EPB says it will continue net neutrality standards while Comcast welcomes repeal

Chattanooga's biggest internet service providers today reaffirmed their commitment to an open Internet after the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the net neutrality rules.

By a 3-2 vote, the FCC today reversed its 2005 decision and voted to overturn regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content.

David Wade, president of EPB which provides internet services to more than 94,000 Chattanooga households and businesses, said the city-owned utility will continue to uphold net neutrality standards.

"By deploying America's first community-wide all-fiber optic network capable of delivering Gig Plus speeds to every home and business in our service area, EPB has the capacity to continue providing our customers with a world-class internet experience without the need to slow or prioritize any of the internet traffic across our network," Wade said. "In the best interests of our customers and our community, EPB will uphold the Net Neutrality standard."

But Comcast, the biggest internet service provider in the region and nationwide, welcomed the end of Title II regulations which company officials claim create a regulatory burden that hurts business.

"We commend Chairman Pai for his leadership and FCC Commissioners O'Rielly and Carr for their support in adopting the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, returning to a regulatory environment that allowed the Internet to thrive for decades by eliminating burdensome Title II regulations and opening the door for increased investment and digital innovation," said David L. Cohen, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Comcast. "Today's action does not mark the 'end of the Internet as we know it;' rather it heralds in a new era of light regulation that will benefit consumers."

Most Internet Service Providers said they have no immediate plans to limit or give preference to some transmissions over others. But smaller ISPs said removing the FCC regulation should help lessen some of their compliance costs and help ensure that, when necessary, the internet connections can be used to ensure better quality voice quality.

David Snyder, owner of VolState in Dayton, Tenn., which provides business internet service in Rhea and Bradley counties, welcomed the FCC repeal of the rule, which he said imposed a regulatory burden on smaller ISPs.

"I am all for the concept of network neutrality that internet service providers should not be blocking or throttling legal traffic on their networks," Snyder said. "But there are certain services, such as voice services, that require faster speeds than others. It was sometimes more expensive to comply with net neutrality to provide a quality voice connection over internet than it will be under a looser regulatory environment."

But EPB today reaffirmed its Customer Care Pledge, which says that the utility will "never sell your web site browsing information or online content" and "every home and business customer can send web content through EPB's network at the same fast speed without having to pay extra."

"EPB doesn't play favorites when it comes to online traffic, so businesses of all sizes have a level playing field for delivering new and innovative options for customers," EPB spokesman J. Ed. Marston said. "That's good for customers and good for creating new jobs."

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