TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Deal on Net Neutrality in US Senate is Elusive

Deal on Net Neutrality in US Senate is Elusive

(no name) ((no email))
Tue, 13 Jun 2006 15:38:48 -0500

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee so far has been unable to reach a
compromise on Internet network neutrality, a week before the panel is
supposed to vote on it as part of a broader communications reform
bill, Senate aides said on Monday.

Internet content companies like Google Inc. want lawmakers to bar
high-speed Internet broadband providers like Verizon Communications
from charging more to guarantee access and service quality, an issue
dubbed "Net neutrality."

Broadband providers have countered that they have no intention of
blocking consumers' access to public Internet sites, but do want to
offer private Internet-based services that have faster download speeds
for uses such as movies.

Sen. Ted Stevens, the committee chairman and an Alaska Republican
proposed on May 1 studying the issue. The top Democrat on the panel,
Sen. Daniel Inouye (news, bio, voting record) of Hawaii, and others
have pressed for more extensive protections.

One possible compromise on Net neutrality could be adopting language
approved last week by the U.S. House of Representatives bill,
according to one committee aide. It gave the Federal Communications
Commission the authority to enforce principles the agency backed last

Those principles called on broadband providers to provide consumers
unfettered access to Internet content and permit them to use whatever
legal applications and services that are available.

"I think that's the one issue where we still have some work to do,"
Lisa Sutherland, chief of staff to Stevens, told reporters. "We're
going to work as hard as we can this week on Net neutrality."

"Whatever the committee does on Net neutrality I assume it will be
re-litigated on the floor," she said.

The provisions are part of a larger bill aimed at overhauling U.S.
communications laws, including making it easier for Verizon and AT&T
Inc., traditionally telephone companies, to enter the subscription
television business.

The Senate committee issued a revised version of the legislation on
Monday and is scheduled to begin considering and voting on any
amendments to the bill on June 20.

"The majority has made some noteworthy revisions but there's still
substantial room for improvements, particularly in areas like Net
neutrality," said Andy Davis, a spokesman for the Democrats on the

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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