Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Net neutrality missing from Senate's telecom bill

The egregious Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) -- architect of the $200+ million bridge to nowhere -- released the long-awaited update to current telecomm law with a paean to the telcos. Missing, as expected, was any mention of network neutrality. Many in Congress -- GOP as well as certain key Democrats -- are as addicted to telco money as the typical teen is to MTV.

What the telcos and cable companies have spent tens of millions of dollars on (the best Congress money can buy?) is to change from the current state of FCC-enforced neutrality to no neutrality. In the proposed law, the FCC has no right to discipline the carriers for favoring content-providers.

Many commentators speculate that this omission will result in an Internet with three tiers of service:

1) Those content-providers (e.g., Google) that won't pay extra tarriffs and will run slow or, perhaps, not at all.
2) Content-providers (e.g., Yahoo) who decide to pay the packet-protection money and run with some quality-of-service (QoS) guaranteed.
3) New applications created by the carriers ("AT&T's SuperSearch!") that compete with content providers, with will run even faster.

In fact, Cisco's marketing lit for their new carrier hardware almost comes right out and guffaws over metering, filtering, degrading and/or blocking competitive network traffic.

Ever wonder why the telcos seem to spend more on lobbyists than inventing cool applications like Vonage and Skype? Now you know.

BusinessWeek said it perfectly last week: “…Blair Levin, analyst with Stifel Nicolaus: “Right now, I would never invest in a business model that depended on protection from Net neutrality…”

So the effect of the carriers’ activities is clear: it is already stifling Internet investment.

Get over to Save The Internet now... and do your part.

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