Congress returns to mull telecom issues

Lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this week to posture over Net neutrality rules and other telecommunications issues.  But with a "lame duck" fall session and the 2008 Presidential elections, few expect legislation to be passed.

Net neutrality is expected to stir up quite a discussion as Comcast battles the Federal Communication Commission in U.S. District Court, challenging the FCC's authority to pass judgment in the matter. Lawmakers are expected to hold hearings and write letters to the Commission to either support or denounce the agency.

The Universal Service Fund may be another topic for discussion. Congressman Henry Waxman sent letters to two dozen phone companies in July asking them to account for billions of dollars in Universal Service money.  Critics say the fund is plagued with waste and fraud while rural carriers are making their case for the value of the program.

Deep packet inspection (DPI) and its use in targeting advertising and data mining is also likely to get hearing time from the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  Last month, the committee sent letters to more than 30 telecom and Internet companies to discover if they target online advertising based upon consumer search queries and web surfing habits.

However, most of the action is expected to be a prelude to bills and laws to be reviewed and enacted in the Spring of 2009, think analysts.

For more:
- CNN Money.com and the return of Congress.  Article

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