Friday, May 26, 2006

Internet Outrage

If you haven't heard about proposed changes to the internet, you should read this, but I warn you: prepare to be outraged. If certain laws are passed, the internet as we know it could be finished. Mega-companies such as Verizon, Bell South, and AT & T want to create a two-tiered internet to replace the one we have now. Is there something wrong with today's version of the internet? The answer is no...unless you are an internet service provider.

Basically, the ISP's are trying to make the internet a mirror of our society. The aim is to supply the companies who can pay more moneywith more bandwidth, making their content more desirable because of the speed and clarity it will be delivered with. Yes, they are looking to included the internet in the old "Rich get richer, poor get poorer.." model that our country's economy is built on. So sites like espn.com and cnn.com will be able to pay for the high-speed loading of pages, video, etc, which the companies will devote more bandwidth to. Conversely, small webpages-personal sites and blogs, will load much slower because they won't be able to pay for the devotion of high-speed bandwidth to their sites. Will you want to visit my blog when it loads at dial-up speed?

Hopefully, politicians do not allow for the "Walmartization" of the internet. It really is a perfect parallel. Huge corporation comes in and offers prices and services that cannot be beat. Mom n' Pop shops collapse and fold due to their inablitilty to compete with said corporation's prices. Eventually a virtual monopoly unfolds, eliminating competion from all those who cannot afford to compete. Some may say this is the way of a free-market economy, but I say we do not operate as such. I would call our economy a Corporate Economy, and I don't think I would get much opposition.

Corporations like Verizon provide the equiptment which links us all into the internet, but they claim they do not profit from it. Oh, I'm sorry, what are you doing with that $60 monthly check you get from my family for internet service? I can buy a shitload of wiring for $60, and thats just one month. I seriously doubt that over the course of a year, Verizon cannot make a profit on the $750 yearly contribution I make to that company. This holds true especially since Verizon is responsible only for the setup and maintenance of the internet access, and not the internet itself. I really can't feel sorry if Verizon's CEO gets a $1 million bonus instead of 2.

The corporations claim its only fair that they are compensated for the service they provide. I say, if you aren't making the money you want to make, act like a normal person and cut your losses. Over 60% of the country has internet access, which means Verizon is getting a steady stream of revenue from over 4 billion people. Awww, I feel so fuckin' sorry for your company. Any company who has 4 billion potential customers must really be hurting.

I don't think people will be willing to pay an internet tax, or toll, or anything that would increase their costs. The internet has become a part of everyday life, and it will not do to have its process and fuction changed. Even the inventor of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (sorry Al Gore), believes that separating the internet into two tiers would be undesirable. He warns of a 'Dark period' on the internet, if it ever were to be changed: "What's very important from my point of view is that there is one web," he said. "Anyone that tries to chop it into two will find that their piece looks very boring."


Internet startup companies like Yahoo and Google have come out in opposition to such a change in the infrastructure of the internet. They do not believe there is a need to change a system that works so well. In the end, this issue will be settled on Capitol Hill by politicians who know little about the situation, outside of the fact that they own Verizon and Bell-South shares. So who will law-makers side with, the man who invented the internet, or the corporations that provide access to it?

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