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February 26, 2015 : OUL Associate Professor Believes FCC Vote on Net Neutrality has Big Implications
- Cheri Russo
Communications and Marketing Manager
Lancaster – The Federal Communications Commission is set to vote today on an issue that impacts everyone -- net neutrality.  Ohio University Lancaster Associate Professor of Computer Science Technology Christine Wolfe believes some people do not realize how important this issue is because it is difficult to understand.
“The idea behind net neutrality is making sure Internet service providers are not discriminating between commercial traffic, health traffic or any other traffic,” said Wolfe. “Internet service providers would have to transmit everything on the Internet the same way, at the same speed.”
The FCC is voting on whether to categorize Internet services under Title II which would mean the FCC has the right to impose regulations.  If the FCC establishes regulatory authority under Title II, the FCC will have the authority to ensure that Internet service providers give consumers access to all legal content and applications on an equal basis, without favoring or blocking some sources. Internet service providers would not be able to give content providers preferential treatment by allowing them to pay more money for higher speed internet service.
Wolfe said some are against the idea of regulating the Internet because they feel it goes against the idea of competition in a free market economy.  But, Wolfe doesn’t see the issue that way.
“Occasionally there are services or industries where competition can’t exist at that level,” said Wolfe. “If you think about electricity, it’s really hard for a new company to come in and start providing electricity to houses.   So, the government tells these businesses ‘For the public good, we need your services available to everyone at a reasonable price. We need to step in and regulate you. We’re going to put some conditions on your business that other businesses don’t have.”
The FCC is the government agency that is in charge of regulating communication services.  It has traditionally resisted the idea of regulating Internet service.
“In my opinion, this is a service that is no longer a luxury. Everyone needs it. We can’t participate in government services, health care, in our daily lives without cost effective access to it. The Internet has become more or less a utility,” said Wolfe. “Currently, if a big company can pay more, Internet service providers can give them all the bandwidth they have and throttle back other customers.  It’s a business decision and that’s not a bad thing, but as the Internet becomes more a part of our daily life, we all need the same access to that infrastructure.”
Dr. Phyllis Bernt, author of the book, "Shaping American Telecommunications: A History of Technology, Policy, and Economics" spoke to one of Wolfe’s classes earlier this month about the issue.  She told the class about the FCC and its history in regard to regulation of the Internet and the net neutrality issue. 
The Computer Science Technology program at OUL emphasizes the computing and problem solving skills used by successful computer professionals. In addition to studying current technologies, students develop the ability to learn new technologies, complete projects, work in teams, and other skills valued in an ever-changing workplace. Students take courses in networking, programming, and database and website management to develop a broad set of skills in the profession.