The Duct Tape Internet

by Mike Wendy on February 29, 2012

As recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, AT&T’s John Donovan proposed…

…A feature that we’re hoping to have out sometime next year is the equivalent of 800 numbers that would say, if you take this app, this app will come without any network usage…

The Journal goes on, noting:

Carriers have been considering different pricing models for years as they look for ways to make more money from skyrocketing mobile-data use. But AT&T’s approach would be novel, an attempt to push some of the cost of data traffic back onto the Internet companies and other service providers that profit from it.

Agreed.  I think it’s a great idea.  It’s the kind of model that allows wireless providers to keep on competing, innovating and building out new infrastructure for consumers to use and benefit from.

However, this news has got the edge guys’ undies in a wad.  You see, they want to ship all their data-hungry apps and services onto mobile devices without having to bear the cost of freight.  Not surprisingly, as FT / dealReporter Sara Jerome reports, the plan does not sit well with many in the Internet’s app community, writing today that:

Internet companies who stream their content to mobile devices would likely seek government intervention to avoid potentially burdensome new costs imposed by a wireless billing plan under consideration by AT&T (NYSE: T), according to sources at an apps company and watchdog groups.

Ahhh, the perennial call for government intervention.  That’s the proper way to build networks (yeah, right).  I could have seen that one coming a mile away.

Paid-to-always-be-upset-at-the incumbent-network-providers, Harold Feld bemoaned:

This is exactly the type of market manipulation we hoped the FCC’s Open Internet [Net Neutrality] rules would prevent.  If the Commission does not believe it has the authority under those rules to investigate this practice, it should do so under its general authority over wireless services.

Sure, Harold.  We get it.  The edge must have everything for free. Content. Network access. End-users. It just ain’t fair that they pay (for what they truly value).  In fact, it’s their Right to demand it all.  I mean, where would we be without companies like Netflix, Google or Facebook?

Gimme a break.

Any time the network providers propose to do something on their private networks, with their private investment, you’ve got guys like Harold Feld crying foul about how it’s the end of the Internet.  It’s a wonder we have any private investment at all, with all of their ceaseless kvetching.

Sadly, that’s exactly what they’re after.

Keep it up, Harold.  You just might get your wish.  Of course, we’ll all be worse off for it.  We’ll have an Internet filled with all the apps and services one could want – but with networks so duct-taped and band-aided together because of “government intervention,” no one will be able to access or enjoy them.

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