I stumbled across a recent call to action - complete with a useless online petition - to thwart an attempt to charge Canadian Internet users for the amount of bandwidth they use, instead of an all-access pass.
Here's the skinny: Bandwidth is a precious and limited resource, and some Internet users use more than others. Much like customers at a gas station often pump different amounts of fuel into their vehicles, Internet service providers intend to charge customers for how much strain they place on the system and send price signals, instead of the buffet restaurant plan they use now.
Opposing this plan, Jason Koblovsky writes:
...It took only a few complaints by Canadians to get [Federal Industry Minister Tony] Clement to act on census reform, 80,000 to let him know Canadians wouldn't settle for US style law suits on consumers for downloading music, and now we are at close to 190,000 signatures on a petition calling for an end to usage based billing, and Clement is taking a hands off approach to things right now. Are the Conservatives truly aware of the economic and political costs here of not acting on this? It’ll be much more than video game publishers threatening to pull out of Canada if we didn't reform copyright especially if Canadians don’t have meaningful access to the digital marketplace at a fair priceI added the emphasis on the word "fair" in order to ask, who determines what price is fair? I can't help but notice that the opposition to these "pay for what you use" systems always come from people who use a lot of bandwidth - World of Warcraft addicts, digital movie thieves and copyright opponents. Here's what they're really saying:
Please sign this useless online petition as many times as you can or else people like myself will have to pay for the amount of resources we use, while retired people who only log on to e-mail their grandchildren will no longer continue to pick up the tab for my hobby.This is naked self-interest at play. The food world has both traditional pay-for-what-you-eat and buffet restaurants available, and single-rate plans should still be available to consumers, although I expect adverse selection will make them cost more than they do now. Shut-ins with huge digital libraries will end up paying more and market pressures should ensue that light users pay less.