Shaky telecom legislation caught up in net neutrality war
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Though a comprehensive package of telecom legislation has passed the Senate Commerce Committee, it's now a long way from becoming law.
According to a report in the National Journal, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and other critics worry that the measure's network neutrality provisions are too weak to prevent broadband operators from controlling the content transmitted over their high-speed wires. Those provisions are intended to prevent operators from potentially acting as Internet gatekeepers.
Wyden warned that he planned to place a "hold" - a procedural roadblock - on the legislation if it is not amended with better protections.
Wyden detailed scenarios under which average citizens and small businesses would be saddled with hefty fees imposed by Internet providers if the current version of the bill becomes law. Corporations opposed to net neutrality are spending millions of dollars on lobbying and advertising to secure the bill's passage so they can make "billions" from a two-tiered Internet, he argued.
The National Journal reported that Stevens' approach to net neutrality has strong support among Republicans and major players in the telecommunications and cable industries, such as AT&T, Verizon Communications and Time Warner, that are investing heavily in high-speed Internet service.
Such communications giants want to prioritize the delivery of bandwidth-hungry applications, such as video, to ensure uninterrupted service.
However, critics, including major tech sector firms such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, say the Stevens bill would let broadband operators relegate content providers to a slow lane if they refuse to pay for priority treatment.