Commentary: Net Neutrality Suffers a Defeat in Washington

By Edward H. Baker  |  Posted 04-27-2006

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee voted to allow big telecom companies, such as Verizon and AT&T, to sidestep local approval for cable-like services. That's bad enough, but the committee also defeated an amendment to the bill that would strengthen so-called "net neutrality" guarantees, prohibiting telecoms from favoring some Web sites over others, and charging companies extra to ensure delivery of their content.

The struggle to maintain an open Internet seems to be getting tougher and tougher, as big telecom and cable companies seek to monetize their control of the Internet backbone in new and imaginative ways. But what can you expect, given the rocky future in voice communications the industry faces? Meanwhile, these same telecoms are hell-bent on stopping the efforts of municipalities to provide high-speed Internet access, even where they themselves haven't bothered to step up to the plate. Let's see: You get to control who gets broadband, and who gets to see what, for how much money. Not a bad business, especially with the government behind it.