Net neutrality showdown pits Washington state vs. Washington D.C.

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Bob Ferguson
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson plans to challenge the FCC’s net neutrality rollback in court. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

On Thursday, the FCC voted to roll back regulations that protected net neutrality, or the rule that internet providers can’t give preference to certain kinds of content.

It’s been all over the headlines for weeks, but what does net neutrality really mean for the average person? We’ll give you the full run-down on this episode of the Week In Geek, and also tell you how Washington state leaders are fighting back.

Net neutrality can seem abstract and far-off, but it has a very real impact on individuals and businesses everywhere. The regulations rolled back this week basically stopped internet providers from giving preference to certain content.

Without those regulations, providers could speed up service for the highest bidder. For example, Netflix could pay Comcast so that Comcast customers can stream video on its platform faster than they can stream video on Hulu or Amazon Video. Comcast could also do the opposite — throttle Netflix’s speed and instead make its own video streaming service faster.

That kind of landscape reduces customer choice and also makes life very hard for startups and small companies. Even big tech companies say net neutrality should be protected.

But the rollback is just the start of a long regulatory and legal battle: Washington state leaders announced that they will implement rules designed to protect net neutrality in the state. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson also launched a lawsuit against the FCC’s ruling and Washington Senator Maria Cantwell announced plans to introduce a bill that would overturn the ruling.

Monica Nickelsburg, GeekWire civic innovation editor, explains the news on this week’s episode.

In other news, one Seattle-based mobile internet provider is launching into a new market: T-Mobile announced it will acquire TV streaming company Layer3 TV and build its own TV service, taking on cable giants Comcast, Charter and others.

It’s just the latest surprising move from what has become one of the most interesting companies in tech.

And finally, we take some time to get geeky over Star Wars: The Last Jedi. GeekWire reporter Kurt Schlosser reviewed the film before its public release and says its one of the best in the entire Star Wars franchise, a strong statement from such a longtime fan.

On the Random Channel this week: An act of good goes viral; A nerd gets his moment in the limelight; And GeekWire is going to Pittsburgh.

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