Tag: metering

Why metering threatens the Internet

May 6, 2009 | By | 4 Replies More
Why metering threatens the Internet

Josh Silver of Free Press tells us why metering threatens the Internet

Cable companies Time Warner and Comcast, and phone giants AT&T and Verizon sell the vast majority of high-speed Internet service in the United States. Phone and cable companies like these have no other competition in 97% of US markets, thanks to corrupt policies passed by the Bush Administration at the companies’ behest.

These duopolies are betting on the future of their “triple-play” phone-Internet-TV service, so that you’ll pay them more than $100 per month and they can keep earning record profits. They know that if you start downloading video from online innovators like Hulu.com and Roku.com, eventually you won’t need their expensive, advertising-ridden television service. If you decide to use online phone providers like Skype, you won’t need their expensive phone service. The answer? Jack up the cost of Internet, and once again eliminate the competition.

But that’s not all. Metering Internet usage also has ramifications for journalism.

We continue to learn about Madonna’s adoption problems and Ms. California’s old photos, but if you want substance in your news, you’ll have to look beyond corporate media’s steady stream of sensationalism, celebrity gossip and product placement. We need fast, neutral, affordable Internet that can deliver video, audio and other multimedia to enable efficient production and distribution of journalism and other educational content.

If I’m reading Silver correctly, he’s not totally against all surcharges for truly high-volume users. And it does make sense, in the abstract, that those who barely use any bandwidth would pay less than those who stream videos and music all day. But I agree with Silver’s concerns that the telecoms need to be closely regulated on this issue. But who would do the regulating, given that the telecoms have successfully purchased undue influence over Congress with their ostensibly legal campaign contributions? It seems as though we need campaign finance reform before we’re going to have Congressional independence on any issue.

On a separate issue relating to media, consider listening to Arianna Huffington’s testimony before the Commerce Communications subcommitte, chaired by Senator John Kerry. She makes many worthy points. I am concerned, though, that she is overly optimistic that journalism would thrive in a world without newspapers. Based on what I see, much of the Internet is filled with content that has its origin with traditional newspapers and news magazines. Many these newspapers are doing terrible work because they’re laying off reporters and because they put profits way ahead of journalism. Yet I’m not convinced that Internet news sites are ready or able to step into the void to do this job well enough on the scale handled by traditional media outlets. I hope I’m wrong about this–I hope that we are about to see a golden age of Internet journalism–because I don’t see newspapers ever making a big comeback.

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