Is internet access a right, a privilege, or merely a toll road?

Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 02:24 pm
Should broadband be considered a commodity? A toll road for megacommunications congolomerates to reap megaprofits from? Especially since most of them never laid down the fiber optic networks and infrastructure? Or should broadband access be considered a public utility where subsidized access to all citizens is paramount?

So? Should broadband access be considered the next great public library system for the globe? Open to all no matter their class or income or nationality? Who should bear the burden for that very small percent (rural areas) where the current broadband infrastructure doesn't reach?

I think Google has the right idea. Very fast and very affordable broadband access. But their plan is basically in the very limited beta stages:

Got broadband? Access now extends to 94 percent of Americans.
Every year, Internet access via broadband becomes available to millions more Americans, up from 92 percent last year to 94 percent, a recent report shows. Rural and tribal areas are the outliers.

I apologize for the tone of this polemic thread. Clearly I wear my beliefs on my sleaves. I was planning on writing a neutral question for this thread yet found that I could not. Dems the breaks I guess.[/color]
Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 02:55 pm
I look at it just like I would my phone line or TV cable access. I pay for these. I pay for my internet access.

In many places, I suspect, there is internet access in public libraries that can be used at no direct cost. The libraries are supported here via municipal taxes. So, nothing is really free.

Renters who use libraries don't pay municipal taxes directly, but you can be sure that their landlords will have that cost included in their rent.

I don't think that internet access can be considered as a right or a privilege. It's just another utility, in my opinion, like using the postal mail service.
Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 03:07 pm
Who should bear the burden for that very small percent (rural areas) where the current broadband infrastructure doesn't reach?

The same question was asked with electricity and it was decided the government should help.

Then they did the same thing with telephone service
Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 03:11 pm
Which means that folks paid for it nationally in income taxes. It still wasn't "free".
Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 03:14 pm
Just because something is a right doesn't mean it should be free.

The Rural Electric and Telephone associations still charged their customers. But without government assistance it wouldn't have been affordable.
Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 03:39 pm
I don't disagree at all, except I don't feel that internet access is a "right". I see it no differently as I do electricity, and that's not a right either. It's just a utility.

As far as government assistance, all that really means is that the cost is shared nationally amongst citizens who pay taxes, rather than the whole cost being directly charged in the immediate area where access is expanded.

To me, I would have to consider each case individually to see how many people would benefit from the upgrade.

If a few folks decide to live in a very remote spot, should the rest of the country pay so they can get broadband? The cost versus the benefit would need to be analysed carefully.

I'm not just for 'yes' to all areas.

By the way, this same program exists in Canada, too.
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Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 04:38 pm
Realizing I am created in God's image, I shall answer this as God.
When Al Gore and ME created the internet first we had to establish land line systems on the entire planet for telephone systems. My own father was a Bell System Engineering Manager. Next Al and me started making Microwave Communications towers; to do that we staged the Cold War, and it was a big joke to accelerate tower construction, engineering and development of wireless technology, and to force mega tower and satellite construction. Sorry to break your bubble, but already these systems are all owned, long before they are ever put down on blueprints. All energy in the Universe is mine, not yours, and that is a good thing, or you might hurt yourself playing with fusion and fission. What you suggest is impossible, that I shall strip the investors or existing planned systems, like yellow pine utility poles, millions of pieces of hardware, servers, and mainframe processors, and all the super computers we have in salt mines to monitor every word you ever type. As I am omnipresent and Uncle Sam is created in my image, I expect big brother to gain the technology to see everything you do or write, and they are working on it. This internet matrix is not like food stamps Mr Tsarstepan, it is not something that Obama can pass you in a little bag to help your arthritis, NO! The hardware is all owned, and broadband does not fall from the sky like Skittles, NO! Al Gore and me planned it and already sold stocks and bonds, and where were YOU, off playing your Atari on a Commodore 64 possibly, or still unborn. If any case even all the crawlers are owned, and the night crawlers on your lawn are owned, so pay the rent, and pay your monthly fees, because a deal is a deal, and just because telephone poles were once trees, does not mean liberals can strip the man of his profits. The senate is already bought and purchased, so much money is being made from internet porn alone, that yes, even the entire senate is already bought and payed for. I am already working on a plan to charge people for sunlight.
Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 05:14 pm
@TimeTravel ,
Al Gore did not create the internet. He created the Electoral College - to his Eternal regret.
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Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 06:28 pm
I look on it as a right, based on the freedom of speech and free flow of information it affords humanity. But I am aware it costs to keep it available and I am willing to support public access or just to keep it as is.
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Reply Sun 26 Aug, 2012 06:45 pm
Reyn wrote:

I don't think that internet access can be considered as a right or a privilege. It's just another utility, in my opinion, like using the postal mail service.

Close to my thinking. Internet, being a source of news probably does qualify as a right, especially in the US and other countries that guarantee freedom of speech. That does not mean someone else is obliged to pay for it.
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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2012 10:01 am
The problem is making sure that the poorer communities can also enjoy this internet access.
The New York Times
September 9, 2012
In One City, Signing Up for Internet Becomes a Civic Cause

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With Google’s promise last year to wire homes, schools, libraries and other public institutions in this city with the nation’s fastest Internet connection, community leaders on the long forlorn, predominantly black east side were excited, seeing a potentially uplifting force. They anticipated new educational opportunities for their children and an incentive for developers to build in their communities.

But in July, Google announced a process in which only those areas where enough residents preregistered and paid a $10 deposit would get the service, Google Fiber. While nearly all of the affluent, mostly white neighborhoods here quickly got enough registrants, a broad swath of black communities lagged. The deadline to sign up was midnight Sunday.

