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Aurora Institute

Tomorrow’s FCC Vote on Proposal to Repeal Net Neutrality Risks Limiting Educational Opportunity

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Susan Patrick, Maria Worthen

Issue(s): Federal Policy, Increase Access to Broadband

Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a proposal to repeal a rule requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all internet traffic equally. This vote will occur without the FCC providing an opportunity to educators and other consumers to meaningfully weigh in on the measure.

Net neutrality is defined as the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.

As an organization that supports equity for students, we are concerned about the implications of rolling back the regulations on net neutrality for limiting access and educational opportunity for all students.

Net neutrality is important so that our Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are not governing content our teachers and students can access by favoring high cost content over free, open or public resources developed by educators, non-profits or smaller content providers.

In K-12 education, many teachers rely on digital tools for supporting student learning and personalizing content to meet each student’s needs. If one digital content provider is favored by an ISP, what will this do to open access to educational resources? Most schools have limited choices and rely on a single ISP. The FCC needs to carefully consider the implications for limiting open access and sharing digital content resources fairly with respect to schools and K-12 education.

At a minimum, it is unusual for the FCC to be forcing a vote on this without holding any hearings or soliciting meaningful feedback.

With providers able to charge more to access certain content or higher speeds, there is a real possibility that schools and libraries could be forced into the “slow lane” of broadband speeds with discounted services and students would be unable to freely conduct research, access digital content tools and learn online.

Voting “yes” to repeal net neutrality could result in limiting students’ and educators’ equal access to the educational opportunities they need to succeed. The FCC commissioners should vote “no” and maintain the existing net neutrality rules.