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Internet as a Utility: Digital Equality & What You Need to Know

Internet as a utility. Should we treat it as such?

In the 21st century, the internet has transformed from a luxury into an essential tool that permeates every facet of modern life. Its influence spans education, communication, commerce, healthcare, and even civic engagement. Given its unparalleled significance, a compelling case can be made for treating the internet as a utility. Which in this context, is a vital resource that should be universally accessible, affordable, and governed by principles of equity and inclusivity. Much like electricity, water, and transportation, the internet has become an indispensable infrastructure that underpins a functional and progressive society.

In this digital age, where connectivity is synonymous with opportunity, considering the internet as a utility is not only a matter of technological convenience, but a fundamental step toward fostering a fair, connected, and empowered global community. Let’s explore the compelling reasons why such a transformation is not only relevant but imperative for the well-being and advancement of individuals and societies alike.

Reasons to Treat Internet as a Utility

Treating the internet as a utility holds immense potential to shape a more equitable and prosperous digital landscape. Here are several compelling reasons that underscore the necessity of this approach:

Universal Access to Information

Just as electricity and water are considered basic necessities, the internet has become an essential tool for accessing information, education, and knowledge. Treating it as a utility ensures that all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status, have equal access to vital information. Which promotes informed decision-making and empowering marginalized communities.

Democratic presidential candidates are highlighting Internet access as part of the utility law landscape.


Digital Inclusion

The internet as a utility addresses the digital divide, ensuring that underserved and remote areas have reliable and affordable access. This levels the playing field by granting everyone the opportunity to participate in the digital economy, access online services, and engage in online education. Which ultimately fosters social and economic inclusion.

Promoting Innovation and Entrepreneurship

By treating the internet as a utility, barriers to entry for startups and entrepreneurs are lowered. This democratizes innovation and creates a fertile ground for new businesses to thrive. Then driving economic growth and job creation. While also preventing monopolistic control over online access.

Net Neutrality and Fair Competition

Designating the internet as a public utility can enshrine principles of net neutrality. Helping to ensure that all online content is treated equally. This prevents internet service providers from throttling or prioritizing certain websites. While fostering fair competition and preserving an open digital marketplace.

Internet providers say the California market already has a lot of competition and low prices.


Resilient Infrastructure with Internet as a Utility

Treating the internet as a utility encourages investments in robust and widespread infrastructure. This treatment of internet access can lead to improved network reliability, higher data speeds, and expanded coverage. Furthermore, benefiting both urban and rural areas and reducing vulnerabilities during times of crisis.

Protecting Privacy and Digital Rights

As a utility, the internet can be subject to stronger regulations that safeguard user privacy and digital rights. This can include transparent data protection measures. It can also help ensure that personal information remains secure and private in an increasingly connected world.

Disaster Preparedness and Response

Recognizing the internet as a utility can enhance disaster preparedness and response capabilities. Reliable and widespread connectivity facilitates real-time communication and coordination during emergencies. Additionally, helping to potentially save lives and minimize damage.

Long-Term Economic and Social Benefits

Treating the internet as a public utility fosters a future-oriented perspective, emphasizing the long-term benefits of widespread internet access. A well-connected populace can drive innovation, research, and education. Certainly paving the way for advancements in various sectors that benefit society as a whole.

In conclusion, treating the internet as a public utility is more than a matter of convenience. It is a fundamental step toward building an inclusive, innovative, and interconnected world. By ensuring equitable access, fostering competition, safeguarding digital rights, and promoting economic growth, this approach reflects the evolving needs of a digital society. While setting the stage for a more prosperous and just future.

Why Haven’t We Considered Internet as a Utility

The rapid pace of technological evolution in the digital age has made it challenging for traditional perceptions to catch up. The internet’s transformation from a limited resource to a ubiquitous global network happened so quickly that the shift to viewing it as a utility wasn’t an immediate consideration.

Another reason is that in its early days, the internet was often seen as a luxury or novelty, accessible only to a select few with the technical know-how. This perception of exclusivity hindered the development of a mainstream understanding of the internet as an essential utility, unlike more established services like water or electricity.

Lastly, unlike traditional utilities such as water, gas, or electricity, the internet lacks a tangible, physical presence. This intangibility contributed to the challenge of categorizing it within the framework of familiar utility services, making it difficult for people to conceptualize it as an essential resource.

Some Last Thoughts on the Internet as a Utility

In the grand tapestry of human progress, the internet has emerged as a transformative force that has woven itself into the very fabric of our lives. Just as water and electricity became indispensable utilities that reshaped societies, the internet, with its boundless potential for communication, education, innovation, and collaboration, stands poised to take its rightful place among them.

The journey towards recognizing the internet as a utility is not just a technological evolution; it is a testament to our commitment to equality, inclusivity, and progress for all. As we forge ahead into an interconnected future, let us not only embrace the internet as a utility but also safeguard its accessibility, integrity, and empowerment. By anchoring the internet as a utility, we illuminate a path towards a more connected, informed, and harmonious world for generations to come.

The argument made by Forbes, for the internet as a utility, can be found here.