And Congress Steps Over It

David Byrd : Byrd's Eye View
David Byrd
Chief Marketing Officer for ANPI

And Congress Steps Over It

While many of us look forward to when congress does even less that it's doing today, there are times when we need them to act. Resolving the concerns regarding net neutrality is one of those times. House Energy and Commerce chairman, Democrat Henry Waxman, was leading the effort to propose a less obtrusive method to ensure that carriers did not abuse the power they have over their customers. The bill would have allowed the FCC to address network neutrality issues on a case-by-case basis with the authority to impose a maximum penalty of $2 million for violations by an ISP. The point of Waxman's effort was to avoid giving the FCC new powers to control and manage broadband and data service providers. In floating his trial balloon to his peers, he discovered zero backing from members of the Republican Party. The lack of backing may be both principled and partisan. The effect is to halt any effort to address net neutrality in the current congress, and, given the expected results of the November election, the next congress.

The result is a return to the "Third Way" promoted by the FCC earlier this year. The Third Way is the option where the FCC reclassifies broadband as a communications service thereby establishing the right to control or regulate the service. The FCC acknowledges that such a change would only be acceptable if it restricts its powers to enforcing net neutrality.  Broadvox and many other ISPs and ITSPs believe the Third Way is a reasonable compromise, but remain concerned as to the specific regulations and manner of enforcement. The option proposed by Henry Waxman would have been less intrusive.

Previously, I researched the opposition to making any changes to existing rules or laws regarding net neutrality and reached the conclusion that the opposition desires a hands off approach. The opposition wants the market to self define/self regulate. The end result may ultimately be good for the consumer, but there would be no doubt that the consumer would lose in the short term.

I am reluctant to ask Congress to do anything given its penchant for self preservation. However, we need to avoid increasing the perception of the Internet as the wild wild web.

See you on Monday.



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