Comments to the FCC, RE: Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, Proceeding # 14-28

June 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington D.C. 20554

June 6, 2014

Dear Chairman Wheeler and Commissioners Clyburn, Rosenworcel, Pai, and O’Reilly:

My name is Patrick Masson and for the past twenty years I have worked in various roles within Information Technology, including as Chief Information Officer at the State University of New York College of Technology at Delhi, Chief Technology Officer within the University of Massachusetts’ Office of the President, and currently as the General Manager, Director and Secretary to the Board of the Open Source Initiative. I am also an elected Board Member of the North Colonie School Board, in Colonie, New York.

It is from this perspective, with over 20 years of experience in technology, but not as a representative of any of my former or current employers, that I write to express my personal support for a free and open Internet. While the FCC has already received letters from dozens of technology and Internet-based corporations opposing rules that “would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them” [1], I write to voice concerns related specifically to the education sector.

As I am sure you are aware, the Internet can trace its roots to research and development undertaken by higher education, and today colleges and universities, as well as the libraries that support them, are embracing the Internet as a platform for both developing and distributing educational content and courses. Indeed unrestricted access to the Internet is now vital to our educational system, as reported by The Babson Survey Research Group, Pearson Publishing and the Sloan Consortium [2]:

  • 7.1 million of higher education students are taking at least one online course.
  • The 6.1% growth rate represents over 400,000 additional students taking at least one online course.
  • The percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those as in face-to-face instruction, grew from 57% in 2003 to 74% in 2013.
  • The number of students taking at least one online course continued to grow at a rate far in excess of overall enrollments, but the rate was the lowest in a decade.

The Internet plays a significant role in the education of all Americans—not just those who can afford it. As noted by EDUCASE in a letter to the you in January, 2014 [3],

Prioritized delivery to end users, if allowed, will favor those content, application and service providers who can pay for it. Paid prioritization and other forms of preferential access will significantly disadvantage libraries, education, and other non-profit institutions. Students, researchers and library patrons should have the same priority of access to information, knowledge, and educational opportunities as to entertainment and other commercial offerings. The online resources on which they depend cannot be relegated to second-class delivery on the public Internet without seriously compromising the learning, research, and public commons on which we all depend for a healthy society and economy.

I echo these sentiments and urge the Commission to take the necessary steps to protect Internet access, preserving it as an open platform for speech, commerce and education thus ensuring America’s continued exceptionalism in technology, academics and society.

Thank you for your consideration,

Patrick Masson

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/100-tech-companies-send-letter-to-fcc-say-innovation-demands-net-neutrality/
[2] http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/grade-change-2013
[3] https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/lettertoFCC21314.pdf

cc: Paul Tonko, United States Representative, 20th District New York
cc: Kirsten Gillibrand, United States Senator, New York
cc: Chuck Schumer, United States Senator, New York
cc: Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education

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