Here's how Hawaii could be impacted by the FCC's net neutrality repeal

Here's how surfing the internet could change if net neutrality is scrapped
Published: Dec. 14, 2017 at 2:29 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 14, 2017 at 10:28 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Trump administration believes net neutrality rules instituted by the Obama administration have stifled internet growth.

"Because those regulations are so prescriptive, many companies, big and small, have told us that they're holding back on investment in their internet networks," Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said.

The FCC on Thursday passed a 3-2 vote that will dismantle those net neutrality rules and replace them with something new. Pai insists internet service providers will now have more leeway, which will lead to more innovation and investment in the web.

Opponents of the repeal warn that large internet service providers, as a result of Thursday's vote, will be getting too much control over internet content and streaming speeds.

"They'll have a lot of content, so they'll enable their content to go on the faster pipe," said Burt Lum, owner of Hawaii Open Data.

Lum believes big ISPs will relegate competing content to slower bandwiths, a tactic called 'throttling." Essentially, providers would be able to charge more money for access to faster speeds on certain sites, like Netflix.

Detractors of the change fear controlling companies will also stop some internet traffic altogether.

"The losers are the general public," Media Council Hawaii president Christopher Coneybeare said. "Essentially, they're going to allow an increased amount of monopolization and control over the internet."

On the local level, Su Shin, Hawaiian Telcom's executive director of marketing and communications, said their internet subscribers don't need to worry.

"Hawaiian Telcom does not throttle or block internet traffic and have no paid prioritization practices. This will remain our practice," she said.

A statement from Charter Communications and Spectrum said the company has a "longstanding commitment to an open internet."

"We want our customers to use and value our broadband service by accessing the content of their choice," the statement read.

Lum, though, is skeptical that they'll stick to those promises.

"In six months they could change their minds. What's going to prevent that from happening?" he said.

Coneybeare insists repeal of net neutrality rules will allow big ISPs to get bigger.

"The little guys will get aced out, and you and I as people who pay the bill are going to pay more," he said.

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