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Abandoning net neutrality would hurt seniors, AARP says

July 30, 2014
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Abandoning an open Internet and prioritizing the transmission of some online content over other content would hurt older adults who rely on their computers for medical monitoring and other services, the AARP has told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in formal comments (PDF) filed with the agency. The organization made the comments in response to the FCC’s notice for proposed rulemaking on "net neutrality."

So-called Internet fast lanes, as proposed by Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, would enable Interent providers to charge higher fees in exchange for faster transmission of some content under certain conditions. Such a fee structure would particularly disadvantage non-commercial use of the Internet, according to the AARP.

“The widespread availability of high-quality and affordable broadband connections…is enabling new applications and services that are enhancing older Americans' quality of life, including new methods of delivering healthcare and support for independent living,” accordng to the organization. “Policies to promote a vibrant and competitive Internet ecosystem are essential for the continuation of this success.”

Broadband service, which now falls under Title I of the Communications Act, should be reclassified as a Title II telecommunications service, the AARP said, to preserve a system of open access, facilitate broadband adoption and encourage innovation.

A recent AARP survey of New York adults aged at least 18 years found that 96 percent access the Internet, with 70 percent using the Internet or email several times a day. Forty-six percent said they spend between one and three hours online, and 21 percent said they spend between three and six hours online. Thirteen percent reported spending six to 10 hours online.

The survey also found that 67 percent of adult New Yorkers said they visit and/or interact on social media sites, 63 percent reported watching videos on video-sharing sites and 45 percent said they download music files.

To share your views with the FCC, click here.