EDITORIAL: Net neutrality is necessary for education
Deregulation will inevitably hurt universities
Net neutrality, the idea that all content on the internet should be equally accessible to all people and that Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) — which are few in number — should not be allowed to offer people more access at a higher speed based on how much they pay, has been a trending topic lately. This is because on Dec. 14, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on whether to curtail the net neutrality rules currently in place. Ajit Pai, the FCC’s chairman, is strongly against thorough rules regarding net neutrality, and if he succeeds in lifting the current regulations, there could be serious consequences for students.
Pai recently wrote an opinionated editorial for the Wall Street Journal. To read his opinion would likely allow many to see into the mind of the man who wishes to destroy net neutrality, but one cannot access the piece unless they pay a fee to be subscribed to the publication, leaving many of us ignorant to his views. There is an interesting parallel between this and the effect that getting rid of net neutrality could have on education.
To start, allowing the few corporations, like Verizon, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and AT&T to control internet speeds based on the amount of money the consumer is paying could hurt individual students. If Rutgers were to be forced to pay an extra sum of money for quality internet service on campus for their students, this would be an extra expenditure. Considering Rutgers’ extensive plans to expand and improve, the school is not necessarily in a position to pay extra for quality connection. If ISP’s were allowed to charge schools more for quality internet, which as a major research institution Rutgers clearly needs, the administration would be forced to come up with that extra money some way. This would probably result in students’ tuition rising or portions of money originally allocated to productive places being put toward this extra expenditure.
A lack of net neutrality rules could also disproportionately affect commuter students. If the quality connection that Rutgers would be paying for only covered the campus itself, then students who commute and do much of their work at home would likely be forced to pay an extra bill on top of the potential tuition increase that could result from the school having to pay extra, in order to have the same necessary quality internet access at home. This adds a seriously unneeded monetary burden to the lives of commuter students, who often times commute because it is the less expensive option. Deregulating net neutrality would likely unfairly expand the knowledge and wealth gaps.
Professor Steven Miller of the Department of Journalism & Media Studies said in an interview with The Daily Targum, “What (deregulating net neutrality) does is create a knowledge economy, in which the rich can get smarter, and those who can’t afford it fall behind.”
Considering the present cost of higher education, the wealthy already have an advantage. People who can afford it are able to graduate college free from debt and often move on to a well-paid job after obtaining their degree. Those who do not have access to higher education can have a much more difficult time landing a job with a reasonable salary.
The internet is a place where no matter a person’s background, they are able to search for and discover information. The internet has the ability to teach people, to some extent, sometimes just as well as a class can. It should not be a question that everyone should have equal access to the wonders of the internet. Net neutrality is just one component of equality for society, but it is an important one. We cannot progress towards an equal society without rules that prevent people from getting ahead based on their income.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.