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Broadband Act Not Enough to Protect Internet Customers: June 8 AARP Letter on H.R. 5252

June 8, 2006

U.S. House of Representatives
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative:

AARP is concerned that H.R. 5252, "The Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006," as currently drafted does not adequately protect the interests of consumers.

AARP commends the sponsors for taking a positive step to promote competition for broadband services by eliminating the ability of states to bar municipal provision of broadband service. However, the bill misses the mark in two significant areas for consumers: the delivery of video programming services and preserving the openness of the Internet.

While we support the bill's goal of fostering competition in the video services market, AARP is not persuaded that most consumers will actually realize the benefits of competition. The proposed national franchise authority process does not include a sufficient requirement for consumers to have a competitive alternative for video services for some time to come. We remain concerned that H.R. 5252 has missed the opportunity to ensure video competition will reach most consumers.

Finally, although the bill does take an initial step to address the issue of "network neutrality," we believe the approach does not go far enough. A growing number of mid-life and older Americans are online and rely on unfettered access to content and services on the Internet. We believe that the Internet should remain an open and innovative platform. We urge you to support the Markey-Eshoo-Boucher-Inslee amendment that will incorporate a more meaningful and enforceable network neutrality requirement in this bill.

Thank you for your consideration of our views. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me, or have your staff call Debra Berlyn of our Federal Affairs staff at 434-3800.

Sincerely,

David P. Sloane
Senior Managing Director
Government Relations and Advocacy

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