Marcos Dantas marcosdantas at com.puc-rio.br
Sun Sep 16 17:57:57 EDT 2007

Fees for Web content
Justice Department supports Internet service providers charging some users
more for certain content or faster delivery.  September 7 2007: 12:41 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department on Thursday said Internet
service providers should be allowed to charge a fee for priority Web

The agency told the Federal Communications Commission, which is reviewing
high-speed Internet practices, that it is opposed to "Net neutrality," the
principle that all Internet sites should be equally accessible to any Web

Several phone and cable companies, such as AT&T Inc., (Charts) Verizon
Communications Inc. (Charts, Fortune 500) and Comcast Corp., (Charts) have
previously said they want the option to charge some users more money for
loading certain content or Web sites faster than others.

The Justice Department said imposing a Net neutrality regulation could
hamper development of the Internet and prevent service providers from
upgrading or expanding their networks.

It could also shift the "entire burden of implementing costly network
expansions and improvements onto consumers," the agency said in its
filing. Such a result could diminish or delay network expansion and
improvement, it added.

The agency said providing different levels of service is common, efficient
and could satisfy consumers.

As an example, it cited that the U.S. Postal Service charges customers
different guarantees and speeds for package delivery, ranging from bulk
mail to overnight delivery.

"Whether or not the same type of differentiated products and services will
develop on the Internet should be determined by market forces, not
regulatory intervention," the agency said in its filing.

The agency's stance comes more than two months after Federal Trade
Commission Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras cautioned policy makers not to
enact Net neutrality regulation.

Such a regulation could prevent rather than promote Internet investment
and innovation and have "significant negative effects for the economy and
consumers," the Justice Department said in the filing.

Supporters of Internet regulation have said that phone and cable companies
could discriminate against certain Web site and services. However, the
agency said it will continue to monitor and enforce any anticompetitive
conduct to ensure a competitive broadband marketplace.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the position of
Federal Trade Commissioner Chair Deborah Platt Majoras on Internet
regulation. Two months previously, she cautioned policy makers not to
enact regulations on Net neutrality. She didn't urge them to enact such

Marcos Dantas
Professor do Departamento de Comunicação Social
Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)
R. Viuva Lacerda 128 apt 702
e-mail: mdantas at inventhar.com.br
           marcosdantas at com.puc-rio.br

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