On December 14, 2017, the FCC voted to rescind the fairly young Net Neutrality protections put into place two years ago. The purpose of these rules was to prevent Internet Service Providers from giving preferential treatment to some parts of the Internet over others with regard to blocking or slowing the delivery of content. Although ISPs have indicated that they are not planning to degrade service to schools and districts, some educators are viewing these assurances with some skepticism, noting that things can change quickly. As Douglas Casey, Executive Director Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology points out, there are two cases. “We should consider the likely charges (Scenario A) to end users (e.g., a district paying a premium for G Suite access from its ISP) as well as (Scenario B) to content providers (that same ISP charging Google for fast delivery to districts). Both types of charges can and likely will take place.”
There is more that districts can do to address Scenario A. Ron Reyer, Director of Technology Services at Bethel Park School District, PA, shares this language that his district has used in RFPs with ISPs in order to get Net Neutrality provisions in their contract:
Service Level Agreement – RWAN Transport Service, Dedicated Internet Access Service and Internet2 Transport
Quality of Service – Dedicated Internet Access Service and Internet2 Transport
access to services and content they desire.“ With RENs and ISPs that sign up to service level agreements, there are still issues of what happens to traffic once it leaves that ISP’s network – at that point, they are no longer capable of making guarantees.