Net Neutrality Bid Fails

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WASHINGTON - (06/12/06) – Financial and Internet servicesproviders were vowing Friday to take their fight to the Senate,after the House approved a telecommunications bill absent aprovision that would ensure that targeted users of high-speedInternet access could not be charged higher fees for criticalservices, like broadband. A broad-based coalition calling itself‘It’s Our Net’ and including Internet powers likeGoogle, Yahoo, eBay and several financial service providers, failedto get a provision ensuring ‘net neutrality’ into thebill but were pledging to continue their lobbying efforts as theissue moves over to the Senate. The credit union lobby isparticularly concerned that credit unions could be forced to payhigher rates for high-speed access if telecommunications providerslike AT&T, Bell South, Comcast and Verizon choose to chargetiered rates for levels of service. “NAFCU is concerned withthe limitation on network neutrality as Congress considerstelecommunications legislation,” said Fred Becker, presidentof the trade group. “The financial services marketplace hasevolved into a virtual age where fast and effective online toolshelp credit unions offer a variety of paperless services.”But there was some optimism as the issues moves to the Senate.“There still is an opportunity with the Senate measure, toamend or alter that as it goes forward. We hope that some actioncan be taken before Congress finally and completely acts,”said Pat Keefe, a spokesman for CUNA. The net neutrality amendmentwould have forbidden owners of the large networks on which Internettraffic travels from charging different rates to send content.Those network owners, like AT&T, Sprint Nextel Corp. andComcast Corp., were once forbidden by the Federal CommunicationsCommission from treating varying kinds of content differently interms of how fast it is sent and if some content is charged for.But the FCC lifted that rule last summer, and since then manyorganizations and companies have been gearing up for legislation toreplace the FCC rule.

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