8 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 293 2018 cable companies like Comcast, or fiber-based or DSL services from telecommunications providers like AT&T or Verizon. Right now the data suggests that most consumers have just one medium-to-high- speed ISP that offers service to their home sometimes there is actually a meaningful duopoly.1 Within a five-year time horizon wireless 5G service will likely alter this picture somewhat, at least to the point where duopoly service rather that monopoly service will become much more commonplace, and a reasonable number of consumers will actually be able to choose from among a small oligopoly of vendors. R&E institutions may need to interact with these individuals for lots of reasons: they may be students trying to access bandwidth- intensive video materials for remote coursework, students or faculty trying to work from home, interested members of the public trying to look at cultural materials from institutional libraries or museums, or streaming lectures or cultural events. Perhaps they are using telehealth applications involving a university medical center. While there’s every reason to expect that non-real-time, non-bandwidth-intensive applications like electronic mail or most kinds of routine web browsing will continue to function more-or-less normally, bandwidth- or latency- sensitive applications may be more at risk (which might include video and some kinds of online instruction, or telehealth devices). Further, the R&E community will need to educate users and promote additional practices such as the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) to ensure privacy when that is important. My guess is that performance and privacy will be the major areas of contention rather than outright blockage. Note that if consumers are able to establish a properly configured VPN connection, site blocking by the “last-mile” ISP ceases to be an issue if the user at home can reach the university VPN server, he or she can route through there to anywhere on the internet without fear of last-mile ISP interference. If the monopolistic or duopolistic consumer last-mile ISPs do choose to behave badly in terms of performance, the possible responses of the
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