In rural West Virginia, Hardy Telecommunications, a successful small Internet Service Provider (ISP), isn’t convinced that net neutrality’s repeal will help rural broadband development, reported WV News. Hardy, which has been in business since the 1950s, offers customers fiber-optic speeds, which is considerably faster than what other residents in the state can access.

However, after the FCC recently repealed its rules about net neutrality, some experts are left wondering if the move will have much of an effect on small companies like Hardy Telecommunications.

According to Derek Barr, who oversees Hardy’s sales, marketing, and human resources, “To be honest, the net neutrality rules were a burden for us because we practiced it anyway. When they put the rules in place, it didn’t change anything about our customers’ experience, but it did put regulatory burdens on us.”

The net neutrality rules require ISPs to treat all web data the same, regardless of the source. Earlier this year, the FCC voted to roll back the rules, Inside Towers reported. The changes officially go into effect later in April, unless Congress passes a law blocking it.

“We have always practiced net neutrality,” said Barr. “The only time that we would actually regulate traffic is if there was some sort of emergency or if there was a problem with the system. As far as favoring some content of other content, we don’t do that and we would never do that…”

With small companies serving a smaller population, it doesn’t make much sense to block or throttle access to websites, according to Erin Fitzgerald, who serves as regulatory counsel for the Rural Wireless Association. She said small internet companies don’t carry enough weight with their few customers to persuade the Netflix or YouTube to pay small ISPs extra dollars.

As of right now, it doesn’t look like the FCC’s repeal is all positive for small ISPs, reported WV News.

April 18, 2018

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