Fears that large network operators are planning actions that will undermine the Internets open architecture prompted a diverse coalition of content providers, applications companies and user advocates to turn to Congress on March 1 for help.
The coalition of 64 organizations, including Amazon.com, eBay, Google, Expedia, EarthLink, Consumer Electronics Association and Consumer Federation of America, are asking members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to include “Net neutrality” principles in any telecommunications legislation considered this year.
As “Congress considers legislation to update the nations telecommunications policy, it must recognize that the Internets open architecture and the pre-existing legal framework that created the Internet should not be just hoped for in a broadband world,” they wrote.
“The essential elements must be guaranteed by a meaningful and enforceable Net neutrality requirement.”
The details of the Net neutrality principles vary depending on who is promoting them, but in general they suggest that network operators should not interfere in the content delivered over their infrastructure.
The plea to Congress comes in response to indications from top executives of the largest network operators—the Regional Bell Operating Companies—that they want to charge large content providers a fee to ensure premium delivery.
They argue that such a fee is needed to ensure continued investment by the operators in broadband upgrades to the networks.
One of the fears among content providers is that such a fee scheme would create a two-tiered Internet in which the operators would end up serving as gatekeepers.
“The end-to-end design of the Internet was made possible by the non-discriminatory framework that has long been the bedrock of U.S. telecommunications policy,” the coalition said in the March 1 letter.
“It is this framework that has prevented gatekeepers on the Internet and guaranteed the innovation and economic success that has driven the American economy over the past decade.”
Several bills that aim to upgrade the Telecommunications Act of 1996 have been introduced, including the Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act, authored by Sen. John Ensign.