Net Neutrality Gets a Second Hearing - Which Side Will Win?
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The Democrats stand a good chance of winning the battle this time, but they won’t win it without a fight. The war of words raged on for months when the bill came up originally last year. It treated us to such spectacles as Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, describing the Internet as “a bunch of tubes” and explaining, somewhat incoherently, that “the Internet is not something you just dump something on” because those tubes can get clogged.
It’s more than a little disturbing to think that the politicians who make important decisions about this technology do not have a good grasp of how it works, or in some cases even the correct terminology. In Stevens’ speech, for example, he mentioned that a member of his staff sent him “an internet” and it arrived five days later, apparently because the tubes were so clogged. How much bearing that will have on whether this bill gets passed remains to be seen.
The whole issue can be framed in terms of two competing business models (as it was by the New York Times). It raises the question of who pays for the Internet, or more precisely, who pays for the Internet as it begins to deliver expanded capabilities to its users. Should it be the broadband service providers, the content providers, the consumers, or some combination? There may not be a good answer to this question. About the only thing anyone can count on is that, whether or not the legislation passes, the Internet will not look the same in four years as it looks today.
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