In a significant victory for supporters of Net Neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today reclassified broadband Internet as a public utility, and established a new Open Internet Order that applies to both fixed and mobile broadband. The new Open Internet Order includes three “bright line” rules, specifically banning broadband providers from blocking access to legal content, applications, and services; impairing access to content, applications, and services; and prioritizing Internet traffic in exchange for “consideration of any kind.”
Though broadband Internet access has become more common in U.S. households during the past decade, the digital divide has not yet been bridged. In fact, challenges now loom larger than ever for households without broadband, said Richard Reyes-Gavilan, Chief Librarian for the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) during his opening remarks at the “Libraries and Broadband: Urgency and Impact,” public hearing hosted by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) on April 17. According to IMLS estimates, about 100 million Americans don’t have access to high-speed Internet at home, while 19 million don’t have any Internet access at home.