Unlike Ted, I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Except the idea of a conspiracy is that it’s happening in secret—this isn’t. Corporations act in their own best interest; net neutrality and broadband access do not work in their favor.
This Slate article discusses Verizon’s CEO lying outright to reporters that the U.S. is number one in adoption of broadband—contradicting reports from the FCC showing that Europe and industrialized Asian nations are far ahead of the U.S. on this issue: http://www.slate.com/id/2252141/. Broadband is more expensive here than abroad and that is keeping people from accessing it—and all that is possible with technology, education, and access.
The economic stimulus and broadband article led me to further research and I saw that broadband was included as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—but the last of those funds have been distributed, according to the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/27/AR2010092706503.html. It remains to be seen what these efforts resulted in as the implementation is ongoing.
Libraries are one of the very few places that level the playing field for those without the funds to access technology. Access is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is finding jobs (particularly in this economy). I found the last three jobs I had online. I haven’t gotten a job from a newspaper ad since 1999. This conversation ties in with the previous one: without regular access to emerging technologies you can count yourself out of a great many jobs in a wide variety of fields. What if I didn’t have the funds to access the internet? And high-speed internet is essential to access all that the web offers in terms of entertainment, education, and empowerment.
Additionally, libraries should be pushing hard for net neutrality because of issues of access and censorship.
Ultimately, net neutrality and broadband access are about the ability of the United States to continue to compete on a global level. If rural citizens don’t have access to broadband it stifles creativity, innovation and small business. The same goes for the outrageous premium urbanites pay for access.