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The Media

Macropayments: ISPs pay Content Providers for Access 140

EssJay writes: "A norwegian newssite ( has a story (norwegian) about a swedish company's filter-system which enable content-delivery sites to differentiate between different ISP's. This means that the ISP has to pay a fee to the site in order to enable the site's content to the ISP's users. Another story (also norwegian) discusses the implications of this. They report that the swedish company (Tric AB) will "act as a third party between ISP's and content-suppliers with the intent to let the content-suppliers get a share of the access-income. It will act as a clearinghouse where the income from the ISP's is distributed to different content-suppliers in relation to size and traffic". According to a swedish newssite (, Tric has already gathered the largest content-suppliers in Sweden and they are already in discussions with the large ISP and telecoms in Sweden (Telia, Tele2 etc.) which are positive to this. The background for this initiative is the problem of financing the content on the Internet. So far it's all been advertising and subsidising from other parts of the companies, now it will be the up to the ISP and telecom-companies to share the income with other actors. This would also be the death of smaller ISP's that feed off the free structure of the net, given that this model is applied to the entire net. And not to forget the new business created: clearinghouses. We were just waiting for another level of complicity." Either your ISP pays a fee to the content provider (raising your access fees, of course), or the provider blocks access to itself from all of your ISP's users and you have to deal with their complaints. We'll probably see this in the U.S. soon, as the next stage in the media consolidation.
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Macropayments: ISPs pay Content Providers for Access

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This isn't as bad as it sounds, and it's an idea from the mobile internet in Japan...

    The dismal failure so far of WAP is in part due to companies providing content but getting nothing in return, consequently none want to do it. The Japenese i-mode mobile internet system already share revenues between network operator and i-mode sites and these guys are making a fortune.

    With the number of .coms going down the tubes these days a form of income other than rapidly shrinking advertising pie is actually a good thing.


    Ministar nepretpostavljenih okolnosti
    Get in close for the Bees' eye view.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This may eventually lead to the development of "networks" of mutually cooperating sites. The AOL Time Warner network (inaccessible if you're on Earthlink), the Turner network, etc. It would be like the current UGO/Snowball situation, except with teeth. You'd subscribe to packages of sites, like premium cable.

    Gad. Well, now I know what I'll end up nostalgically reminiscing about, when I'm an old geezer. "In my day, it was all free! Free, I tell you! You young sprats today don't know what REAL surfing was like..."

  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @05:46AM (#87589) Homepage
    ...isn't this the exact same idea I posted some time ago to a different story? (this one []). Should have patented it, dammit :P

  • by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:25AM (#87590) Homepage
    That would require that the proxy be running on an account at the other ISP (unless I misunderstand you), which someone is paying for, so the ISP still gets money.

  • Actually, you also must remember that much of these clearinghouses may not be on the consumer networks. While the top 4 ISPs control 90% of the consumer market, I would expect a much smaller fraction of content sites to be in conjunctions with those ISPs, and instead on business networks (eg uunet, sprint, etc). And these are the sites that will probably want to charge you, as those sites on consumer ISP networks (like for AOL/TW people) simply need to ask for premium placement on the ISP's main page or software installs, in order to get eyeballs; sites like zdnet, on the other hand, would have to institute this fee to AOL/TW to 'make up' for lost ad profits.

    It's still all BS. There is no magical pile of money to be made on the Internet alone. Charging for content will simply cause the Internet to revert back to the ways of pre AOL; sites on the net for the sake of being on the net without commercial interference.

  • According to Marx, the big will get bigger until the whole thing collapses in a huge singularity. Of course, he was read by the enemy and they wrote anti-trust laws and encouraged stock ownership by the common man. But basically, his analysis stands.


  • Update: Turner's CNN is part of AOL Time Warner.

    These advertising/infotainment sites have no value to thinking people anyway. Who cares if idiots will be forced to pay to access them?


  • by Outlyer ( 1767 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @05:47AM (#87594) Homepage
    This is the same business model that content providers (i.e. TV Stations) have been using for years with cable providers. It seems quite good (for the content providers and the cable companies), but the catch is, of course, that instead of having lot's of content, you only get the content approved by the company. If this takes off, we could end up with "10000 sites and nothing's on!", not unlike the current dilemma with TV...
  • by Jason Earl ( 1894 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @08:02AM (#87595) Homepage Journal

    It'll never happen. People think that Linux has a chicken and egg problem getting access to commercial applications. Any system that charges ISPs for access to content has a much larger problem. They have to sign up content providers that have content that a significant amount of an ISPs customers are willing to pay for, and then they have to convince that content provider that it is a better idea to sign up with their service (and pay the requisite commission) than to simply charge the end user themselves.

