The map that shows rural Minnesota will suffer most from net neutrality repeal

This map shows that the free market argument doesn't work in parts of the state.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Net neutrality rules have the support of 83 percent of Americans, but that didn't stop the FCC from repealing them on Thursday.

Pending a legal challenge, the open internet principles that state every website is treated equally will be gone.

In return, more power will be given to internet service providers (ISPs) who could now potentially charge customers to use certain websites, slow down content from rivals, and give priority to sites that pay them more.

A common argument from the minority who support the repeal is that free market competition will ensure ISPs stick with "open internet" rules, so if one broadband provider decides to slow down content, you move to another provider.

But this map of Minnesota shows you why this is a fallacy.

As you can see, in large areas of predominantly rural Minnesota, there is no free market competition – at least, not if you want relatively fast internet speeds.

The yellow areas of the state have just one internet service provider providing speeds of 25mbps download, 3mbps upload.

As such, people living in these zones – which includes small pockets of the Twin Cities – literally have no alternative should their local provider decided to abandon open internet principles.

In light green areas there are two options. But, again, these residents could run into problems if one or both ISPs start moving away from open internet rules.

Only a few, albeit densely populated areas, have the choice of three or more ISPs, mainly in the southern Twin Cities metro and western exurbs, as well as the Rochester and southeast region.

The white areas meanwhile have no providers of 25mbps-or-faster speeds, meaning they'll also have few or zero alternatives when it comes to buying internet service.

Ironically, FCC chairman Ajit Pai has actually said one of his main aims with the repeal of net neutrality is "expanding access to broadband."

But as the Business Insider notes, his plan prioritizes areas that don't have broadband access at all, rather than increasing competition in areas that already has it.

Will ISPs stick with net neutrality?

Those without any choice of provider will just have to hope their local broadband company will stay true to open internet rules.

Major ISPs, including Comcast, have said throughout the net neutrality discussion process that they will abide by the spirit of it even without its protection by the FCC.

But there have already been signs that at least some of this was posturing.

Below is the net neutrality pledge page on the website of Comcast – Minnesota's biggest internet provider – before and after the FCC said it was going to have a vote to repeal net neutrality.

Before:

After

As you can see, the promise not to "throttle back speed" has been watered down into pledge not to "slow down" lawful content, while gone altogether is the pledge not to create "paid fast lanes."

This could have implications for consumers going forward, as they may find slower load times on sites that don't pay ISPs for "fast lane" privilege.

And for those sites that do pay ISPs for faster speeds, they are likely to end up passing the cost onto the consumer.

The battle for net neutrality is not over. Websites including Netflix announced on Thursday they will bring legal action against the FCC over the vote.

Many Minnesotans – particularly those living rurally – will hope they're successful.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 9.55.05 PM

Small plane lands on northbound I-35W in Twin Cities

A large police presence is at the scene.

Plainview

Judge orders Minnesota gym that defied shutdown to close

Attorney General Keith Ellison sued the gym after it remained open.

montana cutbank

Charges: Man shot victim 'without provocation' using sawed-off shotgun

The incident happened on Nov. 24 in Ten Lake Township, located in Beltrami County.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Walz, first responders address Minnesotans

Some departments have been forced to shift staffing or suspend service due to COVID-19.

covid-19, coronavirus

CDC says COVID-19 quarantine period can be cut to 10 or 7 days

You can come out of a 7-day quarantine following exposure provided you've had a negative test.

maple grove fire

1 person found dead inside Maple Grove business that burned down

A person had been unaccounted following the fire that destroyed Hanson Implement and Storage Tuesday night.

One-dollar bill, cash, money

Appeals court rules MN high school students can get unemployment benefits

They've been denied the benefits, and some were even asked to pay them back.

covid-19, coronavirus

Dec. 2 COVID-19 update: 77 more deaths in Minnesota

The death toll is closing in on 3,700 in Minnesota.

City Pages

Fan creates City Pages archive, Star Tribune tells him to remove it

After word spread that the defunct newspaper's website would go down, a fan created his own copy. Then he got a cease and desist letter.

Adam Thielen

Vikings activate Adam Thielen off COVID-19/reserve list

The star receiver missed last week's victory over Carolina.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.27.14 AM

Naked man shot by St. Paul cop is charged for sexual assault of ex-girlfriend

The 31-year-old suspect remains at Regions Hospital after being shot.

Related

Bye, net neutrality: FCC votes to repeal open internet rules

The FCC voted to ditch regulations that prohibited ISPs from blocking or slowing content.

Could Minnesota establish its own net neutrality protections?

Two state lawmakers think so, and laid out their proposal this week.

5 Minnesota reps support effort in U.S. House to restore net neutrality

Some members of the U.S. House are trying to undo the FCC's open internet rollback.

Net neutrality supporters will try to 'break the internet' Tuesday

Net neutrality supporters are taking action Tuesday – here's what to expect while you're browsing.

Minnesota's attorney general plans to join suit against FCC, wants net neutrality rules back in place

She wants a court to reverse the FCC's decision to gut open internet protections.

5 key points that explain how net neutrality became such a big deal

Net neutrality: One of the few things that's got Pinterest and Pornhub on the same page.