The Internet Provider Toll Road

posted on 01/06/06 at 11:17:23 pm by Joel Ross

I've kind of stayed out and observed the recent kerfuffle sorrounding the recent call for content providers (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.) to pay up to use internet provider's bandwidth to deliver their broadband content. The latest company to call for it is Verizon, but they weren't the first: Comcast and?Bell South have both made statements calling for the same earlier.

While I agree that the carriers deserve their slice of the pie - they laid the lines, after all - the argument put forth by Henry Blodget?seems a little off to me. He argues that if a company wants to ship something, they pay FedEx or DHL to make the delivery. But -?and this is a big point that everyone seems to be missing - I, as a consumer,?don't pay FedEx for the right to deliver to my house. I do pay my internet provider monthly to have the right to get content delivered to my house, though. So in essence, I'm paying the "shipping cost" up front to get whatever I want delivered.

If the major players start getting paid by the company and the consumer, isn't that a little like double dipping? And the end result will be this: the consumer will pay both their portion and the provider's portion: When you order something online (even with free shipping), who do you really think is paying for it? You are - either by paying directly for shipping, or indirectly by higher prices that will cover the shipping costs. So when Henry says companies pay for shipping, he's only partially right. The end result is that consumers pay for the shipping, and from what I can see, we already are paying the "shipping costs" of the 'Net by paying for internet access.

By the way, if you haven't read Henry Blodget's blog, don't let this post sway your opinion. For the most part, I think he's spot-on and always worth a read.?I don't know his whole history, but I know he's had some legal trouble with the SEC when he was a securities analyst (he predicted Amazon would hit $400 / share way back in '98), but he's back on the 'Net, blogging. Just don't ask him for stock advice...

For more information about the Carriers and the 'Net, you should also read this article by Doc Searls. It's long, but worth it.

UPDATE: The guys over at Download Squad agree with me, and bring up a good point: without companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, there wouldn't be much demand for Verizon's online services - so who needs who more?

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