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Republicans to Push Against Net Neutrality; FCC Says Start of Process

Senate Republicans moved Monday afternoon to prevent the FCC's proposed rules on net neutrality with an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would tie up funding at the agency for new regulatory mandates. Observers said, however, that the move was unlikely to be approved in the Democrat-majority Congress.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), ranking member of Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said in a release:

"We must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations. Where there have been a handful of questionable actions in the past on the part of a few companies, the Commission and the marketplace have responded swiftly," Hutchison said in the release.

"The case has simply not been made for what amounts to a significant regulatory intervention into a vibrant marketplace. These new regulatory mandates and restrictions could stifle investment incentives," she said. Senators John Ensign (R-Nev.), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), David Vitter (R-La.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and John Thune (R-S.D. co-sponsored the amendment.

Rebecca Arbogast, head of technology policy research at Stifel Nicholas, said the move was a standard vehicle for Congress to block what regulatory agencies were trying to achieve in the executive branch or in a regulatory agency. "But the likelihood of it getting passed it pretty low. This is standard procedure and a time-honored tradition but the Republicans are in the minority."

The two Republican commissioners at the five-member FCC issued a joint statement
in response to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's announcement, expressed concern that conclusions have been prematurely drawn about how consumers and businesses are being affected by Web policies.

"We are concerned that both factual and legal conclusions may have been drawn before the process has begun," said Commissioners Robert McDowell and Merideth Baker. "We do not believe that the Commission should adopt regulations based merely on anecdotes, or in an effort to alleviate the political pressures of the day, if the facts do not clearly demonstrate that a problem needs to be remedied."

An official at the agency stressed, however, that Genachowski viewed the proposal as the start of a process to investigate how new rules for the Internet should be approached for different technologies. Some wireless providers have balked at the proposal, with AT&T saying it does not agree that the rules should apply to its giant national wireless network because of capacity constraints. Genachowski said in his speech that the rules would apply to all platforms - which would include wireless - but that such questions would be part of a process that will begin late October to come up with new rules. If approved, final rules could be drawn next spring.

By Cecilia Kang  |  September 21, 2009; 2:36 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
Previous: FCC Wants to Be Smart Cop of Internet; Questions on Details Remain | Next: Net Neutrality Questions Answered and Not

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"the Commission and the marketplace have responded swiftly"
What an idiotic statement, Ms. Kay Bailey "sold out to telecom" Hutchinson. How can the market respond quickly? I, like at least 1/2 of all Americans, have ONLY one option for high speed internet access. If comcast decides to throttle google gmail to force me to use comcast mail, what I am supposed to do, "swiftly" purchase 30 miles of fiber optic cable and run it to the nearest internet peering point?

Posted by: wandering1 | September 21, 2009 7:28 PM

The best thing these FCC bureaucrats can do is collect their pay, collect their pensions, enjoy their perks and leave us alone. Stay out of our business. We The People built the internet, not the FCC. It is none of the FCC's business.

A lot of people learned the way to Washington on September 12th 2009. If We come back, it won't be a problem finding the FCC rat's nest.

Posted by: ironmule | September 21, 2009 11:14 PM

It is common place in our society to react. Our schools are great, but later react to poor scores of failing students. Instead of preventative street maintenance we wait until potholes are everywhere. Instead of preventative health, we wait until we're sick before seeking help. We issue FAA FAR's to patch problems with aircraft after they had crashed. These are well known avenues of business opportunity.

How many cases should be made until rulings are justified? How many potholes, failing scores, sick citizens or aircraft fatalities?

We know what can happen when business or individuals are left unsupervised. It'll be the mad wild west. Telecom companies wish to continue to operate unrestrained. For example, "AcmeVoIP pays Telecom X's to be their preferred VoIP service. If you wish to use Skype, there'll be an extra charge of $xx/min." "Telecom X has their preferred music download site on-net, if you wish to use one on Telecom provider Y's network, they'll charge you a net roaming fee... unless, of course, you sign up for the $99.00/mo AllAccess plan."

This is the wild west, where the end users are taken advantage of, and squeezed for maximized profits. And how can, "if you don't like their service, move to another one," be in the best interest of end user experience, when all the telecoms behave in a similar fashion? Should our government favor telecom's profits over citizens' service? Do customers exist simply as pawns in big businesses' profit venture goals?

Let's implement some preventative measures ensuring the best for the end-users. Preventative measures before the only compromise is a FCC dictated 10 page telecom "contract" in 2 font in which they can change anything they wish including the monthly rate at will anytime without notice.

Posted by: 1234xyz | September 21, 2009 11:45 PM

"A lot of people learned the way to Washington on September 12th 2009. If We come back, it won't be a problem finding the FCC rat's nest."

It would cause the average I.Q. in America to go up several points.

Is your messiah Beck still trying to spin up your li'l tea party by saying you had more people than for Obama's inauguration?

What's worse - I can't decide - idiots or liars?

Posted by: lquarton | September 23, 2009 1:54 AM

Has anyone looked into how these new net neutrality laws will affect public safety and deploying E911 on digital phone services?

In order to ensure an emergency call on a VoIP system gets to a E911 Call Center quickly, service providers tag packets associated with an emergency call. This allows them to push these "emergency call packets" to the front of the packet line, ensuring they don't get bogged down by other non emergency communications.

I would assume that everyone reading this post thinks that's a good practice. Generally, we want emergency calls to get to a 911 call center as quickly as possible.

However, if the FCC determines that all packets should be treated equally, service providers would break the law if they treated 911 calls differently than an email message. That's the essence of net neutrality. All packets and communications are treated equally or in a neutral manner.

Let me ask you this, the next time your house is on fire or your loved one is in trouble, is more important that someone down the street can download three movies at a time, or your loved one's 911 call gets through as quickly as possible?

The FCC Commissioner should answer that question.

Posted by: cattexmd | September 23, 2009 8:54 AM

id suggest that people read the wiki on Enhanced 911. it seems that the FCC has already imposed restriction on how the ISP's can implicate 911 calls on VoIP. apparently

"In March 2005, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit against Vonage for deceptive marketing practices by not making it clear that VoIP users had to actually sign up for E911 service."

( i wonder how many people were affected by the deceptions)

sooo, umm, looks like the providers werent very adept to handling E911 in the first place. Also, using broadband, has anyone had a lot of trouble with their inets speed with their browsers? mine runs well, and there are not many burps or delays. im guessing that not too many people are downloading 3 movies at once then

Posted by: cerealtherapist | September 23, 2009 4:07 PM

What a lot of people don't understand is that all landline telephone service is moving towards voip. When someone buys a triple play from comcast or gets phone service via fios, there using voip. There calls are being delivered over the internet. Now Comcast and Verizon are able to deliver E911 over Voip because they own the infrastructure and can control the packets that originate from the caller.

So the E911 rules don't apply to cable and phone providers, because they can deliver E911 over Voip right now. However, they may not be able to deliver E911 service if the FCC institutes net neutrality rules.

All communications are moving towards voice over the internet.

It's pretty ironic that the FCC is charged by congress to advance the wide adoption of E911, but now they may make a rule that actually limits the adoption of E911.

Posted by: cattexmd | September 24, 2009 6:53 AM

"The best thing these FCC bureaucrats can do is collect their pay, collect their pensions, enjoy their perks and leave us alone. Stay out of our business. We The People built the internet, not the FCC. It is none of the FCC's business."

We The People happen to have the slowest and most expensive telecom system in the industrialized world. The market, which you no doubt worship, has failed and it's time for regulation.

Posted by: bikes-everywhere | September 25, 2009 7:48 AM

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