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Two Down, One to Go

June 9th, 2006

Congress shot down the gay marriage constitutional amendment (a wholly political, election year wedge non-issue). Then they shot down another Republican chestnut, the repeal of the estate tax (which, despite GOP claims, would not affect a single family farm, and only hits people worth several million dollars–and even then, not by much).

Now they’re stepping up to bat on Net Neutrality. A reminder: if the Telecoms get their way, this will mean only that prices will go up for you. Their claim that it will pay for you getting fiber optic broadband in the future is fictitious; when and if that comes, you’ll still be paying full price for it. And for now, you’ll have to start paying for more content on the web, and/or be more inundated with ads and spam, while the remaining free web sites slow to a crawl.

A danger less reported on: Telecoms will also be able to dictate to you which Internet applications you can and cannot use. Want to use Skype? Not if AT&T wants to sell their version of IP telephony, at a high cost to you.

And if Net Neutrality wins the day? Will the dire warnings of the Telecoms come true? No. This creates no new regulations; Net Neutrality has been the rule of the road since day one–that’s why they’re trying to get it changed. Will this force you to pay for fiber optics? No. In fact, you’ve already been paying, in higher fees allowed the Telecoms in exchange for their promise to use those fees to build fiber networks. They’ve taken in $200 billion in higher fees, and have done nothing. The extra fees they’ll rake in from killing Net Neutrality will not legally obligate them to lay a single F/O line, or when they do, it won’t obligate them to charge you a penny less.

Instead, with Net Neutrality preserved, the Internet will simply continue as it is: most content will be free, all web sites will be equally fast, and you are free to choose to use whatever applications you want, most of them cheap or free. Kill Net Neutrality, and you kill all of that.

Let your congressional reps know that. And act now–time is running out.

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