The specter that many blacks in this city might not get access to this technology has inflamed the long racial divide here, stoking concern that it could deepen.

“This is just one more example of people that are lower income, sometimes not higher educated people, being left behind,” said Margaret May, the executive director of the neighborhood council in Ivanhoe, where the poverty rate was more than 46 percent in 2009. “It makes me very sad.”

For generations, Kansas City has been riven by racial segregation that can still be seen, with a majority of blacks in the urban core confined to neighborhoods in the east. Troost Avenue has long been considered the dividing line, the result of both overt and secretive efforts to keep blacks out of white schools and housing areas and of historical patterns of population growth and settlement, said Micah Kubic, with the nonprofit Greater Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Nearly three in four people living east of Troost in Kansas City’s urban center are black, according to an analysis of 2010 Census data by Andrew Beveridge, a sociology professor at Queens College in New York City.

As recently as 15 to 20 years ago, black residents said, they did not venture west of Troost for fear of harassment from the police. Today, they complain that their schools are failing, crime is rampant and infrastructure is dilapidated.

“See all this filthiness?” Vic, a 47-year-old lifelong resident of the east side who declined to give his last name, said as he stared at hip-high brush in a vacant lot. He expressed doubt about how much of an inroad Google Fiber would make. “You can’t get the neighborhood to come together to get this cleaned up,” he said. “How you going to get them to care about that?”

Convincing residents of the importance of Internet access — to apply for jobs, do research, take classes and get information on government services — was one of Google’s primary challenges here. The service is currently being offered only here and in Kansas City, Kan. About 25 percent of homes in both cities do not have broadband, and 46 percent of blacks do not use the Internet.

Qualifying neighborhoods will get Internet service with speeds of up to a gigabit per second — 100 times faster than the average broadband connection — for $70 a month. Google is also offering a television service along with Internet for $120 a month. Schools, libraries, hospitals and other institutions in areas that qualify would receive gigabit connections for free.

But the feature most attractive to low-income areas is Google’s offer of a free 5-megabit Internet connection for 7 years, but which requires a one-time $300 construction fee.

As of Sunday evening, only about 32 percent of people in the neighborhoods that qualified for Google Fiber were black, while just over 54 percent were white, according to Mr. Beveridge.

With almost all of Kansas City, Kan., including low-income areas, achieving their sign-up goals, Google’s focus over the weekend was here in Missouri, where it worked with community groups to register people.

The dividing line of Troost “certainly predated us,” said Kevin Lo, the general manager of Google Access, which oversees the Fiber operation. “It’s unrealistic to expect that we can, in six weeks’ time, close the gap.”

Yet Mr. Lo said helping close the digital divide was “absolutely a core part of our mission.”

Google planned to announce on Monday that neighborhoods that did not qualify this time would have another opportunity to do so, though it did not say when. It also said it would offer grants to community groups in Kansas City to promote digital literacy.

On Saturday, Ms. May, the neighborhood council director, and Google workers set up a tent outside the Ivanhoe community center and urged passers-by to sign up, with the center using a private donation to pay the $10 deposits and giving out Rice Krispies treats. One woman who registered herself offered to register her neighbor’s address as well.

Myron T. Moore, a neighborhood activist in Ivanhoe, walked door to door with a clipboard asking people to write down their name, address and telephone number so the council could sign them up and pay their deposit. When Melissa Gilmore, 34, said she did not live at the house where she had answered the door, Mr. Moore asked if she could sign up the people who did live there. They were not home, and Ms. Gilmore said she was not comfortable doing so, though she did give her own address.

Google rolled an ice cream truck through one area, as a woman on a loudspeaker enticed residents to register. Several Google workers walked alongside, answering questions and handing out brochures and ice cream sandwiches.

Advertisements ran all weekend on Hot 103 Jamz, a hip-hop and R&B radio station, urging people to sign up for the good of their communities, even if they were not going to get the service.

In some neighborhoods, residents feared that if the service were unavailable in their communities, property values would drop and their schools and hospitals may fall further behind those in affluent areas. Businesses that rely on technology might shun their communities, they said, denying them jobs and economic development opportunities.

“It’s just one more step to the east side not being able to compete with the west,” said Monsherry Terrell, 40, who lives in the east and runs an Internet shopping business.

During the sign-up, Google faced other practical problems. Many people did not have credit or debit cards, which were required to register, or e-mail addresses. And it failed to account for numerous vacant homes in some communities, so it lowered the number of registrants needed to qualify in those areas.

Many people in black neighborhoods had not heard about Google Fiber, and many who knew only had a vague understanding of it.

Three men pulled up to Ms. May’s table in a white Ford Expedition, and one of them, Kevin Jackson, asked, “What’s that Google Fiber about?”

Mr. Jackson, 51, sighed when he found out that he would not be paid for signing up — he initially mistook the offer to pay the $10 registration fee for him to mean he would be given $10. Still, Mr. Jackson relented and gave over his personal information after prodding from Ms. May. “You’re helping Ivanhoe,” she said. “This has a deeper meaning.”

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Reply Mon 10 Sep, 2012 11:15 am
@TimeTravel ,
Question Confused
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Reply Mon 10 Aug, 2015 06:59 am
Thinkin gof DPRK, it's a priviledge. Here in the US it's also a priviledge. Just as with old ham radios requiring permits and training to use, the same could be reasoned for internet access.

Accessing information online is a priviledge. Accessing communications period is. As was revealed a few years back when San Francisco BART police shut down cellphone reception during some protest or other.

Think it should remain a matter for private companies to provide the service though, and not the government as with phone utility or water, electricity, etc. Government-anything just makes my teeth itch. Smile
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