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The Internet has become so ubiquitous that many of us take it for granted in our daily lives. With so many U.S. households and schools connected, it's difficult to imagine what it would be like if that access to free information was revoked or restricted.
However, a recent push by cable and Internet providers attempted to do just that. Fortunately for the millions of Web-surfers in the country, the U.S. Congress voted to uphold net neutrality and keep the Internet a free and open exchange of information. For schools looking to increase their edtech spending, this is a breath of fresh air.
How threatening net neutrality could threaten education technology spending
Net neutrality is the principle that all information and content on the Web is equal and, as such, Internet providers must offer equal service to all areas of the Web. The push by the nation's Internet service providers to break through the supposed barrier of net neutrality would remove that restriction. In other words, ISPs would be able to charge websites more money for additional bandwidth, in essence charging a premium for a faster browsing speed for users.
In the context of education technology, this could create a serious roadblock to an already overburdened Internet service. Many schools are already struggling to meet the growing bandwidth needs imposed by increased enrollment and the continuing development of online educational resources and learning software. Without the protection of net neutrality, educational websites may have been in danger of having to pay more to ISPs to simply meet minimum browsing standards for their users in schools.
Open Internet may lead to continued software development
A longer-term consequence of overturning net neutrality is that companies in the business of developing educational software, online resources and even websites would have felt the brunt of the legislation change. The additional cost ISPs would be able to charge would take much-needed money away from development budgets. Over time, this could lead to stunting the speed at which these essential resources or developed, and could even force some companies to close their doors.
Fortunately, the push to overturn net neutrality was stopped in its tracks. Congress decided that the Internet was not a product, but a utility, and thus was subject to free and open pricing. This is great news not just for edtech develeopers, but for school administrators and the students who will benefit from their products.