On December 14th, 2017 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality rules put in place in 2015 under Title II to encourage and protect an open and free internet. The repeal comes as both a surprise and a concern to many American citizens who are unsure how the repeal will affect them, and what the consequences are of eradicating net neutrality protections.
So what is net neutrality, and what does it mean for the millions of Americans who use the internet and its many services and applications, such as videoconferencing or movie streaming? We’ll cover the basics and how you can help keep the internet free and fair for everyone.
What is Net Neutrality?
First passed in February 2015 by the FCC, net neutrality regulations reclassified broadband as a common carrier; in other words, the internet was to be treated like a utility. This meant internet service providers, also known as ISPs, would have to:
- support an open and free internet by promising not to censor or discriminate against any content, and
- treat all legal internet traffic equally.
Thanks to a free and open internet, we can currently access our favorite websites, movies, shows and games at a reliable speed.
Why is Net Neutrality Important to Me?
Unfortunately, ISPs have a track record of abusing open internet rights prior to net neutrality. In 2013-2014, Comcast and Verizon famously took advantage of their power by throttling Netflix speeds for users to bully Netflix into paying sky-high rates for prioritized access.
Without net neutrality, large companies such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will be in charge of our access to the internet and can control:
- what we view, read or say;
- how (and how quickly) we view, read or say things; and
- different ideas and opinions.
A loss of net neutrality can easily lead to a loss of freedom of speech, ending with all content you see or read carefully controlled by a handful of corporations.
How Can I Help Protect a Free and Open Internet?
Currently, the net neutrality repeal vote can be challenged and reversed by congress. You can help restore net neutrality regulations and fight for a free and open internet by:
- contacting your lawmakers and showing your support for net neutrality,
- urging lawmakers to file a resolution of disapproval on the repeal, and
- spreading the word to family and friends about the importance of net neutrality.
The FCC and ISPs must be shown citizens and customers not only expect an open and free internet, but deserve it as well. The internet is for everyone to enjoy and by working together we can protect it.
Finally, How Does This Affect SecureVideo Customers?
If passed, this ruling would effect everyone, including us. We can’t predict the extent, but we stand by our customers and we are dedicated to upholding the highest standards in the industry. As a SecureVideo customer, you’ll continue to have reliable service from us.
Significant legislation concerning Telemedicine and Telehealth Services was enacted in Texas when Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1107 into law on May 27, 2017. The bill removes one of the most significant hurdles for Telemedicine in the state, which is the requirement for a pre-established doctor-patient relationship. In other words, having met in-person before using virtual services. Without this blockade, Telehealth can offer greater access to healthcare for individuals with mobility issues or live in areas where long distance travel is necessary to consult with a Primary Care Physician. Texas’s passage of SB 1107 eliminates this hurdle making Texas the final state to remove this restriction of healthcare access.
Telemedicine services have proliferated in the United States in part because the service can significantly reduce the cost of healthcare by reducing travel times, staffing and overhead requirements. The service involves approved health care providers, such as physicians, or physician assistants and advanced practice nurses acting under the supervision and authority of a licensed physician, diagnosing and treating patients from a remote area.
Additionally, the new legislation opens the market in Texas and ends a longstanding legal battle between Telemedicine service provider Teladoc and the Texas Medical Board (TMB).
BACKGROUND: In 2010 TMB began restricting the service, especially when practiced by video in 2010 with a rule revision that required an in-person visit to establish a doctor-patient relationship. Teladoc then sued TMB maintaining that the board’s interpretation of the law was a rule in itself, one made without following proper procedures for rulemaking.
The case was eventually heard by The Supreme Court with Teledoc suing under antitrust laws and maintaining that TMB acted as a group of practicing physicians who had a financial interest in restricting telemedicine and eliminating competition. The board had responded by stating that the phone-only services were exploiting a loophole in the rule and that the rule was intended to forbid all Telemedicine without first establishing an in-person relationship. The court found the case in favor of Teledoc.
The passage of SB 1107 will benefit the citizens of Texas in many ways as it is the second largest state in the union with a population growing at a rate faster than all other states. In addition, it has a very geographically dispersed population with significant amounts of rural poverty. To top this off, Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic has noted that Texas ranks 46th in the U.S. regarding primary care physicians per capita, with only 71 Primary Care Physicians per 100,000 people and “has 35 counties that don’t have a single family physician in them.” Without Telehealth technology, these factors combined create a significant issue with healthcare accessibility in the state.
Elderly patients, patients in the workforce, or those with limited mobility can receive professional healthcare from anywhere they have internet access. Instead of making an extendedtrip to see a doctor, they are able to eliminate the costs of travel and any emotional and physical stress it can cause. Additionally, patients can receive treatment from physicians or specialists around the world. Someone they might not be able to meet with otherwise.
Telemedicine is a rapidly advancing technology that continues to prove its benefits and efficiencies while becoming more powerful, yet easier to use.
To learn more about using Telemedicine with your practice, contact us today.…Read More