Although not explicit, the Declaration of Independence’s promised rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness surely implies access to basic goods—services and resources such as water, electricity, and sanitation, without which life is virtually impossible X. In the 23 years since the passing of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the internet, namely Wi-Fi, has arguably joined the ranks of a basic good, as it is necessary for much of our personal, professional, and social lives. Therefore, it is sensible for law makers to make it a public utility and render it widely accessible at a high quality X.
As society progresses through the age of technology, more and more jobs require immediate and constant access to the internet.
Considering the likeliness that modern jobs necessitate web-based tools such as Google Docs and Sheets to conduct daily operations, the ability to connect to the internet is now considered a requisite for a growing number of employees, especially those who work remotely X. Today, it is not far-fetched to say that broadband is as essential to the common American as the phone and electrical power. As such, Wi-Fi should be available to all Americans, so that they may get and retain modern jobs, and contribute to the economy X.
Beyond the needs of individual citizens and employees, it’s even becoming common for public as well as private companies to rely on cloud-based applications and software that’s being hosted by Amazon or some other third-party to perform their day-to-day operations. If their Wi-Fi networks go down or dip in performance, their entire company either struggles to keep operating, or in the worst-case scenario comes to a complete stop X. Given this nation’s stance on corporate personhood X, the reliance on Wi-Fi by companies should be a similarly compelling reason why it should be a public utility.
Not making Wi-Fi a public utility also perpetuates social inequity in the country.
Across the U.S., rural communities are being left out of modern society and the 21st century economy due to a dearth in internet coverage. They need access to the internet, so that they may work remotely and use online services for entertainment, news, shopping, and education, similar to their urban counterparts X. This isn’t happening because it is not profitable for private vendors to provide internet services in rural areas. As long as the internet’s infrastructure remains private, the corporations that control it will always prioritize piling up profits for investors over serving our needs as users and citizens X. The 2016 decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that prohibits broadband companies from blocking or slowing the delivery of internet content to consumers is a step in the right direction X. However, it is not enough. How long must we wait to acknowledge what is abundantly clear? Fast and secure Wi-Fi should be a public utility across the United States!