Dozens rally at Comcast over proposed merger, new FCC rules

More than 50 “net neutrality” advocates stood outside of Comcast’s headquarters in downtown Philadelphia Monday, rallying against the company’s proposed merger with Time Warner Cable as well as the Federal Communication Commission’s suggested open Internet rules.

Supporters of an open Internet say that treating all websites equally ensures that innovative startups aren’t unfairly disadvantaged compared with established businesses that could pay more to Internet service providers for better service.

Activists in Philadelphia said the FCC’s new proposal would create a fast track for companies that can afford to pony up and leave everyone else in the dust. They want the agency to adopt different regulations that would guarantee equal treatment on the Web.

“So many innovations have come about because people had the open access,” said Genevieve Gavin of South Philadelphia, “and I think changing that will cut off future innovation.”

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“Net neutrality may be boring to you, but you will miss it when it is stolen from us!” said Chris Rabb, an adjunct professor of business at Temple University and one of the rally’s featured speakers.

Rabb also lambasted Comcast’s plan to acquire Time Warner Cable.

“A Comcast merger with Time Warner is not in our best interest,” he said. “It is not in the best interest of this country. It is not in the best interest of innovation. It is not in the best interest for anyone except, perhaps, Comcast.”

Comcast has said a merger would lead to better service for users. The company also contends the Internet has thrived because of light regulation, saying stricter net neutrality rules would stifle innovation.

Monday was the deadline to submit public comments on the FCC’s proposed open Internet rules.

Comcast’s merger with Time Warner, proposed to the FCC in April, remains pending.

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