For the first time, the companies that own the equipment that delivers the Internet to your office, cubicle, den and dorm room could, for a price, give one company priority on their networks over another.Per usual, we have the forces for progress
For more than a year, public interest groups, including the Consumer Federation and Consumers Union, have been lobbying Congress and the Federal Communications Commission to write the concept called "network neutrality" into law and regulation. Google and Yahoo have joined their lobbying efforts.arrayed against the old guard of an industry that has the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw, and wants to make sure to extract every last rent from it:
companies like AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth are lobbying just as hard, saying that they need to find new ways to pay for the expense of building faster, better communication networks.O.K., infrastructure is expensive. But, wait, they already have paying customers to whom they sell internet service. And, cleverly, they can price discriminate on the basis of bandwidth. So what's the problem?
because these new networks will compete with those belonging to Comcast, Time Warner and other cable companies -- which currently have about 55 percent of the residential broadband market -- this will eventually bring down the price of your high-speed Internet service and television access.It's the competition, stupid. They don't like that. Because then you actually have to spend money to maintain networks, answer customer complaints, and draw business. This money has a much more natural resting place - executive compensation. However, having previosly won the de-regulation fight, they can't turn around and demand rate protection. Undettered, they decide that this means burning the candle at the other end:
The telecommunications companies' proposals have the potential, within just a few years, to alter the flow of commerce and information -- and your personal experience -- on the Internet. For the first time, the companies that own the equipment that delivers the Internet to your office, cubicle, den and dorm room could, for a price, give one company priority on their networks over another.(Emphasis mine.) Remembering that web-hosting already costs money, this is the equivalent of a local government not just charging property tax on your place of business, but demanding a cut of sales to customers who use to parking meters in front of your store, or perhaps even the road to get there. On top of the money they collect from said meters. Of course, above mentioned executives like private planes and hiring the Black Eyed Peas for their kids Bar Mitvah/Sweet 16's, so
AT&T Chairman Edward E. Whitacre Jr. complained that Internet content providers were getting a free ride: "They don't have any fiber out there. They don't have any wires. . . . They use my lines for free -- and that's bull," he said. "For a Google or a Yahoo or a Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes for free is nuts!''Well, as I mentioned, Google or whomever is already paying or has payed for the content on their end of the connection. And they are already charging you or I to access that content. To use another analogy, this is the mailman refusing to hand over your paycheck until you make him a silent partner.
Lest you think I'm making too much of this:
But the blog storm over Whitacre's comments had hardly died down when an executive with BellSouth was quoted saying that the company would consider charging Apple five or 10 cents extra each time a customer downloaded a song using iTunes.Google, which is 2 for 3 this week after this story, gets this one right
Google and others say that the prospect of telephone companies imposing new fees on innovative and successful ventures is exactly the kind of thing that deters online commerce. "If carriers are able to control what consumers do on the Internet, that threatens the model of Internet communications that has been wildly successful," said Alan Davidson, Washington policy counsel for Google.Google and others say that the prospect of telephone companies imposing new fees on innovative and successful ventures is exactly the kind of thing that deters online commerce. "If carriers are able to control what consumers do on the Internet, that threatens the model of Internet communications that has been wildly successful," said Alan Davidson, Washington policy counsel for Google.
A friend of WAP, who works in the telco industry, gets the final word:
"You are NOT wrong [Pooh: Not that it's for me to decide when I'm not wrong] - it is a VERY VERY VERY bad thing. And no matter how much the telcos try to justify it, it's completely unethical . . . And the telcos whining 'they're getting a free ride' well - that's just bullshit."