Is Net Neutrality a Lost Cause?

Defeat for net neutrality backers

US politicians have rejected attempts to enshrine the principle of net neutrality in legislation. Some fear the decision will mean net providers start deciding on behalf of customers which websites and services they can visit and use.

The vote is a defeat for Google, eBay and Amazon which wanted the net neutrality principle protected by law.

All three mounted vigorous lobbying campaigns prior to the vote in the House of Representatives.

Tier fear

The rejection of the principle of net neutrality came during a debate on the wide-ranging Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (Cope Act).

Among other things, this aims to make it easier for telecoms firms to offer video services around America by replacing 30,000 local franchise boards with a national system overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Representative Fred Upton, head of the House telecommunications subcommittee, said competition could mean people save $30 to $40 each month on their net access fees.

An amendment to the Act tried to add clauses that would demand net service firms treat equally all the data passing through their cables.

The amendment was thought to be needed after the FCC ripped up its rules that guaranteed net neutrality.

During the debate House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, said that without the amendment "telecommunications and cable companies will be able to create toll lanes on the information superhighway".

"This strikes at the heart of the free and equal nature of the internet," she added.

Critics of the amendment said it would bring in unnecessary government regulation.

Prior to the vote net firms worried about the effect of the amendment on their business lobbied hard in favour of the amendment. They fear their sites will become hard to reach or that they will be forced to pay to guarantee that they can get through to web users.

Meg Whitman, eBay chief executive, e-mailed more than one million members of the auction site asking them to back the idea of net neutrality. Google boss Eric Schmidt called on staff at the search giant to support the idea, and film stars such as Alyssa Milano also backed the amendment.

The ending of net neutrality rules also spurred the creation of activism sites such as Save The Internet and Its Our Net.

Speaking at a conference in late May, web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee warned that the net faced entering a "dark period" if access suppliers were allowed to choose which traffic to prioritize.

The amendment was defeated by 269 votes to 152 and the Cope Act was passed by 321-101 votes.

The debate over the issue now moves to the US Senate where the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will vote on its version of the act in late June. The debate in that chamber is also likely to centre on issues of net neutrality.

Story from BBC NEWS:

formatting link

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Personally I think that yes, 'net neutrality' is a lost cause. The days of university/government funding for the internet are long since past. _Someone_ has to pay the bill, and the only ones in a position to do so and who have expressed some willingness to do so are the telcos and cablecos of our country. And part of the 'asking price' for their money is the right to do at least some of what they want. That is, at least to me, the realistic place things are at now, like it or not. You may disagree with me, and I hope you will do two things: One, go to one of the two sites mentioned earlier set up to take 'votes' and refer these results to the politicians who can make it happen either way, and two, bring your ideas and suggestions here to this forum when this special issue of the Digest continues with another edition devoted to your comments.

Please register your opinions -- your 'votes' as it were, for whatever they eventually are worth -- at

formatting link
formatting link
formatting link
These three sites are all very much 'pro' network neutrality, and I do not frankly know _who_ they think is going to pay the bills if the telcos and cablecos do not. I would like to let someone else pay the bills also, but I just do not think it is realistic any longer. PAT]

Reply to
Various writers
Loading thread data ... Forums website is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.