09.18.2006 08:00 AM
Telecom legislation on life support in Congress

Telecom legislation met “net neutrality” head-on and didn't like what it saw. Thus, the massive 10th-year revamp of the nation's telecommunications laws that has dominated Congress in the past year may be heading for failure.

Even Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens, R-AK, champion of the legislation, has acknowledged that the whole thing is unraveling. “Net neutrality was the most hotly debated portion of our communications bill, and it is the subject that is holding up the communications bill,” he was quoted in a report by the “National Journal.”

The lack of tough neutrality safeguards — ones that would prohibit financial favoritism of Internet services — has fractured legislators and the various communications industries with interests in the bill.

The network neutrality issue “may well lead to [the telecom measure's] total defeat this year after 19 months of work on that bill,” Stevens said.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, has placed a procedural “hold” on the bill and promised to block it from a vote until it contains strong network neutrality provisions.

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