This article was first published on February 19, 2015 as the cover story for that week's Reader. On February 26, 2015 "As expected, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed new net neutrality regulations. . . " On December 14, 2017 the FCC will vote to replace the "current Open Internet or net neutrality rules, which prevented Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or throttling legal content users sought to access, as well as preventing ISPs from accepting payment to prioritize some data.".

On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be voting on rules that would reclassify broadband Internet as a public utility. The stated goal is to give the commission the authority to enforce what's called "net neutrality."

Unless you're a rare breed, I've already frightened (or bored) you with a topic you're certain is arcane, technical, obscure, and confusing. You might also think it's irrelevant.

So to goose your interest, I'll note that John Oliver - the host of HBO's Last Week Tonight series - recommended replacing the dull "net neutrality" with "Preventing Cable Company F---ery."

My goal is to present a simplified (and in some cases over-simplified) explanation of net neutrality as a public-policy issue, specifically in the context of the FCC's impending vote. The proposed rules won't be made public before that meeting, but FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has sketched out the broad strokes - no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization.

Reader issue #593 The idea has immediate appeal. Anybody would be able to use a laptop computer anywhere in the city, making it attractive for tech-savvy (or tech-dependent) people and businesses who might want to visit or relocate there.

That was an idea that Dick Klein brought earlier this year to the Bettendorf City Council, which then formed a task force to look into the concept. That six-member task force has met twice already, and is expected to report back to the council in the next few months.

Klein said his vision was for the city to use a wireless network to make city services more efficient, with the savings underwriting free wireless Internet access for citizens.

But don't expect Bettendorf to become the Quad Cities "most wireless" city. Although it has reached no conclusions, several members of the task force said that private-sector initiatives in the area of wireless networks would make any municipal effort redundant.

A couple of years ago, the people who are continually stretching the edge of the Internet envelope began talking about Web 2.0. Wikipedia, the user-created encyclopedia, defines Web 2.0 as "a term often applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the World Wide Web from a collection of Web sites to a full-fledged computing platform serving Web applications to end users. Ultimately Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes."

That's happening.

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