Student Interest

Internet Access as an Essential Tool

The Importance of Internet Access Today

For more than a year now, access to the internet has become an essential tool for education, employment, and life in general. However, much like the vast majority of the world, it is not considered as such by the American government. Yet, change is being made; most recently, New York State has made the first statement in this regard, passing a new bill that would force ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to provide internet access at a special price for low-income households.

The bill itself states that these companies should provide access at the low price of 15 dollars per month for at least 25 Mbps download speeds, or be forced to provide 200 Mbps download speeds at just 20 dollars. Of course, in order for individuals to have access to these prices, they have to be confirmed as low-income households. Furthermore, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a partnership with the Ford Foundation and Schmidt Futures, called the ConnectEd NY fund, whose goal is to provide internet access to 50,000 students in economically struggling school districts across the state. 

Opposition

This is the first in many steps towards making internet access a basic right for all individuals. However, it is not without opposition. As soon as the law was passed, several lobbyists representing major communications corporations such as AT&T and Verizon, among others, sued the state of New York. The plaintiffs cited the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) order on deregulating internet access. This change was passed under Ajit Pai’s administration, back when the former director faced nationwide backlash regarding net neutrality. This order canceled the conditions outlined by the suggested net neutrality, but at the same time, established that internet access would be considered a deregulated business.

(Photo: Sam Valadi, 2012)

Conclusion

While corporations claim that Governor Cuomo’s new law violates this order, the governor argues that this is an essential service that will allow millions to participate in the economic recovery of the state. Hopefully, this will become a precedent for other states to follow, making internet access a right instead of a privilege.

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