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Network Neutrality
The Internet was originally designed and conceived of as a ‘public’ infrastructure for enabling communications between connected users. The infrastructure was intended to be a simple pipeline that processed and delivered packets of information without regard to content, in a nondiscriminatory fashion. Until recently, this original design has been the accepted norm for telecommunications providers and users alike. However, legislation in 2004 and 2005 has created an environment in which the convergence of voice, video and data communications is changing the landscape of networked communications. Companies now have both the incentive and the regulatory ability to discriminate with regard to network content transmitted over their infrastructure. If measures are not taken soon to preserve the original design of the public Internet, it could become unrecognizable in the next 10-20 years as companies vie for the most profitable business models, including extracting premium fees for preferential treatment of some network content providers over others.

Network neutrality is the term used to talk about the open and neutral characteristics of Internet infrastructure as we have grown to know and understand it. To be more specific, neutrality sets the conditions that ensure fair competition and enables a level playing field for innovation which has been the basis for the phenomenal growth of Internet communications to date. (Wu, 2004, 83) “Openness” or “open access” refers to regulation geared to guarantee a non-discrimination regime, or neutrality among users, ideas and technologies. (Wu, 2004, 74, Coops, 2003)

The neutral and open characteristics of Internet access is being challenged in the United States by industry network owner/builders and others who want to eliminate network neutrality protections from telecommunications reform laws being considered by Congress. The following bibliographic entries are relevant to the issue of network neutrality provisions.


Copps, Michael, J. 2003. The Beginning of the End of the Internet? Discrimination, Closed Networks and the Future of Cyberspace. Remarks made to the New America Foundation, Washington DC. October, 9, 2003. Available online at:

Wu, Tim. The Broadband Debate: A User's Guide. 3 J. on Telecomm. & High Tech L. 69 (2004). Available online at:

  Compliance with WTO telecommunication commitments   U.S. mission to the EU, WTO Link Accessed: 2006-05-30.  
Broache, Anne   Net neutrality field in Congress gets crowded   c/net   May 19, 2006 Link Accessed: 2006-05-24.  
Bruce Dixon   The Blacks Stake in the Internet: Net Neutrality is an African American Issue   The Black Commentator - Issue 183   May 11, 2006 Link Accessed: 2007-01-20.  
Declan McCullagh   Hardware firms oppose Net neutrality laws   cnet   May 17, 2006 Link Accessed: 2006-05-26.  
Drew Clark   Tangled Net   National Journal   July 8, 2006   subscription only - try Library online journals. Link Accessed: 2006-07-11.  
Greenfield, Heather   Unusual Alliances Emerge In Net Neutrality Debate   National Journal Technology Daily   May 23, 2006 Link Accessed: 2006-05-25.  
Hearns, Ted   Sensenbrenner Offers Net-Neutrality Bill   Multichannel News   May 18, 2006 Link Accessed: 2006-05-24.  
Jessica Clark and Tracy Van Slyke   Fighting the Media’s ‘Plantation Mentality’   In These Times   January 18, 2007 Link Accessed: 2007-01-18.  
Jonathan Bennett   Berners-Lee calls for Net neutrality   cnet   May 23, 2006 Link Accessed: 2006-05-26.  
Michael Grebb   Neutral Net? Who Are You Kidding?   Wired News   May 31, 2006,71012-0.html. Link Accessed: 2006-06-01.  
Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va)   Saving the Internet     Feb. 09, 2006 Link Accessed: 2006-05-24.  
Sacco, Al   Congress Unveils New Net Neutrality Bills   CIO Link Accessed: 2006-05-24.  
Worten, Ben   The Net Neutrality Debate: You Pay, You Play   CIO Link Accessed: 2006-05-25.