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House Democrats vote to restore net neutrality

Republicans in the Senate say it is a futile gesture

Photo (c) Kagenmi - Getty Images
The House has approved a measure that restores net neutrality as the law of the land. But the chances of it becoming law are slim.

That’s because while Democrats now control the House, Republicans are still in the majority in the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the measure is not likely to ever be brought up for a vote.

The House action was largely symbolic since many Democrats had campaigned on a promise to restore net neutrality, a policy codified in 2015 by the Obama administration but overturned by the Trump administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The principle of net neutrality holds that internet service providers (ISP) must treat all network traffic the same. They can’t offer faster speeds to one kind of traffic while slowing down other kinds.

Net neutrality supporters have warned that without this protection, ISPs -- such as AT&T and Verizon -- might favor their own content over their rivals’.

Restores regulations

The measure passed by the Democratic majority in the House would restore the FCC’s authority to regulate ISPs under Title II of the Communications, making them a public utility. Republicans have consistently argued that ISPs are not public utilities.

“This legislation not only protects consumers from large corporations, but it also strengthens our economy by promoting innovation and small businesses,” said Rep. Michael Doyle (D-Pa.),, author of the bill. “Net neutrality ensures that any business, no matter how small, gets the same internet at the same speeds as giant corporate interests. That’s only fair, there should not be favorites.”

A moot point?

While the legislation may have no chance of passage the issue of net neutrality continues to divide Republicans and Democrats. But some industry experts have suggested the arrival of 5G internet service make the issue a moot point.

In a recent editorial, Investors Business Daily said Verizon’s new 5G Home internet service “obliterates” the argument for net neutrality. The writer argued that 5G service offered by providers will end the monopoly of wired ISPs.

“With 5G, the cost of bringing high-speed internet to everyone, nationwide, plunges,” the editorial states. “There's no doubt that traditional cable companies will start building out their own networks, for fear of losing all their customers to faster, cheaper 5G services.”

With 5G, some argue there will be enough speed and bandwidth to accommodate all content providers. The editorial suggests that “the use of wires to connect homes to the internet could very well become as antiquated as those old dial-up modems.”

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