Monday, November 03, 2008

Mischaracterizing the debate on net neutrality

Telecoms sector braces for Democratic change
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Democratic sweep in Tuesday's U.S. elections may clear the way for changes to Internet policy sought by Google Inc GOOG.O that would bar Internet providers from discriminating against some Web content.

The "net neutrality" issue pits Internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and AT&T (T.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) against content companies like Google and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

"Probably the thing that scares the industry the most about a Democratic administration is regulating the Internet," Dan Hesse, chief executive of Sprint Nextel (S.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), said in a speech in Washington on October 24.

First of all this is not a debate about the merits of Internet regulation, it is a debate about who is going to regulate the Internet, a cabal of Internet Service Providers or the people's government. Secondly, this is not a debate between content providers and Internet Service Providers; this is a debate between Internet service providers and everybody else.

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