Cable and phone companies plan to offer broadband Internet access through their high
speed pipes to millions of American homes. However, gaining monopoly power over such
access, they can impose various restrictions on the users. For example, cable
companies are refusing to allow independent internet access providers ( ISPs) to provide
service to broadband cable customers on the same terms and conditions as
they do their own affiliated ISPs (such as @Home and Roadrunner).
Company(ies) enjoying control of broadband access lines can also dominate Internet
content, thusly threatning the very basis of Internet -- openness and diversity. For
consumers, the threat in this model is that the broadband network will be a closed,
proprietary network, and will differ dramatically from the open, non-discriminatory access
they enjoy today.
What is "broadband" and why is it
In layman's terms, broadband is the high speed connection to the internet through the
cable. Currenly many people connect to the internet through telephone lines,
narrowband modems, but cable (broadband) connections to the internet are becoming more and
more common. We are at a critical point in the development of the Internet with the move
from narrowband, circuit switched services to broadband access to the Internet.
In more techincal terms, broadband is a type of data transmission in which a single
medium (wire) can carry several channels at once. To achieve broadband content delivery,
the bandwidth of the medium is shared in order to carry more than one signal. In contrast,
baseband, or narrowband, transmission allows only one signal at a time. The entire
bandwidth of the medium is used to carry a single digital data signal, thus limiting the
medium to a single form of data transmission. Most communication between computers,
including the majority of local-area networks today use baseband communications.
In the future, broadband access will enable consumers to be constantly connected to the
Internet at a speed one hundred times faster than today's dial up modems. This superfast
pipeline will facilitate convenient interactive communication through video, voice and
data services. Accelerating the distribution of broadband networks will bring many
new opportunities to businesses and consumers and provide a more vibrant commercial and
Why is it important
to keep the access to broadband open?
Cable monopoly over high speed cable access to the Internet threatens the
fundamental openness of the Internet space. Openness, diversity, and consumer choice
are the distinctive values of the Internet which have allowed it to develop and flourish
into the Internet we have today. Competition among Internet service providers will
lower prices, spur innovation, and advance the social and economic benefits of the
Open access is needed to ensure that broadband technology is available at a low cost
for all consumers. Open access environment promotes competition and allows for fast
Internet service at an affordable cost and is essential for development of Internet.
If cable companies suceed in gaining monopoly control over broadband access to the
Internet, they will place restrictions on our use of the internet. The consequences
consequences of these restrictions on competition include higher prices, less consumer
choice, stifled innovation, and constraints on the free speech and free flow of
information and electronic commerce.
For example, AT&T plans to offer access to the Internet through its cable lines
only to those consumers who choose Mindspring as their ISP. Thus, if AT&T has
the monopoly on the cable access in a certain area, consumers that want to use another
service provider, will have to pay twice -- once for the cable company's ISP, Mindspring
in this case, and once for the service provider they want.
Benefits of improved access to the Internet
to the nations economy.
E-commerce is quickly becoming a powerful force in the nations economy. In 1998,
consumer sales over the Internet totaled approximately $10 billion, while
business-to-business sales reached $43 billion that same year. It has been predicted that
by 2003, consumer sales will surpass $100 billion and business-to-business will equal $1.3
trillion. Securing affordable access to high-speed networks for all businesses and
consumers will further this economic growth and ensure that all consumers have access to
the benefits of the growth. (Source: iAdvance)
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