With the Tuesday ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, high-speed internet access officially joins the ranks of electricity, natural gas, phone service, and water as a public utility. This means, of course, that high-speed internet access is now under tougher scrutiny and subject to regulation by local, state, and/or federal agencies.
The purpose of government oversight, of course, is to ensure that all citizens (the “public” in public utility) have access to the same level of service. For example, you wouldn’t have one community with clean, fresh water while another community has water so full of contaminates that it corrodes the pipes it flows through.
Yes, public utilities are a good thing. They espouse the right ideas and they exist for the right reasons. However, as with most public entities—including governments themselves—the ultimate responsibility for maintaining the standards for public utilities belongs to us, the people being served.
As any one who hasn’t been asleep under a rock for the past twenty years will tell you, high-speed internet access is a requirement for any man, woman, or child who is going to thrive in our society. And now, with this latest ruling, preventing access to high-speed internet is officially a government matter.
So let’s keep an eye on how this ruling about high-speed internet access plays out. And, as the public being served, let’s not be slow to challenge providers who don’t meet our expectations. Let’s live up to our responsibilities so we can make sure they live up to theirs.