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Groups representing minority elected official organizations continue to worry that the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rules on net neutrality will negatively impact minorities and low income communities, leaving them on the wrong side of the digital divide.

In a conference call today, several organizations who submitted comments last week to the FCC reiterated their concerns that the body may move quickly without fully considering the impact, similar to past actions.

“Again and again well-intended FCC rules designed to help minorities failed to do so,” said David Honig, Executive Director of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, referring to programs designed to support minority ownership of telecommunications, radio and television entities. Honig outlined three areas where net net neutrality rules could exacerbate adoption issues:

  • By increasing the price of broadband services for consumers. Many recent surveys have found the price of broadband services to be a significant barrier to entry, even when access exists;
  • By potentially leading operators to limit their investment to expansion in underserved communities
  • By limiting growth and economic opportunity

Calvin Smyre, president of the National Conference of Black State Legislators, said his group is concerned that corporate interests will outweigh the publics in the process.

“Our voices get drowned out at the FCC by those who claim to know our constituents better than we do, said Smyre. “Broadband is too important to our communities and our country, and we can no longer afford to have our voices ignored.”

The group is issuing a letter to the President and members of Congress today outlining these points and other concerns, and will hold series of meetings with government leaders in the coming weeks to encourage the FCC to consider how its regulations will impact all communities now, as the process is in its inception, rather than down the line.

“Its possible to have rules that get it right,” said Honig. “We just aren’t even close to that point yet.”

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