Wednesday, February 11, 2009

IT, Network Neutrality Groups Praise Stimulus Plan

Original Article -

Broadband provisions likely to remain intact as House and Senate reconcile versions of closely watched, multibillion-dollar bill.

Industry groups and advocacy organizations are heartened by the Senate's passage of the economic stimulus package, and appear hopeful that key IT provisions will remain intact as negotiators work swiftly to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill in conference. The movement on the bill drew praise from the of government relations for the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Business Software Alliance, an industry group representing major software and hardware firms like Microsoft, IBM, Cisco and Apple.

For the public interest groups that have been calling for the government to take steps to enforce Net neutrality, or the idea that networks should be open and transmit data in a non-discriminatory fashion, the House and Senate bills are also a welcome step forward. The House version of the bill would require ISPs to attach an open-access condition to their networks.

While it leaves it up to the Federal Communications Commission to define the term "open access," the provision could require carriers to allow rival firms to run competing networks on their infrastructure. The Senate bill does not mention open access, but it contains a stipulation that "non-discrimination and network interconnection obligations" be attached as contractual requirements for any firms taking grant money.

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