Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Open Internet

There has been much talk in recent months about Open Internet, Net Neutrality, and the re-emergence on the discussion of the Digital Divide. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in May 2014, opened the discussion for public comment on how to advance the idea of an Open Internet.  Additionally, there is a current "Fast Lane" proposal - meaning if certain companies have greater content (as detailed in graph below), they may be charged more by the ISPs to provide their content at speeds that consumers have grown to expect.  This may mean consumers end up paying more in the end for services. The analogy here is the carpool lane on the highway (but in this scenario, you have to pay for the use of the lane).

One option considered, is if the FCC made ISPs a utility; that may prevent them charging certain companies more to provide services based on their use of bandwidth, thus giving the Government greater oversight (similar to gas, electric, etc...) One town, Chattanooga, Tenn. has offered an alternative model.  They have a city-owned department, running their own high speed broadband for the city.  Municipality-managed internet access is a clear example of the how some cities are working to bridge the digital divide.

Some things to consider based on this information:  Is this something new to the digital divide theory?  Is access in itself acceptable, or is equal access for all (in the functions of speed and availability) what is necessary as we progress as a society?  Does the digital divide work only at the individual level, or our corporations a consideration as well?  


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