Monday, February 21, 2011

Internet Access: Keep it Fair and Free

Two excellent articles appear side-by-side [pp. 12-13] in the March 2011 edition of Scientific American magazine (the only print publication I subscribe to!) ~ Illustration by Harry Campbell, courtesy Scientific American

Anyone remember when the likes of CompuServe (too bad AOL poisons every company it comes in contact with) and Demon ruled the internet? With Demon the websurfer had to carefully watch his or her minutes because on the web, time was money, and the pennies added up fast! There were a variety of programs written for earlier Windows computers so you could track your time online: I recall using Pegasus email because it allowed me to download my mail, go offline, read and respond, then return online to upload outgoing emails.

Let's get back to MONEY. MONEY is why TV went digital. We were at the point where one could pick up a HUGE cathode-ray tube TV with all the trimmings for $149 at Walmart. Gone were the days when TV viewers would make monthly payments on sets. But now with digital TV, sets are up in 4 figures so folks can once again pay monthly installments.

And now the ISPs - Internet Service Providers - are champing at the bit to return to providing Net that YOU PAY FOR - by the minute if possible, the good ol' Demon/CompuServe way! (They're scratching their heads, wondering how they ever let the ca$h cow escape from the barn in the first place!)

Like it or not, providers are already restricting speeds, service and access to the infobahn. This ain't how it was supposed to be - is it? Scientifc American: "Instead of the “all you can eat” data plans of today, Internet service providers could sell customers access by the gigabyte. They could limit performance at peak times of the day to help balance network load or offer superfast plans at higher prices." Oh, great. Just what we DON'T want/need!

The second article in Sci Am is titled "Freedom and Anonymity" - all about "what makes the Internet special" and why it shouldn't be tinkered around with. I'm all for that. I can't tell you how many times I've scolded blogger and Google for "fixing" things that aren't broken!
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