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Congestion charge for a two-tier internet?

 
 
Reply Sun 2 Jul, 2006 12:28 am
I think, not only "Britain could be next" as said below: every internet user worldwide will be affected by such ... if it really comes true, that is.

From today's Observer, page 14:

Quote:
Internet users face congestion charge

Britain 'could be next' as US businesses seek pay-for-speed scheme


David Smith, technology correspondent

The Observer


Millions of people will be forced to pay a 'congestion charge' for sending email under plans being developed by American telephone companies to create a 'two-tier' internet.
In a move which campaigners warn will destroy the openness and equality of the worldwide web, the US telecommunications group AT&T is lobbying politicians to allow the development of 'fast' and 'slow' internet services.

All data moving around the net is now treated equally and moves at the same speed, whether it is a personal blog or the website of a multinational corporation. But with the quantity of traffic soaring by the day, there are fears that the network could become clogged and slow down. American internet service providers argue that they should be allowed to charge customers to use a 'fast lane' giving their data priority.

Industry experts say a 'two-tier internet' could see individuals and businesses charged a penny for each email they send, or asked to pay a premium for services such as online TV or an annual subscription for constant preferential treatment. This could leave less well-off users in the 'slow lane' of the information superhighway with an inferior service, as emails take longer to arrive and websites work more slowly.

AT&T is urging politicians to block legislation that would prevent it creating different tiers of service. It is opposed by content providers including Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, as well as a campaign, the Save the Internet coalition, which has gathered more than a million signatures on a petition in defence of 'net neutrality'. Last week the telephone companies won a crucial victory at a Senate committee hearing, but an 'epic battle' is now predicted in the full Senate.

Analysts say it is too early to know how such a change in the US would affect Britain, although anyone who does business there or visits an American website might be affected. In the longer term they predict that BT and other service providers could follow the example of their US counterparts by seeking to create a two-tier network for the UK.

David Tansley, a technology specialist at the UK consulting firm Deloitte, said: 'The question is, how do you marshall a finite resource where demand exceeds supply? Do you just keep adding lanes to the motorway or do you look for a way of disincentivising some of the motorists? Unless you can defy the laws of physics, you have to consider a congestion charge. I think BT will do the same as the American telecoms companies.'

Tansley defended the right of firms which own the broadband 'pipes' needed for internet delivery to levy a charge as demand rises exponentially. 'We treat the internet as a right, like oxygen or water, but the reality is that it's built by commercial companies,' he said. 'The internet needs to grow up and become more professional. Why should people be able to grab more or less on a whim?'

Among the possible outcomes is first-class email costing a penny. 'Email is analogous to the postal service, in which you pay a bit more for first class and next day delivery,' Tansley said. 'It may be that "second class" email will be good enough for most users most of the time.'

In the US, however, the coalition - made up of groups from across the political spectrum - argues that a two-tier system would be disastrous. 'If Congress turns the internet over to the phone and cable giants, everyone who uses it will be affected,' a spokesman said.

'Connecting to your office could take longer if you don't purchase your carrier's preferred applications. Sending family photos and videos could slow to a crawl. Web pages you always use for online banking, access to healthcare information, planning a trip, or communicating with friends and family could fall victim to pay-for-speed schemes.

'But net neutrality doesn't just matter to business owners. Independent voices and political groups are especially vulnerable. Costs will skyrocket to post and share video and audio clips, silencing bloggers and amplifying the big media companies. Political organising could be slowed by a handful of dominant internet providers who ask groups or candidates to pay a fee to join the "fast lane".'
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Type: Discussion • Score: 1 • Views: 600 • Replies: 3
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Heliotrope
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Jul, 2006 03:59 am
This whole thing is insane.
The people who voted for this and allowed it to come to pass are insane.
They need to be removed and people with brains larger than a grape put in their place.
0 Replies
 
Phoenix32890
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Jul, 2006 08:41 am
In this world you get what you pay for. I would not be happy to pay for what I am now getting for free, but what the hell, so far it has been a gift.

I remember decades ago, when the spectre of "Pay TV" was discussed ad nauseum. People were furious that they might have to pay for something that they had been getting for free. The very thought of paying for television was anathema to most people.

Now there are many many people who pay for cable or satellite dishes, and don't think anything of it.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Jul, 2006 08:47 am
At least that's different here in Europe: we've always paid for tv and "pay tv" is just something special, like more live soccer, newer films, special programs from porn to foreign channels.

I've always thought that "they" will start to charge for some services ... and they already do, e.g. videos, newpapers, music on demand etc etc.

Some sites already give you faster download when you pay for it.

So, 'yes', it's like with tv - either you are content with the basic or pay for some advantage and service.

Which doesn't mean at all that I would like that. Twisted Evil
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