    Fat chance of that happening.

    Especially since many of the content providers already are access providers. AOL/Time Warner stands out as the best example. They are already using their "special" content as a hook to lure customers. Many of the other "large" ISPs have the same business model. One of their hooks is special proprietary information or tools. There is literally no chance that they are going to pay dues so that their subscribers can view their competitors for-pay sites, as they would rather have their customers see their own commercial sites. And without AOL's customers, and the customers from the non-complying normal ISPs the service will be severely limited in its market.

    The fact of the matter is that once a product becomes a commodity, putting it back in the proprietary bag is nearly impossible. I am surprised this particular company isn't trying to charge for air and sunshine while they are at it.

    Currently ISPs are running on razor thing margins. They aren't going to pay access fees for their users. Web companies are going to have to find a way to charge their customers directly, or they are going to have to find a way to show advertisers that their advertisements actually work. Micropayments isn't going to work, and macropayments are even less likely to work.

  • I agree with the sentiment of the previous article. Furthermore this has no impact on P2P exchanges of files and information. My impression is that this proposal just improves the situation both for those who want to purchase their cable TV via the net and those who don't care for that idea.
  • by el_nino ( 4271 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @05:47AM (#87597) Homepage Journal
    The company behind this has a homepage in English @ []
    Niklas Nordebo | niklas at
  • Nice idea, but the infrastructure required would be pretty hefty, I'd imagine.
  • If the big guys all want to charge admission, and the little and medium size sites don't charge admission, maybe that'll get more people to check out the free sites before pushing their ISPs to subscribe and raise the monthly rate to cover the cost. This might actually be good for little sites, providing that they actually have content worth bothering with. We might even see an evolution of "broadcast" and "cable" internet channels, free but with ads, and "pay per view, or HBO type".
  • "We all (well, many of us), got on the internet in an earlier time... and I'm not talking about last century."

    Well, unless you mean earlier this year (2001), you are talking about last century (the 20th).

    So much of my life occurred in the 20th century that when someone says something like "the (insert superlative here)of this century", it takes me a moment to realise that they're talking about the 21st.

  • Content providers have largely given up on asking the end user for money. The fact is, people just aren't willing to pay. Whether this is a rational attitude for people to have is beside the point; people won't pay for the sort of thing they can get for free by switching on their TV.

    So instead of looking to the end user, the sites are looking to the ISP. Well, just maybe, some ISPs will pay up. But they will have to raise their charges to the users; and again, the users will be faced with the choice of paying extra for "premium" content, or paying less and having to live without certain sites.

    You know what? People will choose not to pay.

    What really bothers me about this is that we're getting away from the concept of the location-transparent Internet. Up 'til now, all ISPs have basically been equal, and able to compete with each other on largely fair, equal terms - for instance, how often you get an engaged tone, how polite the helpdesk staff are, etc. But if this idea takes off, you may find yourself stuck with a shitty ISP because they're the only one in your area that pays for access to (Not that you would ever be in this situation, which brings me back to my earlier point).

  • I was commenting on the fact that sites have not tried _individual_ subscriptions, by and large, not the harebrained idea of making ISP:s pay for users' content.
  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:38AM (#87603) Homepage
    Well, that's not quite true. They haven't given up as much as largely been afraid to ask in the first place. There is a lot of 'conventional wisdom' that states that nobody will pay for content (excepting those sites that _do_ charge for content and makes a living from it).

    A few mainstream sites have begun trying a subscription model (Salon is an example, pr0n is another). From the site operators perspective is that they probably will lose a good deal of their readers; the question is if they lose too many, making the model a losing proposition or not.

    From the POV of us surfers, the question becomes wether we are prepared to pay for the offered content. That answer is probably heavily dependent on what the content is and how much it would cost. If it's information readily available at fifty other locations, we would probably not bother, while if it's a site with unique material - and that we have become dependent on - many might well be prepared to pay. That given, for newssites (like dn or nytimes), I'd expect to get the full text from the printed version and no banner ads.

    This also ties in to the question of payment on the net in general, of course. It doesn't matter if the enformation is perceived as very cheap, if the hassle to actually pay for it is too great.

