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Net Neutrality: A Principle Worth Saving

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During this past Thanksgiving week, while everyone was busy with holiday preparation, the FCC quietly unveiled its plan to repeal net neutrality, which would give internet service providers complete control of what

Image: Wired. FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai.

websites and online services their customers see and use. This repeal proposal is being spearheaded by the Trump appointed FCC chairman, Ajait  Pai, who has put a strong push for it. With the vote on his proposal fast approaching on December 14th, the freedom of the internet and the way people interact it with it today is at risk.

Here we go over the why net neutrality is important, what it would mean if repealed, and how it would affect students in an educational environment.

What is Net Neutrality?

Image: NextBigFuture

For those who have not been keeping their ears on things, especially due to this proposal being sent out during the holidays, net neutrality is essentially the principle that Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all data on the internet equally in order to prevent altering of  website speed and access in exchange for a monetary benefit. This is how we are able to access any website or online service we desire with relatively the same internet speed connection and can access any data we wish to acquire all under the same base price of the average internet monthly payment.

What happens to the internet if Net Neutrality is repealed?

Images: Forbes

With Net Neutrality repealed, Internet service provides will be allowed to bundle websites as they do with TV cable channels. The pictures above show how our internet plans may look if ISPs get their way. This is turn will only hurt the consumer in the end as companies will be also able to charge every bit of the internet by making users that enjoy streaming lots of content via online services or play online games may see a rise in their internet bill simply due to the amount of data they are using. If an ISP does not like certain websites they will be able to outright block access to it, and websites may have to pay ISPs to be on fast lanes, while smaller websites that cannot afford the luxury most succumb to slower internet speeds to their consumers. Which in turn, as the Washington Post has stated, “could hurt innovation and prevent the growth of startups.” Looking at it in this perspective, it can closely related to monopolization as big Internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast may use this as a way to stomp competition.

 

 

 

 

What does this mean for schools and students?

Image: Hollister Prep School

Like Edweek states in their article, that schools that rely on free and reliable sources will see their ability to access these “resources slowed” and startup education companies bringing new educational innovations will lose to “better-resourced” rival providers of content. Schools may find it harder to pay for better access to reliable sources of information, and districts in lower-income areas may find it especially difficult to afford these costs. This may also have an effect on a student’s lifestyle out of campus as students that may study at home may be barred access to certain information sources or just daily web browsing.

What can we do to stop this?

Image: Popular Mechanics. FCC Board.

There are many people just like you and us that are voicing our opinion either that be online complaints sent to the FCC or protests that are taking place at Verizon stores in the weekend of Dec. 8-10. We must let the FCC and the companies that are in support of this plan (AT&T, Verizon, Comcast) know that all data on the internet must be treated equally, in order to allow easy access of information and small independent companies equal opportunities of economic success without the fear of large corporation monopolization. Together we can ensure the internet’s ease of use to all individuals, or else the way we use the internet will be very different from the way it is today.

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