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Regulating the Internet Like a Utility: Wicker Questions FCC on How It Will Affect You

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Your mobile device, your smart phone, your laptop, however you browse the internet, it will likely be impacted by new ruled in DC that allow the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to regulate it like a utility, like your water and lights.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) opposes the plan and questioned members of the FCC during a committee hearing in the Senate Wednesday. Wicker is on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

“In terms of protecting the flexibility and the ability going forward of this huge engine of the economy, what does this order do?” Wicker asked FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.

“I think this will have a significant negative impact, and the best example of that is mobile data,” Commissioner Pai responded. “The introduction of the smart phone in 2007 generated an explosion in mobile data use, which carriers had to struggle to keep up with. And they did that by investing billions of dollars in spectrum and billions more in wireless infrastructure. It was because mobile data was lightly regulated, as an information service, that we saw all sorts of benefits to consumers.”

“These harmful and needless rules could discourage investment and innovation, and ultimately threaten the online experience that consumers enjoy and rely on today,” said Wicker.

Wicker also highlighted the need of many rural consumers who are dependent on Universal Service Fund (USF)-supported wireless networks. He pressed Chairman Wheeler on providing some assurance that these consumers, including many in Mississippi, would not lose their current ability to choose the wireless service they need to access health care, educational tools, or run their farms and small businesses.

For example, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, as well as the North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville,depend on a reliable broadband connection to operate telemedicine programs. USF provides a support mechanism in rural areas to allow patients to interact with medical professionals around the clock from their homes or even while operating equipment in the field.

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