1. Technology that Increases Access Hits the Slow Lane
Innovations in videoconferencing and lecture capture technologies have allowed universities to provide flexible learning experiences to students no matter their location. However, if internet service providers are allowed to create “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” of access, experts worry these learning experiences will be in jeopardy. “slow lanes” of internet access could make it difficult for students to access cloud software or applications without hitting data caps.
2. Inhibit Ability to Research and Access Materials
a 40-page commentary to the FCC explaining how a repeal would hurt universities, eCampus News reports.
“Institutions of higher education and libraries depend upon an open internet to carry out their educational and civic missions, and to serve their communities,” reads the commentary.
“almost everything” relies on the internet in higher education. Students use it for research, to take courses and turn in assignments while faculty use it for research and to create lesson plans. Roberts says his library needs it to archive and preserve materials. Slower internet could inhibit research and access to library resources.
3. Increased Costs Without Increased Educational Experiences
high cost of attending a university might see a bump without net neutrality. slower internet access would actually degrade the quality of education offered for a higher cost.
In a 3-2 vote along party lines, the Republican-led commission decided to eliminate the current net neutrality rules and remove the shackles that prevent ISPs from blocking online content, slowing a competitor’s website, or charging you extra just to access YouTube. (You can read the dissenting opinions here.) It paves the way for an ISP free-for-all, baby, and you can bet telecom executives have plenty of lucrative plans in mind that we haven’t even considered.
with each new victory for the American telecommunications oligopoly, that digital optimism fades further from view.
Net neutrality protections are essentially safeguards that prevent internet service providers (ISPs) from interfering with the internet. Net neutrality gives the FCC the regulatory authority to prevent ISPs like Comcast and Verizon from slowing down or blocking certain types of content. It also prevents them from offering what’s known as paid prioritization, where an ISP could let particular websites or content creators pay more for faster streaming and download times. With paid prioritization an ISP could shake down a company like Netflix or an individual website owner, coercing them to pay more in order to be in the fast lane.
Net neutrality often gets treated as a sort of technocratic squabble over ownership and control of internet pipes. But in fact it speaks to a core social contract between government, corporations, and the public. What it really comes down to is, how can members of the public obtain information and services, and express ourselves creatively and politically, without interference from massive corporations?
Should we think of the internet as a good, a service, an infrastructure, or something else?
It’s all of the above.
The internet has been radically privatized. It wasn’t inevitable, but through policy decisions over the years, the internet has become increasingly commodified. Meanwhile it’s really difficult to imagine living in modern society without fast internet services — it’s no longer a luxury but a necessity for everything ranging from education to health to livelihood. The “digital divide” is a phrase that sounds like it’s from the 1990s, but it’s still very relevant. Somewhere around one fifth of American households don’t have access to wireline broadband services. It’s a social problem. We should be thinking about the internet as a public service and subsidizing it to make sure that everyone has access.
In your recent book on media democracy, you discuss the rise of what you call “corporate libertarianism.” What is corporate libertarianism and how does it relate to net neutrality?
Corporate libertarianism is an ideological project that has origins at a core moment in the 1940s. It sees corporations as having individual freedoms, like those in the First Amendment, which they can use to shield themselves from public interest oversight and regulation. It’s also often connected to this assumption that the government should never intervene in markets, and media markets in particular. (My note: Milton Friedman)
Of course, this is a libertarian mythology — the government is always involved. The question ought to be how it should be involved. Under corporate libertarianism it’s assumed that the government should only be involved in ways that enhance profit maximization for communication oligopolies.
There are clear dangers associated with vertical integration, where the company that owns the pipes is able to control the dissemination of information, and able to set the terms by which we access that information.
There have been cases like this already. In 2005, the company Telus, which is the second largest telecommunications company in Canada, began blocking access to a server that hosted a website that supported a labor strike against Telus.
Net neutrality is just one part of the story. What other regulations, policies and interventions could resist corporate control of the internet?
