07 February 2011

Why Not a Metered Internet?

The headline of the Globe and Mail article asks the question, Why Not a Metered Internet?

The argument that follows defends the big telecoms in terms of market forces: for example, the cost of infrastructure building.

Here's a different answer to the question: with a metered Internet we would have another case of them that haves and them that don't.

We already have a growing economic inequality gap. With Internet metering, we would have an associated inequality gap in terms of fundamental communications access.

An inequality gap already exists with respect to telephony. The lowest income households haven't room in their budgets to acquire that all-important telephone number. They've not a telephone or cell phone or other mobile device to which such a number could be attached. For those households that have a desktop computer with Skype installed, they cannot make full use of the VOIP provider's services or those offered by similar providers. Such services would provide them with an online number (just like a phone number), thus allowing them to receive incoming telephone calls to their computer.

Why can customers in Canada - unlike those in most of the developed world - not obtain online numbers?

Again, a CRTC decision lies at the heart of the matter.

Access to incoming phone calls. Access to the full services the Internet can provide. In both cases, it's about communication with one's friends, family and community; access to one's regional district, provincial or territorial government and services; access to the federal government and services; access to information regarding elections, parties and candidates; access to news and information.... It's about access to democracy.

[Cross-posted at economicus ridiculous]

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