No action needed now on Net neutrality-FCC chief
Wed Dec 14, 2005 5:25 PM ET
http://today.reuters.com/investing/financeArticle.aspx?type=governmentFiling
sNews&storyID=URI:urn:newsml:reuters.com:20051214:MTFH69691_2005-12-14_22-25
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WASHINGTON, Dec 14 (Reuters) - There is no immediate need for the U.S.
Federal Communications Commission to adopt rules protecting consumers'
ability to surf anywhere on the Internet, the agency's chairman Kevin Martin
said on Wednesday.

Concerns have been raised by lawmakers and content companies about Internet
providers like cable or telephone companies blocking customers from surfing
sites in favor of preferred content or services, but Martin said there have
not been widespread complaints so far

"I'm hesitant to adopt rules that would prevent anti-competitive behavior
where there hasn't been significant evidence of a problem," Martin said at a
conference luncheon by Comptel, a group representing competitive telephone
carriers.

"That doesn't mean people don't have a lot of concern about potential
problems, but there's a significant difference between potential problems
and problems that occur," he said.

Cable and telephone companies like Comcast Corp. (CMCSA.O: Quote, Profile,
Research) and AT&T Inc. (T.N: Quote, Profile, Research) are aggressively
marketing high-speed Internet service, leading some consumer advocates and
technology companies like Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research)
to worry that their content or services could be blocked.

The Internet providers have said they have no intention of blocking where
consumers surf, but lawmakers are still weighing whether to legislate a "net
neutrality" mandate that would codify that principle.

The FCC earlier this year adopted principles on Internet content access but
there was no enforcement mechanism.

Still, AT&T and Verizon Communications (VZ.N: Quote, Profile, Research)
recently agreed to adhere to those principles for the next two years as part
of a compromise with the agency to get regulators to approve their big
acquisitions.

AT&T Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre set off a furor when he
indicated in a recent Business Week magazine interview that he would want
content providers to pay for access to his customers.

Company officials have since clarified that he was referring to AT&T's
private network over which it plans to offer its new television service, and
did not mean the traditional high-speed Internet service the company offers.

In one incident earlier this year, a small rural telephone company briefly
blocked Internet telephone calls that used Vonage Holdings Corp.'s low-cost
service. The FCC intervened to end that fight. 



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