This is cross posted from the Disruption Department blog.
On Saturday, I came across a story on the Verge reporting that the South Carolina general assembly has passed a bill blocking the ability for municipalities to create their own wi-fi networks. You can read the entire bill here.
To even see the perspective of the South Carolina assembly here is difficult, especially regarding the fact that many participating members of the committee that passed this bill receive campaign contributions from the two juggernaut internet service providers in North Carolina, Time Warner and Comcast.
As always, the comments on the article were of interest, being that they descended into political rants fairly quickly.
Whether or not you believe that government has the right/responsibility/ability to “compete” with the private sector is of little matter here. Providing families with low-cost broadband should be apolitical.
Apolitical because it’s outside politics, and beyond it. Apolitical because providing access to the world, and all the information the world has to offer, should be a civil right. Not a personal choice dictated by market forces. The mere fact that government entities have to create legal barriers for communities to address something that should, in 2012, be a free service to all people, concerns me about what direction we can go.
60% of my students don’t have access to the internet, broadband or mobile. That means that 60% of my students are receiving inferior global educations, and missing out on the chance to explore and play on their own, without the intervention of a teacher telling them what they should be interested in.
We’ve already got apartheid in our schools, but legislation like this entrenches it.
So we have the responsibility to take this off our policymaker’s table. This shouldn’t be in the wheelhouse of any corporation, nor should it be a matter of political ideology. As educators, entrepreneurs, and community members interested in connecting our students with knowledge and with each other’s ideas, we should push hard on our policy makers to value communication of communication companies.
Today I’m a little bit ashamed to be a 21st century citizen, when we have politicians clinging to 20th century politics.
I’ll be in touch with some sort of next steps regarding how we can ensure this doesn’t happen in our communities as well. Please let me know if you have any ideas.