My brother and I live a mere 22 miles apart in two separate towns and two different counties. His high speed Internet is delivered via one company, mine another. Coworkers of mine live in the same county as I, but in different towns. Their Internet providers are also different than mine. Currently, this doesn’t pose a problem, because Internet providers are neutral — so it doesn’t really matter who the company is behind the cable. We can’t control it – it’s dictated by where you live. In fact, I’ve never even given it much thought until I read this interesting article by Christopher Stern at The Washington Post.
Some interesting quotes from the article —
For the first time, the companies that own the equipment that delivers the Internet to your office, cubicle, den and dorm room could, for a price, give one company priority on their networks over another.
In a November Business Week story, AT&T Chairman Edward E. Whitacre Jr. complained that Internet content providers were getting a free ride: “They don’t have any fiber out there. They don’t have any wires. . . . They use my lines for free — and that’s bull,” he said. “For a Google or a Yahoo or a Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes for free is nuts!”
The implications are far reaching. Imagine using Yahoo — not by choice — but because it works faster and better on your Internet provider. Or losing bids at Ebay because your Ebay service was slower than others on different Internet services. An interesting – and scary – glimpse into a possible future where choosing an apartment or home could be based partly on whether or not you can easily access your favorite search engines.