Wednesday, June 4 2008, 01:36 am

The Death Nell Sounds for the Internet

Internet providers are increasingly looking for ways to inconvenience their customers. Sure, they try and advertise how friendly and helpful their service is, but that's to coddle the majority of their customers who are computer illiterate. Beneath that thin, pretty shell lies a tangled web of network infrastructure.

The latest scheme to hit the USA is bandwidth metering. This process involves your Internet provider (ISP) keeping track of how much you use the Internet. The amount of web pages you visit, the amount of pictures you look at, the amount of videos you watch. All of those things involve bits and lots of these bits turn into a problem for ISPs, or so they want you to believe. An ISP will set a limit to how much you can use per month. If you go over your limit you will be automatically charged extra money. However, the USA isn't the first to see such practices. Our neighbors to the north in Canada have several ISPs that have metering in place. It's also known to be in Australia and other parts of the world.

ISPs are at the behest of their network team, and not every company has the same team. Most teams are ignorant of proper network management, but that's not what they tell their superiors. I've been involved with several companies whose infrastructure is run by individuals who don't know the difference between their butt and a whole in the ground. Although the metaphor is a bit rough, it's entirely accurate. They've taken this or that course that tells them about Cisco routers. Great, right? They can spend $10,000 on network equipment and make their boss happy. Long story short, much of the policies set in place by these teams are short sighted and irrelevant. For example, some cable ISPs block incoming ports on their customers connections. The explaination for doing this is to curb spam. This does nothing to stop the spread of spam. The only thing it accomplishes is customer grief. Other companies believe in blocking all ports and only opening them when they feel the need. The heads of these network teams are hard headed, and refuse to even consider alternative methods of doing their work.

Since the ISPs teams failed to implement a high bandwidth infrastructure, and they've run out of budget because they spent all their blood money on overpriced products, they're asking you, the consumer, to "back off" your Internet usage. Unlimited Internet will cease to exist (most companies have already dumped this marketing scheme). But, wait! Arn't companies promising to bring more through the Internet? Movies? Music? Telephone? So, with more and more of our life transfering to the Internet, the ISPs are wanting us to "back off" and they will charge us even more money when we flow over our limits. Win, win for the ISPs, lose, lose for us.

If you currently are metered, change ISPs if you can before it is too late. However, not everyone will change so competing ISPs will see that the customer retention ratio isn't affected too much and they, too, will implement metering. The Internet must be kept as open as possible for humanity to continue to thrive. Yes, it sounds radical, but everything is becoming Internet based. Viva la free Internet.