March 14, 2006 3:59 PM PST

Senator: Net neutrality may not happen

A key senator said Tuesday that a much-anticipated proposal to overhaul U.S. telecommunications laws may not require network providers to follow Net neutrality principles.

Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, told reporters that he supports the idea of Net neutrality--that is, legally requiring network providers to treat everyone equally--in principle.

"But I don't know yet what's going to be in the bill," Stevens added, according to a transcript. "It's going to take votes of the committee to put things in the bill. We're going to have an enormous number of items that people want to put in."

Because Stevens' committee is the Senate panel responsible for updating the 1996 Telecommunications Act, his lukewarm endorsement of Net neutrality could be a setback for companies that have been pressing for it to be mandated by law. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon.com, Skype and liberal advocacy groups have been pressing Congress for strict laws in this area.

Net neutrality, also called network neutrality, is the idea that the companies that own the broadband pipes should 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.

Executives at Verizon Communications, BellSouth and the newly merged AT&T and SBC Communications have recently talked about the desirability of a two-tiered Internet in which some services--especially video--would be favored over others. Those companies are spending billions to improve their networks and appear to be trying to find new sources of revenue.

During an afternoon hearing before Stevens' committee, some Wall Street analysts expressed skepticism that aggressive new laws on Net neutrality were necessary.

"The very idea that third parties who benefit from Internet infrastructure investments--say, Google and Yahoo--might economically contribute in some way to these costs has been roundly greeted as if it is a threat to basic liberties," said Craig Moffett, an equity research analyst at Sanford Bernstein who studies the cable and satellite sector.

If some of the current proposals for Net neutrality were enacted, it would, Moffett said, "likely trigger a host of unintended consequences. Mandated 'Net Neutrality' would further sour Wall Street's taste for broadband infrastructure investments, making it increasingly difficult to sustain the necessary capital investments."

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, introduced a bill this month that would bar network providers from blocking or degrading Internet connections and favoring those of companies that pay for peppier access.

Aryeh Bourkoff, managing director and senior analyst at UBS who follows the cable TV, satellite and entertainment sectors, also testified that a welter of regulations would be premature.

"I believe that it is too early to introduce regulation on key issues such as a la carte packaging and pricing and on Net neutrality as the market is still in its early stages," Bourkoff said. "Instead, I feel that at this point it is essential that market forces and consumer demand drive the economic model."

In a statement released this month, Cisco Systems said it supported the general principles of Net neutrality but also warned that "imposing specific network neutrality rules now to address hypothetical problems would only compound the problem." Rather, Cisco said, the Federal Communications Commission could take specific actions if warranted--even without new legal authority.

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24 comments

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Average Joe: CNet neutrality not happening
It is funny to see an article portraying Google and Yahoo as lobbying for a change to make the net neutral. The net already is neutral! It is the companies that own access that are trying to lobby to remove neutrality.

The sub-headline states "analysts think its a bad idea" The Wall Street analysts who know they can make a buck off of this too. Whatever happened to getting comments from public interest groups? Every one of them would tell you that this is a good idea.

The quality of News.Com has been going down hill for quite some time now. This is very disappointing news coverage
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You dumb dumb...
The net is currently neutral (so to speak), but the big telecommunist companies are trying to take that away. The change they are referring to is the fact that Google and Yahoo are behind making the idea LAW, not just a good idea.

This cannot happen. The big telecommunist companies must be taught a lesson here. Just because they are the biggest providers in America, does not mean they get to change the rules. The Internet was created to be a free medium to exchange information. The original architects never intended for any censorship or favoritism. These telecommunist companies need to step off and see the real world. Unfortuantely, they are so disconnected from reality they think they can do this kind of crap. The CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, and the armies of useless VPs are all so clueless they actually think they can get away with this.

