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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Internet Right or Privilege?

Who uses the Internet? Anybody? Anybody?

The FCC on Tuesday Dec. 21, 2010 approved the so called "net neutrality" designed to ensure that internet providers grant everyone equal access to the Web. The rules are designed to, in effect, keep the companies that own the internet's real-world infrastructure from slowing down some types of websites or apps -- say, those belonging to a competitor -- or speeding up others for high-paying clients. One speed for all.

The concept of “net neutrality’' holds that companies providing Internet service should treat all sources of data equally. Currently, Internet users get access to any Web site on an equal basis.

Sounds good, right. But is it.

The rules does allow Internet providers to engage in "reasonable network management," meaning they can take steps to regulate traffic and congestion over their connections. For example, mobile Internet providers won't be allowed to block access to Skype -- a popular Internet phone service -- from your iPhone, or Blackberry. But they could significantly slow down bandwidth to the program or charge more for people who use it.

Well make no mistake: The free-flowing Internet as we know it could very well become history. Network owners say they want a "tiered" Internet. If you pay to get in the top tier, your site and your service will run fast. If you don't, you'll be in the slow lane.

Also network owners have built a business model by charging consumers for Internet access. Now they want to charge you for access to the network, and then charge you again for the things you do while you're online. Selling bandwidth in capped tiers, with overage charges for users who download too much information, and certain types of data traffic like peer-to-peer file transfers could be banned altogether.

Tiered pricing structures are already in place for many communications providers like AT&T and Cricket, which offer wireless broadband services. Verizon said it would implement similar pricing structures in the coming months..

AT&T also announced in June 2010 that  it will stop it's unlimited plan for iPhones and iPads.This article from the Huffington Post explains it. In essence all NEW subscribers will pay a flat rate for a set amount of gigabytes and an additional amount for overage.

Pandora's box?
I say, as some also do, this will result in a tiered system just like salalite/cable TV. There will be one price say if all you do is surf the web, look at you e-mails etc and another price if you watch videos, movies etc. This to me makes the internet a Privilege depending on how much you are willing to pay.

Which brings me to my original question, Is the Internet a right or privilege? 

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