Speak Up Now While You Have The Chance And For the People Who Can’t
As we approach the Thursday, January 14, 2010 deadline to comment on the FCC’s proposed rules for Network Neutrality, I’m reminded of the marbled halls of the FCC and the relative frenzy that has consumed our nation’s capital, and all of the politicians, lawyers and lobbyists who are involved in this contentious issue. But really, my mind is somewhere else today.
Today, I’m thinking of the young woman in Detroit who has a dream of a better life, the young man in Chicago who has an idea that will uplift his community, and the inner-city entrepreneurs, from Los Angeles to Atlanta, who know that their vision can change the world. It’s not just make-believe, these people are real, and there are many more like them from every city town, borough and corner of the country that you can think of. What is the common thread? None of them can make their dreams happen without broadband access. But that same broadband access that is so essential to their growth and success will be threatened if the government enacts policies that create greater costs for families, especially low-income ones, to obtain and use those services, or if those policies erode the incentives to invest in the networks upon which we so heavily rely.
The FCC, through this link, http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/upload/display?z=izmxi, provides an opportunity for public comments on this issue for those who want to weigh in on network regulation, or the so-called “net neutrality” proceeding. You are certainly free to make up your own mind after careful consideration and research, but I personally can’t agree with any set of policies that could possibly increase the digital divide, or make it more different for minorities and low-income people to fully participate in the social and economic life of this country. Over the past few months, I’ve made my opinions clear on this issue, and I intend to do so for the foreseeable future, so if you are unclear on the issue or have questions for me, drop me a note in the comment thread.
Here’s my final thought for the day: Is it just me, or does anyone else see the irony that low-income people and minorities – the folks who could benefit the most from broadband – are less likely to be able to weigh-in on this issue because they lack broadband access in the first place? Why does is seem like the FCC is favoring the opinions of bloggers and people who clearly have broadband connections, and why is the system they’ve set up likely to disregard or further disenfranchise the voices of the people who really need the services enabled by high-speed Internet connections? Our focus needs to be on creating opportunities for broadband adoption and use, not in limited the terms of access so much so that adoption and use or made more unaffordable for the people who need it the most. Tell me your thoughts. I’m looking forward to the conversation…