Joshua DuBoise at The Daily Beast gives us a portrait of a hypothetical young, tech-savvy minority student and how the Federal Communications Commission could kill his dream.
Imagine a young black kid who creates an app so that his grandmother in assisted living could communicate with her family more easily. He's one of those kids that goes to the White House to show his invention. He grows and becomes a stellar math and science student, thanks to incentive programs from the feds, and he ends up with scholarships and federal Pell Grants to attend Georgia Tech. He gets his Computer Science degree with high honors. And then….
He decides that the major tech firms aren't for him: he can possibly do better financially, and do more good back in Detroit, by starting his own business, hiring some techie friends from his neighborhood, and bringing a new digital product to market. And he has just the idea: a radical new video service, the details of which he's smartly keeping under wraps.That's how the federal government—the Federal Communications Commission—could kill the entrepreneurial dreams it has helped to foster. How it could kill the remarkable innovative spirit that has reshaped the world in just the few short decades the internet has existed.
There's just one problem: after months of design and testing—and a bit of angel funding from contacts he met along the way—the young man learns that to deliver his product to customers at fast speeds, and compete with the "big boys," the multi-billion dollar firms already in his field, he'll have to pay Comcast or Verizon an exorbitant fee. His video service uses a lot of bandwidth, and, years before, in 2014, The Federal Communications Commission began allowing cable companies to charge startups like his more for the bandwidth they use. The cable companies call it a "fast lane," but in reality it’s a barrier to entry that the kid's fledgling company just can't afford.
So it's off to an engineering job at big firm for this brilliant youngster, where he'll pour his ideas into an existing structure rather than creating something on his own—something that could have allowed his own family, and the community around him, to flourish.
Gutting net neutrality now, as the FCC is considering, could be the end of thousands of bright futures.