GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Just three weeks from now, the Federal Communications Commission plans to repeal Net Neutrality rules. Those rules prohibit internet service providers from deliberately offering faster speeds and access to websites that pay them more.
Net Neutrality rules passed two years ago classify high-speed internet as a public utility making the internet comparable to electricity. Major broadband service companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Spectrum have argued the public utility status makes them subject to intrusive government submissions, which ultimately stops them from investing in improving their service.
Republicans now in control of the FCC think it's a fair argument and are set to do away with the regulation. Sen. Ron Johnson explained it this way earlier this year on his podcast:
“Let's say in your neighborhood you got a creek dividing you. There's a group of neighbors that say, 'you know, let's pool our resources together and let's invest in a bridge we can use it,' but then you got a local government saying, 'Well if you're gonna build that bridge we're gonna let these millions of other people go over that bridge’… and telling them how they have to utilize their own investment."
Representative Mike Gallagher tells us Net Neutrality never should've happened.
”The internet actually blossomed and flourished and has been one of the most remarkable achievements of the last two decades in the absence of Net Neutrality, so this tried to fix a problem that wasn't there,” Gallagher said.
Millions have staged protests and written to lawmakers, begging to keep Net Neutrality rules alive.
A statement from Sen. Tammy Baldwin says in part, "We must work to ensure that the internet does not become a two-tiered system, with fast lanes for some and slow lanes for others."
The fear is that without Net Neutrality, the very rich would get high speed access to the internet— and everyone else would get slower access.
Action 2 News found that broadband companies have contributed more than $1 million to Wisconsin politicians' campaigns on both side of the aisle between 2010 and 2016—according to Follow the Money National Institute on Money in State Politics.
Senator Johnson raked in the most at more than $160,000, House speaker Paul Ryan took more than $70 thousand, Tammy Baldwin almost $40,000 and Mike Gallagher more than $16,000.