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House net neutrality talks continue, with time running out

House Energy and Commerce Committee members continued to hash out a narrow bill on net neutrality Monday, with sources close to the talks saying that the parties are aware of a small window of time to pass legislation but continue to disagree over key portions of proposed rules.

The clock to get a net neutrality bill introduced, marked up and voted on is running, and the next couple of days will decide whether talks will continue, the sources said.

As of late last week, lawmakers had outlined a proposal to give the Federal Communications Commission authority for two years to enforce four open Internet principles already in place. At debate is whether those principles would apply to wireless services, if a rule should be included that prohibits discrimination of content on networks and whether paying for priority access on networks should be included.

One source familiar with the talks said telecom and cable carriers that are being consulted by lawmakers (along with consumer/public interest groups) are unwilling to include wireless services in such rules. It’s also unclear whether the bill would allow the FCC to be more than an enforcement agency in those two years when complaints are brought to it.

update: That would make it difficult to introduce a bill with the consensus of carriers, Internet firms and public interest groups -- a scenario that lawmakers hope to achieve with legislation.

Legislation that is narrowly targeted would be welcome by telecom and cable Internet service providers who hope a law would dissuade the FCC from asserting its authority to regulate broadband providers.

With Congressional talks moving forward, Concept Capital analyst Paul Gallant said any move by the FCC could be delayed into next year.

"We would not be suprised if FCC Chairman (Julius) Genachowski allowed the congressional process to play out into Q1 2011 before deciding how to proceed," Gallant said.

Separately, advocates of net neutrality have launched a Web campaign targeting Google with a petition asking the company’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, to “walk away” from an agreement the Internet firm brokered with wireless partner Verizon on net neutrality. That agreement would allow for paid prioritization of certain content and would free wireless networks from rules.

By Cecilia Kang  | September 20, 2010; 5:53 PM ET
Categories:  FCC, Net Neutrality  
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Comments

The Web Campaign is naive and counterproductive. It fails to understand the imperative business considerations driving the telcos and Google - the battle for pot of gold called online advertising.

Unfortunately (and fortunately for us) this pot of gold is an illusion as traditional advertising evolves into a true information age medium. The Internet will save itself without petitions and without politicians. http://bit.ly/bVZIig

Posted by: chrellis | September 21, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

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