Massa intros Broadband Internet Fairness Act
Laying low didn’t work. Even though Time Warner Cable temporarily tabled its attempts to introduce bandwidth caps on its broadband service tiers, Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) hasn’t moved on; instead he has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for any Internet service provider to implement any pricing plan that is “unjust, unreasonable or unreasonably discriminatory.”
Volume usage charges not justified by cost will become illegal. The proposed law would apply only to ISPs with 2 million or more subscribers.
The bill, called the Broadband Internet Fairness Act, would compel ISPs to submit broadband pricing plans to the Federal Trade Commission for review. The review would examine whether such plans are fairly based on cost. Should a pricing plan pass FTC muster on that basis, it would still be subject to public hearings.
The bill (text here) outlines the factors an ISP must consider in its analysis and justification of usage billing.
Massa became involved when TWC introduced usage billing in Massa’s district, in Rochester, N.Y. Public outcry, amplified by the consumer group Free Press, elicited the attention of Massa and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D- N.Y.), forcing TWC to back off.
Even though the bill would not apply to a single member of the American Cable Association, the ACA objected on the basic principle often cited by TWC and other advocates of usage billing.
Given the rate of growth of Internet traffic, “Internet usage payment models will allow broadband providers to better manage their networks by imposing higher costs on the heaviest users, who often are the ones responsible for slowing speeds for all users on the Internet,” ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka said.
"Consumption-based billing plans will give consumers the ultimate control over how much they spend each month for their Internet access. Rep. Massa's bill would have a chilling effect on broadband operators offering these types of consumer-friendly options,” Polka said.