March 28, 2006 3:32 PM PST

New broadband bill draws fire

Internet companies including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are protesting new federal legislation that would not strictly regulate how broadband operators can organize their network.

In a letter to Congress on Tuesday, the companies told Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, that his bill to revamp telecommunications laws "would fail to protect the Internet." Barton is the chairman of the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee.

Instead of bowing to requests from Internet businesses, Barton sided with one of Washington's most potent lobbying forces: telecommunications companies, including DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable providers, that spread around far more money in political circles.

A CNET News.com report published this week shows that the Internet industry is being outspent in Washington by more than a 3-to-1 margin.

AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner and Verizon Communications spent $230.9 million on politicians from 1998 until the present, while the three Internet companies plus Amazon.com and eBay spent only a combined $71.2 million. (Those figures include lobbying expenditures, individual contributions, political action committees and soft money.)

Network neutrality is the idea that the companies that own the broadband pipes may not be able to configure their networks in a way that plays favorites--allowing them, for example, to transmit their own services at faster speeds, or to charge Net content and application companies a fee for similar fast delivery.

Internet companies, Skype and liberal advocacy groups have been pressing Congress for strict laws requiring Net neutrality, and had been hoping that Barton's Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act would mandate it. Instead, Barton sided--not entirely, but enough to inspire Tuesday's letter--with broadband providers.

"This bill would allow for such a fundamental change in the paradigm of the Internet that it would frustrate the reasonable expectations of the tens of millions of Americans who go online," the letter to Barton says.

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10 comments

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net neutrality
it seems to me that the internet should be neutral for everyone, the user and the content provider. The reason google needs a large pipe is because millions of users like me are using it. i pay a fee to use the internet and so do the other millions of users. Verizon, ATT how many times do you want to charge me for same service?
Posted by Panintheas (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stop framing it as THEIR pipes
The pipes were paid for with tax dollars. The telecoms need to be broken up again. Already.
Posted by ordaj (338 comments )
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Not exactly
The network infrastructure, i.e. the pipes(copper or fiber), are owned by the telcos. As far as I know, that was paid for with investment dollars. Not the government. The only exception to that would be if the government subsidized infrastructure in remote areas using the Universal Service funding. Everyone, including the government, rents/leases access to that infrastructure.
Posted by (63 comments )
Link Flag
Tell that to my pocketbook
How arrogant you are to assume that everything is paid for by
tax dollars. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in
infrastructure that I paid for. The government has not given me
a dime to build what I have built for our customers, and for
people to just assume that they own what has been paid for by
private companies is wrong.

Neutrality is great, but it must be on all sides, not just the little
guys underneath the big boys. If you want a level playing field,
make it level, not more uneven than it already is.
Posted by jasonemanuelson1 (82 comments )
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Learn to study before you speak
How wrong you are. ALL the telco's, including cable, spent untold billions on their networks to provide access to the net. Cox Comm even invested in its own backbone system throughout the nation to provide a secure VOIP path. So they DO own their own pipe's up to the point where it hits other networks.

However, I do disagree with this. I can see allowing them to make their services faster (such as accessing Cox websites from a Cox cable modem acct) but all other sites/services should have equal status.
Posted by tanis143 (122 comments )
Link Flag
Stop framing it as THEIR pipes - Tax $ paid for it!
Stop framing it as THEIR pipes - Tax $ paid for it!
Here Here! I totally agree, the entire infrastructure was created from tax dollars.
If this plan goes thru in this form or at all, the previous posts are correct. The entire functionality and structure dependent form of the "Internet" will be harmfully changed. We must not allow this to occur, we must insist our elected representatives ensure that no private co/corp' be allowed to "own" &/or "exercise control over" this communications infrastructure, we call the internet. Even our nations security depends upon it.
EdGirard
Posted by edgirard (15 comments )
Link Flag
Soon we will choose an ISP based on what websites you can access
Just sad...
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Politicians for sale
More important than the effects of this legislation is the fact that it went in favor of the companies who gave more money to the politicians. The sell outs become more blatant all the time.
Posted by Michael Grogan (308 comments )
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