Roughly half of Americans live in communities that have access to only one ISP. My note: Ha Ha Ha, “pick me, pick me,” as Dori from “Finding Nemo” will say… Charter, whatever they will rename themselves again, is the crass example in Central MN.
Strategies to contain and confront monopolies:
break them up, and to prevent monopolies and oligopolies from happening in the first place by blocking mergers and acquisitions.
if we’re not going to outright nationalize them then we want to heavily regulate them, and enforce some kind of social contract where they’re compelled to provide a public service in exchange for the right to operate.
create public alternatives, like municipal wireless networks that can circumvent and compete with corporate monopolies. There’s a growing number of these publicly owned and governed internet infrastructures, and building more is crucial.
Consumers generally connect to the internet one of two ways. They can subscribe to a residential broadband service from a company such as Time Warner Cable. Or they can subscribe to wireless internet access from companies such as Sprint.
These companies have spent billions of dollars laying cables in the ground (in the case of residential internet access) or erecting cell phone towers (for wireless access) to ensure that customers have fast, reliable service.
Network neutrality is the idea that these companies should treat all internet traffic equally. It says your ISP shouldn’t be allowed to block or degrade access to certain websites or services, nor should it be allowed to set aside a “fast lane” that allows content favored by the ISP to load more quickly than the rest.
Since the term was coined more than a decade ago, it has been at the center of the debate over internet regulation. Congress, the Federal Communications Commission(FCC), and the courts have all debated whether and how to protect network neutrality.
Advocates argue that network neutrality lowers barriers to entry online, allowing entrepreneurs to create new companies like Google, Facebook, and Dropbox. But critics warn that regulating the broadband market could be counterproductive, discouraging investment in internet infrastructure and limiting the flexibility of ISPs themselves to innovate.
Jeff Kao Data Scientist, Software Engineer, Language Nerd, Biglaw Refugee. jeffykao.com
More than a Million Pro-Repeal Net Neutrality Comments were Likely Faked
The Federal Communications Commission released a plan on Tuesday to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for internet service companies to charge users more to see certain content and to curb access to some websites.
The proposal, made by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from stopping or slowing down the delivery of websites. They also prevent the companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services.
FCC chairman defends net neutrality repeal plan
An analysis of the millions of comments conducted by the data company Gravwell in October found that just 17.4 percent of the comments to the FCC on the net neutrality rules came from real people.
Because many internet services for mobile devices include limits on data use, the changes will be visible there first. In one dramatic scenario, internet services would begin to resemble cable-TV packages, where subscriptions could be limited to a few dozen sites and services. Or, for big spenders, a few hundred. Fortunately, that’s not a likely scenario. Instead, expect a gradual shift towards subscriptions that provide unlimited access to certain preferred providers while charging extra for everything else.
Even Verizon’s “unlimited” plans impose limits. The company’s cheapest unlimited mobile plan limits video streaming quality to 480p resolution, which is DVD quality, on phones and 720p resolution, the lower tier of HD quality, on tablets. Customers can upgrade to a more expensive plan that enables 720p resolution on phones and 1080p on tablets, but the higher quality 4K video standard is effectively forbidden.
Meanwhile, Comcast customers in 28 states face 1 terabyte data caps. Going over that limit costs subscribers as much as an additional $50 a month. As 4K televisions become more common, more households may hit the limit. That could prompt some to stick with a traditional pay-TV package from Comcast.
Republican FCC Chair Ajit Pai argues that Federal Trade Commission will be able to protect consumers and small business from abuses by internet providers once the agency’s current rules are off the books. But that’s not clear.
The good news is the internet won’t change overnight, if it all. Blake Reid, a clinical professor at Colorado Law, says the big broadband providers will wait to see how the inevitable legal challenges to the new FCC order shakeout. They’ll probably keep an eye on 2018 and even 2020 elections as well.