31 January 2006

Expensive metaphors

AT&T is now jumping on the misinformation bandwagon, in attempting to claim that providers of services over the internet are getting something for free:

I think the comment from AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre in the FT really shows why I said earlier that we shouldn't consider the internet to be a place:

"I think the content providers should be paying for the use of the network - obviously not the piece for the customer to the network, which has already been paid for by the customer in internet access fees, but for accessing the so-called internet cloud."

This is taking the piss. Whitacre admits that his company is charging and being paid for the actual physical services it is providing, but says that it should be paid extra for the metaphor - the "so-called cloud". He's saying the internet isn't just the pipes (which he gets paid for), it's also a place, and Google owes him rent.

He has no relationship with Google. He has relationships with his customers who pay him to connect them to "the internet". He has peering agreements with other ISPs with whom he exchanges data (as a necessary part of providing his customers with the service they've paid for). If he feels he should be paid more for passing on the data - the "movie streaming" or whatever - he can either charge his customers more for sending the traffic to them, or he can charge his peering ISPs for accepting the traffic from them. Why he should be able to directly charge the other ISP's customers (e.g. Google, or Apple) for the traffic which they have accepted from Google or Apple and are now passing to AT&T makes no sense at all - that transfer of data is what the peering agreement covers.

No comments: