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After midterms, net neutrality take a hit

If the forecast of strong Republican gains in Congress holds true Nov. 2, the battle over net neutrality -- the most contentious tech policy issue -- isn't likely to be resolved anytime soon.

Net neutrality -- the idea that all traffic on the Internet should travel at the same speed -- has been a point of contention for the Federal Communications Commission, which is proposing regulations that would ensure that broadband service providers treat all Web traffic equally. But analysts say the FCC could also find itself in a more hostile political environment as its embattled chairman pushes for rules that Republicans are expected to argue would hurt the telecom and cable companies responsible for a large chunk of American jobs.

Aside from net neutrality, federal regulators and lawmakers are also expected to focus on Internet privacy rules, tax reform and reviews of Comcast's proposed mega-merger with NBC Universal after the midterm elections.

But the move to regulate the broadband industry is what has businesses and public interest groups on the watch. The public interest groups fear that a Republican-dominated Congress could stall or weaken any new rules on net neutrality. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, they said, could buckle under pressure from lawmakers who would deem the measures anti-business.

"First and foremost, the new Congress has to sort out what to do about net neutrality because it's left too much uncertainty in the market," said Jeffrey Silva, an analyst at Medley Global Advisors.

The FCC wants to prevent Internet service providers from blocking Web applications or slowing the transmission of Web sites. It is unclear if those rules would apply to wireless networks and companies such as Verizon and Google, which want network carriers to be able to charge companies willing to pay for faster channels on their networks.

Congress could take up the issue, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) made an attempt last month when he gathered support from key businesses and public interest groups for a final draft of a net neutrality bill. But the bill has not been introduced in Congress, and in a lame-duck session, securing legislation could be more difficult.

Genachowski hasn't indicated a timeline for his policy proposal. At the start of his tenure more than a year ago, he said he would apply new rules to all platforms, including wireless networks. Critics say he has had ample time to push his proposal through the FCC, as three out of five commissioners favor the rules.

Read here for full story.

By Cecilia Kang  | October 28, 2010; 6:18 PM ET
Categories:  FCC, FTC, Google, Microsoft, Net Neutrality, Privacy  
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Comments

Cecilia Kang, Google's reporter at the Post, reveals yet again her bias toward Google's corporate agenda. The fact is that lobbyists paid by Google, including Ms. Kang (whose salary is partially paid by advertising dollars from Google) have been yammering for "network neutrality" regulations for years, claiming that all sorts of doom and gloom will ensue if they are not imposed. And has the Internet fallen apart in the meantime? No; it's better than ever. "Network neutrality" regulation would eliminate no "problem" - other than potential threats to Google's multiple Internet monopolies. However, it would create problems: higher prices, slower speeds, more congestion, hindered innovation, reduced buildout to unserved areas, less competition.

Neither party has a monopoly on the truth, and ending one-party rule by EITHER party is fundamental to ensuring that government is reasonable and not a slave to dogma, special interests, or corporate money.(Google was a very large contributor to the Obama campaign, transition, and inauguration - a key reason why Democrats have been pushing its corporate "network neutrality" agenda.) An absence of one-party rule also correlates with prosperity. Our country enjoyed great economic growth under Clinton, when the Democrats held the White House but Republicans controlled at least one house of Congress. So, let's hope that the Republicans do gain some power, and that attempts at unwise and destructive "network neutrality" regulation are killed once and for all.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | October 29, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Cecilia Kang, Google's reporter at the Post, reveals yet again her bias toward Google's corporate agenda. The fact is that lobbyists paid by Google, including Ms. Kang (whose salary is partially paid by advertising dollars from Google) have been yammering for "network neutrality" regulations for years, claiming that all sorts of doom and gloom will ensue if they are not imposed. And has the Internet fallen apart in the meantime? No; it's better than ever. "Network neutrality" regulation would eliminate no "problem" - other than potential threats to Google's multiple Internet monopolies. However, it would create problems: higher prices, slower speeds, more congestion, hindered innovation, reduced buildout to unserved areas, less competition.

