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Welching on Net Neutrality


Published October 20, 2009 at 2:04 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, along with 71 other Democrats, are taking some heat for a letter (Download DemLettertoFCCChairmanGenachowski - pdf) they recently sent to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.

The one-page letter, according to "net neutrality" supporters, echoes talking points from large telecommunications companies who are opposed to Internet neutrality. In the letter, the members of Congress urge Genachowski to "avoid tentativeconclusions which favor government regulation."

Rather, the FCC should resist the temptation to take a greater role in shaping the future of the Internet. The FCC will take up the issue of net neutrality Thursday, where it is expected to take a procedural vote that would start the official rule-making process to make the concept a reality.

Pres. Barack Obama is a strong supporter of net neutrality, as are Internet business gurus like the founders of Google and Craig's List.

That star power hasn't swayed some members of Congress, who worry that regulations could hamper the effort to bring broadband to rural states — such as Vermont.

"We remain suspicious of conclusions based on slogans rather than substance and of policies that restrict and inhibit the very innovation and growth that we all seek to achieve," Welch and his 71 colleagues conclude in their letter.