Friday, June 09, 2006

House rejects net neutrality - sort of

The House of Representatives voted 269-152 late yesterday to reject a net neutrality amendment to the COPE Act. COPE -- Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement -- is a rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Acts that appears to have been ghost-written by the telcos.

...broadband providers such as Verizon and AT&T, say it has sufficient Net neutrality protections for consumers, and more extensive rules would discourage investment in wiring American homes with higher-speed connections...

By golly, if Verizon and AT&T say it has enough protection for consumers, well, that's good enough for me!

Back in the little land we like to call reality, though, a vast public outcry over net neutrality and the telcos' checkered history of network deployments has arisen. Recent action around COPE has opened the door for some new players: specifically the House Judiciary Committee.

The bi-partisan committee, led by Rep. James Sensebrenner (R-WI), had raised enough of a ruckus about its ability to enforce antitrust violations, that a new amendment was proposed. It would preserve the Judiciary Committee's ability to slap the carriers down in the event that its activities required antitrust enforcement. Consider a Madison River situation, in which a carrier decides to block or degrade Vonage VoIP calls. The Judiciary retains the ability to position that activity as an antitrust enforcement action and act accordingly.

Once again, the telco lobbyists and apologists are crowing about their victory a bit too soon. After spending I-don't-know-how-many millions of dollars on lobbying, they didn't quite get the COPE Act they wanted. I wonder how’s that House Judiciary Committee's working out for them? The term 'seething' comes to mind.

After all of their spending and lobbying, their plans are coming apart faster than a five-dollar Taiwanese bicycle. The best is yet to come. They ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

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