According to an article in this week's The Economist, "...large telecom firms, such as AT&T and Verizon, are proposing to build internet 'fast lanes,' which would allow them to charge users and content providers for speedy, guaranteed delivery of data."
But Vinton Cerf, who, along with Robert Kahn, helped design the protocol for the ARPANET (which of course led to the "internetwork," or Internet) says "fast lanes" go against the non-discrimatory foundation of the world wide web.
To prevent this from happening, he, and others, have appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee in Washington, where "network neutrality" has become a very hot debate. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, has put forth a measure he hopes will foster equal treatment for all Internet content.
According to Wyden (via ZDnet):
"The big network operators are saying, 'We built the network; we own the network; everybody's basically got to go along with what we're saying.' What I'm saying is, 'No, the consumers built the network; the subscribers built the network. They paid for the network. That is what this is all about."
So I've been following this story, because, well, it's just something that interests me because I'm scared of things like big business taking over the world and the reversal of progress. And yeah, in many ways we already have a pay-for-speed Internet (my parents' refusal to move beyond dial-up makes for a very painful Internet experience over Thanksgiving -- woowee), but this new movement to divide broad-band is truly troublesome. Let's hope Cerf and Wyden, and folk like them, are effective down in D.C. and let's keep surfing in the fast lane free.