Sen. Cantwell Urges Support for Net Neutrality

By:  The Columbian - Associated Press
Source: The Columbian

Sen. Maria Cantwell says proponents of net neutrality need to be "loud, just like the Seahawks fans" in the run-up to an expected federal decision on the issue.

The Democrat was in Seattle's Pioneer Square on Monday for a round table discussion with leaders of the area's technology economy. In November President Barack Obama called for the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify Internet access as a utility. That would mean Internet companies couldn't charge content providers for faster access.

Cantwell said it's crucial that the FCC preserve net neutrality. She said round table participants told her if different fees were charged for Internet access it would have a chilling effect on local technology investment, which would slow the growth of the sector in the region.

"They are saying it's an all-around negative for the Internet," Cantwell said.

Among those taking part in Cantwell's forum were Sarah Bird, CEO of Moz, Ben Huh, CEO of Cheezburger Inc., and Michael Schutzler, head of the Washington Technology Industry Association.

Proponents of charging more for faster Internet access say certain companies companies like Netflix need to bear some of the cost of handling heavy traffic and that cable and telecommunications companies have spent hundreds of billions on network infrastructure.

The Senate Commerce committee will hold a hearing on net neutrality this week, and the FCC is expected to make a ruling next month.