Do you know what “tiered access” is? Chances are good that you do not because there has never been a real widespread adoption of tiered access in major areas where it affects the lives of a lot of people. Tiered access essentially means that those who pay more will receive higher quality of service while those who pay less will receive a much lower quality of service.
There’s an interesting article in The New Yorker about how many ISPs are considering a tiered access strategy for companies that use their bandwidth:
Until recently, companies that provided Internet access followed a de-facto commoncarriage rule, usually called “network neutrality,” which meant that all Web sites got equal treatment. Network neutrality was considered so fundamental to the success of the Net that Michael Powell, when he was chairman of the F.C.C., described it as one of the basic rules of “Internet freedom.” In the past few months, though, companies like A.T. & T. and BellSouth have been trying to scuttle it. In the future, Web sites that pay extra to providers could receive what BellSouth recently called “special treatment,” and those that don’t could end up in the slow lane.
Once again ISPs are trying to make money from both sides — they collect money from the consumer to connect to the internet from their home and now they are trying to charge websites to provide better service. Where’s Googlenet when you need it?
Hat tip to Bob Lefsetz for pointing me towards this story.