Net Neutrality's 2007 Incarnation
January 15, 2007 4:07 PM
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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
1/17/2007 2:28:13 AM
> "Service has trickled down, and every passing year broadband becomes closer to a commodity..."
And let's not forget the even more dramatic drop in long distance rates. I remember paying nearly $3/min for long distance. Then deregulation came along, and now most people are paying a few cents a minute. Many have unlimited long distance for a few bucks a months. In a few years, you'll get unlimited calling free with a Happy Meal.
This happened because the government took its nose OUT of the long distance market. Even though telcos were
to keep prices the same (or even to raise them), prices dropped, and dropped fast. If a company didn't drop prices and offer better call quality, its competitors were more than willing to. There was such a frenzy in fact, that telcos lost billions of dollars in the 1990s, trying to keep up with each other.
For you and me, that was
. Telcos wound up selling us services cheaper than their own cost. The immense traffic capacity of the Internet that we use today was mostly built in that period. And it was financed through those losses. Not with our tax money. That's what a free market does for you.
In the local market, though, the government kept control though, with the RBOCs allowed to retain control, competition denied, and tons of regulations to "help the consumer". Seen much of a drop in your local phone bill the past couple decades? Now you know why not.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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