4 5 www.htcinc.net | Winter 2018 Winter 2018 | www.htcinc.net Michael Hagg, Chief Executive Officer Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc. A word from Mike Hagg, HTC CEO   Dear reader and fellow Cooperative member, Welcome back to another issue of Life Connections! Our fall issue received a number of wonderful comments from our readers, and we hope you continue to share your feedback. If an article especially stood out to you, if you know of an individual or organization that should be featured, or if you just want to share your opinion, email us at lifeconnections@htcinc.net to give us your thoughts. This winter issue delves into a wide array of interesting topics, giving you the chance to take a bite out of Rivertown Bistro, learn how one local family-owned farm produces the nation’s best-selling stone-ground grits, boost your heart health with a number of tips and fun facts, gain a better understanding of the brains behind HTC’s technical expertise, peruse the creations of a beloved local artist, and so much more! As you’ve probably read in the news recently, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality back in December. Inside this issue, we take a deep dive into the topic to help you better understand how the decision affects you. As we rang in 2018, resolutions were made regarding healthier cuisine, more active lifestyles, quality time spent with family and more. As always, New Year’s Day brought with it the dawning of a new beginning — the chance to start fresh and improve ourselves. As we head into the second half of February, I encourage you to stick to your resolutions and see them through. And as you do, take time to remember all of the good things in your life. For us here at HTC, we are thankful for you. Our Cooperative members are a critical piece of our community’s success, and we hope you know just how valued you are. We are proud to have provided our friends and neighbors with the best possible service for more than 65 years, and we’re looking forward to our best year yet. Best regards, Net neutrality defined Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) and any governmental regulation of the internet should treat all content on the internet equally. In 2015, the Obama administration established rules that prevented broadband providers from slowing down certain websites or requiring higher dollar amounts for faster access/site-load times. So, in theory, net neutrality levels the playing field for all involved — meaning that websites owned by smaller companies (like Etsy or Kickstarter) are given the same access as sites owned by major media corporations that have the ability to pay more for faster consumer access. The regulations were put in place after ISPs were accused of manipulating the speeds and accessibility of certain websites. With net neutrality, an ISP could not intentionally slow down a site’s load times or block access based on the individual interests of the ISP. As you have probably seen in the news recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal those rules back in December. News headlines, Facebook feeds and conversations in the workplace have all recently pointed a spotlight on net neutrality. But what exactly does — or did — net neutrality protect? What will it mean for internet providers like HTC? What does it mean for you? What does it mean for HTC members? As a consumer, it’s not likely that you will experience major changes to your internet experience. For example, if you are streaming a movie on Netflix, the time it takes to access the page and load a film shouldn’t be affected anytime soon. Though major ISPs could technically charge more to access certain sites like Netflix, the likelihood of that happening is small — it would mean risking public outrage, unwanted legal attention and lawsuits. With such a large public focus on the topic and the ISPs, significant changes probably won’t occur within the year. Major ISPs have said they won’t throttle or block sites, but there will likely be pushback and legal action from major public-interest groups. Here at HTC, we will do everything in our power to keep prices as low as possible and access as fair as can be. Unfortunately, many of these aspects are far beyond our control — but know that we will never stop fighting to put our members and their needs first. Where HTC stands As your reliable, local Cooperative, HTC believes in full transparency in our customer policies, especially lawful internet content. We fully support and are committed to an open internet, and we will continue to advance education to our members on matters that directly affect our policies. What does the repeal of net neutrality mean for you?