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Draft Telecom Legislation Falls Short of Preserving Internet Openness

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  • From: "Lauren Rotman" <>
  • To: <>
  • Subject: Draft Telecom Legislation Falls Short of Preserving Internet Openness
  • Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006 16:58:38 -0500

Draft Telecom Legislation Falls Short of Preserving Internet Openness

Washington, D.C.- March 28, 2006 - The U.S. House of Representatives' staff
yesterday released the latest version of legislation dubbed, "The
Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006," which
aims to rewrite US telecommunications laws.

According to EDUCAUSE and Internet2, while the bill takes some positive
steps in helping to encourage the expansion of broadband networks to
consumer homes as well as to open the door to the creation of municipal
broadband networks, the bill completely lacks critical language that would
maintain and support the vital principle of network neutrality. In doing so,
the bill falls far short of serving the needs of the country's citizens and
instead provides cable and phone companies with the authority they seek for
the creation of discriminatory networks.

"Without strong network neutrality enforcement, this bill gives the cable
and phone companies a green light to violate the fundamental open access
principles on which the Internet was built. In doing so, they will not only
create a second-class Internet, but in the long term, create a second-class
economy struggling to compete with our forward-thinking international
peers," said Gary Bachula, Internet2 vice president of external relations.

In the summer of 2005, the courts and the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) deregulated broadband networks, giving the owners the ability to
manipulate how their networks handle Internet traffic. The FCC's four
broadband principles, adopted in August 2005, recognize a variety of
consumer Internet rights, but do not prevent the telephone and cable
companies from engaging in discrimination. The draft bill gives the FCC only
limited power to enforce these four principles, explicitly stripping it of
rulemaking authority. The bill also makes no mention of a ban on

"The bill recognizes the importance of the FCC's 'four principles' for the
Internet, and that's a good start," said Mark Luker, vice president of
EDUCAUSE, "but in fact the bill limits the FCC's ability to enforce those
principles, and so it falls far short of what the higher education community
has requested-an explicit guarantee that the Internet will remain free from
discrimination or degradation by broadband network operators - so that we
can continue to advance our educational missions as well as provide new
innovations to the broader Internet community."

Universities engage in distance learning over the Internet to reach
off-campus students, provide tele-health coverage to rural areas of the
country, and engage in high-end research on new Internet-based technologies
and applications. All of these activities could be undermined, with no
chance of being adopted by the general public, unless the operators of
broadband networks are required to maintain an open and interconnected
Internet supporting the free flow of information.

"The Internet has become one of the most significant educational tools,
especially because it is open equally to all Americans," said Luker.
"Unfortunately, the FCC's deregulation of broadband has put the survival of
the Internet in the hands of the cable and telephone companies, who have
already announced their intention to diminish the greatest innovation of our
generation into just another TV delivery platform."

Bachula added "Congress should act to provide consumers, entrepreneurs, and
educators with the protection needed to support continued innovation, and
economic growth. Without strong network neutrality enforcement, the rich
tradition of our country's research and education community in bringing new
innovations to the marketplace may be lost."

Learn more about the importance of this issue to higher education and the
public at the EDUCAUSE Net Neutrality resource site.

EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher
education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. The
current membership comprises more than 1,900 colleges, universities, and
educational organizations, including 200 corporations, with 15,000 active
members. EDUCAUSE has offices in Boulder, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.
Learn more about EDUCAUSE at

About Internet2
Led by more than 200 U.S. universities working with industry and government,
Internet2 develops and deploys advanced network applications and
technologies for research and higher education, accelerating the creation of
tomorrow's Internet. Internet2 recreates the partnerships among academia,
industry, and government that helped foster today's Internet in its infancy.
For more information, visit

Mark Luker
Vice President

Peter DeBlois
Director of Communications and Publishing

Lauren Rotman
Media Relations Manager

  • Draft Telecom Legislation Falls Short of Preserving Internet Openness, Lauren Rotman, 03/28/2006

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