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By PETER SVENSSON
NEW YORK (AP) - Cox Communications, the third-largest U.S. cable company, stepped on to the battleground of the "Net Neutrality" issue Tuesday, saying it will be trying out a new way to keep its subscribers' Internet traffic from jamming up.
Starting on Feb. 9 in parts of Kansas and Arkansas, Cox will give priority to Internet traffic it judges to be time-sensitive, like Web pages, streaming video and online games. File downloads, software updates and other non-time sensitive data may be slowed if there is congestion on the local network, Cox said.
The news is sure to revive the debate about Net Neutrality, or the question of how much Internet service providers like Cox can interfere with subscriber traffic. Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable company, was sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission last year for its method of traffic management, which involved secretly stifling file sharing, a certain type of Internet traffic. It was the first time regulators waded into the issue.
High speed Internet is essential for economic growth and global competitiveness. The United States – the country that invented the Internet – has fallen from 1st to 15th in high-speed Internet penetration.
High-tech innovation, job growth, telemedicine, distance learning, rural development, public safety, and e-government require truly high-speed, universal networks.