That would cut seriously into multi-billion dollar bottom lines. I think it's the ultimate catch 22 for pigs. The internet is nothing without users and when was the last time anyone seen them turn down a dollar?
The End of the Internet?
The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.
Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.
Under the plans they are considering, all of us--from content providers to individual users--would pay more to surf online, stream videos or even send e-mail. Industry planners are mulling new subscription plans that would further limit the online experience, establishing "platinum," "gold" and "silver" levels of Internet access that would set limits on the number of downloads, media streams or even e-mail messages that could be sent or received.
Besides their business interests, telephone and cable companies also have a larger political agenda. Both industries oppose giving local communities the right to create their own local Internet wireless or wi-fi networks. They also want to eliminate the last vestige of local oversight from electronic media--the ability of city or county government, for example, to require telecommunications companies to serve the public interest with, for example, public-access TV channels.
This is a priority for the "Giants" IMHO. The U.S. government has issued some grants to small communities around the country for establishing community wi-fi systems at a substantial reduction of costs to the people within the community, as compared to the cost of broadband via cable/DSL. Around my neck-o-the-woods, it's either Time Warner (cable) or Bell South (DSL). And believe me, both of these giants aren't at all comfortable with the idea of local communities being allowed to build and control more affordable access to the internet. Can you say "bottom line"?
The corporatists have been trying to control the Internet since it began. But the very nature of it is such that the methods of control don't work and won't work.
The powers-that-be tried for several hundred years to restrict the print media. It didn't work. Their efforts to control the Internet will similarly meet with abject failure.
The nature of the net is such that as soon as someone tries to get control, someone figures out a way to make it even more difficult to control.
The times they are a-changin'.