Allowing broadband providers to impose tolls on Internet companies represents a “grave” threat to the Internet, or so wrote several Internet giants and their allies in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission this past week.
The reality is that broadband networks are very expensive to build and maintain. Broadband companies have invested approximately $250 billion in U.S. wired and wireless broadband networks–and have doubled average delivered broadband speeds–just since President Obama took office in early 2009. Nevertheless, some critics claim that American broadband is still too slow and expensive.
The current broadband pricing model is designed to recover the entire cost of maintaining and improving the network from consumers. Internet companies get free access to broadband subscribers.
Although the broadband companies are not poised to experiment with different pricing models at this time, the Internet giants and their allies are mobilizing against the hypothetical possibility that they might in the future. But this is not the gravest threat to the Internet.
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