The FCC, Open Internet and the Digital Divide

By Timothy F. Fri, March 6, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently thrilled many internet enthusiasts (and enraged others) in finally ruling on the question of the “open internet.” The verdict? Net neutrality – and “the internet as a platform for innovation, free expression and economic growth” will be preserved; telecommunications companies will not be able to add charges for certain uses, or certain users, of the internet. 

At their blog, you can read about some of the FCC’s stated goals behind the decision – a decision which involved an extended period of public comment (public comment which, apparently, swayed the chairman’s ultimate decision), followed by closed-door deliberations. (These latter deliberations, derided by enough critics who saw them as too secretive, were then addressed in a further post by the FCC’s general counsel.)

In concordance with this stated commitment to keeping the internet democratic, the FCC has also released their 2015 Broadband Progress Report. These reports have been released periodically since the late 1990s, investigating the breadth of Americans with access to “advanced telecommunications technology.” This most recent report concludes that the digital divide – the imbalance between citizens with full access to online resources and those with limited or restricted means – remains a significant problem. You can read the full report here.


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