Ed-Tech Companies Oppose U.S. Agency’s Plan to End Net Neutrality

Four educational-technology businesses have filed objections to a Federal Communications Commission plan under which companies could pay extra to have their content delivered more quickly over the Internet.

The companies said in a joint news release that ending the current policy of net neutrality in favor of high-speed toll lanes and slower free lanes would make it possible for “entrenched education players such as for-profit giants in higher education” and “expensive traditional universities” to “squelch competition and stifle innovation from up-and-comers providing affordable, quality education.”

The companies are General Assembly, which offers classes in web development, user-experience design, digital marketing, and data science; Codeacademy, which teaches programming; CodeCombat, which takes advantage of online gaming to teach computer coding; and OpenCurriculum, which enables elementary- and secondary-school teachers to create and share reading materials.

“If companies offering online education need to strike a deal with Internet-service providers in order to compete,” said the news release, “this will undermine their cost structures.” Also, it said, smaller organizations would have to divert money to “pay to play” from more-useful undertakings, such as hiring employees, creating new technology, and expanding their markets.

The chief executive of OpenCurriculum, Varun Arora, wrote in his company’s filing with the FCC: “The operational cost of the entire company’s technologies for the first six months of its existence was less than $20. To my good fortune, I did not have to do a thing to ensure customers used my product over any competitive ones apart from winning in a meritocratic game by building a more and more superior product.”

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