Dear Mr. Dobbe :
Thank you for taking the time to contact me concerning Internet neutrality.
Like you, I recognize the importance of making broadband Internet available to all of Minnesota through fair and open competition.
On February 7, 2006, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on Internet neutrality. Broadband providers, as well as application and content providers and telecommunications, experts testified before the Committee. At the hearing, broadband providers argued against Internet neutrality contending that application and content providers need to also assume the costs associated with providing broadband access. Application and content providers meanwhile advocated for Internet neutrality claiming that such neutrality enables consumers not broadband providers to choose among the various Internet content and application offerings.
Separately, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued Internet neutrality principles. The FCC does not believe that regulations are currently necessary.
Please know that I will continue to follow this important issue and look forward to reviewing the Committee’s work. I value your advice and will take it into consideration should any Internet neutrality related legislation come before the full Senate for a vote.
As a member of the Republican High-Tech Task force, I have been working closely on broadband related issues. For instance I introduced the Rural Renaissance II Act of 2005 (S. 1253) to support rural economic development. This bill would provide rural America loans and grants to rebuild and update its infrastructure, including high speed Internet, which is necessary to attract new residents and businesses. This legislation is now included in the Senate’s version of the Tax Relief Act of 2005 bill, which the Senate passed on November 18, 2005, and is in a conference committee with the House of Representatives.
You may also be interested to know that I am also a cosponsor of S. 1294, the Community Broadband Act of 2005. This legislation would allow municipalities to offer Internet broadband services, so long as they abide by state and federal telecommunications laws and do not discriminate against private competitors. S. 1294 has been referred to the Commerce Committee where it awaits further action.
I appreciate hearing from you and hope you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue of concern to you.
United States Senate
Norm, I like the way you roll. Don’t fuck this up, because I think you’re one of the few people in the Senate that understands how technology works and how counteractive things like the DMCA actually are.