Data-Smart City Solutions: As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares to vote today on the future of net neutrality, vehement debate on the issue continues to dominate the news cycle. Net neutrality is a regulatory framework intended to keep the internet open and fair by prohibiting internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or slowing down access for specific users or websites. Proponents of net neutrality argue that this regulation is paramount to ensuring that high-speed internet is available to all and that companies affiliated with ISPs or willing to pay a premium for faster speeds do not come to dominate the online world. Opponents, like FCC chairman Ajit Pai, argue that existing laws and market forces are sufficient to ensure ISPs do not create an internet dominated by the highest bidder, and that relaxing net neutrality will produce more consumer choices, lower prices, and more innovation.
Thus far, debate has mostly resolved around questions of who will dominate the internet if net neutrality is repealed, especially in the realm of the digital media sites that provide many residents with information. Less often mentioned however are the potential implications on low-income communities that could lose high-speed access if ISPs decide to roll back service in their neighborhoods.