The FCC has voted to give broadband to the poor. When governments decide to give products and services to poor people who could never afford it otherwise, it is because society has deemed those products and services necessities, without which, human inequity would be too great. But this move is not without its detractors. Some do not believe that the Internet rises to the level of necessity. Others are just concerned about potential abuses. Considering all of our national priorities, should we really be paying for low-income people’s access to Netflix, or worse?
The objections are not without warrant. Be that as it may, the vote passed. And low-income residents will have the option to use a government subsidy to purchase broadband Internet. The question is, why. There have to be reasons beyond human inequity. There has always been human inequity. Never mind how we are created in some esoteric sense. We are most certainly not born with equal circumstances and potential to succeed in life. This vote does nothing to change that.
Here are a few possible reasons why the FCC is now treating the Internet like a necessity:
Today, it is possible to apply for a job, get hired, work 40 hrs. a week, and get paid without ever stepping foot into an office, or meeting your employer in person. The entire process is done on the Internet. While this does not describe most jobs, it is not exactly unheard of. What is common is for one or more of the steps in the job-seeking, finding, and doing processes happens online. Without online access, many jobs are completely out of reach.
Employment is one of the areas mentioned by the FCC as a reason for pursuing this course of action. There was a time when it was unthinkable to apply for, and get a job without a phone. Today, it is not the phone, but the online access that is the necessary component. An email address is almost as ubiquitous a request on a job application as a physical address. Also, potential employers expect applicants to have some sort of presence on social media. A person with no Internet connection hardly stands a chance in the competitive job market of today.
Location Is No Longer A Factor:
There was a time when the only way to get broadband service was to live within the right urban cluster. Offering this subsidy at that time would have made little sense because areas where the poor lived had no option for service. Thanks to services like Frontier Internet, more out of the way locations are now connected to the Internet.
These companies are going where the big three or four have little incentive. Now that broadband has reached the majority of the country, and countryside, it makes a lot more sense to offer subsidies to people who could not afford it otherwise. Now, there is no excuse for a person not having Internet access, including where they live.
Internet Communicators Are Ubiquitous:
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone back in 2007, he presented it as three distinct items: a phone, an iPod, and an Internet communicator. While the smartphones of the day had some rudimentary web browser, the iPhone was the first device to place the full Internet, including Internet connected services in the palm of your hand, and pocket.
Now, even among the poor, iPhone-like devices are the rule rather than the exception. We all carry advanced, Internet communicators. If the very poor still do not have such a device, it places them at an even bigger disadvantage. Since most of us have access to the Internet all the time, It is more important than ever that the underprivileged have reliable access somewhere.
The FCC acts on behalf of the people. When they make a move to do anything, they do so on behalf of as many people as possible. Their vote to declare the Internet a necessity is a reflection of the way we all feel. No one reading this feels the Internet is less than a necessity for them. It only makes sense that it be officially declared a necessity for everyone.