I reported on this last week without comment. Six evil Dems voted for the
. It's kill or be killed for us. Time to act. Make a start here.
Telecom reform moves forward
House panel OKs measure favored by phone companies
- Tom Abate, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, April 6, 2006
A House subcommittee handed phone companies a victory Wednesday by voting 27-4
to advance a bill that would make it easier for them to deliver television service
over the Internet and clearing the way for all Internet carriers to charge more
for speedier delivery.
The lopsided vote was a defeat for Internet and technology firms like Google
and Microsoft, which had hoped to amend the bill to enforce a principle called
network neutrality and preserve the status quo under which all Internet traffic
is treated equally.
Earlier in the day, the subcommittee voted 23-8 to reject an amendment by Rep.
Ed Markey, D-Mass., that would have inserted specific language designed to enforce
network neutrality and prevent the feared creation of fast and slow lanes on
Markey said his amendment was necessary to protect the "Internet as an
engine of innovation" and ensure that new services had an equal chance
Instead, the committee adopted compromise provisions, accepted by the bill's
chief sponsor, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, authorizing the Federal Communications
Commission to investigate violations of network neutrality and levy fines of
up to $500,000 on a case-by-case basis.
Supporters painted defeat of Markey's net neutrality amendment in bleak terms.
"Members from both sides of the aisle endorsed a plan which will permit
cable and phone companies to construct 'pay as you surf, pay as you post' toll
booths for the Internet," said Jeff Chester, executive director of the
Center for Digital Democracy in Washington.
But Sonia Arrison, director of technology studies for the Pacific Research
Institute in San Francisco, dismissed concerns that the proposed bill would
lead to a two-tiered Internet.
"There's plenty of competition,'' Arrison said. "The market will
take care of it."
Largely overlooked in a debate dominated by net neutrality are provisions in
the proposed legislation that would allow broadband providers, notably big phone
companies, to obtain a national license to deliver television service, and exempt
them from having to negotiate with cities for licenses.
According to the proposed legislation, once a broadband carrier started delivering
TV in a given area, local cable companies -- which must get municipal licenses
-- would be eligible for a national license in that area.
Wednesday's subcommittee vote on the bill, the Communications Opportunity,
Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006, sends it on to the House Energy and Commerce
Committee. That committee is chaired by Barton. Action is expected the week
of April 24.
E-mail Tom Abate at email@example.com.