Two Democratic state representatives Andy Vargas, D-Haverhill, and David Rogers, D-Cambridge of Massachusetts want to ban internet providers in their state from implementing data caps in an attempt to regulate the internet industry.
Also included within the proposed ban, is banning internet providers from shutting customers off for what they consider excessive use and repeal a current law on the books that prevents the state of Massachusetts from regulating internet providers serving their state.
Under Comcast’s new changes, any customers that go over their 1.2 TB data limit will be subjected to an additional $10 per additional 50 gigabytes used and caps off at an extra $100 more a month on an already expensive service. This effectively leaves customers with a very max data usage of 1.7 TB of data a month and then they’re just cut off.
Comcast notified customers a few months before the cap was to be implemented and notified the customers that were currently exceeding the new cap months prior.
The company then granted those customers with a two-month grace period to adjust their internet use. Which has called Comcast’s ethics into question how they could do such a thing during a state of emergency, especially when many residents have no other choice for internet service.
Many questioned how will they survive and live somewhat normal lives during the pandemic if they’re punished for using a service they need?
The backlash has been so strong for Comcast that they responded by delaying data cap overage fees until August and then pushed it back again to sometime in 2022.
This proposal was created to protect Massachusetts residents and keep them connected as many people continue to work and attend from home until this health crisis is resolved.
If lawmakers continue to allow internet providers to shut off service, how will these people pay their bills or put food on the table? Unfortunately to protect residents, repealing the law that prevents the state from regulating internet providers first is necessary before the rest follows.
Both representatives agree that internet service is essential and should be treated as such.
Utilities don’t put a limit on how much you can use and customers have been protected from shut-offs due to non-payment during the pandemic. In a time where the government isn’t letting other necessary utilities get shut off like electric and gas, the internet shouldn’t get shut off either.
Massachusetts lawmakers are in a unique position where unlike gas and electric companies, internet providers aren’t regulated by the state but are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission then operate locally with agreements in those individual cities and towns.
This situation has been resolved the best it can be for the time being in some states like Maine and Vermont where those states have passed laws that give states some authority over internet provider practices within their respective states when it comes to net neutrality.
This too arose over the necessity of a lack of regulation when the FCC repealed net neutrality in 2018.
This current proposal would make Massachusetts the first state with regulatory authority over internet providers. If the proposal is passed, all future regulations will be set by the Massachusetts state Department of Telecommunications and Cable.
Some industry experts are upset with the proposal because they perceive it to go against FCC regulations, but the proposal is simply a solution to a problem that the FCC has neglected to address and customers need this protection now.
Only time will tell if the proposal passes and if not what other potential solutions lawmakers have before any data caps can be implemented.