As the Times reports, the US Senate voted last night to pass telecoms legislation that could lead to phone and cable charging more money for faster access to websites.
The Times writes "The telecoms companies hope that they can charge big companies that need to use a lot of bandwidth, such as Apple Computer’s i-Tunes or Skype’s internet telephone business, which will buy the faster access routes so that customers will get a faster service.
The telecoms companies also aim to gain a stronger foothold in the cable television business using DSL telephone lines to connect users to such services as video-on-demand. "
As the Times concludes "The US Senate Commerce Committee yesterday echoed the views of the House(of Representatives) and rejected an amendment to the pending telecoms Bill that would have required that all internet traffic be treated identically regardless of its “source” or “destination”.
After a three-day hearing, the committee rejected an amendment from Republican senator Olympia Snowe and a Democrat, Byron Dorgan, which aimed to prohibit phone and cable companies from limiting access to their high-speed internet networks.
“What’s at stake is the internet in the 21st century,” said Ms Snowe. “This is the preservation of digital democracy.”
There is still a small chance that the Bill will falter, however, as Senator John Kerry, the former Democratic presidential candidate, has threatened a filibuster to prevent the Bill passing through the Senate."
One of the things that is quite illuminating about the conduct of the telecoms is that they totally misinterpreted the significance of the internet due to their failure to anticipate how the internet would lead to an era of participatory media.
As the Economist wrote in a survey earlier this year on participatory media "Almost everywhere, download speeds (from the internet to the user) are many times faster than upload speeds (from user to network). This is because the corporate giants that built these pipes assumed that the internet would simply be another distribution pipe for themselves or their partners in the media industry. Even today, they can barely conceive of a scenario in which users might put as much into the network as they take out."
That is whom the United States Senate has put its trust in.