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Houston Residents Ask City Council To Defend Net Neutrality After FCC Decision

Some addressed the City Council during its weekly meeting and proposed creating a municipal Internet service provider

Daniel Cohen, of Indivisible Houston, addressed the Houston City Council on December 19, 2017, on the topic of net neutrality and proposed that the City relaxes the rules regarding the creation of municipal Internet service providers.
Daniel Cohen, of Indivisible Houston, addressed the Houston City Council on December 19, 2017, on the topic of net neutrality and proposed that the City relaxes the rules regarding the creation of municipal Internet service providers.

Representatives of March for Science Houston, a science advocacy group, and Indivisible Houston, a progressive advocacy group, recommended that the City of Houston adopt net neutrality policies at the last city council meeting of the year.

During the part of the City Council’s meeting reserved for members of the public to address the council, Elle Church, of March for Science, recommended the creation of a municipal Internet service provider (ISP).

Houston resident Silky Malik proposed a fiber-based ISP administered through the City’s public library system.

The proposed services differ from Houston’s municipal WiFi, WeCan — city WiFi still needs internet service providers (ISPs) to function and because ISPs could slow internet speeds, the city’s service is not necessarily neutral.

“If ISPs have a relationship with the city and municipal internet is required to plug into a larger ISP, then they can control speeds a little bit more easily because they essentially own the turf if you want to look at it that way,” Daniel Cohen of progressive group Indivisible Houston told Houston Public Media.

Cohen expressed his support for relaxing the rules regarding the creation of municipal Internet service providers and asked that the City of Houston adopts transparency measures regarding its contracts with telecommunications companies.

Additionally, Cohen recommended that the City urge Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to join other states in a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because of its recent decision to repeal net neutrality rules for ISPs.

The recent FCC ruling disallows municipal net neutrality efforts, but Mayor Sylvester Turner said he believed there are “some possibilities” for the city to act.

Turner said he’ll be watching for a decision in the the multi-state lawsuit.

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