Mon August 11, 2014

On Net Neutrality, Boulder And NoCo Are Right There With San Francisco

When it comes to the net neutrality debate, the Federal Communications Commission has received more than 1.1 million public comments, a ratio of about one comment for every 286 people.

The rate is much higher than that for six cities in Northern Colorado and the Boulder Valley -- nearly 48 percent higher.

Boulder’s ratio is one comment per 82 residents. Fort Collins and Longmont are also weighing in heavily – with one comment per 205 and 207 residents, respectively. In the tech haven of San Francisco, the rate is one in 132.

Most of the comments favor net neutrality over creating so-called Internet fast lanes, according to BizWest reporter Joshua Lindenstein.

"I think with the startup economies here, in Boulder and Fort Collins, that’s not surprising," said Lindenstein, who recently wrote about the debate. "A lot of these companies depend on reaching people on the web. So it’s not surprising that a lot of these people value equal access."

Net neutrality advocates say allowing large ISPs to charge for faster access puts companies that can’t afford to pay more at a disadvantage, which could stifle innovation.

The discussion has been ongoing for years, but got much more heated when a federal appeals court struck down key parts of the FCC’s open-Internet rules. A few months after that court decision the FCC proposed new rules that would allow some Internet content providers to essentially pay for preferential treatment to ensure their content gets delivered to customers.

How did so many become interested in weighing in on such a complex topic, anyway?

Former Daily Show comedian John Oliver certainly played a big role when he used his HBO show Last Week Tonight to rally viewers to weigh in – which they did in droves, swamping FCC servers with more than 45,000 comments.

The FCC’s open comment period runs through Sept. 10. No date for a vote on the rules has been set.

You can read Joshua Lindenstein’s full story at BizWest.