Net neutrality: Senate sedated (and expensive dialog box)

You lookin' at me? You're lookin' at IT Blogwatch, in which a U.S. Senate committee stalls on the net neutrality amendment. Not to mention how not to write an automatic update script...

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee failed to add net neutrality to the Broadband Bill, Grant Gross reports that it, "Rejected a proposal that would have required broadband providers to give their competitors the same speeds and quality of service as they give to themselves or their partners. The vote was an 11-11 tie ... amendment will not be added to a wide-ranging broadband bill as it goes to the Senate floor ... [it] would have prevented broadband providers such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from charging extra based on the type of content transmitted by Internet-based companies ... [it] would bring new regulation to the Internet, committee Republicans argued. [Olympia Snowe, R-Maine] was the lone Republican voting for the amendment ... The committee's rejection of the proposal means the fight for net neutrality rules could be stalled for the year. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives approved its own version of a broadband bill but voted 269-152 to reject a net neutrality amendment. Net neutrality backers said they will continue to push for a law as the bill heads to the full Senate. Among net neutrality supporters are several consumer groups as well as Google Inc., Inc. and Microsoft Corp. Snowe predicted that without a net neutrality law, large broadband carriers will block or degrade Web content from competitors, creating a slow lane for everyone but themselves and their business partners"

» GMSV's John Murrell predicts Net toll booths: "Believers in the Internet as a free flowing, end-to-end service were talking about the end of it all ... Those who frame this as a fight to keep the government's sticky fingers out of the 'natural' workings of the market were pleased ... Both sides agree, however, that there is fighting that remains to be done, with Net neutralists taking heart from managing the tie in committee and momentum for a Senate floor fight growing."

», a lobby group supported by AT&T, has a pseudo-blog: "This is great news, but it’s not over yet ... Even the leading proponents of so-called 'neutrality' laws don’t have a very firm grasp on what they’re proposing ... new Internet regulations would have the effect of making it more difficult to deliver what’s called “last-mile” broadband service – that is, high-speed service up to each and every home. It costs a pretty penny to do this, and Senator Snowe’s proposal would put undue burdens on all parties involved ... Some companies and some individuals had more money to buy more access [in the 1990s]. It was true then, and it is true now. That’s just the nature of the market – and yet the Internet has still thrived ... Senator Snowe frets about individual companies having too much power to 'pick winners and losers.' Because so-called 'neutrality' laws would mandate that all packets move with exactly the same (lack of) care, what we are more concerned about is that government will step in and decide that everyone will be losers."

», a lobby group supported by ... oh gosh, AT&T: "Those who think the government should have the laboring oar on creating infrastructure -- whether that infrastructure consists of telecom connections or the fruits of creativity -- need to ponder on how badly the government is performing its responsibilties to provide efficient transportation networks. If you want to spend your life in Internet traffic jams while waiting to watch the latest movie produced by the Department of Education, just keep going."

» SaveTheInternet isn't supported by any large ISPs: "Immediately following the Commerce Committee’s vote against a Net Neutrality amendment, [Ron Wyden, D-Oregon] marched onto the floor of the Senate to demand that the legislation include stronger safeguards ... signals his intent to filibuster until certain issues in the Stevens’ bill are cleared up ... Senator Stevens is uncertain that he has the 60 votes to break a filibuster. If at least 41 Senators stand strong behind Net Neutrality, then Wyden’s hold could keep the Telecom bill from the floor. The legislation that passed through committee today has toothless provisions on net neutrality, and instead opens the way for companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth to charge consumers and small businesses new and discriminatory fees on top of those they already charge for Internet access."

» Chris Pirillo is not impressed: "I have one word for y’all: Ouch ... Sometimes I just don’t understand why the Internet doesn’t have its own government. Can’t we make ourselves our own country or something? Wasn’t it started started with the idea of easy, equal access for everybody? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at this point. Someone, please wake me up? Todd’s right: this is a national emergency. I’ll take his assertion one step further: this is an INTERNATIONAL emergency."

» Gordon Gould: "Senate rejected strict Net Neutrality rules in deference to broadband providers like ATT and Verizon who also happen to be among the top campaign contributors. Seems like cronyism wins again. I just don't understand how, in good faith, GOP leaders can claim to be in favor of entrepreneurs and small business, in favor of free-markets, and then turn around and support what constitutes essentially unnecessary innovation-dampening legislation/tolls on the Net, which are bad for the economy as a whole, in favor of enriching fat incumbents. And then to claim, out of the other side of their mouths, that strict Net neutrality limits would ... impose heavy-handed legislation ... is even more galling. Hypocrites."

» Paul Kapustka dons his tinfoil hat: "Did anyone else notice that the commerce committee's webcast was MIA this afternoon? Or was that just my service provider blocking it?"

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Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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