UPDATE 2-U.S. House rejects FCC's 'open' Internet rules

Fri Apr 8, 2011 5:06pm EDT

* Republicans say FCC should not regulate Internet

* Democrats say check needed on big ISPs' power (Adds Cantor, Eshoo comments, background)

By Kevin Drawbaugh

WASHINGTON, April 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to reject Internet "neutrality" rules that were adopted last year to keep big Internet service providers from blocking certain traffic

House Republicans, in a 240-179 vote, pushed through a measure disapproving the Federal Communications Commission's rules. Tech and telecom giants such as Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) could be affected.

The outlook for further progress by the Republicans in rolling back the FCC's actions was uncertain, however.

While a similar measure has been offered in the U.S. Senate and has 39 co-sponsors, the White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama's advisers would recommend that he veto any such resolution.

The FCC's rules, approved in late December, banned Internet service providers from blocking traffic on their networks, while allowing providers -- such as Verizon, Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and AT&T Inc (T.N) -- to "reasonably" manage their networks and charge consumers based on usage.

Republicans argued in House debate that the FCC's rules needlessly impose government regulation on the Internet.

"The FCC has never had the authority to regulate the Internet," said Republican Representative Cliff Stearns.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor called the House's vote "an important step to bring down the FCC's harmful and partisan plan to regulate the Internet."

Democrats argue that the FCC rules are needed to curb the growing market power of large service providers.

Disapproving the FCC rules "would give big phone and cable companies control over what websites Americans can visit, what applications they can run, and what devices they can use," said Democratic Representative Henry Waxman.

Democratic Representative Anna Eshoo called the Republican push against the FCC's rules "an ideological assault on a federal agency and its ability to provide basic consumer protections."

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Monday dismissed challenges to the FCC rules that had been filed by Verizon and MetroPCS Communications Inc PCS.N, ruling that the challenges were premature.

"In most parts of the country, companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast have a virtual monopoly over access to the Internet," Waxman said. "Without regulation, they can choke off innovation by charging for the right to communicate with their customers." (Editing by Gary Hill)

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Comments (8)
Mystik wrote:
That is a double edged sword, the whole internet neutrality thing. Yeah, it is a negative to have to impose government regulation. However, history has proven that large companies will not behave equal and fair. They will monopolize, gouge, fix, and rape the consumers. They will crush, smother, and stifle competition, especially small and independent. Call it human nature, social habits, or whatever.. that is what happens historically with complete deregulation. The great recession is a perfect example of big business spoiling things when allowed to do whatever they want in a deregulated system. Now we are talking about a utility, like telephones and electricity, running water. So unfortunately, regulating it becomes a necessary evil due to the lack of ethical, moral, and even spiritual values among modern business practices. There is over regulating too though. The positive is a good medium. I don’t like either side of the US bipartisanship. However, the republicans with there push to deregulate is disconcerting to say the least. Especially considering they represent the the 5% of the population that owns 60% of the wealth, including all those big companies that have been proven to be greedy and dishonest. It is almost as bad as the unsettling fact that so many people really think that the ultra rich behind the republicans do not have egoistic ulterior motives.

Apr 08, 2011 7:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
VWWV wrote:
ISP’s are utilities and operate using a lot of public infrastructure. Utilities tend to become monopolies or duopolies because, in order to operate, they must be given full and often exclusive access to public infrastructure. Monopolies and Duopolies have to be heavily regulated to provide a fair result to consumers. Otherwise, PG&E, At&T, or any other utility could charge many times their costs and their rights to public infrastructure would be nothing more than a license to steal. ISPs face very little competition in their local areas and to let them choke off content is completely irrational and runs counter to economic theory governing monopolies

This vote is proof that Congress is bought-and-paid-for. Comcast wants to be able to choke off Netflix because people use tons of bandwidth streaming programs Comcast wants to charge for (Cable).

Apr 08, 2011 7:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JohhnyT wrote:
The big telcos plan
1. Charge customers for internet access
2. Charge webhosting companies for internet access
3. Charge websites to access the telcos subscribers
4. Charge subscribers more for prioritized connections (fast page load)
5. Charge subscribers based on bandwidth

Apr 08, 2011 7:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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