Draft of telecom rewrite preserves 'net neutrality'

The House Energy and Commerce Committee released draft legislation yesterday that would require "net neutrality." The legislation would require broadband providers to allow their subscribers to view any legal online content, the Washington Post reports.That move is meant to qualm fears that cable companies and telcos will start creating walled gardens, in which users of, say, Comcast would be unable to access content from SBC, for example.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee released draft legislation yesterday that would require "net neutrality." The legislation would require broadband providers to allow their subscribers to view any legal online content, the Washington Post reports.

That move is meant to qualm fears that cable companies and telcos will start creating walled gardens, in which users of, say, Comcast would be unable to access content from SBC, for example. Other aspects of the legislation:

Another provision in the proposed law also makes it easier for telephone companies to offer television over high-speed lines. It seeks to free cable and telephone companies from having to negotiate video franchises with numerous local authorities around the country, instead giving the Federal Communications Commission more authority over the process.

That would largely benefit the major telephone companies like Verizon Communications Inc., SBC Communications Corp. and BellSouth Corp., which hope to offer television over fiber-optic lines. Yesterday, officials at those companies reacted favorably to the legislation.

Other aspects of the draft legislation are aimed at making sure cable and telephone companies get equivalent regulatory treatment as they offer broadband Internet access.

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