Joshua DuBois on Killing Dreams by Killing Net Neutrality

MANDEL NGAN/Getty
MANDEL NGAN/Getty

The FCC’s proposal to end net neutrality could fatally erode the Obama administration’s efforts to help tech-savvy young minority students.

Let’s say a young, Black, male 6th grader made it all the way from his local elementary school on the far west side of Detroit to one of those really awesome science fairs the White House started putting on. He had invented a doodad that helped his elderly grandma in a nursing home down south more easily take ‘selfies,’ and share them with her family around the country. His school noticed, and the next thing you know, the kid’s at the White House showing off this fascinating little invention.

Then, in 8th grade, because he had rock star teachers due in part to the administration’s new teacher training standards,, he received stellar grades in algebra and geometry, bolstering his confidence that the tech field might really be for him.

After his 11th grade year, because of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper program, this young man received a scholarship to attend a new science and technology summer camp. At the camp he connected with mentors at Facebook and Google, developing invaluable relationships and refining his burgeoning tech skills.

And because the administration had protected his Pell Grants, this kid—whose parents are by no means wealthy—could afford to head down south to Georgia Tech for college. He leveraged his earlier experience and knocked a Computer Science degree out of the park, graduating with high honors.

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.

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.

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SOURCE: The Daily Beast
Joshua DuBois

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