Net Neutrality Suffers a Loss

In what appears to be largely a partisan vote the House has rejected a Net Neutrality provision that would have prohibited carriers from giving special status to data for content providers who are willing to pay the extra fees.

The vote fell largely along party lines with Democarts voting in favor of Network Neutrality and Republicans voting agains it.

There is still some hope for the concept in a Senate bill that has more bi-partisan support, but this bill has weaker language in it. I guess we’ll see if this bill will get some strength both in language and in political support. Otherwise, the open Internet will quickly get turned in to a two-tiered Internet with the upper tier only available to major companies willing and able to pay the higer costs to get preferred treatment. The egalitarian nature of the Internet that has fostered so much bottom up content that could find an audience may be over.

Why? Simple. The upper tier of content (which will also be provided by the same carriers who are charging others) will get delivered at ever better speeds and priority. The lower tier will be delivered at degraded speeds and smoothness. Which content will most people want to consume?

If AT&T over voice over IP (VoIP) phone service do you think they will give equal packet priority to Skype users? Not likely.

Net Neutrality Marks a Small Win

In somewhat of a surprise win, the House Judiciary Committee voted approval of legislation that would assure Network Neutrality, meaning ISPs could not create a two-tiered Internet charging some content providers more to guarantee faster and unhindered delivery of content. If adopted by Congress, the bill would amend current anti-trust law. Passage is far from assured, though. There is a competing bill from another committee that attempts to block any regulation of the network.

In addition, our friends at AT&T (who own the only fiber line connecting Humboldt County to the world) will continue to lobby vigorously in  opposition to any such ‘regulation.’ From the Wired article:

“We are optimistic that the majority in Congress will see this legislation as an attempt to solve a problem that does not exist,” said Tim McKone, AT&T executive vice president for federal relations.

If the net neutrality legislation addresses an problem that doesn’t exist, then why do they oppose it? They shouldn’t care, right?

Democratic representative from California Adam Shiff is also quoted in the article. What’s odd is his statement, which is apparently meant in opposition to net neutrality legislation sounds very much like what people say in favor of it:

“We like the principle of net neutrality (but) I think this is still a growing, vibrant, key industry that we don’t want to take steps that will chill that growth and development.”

I’m not sure what the fear of regulation of the Internet is. Especially in this case where the ‘regulation’ is simply designed to keep the network working as it already is, and to prevent monopolistic ISPs from changing how information flows so they can make more money.

Net Neutrality Gaining Some Momentum

Cnet is reporting that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee has released a new bill that includes a network neutrality provision. The bill appears to have some bi-partisan support.

The provision would prohibit telcos from charging higher rates for prioritizing some data, thus creating a two-tiered Internet. According to the article, Republican John Sensenbrenner, “Citing government statistics that 98 percent of Americans have at most two choices for broadband service…(that includes us on the Northcoast), Sensenbrenner said such a ‘virtual duopoly’ is ripe for anticompetitive practices, and ‘a clear antitrust remedy is needed.'”

Elsewhere, some celebrities are getting on board with Net Neutrality. Musician Moby and the band R.E.M. have aligned themselves with the concept. If you’re interested in learning more about this issue visit Save the Internet.

If you’re ready to take some action, here are some contact numbers for our Congressional representatives. You can urge them to support the efforts protect Internet as we have know it.
Here are the numbers:

Congressman Mike Thompson
Phone: 202-225-3311
District Offices:
Eureka: 707-269-9595
Fort Bragg: 707-962-0933
Napa: 707-226-9898
Woodland: 530-662-5272

Senator Dianne Feinstein
Phone: 202-224-3841
District Offices:
Fresno: 559-485-7430
Los Angeles: 310-914-7300
San Diego: 619-231-9712
San Francisco: 415-393-0707

Senator Barbara Boxer
Phone: 202-224-3553
District Offices:
Fresno: 559-497-5109
Los Angeles: 213-894-5000
Sacramento: 916-448-2787
San Bernadino: 909-888-8525
San Diego: 619-239-3884
San Francisco: 415-403-0100

Net Neutrality Suffers Setback

In a legislative defeat for the people (me) supporting Network Neutrality, an amendment sponosred by Mass. Representative Ed Markey was defeated in committee today. The Democratic sponosred amendment as was voted down by Republicans on the House Endergy and Commerce Committee. A new group formed to Save the Internet claims the amendment didn’t go far enough in protecting Net Neutrality anyway.

The Network Neutrality concept has gained a lot of support from many tech heavyweights such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Not suprisingly, at&t is in favor of a two tiered Internet.

This defeat doesn’t mean a great deal at this time. It will probably be a prolonged battle. A bill designed to protect Network Neutrality in a similar way is circulating in the Senate and has some bi-partisan support.

AARP Backs Net Neutrality

I finally have a reason to join AARP! They’ve been sending me stuff ever since I turned 50, but I always just assumed it was for folks already out to pasture. After all it is the American Association of RETIRED Persons. I’m not anywhere near one of those.

But now they’ve got my attention. They are among 64 organizations that include the likes of Microsoft, TiVo, Yahoo, and Google that are sending letters to the House Energy and Commerce Committee in support of network neutrality. Cool!

This Cnet article has the details.
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