Christopher Stern has an article at the Washington Post today about the telephone companies’ unbelievable new customer screw-job disguised as a business plan whereby the telephone companies, who control a lot of the pipes that carry internet traffic, want to sell faster throughput to certain websites. In other words, Google or Yahoo might pay the telephone companies money in exchange for faster speed through the pipes. Stated simply, if this insane plan is allowed to continue, the website of the company that pays the money will appear faster and more responsive than the company who doesn’t.
This may be the most consumer-unfriendly idea I have ever heard.
No one, from computer nerd to emailing granny, wants some dude in the sales department of some stock-price-falling, 20th century, former monopoly telephone company trying to direct them to particular websites by making them faster (and, as a result, making others slower).
This would be like the federal government allowing a state to sell lots of wide, fast roads to Target while leaving Walmart (not to mention all the mom and pop stores) at the end of old, crowded roads. People want to decide for themselves where to shop and where to surf.
Plus, once this happens, you can be sure these telephone companies will find other similar ways to make easy money. Toll pipes would probably be next- if they can make the website pay for speed, wouldn’t they naturally wonder if they can make the user pay a little too? One telephone representative already talked about “charging Apple five or 10 cents extra each time a customer downloaded a song using iTunes.” Charging Apple is one half-step away from charging the buyer.
No one, and I mean no one, wins here. If these companies don’t have a plan to pay for all this new (money making) infrastructure then simply don’t build it. That’s the way it works. You can’t change the game just because you aren’t winning.
Consumer groups, Yahoo, Google and anyone else with a brain cell to dangle have lined up to lobby Congress (why does grammar dictate that we capitalize that word- I don’t get it) for a “network neutrality law” that will prevent this nonsense.
On the other side are AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.
Who do you think has our best interest at heart?
I’m pulling for network neutrality.