by CIO Staff

House Panel Shuns Net Neutrality

Apr 27, 20063 mins

On Wednesday, a U.S. House of Representatives panel dropped a proposed amendment from a controversial bill that would have protected Net giants like Google and eBay from being charged for faster delivery of Web services, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The panel voted 42-12, approving the bill and paving the way for the establishment of a multi-tiered Internet where companies would pay carriers for speedy service, according to the Chronicle.

A group of Internet companies opposing the new legislation attempted to modify the bill to guarantee “net neutrality,” in which all Internet traffic would be given equal treatment, but the amendment introduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) was shot down by a vote of 43-22 early Wednesday, the Chronicle reports.

A handful of Internet carriers, including AT&T, have vehemently opposed barring a tiered Internet because they feel certain websites, especially those employing large amounts of audio and video content, should have the opportunity to pay for faster service so they can keep up with competitors that may not use as much content requiring significant bandwidth, the Chronicle reports.

Those carriers claim their profits could be used to grow the Internet and its capabilities, according to the Chronicle.

Web companies have also banded together to represent their sides of the issue. Even competitors such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft set aside their differences to oppose the legislation, the Chronicle reports. Those companies fear a tiered Internet will provide some companies with an unfair advantage and stifle innovation.

The Web firms are now looking to the Senate for assistance, where there is currently at least one bill filed in support of net neutrality and more could potentially follow, according to the Chronicle.

The new legislation passed by the House panel on Wednesday would set fines of $500,000 for any Web carrier found guilty of blocking access to websites or cutting access to them, the Chronicle reports.

Net neutrality is also a component of a larger House bill called the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006, which would restructure telecommunications regulations, according to the Chronicle.

It’s unknown what will happen to the new legislation after it’s reviewed by the full House, the Chronicle reports.

For related coverage, read U.S. Subcommittee Rejects Net Neutrality Provision and Senior Writer Ben Worthen’s blog posts Net Neutrality Dies in the House and Who Owns the Internet?

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