Drew Clark Tangled Net National Journal July 8, 2006 subscription only - try Library online journals. Link Accessed: 2006-07-11.

Contributor: vjp

Keywords: network neutrality, connectivity principles, Internet Freedoms


This article provides one of the most thorough summary’s of how the current network neutrality’ debate came to be.  Drew Clark takes us back to October 2005, the seminal moment when the first public threat to Internet freedoms was uttered.  In an interview shortly after the FCC approved telecommunication mega mergers: SBC&ATT and Verizon and MCI, Ed Whitacre, Chairman of the Board; Cheif Executive Officer, SBC Communications  made the infamous comment; “For a Google or a Yahoo! Or a Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes for free is nuts!” This statement ignited an unprecedented war of will between opponents and proponents of ‘network neutrality.’ 


Unfortunately, what network neutrality means and why its provisions are so volatile seem to have been lost among the hubbub. Fortunately, Drew Clark attempts to bring some perspective back into the debate by reminding us that the network neutrality principles stem from the four “connectivity principles” developed in 2003, which govern conduct by all broadband carriers. These connectivity principles, dubbed “Internet Freedoms” by the FCCs then chairmen Michael Powell, proclaimed  “that consumers should be able to access any legal Web site, use any type of software, and attach any electronic device so long as it didn't harm the broadband network, and that they should be able to obtain accurate information about their conditions of service.” In September 2003, SBC, Verizon, and the other two Bell companies, BellSouth and Qwest, agreed to abide by and signed on to the four principles.


Having agreed the connectivity principles these companies wouldn’t (couldn’t?)  block non-affiliated or competitive Internet traffic but given a green light - by way of no network neutrality specific language in any new telecommunication legislation -  the telecom giants could enable  private super high speed networks for paying customers. So what if you don’t want to, or can afford to pay for access to the super high speed network?  Well, that is the social side of the debate and it rages on. As of this date, the network neutrality debate is held up in the Senate waiting for further discussion and/or filibuster.