Internet's Future Up for Debate

The U.S. Senate this week considers an issue of critical importance to ISPs, developers and other channel partners: The future of the Internet.

More specifically, Senate hearings are likely to focus on the thorny issue of Net neutrality. The key issue here is whether dominant service providers like AT&T and Verizon have the authority to control the Internet traffic that runs through their pipes. The Senate discussion will consider whather the public interest would be better served in having some regulation over Internet traffic.

You know where the battle lines are drawn here. The free-marketers, led by the large telcos, believe they should be completely unregulated. (Perhaps they can site the stupendous experience of airline industry deregulation to prove their point?) On the other hand, smaller ISPs and content providers fear they'll be driven out of business (and Internet creativity stifled) if the big corporations are allowed to dominate yet another sector of American life. The FCC is examining many of the same issues, but the Big Business-majority there is likely to side with the the large telcos, as they have on most other issues. That's why the Senate hearings should shine a light on many of the Internet concerns the FCC is sweeping under the rug.

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