I call on every Internet user to call their telecommunist companies and tell them that they must not do this or they will suffer a bigger backlash than has ever been seen before. And to the IT people on these boards, I urge you all to contact your upstream providers and tell them that if they go ahead with this plan that you will be only too happy to find another upstream provider that is not a communist. We ALL have to do this people or the Internet will become just one big commercial.
Posted by thenet411 (415 comments )
Link Flag
Average Joe: CNet neutrality not happening
It is funny to see an article portraying Google and Yahoo as lobbying for a change to make the net neutral. The net already is neutral! It is the companies that own access that are trying to lobby to remove neutrality.

The sub-headline states "analysts think its a bad idea" The Wall Street analysts who know they can make a buck off of this too. Whatever happened to getting comments from public interest groups? Every one of them would tell you that this is a good idea.

The quality of News.Com has been going down hill for quite some time now. This is very disappointing news coverage
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You dumb dumb...
The net is currently neutral (so to speak), but the big telecommunist companies are trying to take that away. The change they are referring to is the fact that Google and Yahoo are behind making the idea LAW, not just a good idea.

This cannot happen. The big telecommunist companies must be taught a lesson here. Just because they are the biggest providers in America, does not mean they get to change the rules. The Internet was created to be a free medium to exchange information. The original architects never intended for any censorship or favoritism. These telecommunist companies need to step off and see the real world. Unfortuantely, they are so disconnected from reality they think they can do this kind of crap. The CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, and the armies of useless VPs are all so clueless they actually think they can get away with this.

I call on every Internet user to call their telecommunist companies and tell them that they must not do this or they will suffer a bigger backlash than has ever been seen before. And to the IT people on these boards, I urge you all to contact your upstream providers and tell them that if they go ahead with this plan that you will be only too happy to find another upstream provider that is not a communist. We ALL have to do this people or the Internet will become just one big commercial.
Posted by thenet411 (415 comments )
Link Flag
I hate the Internet!
...just kidding!

What a joke! What's new here? The guy that builds the big train and lays the most track gets the contracts. He in turn takes care of his clients to keep them happy.

Then the next guy builds a bigger train leases the track from the other guy, creates competition and steals the contracts.

The price goes down and we all get top rate service for $2 a month.

These companies are not investing in larger networks to better the internet...there trying to get the contracts. God give me a break!
Posted by Turnabuck (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I hate the Internet!
...just kidding!

What a joke! What's new here? The guy that builds the big train and lays the most track gets the contracts. He in turn takes care of his clients to keep them happy.

Then the next guy builds a bigger train leases the track from the other guy, creates competition and steals the contracts.

The price goes down and we all get top rate service for $2 a month.

These companies are not investing in larger networks to better the internet...there trying to get the contracts. God give me a break!
Posted by Turnabuck (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Market Forces in a Monopoly market
<i>Instead, I feel that at this point it is essential that market forces and consumer demand drive the economic model.</i>

The problem with this approach is the companies which own the broadband infrastructure go to great lengths to ensure they have no competition in their service areas. Market forces can't decide (methinks they'd choose neutral offerings) on this issue if the market has to choose between two companies, neither of which has an option for net neutrality.
Posted by Egatlov (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Market Forces in a Monopoly market
<i>Instead, I feel that at this point it is essential that market forces and consumer demand drive the economic model.</i>

The problem with this approach is the companies which own the broadband infrastructure go to great lengths to ensure they have no competition in their service areas. Market forces can't decide (methinks they'd choose neutral offerings) on this issue if the market has to choose between two companies, neither of which has an option for net neutrality.
Posted by Egatlov (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
He's still cranky about that Bridge to Nowhere
Can we put the good senator out to pasture yet?
Posted by (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
He's still cranky about that Bridge to Nowhere
Can we put the good senator out to pasture yet?
Posted by (54 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WHO SHOULD OWN THE INTERNET
The internet infrastructure has become too important as a security, communications, cultural tool the be in the hands and whims of privateers. Its usefulness to the citizens, as possibly an essential service, gets lost in the interests of SHAREHOLDERS.

