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AT&T, Bell, Telus- Internet not a “free ride”

There have been recent news stories about how some Internet service providers are going to put an end to the “free ride” all of us consumers are getting. Various news outlets have picked up on this phrase, as if its actually true or accurate.

In fact, its the worst possible example of misleading and downright untruthful spindoctoring I’ve read in recent times. Tell me, visitor to my site: do you not pay a monthly fee for Internet service? Now, I’m going to guess that its probably not cheap, either: compared to, for example, your phone.

But wait, home users aren’t the only ones paying for the service. No sir. Every website you connect to is paying for Internet access as well, and big commercial sites are paying tremendous amounts for monthly bandwidth. A big bandwidth user like Google is probably paying on the order of millions of dollars a month for bandwidth. Game providers like EverQuest are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.

But some hopped-up suit with a $5 million a year salary has the weighty brass ones to tell us that we are getting a “free ride” for our Internet use? I cry “bullshit”. AT&T, Bell, Telus and the rest are desperately trying to screw us out of another few billion a year, to not just double-charge for the bandwidth, but *triple charge*.

Perhaps their distribution mechanisms for the revenue aren’t working well: maybe the companies that host Google are the one’s raking in the cash, and the local ISPs aren’t being fairly compensated. They do have a revenue distribution model, and maybe it would take some actual work to make it work correctly. But that isn’t a reason to tell us all to bend over and take it like we want it.

The real problem here is this. The telcos see people making a lot more money off the bandwidth selling services and such, money that they think they should be getting. They want to sell a commodity (bandwidth) using a pay for value approach, but the telcos have nothing of value to sell other than the bandwidth itself. They don’t have the videos, or the search results, or the computer games: but they want to charge you and I and the vendors of those services as if *they* owned the content.

It would be as if the natural gas company saw that you were making huge profits making pizzas with their gas, and wanted a share of the pizza profits. And the approach they are taking smacks of thuggism and mafiaosa tactics to me.

Telcos to home owners
“Well, Mr. Home owner, we know you like your high speed internet access. It would be a real shame if it got a lot slower, you know, because of how priorities get set and so forth. But we could watch out for you, make sure that content you want gets safely to your house…prevent those little accidents, you know?”

Telcos to content providers
“Ah, Mr Google/Sony/Apple iTunes, I see you have a healthy little business here. Everything going well, you’ve got your customers all lined up, and I see you have some nice product. Some really nice product. Now, you pay us several hundred thousand a month to deliver that product. We look after you good, yes we do. But what a shame it would be if, and I’m speaking hypothetically here, that product of yours got…lost. We have so much product to deal with, you know? Its kinda hard to keep track, and things get misplaced when everything starts to look sorta the same. Yeah, that would be a shame, now wouldn’t it? But I think maybe we could avoid that problem….”

Personally, I think the reporters and news services should be putting some actual thought into how they report on this, and the legislators had bloody well better put the hammer down on the telcos.

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1 comment to AT&T, Bell, Telus- Internet not a “free ride”

  • Chris

    What I love is that in the paper here they had the Telus guy talking about the problem is all the people downloading movies and music that use a lot of bandwidth…

    So… charge them for the bandwidth!

    Right now they charge for access speed, with a lump of data included. And which as far as I can tell they never really check on. The only time they notice is when someone starts using a spam server or otherwise moving massive amounts of data.

    What it really seems to boil down to is that the ISP’s can’t seem to be bothered to actually monitor bandwidth used and charge accordingly. Some bright light marketing guy decided that rather than spend a reasonable amount to put in place the structure to bill by the KB, it would be better to spend 3 times as much money branding the product as a luxury / special item as you said. After all, look what we pay for bottled water vs tap water. I don’t mind paying for what I use, but like you, I view internet access as a utility, like gas, electricity, water … though not as necessary 🙂

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