In front of a crowd of tech enthusiasts, Sen. Al Franken made some shocking statements that would rattle even the most casual web user. He stated that large corporations have a goal in mind to destroy the Internet as it stands and by doing so, they would gain what amounts to a monopoly on faster connections.
He was speaking about the ongoing debate of net neutrality, a heated topic among politicians surrounding legislation that either allows or denies companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T to impose caps and limits on various parts of the web and opening it up for others.
The main target of the Senator’s speech was Comcast, who is currently in an ongoing dispute surrounding one of Netflix’s primary bandwidth providers, Level 3. In this case, Comcast is attempting to impose high bandwidth rates on the provider to deliver their content to customers. Comcast is citing that the Netflix traffic causes an increase in their customer’s usage and this surge warrants additional fees. Because Netflix is seen as somewhat of a competitor of Comcast, this fee is seen as an unfair business practice.
AT&T made a serious move towards capping and limiting their customer’s usage by imposing new limits on monthly throughput and adding overage charges should their users go over a 150GB or 250GB limit. This new restriction goes live on May 5th, and will impact their entire DSL and U-verse customer base. While this particular kind of step isn’t part of the main net neutrality debate, it does play a role in limiting how users can consume content on the web.
A customer, for example, may not be able to enjoy as much streaming video content over Hulu and Netflix as they could on a truly unlimited plan. This is often seen as a workaround for ISPs to limit the use of these services without actually targeting them directly and potentially violating standing FCC regulations.
Whether you believe Sen. Al Franken or not, there is something happening in the ISP world that doesn’t sit well in the tech community, and despite overwhelming opposition to these changes, large providers are moving forward anyway.
What are your opinions on Sen. Al Franken’s statements? Please comment below.
Politico – Al Franken: ‘They’re coming after the Internet’
The Frugal Geek – AT&T Caps Usage for All Customers
DSLReports.com – AT&T To Impose Caps, Overages
Reflections by Ron Schenone – AT&T to Customers: The All You Can Use Buffet is Closed