Education groups heralded the cable industry’s plan as a good first step, but they expressed concern about what will happen when the pilot program ends. They also noted the plan does nothing to meet the needs of households with students in elementary or high school.

As the FCC works to develop a national broadband plan by the February 2010 deadline imposed by Congress, one area it is trying to address at the same time is “net neutrality,” which would prohibit broadband providers from favoring or discriminating against certain types of internet traffic flowing over their lines.

Educators say a neutral internet is a key in developing and delivering online content to distance learners and students in rural areas, and an unregulated internet would create unfair advantages for large universities that could pay more for faster, more efficient web service.

In October, the FCC moved one step closer to establishing net-neutrality rules, voting to move forward with the rule-making process–despite opposition from the agency’s two Republican commissioners and many in the telecommunications industry who railed against “government intervention” in the broadband market.

Related links:

Obama eyes tech-savvy insider for FCC chief

Benton: Universal broadband a necessity

Stimulus aims to help close digital divide

FCC develops strategy for rural broadband

Usage-based service caps prompt broadband fairness bill

Senate confirms new chairman to lead FCC

Feds announce guidelines for rural broadband funding

Panelists to FCC: Raise e-Rate funding cap

Huge demand far exceeds broadband grants

AT&T to FCC: Gaming is not broadband, but an added service

FCC chairman: ‘Open internet’ rules are vital

Education advocates push for net neutrality

Schools make their case for broadband grants

FCC moves closer to net neutrality

Biggest net-neutrality boosters question FCC proposal

FCC solicits e-Rate comments

FCC discusses barriers to national broadband plan

Cable industry floats broadband plan for students

Universities play role in broadband expansion