No More Net Neutrality - What now?

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to reverse a 2015 ruling on Net Neutrality. As a US citizen, I am disappointed. As a member of the computer science community, I am frustrated. As an educator, I cannot stay quiet.

What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality was a ruling by the FCC in 2015 that helped keep the internet open for all users. They did this by requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all internet traffic equally. This meant that they could not charge you differently based on how you used the internet and that they could not throttle your bandwidth based on what you were accessing online. This provided equal access to the internet as was intended by co-creator of the internet, Vint Cerf.

What happened in 2015?
In 2015, during the Obama administration, the FCC ruled to keep the internet open for everyone. The decision was made by the 5 person FCC panel. As internet usage has increased, so has our need for ISPs to provide us with reliable internet. This ruling came after there were issues of throttling and bottlenecking, particularly with streaming websites like Netflix. The 2015 ruling made this behavior illegal.

What just happened (December 14, 2017)?
Yesterday, on 12/14/2017, the FCC voted again on Net Neutrality. This time, they voted to repeal the original ruling. This means that it is no longer illegal for ISPs to throttle or charge based on internet usage. The final voting was 3 votes for the repeal and 2 votes against.

Why does this matter?
Without Net Neutrality, the digital divide will widen because ISPs will be able to charge using each aspect of the internet. The digital divide is the gap between those with access to the internet and those without. Pew Internet has provided research to show that lower income families have less access to the internet. In our digital age, this means less access to all sorts of information. As teachers, we have to recognize that this will widen the gap between our students based on their socioeconomic status.

What can we do?
Educate yourself. Educate those around you. Share your thoughts and reasons with your local representatives. Hopefully, if we continue to pressure our lawmakers we will see a reversal of this ruling in the future. Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC Commissioner who voted against the repeal, said yesterday that the "FCC decision awoke a sleeping giant - the American people". It is now up to us to push forward and work towards change.


  1. I wonder what the impact will be for our students?

    1. I wonder the same thing. I hypothesize that as the digital divide grows, schools will work to provide more opportunity to students to try to overcome the gap.


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