Internet Access Control
friendlysystems at mindspring.com
Sat Feb 6 13:47:20 JEST 1999
Given the concern expressed over the use of the Internet, I am forwarding a
part of a letter that Charles Brewer, the president of Mindspring, (our
Internet Service Provider), sent today. It addresses issues that all
Internet users need to be aware of.
It is not a "rumor" or "spam".
He signed it.
Knowledge is Power
Anneweekee Creek Friends Worship Group
>From: Charles Brewer <re.announcement at mindspring.com>
>Subject: MindSpring Announcements, February 6, 1999
>Date: Sat, 06 Feb 1999 11:02:22 -0500 (EST)
>Reply-To: Charles Brewer <re.announcement at mindspring.com>
>MindSpring Announcements, February 6, 1999
>OPEN INTERNET AT RISK
>You have a personal stake in a crucial issue where the Internet's future is
>being decided. The Federal Communications Commission, Congress, and other
>governmental agencies are considering whether the keys to the Internet will
>be left in the hands of consumers, or instead given over to local telephone
>and cable company monopolies.
>You may be astonished that this debate is even occurring. After all, today
>access to the Internet is remarkably open and competitive. That is the very
>source of its power. Consumers are able to choose among dozens of competing
>service providers to help them connect to the Internet at the lowest price
>and with the best service. ISPs compete on price and ease of use. We
>compete on connection quality and on customer support. We compete in the
>different services we provide. This openness and competition has driven the
>incredible phenomenon of Internet growth over the last few years.
>Now imagine a future in which only one ISP is allowed to connect you to the
>Internet. You must use that ISP no matter what its price, or how poor its
>quality and customer service. You are forced to see the content that ISP
>puts on its home page or splash screens - perhaps obnoxious advertising,
>perhaps political commentary that you disagree with.
>Believe it or not, that is the result we could have in the next generation
>of the Internet. The Internet of the future will require high-speed
>"always-on" connections. We will be able to download information from the
>Net at amazing speeds, including video programming like today's television
>and cable services. We will be able to use our Internet connection to make
>much cheaper phone calls, and video phones will finally become practical and
>common. Many other devices in our homes and offices will become more
>efficient and useful through links to the Internet.
>The key to all these new services will be a permanent "broadband" connection
>from your home or office to the Net. You will no longer "dial-up" the
>Internet by a local call from your computer to your ISP. Instead, you will
>be permanently connected to your ISP with a link that is capable of carrying
>far more information than today's phone line.
>These "broadband" local links are not futuristic technology. Telephone
>companies already are starting to upgrade their local lines to support
>broadband transmission. Cable companies also are adapting their lines so
>that they can carry communications to and from the Internet at high speed.
>It remains to be seen where and how quickly these upgrades will occur.
>Cable, for example, may have a particular advantage in the small business
>and residential market. But in any event, consumers generally cannot expect
>to have more than two "broadband" links to their home. And many will have
>only one: either the telephone line or a cable connection.
>The catch is that both the cable industry and some telephone companies want
>to use their control of the "last mile" wires leading to homes to gain
>exclusive control of access to the next generation Internet. These "local
>wire companies" want to force consumers to use the local wire company's
>affiliated ISP - whether the consumer is happy with that option or not.
>Cable companies are unanimous and very direct on this subject. They do not
>intend to allow customers to select any ISP but the cable company's own
>service. When the cable company offers a broadband link to your home, you'd
>think that you could use that link to connect to MindSpring or any other
>ISP, just as you buy local phone service today that allows you to reach
>anyone you want, including your preferred ISP.
>But cable companies state emphatically that they will not give you that
>option. If you want to get next generation Internet service delivered
>through their wire, you will be required to use the cable company's own ISP.
>You'd better like that company a lot, including its prices, service quality,
>the editorial views it promotes on its home page, and the use it makes of
>your customer information with junk mailers.
>Local telephone companies probably will not be allowed to "just say no" to
>other ISPs. And, some of them are behaving much better than others in
>dealing fairly with other service providers. However, in many cases they
>are seeking the same practical power the cable companies want by looking for
>ways to discriminate against their competitors and steer customers to their
>own ISP operations. How would you feel if your only economical way to reach
>the next generation Internet was by using your local phone company? Do you
>want to pay their prices, which would not be regulated? Do you want to rely
>on them for technical support? Do you want them deciding what content you
>are exposed to each time you visit the web? For that matter, do you feel
>much better if you could choose between the phone company and the cable
>company, but no one else?
>It doesn't have to be this way. Both the phone and cable companies can
>easily allow customers to connect with other ISPs besides their own so that
>consumers can continue to choose their ISP for themselves. They just don't
>want to do so. They want to completely lock up the next generation Internet
>customer for themselves (the cable position). Or they want freedoms that
>would allow them to discriminate against consumers choosing unaffiliated
>ISPs (the position of some telephone companies). Either way, today's open
>and competitive door to the Internet would be slammed shut.
>This is the most important issue consumers of Internet and
>telecommunications services face. If consumers don't have an open choice of
>which service provider they connect to through the "last mile" wire leading
>to their homes and businesses, we emphatically will not have a competitive
>market for the core communications service of the future - the Internet.
>Government policy makers are considering these questions right now. They
>are hearing plenty from the telephone company and cable company interests.
>They need to hear from customers. The message is simple. The government
>should adopt policies that allow consumers to use the Internet service
>provider of their choice - both today and in the next generation "broadband"
>MindSpring is a founding member of the OpenNET Coalition - a group dedicated
>to this issue. If you would like to find out how to make your voice heard
>on this issue, please go the coalition web site and sign up to be part of
>the OpenNET Coalition Activist Network:
>The coalition will keep you informed and let you know about the best
>opportunities for you to express your views to policy makers.
>We at MindSpring have never asked you to take a stance on any political or
>public policy issue. But, this one is so critical to the future of Internet
>consumers, and so directly relevant to the service that MindSpring provides
>to you, that we feel we need to make sure you are aware of this issue and
>encourage you to speak up.
>As always, thank you very much for your attention and for choosing
>MindSpring Founder and CEO
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