Saturday, September 13, 2014

Title II -- What it is, Why it is important and Why it is bad for the Internet and Schools

What is Title II?
Title II is legislation that would provide the FCC the ability to regulate the Internet.  The FCC is an appointed body (not elected) that exists in order to oversee and regulate all communication forms within the United States and it territories.  The FCC is funded by wholly by the fees and fines that they hand out from year-to-year.  Title II would allow this body to creates rules, regulations and limitations on how the Internet in the United States would operate.  This includes pricing, privacy, traffic, availability, research and development of new Internet-related technologies.  It essentially puts a middle-man in between you and the Internet.  It is *not* net neutrality and at its basic level, it holds the ability to limit Internet access and increase a segmented Internet.

But I thought it was about Net Neutrality?
Well, it isn't.  It is about control and financing a controlled and neutered Internet.  Title II would allow for rules and regulations to be put in place to allow or disallow specific companies and organizations any activity that the FCC deemed fit.  This means that the government would sit square in the middle of technology development, research and availability.  This would lead to a bottle-neck of regulations that prohibit the investment in further broadband expansion.  Currently the United States has a much larger deployment of fiber optic Internet service than Europe does (see here), however this is largely because of the low level of regulation.  Regulations would stifle things like Google Fiber, which is just starting to get going, and other broadband services that would serve low income and low population density areas.  The places that the big guys like Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner can't be bothered with serving.  This isn't anything like Net Neutrality in that regard... neutral means equal availability for all.

Also, Title II does not put in place any safe guards against Internet "fast lanes".  In reality, any regulatory system opens itself up to the increased opportunity for pay-for-play to happen.  This puts companies like Netflix and Comcast in the drivers seat when it comes to how bandwidth is used and divided up once they have the safeguard of a regulatory environment.  And increased regulations mean increased costs for Internet startups and developers who want to create solutions for those who can't pay to play.  Increased cost always means strangled innovation.

Shouldn't the Internet be a public utility, like electricity?
No way, no how.  Why?  Just look at how far the generation and delivery of electricity has come of the past 50 years in the United States.  It hasn't come anywhere... since electricity was regulated and became a public utility throughout the country, it is reliable and steady in most areas.  It has not, however, seen any advances or enhancements in cost, delivery or technology.  We have coal, water, nuclear and solar power generation... but the oldest is still the method that most of the country still uses.  True, nuclear has come on the scene in the past 50 years -- but has it really made a difference in how much electricity costs?  Has it moved the technology of what electricity can do for us forward?  No.  The electricity experience in the average home in the United States has not been enhanced in our generation -- and that is what creating a public Internet utility would do for the Internet.  We've seen a great deal of expansion in broadband availability in the past ten years.  We have seen in-home, in-business and in-classroom speeds jump in the past five years.  Title II would cause that to come to a screeching halt.  Regulation would put a set limit on all of that, and everyone would have the same limitation as set by the FCC... except, of course, those who could pay to have more.  Like big companies.

I've talked about several subjects and points regarding why I see Title II as a death knell for the Internet as we know it, the Internet as we hope it can be... if it has raised your eyebrows, I invite you to visit DontBreakThe.Net and read more on the subject.  This is important because it impacts schools all over the country who do not currently sit on public networks.  That includes private schools, parochial schools, independent schools, boarding schools and schools that are in low population density areas.  Perhaps even sign the petition...  besides, it has some funny cat pictures on it.. and we all like that.

Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and 
The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

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