topic of net neutrality is a thorny issue. After all, the
American public is increasingly adopting the stance that the less
government meddling in the private sector, the better. On
the other hand, advocates of the government adopting net neutrality
restrictions have long laid out a dystopian vision of the future in
which users have only partial paid access to the internet and smaller
independent websites fold under the inability to draw paying
customers.Such visions could have been dismissed as alarmism
-- until now. A presentation from Allot
Communications and Openet,
two wireless industry giants who supply the likes of Verizon and
AT&T, leaked out onto the internet and verifies that the wireless
industry is plotting just such a scheme.I.
Want the Web? Prepare to PayAt
seminar the pair revealed a stunning plot in which wireless
customers would be forced to pay additional monthly fees per web page
accessed and -- in some cases -- per MB used. The slide
suggests a $0.50 USD/month YouTube access fee, a $0.02 USD/MB
Facebook access rate, and a 3€ (appr. $3.95 USD) Skype access
fee.Aside from the payoff from immediate fees, the leaked
PowerPoint presentation (1.5 MB/PDF) reveals a double
benefit to carriers, at consumers' expense. The slides suggest
that top UK carrier giant Vodafone (who partially owns Verizon
Wireless) create its own websites -- such as social networks and
video sites -- and offer customers free access to them.By
forcing customers to pay for external sites, but offering free
internal sites, carriers could attempt to force customers onto its
own sites. While such knockoffs would likely offer inferior
quality to carefully crafted services like YouTube and Facebook,
carriers wouldn't mind that -- they would be to busy reaping the
additional ad revenue.II.
The FCC Won't Let Me BeIt
is unclear whether the leak is coincidental or is meant to test the
U.S. Federal Communication Commission's resolve, a week ahead of
meeting to discussing net neutrality. Current
laws do not clearly grant the FCC the power to regulate wireless
internet traffic or enforce net neutrality over wired and wireless
service providers. The FCC's attempts to enforce net neutrality
regardless were struck
down in the spring by a federal court. The FCC now
hopes to draft legislation to present to Congress.But the
legislation faces serious political resistance. While some
Republicans are supportive of net neutrality, much of the Republican
party opposes net neutrality. And the Republicans in January
will gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Among
the staunchest opponents of net neutrality regulation is former
presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Az.). Sen.
McCain, like many Republicans, has previously opposed
net neutrality legislation due to a stance against
government regulation. However, Verizon
and AT&T bequeathed $237,600 upon his 2008 presidential
campaign. AT&T and Verizon lobbyists also raised from
various donors – $2.3M USD and $1.3M USD, respectively – for his
campaign. They also offered free services to his 15-acre
Arizona ranch.Sen. McCain is obviously not alone, however --
such contributions are common in Washington.Thus net
neutrality legislation faces tenuous prospects. And as our
computing heads increasingly into the mobile sphere (with
smartphones, tablets, laptops, netbooks, etc.) that may soon mean
that customers will be paying a lot more for a lot less. And in
the process any government censorship of the internet will likely
pale in comparison to that which the "free" market is
cooking up.Many refer to the current generation of web
businesses as Web 2.0. Well if these developments are any
indication, we may soon be greeting Web 3.0 -- the transformation of
the internet into a series of toll roads.
quote: I really think this is a lot of freaking out about nothing. The carriers are trying to figure out a way that they can maximize profits however if you remember from economics 101 (assuming you took economics 101) at some point if they charge too much they will cause demand destruction which will cause them to lose money. Juggle this with the fact that there are multiple carriers available in pretty much every area and you can't charge something way out of wack or all your customers will go to the guy down the street and again you lose money.The free market works if you leave it alone. They will never implement a pricing structure that charges consumers $900 a month for facebook and youtube because the market will not support it. The only thing the government needs to do is make sure there isn't a cartel that is fixing prices, beyond that I say let them do what they want.
quote: Ultimately, you're right, the carriers might not be able to milk an extra $900/month out of the masses, but if you cut that down to $100/month it's possible.
quote: ...if all the carriers effectively colluded together and ensured that the customer had no other options...
quote: Why is that wrong? Are you insinuating businesses should not charge what the market is willing to pay?
quote: Oil prices skyrocket. Gas prices skyrocket. If you were paying about $100 per month in gas before, now you're paying $200. Disposable income plummets. If that figure holds true for only 1/3rd of the US population, you are now talking about billions of dollars redirected from the established market every single month. Higher gas prices also trigger increases in travel and shipping, which in turn affects the tourism industry and increases prices on everything that gets shipped. Disposable income drops further. Depression/Recession anyone?
quote: The latter is puzzling because you want more regulation from an entity, that by the very existence of the problem, has already failed to protect you.
quote: A business should charge what it needs to do business and make payroll. Otherwise you end up with what just happened with the housing market. People were willing to pay more and more for the same size house, and Banks were being unethical in their loaning practices.
quote: You obviously have little to no concept of what a business is or how one works.
quote: So sweat shops are ok?
quote: ...it is there to make money and as much money as it possibly can within the confines of the law
quote: It works fine for hot dogs, or ground beef, but not so well when you start getting into single supplier situations or necessity items.
quote: A business should charge what it needs to do business and make payroll.
quote: I agree a business' main goal is to turn a profit
quote: Of which internet access is neither, one could argue the necessity side but clearly it is not a single provider situation.
quote: Sweat shops are not within the confines of the law.
quote: That statement is why you are obviously a socialist.
quote: No you blatantly said that it isn't. So I concur with the other poster you have little to no concept of what a business is or how one works, or possibly are just confused since your own posts contradict each other.
quote: Marxism, Communism and pure capitalism all share one common major flaw: they all assume people are perfect.
quote: I would say that Marxism and Communism assume that the governing body have the best interests of the collective in mind
quote: Actually Marxism and Communism don't believe in any governing body at all. The point is a completely volunteer society which needs no regulation or government.
quote: Due to the internet's integration at nearly every level of our society now, the market has no choice if the ISPs