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Internet rules give big business control

December 28, 2010

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HIAWATHA BRAY’S article “FCC OK’s Internet service rules’’ (Dec. 22, Business) showed some promise for those in favor of Net neutrality, however, the FCC’s vote to approve new rules governing the Internet fell far short of President Obama’s campaign promise to protect online free speech and commerce. The new rules hand much control to wired and wireless Internet service providers.

As vice president of Full Channel, a small cable operator and Internet service provider in Warren, R.I., the assumption might be that I would favor rules that put control in the hands of the service provider, however on the contrary, I am a proponent of true Net neutrality. The rules place small- and medium-size businesses in all industries, not just small Internet providers, at a disadvantage by giving control to large corporations.

Full Channel is one of more than 900 small cable, Internet, and phone providers. Combined these businesses serve about 7 million households. With small providers giants in control, online start-ups, and anyone who publishes media online are at the mercy of these Goliaths that serve more than 200 million Internet users.

Earlier this month, Comcast ordered servers hosting Netflix videos to pay for access to its Internet subscribers. Under the new rules this will be only the beginning of big cable and telephone’s role as the gatekeepers of information. The Internet is edging closer toward a locked-down oligarchical model and possibly a disastrous future for consumers and businesses alike. It makes good business sense to support a neutral Internet. A network under any other structure will stifle commerce, free speech, and innovation.

Levi C. Maaia Vice president, Full Channel Warren, R.I.

For the record: An earlier editing error changed the meaning of a sentence in a letter by Levi C. Maaia, vice president of Full Channel in Warren, R.I. The sentence should have read, ‘‘With giant Internet providers in control, small providers, online start-ups, and anyone who publishes media online are at the mercy of these Goliaths that serve more than 200 million Internet users.’’