For nearly two years, EDUCAUSE, Internet2, and several other higher education associations have been working to ensure that the principles of net neutrality and broad, unrestricted Internet access for all Americans are included in pending telecommunications reform legislation.
This group, representing the interests of higher education, has just sent a letter to Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Inouye–chair and co- chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation– withholding support from and asking for changes in the Communications Act of 2006 (H.R. 5252). View the letter: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EPO0658.pdf
The letter cites four specific areas of the draft legislation needing remedy:
1. The bill must extend the same Internet access rights granted to consumers to providers of Web sites and services.
2. The bill requires Internet Service Providers to carry every content and equipment provider. This obligation must be extended to require that the underlying transmission carriers and network owners do the same.
3. The bill must prohibit anticompetitive discrimination against customers or information providers.
4. The bill must eliminate the overly broad language that would allow ISPs to insert service limitations in subscriber contracts.
The Internet has become the most valuable medium for distance learning, scientific research, telemedicine, and many other educational purposes. Network neutrality has been vital to the development and adoption of these important educational opportunities as well as to enhanced online commerce. Without it, American businesses, consumers, and the research and education community will be disadvantaged in the global information arena.
Gary Bachula, Internet2 vice president of external relations said, “Congress should act to provide consumers, entrepreneurs, and educators with the protection needed to support continued innovation and economic growth. By safeguarding open and unfettered access to the Internet, the U.S. can continue to lead the world in the development of true next- generation Internet applications that will have a fundamental impact on the way we live, learn, and work unlocking myriad economic opportunities that we have yet to discover.”
According to EDUCAUSE Vice President Mark Luker, “While we applaud the efforts to update our communications laws to make broadband services more widely available to the public, a bigger pipe will not serve the needs of students, teachers, and academic researchers if it is constrained by gates and toll booths. Unfortunately, the bill does not prevent the cable and telephone companies from engaging in anticompetitive discrimination on the Internet. We hope to work with Senator Stevens and Senator Inouye to address this issue.”
EDUCAUSE, Internet2, and the other signatories of the letter look forward to working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to include these changes in the legislation before it comes up for a vote in the full Senate.
Learn more about the importance of this issue to higher education and the public at the EDUCAUSE Net Neutrality resource site: http://www.educause.edu/netneutrality
EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. The current membership comprises more than 2,000 colleges, universities, and educational organizations, including 200 corporations, with 15,000 active members. EDUCAUSE has offices in Boulder, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. Learn more at http://www.educause.edu
Led by more than 200 U.S. universities working with industry and government, Internet2 develops and deploys advanced network applications and technologies for research and higher education, accelerating the creation of tomorrow’s Internet. Internet2 recreates the partnerships among academia, industry, and government that helped foster today’s Internet in its infancy. For more information, visit http://www.internet2.edu