Net neutrality comes to head on House floor

The House will vote Friday on HR5252, a bill that would free phone companies to deliver TV throught their wires. Net neutrality advocates push to include amendments.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

The House will vote Friday on HR5252, a bill that would free phone companies to deliver TV throught their wires, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The bill is a hot issue because of the battle over net neutrality. Phone companies also want to be able to charge content vendors a premium to use the improved "pipes" they're building to deliver TV over the Internet. Google, eBay and other major content providers are leading a grassroots and lobbying effort to include strong net neutrality language in the bill.

In its current form, the House bill embodies a compromise on net neutrality favored by phone companies. Internet firms and their activist allies, such as MoveOn.org, are pinning their hopes on two amendments -- one by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and the other by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. -- that contain stronger protections.
The Markey amendment failed a committee vote in April, 22-34, and will now face an up or down vote on inclusion into the digital TV bill. Corporate and grassroots activiism has been intense, News.com notes:
After Markey's amendment failed by a 22-34 margin during a committee vote in April, Net neutrality supporters have redoubled their efforts to lobby Congress. Google co-founder Sergey Brin met with senators this week; musician Moby and Democratic presidential hopeful Mark Warner have recorded videos distributed on YouTube.com; and eBay CEO Meg Whitman e-mailed more than a million members urging them to contact their representatives and tell them to support Net neutrality.

It looks like the effort is having some impact in the Senate, at least.

Sen. Ted Stevens, the Alaska Republican who serves as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said Wednesday that he plans to release a revised version of his committee's broad communications bill because "many members do not believe that the (Net neutrality) provision in the existing bill goes far enough."

Addressing about 300 cable industry representatives at the start of a summit organized by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Stevens said he is still working with one major critic--Sen. Daniel Inouye, the committee's top Democrat--on new language that should be available later this week. A hearing on the revised version is scheduled for June 13.

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