June 8, 2006
Hello, this is Senator Barack Obama and today is Thursday, June 8th, 2006.
The topic today is net neutrality. The internet today is an open platform where the demand for websites and services dictates success. You've got barriers to entry that are low and equal for all comers. And it's because the internet is a neutral platform that I can put on this podcast and transmit it over the internet without having to go through some corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship. I don't have to pay a special charge. But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the internet as we know it. They say they want to create high-speed lanes on the internet and strike exclusive contractual arrangements with internet content-providers for access to those high-speed lanes. Those of us who can't pony up the cash for these high-speed connections will be relegated to the slow lanes.
Allowing the Bells and cable companies to act as gatekeepers with control over internet access would make the internet like cable. A producer-driven market with barriers to entry for website creators and preferential treatment for specific sites based not on merit, the number of hits, but on relationships with the corporate gatekeeper. If there were four or more competitive providers of broadband service to every home, then cable and telephone companies would not be able to create a bidding war for access to the high-speed lanes. But here's the problem. More than 99 percent of households get their broadband services from either cable or a telephone company.
So here's my view. We can't have a situation in which the corporate duopoly dictates the future of the internet and that's why I'm supporting what is called net neutrality. In the House, the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Judiciary Committee reached different conclusions on network neutrality. Judiciary Committee members voted to protect net neutrality and commerce voted with the Bells and cable. That debate is going to hit the House floor this Friday. In the Senate, Senators Snowe and Dorgan are leading the fight for net neutrality and I've joined in that effort. Senator Inouye, the ranking Democrat of the Commerce Committee, has joined us in this effort as well and he's working with Senator Stevens to put strong network neutrality into any Senate bill that comes before us. There is widespread support among consumer groups, leading academics and the most innovative internet companies, including Google and Yahoo, in favor of net neutrality. And part of the reason for that is companies like Google and Yahoo might never have gotten started had they not been in a position to easily access the internet and do so on the same terms as the big corporate companies that were interested in making money on the internet.
I know if you are listening to this podcast that you are going to take an intense interest in this issue as well. Congress is going to need to hear your voice because the Bell and cable companies are going to be dedicating millions of dollars to defeating network neutrality. So I'll keep you updated on this important issue and I look forward to talking to you guys again next week. Bye-bye.