The U. S. House of Representatives approved a sweeping telecommunication bill late Thursday, voting 321-101 in favor of the bill that came out of the House Energy and Commerce committee. An amendment that would have added net neutrality protection — and was heavily lobbied for by Google, eBay and others — failed 269-152. The amendment proposed by U.S. Rep Edward Markey, D-Mass., would have barred discrimination by broadband network providers on the basis of content or services. The bill that passed gives the FCC authority to enforce net neutrality and to impose fines up to $500,000.
Bill would easy way for new national video services: The bill is designed to make access easier for telecoms rolling out video services by creating a national franchising process. The cumbersome present process that cable providers have had to observe requires approval from local franchise authorities. Barton and others blame the process for keeping broadband from spreading fast enough. There’s also a belief that phone companies’ entry into the market will force cable to lower its prices by as much as $30-40. (Some of these are the same people who apparently don’t believe DBS is a competitive video service.) On the other hand, the phone companies won’t be required to offer service to all the areas cable currently must serve in order to gain franchise approval, which would seem to work against some of the goals of supporters like U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.
What’s next? A Senate version could come up for a vote this month. If it passes, a conference committee will be appointed to iron out differences. The revised bill goes back to the House and Senate for approval; the approved version would go to the president for signing.
Related: Sweeping Telecom Bill Introduced In U.S. Senate; Could Go Nowhere