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TMCNet:  Hundreds Gather in New Mexico to Tell FCC to Protect Open Internet

[November 17, 2010]

Hundreds Gather in New Mexico to Tell FCC to Protect Open Internet

(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Nov. 16 -- The FreePress issued the following news release: It was a full house at the Albuquerque Journal Theater on Tuesday night, as hundreds gathered to share their stories about the importance of the open Internet in their daily lives. Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps heard impassioned testimony from diverse members of the Albuquerque community, and told the crowd "the Internet was born on openness, flourished on openness and depends on openness for its continued success." Geoffrey Blackwell, chief of the FCC's Office of Native Affairs and Policy, New Mexico state Rep. Antonio Maestas, Loris Taylor of Native Public Media, and Bill Woldman from the office of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, also spoke at the public hearing, which coincided with the National Congress of American Indians' 67th Annual Conference. The event was organized by Free Press, Media Literacy Project and the Center for Media Justice.

More than 400 people attended the hearing, and dozens lined up to offer their personal testimony, asking Copps to deliver their message of support for a free and open Internet back to Washington.

"Our job now," Copps said, "is to correct course by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, and call an apple an apple, and then craft rules and procedures that will protect consumers against discrimination, protect against a privatized Internet, and protect against the cannibalization, cable-ization and further consolidation of broadband technology." New Mexico ranks 47th in broadband access, and more than half of households in the state don't have a broadband connection.

Andrea Quijada, executive director of the Albuquerque-based Media Literacy Project, echoed the growing role of the Internet for the most basic services.

"With 30 of our 33 counties being medically underserved, we know that the Internet is not just about civic participation," she said. "With a state poverty rate at 19 percent -- the third highest in the country -- we know that the Internet is not just about access. It is about the opportunities that openness creates. It is about ensuring a digital level playing field." "The open Internet creates the opportunity for a small business in Mora to compete with companies across the country in Manhattan," added Maestas. "Preserving the open Internet is essential to our economic success." Several speakers emphasized the urgent need for swift FCC action to protect Net Neutrality, the longstanding principle that prevents Internet service providers from interfering with online content and applications.

"Instead of spending money and time on building out networks to unserved and underserved communities, the phone and cable companies like Comcast, AT&T and Qwest, are spending money lobbying in Washington to disrupt the open Internet, in ways that would curb investment and innovation, so they can pad their bottom lines," said Loris Taylor, executive director of Native Public Media and a board member of Free Press. "They are working hard to divide our communities, when we should be coming together to move forward." "If we've learned anything from our communities' struggles with oil, gas and mining industries, we know that without real protections from corporate abuse big companies will prioritize their profit margins at the expense of our survival," added amalia deloney, grassroots policy director at Center for Media Justice. "We cannot afford to replicate this with broadband." Dozens of New Mexico residents shared stories of having to drive across town to get online to do homework, access immigration and medical information, and to make a living.

"To me, a free and open internet means I wouldn't have to drive to my sister's house when I need to do homework," said Mayte Lopez, a high school senior in Albuquerque. "It means fewer bumps in the road when it comes to school. It means I would be able to do my homework at home instead of trying to figure out how to turn in an assignment or communicate with my classmates on top of getting ready to graduate and apply for college." To watch the hearing online, go to www.savetheinternet.com/abqhearing.

TNS mv45 101117-3111181 61MarlynVitin (c) 2010 Targeted News Service

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