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Congress tries again to keep the Internet a fair playing field; telcos oppose

The topic of Internet neutrality continues to boil in Congress this week as congressional members debate over a new bill called the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. The new bill is a refined version of last year's mostly failed petition that did not gain majority house support due to Verizon and AT&T lobbying the stance that net neutrality is a non-issue. Content providers like Google feel differently, saying that a law must be passed to prevent network access providers from charging for prioritized network speeds and access. In fact, Google has taken its stance very strongly, previously announcing that it would take any network provider to court for anti-net-neutrality practices.

The new Internet Freedom Preservation Act proposes the same laws that many members of Congress feel American consumers want: no prioritized access to specific content providers and that all content providers should be treated equally. The new bill takes a step further and requires that network access providers allow purchasing of network services without requiring the purchase of other services.

Despite its incarnation as a new bill, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act faces the same challenges as its predecessors. Network service providers have begun lobbying against the act, claiming that Congress is wasting time fighting a problem that does not exist. Verizon for example, determined through a corporate funded survey that most Americans do not even know what net-neutrality is, nor are they concerned with it. Most people indicated on Verizon's survey that they were more interested in getting better programming for TV.

In an interview, Senator Bryon L. Dorgan said that he supports net-neutrality to the fullest and believes that without such a law, consumers would be hurt. "The success of the Internet has been its openness and the ability of anyone anywhere in this country to go on the Internet and reach the world. If the big interests who control the pipes become gatekeepers who erect tolls, it will have a significant impact on the Internet as we know it," said Dorgan.

Most service providers disagreed with Dorgan's statement, indicating that without corporate ability to charge for different tiers of network access or speed, it would impede and discourage network upgrading. This in turn would harm consumers in the end.

Despite the ongoing battle, a non-partisan group called Free Press is working to increase public awareness of net-neutrality and is also trying to involve public influence in law and policy making in Congress. Ben Scott, policy director at Free Press, told press reporters that he fully supports the Internet Freedom Preservation Act. "The American public has an overwhelming interest in seeing this bill pass into law, ensuring that the online marketplace of ideas remains open and vibrant," said Scott.

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RE: No s**t
By qdemn7 on 1/15/2007 10:39:22 PM , Rating: 2
The telcos want to develop new, more advanced services...and charge customers premium rates for them.
"Advanced services"? Crap!!! All they want to do is charge money for THEIR version of Google Vids, YouTube, etc. Why the hell should I pay money for AT&T / Yahoo / Verizon / Comquest or whomever version of something I can already access for free?

What I want is a fast dumb pipe from my ISP, I don't want any extra crap from any of them. I am NOT going to pay $$$ to D/L a movie to my PC, then have to burn it to DVD to watch it on my TV, if I'm even allowed to do that.

RE: No s**t
By masher2 on 1/16/2007 6:51:44 AM , Rating: 2
> ""Advanced services"? Crap!!! Why the hell should I pay money for AT&T / Yahoo / Verizon / Comquest or whomever version of something I can already access for free?"

If you feel this way, you certainly don't want Network Neutrality, as it removes your ability to choose. It prevents providers from offering those services as higher-cost options. If it passes, those services will eventually show up anyway. But they'll be delayed years...and when they do arrive, we'll all be forced to pay for them, as federal law will require each and every one of us to have them-- want it or not.

Seriously, what sort of idiocy is it to pass a law requiring that every single byte of spam email on the Internet has to be delivered at exactly the same speed as, say, live telemetry data for a remote medical operation? People that need things like guaranteed QOS and ultra low-latency pipes should be able to get them...and they should have to PAY extra for them.

RE: No s**t
By jak3676 on 1/16/2007 11:22:58 AM , Rating: 1
quote: telemetry data for a remote medical operation...

The problem is that people like this won't be paying for better servic, there's more money to be made in spamming I'm sure.

RE: No s**t
By masher2 on 1/16/2007 12:23:19 PM , Rating: 3
> "The problem is that people like this won't be paying for better servic, there's more money to be made in spamming I'm sure..."

Are you seriously suggesting that spammers will pay big bucks to send their billions of emails a fraction of a second faster? But that a remote medical operation costing say $300,000 wouldn't spend a few extra dollars to ensure a good connection, when it might mean the difference between life and death?

Do people not think anymore?

RE: No s**t
By jak3676 on 1/17/2007 11:56:38 AM , Rating: 2
Just saying the internet isn't always run by mainstream business. If you look at the companies that are pushing the technological edge with the internet it’s the pr0n industry, black-market & pirated DVD's.

Yes, there are plenty of better uses for this type of technology. But look at some of the packet counting programs out there and you'll see that they report more P2P and torrent activity than anything else. That is followed by other media sites (youtube, itunes, etc.) There is actually relatively low http/https type traffic. Other types of traffic are a really low %.

If/When this type of technology is released it will be used by those with the most $ to profit from it. That's not going to be university research, medical practices, or some other benevolent activity.

Do some research before replying - it may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.

RE: No s**t
By masher2 on 1/17/2007 2:09:55 PM , Rating: 2
> " look at some of the packet counting programs out there and you'll see that they report more P2P and torrent activity than anything else...."

Of course. However, you've forgotten why people use those P2P programs. To get free stuff. Do you honestly think someone is going to pay a stiff per-byte charge to download a ripped CD or DVD, when it winds up costing them ten times what buying the original would? And the only benefit is slightly lower latency, that barely affects the overall download time?

> "Do some research before replying..."

Do some thinking before replying. No one is going to pay $200 to download the latest Britney Spears album. Advanced QOS services will be used by those who have a real need for them. At first, that means video conferencing, remote medical imaging, and other similar services.

RE: No s**t
By Mithan on 1/20/2007 10:15:02 AM , Rating: 2
quote: telemetry data for a remote medical operation...

They can already pay extra to get this over dedicated lines.

RE: No s**t
By Tamale on 1/16/2007 11:30:24 AM , Rating: 2
you sound like you work for AT&T lol

just keep telling yourself that these will all be 'optional'. I'm sure the networks won't charge more for the things that people are already used to getting once 'the other guy' starts doing so </sarcasm>

RE: No s**t
By masher2 on 1/16/2007 11:37:26 AM , Rating: 2
> "just keep telling yourself that these will all be 'optional'"

You have to remember that "no net neutrality" is the situation we are in today. The notion that, if we don't suddenly pass a few laws, telcos are suddenly going to start doing something they've been able to already do for years, but haven't, just doesn't wash.

Why do you think a telco would different than every over business? They offer a base service, and optional packages to raise the price. Why? It's the best thing for the consumer...but it also makes them the most money. Try to force a consumer to buy something he doesn't want, and he just goes to your competition.

RE: No s**t
By gramboh on 1/16/2007 1:02:44 PM , Rating: 4
The issue is with traffic shaping.

What will likely happen is that certain ISPs will partner with certain content providers, say Yahoo with Comcast, to deliver priority traffic or probably throttling down non-partner content. So you will end up with slower access to competing site/ISP partnerships. It is a stupid idea but one that ISPs will certainly do to earn more money.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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