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Austin King to propose resolution in support of Network Neutrality

Post by Jesse Russell on 3/6/2007 5:28pm

netneutrality030507.jpgNetwork neutrality is essentially a wonky term for "fair and equal internet." The preservation of network neutrality ensures that Comcast, Verizon and AT&T can't dictate your access to information on the internet. Last year a battle raged as the net roots barely triumphed over these giant telecoms who sought to push through legislation that would allow them to determine, based on who pays what, which websites will download the fastest and which will download the slowest and possibly even which websites should be blocked.

Tonight Madison Alder Austin King will introduce a resolution at the Common Council meeting that express Madison's support for network neutrality. This resolution will then be voted on at the March 20 meeting. King enlisted me to help draft the resolution and I sought out additional help from Frank Paynter from (who was one of the original founders of the Wisconsin Coalition for Net Neutrality) and Barry Orton, a UW professor who specializes in telecommunications policy and regulation and occasionally blogs over at former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin's blog Waxing America.

This is an important first step for Madison, but it isn't the last stop. Next, we need to make Senator Herb Kohl take a position. During last year's net neutrality fight supporters of network neutrality tried for more than four months to make Kohl take a position. His answer every time was that he was weighing all of the options. Kohl must have felt relief when the Senate version of the anti-net neutrality bill died on the floor after AT&T made a deal that they would leave network neutrality alone for two years if they were allowed to merge with SBC (forming, once again, Ma Bell). This fight will continue and Kohl needs to let us know if he is on the side of Wisconsin small business or the side of International telecoms.

If this passes on March 20, Madison needs to go one farther. We need to pass a regulation for localized protections of network neutrality and in order for a telecom to operate in the city limits, they need to respect those protocols.

Below is final language from King:


WHEREAS, a broadband network free of restrictions on the kinds of equipment attached and the modes of communication allowed is a "neutral network"; and

WHEREAS, the use of the power to discriminate between traffic types by Internet Service Providers, charging tolls on content from some content providers, particularly competitors is an onerous threat and that inability to pay the tolls would result in poor service or no service for certain websites or certain types of applications; and

WHEREAS, the free and open nature of the Internet has fostered unprecedented innovation, economic growth, and democratic uses; and

WHEREAS, a fundamental part of the Internet's nature is the fact that no one owns it and it is open to all comers; and

WHEREAS, the growth of a free and open internet has provided historic advances in the realms of communication, research and economic development; and

WHEREAS, the imposition of additional fees for Internet content providers would unduly burden web-based small businesses, start-ups, as well as communications for non-commercial users, religious speech, civic involvement, and exercising our First Amendment freedoms; and

WHEREAS, carefully developed public policy regulation in the area of Net Neutrality will effectively thwart attempts by broadband behemoths to block, impair, or degrade a consumer's ability to access any lawful Internet content, application, or service; will protect the right to attach any device for use with a broadband connection; will ensure that phone and cable companies cannot favor themselves or affiliated parties to the detriment of other broadband competitors, innovators, and independent entrepreneurs; and will prohibit the broadband Internet providers from charging extra fees and warping the web in a multi-tiered network of bandwidth haves and have-nots; and

WHEREAS, to encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the internet, Madison consumers are entitled to access the lawful internet content of their choice without interference by their internet service providers; and

WHEREAS, to encourage the continued transformation of Madison's economy to meet future needs and to further the growth of Wisconsin's technology industry, Madison businesses are entitled to, and require, open and unfettered internet access; and

WHEREAS, the City of Madison's own website, which is an essential tool for communicating with Madison residents and collecting revenue, could be threatened by a multi-tiered network;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Madison supports federal efforts to enshrine Net Neutrality, applauds the support for Net Neutrality exhibited by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Senator Russ Feingold, and calls on Senator Herb Kohl and other members of Congress to likewise support such efforts.

Jesse Russell


Jesse was born and raised in Connecticut, began blogging in 1997, and moved to Madison in 2003. In 2005, he co-founded dane101 along with Kristian Knutson and Shane Wealti. In addition to helping nearly a dozen contributors run this website he's helped launch various events in the city including What's Your Damage?!, the MadPubQuiz of Awesomeness, the Fire Ball Masquerade, Dane101's Freakin' Halloweekend, and more.