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One Man's Greed Is Another Man's "Exciting New Business Model"
The telecom industry is trying to figure out how to force us all into an "a la carte Internet," says an NBC news story by George Lewis:

Wayne Bauer, an independent filmmaker who lives in Santa Clarita, Calif., uses a free Internet service called Skype to play online Scrabble with a buddy in Texas. They do this with no long-distance charges. But if the cable company that pipes the Internet to Bauer's house gets its way, that could change soon.

"It's about having a virtual, electronic toll booth to constantly charge you extra for things we get today for a fair and flat rate," says Jeff Chester with the Center for Digital Democracy.

Consumers like Bauer who make long-distance phone calls on the Internet, those who pay to download tunes or TV shows onto their iPods and people who now watch streaming video free of charge — all might get hit with extra fees.

A group of telecommunications companies is mulling ways of charging customers for moving certain kinds of content over the Internet.

It's all being discussed at the Progress and Freedom Foundation, a think tank funded by the telephone, cable and media industries. This network's parent, NBC Universal, is a member.

"I don't think this is corporate greed," says Adam Thierer with the Progress and Freedom Foundation. "This is the beginning of a new business model for the Internet."

Um, excuse me, Adam, for raining on your self-interest, but I think a much-needed and super-nifty new business model for the Internet would be one that promotes more competition between the broadband and DSL providers so we aren't all paying through both nostrils for crappy service and slow connections.

A friend of mine, a Swiss-Italian journalist, has been having an enormous problem with Comcast blocking email from a magazine she writes for in Italy, as well as email from her sister and others. And she isn't the only one. She writes about her own email issue:

In the last two months I couldn't get emails from an Italian magazine I write for (<@mondadori.it>), an Italian newspaper (<@ilgiornale.it>), and from my sister and friends who use the biggest Swiss provider (<@bluewin.ch>). The same problem happened last summer with <@ticino.com>, another provider from Switzerland. And who knows who else cannot reach me, since I am not aware of the problem until someone calls me to tell me about it. I must say that of course these people are in my address book and that I don't use filters. Here is the message they get in return (which a colleague sent me on a yahoo address I use only for emergencies):
Da: Mail Delivery Subsystem Data: 28 febbraio 2006 11:01:53 CET A: Oggetto: Returned mail: see transcript for details

The original message was received at Tue, 28 Feb 2006 11:01:48 +0100 from [193.42.179.127]

----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors ----- XXXXXXXXXXX@comcast.net
(reason: 550-193.42.201.86 blocked by ldap:ou=rblmx,dc=comcast,dc=net)
----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to gateway-s.comcast.net.:
>>> MAIL From: SIZE=903
<<< 550-193.42.201.86 blocked by ldap:ou=rblmx,dc=comcast,dc=net
<<< 550 Blocked for abuse. Please send blacklist removal requests to
blacklist_comcastnet@cable.comcast.com - Be sure to include your mail server IP ADDRESS.
554 5.0.0 Service unavailable
Reporting-MTA: dns; watchcat.mondadori.it
Arrival-Date: Tue, 28 Feb 2006 11:01:48 +0100

My friend continues:

When my correspondents or myself write to Comcast asking to remove their addresses from the blacklist (whan an ominous name!) we usually get a message in return either saying that Comcast doesn't use filters (a big lie, since they say that they "block for abuse", see above), or "Please do not reply to this message. We have received your request for removal from our inbound blacklist. After investigating the issue, we have found that the IP you provided for removal is currently not on our blacklist. Please verify the IP address and resubmit your request to blacklist_comcastnet@cable.comcast.com".

First of all I wonder why Comcast thinks they have the right to block and put on their blacklist legitimate European providers (without telling me, their client), when at the same time I get tons of junk mail coming from the most absurd addresses. The internet is a free space, and as a consumer I prefer to delete spam than to risk not receiving mail from people I need to be in touch with for business and family reasons. And it makes sense that people use the internet to correspond with people who live far away, maybe even in other countries (yes, the world doesn't stop at the US border), and not only with their next door neighbors.

Posted by aalkon at March 11, 2006 10:18 AM

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