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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 Mithan on 1/20/2007 10:23:15 AM , Rating: 2
Net neutrality is a singularly bad idea. Or rather, I should say that attempts by the government to mandate net neutrality is bad. The Internet has done just fine in the absence of government regulation. Once you let the legislators get their hands in the pie, it never stops.

What you are missing is that people are worried about existing service going down the crapper, because there is less money to be made here, resulting in all of us having to pay "more" in the end so we can get the "Premium" services which bring things back to our previous quality.

Even if they don't lower gaming, will their network degrade for "common" traffic enough where it goes down anyways? Over time it will because of less profit to be made here.

For example, take a game where the Ping Rates may be 100ms. The ISP's can easily put this on a lower priority, with the result being that you are now bumped up to 150 or 200ms and if you want the previous quality, you have to pay an extra $10 or $20 a month for a "Gaming Connection".

Now, I don't have a problem with Google paying AT&T to have a higher priority pipe to your home, but the fact is and the way corporations work, something is going to get lost and that is where the problem is.

So when all is said and done, I don't care if a company pays for enhanced priority but I DO care if the ISP lets my regular connections go down the crapper and that is just what will happen.

The internet has become an essential service but as fine and dandy as freedom is, everything needs some regulating.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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