Repeal of net neutrality is bad for education, business and you

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From Shant Sahakian, who sits on the Board of Education of the Glendale Unified School District:

Net neutrality is based on the principle that the internet should be fair, open and equal for all. Currently, the FCC policy prevents major telecommunications companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Charter from controlling what you see and do online by speeding up or slowing down select websites, censoring or limiting access to lawful content, or charging extra fees to access parts of the internet. If you are wondering what an “unneutral internet” would resemble, look no further than your cable TV subscription, where you have to pay for the “premium package” to access all of the TV channels available.

As an elected official serving in public education, I worry about how the repeal will impact our students’ access to information and knowledge. Our Glendale Unified School District serves over 26,000 students and more than half of our students come from socioeconomically disadvantaged households. The repeal of net neutrality would allow internet service providers to charge more to access certain websites, apps, videos and content, making the internet more exclusive, more expensive and less accessible. The repeal would create a digital divide for students who depend on the Web for homework, research and collaboration.

Our small business community would also be impacted by the changes. Today, anyone with an internet connection can build a website and sell their goods and services in the open online marketplace. The repeal would allow broadband providers, the gatekeepers of the internet, to create “fast lanes” where some websites would load more quickly, giving them preferential treatment, and some websites would load more slowly, making them harder to access. The new barriers of entry will stifle innovation and put economic opportunity out of reach for many entrepreneurs and startups.

Net neutrality should be a bipartisan priority. The concept began with the FCC Open Internet Order of 2010 during the Bush administration. Net neutrality, as we know it today, became FCC policy during the Obama administration. Opponents including the FCC chairman would have you believe that we should trust the free market with regulating itself, but we should remember that the “free market” for internet access is controlled by a small number of monopolistic players.

You can read the whole piece at the Los Angeles Times.

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