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Friday, December 22, 2017

Higher-Ed Critics of Net Neutrality Repeal

While some in higher education argue that repeal of the 2015 “net neutrality” orders will have little effect on campus, nearly every major higher-ed organization came out against the move. It’s feared that education could become more expensive and have slower Internet access unless the institution has the means to pony up the additional fees Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are now able to charge.

The old rules prevented ISPs from charging content producers and customers more for faster service. Ajit Pai, the new chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), contended the rules also stifled innovation and the move was passed in a Dec. 14 vote.

Repealing the rules is intended to spur competition among ISPs, which could mean institutions will be able to pick and choose the best provider for the campus. It’s also possible that universities could face higher charges because of the broadband demands of virtual courses or cloud-based storage and services.

Rural campuses are concerned that they will not benefit from any competition since they rely on a single Internet provider. Colleges and universities are fearful that research projects could be moved to slower speeds if the institution is unwilling to pay more for faster service. And if costs go up for colleges, it will likely trickle down to student fees.

“The new FCC rules do not follow in the liberated direction imagined by the Internet’s inventors,” Robert Ubell, vice dean emeritus of online learning at the Tandon School of Engineering, New York University, wrote in a column for EdSurge. “With ISPs given the reckless authority to block and shut down sites, academic freedom is a potential target—along with other guarantees of equal access.”

Editor’s note: The CITE will be on hiatus as all NACS Inc. offices are closed Dec. 25-Jan. 1. Look for the next post to appear on Jan. 3, 2018. From all the staff of NACS Inc., have a safe and happy holiday season.

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