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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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I dont Understand...
By Rocket321 on 1/17/2007 3:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
...why people would be against neutrality. The telcos say they need this to provide better QoS to allow certain things to go faster. My problem with that is: the company I work for has equipment and provide their own Qos for traffic they need to go faster. My home dsl router has QoS functions for things that I need to go faster at home.

I don't need a company telling me what should be fast and what should be slow.

If I need VoIP to be fast at home then I set it up in my router. If it is still too slow I simply call my ISP and buy more bandwith. Why would you want the ISP to force certain things to be fast and not others?

Obviously my ISP doesn't care what type of traffic *I* would like to have priority. We shouldn't let them take away control of our bandwidth that we already pay high prices for. This is an excuse to charge all parties more, not an answer to a problem.

RE: I dont Understand...
By masher2 on 1/17/2007 6:21:15 PM , Rating: 3
> "the company I work for has equipment and provide their own Qos for traffic they need to go faster. My home dsl router has QoS functions for things that I need to go faster at home. "

Oops, you forgot everything between your home network and your company network. Which is, in most cases, 99.9% of the journey.

> "it is still too slow I simply call my ISP and buy more bandwith. "

No, that's not what QoS is about. It's not about more bandwidth; its about prioritizing packets...primarily to reduce latency. If you need more packets, you buy more bandwidth. If you need a steady stream of packets, with a guaranteed minimum delivery time for any single packet-- you need QoS.

> "We shouldn't let them take away control of our bandwidth "

Look, its pretty simple. They don't want to tell you what gets priority. They want to sell you the right for you to decide yourself. They want a higher-cost "fast lane" for high-priority traffic. You buy the service, you run whatever you want on it.

RE: I dont Understand...
By Christopher1 on 1/18/2007 6:40:05 AM , Rating: 2
No, they don't want a 'fast lane'. They want you to pay twice for everything, and then pay for a 'fast lane' if you are a big business.
It's sad, but that is the bottom line here.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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