America is about to kill the open internet and towns like this will pay the price

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Residents of Winlock (WA) – where internet is dead slow, if available at all – are major proponents of network neutrality and argue internet is a basic necessity. 

It’s Saturday morning at a café near the museum in Winlock, and Michelle Conrow is eating brunch while surfing the internet on her laptop. What might seem a banal activity for many is a luxury for Michelle. The internet at her house just outside the town is primitive by today’s standards, with speeds similar to the dial-up days of the 1990s. It took three days to download Microsoft Office to her new computer. Many of the 1,300 residents in this rural area, which was once the US’s second largest egg producer, report frustratingly slow connections. Some have no broadband at all because the only provider, CenturyLink, has maxed out its system and there is a waiting list to get a connection, while others live outside the service area. Conrow and others have been complaining about the service for years. And if the internet’s top regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), gets its way, Conrow worries things may never get better. In some ways, the digital situation in rural Winlock gives a glimpse of what service could be like if FCC oversight is curtailed, net neutrality is rolled back and internet providers are allowed to block or throttle traffic, or offer “fast lanes” to websites that pay extra for the privilege.


America is about to kill the open internet and towns like this will pay the price