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Republican Mike O’Rielly Makes Puzzling Claim About Locally-Owned Broadband Networks

After eliminating net neutrality rules, allowing the big internet service providers to block or slow online traffic from whichever sites they wish, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission may be looking to take down a new target: small, locally operated ISPs.

According to an account by the tech site Motherboard, FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly (pictured above), a Republican, asserted in a speech last week that the smaller ISPs, often run by state and local governments, pose a threat to free speech.

While most Americans access the internet through giant telecommunications companies such as AT&T, Comcast or Verizon, at least 750 communities across the country have built their own broadband networks, Motherboard reports, as a way offering alternatives to the big telecom firms and their slow online data speeds, hefty fees and often unresponsive customer service—problems could now become even worse with net neutrality regulations lifted.

The rules prohibited ISPs from discriminating against some traffic by slowing it, while charging additional fees to data providers for access to an internet fast lane—fees that would be passed on to internet users.

But according to a Harvard University research study, community networks on average offer higher quality service at a lower cost than the large, corporate ISPs.