An Internet neutrality law would not be good for the wireless industry, CTIA CEO and President Steve Largent said yesterday.
Largent’s comments were in response to House bill 5353, Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, introduced by Ed Markey (D.-Mass.) and Chip Pickering (R.-Miss.).
The bill would order the FCC to conduct a study and hold public summits, and would declare that Congress believes in protecting a fair and equally accessible Internet, free of control from corporations.
The CTIA says such a bill could someday be relevant, but it doesn’t believe the time is now. “This bill is an attempt to cure a problem that simply does not exist. … government intervention is not necessary,” Largent said in a public statement. “If at some point the ‘net neutrality proponents had a credible argument then I think their cause would be worthy,” spokesman Joe Farren added.
The CTIA cites a June 2007 FTC report, Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy, in which regulators concluded that caution and oversight, not rulemaking, is the best course.
Supporters of Internet neutrality are concerned about the possibility of major telecommunications providers using their control of the bandwidth to block competitive data, censor content and raise prices. They say a dangerous trend is already under way, such as when Verizon blocked an abortion pro-choice group’s text messaging campaign last year and when Comcast was accused of blocking Vonage VoIP traffic in 2006, although both instances were shortly resolved and played down by Verizon and Comcast, respectively.
“The FCC is the agency that needs to be involved here,” not the FTC, Markey spokeswoman Jessica Schafer said. “This is trying to ensure that companies aren’t deciding who gets to be the winners … that the next person with their crazy, wacky idea isn’t going to be impeded because some provider decided to cut off their access,” she said. “We are taking precautions.”