Access to the Internet: It is a privilege

It’s not just broadband providers who are lobbying to be allowed to create a tiered Internet, it’s the telephone companies. Instead of comparing the Internet to cable/satellite television a single fact will be shared: the media wouldn’t stand for an a la carte TV system. The nature of the media is to deliver to the consumer what ever they feel is appropriate for mass consumption, regardless of quality or popularity.

Recently, due new technologies, the process of delivering different content at different speeds via the Internet has become much easier for ISPs. Cisco Systems with their next generation packet shaping routers can be thanked for this. Given this new power ISPs are limiting the bandwidth available for VOIP, p2p, streaming media, and online gaming. This is an end-user experienced tiered Internet, relative to the looming threat the damage this can do is minimal.

The big fuss is over what telephone companies ATT and Verizon want to do to the Internet’s backbone. Think of the Internet’s backbone as the water main that feeds the entire city. If it is decided that even though the main is at capacity the city decides to run a telephone utility line inside of the water main, taking up space that is already used. Now imagine that the city utility company was allotted several billion dollars to install a new water main and instead the money was lost within the management of the utilities company. In a sense this is what is happening today, and the cheapest solution for ATT and Verizon is a tiered Internet. Verizon and ATT have plans of rolling out their own VOIP and IPTV networks on top of their current Internet backbones, which currently are nearly at capacity.

Instead of paying the money to upgrade their networks, the telephone companies want to slow down the traffic to websites that don’t pay an extra fee for access to their networks. The main target is Google. Consumers are supposed to believe that Google doesn’t pay for its Internet connection, and should be made to pay up. In reality there is no such thing as free lunch, and nobody actually gets on the Internet for free.

Promises of more choices are deceptive at best. There already is established competition in VOIP and streaming media. The telephone companies truly desire to eliminate the competition to establish a monopoly choke-hold on the Internet. Packet shaping can do this easily by decreasing the bandwidth allowed for the competition until access to it is so slow that it is abandoned. Any extra cash collected via higher fees will end up financing a new yacht for the heads of the media companies instead of financing improvements to their own network.

Don’t give the telephone companies another chance, they’ve had too many already. Support network neutrality.

-John Havlik

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2 thoughts on “Access to the Internet: It is a privilege

  1. Amen. Preach it brother!

    Back when Netscape was started, its creators had a debate about supporting the “img” tag. One of them said that it shouldn’t be supported because supporting it would lead to too much traffic that would kill the internet. The other said that the internet would adapt and more bandwidth would become available. In hindsight, both were true. The internet did get fairly close to capacity, but it did eventually expand.

    Replace images in the last story with streaming multimedia and you have the situation today.

  2. Yep pretty much. Just this time the situation is allowing the papers show how ignorant they are on technology related topics. This entire post that I made was a quasi-rebuttle to an article that made it to the front page of the Star Tribune this morning.

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