HUFFINGTON POST: Last month, the nation’s No.2 cable company Time Warner Cable announced plans to test a new billing system known as “metering” that charges Internet customers depending on how much they download. Customers who exceed their limit–say, by viewing online videos–would face steep penalties on top of their subscription rate.
Time Warner Cable’s usage penalty would take the unlimited service we enjoy today (albeit slow compared to other nations), and make Internet more like cell phones, where you get overcharged by companies making record profits. It is the latest version of the Net Neutrality debate: should the companies that deliver Internet be allowed to block it, slow it down, or in this case, overcharge for it?
Here’s why this issue threatens the Internet as you know it: Cable companies Time Warner and Comcast, and phone giants AT&T and Verizon sell the vast majority of high-speed Internet service in the United States. Phone and cable companies like these have no other competition in 97% of US markets, thanks to corrupt policies passed by the Bush Administration at the companies’ behest.
These duopolies are betting on the future of their “triple-play” phone-Internet-TV service, so that you’ll pay them more than $100 per month and they can keep earning record profits. They know that if you start downloading video from online innovators like Hulu.com and Roku.com, eventually you won’t need their expensive, advertising-ridden television service. If you decide to use online phone providers like Skype, you won’t need their expensive phone service. The answer? Jack up the cost of Internet, and once again eliminate the competition. MORE