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Should the internet be free to everyone in the world?

“So, yes, there were always challenges. Instead of focusing on them, I focused on what was next.”

– Allan Leinwand

PROBLEM:

The Internet was made around 50 years ago and since then one big question that everyone has is if the Internet should be free for everyone in the world. This webpage will help answer that question.

WHY THE INTERNET SHOULD BE FREE:

There are two main sides to this question. One side is that basic Internet should be free to everyone in the world. There is a lot of information and resources on the Internet and people should be able to access it. For example, the Internet is used in many different jobs. Without the Internet, technology workers could not do their jobs. Furthermore, schools heavily rely on the Internet. The Internet allows students to find what work they have to do and allows them to contact their teachers. In addition, the Internet is also a place for people to express their opinions freely and communicate. During this crisis, it is important for everyone to have access to the Internet. People with the Internet are able to communicate with each other, continue school, have business meetings, and be able to check the news. 

Percentage of individuals using the Internet

WHY THE INTERNET SHOULD NOT BE FREE:

Even though some people think the Internet should be free, others disagree. For example, building and wiring a global Internet does cost billions of dollars. Companies have spent lots of money to make the internet. They should be able to make money off of what they spent time building. The company should be able to offer a free Internet for everyone and a better and more reliable Internet for people who want that service.

SOLUTION:

The basic Internet should be free for everyone. The companies who built the Internet should be able to charge people if they want a better service.

MY CHANGEMAKER – ALLAN LEINWAND:

Juliette: To start off, could you introduce yourself?
Allan: My name is Allan Leinwand. I am the Senior Vice-President of Engineering at Slack. I’ve been involved in building the Internet and applications that use the Internet for over 30 years. 

Juliette: When did you decide to start working to help this change/What got you interested?

Allan: I first got interested in computer science in junior high school in the early 1980s. Very quickly I saw that the use of computers would make a dramatic change in the lives of everyone on the planet. I remember the very first computer program I wrote in the 7th grade and how exciting it was to use the computer to solve problems and play games. I saw computers replace typewriters, bank tellers, and so much more. When I got to university, I discovered that computers could communicate with each other over modems and wires and eventually fiber-optics. I built small computer networks to help with campus communications and my senior projects was using multiple computers to simulate complex satellite operations.

When I got to my first job in Palo Alto, I remember the first time I was sending commands to a computer in Singapore. It was when I saw the power of computers and how they could literally change the world that my interest really peaked. I ended up working for legendary companies in their infancy, such as Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Digital Island, Zynga, and now Slack. I helped build the Internet in the US, France, Singapore, Venezuela, Mongolia, and many other countries.  How far it has all come in the past few decades is truly amazing. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved with changing how we communicate, how your laptop works, how data moves across the Internet, how millions of people play everyday, and so much more. In my current role at Slack, I run the team that allows tens of millions of people to communicate in real-time every single minute of the day. It is all very interesting!

Juliette: When you were younger did you know that you wanted to help towards this change?

Allan: I am not sure I fully realized that I wanted to help change until I was in university and then later at my first job. I always knew that I wanted to explore the world and be involved in something that operates at a large-scale – and the Internet is now very large.

Juliette: Did you face any challenges?

Allan: I think everyone faces challenges and I am no exception. With the exception of my first company, Hewlett-Packard, nearly every other place I have worked was a < 100 person company that faced customer, market, and financial challenges. I believe that when faced with a challenge or a failure, it is important to focus on what you do next. So, yes, there were always challenges. Instead of focusing on them, I focused on what was next.

Juliette: What else do you hope to accomplish in the future?

Allan: I hope to continue learning and to help others see the change that is still ahead. The Internet and all that it can bring to our society is still in its infancy. The first iPhone was only 13 years ago. FaceTime and HD streaming is less than 5 years old. The technology we built to change the world has challenges, can be abused, but can also be used for tremendous good. I look forward to continuing to be part of the change and seeing what will be done in the future.

YOU CAN HELP:

While making this project, I began to wonder how many people pay for a better quality internet. In the comment section below, please write if you pay for a better quality Internet or not.

Sources consulted and cited here


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COMMENTS: 4
  1. April 26, 2020 by Joshua

    Really interesting presentation Juliette! Personally, I think I would pay for better quality internet. However, it would also depend on how much better it is from the basic option. If there is not a significant difference, I don’t know if I would see myself paying for it. Of course, there would be a lot of other factors like the price and what would make it a premium option. In the US, many of us already pay for access to the internet through carriers like Verizon and AT&T and we use it pretty heavily.

  2. April 27, 2020 by julia

    hey Juliette! I liked how you had both a reason why the internet should be free and a reason why it shouldn’t, it is always good to address the opposing argument. I agree with your solution, basic internet should be free but a fee would be applied if you want better service. This was a very interesting topic and I enjoyed reading about it!

  3. April 27, 2020 by Take

    I believe my family does pay for higher quality internet. I agree with you that it is important for companies to still be able to make a profit. I think a good solution may be to just reduce the said price as much as possible. I really believe that in our rapidly changing world, the internet is a real necessity.

  4. April 28, 2020 by Kaz Miura

    I think that you made some good points in this project. You provided a nice counterclaim explaining why the internet shouldn’t be free, having your claim on how it can be free without causing problems that your counterclaim addresses. You also conducted a nice interview. Great job!

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