Net Neutrality Provision Struck Down

Like many things these days in Washington, a rift between Democrats and Republicans over the concept of net neutrality seems to be growing. The Republican controlled House Energy and Commerce subcommittee struck down a Democratic proposal that would have prevented broadband providers from charging a premium to companies for delivery of content.

Several Internet firms including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo among others sided with Democrats. They claimed such an amendment was critical in order to ensure a two-tier Internet would not form as a result. The amendment failed 23 to 8.

"Why on earth would we tinker with the non-discriminatory nature of the Internet?" Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), the amendment's author said before the vote Wednesday. "We will shortly vote to either preserve the Internet as we know it, or fundamentally and detrimentally alter it."

Opponents of the bill are worried that companies that own the pipes through which Internet traffic travels could prioritize traffic so that their own services get top billing to the detriment of others. Democrats repeatedly called the policy "unfair" in testimony Wednesday.

Even after the debate on the amendment, the entire bill passed the committee by a 27 to 4 vote. The bill now goes to full committee later this month before being brought to the House at large.

The legislation would also allow telecommunications companies to rollout television services without community approval. Companies like Verizon have complained that local cable operators are bribing officials to vote against awarding new contracts, slowing down their network rollouts.

Many politicians have cited the out-of-control prices of cable television access and seemingly never-ending fee increases as a reason to back that portion of the bill. So far, that has seen bipartisan support.

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