Markey hopes to ban throttling

February 14, 2008 | 08:34

Tags: #bandwidth #isp #throttling

Congressman Ed Markey, the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, has introduced a bill which could see the end of bandwidth throttling by US ISPs almost before it starts.

The bill, currently known as the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008, calls upon the Federal Communications Commission to make a decision on whether or not throttling is beneficial or harmful for the end-user and if the FCC has the right to stop it from happening.

The act, H. R. 5353, states that “Within 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Communications Commission [...] shall commence a proceeding on broadband services and consumer rights,” and “As part of the proceeding [...] the Commission shall assess whether broadband network providers adhere to the Commission's Broadband Policy Statement of August, 2005 including whether, consistent with the needs of law enforcement, such providers refrain from blocking, thwarting, or unreasonably interfering with the ability of consumers to [...] access, use, send, receive, or offer lawful content, applications, or services over broadband networks, including the Internet.

If the FCC were to be offered a mandate to defend the bandwidth of users it's unlikely that they'd come down on the side of big business. In a statement last week the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau said“that the practice of broadband service providers of degrading peer-to-peer traffic violates the FCC's Internet Policy Statement, and that such practices do not meet the Commission's exception for reasonable network management.” Where I come from, them's fighting words.

Although legislation to preserve the unfettered use of paid-for bandwidth is likely to be cheered by most, not everyone is happy. President of the CTIA Wireless Association Steve Largent has said that the bill is “an attempt to cure a problem that simply does not exist,” and that “Government intervention is not necessary.

Any US readers want to comment on whether legislation is the way to go, or should the free market decide whether it's worth sacrificing a little bandwidth now and then to get the prices down to a mass-market point? Give us your opinions over in the forums.
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