A World Without Net Neutrality: The Death of the Internet As We Know It

BellSouth and a few others telecos have recently started advocating a “pay-by-the-byte” type of pricing scheme. Under those proposals, consumers who access high-bandwidth applications, like file sharing or VoIP or online gaming would pay more than people who just web surfed or read email.

An example of the current justification for the proposed pay-by-the-byte pricing was given by BellSouth Chief Technology Officer, William Smith.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Smith, they said, “often laments the fact that his parents, who use the Internet for only low-capacity activities such as Web surfing and email, pay fees similar to those of heavy users who suck up capacity by downloading music or using BitTorrent, which is used by millions to download movies and other material off the Internet. Overall at BellSouth, 1% of broadband customers drive 40% of Internet traffic, he says. “People who drive cost in the network create additional charges in the network,” Mr. Smith says. “If my elderly parents don’t use a lot of traffic we ought to be able to create a service plan that meets their needs.”

Oh, my heart goes out to those poor people! What philanthropy! What humanitarians!

This development follows the recent proposals by the telecos to make Google and other high-bandwidth content providers pay extra in recognition of their popularity – and the extra bandwidth people consume accessing those sites.

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