View Full Version : Six Republican Senators Declare War on Net Neutrality

09-24-2009, 02:16 AM
Plan to keep Internet free of interference from ISPs draws opposition from GOP, service providers

Six Republican senators have introduced an amendment that would block the Federal Communications Commission from implementing its recently announced Net neutrality policy.

Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison introduced the amendment to an appropriations bill. It would prevent the FCC from getting funding for any initiative to uphold Net neutrality. According to The Hill, the co-sponsors are Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).

The move appears to be an attempt to pre-empt the FCC's expected new policy to ensure that Internet service providers don't discriminate between different types of information on their networks.

On Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave a speech in which he outlined the FCC's plan to enforce Net neutrality, a position President Barack Obama held during his campaign for president.

In recent years, concern has grown that some Internet service providers are slowing down "access to high speed Internet for things like Internet-based voice calls, video streaming, and legal file sharing (that carriers might wish to block or at least charge extra for)," writes Ian Paul at PCWorld magazine.

While Net neutrality is supported by Internet-reliant companies such as Google and Microsoft, it is opposed by major Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. Those three have come out against Genachowski's plan, ChannelWeb reports.

The part of Genachowski's plan that ISPs are most opposed to, according to PCWorld's Paul, is that it would apply to mobile carriers as well -- cellphones, Blackberries and the like. Bandwidth for wireless is not infinite, and some carriers have argued that they need to shape some traffic on their networks in order to make sure there is space available for everyone.

But, as the experience of other countries has shown, that is not necessarily the way "traffic shaping" is used. In Canada, throttling some types of traffic on the Internet -- not on wireless -- has become commonplace. It is used to slow down peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

"Broadband providers cannot discriminate against particular Internet content or applications," Genachowski said in his speech. "Nor can they disfavor an Internet service just because it competes with a similar service offered by that broadband provider. The Internet must continue to allow users to decide what content and applications succeed."

“I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading,” Sen. Hutchison said in a statement. “Even during a severe downturn, America has experienced robust investment and innovation in network performance and online content and applications. For that innovation to continue, we must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations."