‘Prohibition of preferential treatment by ISP necessary’

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Oregon Senator Ron Wyden has introduced a bill that would make it impossible for ISPs to prioritize certain content over others. The so-called ‘Internet Non-Discrimination Act’ must guarantee neutral Internet management and ensure that network administrators do not interfere with the information provided. The big operators [zoals Verizon, BellSouth en AT&T] think the network belongs to them because they built it and paid for it,” said the senator, “but that’s not true: the consumer paid for the network, so the network belongs to the consumer.”

Wyden gave the example that Yahoo could pay an ISP to get its pages to consumers faster than if they request a Google page. However, it is more likely that the battle will focus on the transmission of bandwidth-intensive applications such as streaming video. BellSouth responded with the promise that legal content will never be blocked, but that selective throttling of connections is unavoidable. “Without a managed network, consumers have to use more expensive lines if they want to use high bandwidth services, whether they need them in everyday life or not,” said a spokesperson. ‘That choice should lie with the consumer, and not with the legislator.’ However, Wyden wants guarantees that all information, of whatever nature, receives the same treatment from the providers.

The growth of streaming video, p2p traffic and other bandwidth guzzlers has long been a headache for internet providers. Various solutions have been proposed, but in the end never result in more than arguing about the bill. For example, there is the much-criticized paid peering model, in which data providers have to pay the ISP to get their data to the internet user. Such a construction is currently already prohibited in the US. “The FCC has the authority to penalize blocking or obstructing traffic, so the new law is superfluous,” the US Telecom Association said.

However, the content providers are very concerned about alternative cost allocations. On Thursday, dozens of companies and lobby groups filed a warning letter to a House of Representatives committee, saying that Congress “should take immediate steps to end the fundamental degradation of the Internet and ensure that the Internet is a free and open platform for innovation and progress.” Signatories include Adobe, Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft, Skype, TiVo, Yahoo, and the American Association of Libraries.

…and we’re not going to pay for that!

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