250 Years for Sanford – Springvale Chamber
One More Vote for Net Neutrality

On March 9th, OTELCO had the honor to help the Sanford Springvale Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 250th birthday by sponsoring a luncheon with Maine Senator Angus King at the Town Club in Sanford.

Senator King is a huge supporter of the deployment of high-speed Internet, particularly in rural communities. As you might guess, OTELCO shares that vision, and several of us attended the event to hear what the Senator had to say.

After Senator King provided a brief general update, he opened the floor to questions. OTELCO VP of Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service, Trevor Jones, asked about the status of the Congressional Disapproval resolution regarding the FCC’s recent reversal of Net Neutrality rules, referred to as “Restoring Internet Freedom”.  The Senator explained that there are 49 sponsors of the bill and 50 supporters all together.  With one more vote, the resolution could move forward.

He also explained that if that one more vote is realized, it’s likely that there would be more permanent legislation introduced to address Net Neutrality in law rather than rule. Below is the text from the resolution.

“JOINT RESOLUTION – Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘‘Restoring Internet Freedom’’.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘‘Restoring Internet Freedom’’ (83 Fed. Reg. 7852 (February 22, 2018)), and such rule shall have no force or effect.

The 49 sponsors of the resolution include the two Independent Senators, King of Maine and Sanders of Vermont, and the entire Democratic caucus. Although it appears to be, this should NOT be a partisan issue; today’s Internet and the Internet of things provide access to:

  • Online education and distance learning
  • Telehealth and telemedicine to help our aging and disabled population remain more independent
  • e-Commerce
  • Telecommuting and home base entrepreneurship

Reliable open access to the Internet is no longer just for social media, video games, and streaming entertainment.

ISP vs ISP:  The Battle of the Acronyms

In our world, an ISP is an Internet Service Provider. The FCC rationale for removing the Net Neutrality rules is due to the fact that it defines ISPs as Information Service Providers, and therefore not common carriers like phone companies. This thinking is skewed.

A phone company doesn’t provide users anything but a mechanism to engage in voice communication with others; an Internet Service Provider does the same by offering a mechanism to communicate digitally with ‘others’; it does not provide information, by access to the information. The true Information Service Providers are those ‘others’; Amazon, Netflix, Google, YouTube, etc.

What the FCC has done is to make it easier for giant communication/entertainment conglomerates, in their capacity as Internet Service Providers, to discriminate against competing Information Service Providers. In the end, this will hurt consumers and likely cost them more money.

Finding That One More Vote

OTELCO has reached out to ask support from all of the Republican Senators who serve in the states we serve. In Maine, Senator Collins is the additional supporter of the resolution, but as yet, we’ve received no affirmative responses from Alabama, Missouri or West Virginia. If you’d like to contact your Senator for that one more vote, here is a convenient list, or learn more about the One More Vote movement.