As expected, the Federal Communications Commission voted December 14, on a 3-2 party line vote, to reverse the 2015 net neutrality rules. Take a look here if you want to know more about the rules themselves.
Now that things will be changing a bit when it comes to what Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can and can’t do, it’s important for school districts to keep them accountable, and perhaps begin negotiations. Here are three important things for district leaders to consider.
1. Make Sure the IT Team Is Watching Speeds and Content Delivery
School districts actually have an advantage in this department. District IT departments have so much data on hand about speeds, content, and even searches being made on their network. If anything looks out of the ordinary, it will be easy to spot.
This is one way to keep providers accountable. Our district leaders already know what’s been offered and what’s been happening on networks, so a sudden change would be an obvious red flag. The change in the net neutrality rules also allow for legal action to be taken against ISPs, and if any provider enacts such a sudden change they will be called out on it, and taken to the courts if necessary.
2. ISPs are Looking to Create Goodwill
There has been much concern that delivery for education institutions will get the short end of the stick when it comes to filtering and lane speeds. Many providers lately have been heavily involved in the fight to close the digital divide. Some are providing hot spots to districts while others are providing services through the FCC’s Lifeline program.
If these companies are truly dedicated to ensuring access for all students, they might be willing to work with districts to give them the fast lanes for discounted prices. There is now room for negotiation. Districts shouldn’t be scared to ask for things they need. ISPs are aware of the backlash of the reversal of rules, so many of them will likely be on a mission to prove that they are fair and even more importantly, that they care about students.
3. Take Advantage of Market Opportunities
The FCC reversed the 2015 rules because they believe that the previous administration stifled market growth and innovation. If they are correct, there will be new ISPs popping up that could be a better fit for the district. Rural districts that currently only have one option for an ISP could see that change with the reversal of the rules.
If, at any time, you as a district are unhappy with your ISP or they are acting unfairly, don’t be afraid to look around. Let your local startup community know. There could be someone there looking for their next big thing- and maybe it’s creating an ISP that benefits the school district. As members of #teamCDE, we know that you aren’t afraid to think outside of the box- and figuring out the best ISP for your needs shouldn’t be any different than any other innovative practice started in the district.
What other things should districts be thinking about with the reversal of Net Neutrality Rules? Let us know what you think!