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Comments by YACCS
Thursday, May 11, 2006

10 Net Neutrality case studies

On the internet, no one knows if you're a dog

Plans to change how the internet operate have drawn massive resistance online and are facing an increasingly tough time in Congress. In recent weeks, the effort to ramp up support for the telcos have veered into fiction and claims that they wouldn't restrict speed or alter access, claims Verizon made in a Monday conference call.

What they are proposing is what I call an a la carte pricing system, being charged extra for video, music downloads and voice over IP

So I want to show how different uses of the net would be affected.

Paying bills.

Communication with with girlfriend and family via email and assorted IRC-like apps.

Communication with clients is almost all via email. And that includes sending files, contracts and so on.


Doing my taxes.

Research for my own personal hobbies and for work.

Shopping (for myself, my job, and other assorted stuff): my sister and her husband, for instance, love the Amazon gift certificates that are emailed to them which are a hell of a lot easier than sending parcels.

Music and video (legal).

Getting podcasts of CBC shows on the radio that I miss due to my schedule.

And that doesn't include the recreational stuff like my gaming.
Keith | Edit comment Delete comment | 05.04.06 - 12:08 pm | #

One of the things Verizon wants to do is to start charging for video downloads. Which would basically eliminated the ability to use video for millions of people. The ability to contact clients could also be restricted or face cost penalities if the internet moves to an a la carte system

My son has aspergers and some related developmental delays. We use the internet to find out information about the problem, treatments, and options. it has made dealing wiht this much easier.

Our son's special ed pre-school teacher uses email to keep us informed about his progress and to ask us questiosn related to his behavior that day, so that she can better help him. That, too, has been an enormous boon to his treatment.

Email lets me keep in touch with my little brother and son in law who are serving in Iraq.

All my banking, all my bill pay is done online.

I read almost all my news online.

I read quite a bit of my fiction online as well.

I use the Guttenburg project to get copies of classic literature to read.

I use alunchcast to find new music.
kevin | Edit comment Delete comment | Email | Homepage | 05.04.06 - 12:16 pm | #

If site preference is permitted and Verizon denies this is possible, searching for subjects could grow increasingly time consuming

I am a paralegal and I LIVE on the Internet at work -- I use it for legal research, medical research, locating people, locating addresses and phone numbers for hospitals outside the area covered by my phone book, making travel arrangements for the attorneys, finding out the address and phone number of a distant branch of the highway patrol without making fifty phone calls, checking the state government website to see if a business is registered as a corporation, preparing Federal Express labels, researching county court rules, checking a court website to see if the opposition has filed a motion in time -- I could not do my job without the Internet, or rather, everything would be much slower and more cumbersome.
Annie | Edit comment Delete comment | Email | 05.04.06 - 12:36 pm | #

Legal and medical research could also face restricitions in an a lacarte internet, where services are seperated by speed and cost. Extra services could raise the costs of research signficantly

I work using the net for Human Rights activism building networks of activists in oppressed nations. Net Neutrality is a requirement as any corporation would buckle in an instant to governmental demands that they shut down our traffic. Not to mention the automatic low priority they would give proxy servers and encrypted traffic both absolute musts in my field. In addition as a student JSTOR and other online archives have revolutionized research placing the work of generations of other scholars within 5 minutes reach rather than five hours allowing me to research my thesis from upstate New York rather then a major city with huge libraries.
Gabe Nichols | Edit comment Delete comment | Email | 05.04.06 - 12:51 pm | #

Without Net Neutrality, and despite the denial of the telcos, meaningless in the light that they have turned over tens of millions of private phone bills, any sort of activism could face serious risks

Jeez, it's hard to even know where to begin...

I used it continuously in my job as a medical writer. I'm constantly online all day. I visit medical Web sites, news sites, sites of my company's clients (hospitals), National Institutes of Health, the CDC, etc. I search for doc's resumes, I search on obscure topics... On and on and on.

