Network owners now want to change this by charging companies different rates to get access to a “premium” internet. YouTube, or blip.tv, would have to pay a special fee for their content to flow efficiently to customers. If they do not pay this special fee, their content would be relegated to the “public” internet – a slower and less reliable network. The network owners would begin to pick which content (and, in principle, applications) would flow quickly and which would not.If America lived in a world of real competition among broadband providers, there would be little reason to worry about such deals. But it does not live in that world. In the US, at least, broadband competition is dying. There are fewer competitors offering consumers broadband connectivity today than there were just six years ago.
Read Lawrence Lessig’s article online at the Financial Times with commentary from Lessig’s own blog and the “five key principles” for broadband from speedmatters.org. Also on topic: Spreading the Broadband Revolution an Op-Ed piece for the New York times from William Kennard
Any serious discussion of the future of the Internet should start with a basic fact: broadband is transforming every facet of communications, from entertainment and telephone services to delivery of vital services like health care. But this also means that the digital divide, once defined as the chasm separating those who had access to narrowband dial-up Internet and those who didn’t, has become a broadband digital divide.