The following is EveryoneOn’s statement about today’s Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) vote to end net neutrality.
Today, the FCC ruled to end net neutrality, which are the rules put in place to keep all content on the internet treated equally. While not unexpected unfortunately, EveryoneOn is extremely disappointed that the Commission voted to end these protections for consumers and businesses alike. However, what is most disappointing about this vote is that it signals a major shift to disrupt efforts made to shrink the digital inclusion iceberg that exists in the United States. In the coming weeks and months, the FCC will look to gut the Lifeline program that could provide approximately 40 million people in the United States the ability to adopt the life-changing power of the internet. By FCC Commissioner’s Mignon Clyburn’s own admission during the hearing, the reclassification of broadband “…will undermine our universal service construct for years to come. It will undermine the Lifeline program. It will weaken our ability to support robust broadband infrastructure deployment.” These are impacts that EveryoneOn cannot abide.
Started by a Republican administration and supported by both sides of the aisle and even the telecommunications industry for decades, the Lifeline program has successfully provided millions of people in the United States with phone service and was poised to provide low cost or nearly free home internet service to the most disadvantaged in our country. However, as today’s vote signals, this current FCC does not see the value in making sure that all people in the United States can experience the life-changing opportunity of the digital world. The vote to end net neutrality is simply the beginning of a fall backward that puts every element of the digital inclusion agenda at risk. It is a fall that can and should be prevented.
At Everyone On, we believe that the internet is no longer a luxury and that efforts to stifle the use of technology is not only bad for individuals, but bad for business, government, and society as a whole. If the future of our economy is indeed digital, as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai predicts, then every effort must be made not only to future-proof our fiber lines but to future-proof the internet as a whole, ensuring that all people living in the United States have safe, unfettered, and affordable access. We will speak out against any efforts to end such powerful programs as Lifeline and encourage others to do the same. The firefight for digital inclusion for all has just begun and EveryoneOn intends to be on the front line.
Chike Aguh is the CEO of EveryoneOn. He can be reached at email@example.com.