SOURCE: Electronic Retailing Association

February 13, 2007 15:01 ET

Electronic Retailing Association Speaks Against Closed Network During FTC Net Neutrality Workshop

ERA President and CEO Joins Executives From Google, eBay, Verizon, Cisco, EarthLink, Amazon, and Comcast to Discuss Broadband Internet Access

WASHINGTON, DC -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 13, 2007 --At the Federal Trade Commission's Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy this week, the president and CEO of the Electronic Retailing Association, Barbara Tulipane, served as a panelist for a discussion on broadband connectivity. The Electronic Retailing Association is the only industry association representing direct response marketing companies and major retailers that use electronic media to sell goods and services to consumers.

During the panel, which focused on quality of service, tiering, and charging fees for prioritized delivery of broadband access, Tulipane stressed the need to continue a non-prioritized, "open" Internet scenario. While Tulipane believes that providers can recoup their investment and create additional revenue streams by charging for non-internet-related broadband applications, such video or television, she believes that the Internet should be separated from such broadband services.

"This position keeps the internet as an open network where our smaller retailers can continue to provide consumers with content the consumer wants," said Tulipane. "Because in today's world the consumer is in charge."

Further, Tulipane stressed the importance of innovation for Internet content providers. As today's Internet is comprised of interconnected networks that do not distinguish service based on source or content, providers have been forced to innovate in order to meet consumers changing shopping habits. However, prioritization based on source or content will result in a closed network, and will stifle the innovation of both large and small e-retailers.

"What's interesting about the ERA membership is that the small players today may very well be a Google, or an eBay tomorrow," said Tulipane. "Their model for success is their ability to innovate."

The FTC Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy brought together experts from business, government, and the technology sector, consumer advocates, and academics to explore competition and consumer protection issues relating to broadband Internet access. The workshop examined the capabilities and incentives of broadband Internet service providers to discriminate against, degrade, block, or charge fees for prioritized delivery of unaffiliated content and applications.

For more information on the Electronic Retailing Association, visit ERA's website at www.retailing.org.

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