OK, so we thought that the government was taking our rights away, but how about your Internet Service Provider (ISP). For those of you who do not know what an ISP is, it is your gateway to the wild. It is Verizon DSL, Comcast, Adelphia, AOL, NetZero, and so on. They are the companies which connect your computer to the backbone of the Internet, so you can freely browse to your favorite web site, or listen to music, or play your favorite on-line game. In my case that would be Half-Life’s wonderful mods: DoD and NS. But back on topic. I found a link to this article here on Digg. Everyone should read it and imagine how far corporate America is trying to get. Without your opposition and voice they might just get there, and you will become a prisoner in your own home.
OK, So, let’s put what these people want to do in prospective. Ready? Here we go: Let us pretend you are a subscriber of Yahoo! Music, which charges you less them $ 10.00 per month to listen to unlimited music. That is a kick ass price, when you know the following, which a lot of people do NOT and which is why Google is working on their own nation and world wide network! Every content provider, those are your web sites like Amazon, Yahoo, even your grand ma’s home page, have to pay for bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of traffic or in every day terms “storage space equivalent” that passes over a network. Those networks are owned by ISPs. They link the millions of homes to the many wonderful features of the Internet.
Back on track. If your ISP and the rest of them are allowed to entrap Yahoo!, and Yahoo! agrees to pay so their network traffic can pass through your ISP’s network without any “roadblocks” and you can listen to your music like it is coming through the radio or from a CD and not from a broken gramophone, those “road fees” are going to reflect on your subscription price, because Yahoo! is into making money and not providing a service at a zero gain, at best. Zero gain means no new music, no new features, no new software development, no better and faster hardware so the sounds coming through your PC’s speakers sounds crystal clear. To avoid the zero gain derived from the “road fees” Yahoo! will be forced into raising your monthly fee. So now, instead of paying less than $ 10.00 a month, you will be paying more than $ 20.00 per month.
Same thing applies for any other on-line subscription service. My house won’t be able to have Vonage, a VoIP phone service. People I know won’t be able to play their MMORPG games. The MMORPG industry will either struggle or just die, because players will not be willing to pay the monthly fees, which will be sky high thanks to the “road tax”. And for those of you who do not care about games and the Internet, look at it from this side. Educational facilities also access the Internet, they also have ISPs, they also have web sites, and they also used A LOT of bandwidth. If they are forced to pay “road tax”, their costs will reflect in the tuition you have to pay for yourself or your child. If it is a state funded educational facility, the costs will reflect in your TAXES.
The ISPs can be selective about who they extort, but trust me, if your personal web site generates enough traffic on their network, they could just as easily come after you! Even if they are allowed to so greedily set price a second time on something, for which they are already getting paid once, do you think that they will be willing to share the profits and lower your household service fee? If they do, will this also affect the quality and features of the service they provide you with? Above I said getting paid for once already, because they are really getting paid once already for the amount of monthly traffic generate by the very same sites, which they want to charge a second time. It is like you go to a mechanic and they tell you: “We will fix your car, and of course you will cover the costs. BUT if you want us to get to it in a timely manner and not in the next 365 days – that would be extra.”.
Thinking about it, the ISPs are shooting themselves in the foot! Why? Because they are making more money now from the traffic generated by these sites. If the sites refuse to pay, that means, more ISP dissatisfied customers, who are not willing to go to that site, because they do not want to sit and wait for 2 minutes for a page to load. The less people visit a site, the less traffic they generate over the network, the less traffic the less money the ISP is getting from bandwidth used on their network. It is not like you can go and change your ISP either. They have sectioned the country and each of them gets a territory. When I moved to Chicago from Buffalo, I wanted to simply change the address of my service with Adelphia, but the market here was held by Comcast, so I had to cancel my service with them. That was cable, with DSL you usually have couple of choices, but you still have the price vs. quality and speed.
If the ISPs get away with something like this, everyone will suffer. Not just the US, the World will. Your options are to bow your head and do nothing, like you are doing right now with other things, or write your local and state reps. Write to the news media and your ISPs public relations. Express your outrage and fight for the freedom to freely research and have your guilty pleasures.
It is in your best interest!.
Update: 21:30 / 2005.12.01
After my post here, I read some of the comments to the link post on Digg. I saw that some people understand that this will be a disaster, there were some that could care less, and yet another think it is a great idea.
To one particular comment:
This is as bad as Google charging for a better spot in search results.
This is what I had to say:
……, in my opinion you are wrong! It is not like Google charging for a higher ranking, because that very same site can be ranked high or even higher at another search engine and still have the same amount of visitors. The results from the ISPs actions will reflect not only on the site but on you as a visitor as well. How? By not being able to access that site as a result of it being blocked [or] you simply lack the patience to wait for two minutes when you know that very same page can load in under 10 seconds.