I also am a telecommuter, so I hand in my work via the Internet. I communicate with my company's headquarters, my coworkers via the Internet. I do my timecard over a VPN. I check assignments and go through my company's databases via the VPN.

OK, now on to personal use: I research products over the Internet before buying. I read newspapers, magazines online. I pay about a quarter of my bills online. I rent my movies (NetFlix) online. Post photos online (Flickr). Communicate with friends and family via e-mail. Send photos to friends and family via e-mail.

I buy music online. I read about TV shows online. I research trivial stuff (who was that actor? what can I find out about the old Perry Mason series?) online.

I listen to the BBC online. I listen to old Fresh Air and This American Life programs online.

I check airport schedules, the weather, road conditions... I mean, jeez, the list is endless. Endless.

Screw up the Internet, and you screw up our lives. This is what morons like Mike McCurry don't understand. This isn't cable TV. This isn't the mail.

This is constant, everyday, necessary.

I can only assume that people like McCurry don't use the Internet that much. He clearly doesn't understand the issue at all.
lisa | Edit comment Delete comment | 05.04.06 - 1:00 pm | #

With an a la carte version of the internet, at home research could become extremely difficult.
Even if they varied download speeds, there could be a preferential customer rate for businesses , and unavailable to consumers at any price.

I'm retired, so I no longer use the Internet for work, but I use it a lot: phone calls (via Skype), banking (I do almost all banking on line), paying bills, purchases (many, many), library interactions (placing holds, renewing items), looking things up (better than a dictionary), keeping in touch with family and friends (via blog), playing Go (haven't found any Go players locally, but play daily with players from around the world--and take lessons from a teacher in Romania), email to and from friends and companies, selecting movies for rental ( and, reading the news (I don't watch TV at all and get no paper, so read papers and political blogs on the Web), make political contributions, send letters to editors, look up recipes (never use cookbooks anymore), find resources (e.g., assistance for my sister and brother-in-law in Sun City AZ while I'm in Monterey CA), ... There's much more, but this is what comes to mind immediately.
Leisureguy | Edit comment Delete comment | Email | Homepage | 05.04.06 - 1:12 pm |

A la carte pricing could place the internet out of reach for retirees and the poor. The higher the cost for access,the fewer number of possible users.

I live on the Internet both in my day job and for my business.

My little company creates online learning management and publishes study materials for college science students, which we sell on our e-commerce site.

Without the Internet, it would not have been possible to become an independent publisher given our budget.
wetzel | Edit comment Delete comment | Email | Homepage | 05.04.06 - 1:26 pm | #

Small business, now able to market online, could face increasing financial burdens in offering services. E-commerce, Java, video links, all could face online tolls because of an a la carte pricing system.

Let's start with the BIG stuff:

- my husband telecommutes most days of the week to his office which is now a 90-minute trek otherwise (since an office move). He probably goes in only 1ce per week, they use VOIP for phone service, and during the summer, often doesn't have to go in more than 1ce every 5 or 6 weeks--it saves us a bundle on gasoline and car maintenance;

- rather than sell a home I love in a place I love near people and neighbors I love, I was able to get my MLIS from Florida State via the web--Georgia doesn't even have an accredited program--I had full access to the FSU databases for articles, used the web to submit assignments and papers and participate in discussion boards, and for 2-hour live chat sessions for each class.
I tend to print things out to read, but did almost all my research on the web, even if it was just to find where I could get a copy of a certain text or report.