    With the demise of some sites recently, and a subscription model being tried for others, I've started to really think about what sites I'd be prepared to pay for. In the end, it turns out that there's about four regular sites that'd get my money (given a reasonable fee), while another dozen would be dropped.

  • Media consolidation would be impossible in
    the USA or Canada. Looking at the recent
    purchase of TVA in Québec where they must
    sell the network TQS, there is no chance of
    stuff like that over there.
    Here we have the antitrust laws which forbid
    control of everything. It is also impossible
    to control news in one area. So tell me how
    this so called media consolidation could ever
    be possible?
  • Originally, the Internet was meant to be about sharing... information, files, whatever... but sharing.

    Er, no, it was about communicating between computers and route the information in such a way that if a node was down an alternative route could be found. Very important for Defense, which paid for it. Then, much later, it grew into this commercial beast with little of the (expensive) redundancy required to have good reliability.

    If you by Internet mean WWW, then the initial idea wasn't as altruistic either, but was simply to find a way for researchers at CERN to link information together.

  • If we all got off of our asses and bought some good 802.11 HW, we could create quite a large shared wireless network, free from all of the ISP charges etc. People with cable modems could provide bandwidth to a lot of people, and under the service agreements it would be totally legal. A hack of freenet could get things to be anonymous also. I am working on getting 5 people in my local neighborhood to hook up and see how things go. For $200 you can get the wireless adapter and for another $200 or even $100 you can have a firewall/router to the net. We are going to have 5 wireless nets all connected to ther router out to the internet. Once one of the participants gets their cable modem we are going to have two links to use. Even if the wired net goes away, we can still have local wireless nets. If your on Long Island and want to participate or investigate then let me know. The few who have good bandwidth should share it for everyone.
  • 6 years after being obsoleted by the internet, the Minitel business model comes back : paying for service indirectly through the provider was indeed the grounds for the huge online revenue that the Minitel system made in France from the early 80s to the mid 90s. This system had already been reproduced in the succesful i-mode mobile online services in Japan.

    For the records, France Telecom realized in 1995 that the minitel system was dead and canceled plans to update the terminal. 6 years later, the online business as a whole is still a loss maker.

  • Maybe on AOL -
    People on the internet are too used to the idea that everything can be had for free.
    Here in Tokyo, there's a new service called Usen - They're offering 100 megabit connections to the internet. From what I've heard, they offer a lot of micro-payment-type sevices along with that connection.
    You've got to put some real value-added services in the mix for micropayments to work. Would you put up with a lot of AOL/Time/Warner type crap to get the fastest possibe connection to what you actually want to see?
    Trust me, it's not going to be based on any type of peer-to-peer model - People will always figure out a way to do that stuff for free. When 5 MB is no longer a big amount of data to email to a friend, i.e., when that's the size of your typical Outlook.NET email, it will be impossible to stop the free flow of MP3's and other BLOB data around the net.
    Well, as long as there is PGP/GPG, that is...

    Jim in Tokyo

    MMDC Mobile Media []
  • "2.There are better models under consideration. A better system is settlements. Like the current TelCo model, peers pay each other for the imbalance of traffic across their peering points. The concensus opinion on how to do it is to pass the charge toward the people consuming bandwidth away from the people providing it. This would ultimately drop the cost of being on the Internet for the people who are providing content. One of the chief reasons this hasn't happened yet was PSINet's refusal to go along with it (reason they offered free peering.) Now their failing and turning off peers. "

    This idea is good, but just lowering the access cost for content providers may not always be good enough. In addition to access costs, it cost money to run the servers, pay sysadmins, obtain content, and manage a site. Some sites may not be able to stay up unless they can have enough of a positive cash flow to cover these things as well.
  • This could allow ISP's to have tiers of service. Basic access could be at the "normal" rate and those wanting access to an "enhanced" packages of what are now pay sites (Like Wall Street Journal) and perhaps a small array of financial sites could pay one low price to one entity to access them all.
  • "Our" internet is about IRC, Freenet, .org's, and .edu's which will continue to be a community... I hope
    "I hope" is right.

    For those of us getting access through some means other than a freenet or .edu this might mean higher prices so our ISPs can write big checks to Disney, Sony, ...

    Even if I never visit their content I'm sure the price for those that do will be evenly distributed over the ISPs customer base.

    "The last thing I want to do is deal with a bunch of people who want something."

  • What I am mulling over is the question how the charge-for-content will impact on the add situation. Most of the sites I visit are bound to be free or cheap, since the content is provided by the users. Will they be able to cover their operation costs by getting the adds? Or paid for enough for showing them?

