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Net Neutrality and Education

How does the policy affect our students and schools?

edCircuit Breakdown

Net neutrality is back in the news as the current administration in Washington appears to be favoring rolling back the regulations put in place by the previous administration. Academics at the recent annual EDUCAUSE conference made their case that net neutrality was good for education, stressing its importance to higher education institutions, libraries and other public service organizations.

Russ Jones makes the case that repealing net neutrality rules could dramatically affect education considering that as of 2014, over 300,000 students in the U.S. earned their K-12 education through online learning.

Earlier this year, a group of higher education and library groups sent a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai, and Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Reilly, urging them to uphold net neutrality, saying it is essential to protecting freedom of speech, educational achievement and economic growth

edCircuit Analysis

Net neutrality is back in the news again, as it appears that the current Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, is leaning toward ending the policy put in place by the Obama administration in 2015. It was in that year that the internet quit being regulated as an information service and became classified as a utility. It appears that the current administration wants to shift it back to being an information service.

Internet connection cordTaking away the utility classification means that many regulations ensuring full access to the entire internet would be eliminated, opening the door for internet providers to block some websites and speed others up. Additionally, they could bundle services and charge customers for packages like cable companies do. You could end up paying extra for email, social media, news or entertainment packages.

Some in education fear that large companies, for instance, an LMS company, could strike a deal with an internet provider, asking them to speed their service up to schools and throttle back competitor services, essentially eliminating a school or district from having a choice in which vendor they use.

We’ll keep an eye on the situation, but one thing is clear, if the change is made, it could be a fundamental shift in how schools and higher ed institutions get access to information.

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