Stevens Holds Net-Neutrality Parley

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On the eve of a key Senate committee vote, cable, phone and Internet company officials met Wednesday with Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) in an effort to seek common ground on the contentious issue of network neutrality, according to Stevens and communications-industry officials.

Communications-industry officials said the meeting did not produce any tangible results.

Stevens assembled the group one day before his committee is to meet to consider a sweeping telecommunications bill (S. 2686) that would address network neutrality chiefly through an enumerated list of rights for Internet consumers.

But Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft and eBay have been lobbying aggressively for a law that would impose strict nondiscrimination terms on cable, phone and other broadband-access providers as a means of ensuring that their services can't be blocked or delayed or that their access to end-users requires payments to network owners.

The top Democrat on Stevens' panel, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), is supporting the Internet companies.

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