Frontier Wants Employees To Oppose Net Neutrality In California

Internet service provider Frontier Communications is enlisting its employees in a fight over net neutrality in California.

Specifically, the company is asking employees to urge California Governor Jerry Brown to veto a law that would restore the Obama-era open internet rules. The measure, SB 822, was passed by state lawmakers late last month. Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign the measure.

"I oppose SB 822 because it will harm consumers and impose complex layers of costly regulation," reads the company's form letter for employees. "This will deter investment and delay broadband deployment in California, especially in rural areas that still lack high-speed Internet access."

The letter also states that the bill "will essentially create ''free' Internet for big users of bandwidth like Netflix and Google, but increase costs for consumers and decrease investment that creates good jobs."

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Frontier recently sent an email to workers, urging them to send the form letter, according to Motherboard. Frontier hasn't yet responded to MediaPost's request for comment.

The California net neutrality law prohibits broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic, charging higher fees for fast-lane service, and from exempting their own video streams from consumers' data caps.

The Obama-era FCC passed similar regulations, but they were repealed last year by the current FCC. Chairman Ajit Pai, who spearheaded the repeal, has repeatedly said the former regulations depressed investment by providers.

But net neutrality advocates who examined the broadband carriers' stock reports reached different conclusions. The pro-neutrality advocacy group Free Press said last year that investment by 13 major broadband providers increased in the two years after the FCC passed the net neutrality regulations.

California is one of several states to try to pass net neutrality laws this year. Governors of Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Montana, Hawaii and Vermont recently signed orders requiring state agencies to contract only with providers that follow net neutrality principles. In Oregon, lawmakers passed a bill that prohibits state agencies from contracting with broadband providers that violate net neutrality principles. Washington state passed a more comprehensive law that prohibits broadband providers operating in the state from blocking or throttling traffic and from charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery.

It is not yet known whether the FCC's order repealing net neutrality also prohibited states from passing their own laws. But some legal experts have cast doubt on whether that prohibition is valid. The FCC's decision to revoke the rules, as well as its decision to prevent states from issuing their own laws, is being challenged in court by a broad coalition of tech companies, net neutrality proponents, and attorneys general.

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