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[Click to enlarge] Want the web? Well prepare to pay. Wireless carriers are plotting per page monthly or data-based fees. And net neutrality legislation looks unlikely to pass, thanks to their healthy flow of lobbyist money.  (Source: Fierce Wireless Semina via Wired)
Leaked slides reveal that net neutrality advocates worst fears may soon be realized

The 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 Pay

At its web 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 Be

It is unclear whether the leak is coincidental or is meant to test the U.S. Federal Communication Commission's resolve, a week ahead of its planned 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.

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RE: Good idea if...
By guffwd13 on 12/20/2010 1:59:32 PM , Rating: 5
At the very basic level yes, economics work that way. But in reality they are far more complex than for which you are giving credit. Marxism, Communism and pure capitalism all share one common major flaw: they all assume people are perfect.

But as we are all too aware, we are not perfect, not as individuals and not as a collective and in a pure market system the individual has excessive power at the top and thus imparts their respective individual imperfections on the system.

Food, utilities, gasoline, internet (take it as you will but I truly believe it is) and others (health care?) also all share one thing: they are (now) necessities and the supply/demand relationship fails when a consumer has to have it (non-discretionary goods). The recent gas crisis demonstrated this beautifully. Gas prices were through the roof at $130/barrel which was more than three times what it fell to before rising back up. The demand did not react in any predictable way to this change.

Wall street suffered the same problem. With bonuses being based on performance with no liability for risk taken, traders were encouraged to make risky deals in hopes at arriving at big payoffs in the end. And what happened? A lot of innocent people lost a lot of money when the bad investments that were made (knowingly in many cases) and went sour.

Greenspan himself said he was wrong to avoid regulation and Reaganomics was far from perfect. The free market world is great, don't get me wrong. Freakenomics makes that very clear: incentive drives production and service. It is most certainly the way to go in the modern world and its no accident China, the last of the major Communist nations, is shifting its entire economy over to that.

However, governments absolutely need to regulate necessities because businesses can charge what they want, and people will be forced to pay. Economy collapses due to lack of discretionary money. End of nation.

The net must remain neutral. Full. Inexpensive and at the expense of the unfortunate companies that provide that service. They are disturbingly rich as it is.

However I do agree with you. Free speech should NEVER be regulated and I don't see how one (speech vs internet regulation) should influence the other.

RE: Good idea if...
By MrBungle123 on 12/20/2010 4:43:00 PM , Rating: 1
Marxism, Communism and pure capitalism all share one common major flaw: they all assume people are perfect.

I disagree. I would say that Marxism and Communism assume that the governing body have the best interests of the collective in mind where Capitalism assumes that people are generally greedy and uses greed to regulate itself.

You cannot blame the crash of 2008 solely on capitalism because the system in place was not pure capitalism. It was some sort of unholy union of capitalism and socialism in which there was privatized gain (greed) but socialized risk (bailouts). That system will not work because it allows greed to run unchecked because there are no economic consequences for taking too much risk (sub prime home loans).

If you want to blame something blame the cronyism of high level excutives and members in congress that allowed the whole house of cards to be built in the first place.

RE: Good idea if...
By PrezWeezy on 12/20/2010 6:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
I would say that Marxism and Communism assume that the governing body have the best interests of the collective in mind

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.

While I agree that the bailouts may fall closer to the "socialized" side of the scale I don't see how they had any effect on how business was done prior to their inception. Things had already failed when they were introduced.

As far as who to blame, I happen to have some insight into the banking industry, and I blame them.

RE: Good idea if...
By MrBungle123 on 12/20/2010 6:59:31 PM , Rating: 1
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.

riiiiight so the form of government in which the government owns everything is the type of government which needs no regulation or government?!

Hey would you be interested in buying some beach front property on Mars?!

RE: Good idea if...
By PrezWeezy on 12/20/2010 8:07:25 PM , Rating: 2
Sure. The moment you can actually point out a Communist country. Sure there are a lot that claimed to be WORKING TOWARDS Communism, but they never actually were Communist. It was an interim government meant to bring the country closer to Communism. At least, that's what they told their people. But you were talking theory, not reality.

RE: Good idea if...
By mcnabney on 12/20/2010 9:20:30 PM , Rating: 2
Don't bother trying to explain what communism really is. People think communism is Stalin and Mao. Those were both dictatorships hiding behind the mask of communism. Communism is what Jesus was talking about. Sadly, it has only ever worked in small groups and then usually not for very long. Now socialism is different, but we can just look over the pond to see how that works (and fails) to varying degrees.

Also, I believe that ISPs should be made into utilities. A low flat rate to 'connect' and than a per-MB or GB charge based upon usage. Since the going rate for data transport that ISPs pay is about $0.03/GB - so Mick quoting a $0.05/MB price is nearly 1000x their cost. Charging that would be like a gas station chargin $2,000.00 a gallon. I could deal with $20/mo for connection and $0.10/GB for how much I download.

RE: Good idea if...
By Kurz on 12/21/2010 9:42:40 AM , Rating: 2
Though I love how people think socialism is a path to communism. You need a huge government to get socialism down. And somehow you go from 100% government control (socialism) to 0% government control (communism). This doesn't make sense.

RE: Good idea if...
By PrezWeezy on 12/22/2010 12:57:14 PM , Rating: 2
That's because the majority of American's have never taken Political Science. So they only understand the "Communism" of the Cold War and modern China. They don't understand the theory or the reality of government.

RE: Good idea if...
By Kurz on 12/22/2010 3:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
I am also talking about those who claim to be communist.
And striving for Socialist programs to level the playing field. However this requires 100% control of the government.

Then They wonder why Communism never came to fruition.

RE: Good idea if...
By PrezWeezy on 12/22/2010 5:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
I believe the thought process is something to the effect of, if the government can get everything setup, and get everyone in line to go along with it, then when they shut the parliament doors and turn the power over it will be a smooth transition. I don't believe that it would be remotely possible for a government to just say "Ok, it's up to you guys now, we're going communist!" and have it work. The system would have to be setup, all the ducks in a row. Although I don't believe it's actually possible, as the entire reason we are what we are today (as humans) is because of drive and the desire to have better, which creates competition. Just what my thoughts.

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