Magazine article University Business

Net Neutrality Battle Heats Up: Who Will Control Broadband Access?

Magazine article University Business

Net Neutrality Battle Heats Up: Who Will Control Broadband Access?

Article excerpt

A BILL TO HELP ENSURE THE CONTINUED OPEN ARCHITECTURE OF the internet was voted down in the U.S. House of Representatives last month, leaving content providers, educators, and consumers in a pitched battle with the telecommunications industry over the question of who controls broadband access.

The so-called "Net Neutrality" bill, aimed at preventing broadband carriers from discriminating against competing web content or services failed in committee on a vote of 34-22. The bill was still awaiting a full floor vote as this issue went to press, though some observers say the GOP-controlled rules committee was unlikely to let it get that far.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a similar bill in the Senate that awaits committee debate, while James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Cowers (D-Mich.) introduced yet another version of the bill in the House.

At stake is a potential sharp increase in the cost of using broadband services, and the concern of favoritism in the form of faster speeds for content providers willing to pay the price.

A Verizon Communications official dismissed such claims as "Chicken Little" stories, saying that the telecomm industry needs to charge users for services such as high-quality video to be able to finance the cost of upgrading its network-to-fiber links.

Bur neutrality proponents argue that they already pay high prices for broadband access, and failure to protect the system would essentially be paying twice for the same services. …

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