Thursday, April 13, 2006

Network Neutrality Roundup AT&T and AOL Caught Cheating

Center For American Progress - Telecommunications companies like Verizon and AT&T want to build high-speed networks to provide video and Internet services in competition with cable companies. Will these networks be broadly available and foster technological innovation? Or will they simply benefit certain moneyed interests? The answer -- and, ultimately, the future of the Internet -- depends on the telecommunications bill currently winding its way through Congress. Consumer advocates and progressives like Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) are pushing for the telecom networks, which will be built using public rights-of-way, to provide universal, non-discriminatory access. The telecommunications companies (along with the cable giants) want to reserve the right to give preferential access to whomever has the most cash. Thus far, unfortunately, the industry is winning. Read the rest here.
By the way, did you know that the US was 12th in broadband penetration?
Update: From the New York Times' blog, Dealbook:
In an effort to solve the “network neutrality” problem in their own favor, big Internet and media companies could decide to join forces to bid for radio spectrum, according to a report in Investor’s Business Daily.
Preston Galla fleshes the idea out more here, via Sanford,
AOL Censors Emails:
CNET News.com - AOL on Thursday apparently began blocking subscribers from sending or receiving e-mail containing the Web address of a petition against the company's upcoming certified-mail program.
The Internet service provider, which has roughly 20 million subscribers in the United States, began bouncing e-mail communications with the URL "Dearaol.com" sometime early Thursday, according to the progressive nonprofit Moveon.org.
Dearaol.com is a coalition of companies and individuals against AOL's adoption of GoodMail's CertifiedEmail, an antispam program that requires marketers to pay to ensure delivery of their e-mail messages and circumvent spam filters. The Web site contains an open letter and a petition that calls on people to protest what it calls an "e-mail tax" that would inhibit the Internet's inherent free flow of information and create a two-tiered system.
Lobbying Prowess Earns AT&T Millions:
This article, written by Sanford Nowlin, documents the massive amounts of money AT&T poured into the Texas state capital, under the guise of free-market competition, so that it could raise local telephone rates. (It also wants to create an internet environment where VOIP isn't nearly as cost effective as it already is, proving, like all emerging monopolies that it doesn't like competition.
The downside is that AT&T won it's fight and is already raising local rates:
In March, the company said that 1.4 million Texans' monthly phone bills could rise an average of $2 as a result of the bill's price deregulation. The company is boosting basic rates in many markets for the first time in 22 years to nudge more customers into buying a package of services.
By its own count, AT&T stands to collect some $2.8 million a month in additional revenues.
Looks like Ma Bell got its money's worth from the lobbyists, after two months it will recoup all of its expenses. Sounds like a racket to me.


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