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Monday, December 18, 2006

Net Neutrality at Risk – Keeping the Internet Free & Open

Posted by @ 12:39 am

The Internet is so much a part of our lives that we almost take it for granted. We rely on it for so many things from social interaction, research, education, to commerce, recreation and everything in between. Now the powers that be want to control and charge for it.

I know we already pay through ISP costs, but if the major telecommunication companies in U.S. (the likes of AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc.) get their way – we’ll be paying much more or losing much of the control over content.

Their plans involve actually buying the Internet. I know that sounds slightly ridiculous as the Internet is international, and it’s the website owners that own the content. But should they succeed with their plans, they will control what is actually seen online.

That’s right, you as a website owner might have to pay to have your website visible – on top of your hosting costs (or included as a substantial increase). Imagine having to pay for your blog, for posting photos or video; or even using search engines.

Rest assured that if the big telecoms triumph, these additional costs will be passed on to users and visitors, which means that the internet could lose it’s highly competitive cost structure. eBay or Amazon might no longer be more affordable than their offline counterparts.

Another concern with these plans is the control of information. Just like television, newspapers and radio, when companies control the content shown, you can lose the variety and objectivity of the information presented.

Let’s face it – this is the internet’s great asset. As the social revolution (web 2.0) has started and everyone has a voice (blogs, video, photo sharing), the freedom of speech and expression has taken on new meaning (for better or worse). Start charging people for this freedom and the internet could fall silent.

Every reader of this blog could be affected by this initiative. My only recommendation is to start paying attention and take the action you deem necessary. Whether you’re “for” or “against” the proposed changes, it’s time to understand the implications of any such action.

For more information visit: which is a coalition backed by the likes of Google, Yahoo!, eBay and

Share your thoughts whether you agree or disagree…

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

Discussion (3 - comments)

The usage of internet is already changing substantial.
A lot of companies, firms and institutes change their external usage of the internet from an active to a more passive “informative” usage.
On the other hand active private usage of the Internet has definitely increased in the last two years.
The Blogs and websites of individuals are growing by the minute.
It’s obvious that telecom companies are seeing a decrease of their income as individuals are communicating now free via the internet.
And as those same telecom companies are not able to or do not want to think/plan long term they can only come up with a solution to buy and control the internet.
This will mean that the internet will be set back years in development and possibilities.

A better sollution is possible and much more money can be made by developing on other levels and focusing on the individual users in combination with the professional suppliers.
But as this will take some years to develop shareholders are not interested. They would rather have some money quick then a huge amount in a few years.
The next internet boom is waiting to happen only if those Telecom companies see what unbelievable money pit they have within their arm reach.

By Henk - December 19, 2006

Let’s just leave the Internet like it is. I wrote my congressman on this and learned very quickly that he was under the employ of the telecoms when he wrote back that there were some very “interesting” ideas being considered. The only idea I think that is important is freedom of communication through open networks, not controlled networks where the “lord of the manor” decides how much you should pay to pass through his roadblock.

Needless to say, I’m not voting for that congressman again. The huge telecoms are going out of business because many of them offer DSL which is being destroyed by the cable companies and they are no longer charging for long distance and people are more and more communicating by email and IMs. So if they can’t compete, then they should just go out of business. Good riddance.

By Anonymous - December 19, 2006

If I may present some perspective from the anti-net neutrality side of the debate. It’s not surprising that the large content providers, Yahoo, Google, ebay, and Amazon are pushing strongly for net neutrality, they don’t want to pay more for the upgrading the internet 2.0 to fiber from the outdated copper lines. While these companies are paying minimally for bandwidth today there are trying their hardest to avoid paying upgrade costs to distribute their content which uses a tremendous amount of bandwidth.

I work with the Hands Off the Internet coalition in opposing net neutrality regulations which would create more problems then they are seeking to resolve. Besides, the reasons for the regulations are all based on hypothetical scenarios of supposed wrongdoing.

This isn’t turning control of the internet over to anyone but not restricting the ability of the ISPs to provde consumers with more and better options and better manage the network. It certainly makes sense to me that VOIP and IPTV packets should be prioritized over say a spam email, which now accounts for an increasing amount of traffic. Just something to think about.

By HOTI - December 20, 2006

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