So you say you are a Senator and don't know what Net Neutrality means? You say you are looking around for a good definition? Have I got a definition for you! In fact, for a limited time only, I've got a couple of prime definitions, all right here in this handy-dandy draft bill circulated by the Senate Commerce Committee. All you have to do is pick one or combine them to make your own – customization at its best.
We realize this isn't as easy as having one handed to you, like industry does when they want something, but at least this way you can claim authorship and legislative craftsmanship over the product. The concept is pretty simple – don't let the telephone and cable companies play favorites on the Internet. But if you want some specific language, let's go to the PDF.
Start with Section 253. It deals with universal service, but the concept is the same. Only here, you call it “competitive neutrality.”
“(7) COMPETITIVE NEUTRALITY.–Universal service support mechanisms and rules should be competitively neutral. In this context, competitively neutral means that universal service support mechanisms and rules neither unfairly advantage nor disadvantage one provider over another, and neither unfairly favor nor disfavor one technology over another.”
That seems fairly straightforward. It shouldn't be difficult to take the government policy on telephone and cable companies applying for universal service support and apply it to a government policy on telephone and cable companies offering service on the Internet.
Here's another example, from Sec. 502, from the Municipal Broadband section:
''(1) ANTIDISCRIMINATION.–To the extent any public provider regulates competing providers of advanced telecommunications capability or any service that utilizes the advanced telecommunications capability provided by such providers, the public provider shall apply its ordinances, rules, policies, and fees, including those relating to the public rights-of-way, permitting, performance bonding, and reporting, without discrimination in favor of itself or any other advanced telecommunications capability provider that such public provider owns or is affiliated with, as compared to other providers of such capability or services.”
It shouldn't be difficult to take the government policy on protecting telephone and cable companies in municipal broadband and applying it to a government policy on telephone and cable companies offering service on the Internet.
If those are not to your liking, then let's try Sec. 628, which deals with access to programming for shared facilities.
''(a) IN GENERAL.–A video service programming vendor in which a video service provider has an attributable interest may not deny a video service provider with a franchise under this title access to video programming solely because that video service provider uses a headend for its video service system that is also used, under a shared ownership or leasing agreement, as the headend for another video service system.”
This one is even better, because it gets into the whole concept of a service provider having a financial interest in a service that goes out on its network. That's one of the things we think is likely when the telephone and cable companies can discriminate about what goes online. This section has some nice language on anti-discrimination which could be adapted into a Net Neutrality definition
It shouldn't be difficult to take a government policy on telephone and cable companies having a financial interest in their cable programming and apply it to a government policy on telephone and cable companies having a financial interest in what they put on the Internet (private or public version).
For good measure, you can look in the program-access section and in the redlining section for suggestions on resolving any Net Neutrality complaints.
The idea of Net Neutrality isn't new. It's been around since the telephone network came under the Communications Act. Even in the context of this bill, the idea of applying neutrality principles are well accepted when applied to telephone and to cable companies. There should be no reason why the same principles shouldn't apply to the companies when they offer Internet services.