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Goodlatte Predicts More Net Neutrality Hearings

An Internet-focused legislator says to look for more hearings on network neutrality and, likely, another attempt to legislate it.

Bob Goodlatte (R-VA.) co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus, told Pedro Echevarria of C-SPAN's Communicators series that he is "Very, very concerned" about the prospects for an Internet toll road with customers paying for priority access to the 'net.

But he said that while he supports the "concept of net neutrality," he is also concerned about government overregulation of the Internet, preferring to toughen antitrust laws to deal with the issue.

In an interview to air Saturday 28, Goodlatte said he introduced a bill several years ago promoting open access, which he defined as "making sure that consumers, small businesses and others have an open opportunity to reach each other in a fair, competitive way, and concern that the people who control the pipes don't essentially put up a toll system."

He said the big evolution since then has been the change of the name to "network neutrality."

Goodlatte said that while he thinks the FCC's open Internet principles should be adhered to, Goodlatte said he would go farther, to apply a clear antitrust standard, but not as far as a heavy set of government regulations."

"There should be more specific antitrust standards that would allow for everybody to know what the rules are and still allow the free enterprise system to determine how that investment takes place and how everybody is assured they are not going to be discriminated against. Overregulation, he says, risks impeding the Internet build-out by discouraging  investment.

The FCC has opened an inquiry into network neutrality to give commenters a chance to give the commission examples of possible Internet discrimination. Goodlatte predicted more hearings on network neutrality this session, and said that in the "not too distant future" there would be a network neutrality bill introduced.