Hello Everyone. Tonight, a little something that is not a short story. Tonight, I wanted to post something that is a little more important. Our government has a Commission whose sole function is to regulate the communications industry. That department of the Executive Branch is called the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, and is headed by a man named Tom Wheeler. Mr. Wheeler, before his current role, was a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, with prior positions including President of the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA). So, the very person responsible for regulating our much loved cable companies (see Time Warner Cable Comcast, Charter, and Cox at #2, #3, #7, and #11) as well as wireless phone providers (T-Mobile at #14) and ISP’s (the above as well as AT&T (#11), and CenturyLink, at #7) is also the one that fought for them in previous administrations.
Credentials aside, so far, it doesn’t really seem like he is fighting for the little guy. Recently, he has been making a push to allow ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) the ability to charge companies more for a “fast lane,” on their networks. For example, Netflix wants to ensure that you get a good picture at your home, they better pony up the cash. And you might not have been paying attention in Econ. 101 if you think Netflix won’t send the cost right on down to you.
The internet is a free and open forum. It is a place where ideas and information can be shared. Where we can learn, and educate, and share experiences to a global audience. It is the information superhighway and a web of worldwide influence. But it is so much more. Knowledge is power, and power is held by the People.
There is something we can do to take this power back. The FCC has taken the highly unusual steps of opening up the discussion early on this subject. You have a range of options, from mailing in a letter via snail-mail, to filling out their form, to sending them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would recommend looking at a couple of websites prior to sending the email, which explains what the debate is about (including Wheeler’s remark that he would rather “give in to Verizon’s definition of Open Internet than fight”) much better than I could, as well as the process of the public discussion. They are:
The Consumerist – FCC Chairman: I’d rather give in to Verizon’s definition of net neutrality than fight
Everything you need to know before e-mailing the FCC about net neutrality
So, in the spirit of the fight, I thought I would share the letter I sent to the FCC with all of you. I hope that I have helped some of you to understand this fight a little better, and perhaps to act on that knowledge. I love the internet; it allows me to do the things I love. It gives me a stage to write from, a place to watch great content…and some really amazing cat videos. It is Tweets and Likes and FaceTime and Wikipedia and Wookiepedia and podcasts and everything else. Please, let’s protect it.
Re: Open Internet
To Whom it may concern;
I am 30 years old. I have seen the internet come into being in my lifetime, and I cannot even begin to imagine where it will go in my son’s. I have seen how the internet has caused an information explosion. How content is able to be created, shared, viewed, and shared again. I have seen how anyone with ambition, drive, and an idea, can create anything in their imagination. All of this possible through the internet.
We have seen governments toppled, injustices exposed, and families brought together. The unencumbered access to information, and the free exchange of ideas, is of paramount importance to our world. The internet is knowledge, and knowledge is power; in a country where power rests in the People, by the People, and for the People, why should the People be charged more for access to it.
The FCC should be doing more to have a free and open internet. To ensure that we have a free and open society, we should be making sure that more people have access to the knowledge and information of the internet. We should be investigating why the United States is ranked 31st in internet speeds, behind such powerhouses as Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Uruguay. We should be investigating why telecoms have been allowed to act in non-competitive ways.
At a time when our world is getting closer. At a time when we need the free exchange of ideas to allow the world to come together. At a time when we should be a beacon of freedom and equality to the entire globe. In these times, why are you looking to make the internet a place controlled by the people which already control access?
If you truly do not believe the internet is not an infrastructure in our world now, just try living without it. Or, wait, and you might not have to try.
Thank you for your time,
PS – In my research for this article, I found a website I think you should all see as well, Why is American Internet So Slow?
Let me know what you think in the comments below!