    Some of the sites I visit are like slashdot, and they have different problem. Most links presented here are on sites that will charge for the access (cnet, cnn(?), nytimes, eetimes, etc.) because that is what they are in the business for. And will I be able to access the articles that are presented on slashdot? I cannot be sure that I have the same access to some info as CmdrTaco or the original poster have. I definitely will not have the same ISP, as I am not in the US.

  • I think the Texas "Myth" was actually quite a real statistic in its time, you forget we didn't always have 6+ billion people on earth.

    And in less than a hundred years we've reached 6 billion. That doesn't make you think?

    From my article:Our best case above adds up to 60% of the continental US to feed everyone a minimal diet. The "realistic" (and still wildly optimisitic) case... 3.5 times the surface area of the U.S. Hmmm... only 19% of the US is arable land, and 25% is grazing land.

    We don't have "plenty of land." Large chunks of land on Earth are not, and cannot be made, arable. And did you entirely miss the whole discussion of water?

    The "Greed Factor" makes it worse, not better. Didn't it strike you how much land is needed for support in the best case? Unless you have a magic cure for greed, we're going to have to take it into account in coming up with a solution.

    Ah, well, if that didn't convince you that the current (and projected future) situation isn't sustainable, I can't imagine what would.

  • There was once a study done that showed every person in the world (this study was done between 1900-idon'tknow) could have a full acre in Texas. Believe me, the Earth has plenty of land.

    Actually, at this point it's around a ninth of an acre. And it's an extremely misleading statistic, if you think about it at all. I put together what I think is a pretty thorough refutation here [].

  • Internet access has become more and more of a commodity. In a commodity market, the most important element of a business is 'what does this business add to the product that no one else does?'

    Will this be what is used in the future to differentiate AT&T Worlnet from Sprint from MSN from AOL from the local mom&pop shop? Will free access to the Wall Street Journal be attractive enough to cause the average Joe to switch providers when the information in the WSJ is available at so many other places? (I'm assuming that hobbyist pages will not fall under this type of agreement.)

  • In the future, they'll be easier (which might not always be a good thing) but e-gold lets you do micropayments & accomodate diverse interests right now. e-gold is also a good way to pay for services delivered instantly online, such as (but not limited to) ISPs, IMO. There are other flavors of currency as well (more of them seem to spring up every day...)

    As usual, /. folks can try a small bit of e-gold for free by contacting me with an account number. Thanks.

  • Its english-hounds like you who give intelligence a bad name. Do you comment on my point? no. You comment on my spelling/grammar. How childish and unimaginative of you. Its entirely possible I'm an imperfect human who doesn't see the need to pretend to be perfect thru the effort of spell checking unless I'm either asking for money or communicating with a client in a professional manner. But naturally you people never think of that.

    Meaty worthwild criticism is always welcome however.

  • Ya, I read your article. Its "interesting". I think the Texas "Myth" was actually quite a real statistic in its time, you forget we didn't always have 6+ billion people on earth. But so what, lets revise my point.. As you say, we need 10 Texases. Big deal. Look at the size of the earth. Give or take, we have PLENTY OF LAND. And with greenhouse-skyscrappers... forget about it.

    What your paper doesn't factor in on all this is the Greed Factor.. Thats why we have an obessity problem in the US, and we have world-hungry the further away you go from the US. Man appears to have no clue about fair dispisral of what we have so much of.

  • I agree with you about the bandwidth. In the end the data is saved on the hard drive, so its only a matter of time til you get it. But because everything has been speeding up in our lives, we grow less and less patient to get what we want, hence the "bandwidth problem" when only a few years back, it was a joy to watch data DRAW on a 300 baud modem. :)

    But again. The only reason we don't have enough bandwidth is because all that dark-fiber is just laying there BECAUSE.. of Money. :)

  • First the internet was a university research tool.
    Then it went to public access.. followed by commericialzation of the latest saliva-inducing gold-mine that is the web. The Free Spirit is being drowned out by the desire to make money, which is nothing more then just a mirror image of the people who make up the real world, hopping onto the net and trying to do what they do in the real world... make money, get laid.

    So whats happening on the internet is we see more junk, we see consolidation, we see great free-content sites like Mathworld fall pray to IP.

    What are we to do?

