First the good news: The FCC has actually promulgated rules to protect basic net neutrality. (No one is really happy with them, but they are a start.) The Washington Post has a nice, short explanation:
The rules would prevent Internet service providers from blocking Web sites and applications on Internet lines feeding into U.S. homes. Those carriers -- such as Comcast and AT&T -- could not deliberately slow down one Web site over another. The rules frown on the practice of charging Web sites for better or faster delivery, but observers say that practice would not be strictly prohibited.
Wireless networks would not be covered as broadly by the rules. An FCC official said carriers such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel would be prohibited from blocking competing voice and videoconferencing applications. Any other practices would have to be disclosed by the carriers.
Lawsuits are in the air from both sides of the net neutrality debate with the opponents calling the idea regulatory overreach and the proponents saying they are completely inadequate.
But whatever you think of the current rules the latest gambit is dangerous and deserves to be vigorously opposed.
The anti net neutrality crowd in Congress (mostly Republicans—this too has gotten caught up in blind ideology regardless of net neutrality having an astonishingly broad backing among conservatives) has decided on a dangerous course. They are working a seldom-used gambit from the Congressional Review Act that allows them to bypass the usual checks and balances of Congress and push a "resolution of disapproval" through. Such a resolution would block even the weak proposed network neutrality rules. The White House has promised to veto any resolution and overriding such a veto in the Senate would be very difficult. But this is only the beginning of this latest round of grandstanding.
Let's let Mary Landrieu know where she needs to stand. You might want to remind her that Louisiana is already pretty disappointed in the sort of "corporations are always right" ideology caused the state to lose an already approved 80 million dollar grant to build a new fiber optic network to serve the state's poorest parishes. She needs to know that she's got support to push back against that sort of nonsense.
The easy way: Save the Internet Petition
Write directly as a constituent: Contact Senator Landrieu
The most effective way: Call Mary's office and talk to a staffer
Update: Broadband Reports shows us exactly what leaving wireless out of net neutrality leads to: an enormous incentive to make sure that your network is not really capable of carrying the traffic you've sold: Verizon has just announced, breathlessly, as if it were a good thing that it will let each user who has already paid for their bandwidth tier to pay for a "Turbo boost" each time the network is too congested to deliver decent service. This is a good thing? To pay them again each time the network fails you? Really?
If Landrieu and other Senators can be convinced to spike this latest attempt to hand the wrieline internet over to the corporations at least Cox (and Comcast and Time-Warner and other wireline providers) won't be able to do the same.
At least that's not going to happen here in Lafayette—at least not if you're using LUS Fiber. First, I can call the head of the company and talk to him: he's just not going to abuse his customers since they "know where he lives." (And he doesn't live in a gated community!) Second, the fiber network is generously over-provisioned: I've never experienced the sort of regular slowdowns I had with Cox when the kids got off the bus. Come to think of it maybe the second is due to the first? You think?
Update #2: 11/10/11
Mary Landrieu did us proud. You can post a note of thanks at her website.