By: Rye Spooner
On Thursday, December 14th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality. Created in 2015 under the Obama Administration, net neutrality regulations made it so that broadband and high speed internet were considered a public utility, therefore giving the FCC power to regulate internet providers like phone companies. Net neutrality made sure that big companies couldn’t block or slow down access to certain sites or apps, or charge companies more money to share content with larger bandwidth to consumers. It also restricted fast lanes, and made sure that all content on the internet was being shared freely and equally. Many people disagree wholeheartedly with the recent decision to get rid of this equality, and are worried about the future of the internet.
The main concern with the repeal is that top internet service providers will be able to set the prices any way they want, creating a pay-to-play internet experience. While Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC has denied these concerns, it’s hard not to be worried when big money is clearly involved. With the FCC’s decision to repeal these regulations, one has to wonder: How will this affect our school?
Some d.tech students haven’t had the chance to think about this question, but others are more worried about their future college careers. “I’m not so much worried about d.tech right now, but I am worried about college and my job, because almost all of that is online,” said Trisha Chen, a dtech senior. Others just hope it won’t affect us or that Oracle will save us. “I hope that Oracle has internet that doesn’t do that,” senior Adin Drabkin commented.
This passion for free internet use continues at d.tech, and when brought up in class, there are students unafraid to be vocal with their opinion. Senior Cypress Sell, for example, butted into the class discussion with a very loud and passionate statement, “This is stupid what’s happening, we need net neutrality, it affects everyone!”
Not only do our students rely heavily on the internet to accomplish our academic tasks, but teachers also rely on the internet to gather resources and to plan out lessons. The fact of the matter is: top internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon have no incentives to give schools faster internet speeds for free. However, Dr. Montgomery has high hopes. When asked about the FCC’s decision and how it might affect us, he was very sincere. “I honestly hadn’t thought about it,” he said after a moment of reflection. “AT&T is our main service provider,” he said, “and I consider them to be very philanthropic, so I would hope that they would not raise the prices on schools…I could see it having a negative impact, however.”
The very way d.tech conducts its learning and teaching could be threatened because of this. If we thought the Buzz and Powerschool loading times were slow, we can only expect to see an increase in our wait time, taking even more away from academic learning. Resources that we once used to gather information for our classes might be completely blocked, and it won’t be as simple as putting it on the whitelist for GoGuardian.
With the decision that was reached on Thursday, the effects will not be immediate, but it is worrying nonetheless. The first effect that might show up for us would be higher prices, as Paul Cerra, a dtech staff member predicts: “The most likely effect that I anticipate would happen if service providers began throttling access to external websites or resources that students use on a regular basis, such as YouTube. This might result in d.tech opting to pay more to a service provider for unrestricted or faster access, thus increasing costs for our school.”
The fate of schools’ access to an open and unrestricted internet is up in the air. While d.tech may be able to continue to thrive under this set back, many schools not as lucky as ours may face serious challenges regarding how to get academic content to their students. The future of the internet is now in the hands of the people who profit the most from it. However, the fight is not yet over. Many States, Including California, are suing the FCC to keep net neutrality. If you want your voice to be heard, you can go to https://www.battleforthenet.com/ or text RESIST to 50409 or contact your representatives.