Conspiracy to Control the Internet?
Jeff Pulver has recently been beating the drum to rally our attention to the fact that broadband providing phone companies are looking for ways to create a new multi-tiered Internet in which they can exercise pricing and content control. Back in October when I attended the WiMAX conference and had my first close look at IMS, I started writing about this threat (which due to the magic of print publishing finally appeared in VoIP Magazine's January issue -- Paranoid about IMS?). As I observed in this column, the story is not just about landline Internet providers, but includes the mobile operators as well.
Richard's excellent VoIP and ENUM blog has this article and a link to a recent post by Bob Frankston entitled Assuring Scarcity in which he explores the question of whether there is a conspiracy within the mobile industry to create market conditions in which they can insure pricing control. These posts are in response to recent presentations at the TRIS - TISPAN WG4 Workshop on NGN Interconnection and Numbering in Copenhegan. Bob writes, "...here we find the cellular carriers themselves decrying the dangers of abundance..." He goes on to write:
If you think about it, this is a clear and blatant call for manipulating a marketplace so that only the privileged few can create new products and they can even specialize without worrying about competition. Best of all they can charge as much as they want.So has Bob joined me in the club of the paranoid? Since writing my column back in October, both BellSouth and SBC (AT&T) have clearly stated their intentions to charge Internet application providers like Google for access to customers of their Internet access products. I am feeling a lot less paranoid today, and a lot more worried about the future of a free and open Internet that creates an environment which promotes innovation and equal access to information.
If the telecommunications industry is self-documenting attempts at price-control and market manipulation, perhaps the FCC need not weigh in at all -- how about going straight to a Justice department and EU inquiry? Do the telecommunications companies have a motivation to "Assure Scarcity?" Do they have the ability to re-construct the Internet into a multi-tiered "...marketplace so that only the privileged few can create new products... (and) charge as much as they want?" And where there is motivation and ability, shouldn't the rest of us be very concerned? Read Bob's article.