What’s in a name? Obviously a lot when we talk about “net neutrality” and what it means in the context of the FCC’s publication of new rules, and the opening of a period for public comment. Please allow me to provide some limited insight into this process based on years of service in the federal government before the Internet even existed and we literally plowed through mountains of paper in an attempt to determine the merit and validity of the comments received. Now however, the process has clearly changed with the existence of the Internet itself and the power and influence of the politically savvy telecommunications, or if preferred, information services providers. This distinction represents the crux of the battle that will ensue in the coming months.
For the education community at all academic and economic levels, the implications of this distinction and any subsequent regulatory change will have an enormous consequence for our schools of the future. Where is Al Gore when we need him? I am talking now about the e-Rate and its importance in providing Internet access to our schools and libraries, and I think net neutrality helps to preserve this access for future generations.
This is not a time for a free market experiment! It looks like the battle lines are clearly being drawn, and we should not be party to creating an “information gap” based on one’s ability to pay for the fastest and most robust Internet services.
For all of you baseball fans, think of this as Opening Day (which it actually is), for a season that may go on for months.