It has become as indispensable as the national highways and should be infrastructure managed the same way. How the physical network is distributed, and it's ownership should be by the people, and not by AT&#38;T. Since it seems that the privateers are going to find a way to tax us anyway, then why not pay a government tax and become "THE SHAREHOLDERS"
Posted by bigpicture (145 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True Tele-Communism
n/t
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
WHO SHOULD OWN THE INTERNET
The internet infrastructure has become too important as a security, communications, cultural tool the be in the hands and whims of privateers. Its usefulness to the citizens, as possibly an essential service, gets lost in the interests of SHAREHOLDERS.

It has become as indispensable as the national highways and should be infrastructure managed the same way. How the physical network is distributed, and it's ownership should be by the people, and not by AT&#38;T. Since it seems that the privateers are going to find a way to tax us anyway, then why not pay a government tax and become "THE SHAREHOLDERS"
Posted by bigpicture (145 comments )
Reply Link Flag
True Tele-Communism
n/t
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
Perfect example
Cable company Shaw in Canada is a perfect example of applying 2 Tier internet. The people who use Vonage, Shaw wants to charge an extra $10 a month for better access. For that extra $10 a month, Shaw is increasing your download speed just a bit. No guarantee that your service will be better since it will be traveling over the same pipe as the rest of the internet. Shaw can't stop the bottle necking once your Vonage call leaves the Shaw's network.

It's a way for the Telco's to get free money for nothing. They won't have the incentive to upgrade there networks. Why should they when they packet shape. I bet you will lose up to 50% of the content that's on the net. Only the big boys like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google will be supplying all your content needs. Cause they are the one's who will be able to pay the high Telco's extortion costs.
Posted by viperpa (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Perfect example
Cable company Shaw in Canada is a perfect example of applying 2 Tier internet. The people who use Vonage, Shaw wants to charge an extra $10 a month for better access. For that extra $10 a month, Shaw is increasing your download speed just a bit. No guarantee that your service will be better since it will be traveling over the same pipe as the rest of the internet. Shaw can't stop the bottle necking once your Vonage call leaves the Shaw's network.

It's a way for the Telco's to get free money for nothing. They won't have the incentive to upgrade there networks. Why should they when they packet shape. I bet you will lose up to 50% of the content that's on the net. Only the big boys like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google will be supplying all your content needs. Cause they are the one's who will be able to pay the high Telco's extortion costs.
Posted by viperpa (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Network Neutrality and the Cry Babies at Google/Yahoo etc
Give me a break.
The RBOC and the other Service Providers are not out to restrict the subscribers access to anything. Number 1, I don't think they could do that if they wanted to and it would not make sense economically because we have something called competition from the MSo and the merging new Wireless Mesh Providers like Earthlink who would quickly jump on this and bypass everyone to the home.
The COntent providers are getting a free ride on the last mile Broadband Networks that exist today and they are forcing the local last mile providers to upgrade as they continue to expand their services with more and more Video/Gaming and Audio services. They are getting premium Ad fees and not paying for any last mile.
In addition, the average user who wants true broadband downloads would not have a serious problem with being offered premium access at higher speeds for a higher fee as long as they had a low to medium speed (like todays Cable Modem and DSL)options: CHOICE is KEY.

Let competition loose and this would be solved.

Trust me as soon as one of the big Search and COntent engines signs a deal with AT&#38;T or Verizon the game is over.

