Updated: 07/17/2014 10:14 PM
Created: 07/17/2014 8:34 PM WDIO.com
By: Briggs LeSavage
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday, saying he believes it is critical that Internet access remains equal for both consumers in Minnesota and across the country.
Now, the Minnesota senator is one of 13 senators asking the public to do the same. The FCC extended its comment deadline when a flood of responses came in at the last minute and made it difficult for some users to submit their opinions.
"This is absolutely vital to innovation, commerce, to freedom of speech on the Internet, and we don't want this to change," Franken said.
Some Internet service providers argue that they should be able to charge higher prices for faster speeds, prompting the FCC to make a move.
"The FCC made a preliminary ruling in which they entertained the idea of paid prioritization, which means that a 'fast lane' would be open to deep-pocketed corporations," Franken said.
Franken said this could create a divide between providers, content managers and users. Travus Elm, one of discoverpc.net's owners, agreed.
"I think that probably the big providers like NetFlix or Hulu will probably pay, but the little guys, the start ups will probably not have the ability to compete with that," Elm, whose store is located in Superior, said.
It could also damage small businesses' ability to compete, Franken said.
"If they do this, this is going to hurt innovation. It's going to endanger the way we get information, our democracy, and it's going to cost consumers more," Franken said.
Ben Luoma is the director of interactive media for Swim Creative in Duluth, and said fast Internet is vital to his position developing and designing websites.
"With out access to educational resources, video libraries especially it would be insanely difficult to, or it'd be really time consuming to, try to stay current with what's happening on the web," Luoma said.
The FCC is giving the public until midnight Friday to submit their comments. Users can visit www.fcc.gov/comments and click Proceeding #14-28 or email them to OpenInternet@fcc.gov.
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