PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Are you ready to pay more to use the internet?
According to a coalition of tech and public advocacy companies, "that" could happen soon if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rolls back regulations put in place by the Obama administration.
This is potentially a very big deal for just about all of us — if you use the internet, you "will" be impacted, one way or another.
At the heart of the debate is whether all data is created and treated equally.
"Most people, if you say net neutrality, probably really don't know what you're talking about," said internet expert Jarrod Maxfield.
Maxfield owns and runs Necessary Technology in Portland. He's monitoring the net neutrality battle closely. "Yeah, it worries me because, frankly, I don't know how many times in history where we give giant corporations the keys and they always do the right thing."
The FCC is endorsing new rules that could clear the way for a two-tier, two-speed system, giving first-time internet providers like cable giants Comcast, Time Warner and Cox, and telecom heavy hitters Verizon and AT&T, a possible advantage: allowing them to charge tech companies to send content to consumers more quickly.
"What these networks say is, 'OK, look, we will interconnect with you on certain terms, we need to help share the costs, we can make sure the consumer has a seamless experience.'"
Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai calls the rollback necessary to loosen what he calls the "bureaucratic straitjacket" on large internet service providers.
Back inside Necessary Technology, Maxfield works with a customer, helping him with replacement printer ink. He said he worries for them, that changes to the net neutrality regulations could result in higher bills and fees and fewer options and services for customers — and profit for the big companies.
"At the end of the day, they're the ones – if these rules change," Maxfield said. "Opens up brand new revenue streams for them, brand new opportunities, and that will all be at the expense of Joe and Jane internet user."
The FCC is taking public internet comments on net neutrality until July 17. So far, they've received more than 5 million comments.
To send a comment, email the FCC at fcc.gov/comments