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Indiana’s largest independent telecommunications broadband provider is responding to a ruling from the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality.
In a statement, Southern Indiana-based Smithville says the company is “adhering to the net neutrality rules set forth by the FCC.” The company says it has the capacity to manage users without throttling or blocking data, which can slow data speeds or restrict access to content. Those types of actions by internet providers have been a concern among those opposed to scrapping the protections tied to net neutrality.
But, users could experience blocking from normal interactions between Smithville and other internet service providers.
Barbara Cherry is an Indiana University Media School professor specializing in communication law. She says Smithville’s statement is not an opinion on the FCC ruling, rather a description of what customers should expect in the future.
“So they’re just giving you a heads up, so if you get some blocking, they’re simply trying to say, ‘it’s not us doing it. It’s because a partner did it,’” Cherry says. “And the reason that a partner can do it now is because of the new rules.”
Cherry speculates that a smaller, local company like Smithville doesn’t have the same leverage to enact data management policies than some its larger competitors.
“The larger the firm that you are, the more market power you have, the more you’re going to be able to leverage it now because you don’t have limitations, limits on the way you can discriminate,” Cherry says. “Smaller entities don’t have the market power to discriminate.”
Smithville gave no comment beyond the statement.