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Congressman Massa Conference Call to Introduce HR 2902 – Broadband Internet Fairness Act

Phillip Dampier June 17, 2009 Audio, Data Caps, Public Policy & Gov't 13 Comments

The audio from this morning’s conference call to introduce the legislation follows at the bottom of the page. Participants were: Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY), Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, and Phillip Dampier, founder of StoptheCap!

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Eric Massa formally introduced the Broadband Internet Fairness Act, H.R. 2902. The drafting of the bill was prompted by thousands of constituents and industry experts who voiced their concerns in regard to the outrageous increase in fees proposed by broadband providers.

In April, when Time Warner Cable in Rochester announced that they would begin overcharging customers based on their bandwidth usage, a group of doctors approached Congressman Massa and informed him that if the proposal was enacted, they would be forced to raise rates on their patients. Time Warner’s new program would have raised the cost of their current unlimited internet plan from $50 per month to $150 per month, tripling customers’ monthly bill. The proposed increase in rates gouges customers and limits competition between internet video sites and cable networks that offer identical content. The intended result of this increase would be to reduce the public’s internet usage and send customers back to cable television.

The Broadband Internet Fairness Act will prevent the monopolistic rate increases of broadband companies by promoting the interests of broadband customers. Specifically the bill:

·    Requires internet service providers (ISPs) to submit plans to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in consultation with the FCC if they plan to move to a usage-based plan;

·    Prohibits volume usage plans if the FTC determines that these plans are imposing rates, terms, and conditions that are unreasonable or discriminatory;

·    Sets up public hearings for plans submitted to the FTC for public review and input;

·    Only affects internet providers with 2 million or more subscribers;

·    Imposes penalties for broadband ISPs that ignore these rules;

“Access to the internet has become a critical part of our economy and we can’t let corporate giants limit the public’s access to this important tool,” said Congressman Eric Massa. “The Broadband Internet Fairness Act is all about protecting consumers from outrageous internet overcharges and giving the public a voice in this process. I have taken lots of time to work on this bill and have consulted with my constituents and industry experts. Now the hard work of passing this bill begins.”

“Cable providers want to stifle the internet so they can rake in advertiser dollars by keeping consumers from watching video on the Internet.  But so long as Americans can’t choose which cable channels they want to pay for, I don’t think cable operators should be able to determine consumers’ monthly internet usage. Additionally, charging based on a bandwidth usage is a flawed model when the cost of usage is totally out of line with the price. Consumers are much better served by plans based on the speed of the connection rather than amount of bandwidth used. Competition is crucial to our economy and I refuse to let monopolistic corporations dominate the market and gouge my constituents.”

Conference Call to Introduce HR 2902 – the Broadband Internet Fairness Act – Washington, DC & Rochester, NY – June 17, 2009 (26 minutes)
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Uncle Ken
Uncle Ken
12 years ago

That was a huge disappointment a guy not even from this country, Railroad cars, and the price of gas. Shakes head wondering. Where were the people from the US…the very places these things are going on?
Good on idea, bad on content. Q/A needs more screening specifically what people are going to ask.

Uncle Ken
Uncle Ken
12 years ago

My issue was most questions were not on topic.

Smith6612
Smith6612
12 years ago

I wasn’t very disappointed about this meeting at all. There were a few questions I would have liked to have been asked in the conference, but that’s it otherwise. I’m surprised though that no one mentioned that families with kids are more prone to being nickel and dimed and that it wasn’t talked about, as that would have woken many people up for those who haven’t been in touch with all of this yet who were in the conference/listening to the file above. But one thing which may be a good idea to spreading the word, since the word is… Read more »

Uncle Ken
Uncle Ken
12 years ago

Mr. Smith: I was not disappointed in the meeting with Eric Massa formally introducing the Broadband Internet Fairness Act, H.R. 2902 or Phil and Free press. What got me was the lack of formality of the questions asked. Where was Texas, where was the triad, where was Rochester. To me the entire thing looked like it was thrown together at the last minute. They took questions from the wrong people… off topic and were there any from us common people or just media? (I tried and could not get through) Free press or phil could have taken many questions and… Read more »

BrionS
Editor
12 years ago

Sorry Phil, but I completely disagree with this proposed bill. I’ve read through the entirety of the text and all I see is punitive measures against a subset of ISPs – the largest ISPs. There is nothing in the bill that prevents small ISPs such as the one in my father’s hometown from charging $70/month for 1Mbps download and something slower than dial-up for upstream bandwidth. As a matter of fact this bill excludes exactly those ISPs. Additionally, this puts a lot of faith that I see no reason to have into the FCC and FTC to do a good… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
12 years ago
Reply to  BrionS

I have to agree. It’s pretty weak.

BrionS
Editor
12 years ago

I don’t doubt your commitment to this cause Phillip, nor am I naive enough to think that the language of this bill will remain static should it progress toward law. My only concern is that IF the language of the bill as it is DID make it into law that we would not have won much of anything for the little guy — the rural guy. I did read the FAQ and I understand the reasons for excluding small ISPs but they’re not so innocent as they seem (at least not all of them). I have not given up on… Read more »

Uncle Ken
Uncle Ken
12 years ago

Phil: just to lighten up things a bit I installed firefox only to find all my video ability went south for the winter. Thank the lord I made a restore point. At my age I don’t need this. But how many people get to talk to a congressman on national TV? Not many! And you hung in there. K

Pablo
Pablo
12 years ago

Does this bill look at the possibility of having local cities run broadband services, such as what is happening in Wilson NC? Wouldn’t mind having something like that…

Please continue to write to your local congressman…I know I will.

Uncle Ken
Uncle Ken
12 years ago

Pablo: I don’t think we need 10,000 cities each running the show their own
ways. A single set of rules for all is what is needed. If a city wants to run a
fiber ring around their city nothing should stop that. The lobby be damned.
The big isp’s be damned. Massa said he wants competition well there you
go.

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