Neither party has a monopoly on the truth, and ending one-party rule by EITHER party is fundamental to ensuring that government is reasonable and not a slave to dogma, special interests, or corporate money.(Google was a very large contributor to the Obama campaign, transition, and inauguration - a key reason why Democrats have been pushing its corporate "network neutrality" agenda.) An absence of one-party rule also correlates with prosperity. Our country enjoyed great economic growth under Clinton, when the Democrats held the White House but Republicans controlled at least one house of Congress. So, let's hope that the Republicans do gain some power, and that attempts at unwise and destructive "network neutrality" regulation are killed once and for all.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | October 29, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Let's say Jane runs a local real estate company and hosts a website with the houses she represents listed online. Comcast, the local ISP (maybe you're lucky to have two high speed internet providers) runs its own competing local real estate website.

If Comcast decided to reduce the speed or access to Jane's website in favor of its own real estate website, where visitors can immediately stream high quality video of each and every house, would this hinder Jane's ability to compete in the marketplace? Or maybe Comcast decides that users can access Jane's website only if Jane pays them a fee (or tribute..), does this hinder her ability to compete in the marketplace? Is this fair to Jane or any other business owner, local or national?

Net neutrality aims to reinstate the previous laws of common carriage of networks that have existed for over two centuries in American law.

Posted by: ryangee | October 31, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Y'know, I'm sick and tired of reading BGlass’s lies on here.

“The fact is that lobbyists paid by Google, including Ms. Kang (whose salary is partially paid by advertising dollars from Google) have been yammering for "network neutrality" regulations for years, claiming that all sorts of doom and gloom will ensue if they are not imposed.”

-Please investigate how much Google Ads (and internet advertising in general) generates for the newspaper industry and Washington Post. Google is actually a major player in destroying the print industry – ever check out Google News? What type of service is that? One that generates virtually zero income for newspapers.

“’Network neutrality’ regulation would eliminate no "problem" - other than potential threats to Google's multiple Internet monopolies.

-Exactly how is Google a “monopoly” on the Internet? Just because users choose to use it over the alternatives (and there are many...) does not make it in any way, shape, or form a monopoly. Actually, Google would probably benefit from having no net neutrality rules because it is already at the top of the food chain and can buy its way back into the Internet if censorship becomes in issue with ISPs. “

-If you use Brett Glass’s ISP and do not want net neutrality rules put into place, here’s what Brett could (and probably would) do to your Internet: he could block anything Google related, such as Youtube, and restrict access to any sort of content he deems inappropriate for his network. That could mean anything from BitTorrent, to Netflix, to CNN, Fox News, or any media outlet that portrays his service as being poor or negative.

“However, it would create problems: higher prices, slower speeds, more congestion, hindered innovation, reduced build out to un-served areas, less competition.”

-As opposed to…lower prices? Does your Comcast bill EVER go down? That’s what I thought. More competition? Please…. More innovation? Yeah, sure. Please explain how net neutrality has anything to do with these issues? Cable providers are already beginning to charge higher prices as it is (see: cord-cutting).

-Net neutrality has nothing to do with reducing build out to un-served areas. Did you see the “competition” that has occurred recently? Verizon FiOS started offering “some” people with new competition in densely populated areas! And guess what – Verzion put an indefinite FREEZE on any more build outs of its services. I fail to see how net neutrality has anything to do with that one, considering it’s not even in place.

Ever heard of the laws that AT&T changed in well over ten states to effectively remove local cable franchise authority over them – because of “competition”, they now can selectively ‘pick and choose’ what areas, what STREETS they wish to provide their U-Verse service to. Yep, net neutrality caused that one too.

Posted by: ryangee | October 31, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

As George W. Bush said "We need these guest workers." As ANY BOUGHT AND PAID FOR POLITICIAN WILL TELL US, We need more gov't rules, laws and other B.S. What we do need is complete freedom of the internet and the access to it, barring predators and child pornography. Those with the money to spend will get their way, proven fact. The rest of us will get what's left over, the crumbs.

Posted by: bcreek1 | November 1, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

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