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6/19/2014 2:00:00 AM
Not free? Bummer!

By Frank Phillips
Editor


Wouldn't it be great if we had some means of accessing a worldwide database of information?

If it were only available from our homes, offices and cell phones.

What if it contained movies, music and more information than the largest set of encyclopedias ever printed? What if you could read The Paper of Montgomery County from anywhere in the world?

And yes I am describing the World Wide Web which we usually associate with the internet.

We think of the internet as being free but is it, really? Or is the cost just shifted from the normal model of going to the store and paying for what we use when we purchase it?

Not long ago I tweeted a little nugget of a news story and referred people to our website.

One person was dismayed because when he tried to read the story we asked him to sign up for a year.

"Bummer," he tweeted back.

(The cost for an annual subscription to our website is only 99 cents per month and it contains oh, so much information, but I digress.)

I related this incident to a computer programmer located in Ohio.

He said the company he works for, a firm that produces a national directory, gets the same kind of response.

People ask to access and reproduce their information free of charge and are miffed when the company says no.

"The Internet is free," they say.

"We get flippant and say, Really? Is your internet access free?" said Jack Schmidt, the programmer to whom I was speaking. "Does the company that you access the internet through not charge you? Was the computer you use free? We pay people to write the content you want to access free of charge. We pay programmers to write our web site. We pay people to maintain our web site. We think that's a bummer, too."

Here's another Internet "bummer." Net neutrality.

"Have you been following the net neutrality issue, Schmidt asked.

My information came through a few podcasts I listen to each week.

The information I have gleaned is that net neutrality is a bad thing because everyone is going to have to pay for the bandwidth used by people who use a lot of bandwidth - people who watch a lot of Netflix, for example.

If this sounds familiar, think of it in these terms: If you watch cable-TV or if you are on Dish Network or Direct TV you pay for a lot of stations you probably never watch. Most carry infomercials so many hours a day. I mean, you can only watch Ron Popeill (the pocket fisherman guy) for so many hours a day!

Some people would like to make TV a la carte - you would only buy the channels you want to watch. Sound good? It probably won't happen for a variety of reasons, all financial. Ron Popeill and others are paying the cable and dish companies big bucks to expose you to their wares. We could call that TV neutrality.

The situation with the internet is a little different. If you want blazing fast internet you pay more than someone who only needs to check their e-mail and can get along quite nicely with the slowest speed at the lowest cost. Then you can look at any sites you choose but the pages and the videos and the music will load more slowly than someone who pays more for a faster connection.

So, the next time you open www.thepaper24-7.com web page and look at the ugly guy in the video box, just remember that, so far, you can pay for the speed of internet that you want. Let's hope that is always the case.

Now, Schmidt did not agree that net neutrality is a bad thing. He said the big players in the internet game, the companies that make a lot of money sending the internet through wires to your home and office, have slowed down the internet. Schmidt said that if net neutrality became the law of the land, we would all have better internet service.

But the internet is not free.

Bummer.



Frank Phillips is the Editor of The Paper of Montgomery County. He also has three weblogs and published a web page in 1999 as an experiment.







Wouldn't it be great if we had some means of accessing a worldwide database of information?

If it were only available from our homes, offices and cell phones.

What if it contained movies, music and more information than the largest set of encyclopedias ever printed? What if you could read The Paper of Montgomery County from anywhere in the world?

And yes I am describing the world wide web which we usually associate with the Internet though they are not entirely the same.

We think of the internet as being free but is it, really? Or is the cost just shifted from the normal model of paying for what we use it when we purchase it?

Not long ago I tweeted a little nugget of a news story and referred people to our website.

One person was dismayed because when he tried to read the story we asked him to sign up for a year.

"Bummer," he tweeted back.

I related this incident to a computer programmer located in Ohio.

He said the company he works for, a firm that produces a national directory, gets the same kind of response.

People ask to access and reproduce their information free of charge and are miffed when the company says no.

"The Internet is free," they say.

"We get flippant and say, Really? Is your internet access free?" said Jack Schmidt, the programmer to whom I was speaking. "Does the company that you access the internet through not charge you? Was the computer you use free? We pay people to write the content you want to access free of charge. We pay programmers to write our web site. We pay people to maintain our web site. We think that's a bummer, too."

Here's another Internet "bummer." Net neutrality.

"Have you been following the net neutrality issue, Schmidt asked.

My information came through a few podcasts I listen to each week.

The information I have gleaned is that net neutrality is a bad thing because everyone is going to have to pay for the bandwidth used by people who use a lot of bandwidtch - people who watch a lot of Netflix, for example.

If this sounds familiar, think of it in these terms: If you watch cable-TV or if you are on Dish Network or Direct TV you pay for a lot of stations you probably never watch. Most carry infomercials so many hours a day. I mean, you can only watch Ron Popeill (the pocket fisherman guy) for so many hours a day!

Some people would like to make TV ala carte - you only buy the channels you want to watch. Sound good? It probably won't happen for a variety of reasons, all financial. Ron Popeill and others are paying the cable and dish companies big bucks to expose you to their wares. We could call that TV neutrality.

The situation with the internet is a little different. If you want blazing fast internet you pay more than someone who only needs to check their e-mail and can get along quite nicely with the slowest speed at the lowest cost. Then you can look at any sites you choose b ut the pages and the videos and the music will load more slowly than someone who pays more for a faster connection.

So, the next time you open www.thepaper24-7.com web page or look at the ugly guy in the video box, just remember that, so far, you can pay for the speed of internet that you want. Let's hope that is always the case.

Now, Schmidt did not agree that net neutrality is a bad thing. He said the big players in the internet game, the companies that make a lot of money sending the internet through wires to your home and office, have slowed down the internet. Schmidt said that if net neutrality became the law of the land, we would all have better internet service.

But the internet is not free.

Bummer.



Frank Phillips is the Editor of The Paper of Montgomery County. He also has three webblogs and published a web page in 1999 as an experiment.







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