US politicians scrap net neutrality hearing

31 August 2017 | James Pearce

US politicians have cancelled a hearing that was due to take place on 7 September over the future of internet access rules after no companies agreed to appear before the House of Representatives.

Net neutrality 160x186The likes of AT&T, Verizon, Facebook, and Google-parent Alphabet had all been invited to share their thoughts on access rules before the US House Energy and Commerce Committee but, according to reports, none agreed to attend.

A spokesperson for committee chair Greg Walden said the appearing had been postponed due to talks about future rules, according to Reuters.

"As negotiations progress on a permanent solution for net neutrality that ensures a free and open internet, the committee will postpone the original hearing in order to allow talks between stakeholders to continue," the spokesperson said.

The Federal Communications Commission is seeking to scrap internet rules introduced by former chair Tom Wheeler during the Obama administration, rules that have been generally opposed by the industry.

The net neutrality rules see the FCC regulating the internet as if it is a utility, meaning strict rules over blocking or slowing content. Internet providers have generally praised the rules, saying they protect the concept of an open internet, but telecoms operators argue they go too far and could harm competition.

None of the CEOs of the major companies invited to attend had committed to testify, although Reuters reports that committee aides have held several meetings with representatives of the internet firms and service providers over recent weeks.

Topics: net neutrality, US, Congress, House of Representatives, Senate, AT&T, Verizon, Facebook, Google