Tags: net | neutrality | gop

House GOP Questions 'Net Neutrality' Rules

Monday, 05 Oct 2009 03:10 PM

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A group of House of Representatives Republicans urged the Federal Communications Commission on Monday to conduct a market analysis before proposing a new rule to maintain an open Internet.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, 20 Republicans asked the FCC if the agency will be examining networks, services, consumer electronics equipment, applications, as well as cable, wireline, wireless, satellite and broadband to determine if a rule to govern Net neutrality is necessary.

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"You have repeatedly said that you want this to be the most data-driven FCC ever," wrote the Republicans, led by Cliff Stearns, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

"This is an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment."

The FCC is slated to propose a Net neutrality rule on October 22 aimed at ensuring that network operators treat the flow of Internet content and applications without discrimination.

The rule, which is currently being considered by the FCC commissioners, would prevent network operators from blocking consumer access to any unlawful Internet content, applications and services.

The letter from Stearns and other House lawmakers is the latest push by Republicans to question the need for such a Net neutrality rule, which is opposed by the big wireless companies such as AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless.

On Friday, House Republican Leader John Boehner and Republican Whip Eric Cantor wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, expressing concern that a rule would thwart further broadband investment.

The rule, if enacted, would likely force U.S. phone companies to open their wireless networks to rival Internet services like eBay Inc's Skype and Google Inc's voice services.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc Vodafone Group Plc.

Last week an FCC panel crafting a national broadband plan to be submitted to Congress in February said total investment to expand access to all Americans and increase subscribership could cost between $20 billion and $350 billion, depending on the quality of broadband service.

"Net neutrality rules would make it harder, not easier, for such investments to occur," Stearns and the other Republicans wrote.

An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment.

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