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Web neutrality bill on the cards

ISPs against content providers
Fri Nov 14 2008, 13:05

THE BATTLE over network neutrality could be moved along as plans to introduce a bill that stops providers from blocking content is in motion.

Senator Byron Dorgan is pushing for this neutrality as he believes that the discrimination against Internet content needs to stop.

Certain providers like AT&T are at present able to block certain content on the Web.

Frannie Wellings, telecom counsel to Dorgan explains, "We feel that legislation is definitely necessary.”

January next year will see the Democrats on the Senate's Commerce Committee reconvene in order to discuss this issue – Dorgan will be influential as he will be among the highest ranked on this committee.

This fight for net neutrality pits Internet service providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon against the content companies including Microsoft and Google.

The ISPs say they need to manage the increasing amount of traffic on their networks without government interference while the content companies say that ISPs hold too much power to block traffic requiring more bandwidth.

Jim Cicconi, AT&T executive vice president for regulatory affairs says, "The current (FCC) principles already deal with unreasonable discrimination."

Cicconi adds that the public would be reluctant to pay for Internet services if AT&T discriminated against the content.

Apparently Comcast is suing the FCC over this issue and, depending on the outcome of that case, the legislation could become more likely.

So, alongside the support of Dorgan, if the court sides with Comcast it looks very possible that this legislation will be passed.

Markham Erickson, director of the Open Internet Coalition says, "The telephone and cable companies say trust them, we will trust but verify." µ

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