Double Dipping

(or: Why the ISPs are salivating)

There are a couple of pertinent stories out right now: AOL seeks to impose e-mail tax, and these ominous news reports of major ISPs gearing up to charge web properties for the bandwidth used to reach their users.

And then there are the other stories: AT&T to buy Bellsouth, AT&T complicit in NSA Domestic Spying.

AOL wants a cut of the revenues that e-mail players are getting off of AOL’s users. Similarly, other major ISPs want to dip into the profits from websites like Yahoo! and Google that generate a lot of revenue through their users.

The problem is, they have absolutely no right to be doing this. The websites and e-mail firms are already paying for their bandwidth; the users are paying for theirs. If and when these moves occur, it will mean only one thing: an increased cost to the customer.

But, you don’t hear the ISPs ramping up to raise the prices on their customers. That would be too easy: the users would revolt, and the ISPs would back down. Instead, they are employing themselves as middlemen. They are claiming that they are the ones footing the bill, when really they are merely greedy.

Still, the backlash is already coming: AOL and the ISPs are in for a losing battle in this case. The users want their internet as is, not subject to the whims of corporations. And you can expect this to have waves beyond just thwarting this round of greasy schemes. As more media consolidation takes place, and more carrier consolidation takes place, there will be a further push by the masses to reinforce regulations against these companies. These same companies received $200 billion in tax breaks to deliver fiber optic cabling.

They obviously have a single bottom line that does not include their customers’ interests. Therefore it is in our interest to see them fall under new regulations; it is the price they must pay for failing to respect their customers.