Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, R-40th District, said he intends to introduce two bills that would restrict internet service providers in New Jersey from implementing paid prioritization for their services unless they already provide broadband speeds to the entire state.
Paid prioritization is typically associated with regulation of the internet known as net neutrality, the principle that all ISPs are obligated to treat internet traffic as the same. Without net neutrality, ISPs would be able to charge companies or consumers a premium cost for faster speeds. Some have argued these premium costs could allow for more investment into internet infrastructure.
The bill would not enforce net neutrality principles in New Jersey. Instead it would create an incentive for ISPs to create more infrastructure and expand their coverage across the state.
“We need to ensure that everyone has the basic ability to get out there and use the internet,” Rooney said.
Rooney said he also plans to introduce another bill that stipulates municipalities receive broadband-level internet speeds for free. As mayor of Wyckoff, he said his city received internet for free, but there was no guarantee municipalities would receive speeds required to operate effectively.
Net neutrality has been a divisive topic since the Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines to repeal protections in December, but Rooney said the issue had support on both sides of the aisle in New Jersey.
“It’s not a partisan issue in this case,” he said. “It’s an issue that affects people and could potentially affect them in a really difficult way — their pocketbook.”
Earlier this week, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order directing the state to only contract with ISPs that follow net neutrality principles. New Jersey also joined 21 other states in pursuing legal action against the FCC over its rollback of net neutrality protections.