Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced yesterday what many say is a “watered down” version of his network neutrality legislation from last year. Apparently some of the more sweeping calls for regulation are toned down, but there is still a lot in the bill subject to interpretation. Telecom journalist Carol Wilson’s expresses some concerns at Telephony OnLine:
Finally, Markey wants to protect free speech and the “open marketplace of ideas” by “adopting and enforcing baseline protections to guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by network operators based upon its source, ownership, or destination on the Internet.” Again, on the surface, this seems hard to protest — unless offering a premium service is defined as discriminatory. The fundamental freedom that network operators need to have going forward is the right to package and deliver their services in a way that meets market demands. We are all being bombarded by data that shows video traffic is driving up demand for bandwidth, a reality that will require both investment in infrastructure and a new service structure. If what Markey is proposed can be used to prohibit network operators from offering premium services to both content delivery networks and to end users, then this latest Net neutrality push is no better than previous efforts. The difficulty for service providers is determining how best to interpret the “Mom and apple pie” nature of the bill’s language and how best to explain the technical challenges of their own future.