The Federal Communications Commission will announce a full repeal of net neutrality protections Wednesday, according to the New York Times and several other media outlets. It is possible that a committee of telecom industry plutocrats who have from the outset made it their mission to rollback regulations on the industry will bow to public pressure before Wednesday, but let’s not count on it.
It is time to take action, and that doesn’t mean signing an online petition, upvoting a Reddit post, or calling your member of Congress.
Net neutrality as a principle of the federal government will soon be dead, but the protections are wildly popular among the American people and are integral to the internet as we know it. Rather than putting such a core tenet of the internet in the hands of politicians, whose whims and interests change with their donors, net neutrality must be protected by a populist revolution in the ownership of internet infrastructure and networks.
In short, we must end our reliance on big telecom monopolies and build decentralized, affordable, locally owned internet infrastructure. The great news is this is currently possible in most parts of the United States.
There has never been a better time to start your own internet service provider, leverage the publicly available fiber backbone, or build political support for new, local-government owned networks. For the last several months, Motherboard has been chronicling the myriad ways communities passed over by big telecom have built their own internet networks or have partnered with small ISPs who have committed to protecting net neutrality to bring affordable high speed internet to towns and cities across the country.
A future in which ISPs are owned by local governments, small businesses, nonprofit community groups, and the people they serve are the path forward and the only realistic way of ending big telecom’s stranglehold on America.