TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Google Says Bill Could Spark Anti-Trust Complaints

Google Says Bill Could Spark Anti-Trust Complaints

Reuters News Wire (
Tue, 4 Jul 2006 14:04:16 -0500

Google warned on Tuesday it will not hesitate to file anti-trust
complaints in the United States if high-speed Internet providers abuse
the market power they could receive from U.S. legislators.

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee last week approved sweeping
communications reform legislation that would make it easier for
telephone companies like AT&T to offer subscription television to

But it narrowly rejected attempts by some lawmakers to strengthen
safeguards on Internet service, which had pitted high-speed Internet,
or broadband, providers such as AT&T against Internet content
companies like Google.

The battle centred on whether broadband providers can charge more to
carry unaffiliated content or to guarantee service quality, an issue
called Net neutrality.

"If the legislators ... insist on neutrality, we will be happy. If
they do not put it in, we will be less happy but then we will have to
wait and see whether or not there actually is any abuse," Vint Cerf, a
Google vice-president and one of the pioneers of the Internet, told a
news conference in Bulgaria.

"If we are not successful in our arguments ... then we will simply
have to wait until something bad happens and then we will make known
our case to the Department of Justice's anti-trust division," he said
on Tuesday.

Cerf is visiting Bulgaria at the invitation of President Georgi
Parvanov to discuss ways to boost information technology business and
Internet access in the country.

The U.S. bill includes provisions aimed at preserving consumers'
ability to surf anywhere on the public Internet and use any
Internet-related application, software or service.

"My company, along with many others believes that the Internet should
stay open and accessible to everyone equally," Cerf said.

"We are worried that some of the broadband service providers will
interfere with that principle and will attempt to use their control
over broadband transport facilities to interfere with services of

Despite extensive lobbying by the telephone carriers, prospects for a
final law this year remain uncertain. Congress faces a dwindling
number of work days because of the November elections.

If the measure passes the full Senate, it would have to be reconciled
with a narrower bill approved by the House of Representatives.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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