Old-Fashioned Education; New FCC Rules Could Block Student Access to Internet Innovations

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Byline: Susan Patrick, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced plans to enact a rule that would change the way it oversees the Internet from a Title I information service to a Title II telecommunications service.

While this may sound like language familiar only to lawyers and lobbyists, it means that the FCC wants to apply the regulations from the 1930s telephone system to today's Internet.

If the FCC is successful, private companies - from the large Internet backbone providers to software developers to people writing apps for smart phones - will have to abide by a potential avalanche of rules and regulations promulgated by the government rather than allowing the marketplace to pick winners and losers. Applications that are crucial - especially in the areas of education and health - may be stopped short of further development and deployment if the FCC puts its desire to have total control of the Internet ahead of the public good.

Right now, the FCC should not be centered on regulating the Internet with outdated laws. Instead, the FCC should be focused on how to get broadband into all communities and available for all students and workers as quickly as possible. The best way to facilitate the rebound of the economy is to improve education and prepare the next generation for jobs in a high-tech market. Today's jobs are quickly requiring more and more education, and students will need access to online learning.

The ability of Americans to use a high-speed Internet connection is crucial to improving learning from children to adults who may need additional training or retraining, especially in this era of stubbornly high unemployment. …