Salsa Scoop> tag: ”blog:net neutrality“

Corporate Realignment Spells Coming Network Neutrality Fight?

by Jason Z.


According to the Wall Street Journal, Google -- whose lobbying heft has been instrumental for network neutrality regulatory grapplings so far, is quietly seeking its own accommodations with tiered service.

And they're not the only ones.

In the two years since Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other Internet companies lined up in favor of network neutrality, the landscape has changed. The Internet companies have formed partnerships with phone and cable companies, making them more dependent on one another.

Microsoft, which appealed to Congress to save network neutrality just two years ago, has changed its position completely. "Network neutrality is a policy avenue the company is no longer pursuing," Microsoft said in a statement. The Redmond, Wash., software giant now favors legislation to allow network operators to offer different tiers of service to content companies.

Microsoft has a deal to provide software for AT&T's Internet television service. A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment whether this arrangement affected the company's position on network neutrality.

Amazon's popular digital-reading device, called the Kindle, offers a dedicated, faster download service, an arrangement Amazon has with Sprint. That has prompted questions in the blogosphere about whether the service violates network neutrality.

"Amazon continues to support adoption of net neutrality rules to protect the longstanding, fundamental openness of the Internet," Amazon said in a statement. It declined to elaborate on its Kindle arrangement.

Amazon had withdrawn from the coalition of companies supporting net neutrality, but it recently was listed once again on the group's Web site. It declined to comment on whether carriers should be allowed to prioritize traffic.

Yahoo now has a digital subscriber-line partnership with AT&T. Some have speculated that the deal has caused Yahoo to go silent on the network-neutrality issue.

Of course, we've got an incoming president who's staked out a pro-network neutrality position.

Richard Whitt, Google's head of public affairs ... says he's unsure how committed President-elect Obama will remain to the principle [of network neutrality].

"If you look at his plans," says Mr. Whitt, "they are much less specific than they were before."

(Via the foul-mouthed Atrios.)

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Yo FCC - Listen to the Christian Coalition of America!

All five FCC Commissioners were at Stanford University this afternoon for a panel discussion on Net Nuetrality, so my colleague David and I took a field trip down south from San Francisco for the day. Remember how Comcast paid a bus full of people to take up room at the hearing in Boston in February? We arrived early to make sure that we'd get a seat this time, but there was nothing to worry about - according to Chairman Kevin Martin, who opened the meeting with a statement of the FCC's efforts to include everyone at the table for an "open and transparent" conversation, Comcast (and all the other Internet companies) declined the invitation to dialogue with the public.

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FreeConference: So Far, So Good

A month ago, we reported on the travails of popular phone conferencing service freeconference, upon which many nonprofits and grassroots organizations depend. I wanted to follow that up, and in particular to climb down from initial concern that freeconference had become crippled as a possible conferencing solution. Without rehashing all the details in the original post, the nub of the matter is that a commercial dispute led a few telcos to begin blocking calls to freeconference. Freeconference has worked this adroitly -- it does help to be in the right -- getting in front with bloggers to generate a hue and cry that's apparently stayed any further damage. After blogging the subject before, I even got a follow-up press release from a PR firm a couple weeks ago that began:
Blocked Conference Calls Cripples Food Programs to the Hungry LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AT&T/Cingular, Sprint and Qwest are blocking access to free conference calling which also is impeding efforts by the California Hunger Action Coalition to stop hunger, according to Frank Tamborello, Executive Director of Hunger Action Los Angeles and Co-Chairperson of the Coalition. The action coalition has depended upon FreeConference for more than four years to connect its volunteers statewide with free conference calling. (etc.)

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FreeConference-Telco Spat a Nonprofit Headache

A carrier dispute redolent of net neutrality threatens trouble for the many small nonprofits who routinely rely on FreeConference for free telephone conference calls. This month, some telco tentacles and wireless carriers began blocking calls to the service, which is widely used by small nonprofits and activist groups. Why the blocking?

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Internet Heroes of 2006

Not us. No, a deserved accolade for the Save the Internet coalition (of which we're proud to be a part) for fighting off the telecom and cable industries' attempted legislative rewrite. Well-done. Odds are, unfortunately, that Save the Internet will get a chance to defend its title in the 110th Congress.

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