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  (Source: jonlong724 on Flickr)

[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 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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