- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A “network neutrality” amendment to the Senate’s telecommunications reform bill evenly divided the 22 members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee yesterday, killing the heavily debated measure that needed a majority vote to pass.

The committee began its markup of the Communications, Consumers’ Choice and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 on Friday, and approved it 15-7 yesterday.

Internet heavyweights including Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. with dozens of consumer groups have been seeking a neutrality law to prevent network providers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. from charging them more to offer competing video and other services.

The amendment offered by Sens. Olympia J. Snowe, Maine Republican, and Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat, would have prohibited broadband network operators “from blocking, degrading or prioritizing service on their networks.”

Mrs. Snowe was the only Republican to vote for the amendment, and the next time network neutrality legislation could come up is when the act reaches the Senate floor, aides said.

The House earlier this month passed the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement (COPE) Act of 2006, which allows telephone companies such as Verizon and AT&T; Inc. to offer television service nationally without receiving approval from local communities, but it does not include neutrality protections. The Senate bill includes similar franchising language.

A network neutrality amendment in the House also was defeated.

Dan Caterinicchia

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