Senate Committee Chairman Says ‘No’ to Net Neutrality

WASHINGTON—Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) told eWEEK on June 22 that he does not want any sort of net neutrality legislation to be part of the telecom bill currently being debated by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The committee held a markup session on Senate Bill 2686, the Communications, Consumers’ Choice and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 on the afternoon of June 22.

A markup session is when the Senate committee considers amendments to the current version of a bill before it goes before the full Senate for a vote.

The June 22 meeting was the first in what promises to be a long series of meetings extending over the course of several days or weeks.

The bulk of the debate was aimed at two areas: funding communications initiatives for the War on Terrorism and for VOIP (voice over IP) legislation.

Net neutrality, if it is considered at all, will not be debated before Tuesday, June 27. Only two events of substance took place at the June 22 markup session. The first was to adopt an amendment to accelerate the spending of money for interoperability solutions for first responders.

Also voted on today was an amendment to limit local regulation of VOIP services, and to preempt local and state limits on VOIP carrier operations, with the exception of consumer protection, child pornography or privacy laws.

The amendment, introduced by Senator John Sununu (R-NH), would prevent states from taxing interstate calls or raising financial barriers to entry for VOIP carriers.

A number of committee members expressed concerns about the need for net neutrality legislation in their opening statements.

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