    The answer lies in figuring out the formula to reverse trickle down economics. Fight the system rather then continue to take it up the ass. Otherwise soon there will be NO PLACE to escape the real world, for it would have simply engulfed our latest and greastest escape.

    I view the Internet as the Final Front for We the People. If we loose the battle here, we'll forever be under the grip of evil greedy men who know no other way. I think the basic ideals in the Internet more then hint that there is another way.

    Heck, I have a friend who actually bought his girlfriend a present for her birthday IN EVERQUEST (it cost ALOT of platnium too)! You know what that tells me? We have a generation that finds value in the virtual world, and the virtual world is limitless, so shouldn't we be?

    Another example.. Programmers are more likely to help people for free then Lawyers are. Yet both professions involve coded langauge. Lawyers have woven into the spirit of making money, whereas Programmers have woven into the spirit of the Internet. I can't thank the Internet enough for Linux. Wow.

    It always amazed me that we had so many battles in europe over land. Not enough room for us. Then we discover America. And we still fought. Don't we have enough land??

    There was once a study done that showed every person in the world (this study was done between 1900-idon'tknow) could have a full acre in Texas.
    Believe me, the Earth has plenty of land. And we definitely have plenty of hard drive space. Man keeps fighting because it has yet to figure out another value system. How long are we to be animals under the guise of survival of the fittest? When are we going to actually stand upright and look up the word "Humane" in the nearest dictionary?


    Technetos, Inc.

  • when the ISP is providing/creating the content, e.g. AOL or Compuserver...

    Interesting to set it up in a non-partisan way though...

    Seems the best thing to do would be to offer area-specific things to allow ISPs to differentiate themselves, or, maybe this sort of thing will foster interest-specific ISPs... hmm, wonder if has been registered yet...

    Lettering Art in Modern Use
  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:29AM (#87622) Homepage
    Anyone who's involved with a unversity has been dealing with this sort of thing for years.

    Enyclopedia Britanica and many other research sites restrict by IP address, so universities have had to set up authenticating reverse proxies, so that some faculty member/student who's dialing up from home can still access the information.

    The fact that this is moving to places other than the education front might be interesting, but I'm guessing that as it's been done on the education front for 6+ years, that the only real news is that someone's willing to set themselves up as mediators.

    For more information about reverse proxying, take a look at

  • I can't image that any site I'm interested in would ever do something so stupid as this.

    But, you never know what's going to happen...

  • I do not care about their business model. For me it sucks.

    1. I don't want to pay for something I don't want to see.
    2. I do not want to have to look for another ISP when my current one finds another way to add value to the customer
    3. I do not want to pay the clearinghouse 15% of what I pay for content.

    If I wanted any of these, I would be an AOL member...

    Why do you people are so excited about business models for making money on the Internet.

    I can give you a business model: a painter makes paintings but nobody buys them. He then gets a gun, goes out on the street and shouts: whomever passes by my house has to buy a painting...

  • ... and all the problems inherent:

    This means that the ISP has to pay a fee to the site in order to enable the site's content to the ISP's users.

    What do I do when my ISP isn't 'carrying' a particular site? Cable TV networks only carry certain channels, and it's almost impossible to get less than mainstream channels added to the lineup.

    Sure, there's more competition in ISPs than in cable TV these days, but no single ISP is likely to carry all the 'networks' i'm interested in.

  • Except by that time those of us who like to freely share information would already have hopped on to Internet 2, which would be declared by law off-limits to all commercial enterprise. And WE will live happily ever after within our realm of free information while THEIR world will gradually spin out of control into anarchy. Tee hee...
  • I think you're assuming that the proxy will be open by default, and just pick on the largest ISPs they can find. I suspect they'll block everyone and then wait for ISPs to buzz them requesting access.

    I would be very surprised if the anonymizing services could really afford these fees with the number of non-subscribers they're carrying.


  • DOH!!!

    You are so right.

    What's that saying, "The Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it." Looks like you're saying the same thing will happen here. It'd be much more complex once counter-measures got involved, but it would ultimately still work.

    My bust.


  • Media consolidation: the process by which large media providers control more and more media. An obvious corollary is that the little guy is getting frozen out of the equation.

    Think AOL/Time-Warner. At one time, AOL, Time, and Warner Brothers represented 3 of the largest media companies on earth. Now they're one company. Do you think this makes it cheaper or more expensive to obtain access to media?

