SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The phones have been ringing non-stop at Rep. John Garamendi's office.
On Wednesday, more than 2,000 people called Garamendi's offices in Washington, D.C., and Davis. Nearly all of the people calling are supporting Net Neutrality regulations.
“Equal cost, equal availability, equal speed, and equal access. That's the issue,” explained Garamendi during a FaceTime interview. The way this interview was conducted was an issue of consternation five years ago. In 2012, AT&T blocked FaceTime calls over cellular connections.
Thursday’s vote by the Federal Communications Commission is expected to eliminate President Barack Obama-era rules that bar internet service providers from slowing or stopping internet traffic or charging more for faster speeds.
“Their vote tomorrow is going to have a profound effect on the future of America,” said Garamendi who is opposed to the repeal of Net Neutrality.
UC Davis librarian Mackenzie Smith explained how consumers could be affected by the elimination of net neutrality.
“You're buying access to a service, and there is no guarantee that you're getting the same thing,” she said.
She worries providers like Comcast, Verizon, and others will charge internet giants like Netflix and Google more for faster connections and those costs would trickle down to consumers, many of whom can’t afford to pay more for faster speeds.
“We really don't need more things that will drive up their costs to get an education,” said Smith.
Ajit Pai, the Trump administration appointed chair of the FCC, says the opposite could happen, by increasing competition and potentially lowering costs.
“Because those regulations are so prescriptive, many companies, big and small, have told us that they're holding back on investment in their internet networks," said Pai.
A May report from a pro-Net Neutrality group called Free Press said just the opposite, finding that since the regulations have been put in place that major ISPs have told investors the Title II regulations in question haven't impacted expansion in their networks.
The report goes on to say companies that decreased their capital investment did so because either they finished prior work or reduced non-network investments.
The vote is expected to happen along party lines, with three Republicans voting in favor of repealing Net Nutrality protections and two Democrats opposing.
Thursday's vote is likely to be the beginning of a long process. Numerous groups have said they will appeal the decision, and it's likely to face a lengthy legal battle.