March 20, 2019 | 28° F

Newark to bypass net neutrality repeal with personal broadband service

Photo by Wikimedia |

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka (D-N.J.) spoke about the city's plan to offer its own broadband service, Newark Fiber, after the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) decision to rollback net neutrality provisions.

Following the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) December 2017 vote to end net neutrality, cities like Newark, New Jersey are looking inward to supply residents with what they consider a more objective network.

Net Neutrality is the principle that all websites should be provided with the same speed and accessibility and should not be blocked or charged differently by internet service providers (ISPs). According to The New York Times, the 2015 former President Barack Obama-era regulations were implemented to increase the oversight of providers as the internet became a major communication network.

In a late-December 2017 news release, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka (D-N.J.), announced the city’s plans to offer their own broadband service, Newark Fiber, and remain net neutral despite the vote.

The repeal has been unpopular among different groups. On Tuesday The Chicago Tribune reported that 21 states across the country have filed lawsuits in an effort to block the repeal. 

At the time of the vote, supporters of the decision believed that deregulation allowed ISPs to provide more variety in-service options, while critics argued information valuable to vulnerable groups would be suppressed, as reported by The Daily Targum.

“The internet has always been about bringing the information from around the world to your fingertips, not picking and choosing that information based on how much you can afford to pay. That is the way it should be," Baraka said.

Newark Fiber is a partnership between the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation and Gigxero, according to the news release. The program offers network connection for buildings in the city, which the city has plans to expand in 2018.

The city will ensure that all existing and future contracts with third-party entities involving network-internet connectivity include a net neutrality clause, according to the news release. 

Prior to the vote, the Targum reported that the repeal of net neutrality could have consequences for students. Steven Miller, a professor in the Department of Journalism & Media Studies, said in an earlier interview that, in the possible scenario where people have to pay for higher speeds and access, the repeal could make it difficult for off-campus students to obtain those class materials.

“What this does is create a knowledge economy, in which the rich can get smarter, and those who can’t afford it fall behind,” Miller said. 

The efforts to establish its own network remain ongoing in Newark, and it is unclear how or if the network will impact students at Rutgers University—Newark. 

Ana Verma, associate director of the Office of Information Technology, said in an earlier interview that Rutgers relies on several outside providers for its internet connection, and that students should not see any change on campus, according to the Targum.

“The results of the FCC’s proposed deregulation are unclear. At this point, we are not anticipating any immediate changes to our internet connectivity.  We will continue to monitor the situation as it progresses,” Miller said.

Ryan Stiesi

Andrew Petryna

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