Friday, September 16, 2005
Richard Shockey just pointed me to the Committee of Commerce and Energy, which released a Staff Draft on Broadband Legislation or BITS (Broadband Internet Transmission Services). Since legal texts are usually uncomprehensible by non-laywers, they are so friendly to provide a section-by-section summary for dummies also. Maybe I should start reading this.
The purpose of this document still needs to be supplied ;-)
From the Webpage:
The House Energy and Commerce Committee today released bipartisan staff discussion draft legislation that is designed to grow the U.S. economy by accelerating the deployment of new Internet services for consumers.
"The Telecommunications Act of 1996 spurred the development of telephone competition, but no one could have foreseen the magnitude of the challenges and opportunities that the Internet age has presented. New services shouldn't be hamstrung by old thinking and outdated regulations," said Chairman Joe Barton, R-Texas. "We need a fresh new approach that will encourage Internet providers to expand and improve broadband networks, spur growth in the technology sector and develop cutting-edge services for consumers.
"Updating the 1996 law is one of my top priorities for this fall and this bipartisan discussion draft represents a solid first step. I especially want to thank Ranking Member John Dingell, Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton, Subcommittee Ranking Member Ed Markey and Committee Vice Chairman Chip Pickering for their hard work and critical contributions."
"This staff draft is a very useful starting point in the process," said Dingell. "I look forward to continued bipartisan efforts to resolve these tough issues, and to full and fair committee consideration."
Highlights of the staff discussion draft:
- Creates common regulatory definition for broadband Internet transmission services (BITS) which includes Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), cable modems, and other broadband services.
- Ensures network neutrality to prevent broadband providers from blocking subscriber access to lawful content.
- Provides a uniform, federal regulatory framework for broadband providers, Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), and broadband video providers, except in some areas where state or local rules still apply, such as rights-of-way.
- Authorizes the FCC to determine that VoIP can be required to contribute to the Universal Service Fund.
- Develops a streamlined franchising process for broadband video providers.
- Applies many current cable video requirements to broadband video providers.
- Allows municipalities to develop and deploy BITS, VoIP and broadband video services. However, municipalities can't provide preferential treatment for these services and must comply with all regulations governing private-sector providers.
- Ensures that VoIP subscribers have access to 911.