NC school system fears repeal of net neutrality

Laptops in a classroom (AP File)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – As the Federal Communications Commission considers repealing net neutrality protections, one school system has a list of growing concerns about the impact it could have on its students.

“If science teachers and especially English teachers needed access to those news networks, news sites, we would have to buy a possible bigger bundle, cost us more money, even lose access to some of those things,” said Joseph Read, a sixth-grade science teacher at Cedar Grove Middle School. “We would have to change our lesson plans, revamp everything.”

Acacia Dixon, director of instructional technology for Brunswick County Schools, explained her department’s worries about the internet possibly slowing down inside the schools and costing more if the FCC gets rid of the protections.


“Think about the unintended consequences of doing away with net neutrality,” Dixon said. “For the home consumer, it will look very different than it does for educational entities.”

Net neutrality treats broadband as a utility and prevents providers from blocking, slowing down, or charging customers more for content.

Net neutrality: What you need to know

If the FCC goes through with the repeal, Dr. Lucas Layman, a professor in the computer science department at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, worries the school systems will be dealt a major setback.

“These public school systems could be priced out completely of having good internet service or at least they will be stuck with internet service that takes a back seat to the rest of consumers,” Layman said.

A back seat to the rest of consumers means a slow connection would be a likely outcome.

“They could slow things down to the point where we aren’t able to access it,” Read said. “With 30 kids in a classroom and every single one of them in the classroom raising their hands asking, ‘Mine’s not working,’ and your lesson is out the window.”

The FCC’s repeal vote is scheduled for Dec. 14.

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.

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