Then there are the little things that just make life easier:

- searching for rates and availability for hotel rooms for my sister's wedding in Charleston;

- later redeeming our credit card reward points for vouchers for the hotel we'll be using for my sister's wedding, which we booked online;

- transferring cash from checking to savings in order to ensure we had enough cash on hand to pay for a recent landscaping overhaul and kitchen remodel;

- sending and posting pictures of the landscaping progress that occurred while my husband was on a business trip so he could have a say in changes to the plan;

- signing up for our insurance and cafeteria plans online;

- sending resumes to a prospective employer I'd networked to meet;

- making sure the plant my cat just ate wasn't poisonous (Google);

- finding out if the side effect I was experiencing was serious or not (Google);

- a quick and easy way to see when the next pick-up for yard waste will be on our county web page;

- Google for any sort of minor research, such as the types of fish that will be compatible with what's already in the tank to which vines will grow in full sun to icing that can stand up to southern weather;

- our pipe heaters are networked to turn on when the temp hits 28 degrees;

- we use X10 for most of the lighting in the house--when my husband goes to the office, we usually IM before he comes home (do I need to get milk? etc.), and he let's me know he's online by blinking the light in the living room;

- finding and buying the equipment and candied violets I needed to make and decorate my sister's wedding cake.

Now for family unity in a family well-divided by geography:

- becoming very, very close to my husband's paternal grandfather who lived in Cyprus and I never met in person, but I miss every single day--we'd email at least twice per week about politics, food, and why wasn't I providing him with a great-grandchild? ;

- posting pictures of the family on our web site, including scanned photos of this same grandfather that had been languishing on a CD--now anyone in the family can look at wonderful old shots, some from the 1950s;

- organizing a memorial dinner after he died right as the war started and none of us coudl get to Cyprus for the funeral;

- coordinating birthday, Christmas, and other family events via email;

- posting short films and pictures of my sister's new puppy the weekend he arrived at my mom's (in SC) but two weeks before she could pick him up (she's in NYC);

- keeping up with how fast my nephews (ages 2.5 and 1) are growing--they're in Long Beach and we're in Athens, GA;

- Generally keeping up with births amongst the extended family with emailed announcements and pictures usually within hours of arrival;

- Following the progress of a friend's child who is recovering from cancer and has a special page that updates as events warrant (he's doing great!);

- Keeping in touch with friends in Seattle, Tallahassee, LA, DC, Columbia SC, Ames IA, upstate NY, rural GA, Greenbay, (etc) that I might have lost touch with otherwise;

- Forging a bond with my sister-in-law and offering her support when no one else in the family would.

That's just off the top of my head. My husband does some investment account maintenance online for his 401(k), and to see if checks have gone through when he balances the checkbook.

There's also that whole Made Me Realize I Wasn't Crazy Or Alone After 9/11 And The Run-up To The Iraq War thing, and that Sense Of Hope that "time wasters" like blogs and news and the BBC and Guardian provided. But that probably doesn't count.
theresa | Edit comment Delete comment | 05.04.06 - 1:36 pm | #

Raised costs for VOIP and video could severely limit distance learning and telecommuting, putting it out of reach for all but the most profiatable and largest companies.

I'm a research scientist. Within the past few years, it has become possible to have an entire research library accessible from my desktop via the internet. The agency subscribes to certain journals online; I can access any of the articles from those journals without leaving my desk. It has allowed me to become much better informed about the research in my field, because getting papers takes a fraction of the time it used to.
Tlazolteotl | Edit comment Delete comment | Email | Homepage | 05.04.06 - 1:42 pm | #
An a la carte internet, raising prices across the board, could force institutions and companies to limit how they spend their online dollar, reducing subscriptions and who has access to them.

My freelance business (web design and ad design) is 100% web based. My Web comic ( when it is updated-soon-soon! I promise) is 100% web based. I use the web for purchases of heppa filters ( the ONLY way to get get the size I need) to keep my asthma at bay. And all my banking is done online.
Galactic Dustbin | Edit comment Delete comment | Email | Homepage | 05.04.06 - 3:14 pm | #
Not only do businesses rely on the open net, but people searching for everything from health materials to discount drugs rely on the ability of small businesses to market online. The father you are from urban areas, the more reliant you are on the businesses online. If they have to pay a toll to use e-commerce, the odds are smaller companies will not stay online or never get online.

posted by Steve @ 1:56:00 AM

1:56:00 AM

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