Google Ready to Fight BB Fees
There was public discussion by the telcos and perhaps other broadband providers about trying to charge fees/taxes/tolls to the Googles and Vonages of the world for the high bandwidth usage they directly and indirectly cause.
Om Malik points to a CMP column that quotes a Google PR person, Barry Schnitt, saying:
"Google is not discussing sharing of the costs of broadband networks with any carrier. We believe consumers are already paying to support broadband access to the Internet through subscription fees and, as a result, consumers should have the freedom to use this connection without limitations."
I believe the telcos are not in the "political position" to effectively impose such fees. If they were to succeed, potentially unintended consequences would flow from their actions (i.e., development of alternative access paradigms, including free Wi-Fi).
And Rupert Murdoch recently indicated he's going to push broadband (or WiMAX) to consumers, so his DirecTV service doesn't suffer in the hands of "triple play" competitors (cable, IPTV).
At Drilling Down '06, we'll have a panel on broadband and some of the future scenarios:
The Broadband Juggernaut: Slowing Down or Speeding Up?
High-speed Internet access is the backbone of the new consumer paradigm. It took a decade for broadband to reach "critical mass" in the U.S. Now we are witnessing the disruptive effects for traditional media and potentially for some newer technologies as well. Yet there are predictions that broadband is slowing. But competition, new initiatives and new technologies could drive high-speed access to nearly 100 percent penetration in the next several years. Which version of the future is correct? This panel will debate the potential scenarios and look outside the U.S. to higher-speed markets to see what the U.S. future might hold.
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In the previous post on this subject, someone mentioned that this is not unlike "automakers … charging the malls because we use there [sic] cars to go there all the time."
I think a far better analogy would be if toll-roads started requiring the automakers to pay "usage" fees—in addition to the regular tolls drivers already pay—or else cars produced by any automaker unwilling to pay up would be forced to drive at, say, half the speed limit.
The tolls already pay for upkeep to the road (and if they don't, the toll-roads raise the rates), along with a nice tidy profit. Why should GM have to pay in as well? After all, they're just selling me the car—whether I choose to drive it on a toll road, stick to the freeway, or grind it up into sawdust and roll around in it is entirely up to me.
I mean, really. The broadband providers are already being compensated for the user of their lines by the consumer. If I were to purchase broadband, and then legally download live music recordings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, does it matter whether I'm downloading from Archive.org or my best friend's limited-access FTP server? Either way, I've already paid for the bandwidth to do so (or to do whatever else I might want to, as long as it's legal).
Futhermore, where to the broadband providers plan on drawing the line? Will fees to content producers be based on number of visitors/users? Per amount of bandwidth used? Per how much profit the content producer is making? What about non-for-profit sites? What about personal sites that just happen to get a lot of visitors? What about, say, the often unasked for Slashdot effect?
This ridiculous double-dipping will do nothing to advance our lives or the internet in general. It will effectively shut down new businesses, prospects, ideas, and personal publishing before any get off the ground. Imagine if a company like Flickr had to pay BellSouth bandwidth fees before it became popular, before it was bought by Yahoo!—they'd neve