NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 16, 2007

For years, we've been hearing about the need for a tech-savvier American health care system that could make paper health records, prescriptions, X-rays and even in-person checkups into relics.  But all of that could be derailed unless U.S. policymakers reject calls for so-called Net neutrality regulations - "one-size-fits-all" broadband service that places critical medical monitoring and health care on the same footing as noncritical communications, according to new report by the U.S. Internet Industry Association (USIIA).

According to USIIA president David McClure:

  • Regulations sought by Google, and public-interest groups would prohibit network operators like AT&T and Comcast from charging premium fees to content providers for priority placement of their content.
  • Some legislative proposals on the table have called for allowing prioritization of network traffic within particular classes of data, but extra fees would be banned.
  • For example, a service provider like Verizon could choose to set aside a dedicated pipe for all user-generated video content, but it would have to make that pipe available to all user-generated video Web sites in existence, and without extra charges.

In their fight against Net neutrality laws, telecommunications and cable companies have mainly argued they need the freedom to explore new business models to offset costs associated with building the latest, greatest broadband infrastructure.

One of the things that broadband providers like Verizon have said they hope to offer to hospitals and health-care providers in greater quantities is "virtual private networks" dedicated to potentially high-bandwidth operations like sharing health records and monitoring patients from afar.  They claim Net neutrality regulations would essentially outlaw those plans.

Source: Anne Broache, "Report: Net neutrality could kill 'e-health' plans,", August 14, 2007.

For text:


Browse more articles on Government Issues