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New Telecom Act Draft: Part 1

September 20, 2005 , , ,

In case you haven’t read the news lately, The House Energy and Commerce Committee has put out its first draft of the upcoming telecommunications re-write. Here is a preliminary run-down on this generally pro-consumer bill:

  • Ensuring an Open Internet: The draft bill ensures that consumers can reach the web sites of their choice, run applications, and attach the devices they want to use. It also includes an exception permitting network operators to manage their networks and provide their own video applications. It’s unclear whether this exception could swallow the rule at the moment, so it could stand some tightening up.

  • Municipal Broadband: The draft bill preempts state law as far as muni-broadband goes. State law, under this new scheme, can’t block municipalities from providing broadband networks, as long as those cities refrain from favoring themselves over other users of the rights-of-way. This is handled similarly to the McCain-Lautenberg bill and certainly goes hand-in-hand with Public Knowledge’s promotion of Muni-Wifi.

  • Consumer Protections: The draft bill directs the FCC to setup national consumer protection standards for VOIP, Broadband Internet Transmission, and Broadband Video Service providers. These protections are to cover late fees, early termination fees, purchase and/or lease of subscriber equipment, privacy notifications, spam, indecency, disability access, etc.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the bill, but it looks promising. Especially since the draft bill tends to support PK’s “Principles for an Open Broadband Future.”

Have any questions or comments about the bill? Please post them below.