Morgan Library hosts panel to discuss net neutrality as part of discussion series

Austin Fleskes

The Colorado State University Morgan Library hosted another event in their series of talks promoting public discussion on topics that concern technology and how said technology affects the everyday lives of citizens Wednesday afternoon, which focused on net neutrality. 

The event, titled “Don’t Let Big Cable pinch the Internet” was an open forum consisting of a panel of speakers — CSU journalism professor Peter Seel, Vice President for Information Technology and Dean of Libraries Patrick Burns, Code for America Fellow Becky Boone and Campaign Lead for the Fort Collins Citizens Broadband Committee Colin Garfield — who discussed the impacts of the recent repeal of net neutrality on the federal level, how broadband initiatives are working in Fort Collins and what people can expect for the future.


According to a New York Times article, the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to dismantle the rules which regulated the businesses that connected consumers to the internet granted “broadband companies the power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.”

The panel opened up with a set of slides, created by Garfield, explaining Fort Collins’ current stance on net neutrality and initiatives going forward, more specifically the Fort Collins Broadband Initiative. 

Man talks into mic
Colin Garfield as he discusses the specific programs that would allow people who can’t afford internet to get internet (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

The slides stated a number of different plans for broadband in Fort Collins. This included the Fort Collins City Council authorizing $142 million dollars in revenue bonds to pay for the City broadband services, that the hiring of four key executive roles are being worked on and broadband marketing is being worked on. 

According to the Fort Collins website, “the City Broadband Plan does not call for any restrictions on access including uploads, downloads, delivery methods or providers (email, Skype, Netflix, etc.).” The website also provides a link to the entire City Broadband plan.

The panel moved on to discuss some of the issues that Burns sees with the repeal of net neutrality as well as some of the broader issues surrounding the repeal.

“The issue is bigger than net neutrality,” Burns said. “We have a communications infrastructure in this country today that is not regulated. And, that is what they did. They deregulated anything that had to do with the internet.”

Burns said he feels there are two primary issues with the repeal of net neutrality: the treatment of an individuals traffic and performance of internet and the privacy and treatment of content. 

The panel then moved to Seel, who discussed the movement in video and what that means for broadband speed, as well as his thoughts on the introduction of City Fiber.

Fort Collins Mayor Wade Troxell, who was also in attendance, discussed some of the City’s plans in terms of broadband and broadband access.

“My argument all along has been this is for economic future for a community via a connected community,” Troxell said. “It’s really, I think, to provide service to the future that provides symmetric.”  


The session ended with a question and answer session, wherein the panelists discussed their views on the importance of individual involvement and understanding of net neutrality.

“For me, it’s the civil rights and equality part of it, making sure that voices get out there,” Boone said. “I think it is a different reasoning for each community.”

Burns raised the issue of privacy, stating that privacy can be handled poorly in cases like this and should be paid attention to. 

Man looks
Peter Seel as he explains to the forum how educational internet access will be provided to low income famlies. (Devin Cornelius | Collegian)

Seel said for him it is the issue of “equal access for all,” especially those who have to work at home.

Finally, Garfield explained that it is the aspect of anti-consumer in favor of pro-company factors of the repeal. 

“There should not be any barrier in the way of accessing that medium,” Garfield said. “Especially since this repeal is driven by a telecom industry who does not care about us.” 

Garfield said he hopes the audience feels more educated after the event and could feel more confident to discuss this topic with friends and family. 

“Internet is a birthright, and in not having full, open, neutral access to an essential service that is a quality of life every day in your life, is just unacceptable to me,” Garfield said. “We all use the internet the same way. It’s the one thing that actually connects all of us, despite our differences.” 

Collegian reporter Austin Fleskes can be reached at or on Twitter @Austinfleskes07.