Net Neutrality Alternative Proposed

By Bary Alyssa Johnson  |  Posted 2006-06-01
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has published a report that addresses the increasingly controversial issue of net neutrality currently making waves on Capitol Hill, in order to offer up an alternative solution.

ITIF aims to appeal to both sides of the debate with its new "third way" model. Under that model, if network providers agree to offer a basic amount of open and non-discriminatory data pipe access, they would also be allowed to provide managed services where they would be able to charge for content that goes across their networks.

"There is increasing gridlock on coming up with an answer for net neutrality because the debate is currently structured between two fairly distinct poles," said Robert Atkinson, president of ITIF, in an interview. "Both sides offer legitimate points and concerns and it seems to us any solution should be able to take both of those concerns into account."

The ITIF will hold a conference call Thursday to discuss its report.

According to the foundation, on one side of the net neutrality fence are the telcos and cable companies that are investing big bucks to offer consumers access to their broadband networks. On the other side are the application providers who are responsible for creating Internet content – "the Googles and eBays of the world," according to the recent report.

Click here to read more about net neutrality protections.

The notion of net neutrality is comprised of three distinct issues, as defined by ITIF: Transparency, Blocking and Tiering. "Transparency" relates to clarity of broadband provider usage policies, an issue that has yet to gain full public attention. "Blocking" relates to the practice of degrading or blocking consumer access to content and applications. "Tiering" addresses the question of whether broadband providers can charge content providers for access to their networks.

Six net neutrality-related bills have already been introduced to Congress from both sides of the political spectrum to address the multi-faceted issue. ITIF maintains that the current state of the network neutrality debate "denies the reasonable concerns articulated by each side and obscures the contours of a sensible solution."

Among the bills that have debuted before members of Congress are: the Barton Bill HR5252, which provides specifically limited authority to the FCC by cutting back the Commissions jurisdiction in regulating broadband providers.

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