Internet: The Mall of America?

Act on this!

Tell Congress You Care About an OPEN INTERNET just launched a brand new Internet campaign –to save the Internet. Word on the website is that the big Telecom companies are trying to tier the Internet. Essentially, the Telcos are looking to make what BellSouth’s CEO, William Smith, calls a “pay-for-performance marketplace” where the highest bidder gets access to the fastest bandwidth.

Do you understand what this looks like?

Let's say I am Google and I want to let people see video on the Internet. Video files are large and they need big, fast pipes to travel across the network of the Internet. When BellSouth owns the network that Google video happens to be traversing, they want to charge Google a fee for that use of their network. At first, this sounds logical, even fair. To the shareholders of the Telco's, this sounds really fair.

To the Internet startup, the Google's of the future, this is a barrier of entrance into the Internet services market that could be too large to overcome. There are thousands of small companies, small Internet startups that wouldn't have a chance to compete in this market. To the average citizen or blogger this could mean the end of truly democratic speech on the Internet. When "Suzy Blogger" becomes extremely popular and thousands of people accessing her website, the use of that bandwidth could become too expensive for her to pay under this new commercial Internet model.

What this means is the Internet will go from an open market place of ideas and commerce, to an entirely commodified, commercial and private network.

Right now Congress is rewriting the 1996 Cable Act and due to Telco lobbying there are bills being debated in committee that would turn the Internet into a completely commercial marketplace.

2006 will be a banner year for Telcommunications Policy. Let us not be so foolish as to turn the Internet into a giant mall where the biggest box stores are the only ones who can afford to be connected. Visit to learn more.

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