The chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee recently asked the chief executives of a few telecom and tech companies such as AT&T®, Comcast Corporation®, Google®, and Facebook® to testify before the U.S. Congress in September to settle the heated debate over net neutrality.
It seems that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is planning to toss out the net neutrality rules established by the Obama Administration, which reclassified internet service as a public utility. The existing net neutrality rules prevent internet providers from slowing or blocking websites. In addition to that, internet service providers are also not able to allow websites to pay for “fast lanes” over other competitors. As a result, some of the major tech companies and leading internet providers in the country were divided over the net neutrality rules.
Internet providers wanted the Congress to step in to solve the issue and write permanent net neutrality laws. On the other hands, websites claimed that that the Obama era net neutrality laws are critical for preserving the open internet.
It is evident that the outcome of this debate will have a huge impact on the potential profits of the involved companies and even on the future of the internet economy. The heads of Charter Communications® and Netflix® are also asked to testify along with other members.
Several companies stated that they are currently reviewing the letter but they refused to share whether they will be testifying or not. The officials from Comcast Corporation® stated that they are welcoming the hearing and “believe the best way to stop the regulatory ping-pong on this important issue is for Congress to enact bipartisan legislation.”
One of the Republican representatives and committee chairperson, Greg Walden said, “A strong consensus is forming across party lines and across industries that it’s time for Congress to call a halt on the back-and-forth and set clear net neutrality ground rules for the internet. The time has come to get everyone to the table and get this figured out.”
However, Democrats want Republicans to invite consumers and small business to the hearing as well, and not just CEOs of the “largest corporations in the world with a combined market capitalization of nearly $2.5 trillion,” said Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking member Mike Doyle and Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking member Frank Pallone, Jr.