Vonage's Citron Calls For 'Broadband Bill Of Rights' - InformationWeek

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Vonage's Citron Calls For 'Broadband Bill Of Rights'

Proclaiming some Internet truths to be self-evident, Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron called for a “Broadband Bill Of Rights,” to ensure that the Web remains as open as possible.

BOSTON -- Proclaiming some Internet truths to be self-evident, Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron called for a “Broadband Bill Of Rights,” to ensure that the Web remains as open as possible.

Citron’s evening keynote speech Monday here at the Fall VON show was centered around a formal, updated outline of the Internet Freedom principles advanced by former FCC chairman Michael Powell, among others. The need for a legal document protecting Internet freedoms is necessary, Citron said, to guard against the possibility of network operators acting as content and application “gatekeepers,” with the potential to block services like Vonage’s VoIP if they so desire.

“We need to strengthen the hallmark of a free and open Internet,” Citron said.

Vonage’s version of the rights, Citron said, will act as the centerpiece of a white paper that the company plans to distribute to lawmakers in advance of expected telecom regulatory reform actions this fall. Such efforts are generally opposed by the incumbent telecom service providers, who usually argue that market forces are strong enough to prevent them from limiting consumer access to the Internet.

“There’s going to be a lot of legislative activity, and we want to join our [influencing] efforts not only with VoIP, but other new technologies,” said Citron, inviting one and all to join in Vonage’s campaign. According to Citron, many Internet companies -- a list that includes Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and AOL -- are in step with Vonage’s direction, and will also pursue similar lawmaker-influencing actions.

The Vonage Bill of Rights, Citron said, includes the four standard parts of the “Network Neutrality” principles: The right to connect any device to the network; the right to transmit and receive data; the right to access any legal and lawful content; and the right to privacy. One twist to Vonage’s plan is the addition of a right to “quality broadband,” which Citron defined as a minimum throughput of 1 Mbps in both the upload and download directions.

“I’ll be the first to admit that 1 Megabit might not be enough [bandwidth],” Citron said. But many services that are currently advertised as high-speed broadband offer far less bandwidth, he said, a practice that is detrimental to consumers who may be getting far slower access than they believe.

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