Monday, May 01, 2006

Network Neutrality Update

For an issue that is as important as Network Neutrality, I am still not seeing any substantial coverage of it in the news. Thanks to grassroots movements, the word is starting to get out and according to the blog, some Congressmen are becoming fearful of the backlash that could arise from voting against Network Neutrality. Apparently not everyone in Congress is terribly worried though. Congressman Jim Cooper addressed my concern in the following letter.

May 1, 2006

Mr. John Raine
Nashville, Tennessee 37217

Dear Mr. Raine:

Thank you for writing to me to express your views on the equal access of content providers to Internet capacity, also known as "net neutrality".

As you know, Internet service providers have traditionally allowed their customers to access all websites and content available on the Internet, generally regardless of the amount of bandwidth these services require relative to others. Today, providers such as cable and telephone companies seek to expand the availability of video services over their networks, therefore many people worry that such services will restrict the amount of bandwidth available for other Internet services. Additionally, service providers may offer some content providers preferred access to customers' bandwidth for a fee, meaning that large Internet companies such as Yahoo or Google could have better access to customers' homes than smaller and newer

The Internet has thrived because it has embraced and enabled new innovative technologies. Many emerging Internet technologies require increasingly more bandwidth to deliver their value to consumers. At the same time, if Internet service providers do not find it economical to build faster and larger networks, bandwidth will not expand enough to keep up with consumers' need. As Congress examines this issue, I will study all of the data available and evaluate legislative approaches about how to encourage innovation and allow consumers to access the next-generation services they require.

Thank you for your time and for you advocacy on behalf of consumers. I look forward to hearing from you in the future regarding this and other issues.


Jim Cooper
Member of Congress

This doesn't sound like the response of someone who fears a backlash. I guess one could read this letter as a description of someone who is open minded and willing to hear both sides of the argument. However, one side of this argument is just plain wrong! In theory, charging sites with higher traffic a premium seems like a good idea to increase the infrastructure of the Internet. However, I just don't trust the telecommunications companies to use a new law this way. I would tend to think that they would more likely use it as a means to profit while the rest of us suffer or submit to their extortionary prices for access to the "fast lane."

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