Crossposted from the Daily Yonder

Please don’t break the Internet before rural America gets it.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week the Federal Communications Commission will consider “new rules on Internet traffic that would allow broadband providers to charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes.”

The frenzy that followed about “net neutrality” forced FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to issue a statement.

“There has been a great deal of misinformation” regarding the upcoming rule changes, he said. He assured the public that Internet service providers will have to act transparently, won’t be able to favor content from their affiliates, and that no content that is legal will be blocked. But until May 15 when the five FCC commissioners vote and the rules are released, the public will have to take his assurance on faith. Only after the vote will the FCC share the proposal and seek public comment.

So what does network neutrality mean for rural folk, whether online or trying to get online? What does it mean for rural businesses and the economy of rural areas?

Network neutrality, or “net neutrality” for short, is the principle that the Internet is a neutral playing field where all information gets treated equally, no information gets preferential treatment and no player is blocked. As my grandma would say, “O todos coludos, o todos rabones,” which roughly translates to “Either we all wear tails, or we all get our tails cut.”

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