The Opportunity Divide Is Being Widened Right In Front Of Us
Self-Destruction, we’re headed for self-destruction! I remember when that song first came out. It was meant to be a wake-up call to show us that we were allowing society to push us towards self-destruction. In a lot of ways, we are allowing that to happen now. In this age of digital opportunity we still, through ignorance, are putting ourselves in positions that will do us harm.
More than likely, you don’t know me but I want to tell you that technology saved my life. It has created opportunities for me to transcend my circumstance and create opportunities for myself and others. It has given me a freedom that I continue to enjoy. Very early on I realized there needed to be more people who looked like me taking advantage of the digital opportunity, and the biggest challenge is they have not been made aware of the digital opportunities available to them. So as the opportunity grows around us, we still are not taking advantage of it. And while we struggle to achieve parity in this space, there is another battle happening around us that can make the opportunity harder to obtain.
You may not realize it, if you’ve heard about this battle, but the problem has most likely been communicated to you incorrectly. The battle has been presented to most as the battle for an open Internet or net neutrality. It has been presented as a civil rights issue, a free speech issue, using all the buzzwords to have us act on emotion and not facts. The truth of the matter is that the battle is for the regulation of the Internet under Title II, which will allow broadband & wireless services to be regulated like a utility. Everyone agrees that content should not be discriminated against based on who wrote it or where it’s coming from and honestly that is not the issue on the table. The issue that is being decided is whether or not to give the government the control to regulate broadband providers and control pricing. You may be saying why do I care, but let me give you a few reasons why:
We will pay more for wireless and broadband access: Right now there is so much competition between providers that there is a new deal offered almost every month. This creates significant choice for consumers. If the government is regulating pricing, these deals will go away. When was the last time you saw a great deal on analog phone service for your home?
Lower income families will pay more to get access: Today there are levels of service for almost every income level. Services like Boost Mobile and Cricket give many people access to the Internet and wireless at a price they can afford. If the government regulates pricing, these lower cost service options will not be able to survive. This will not affect middle class Americans who can afford higher priced service plans, but will have an impact on lower income minorities and the under-served.
None of the organizations that promote Title II under the guise of “helping you” will tell you these facts. What they will do is emotionally charge you to advocate for something that is to your detriment and to the detriment of the people who are not in a position to advocate for themselves. Unlike many of them, I’ve been on the internet for almost 20 years and have been fighting to close the divide to increase the opportunity for all of us. I’ve also been consistent since this debate started in 2005. I’ve been against any FCC regulation of Internet services because I know how damaging it would be to us in the long run. So all I really ask is that you research the facts for yourself. Don’t align with groups whose whole purpose is organizing, who don’t understand the Internet space, and will mislead you to focus your energy on something that could bring about “self-destruction” for the future of our digital opportunity.