Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaskan Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee that is responsible for updating the 1996 Telecom Act, said a highly anticipated proposal to include net neutrality language may not make it into the revised bill. Stevens said not only will it take votes from the committee, but there are a significant number of items people are trying to push into the bill. Net neutrality is the idea that companies owning broadband pipes should not be allowed to configure their networks in a way that plays favorites to them, such as transmitting their own services at higher speeds or charge third parties for the rights to higher speeds. AT&T head Ed Whitacre has come under fire from consumer advocacy groups for favoring such an idea.
Folks like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon.com, Skype and advocacy groups have been pressing Congress for strict laws in this area. The issue also affects wireless operators with third parties such as Sling Media coming on the scene to take advantage of the wireless broadband pipes to offer consumers TV separate from operators' own video services. While Sling Media may drive the sales of devices and data plans, operators also want to sell their own TV subscriptions. It's still early to tell how operators will treat third parties. Could they embrace them as complementary to make consumers happy?
To find out more about the potential for a net neutrality law:
- check out this piece from CNET News.com