Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Skunk At The Innovation Party

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Every business lobbyist--and politician for that matter--favors spurring technological innovation and advancing American economic competitiveness. So how did a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday, on just those subjects, turn contentious?
Network neutrality crashed the party.
The hearing was called by Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., who in January became chairwoman of the House Committee on Small Business and declared herself a champion for entrepreneurs. But at Wednesday's hearing, Velázquez and colleagues heard from groups representing big businesses too.
Among the eight trade associations on the witness panel: USTelecom, whose members include AT&T and Verizon Communications, and the American Electronics Association, which counts Apple and Intel among the 2,500 companies on its roster.
There was agreement on most of the items discussed. America needs to produce more engineering and math students. And the Sarbanes-Oxley rules have gone too far.
But then they got around to network neutrality--the matter of whether big Internet service providers should be allowed to charge certain customers, mainly big bandwidth consumers like Google and Yahoo!, extra for access.