bill seeks to preserve network neutrality

The tide could be turning in Congress where a new bill seeks to preserve network neutrality more or less as we know it. Previous legislative efforts fueled by telco lobbyists and uniformed law makers sought to create a tiered Internet where service providers could impose additional fees upon both content providers and consumers based upon speed and preferences.

March 2, 2006
Senate Bill to Address Fears of Blocked Access to Net

By KEN BELSON
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, will introduce new legislation today that would prohibit Internet network operators from charging companies for faster delivery of their content to consumers or favoring some content providers over others.

The bill is meant to ease growing fears that open Internet access may be blocked or compromised by the Bell phone carriers and cable operators, which may create tiers of service for delivering content to consumers, much the way the post office charges more for overnight mail delivery than for regular delivery.

Consumer groups and Internet companies like Google and Amazon contend that any move by the network operators to levy fees for premium delivery service would harm Web sites that are unwilling to pay for faster delivery.

The Wyden legislation, called the Internet Non-Discrimination Act of 2006, aims to prohibit network operators from assessing charges that give some content providers better access than others or blocking its subscribers from accessing content.

“You best compete by letting every company play on a level field, but these proposals would tilt the field,” Senator Wyden said of the plans discussed by some network operators. “The Net has been about access and equal treatment and giving everyone a fair shake, and people who own these fat pipes, these cable and telecommunications people who say that they can’t keep doing this, want to undermine that.”

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