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What's next following the FCC vote to end net neutrality? We have a pair of reports. Also on our Friday rundown: We'll let you know why adolescents in foster care need opportunities to thrive; and steps you can take to avoid losing your holiday loot.

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Rural WY Could Miss Out if FCC Slows Broadband Speeds

Affordable access to high speed Internet service is being threatened by an FCC proposal, according to consumer advocates. (Getty Images)
Affordable access to high speed Internet service is being threatened by an FCC proposal, according to consumer advocates. (Getty Images)
September 25, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wants to redefine broadband by lowering the standard for speed, a move advocates for affordable access say will hurt many folks in Wyoming.

The regulatory agency currently defines home broadband at 25 megabits per second, but FCC chair Ajit Pai wants to allow cellular service at 10 megabits per second.

Kate Forscey, an associate policy counsel for the advocacy group Public Knowledge, says mobile isn't a substitute for fixed broadband service to the home, and not just for watching live sporting events.

"But also more fundamental needs like applying for jobs, for kids to do their homework and file book reports or do research,” she states. “It's the FCC's job to make sure that people aren't getting left behind in 21st century America."

Pai maintains wireless is a viable substitute. Public Knowledge filed a response to the FCC proposal last week, joining a flood of other comments opposing the lower standards.

Forscey says the proposed changes would be a step backward in rural and low-income Americans' battle for connectivity, stopping that in its tracks.

According to a 2016 report from the FCC, 63 percent of Wyoming's rural residents still don't have access to broadband Internet, compared with just 3 percent who lack connectivity in the state's urban centers.

"Let's not let the agency change their rules for its own homework assignment to ensure broadband deployment, so that it doesn't even have to do the project," Forscey says. "Congress told them, in no uncertain terms, to get real high functioning connectivity to all Americans, to every corner of our nation. No one should have to settle for less."

Similar to the huge public outcry over net neutrality, Forscey says it's important for people around the country to tell the FCC their experiences with broadband.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY