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Gingersnap
12-08-2010, 10:45 AM
FCC's pay-as-you-go Internet plan raises video, access questions

The Federal Communications Commission is a key regulator of the telecommunications industry and plays an important role in shaping US. technology policy.

By Cecilia Kang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 7, 2010; 8:11 PM

As details emerge about the Federal Communications Commission's controversial proposal for regulating Internet providers, a provision that would allow companies to bill customers for how much they surf the Web is drawing special scrutiny.

Analysts say pay-as-you-go Internet access could put the brakes on the burgeoning online video industry, handing a victory to cable and satellite TV providers.

The practice is legal, but had been discouraged by the FCC and by protests from consumers and public interest groups. But wireless companies are moving rapidly in that direction - all major cellphone providers offer subscribers tiered data plans for Internet service. AT&T doesn't offer flat-rate wireless plans for new customers.

And although FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said last week that his so-called net-neutrality proposal would generally prohibit broadband service providers from tampering with Internet traffic, he added that he is open to new billing models that charge by how much data a user consumes.

Public interest groups say that trend will lead to a widening gap in Internet use in which the wealthiest would have the greatest access. And it could place limits on how much consumers use Web video, which eats up an enormous amount of bandwidth and could carry higher costs under a tiered pricing plan.

"The question is how this will be enforced because it has the potential to do a lot of harm," said Art Brodsky, communications director for Public Knowledge.

Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/07/AR2010120706533.html?hpid=topnews)

PoliCon
12-08-2010, 03:21 PM
AT&T may not be offering flat rate internet access anymore but plenty of other wireless companies are.

m00
12-09-2010, 09:41 PM
AT&T may not be offering flat rate internet access anymore but plenty of other wireless companies are.

That's not the problem. The problem is that AT&T (and another providers) own large sections of the internet that route traffic which is neither from, nor to, their customers. This is how the internet works. Net neutrality is essential for the internet to function, because otherwise the providers get to start messing with packets. It just takes one provider to start doing this, before basically we end up with pre-1994 style closed networks.