Last updated: February 21, 2008 - 5:38am
WEB WAR: NOTHING NEUTRAL ABOUT IT
[SOURCE: BusinessWeek, AUTHOR: Catherine Holahan]
There's a high-stakes battle raging in Washington over who picks up the tab for the rising rivers of Internet data and the newly upgraded networks that deliver it. On one side are a host of tech companies -- from Google to Yahoo! to Intel to Microsoft -- that specialize in Web-related content and technology, pushing for rules that they say would keep the Internet free from discriminatory pricing. On the other are the phone and cable companies that run the networks shuttling that information from place to place. They oppose regulation of the Internet. Last year, the skirmish ended in stalemate. The battle will rage on again in 2007, with the Google camp likely to gain the upper hand. Both sides of the issue spent the better part of 2006 trying in vain to win over the then-Republican-controlled Congress to its vision of the Internet's future. A bill that favored telecom companies such as AT&T and cable operators such as Comcast was passed in June by the House of Representatives, but it went on to die in the Senate. Similarly, an amendment to that bill viewed as favorable to the opposite camp was also rejected, largely by Republicans. This year, the Democrats are in control, and they're seen as more sympathetic to laws favoring so-called network neutrality, which would bar phone and cable companies from erecting tiered pricing that favors some Web traffic or sites over others.
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