Just as Rome was not built in a day, neither was the open internet as it exists right now, though the rules and policies that ensure an even playing field are under siege. Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai is laser focused on stripping net neutrality rules out of the equation by repealing the Open Internet Order, which his predecessor Tom Wheeler implemented under the Obama administration. The sad reality is that net neutrality is subject to partisan politics, and so in all likelihood, existing rules that govern the internet as a public utility are all but doomed. However, there is a process involved, one that allows your voice to be heard. The same goes for a growing number of internet service providers that recently wrote a letter to Pai urging him to reconsider.
If you have been following the net neutrality debate, then you already know that larger ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon are fully in favor of sending the Open Internet Order through the shredder, as Pai plans to do (and if you haven't been following, click here to get up to speed). It's the stance of such ISPs that government regulation in this case stands in the way of innovation and progress.
That has been Pai's refrain as well, even dating back to before he was Chairman of the FCC. However, the sentiment is not shared by all ISPs. In fact, dozens of smaller ISPs across the United States—more than 40 in all—are in favor of leaving things alone, as they wrote in a letter published by the EFF today (opens in new tab).
"The federal courts have made it very clear that network neutrality depends on the FCC maintaining that broadband is a telecommunications service and that other approaches have already failed as a legal matter. We have always supported a neutral network approach to the internet and see no reason why it should not be required as a matter of law," the letter reads.
"Without a legal foundation to address the anticompetitive practices of the largest players in the market, the FCC’s current course threatens the viability of competitive entry and competitive viability. As direct competitors to the biggest cable and telephone companies, we have reservations about any plan at the FCC that seeks to enhance their market power without any meaningful restraints on their ability to monopolize large swaths of the internet," the letter continues.
The ISPs that signed the letter state in no uncertain terms that they are collectively in full support of the Open Internet Order as it exists. Furthermore, the ISPs state that existing net neutrality rules have not stood in the way of them being able to invest in or expand their networks. The comments directly contradict the stated fears of larger ISPs.
Wheeler also recently spoke out against the proposed repeal of net neutrality rules, according to Arstechnica (opens in new tab). During a forum in Arlington, Virginia on Monday, Wheeler said there is "a monopoly provider for three-quarters of the homes in America, and no choice. When you've only got one provider, who makes the rules? The provider makes the rules."
Pai and the FCC last month released an updated proposal to repeal net neutrality rules, and like the original text outlined in late April, the proposal calls for reversing the Title II classification that gives the FCC authority over ISPs. According to Business Insider (opens in new tab), nearly 2.6 million comments were already filed in the lead-up to the FCC's vote to consider the proposal. With the new draft in place, the FCC is again fielding comments, this time through August 17.
So, how can your voice be heard? One way is by emailing a new inbox (opens in new tab) the FCC established for Open Internet Order comments. That email is openinternet at fcc dot gov.
Another option is to head over to the filings page what Pai calls "Restoring Internet Freedom." You can get there by clicking , then click on the +Express hyperlink on the left-hand side. That will bring up a form that you can fill out with your comments.
If you plan on writing the FCC with your thoughts, be courteous if you want your thoughts to be taken seriously. That doesn't mean you can't express your anger, if that's how you feel, but trolling the FCC is not going to help your cause.