Jacomo
Posted by jacomo (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How are they not paying for the last mile?
I agree with some of what you say, but I don't understand how you can say that the content providers are not paying for the last mile? If Google pays for its pipes and I pay for the last mile, and there are peering arrangements in place among the backbone providers -- all of which is true today, then the only way anything is not being "paid for" is if the telcos are not charging for it. If they are not charging enough to afford the upgrades, then that's their problem, not Google's. If they feel they can't charge more and compete, then that's good for all of us. This whole argument, first lofted by SBC, that somehow the Yahoos and Googles of the world are not paying the freight is completely bogus and doesn't hold up under the lightest scrutiny.
Posted by curtiscarmack (20 comments )
Link Flag
Network Neutrality and the Cry Babies at Google/Yahoo etc
Give me a break.
The RBOC and the other Service Providers are not out to restrict the subscribers access to anything. Number 1, I don't think they could do that if they wanted to and it would not make sense economically because we have something called competition from the MSo and the merging new Wireless Mesh Providers like Earthlink who would quickly jump on this and bypass everyone to the home.
The COntent providers are getting a free ride on the last mile Broadband Networks that exist today and they are forcing the local last mile providers to upgrade as they continue to expand their services with more and more Video/Gaming and Audio services. They are getting premium Ad fees and not paying for any last mile.
In addition, the average user who wants true broadband downloads would not have a serious problem with being offered premium access at higher speeds for a higher fee as long as they had a low to medium speed (like todays Cable Modem and DSL)options: CHOICE is KEY.

Let competition loose and this would be solved.

Trust me as soon as one of the big Search and COntent engines signs a deal with AT&#38;T or Verizon the game is over.

Jacomo
Posted by jacomo (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How are they not paying for the last mile?
I agree with some of what you say, but I don't understand how you can say that the content providers are not paying for the last mile? If Google pays for its pipes and I pay for the last mile, and there are peering arrangements in place among the backbone providers -- all of which is true today, then the only way anything is not being "paid for" is if the telcos are not charging for it. If they are not charging enough to afford the upgrades, then that's their problem, not Google's. If they feel they can't charge more and compete, then that's good for all of us. This whole argument, first lofted by SBC, that somehow the Yahoos and Googles of the world are not paying the freight is completely bogus and doesn't hold up under the lightest scrutiny.
Posted by curtiscarmack (20 comments )
Link Flag
Secret War against Cable
This is really about Cable getting into the phone business and now the telcos are steaming mad! I am a gamer, now I have only a few choices when it comes to my connection speed: Dial up, Isdn, Dsl or Cable. I have opted for DSL because I have to have phone service as well; this used to be my only option, but now I can have phone from cable. Now I can re-think my options because of voip.

I added the highest speed I could for a "Home DSL" line, but sometimes do not think it is worth it. I have never downloaded at an Actuall 1.5 megabytes per second! Tell my why? If this new tiered system lets me get premium content at the actuall freaking advertised speed then SO BE IT! I am sick of not getting the stuff I want at the speeds that were advertised when I bought the package.

Basically the teclos want a new ace up the sleeve.
Posted by (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Secret War against Cable
This is really about Cable getting into the phone business and now the telcos are steaming mad! I am a gamer, now I have only a few choices when it comes to my connection speed: Dial up, Isdn, Dsl or Cable. I have opted for DSL because I have to have phone service as well; this used to be my only option, but now I can have phone from cable. Now I can re-think my options because of voip.

I added the highest speed I could for a "Home DSL" line, but sometimes do not think it is worth it. I have never downloaded at an Actuall 1.5 megabytes per second! Tell my why? If this new tiered system lets me get premium content at the actuall freaking advertised speed then SO BE IT! I am sick of not getting the stuff I want at the speeds that were advertised when I bought the package.

Basically the teclos want a new ace up the sleeve.
Posted by (20 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Double Dipping
Your cable or DSL provider is responsible for providing the consumer access to the web at the high speeds they promise. They are trying to double dip!

This would be like your power company going to Magnavox and saying "If you pay us X amount of money a month, we will supply better power to your devices." Does GM, Ford and other car manufactures have to pay for better roads because they benefit from the highway infrastructure?

That would be ridiculous! Just as ridiculous as what the ISPs are trying to do.
Posted by CodyJo (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Double Dipping
Your cable or DSL provider is responsible for providing the consumer access to the web at the high speeds they promise. They are trying to double dip!

This would be like your power company going to Magnavox and saying "If you pay us X amount of money a month, we will supply better power to your devices." Does GM, Ford and other car manufactures have to pay for better roads because they benefit from the highway infrastructure?

That would be ridiculous! Just as ridiculous as what the ISPs are trying to do.
Posted by CodyJo (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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