I still do not believe I will see a flying car in my lifetime, but I do think digital courtrooms, digital classrooms, and digital textbooks are on the horizon. If Congress implements a new proposal by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), digital courtrooms and classrooms are likely to happen within the next ten years.
The FCC is proposing a massive plan that would make high-speed internet the dominant communications network in the country. At the core of the proposal is the realization that the internet will likely displace both phone and television services. The plan also notes that approximately 1/3 of all Americans cannot afford, or do not have access to, high speed internet access.
The plan will introduce parts of rural America to high-speed internet access, and will provide approximately 100 million Americans with download speeds of 100 megabytes per second. Currently, most households with high speed access can download at 3-4 megabytes per second.
An upgraded infrastructure and higher download speeds are critical to full utilization of digital courtrooms and digital classrooms. For digital courtrooms, providing HD quality picture is critical to providing an digital equivalent of an in-person appearance. If judges and opposing counsel can see the beads of sweat on your forehead, it will make digital appearances more appealing to more members of the profession.
Digital classrooms are also more practical with higher speeds. Professors can be broadcast with more visual and audio clarity. Hopefully, professors can spend their lectures teaching, instead of wondering which students lost the feed because of a bad internet connection.
Critics of the plan argue that even if implemented, the plan will not change how much users pay for access. In all likelihood, the plan as proposed will undergo modifications. But if the core purpose remains intact, digital courtrooms and classrooms may happen sooner than you think.
(photo: Chris-Håvard Berge)