Come on folks, no planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11/01.

HomeNews BlogMessage Boards


The introduction of internet broadband
could reduce consumer freedom

People who enjoy the freedom of surfing whatever is on the Internet should be aware that a very important battle is underway that could radically change it.

The topic is how broadband is to be delivered to consumers; i.e., open access vs. closed. In an excellent article for the Progressive Magazine (2/00) , Pat Aufderheide explains what is going on for laymen.

Essentially, ‘broadband’ means faster transmission speed. The Internet is widely perceived to be changing towards the wide usage of broadband access. This is because videos and pictures with large amounts of data take a great deal of time to transmit over the current phone lines; not so with broadband. The early leaders in delivering broadband to consumers are cable companies. In this realm the major players are large communication conglomerates such as AT&T and Time Warner. (Time Warner, mentioned in last month’s MediaWise, owns TV stations, movie studios, magazines, music companies and is also the second largest cable operator.)

The cable companies apparently believe that if they can dominate the market in delivering broadband to Internet consumers now, they can literally strangle the competition from sprouting for decades to come. As a means of maximizing their profit they want to require that consumers be able to access broadband through their lines solely via the Internet Service Provider (ISP) of the cable companies’ choice.

Right now, for example, local consumers of ISPs can now choose between ToadNet, CharmNet, Maxinternet, Erols and a whole lot of other companies. However, consumers interested in having broadband delivered via a cable line installed by AT&T can only have their ISP, Excite@Home, deliver it. (Note the cable companies are saying that if you want to have CharmNet, etc., you can have them. But you have to connect through their service as well, which would double the cost.)

Consider This Precedent

There is a precedent that should be considered. Despite the fact that AT&T wired most of the nation’s phone system, The Justice Department has acted to ensure that consumers can choose the long distance phone company of their choice (e.g., union-busting Sprint or the progressive Working Assets).

The right for consumers to connect with the ISP of their choice with the cable lines that local cable companies have installed should logically directly follow that precedent. Of course, as with any other contemporary issue, the cable companies are intensely lobbying local governments from preventing that from happening.

Maryland Governor Parris Glendening has announced that his office will take a year to “study” whether they should propose legislation requiring that cable companies provide open access. Meanwhile, the Virginia legislature has shelved a similar bill.

This is largely because American Online (AOL), the world’s largest ISP, used to be the leading proponent on behalf of allowing open access. However, since they announced that they were acquiring the Time Warner empire, AOL has made a predictable reversal on this subject.

This is a very serious matter. If the cable companies are successful in limiting the choices that Internet consumers can make regarding ISPs, then one can kiss goodbye the idea of a free and open Internet. With a single ISP running the show for entire communities, that ISP could conceivably cut deals with any well-heeled entity to ensure that undesirable web sites are either completely off-limits to users, or the transmission speeds are such that it isn’t worthwhile to visit them.

For example, say you want to go read up on some socialist literature, look at a web page put up by atheists, or even visit the site of a political candidate with views generally outside what you’d find in the mainstream media. The cable company’s ISP could easily determine just how enjoyable your visit will be. (Excite@ Home already won’t send you more than ten minutes of video at a time.)

The upcoming merger of AOL and Time Warner, the largest in history, is a huge loss in the fight for open access. In the language of the times, Time Warner advocates “letting the market decide” whether users can get open access or not. (Read: fat chance.)

Despite the fact that the Internet came entirely from public research and design, it appears that Big Business is once again poised to seize control of how cutting-edge communication is delivered in our society.

Readers interested in a free Internet should consider calling their representatives in government to voice their concerns.

Scott Loughrey

2007 2006 2005
2004 2003 2002
2001 2000 1999
1998 1997 1996

Authentic Real bags Garden Party replica sale hermes 2015 bags purse chloe outlet online 2015 bags handbags hermes outlet sale 2015 bags mini luggage tote replica outlet celine Replica discount handbags boston celine authentic 2015 Sale store authentic official handbags purse celine 2015 bags mini luggage celine replica online 2015 bags mini replica store celine 2015 bags men replica online chloe Authentic 2015 bags wallet prada fake replica 2015 belt men outlet replica louis vuitton 2015 canada goose homme price real Authentic wholesale replica cheap celine handbags clutch 2015 bags boston celine replica outlet 2015 bags luggage outlet store celine Authentic Real hermes bags kelly store Discount 2015 bags handbags outlet online chloe 2015 bags luggage celine replica outlet 2015 bags handbags replica store prada 2015 bags handbags louis vuitton replica sale 2015 Outlet store yves saint laurent bags 2015 canada goose paris sale store Best Outlet Wholesale Price yves saint laurent bags
Official 2015 handbags clutch outlet sale celine 2015 bags handbags outlet sale chloe Celine handbags trio best price fake store Authentic 2015 bags kelly hermes store Discount 2015 bags handbags celine outlet store Sale outlet soldes handbags purse celine 2015 celine handbags paris outlet online 2015 belt birkin outlet sale hermes 2015 chloe men wallet replica store 2015 canada goose men outlet parkas vests 2015 chloe handbags men replica sale Authentic 2015 christian louboutin sale store heels shoes 2015 bags tote celine outlet online Store discount handbags phantom best official celine 2015 women cheap kids jackets canada goose 2015 canada goose expedition parka real price Sale shop best price celine handbags purse Celine micro phantom trio replica fake real 2015 bags men outlet replica hermes