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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: The Gate- keepers have a plan for everybody
By masher2 (blog) on 1/16/2007 7:25:06 AM , Rating: 2
> "On of the key reason the USA broadband service are among the third world countries ..."

You don't understand the market. The USA leads the world in longhaul network. Raw speed, active capacity, dark capacity, you name it. And the US longhaul market is the least regulated in the world. No surprise its the healthiest in the world as well.

Where does the US trail? In broadband penetration to consumers. The so-called "last mile" of wire to the house. Not coincidentally, this is the most heavily regulated segment of the market, the one in which government law prevented competition from flourishing. The market where your local RBOC and your local cable company have legal, state-mandated monopolies. Is it any surprise this market has stagnated, compared to the colossal growth in longhaul?

Of course there are other reasons. Hard as it is for people like you and I to believe, many American consumers just aren't interested in broadband. I have the highest 6mb DSL offered in my neighborhood...but half my neighbors don't even have the entry-level 256K DSL plan. These are people living in $750K houses...the cost certainly isn't a factor. They just don't want it. And that makes it very hard to sell it to them.




By Ringold on 1/16/2007 10:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
I think we have the same sort of neighbors. On my street, two people have high speed hookups asides from myself. One home has kids, the other a retired stock broker using 4 20" LCDs from the time the market opens till the time it closes.

That we have as robust of an internet market as we do is impressive to me and I'm not any kind of expert. Unlike these people referring to Europe and Eastern Asia, I happen to remember how vast parts of the country can be traveled before hitting a town with a population over 1000. If a rifle went off in some of these East Asian countries, I think it'd kill about 1000.

But go ahead, folks. Mod his post down even lower for speaking rationality in the face of opinionated (Masher brings up more actual details in one post than this bill's supporters do in ten) irrational (lack of logical fact-based arguments) statists (Uncle Sam, hold my hand? Free markets, game theory, supply and demand -- scaarrryy).


"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA














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