    Where the phrase applies here is that for Joe User to gain access to content, his ISP now has to go through another middleman. While AOL/Time-Warner or Earthlink will probably get sweetheart deals for this, Alteran's Fly-by-Night Local ISP service will probably get a more expensive rate per customer. This is why the big ISPs, like AOL, are not fighting this development-- they get to strangle out the few remaining mom and pops without incurring the fallout of being anti-competitive.


  • I don't believe that what the story says will happen: The ISP paying for mass subscriptions for their paying customers. It just isn't logical, except for a very small number of services with a very large general demand (such as the electronic telephone book in Switzerland, which is paid for by this model).

    For normal sites, the interests of ISP's customers vary way too much. The ISP can't possibly subscribe to all services in the world, only for the The customer subscribing himself to those sites that really interest him, independant of ISP makes much more sense. The only problem to be solved is the (micro)payment. Also having access via different ISP's and places (home and work) is only possible when the user subscribes himself.

  • Yes, and so is your ISP bill assuming you pay on a per-month/unlimited usage basis. I think this will be along the lines of the subscription channels that the cable companies offer (such as HBO or Cinemax). In other words, if you want the content offered by Site X, you pay an extra $2.95 per month. I guess this is kind of what a lot of pr0n sites are doing now, but this will be billed by the ISP rather than the actual content provider. I don't see many people wanting to pay for content that they don't want, therefore, it wouldn't make sense for an ISP to make price hikes across the board, just to get more content into their service. I really don't see this as a viable business model either, as there will always be a free alternative out there somewhere that people will gravitate towards.
  • by JWW ( 79176 )
    Soon my ISP's going to charge me money for content on sites I don't visit, just wonderful.

    Wonder what my bill's going to be $50, $100 a month? (and thats for dialup)

    Well perhaps the content portion of my ISP payment will become the largest portion of what I have to pay, then the cost of a cable modem will become a moot point.
  • From this news article in Swedish []:

    Tric [] has invented a filter which allows media sites to recognize what surfers have what Internet providers. This way the sites may allow or disallow surfers depending on whether the provider has an agreement with the site.

    Is this an invention? Must have been hard! :-)

  • Nah. Just route everyone on the ISP through a proxy server (which should be done anyways, squid anyone). Then the content provider charges per click from the proxy server, and the proxy server has logs of who made that click. If a user tries to go around the PS, then the content provider won't recognize the connecting IP and will refuse to send content, or ask for money directly.
  • Smaller sites are never going to get the ear of the biggest ISPs that hold the real dollars. It's the bigger sites that you may see trying this in the future. It's a lot like the cable TV industry -- you provide the premium channel, the cable TV network pays you to carry it, and the cable TV network charges the consumer for the service. It's an interesting idea.
    Josh Woodward
  • by johnos ( 109351 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @05:49AM (#87636)
    Those free trial disks are going to start looking good again!
  • I'm not so sure. . . for better or worse, I think there's a good chance it will happen.

    Point 1:
    It would be easy enough for an ISP to opt-in on a case by case basis so users could pay $20/month for access but $25/month for "premium" access.

    Point 2:
    Heh. thats my favoriate. When was the last time something was implemented in the the business world simple because it was a better system?

    Point 3:
    Thats the thing about the internet, they wouldn't have to get to every ISP, just a few. Those could then sell full access or proxy access. "Your ISP isn't signed up for Slashdot? Pay $5 to and get Slashdot and 50 other great sites!"


  • Are you saying that ISPs would create tiered services where their users would opt in for access to restricted sites. This would mean that someone like CNN would go from 1 million readers to something like 20 thousand.

    This is where content sites are headed. Look at salon. These sites need to make money somehow, and if bannerad won't cut it, its either the ISPs or the users. Like salon, places probably won't get rid of all their free content, but offer special access.

    First, many site visitors won't go looking for a proxy until the site is no longer reachable. Some sites may redirect the requests to a list of paid ISPs and proxies, but that could be a hassle to maintain.

    it would be a hassle. but a paying hassle is better than going out of business

    Second, if the only site you want out of the ones offered by the proxy is Slashdot, would you pay $5 for access to it?

    I know the cable analogy isn't perfect, but I pay $30 a month when I only want SciFi and Comedy Central.

    Third, users won't be able to go to via a proxy by typing into their browser instead they'd have to go to something like and then will have to rewrite all the internal site URLs.

    There are many ways around this, cookies come to mind. If the content site (slashdot) really wanted to work with the ISPs providing proxies (and presumable paying them real money), you could type and then slashdot could set a cookie and redirect you directly to There are undoubtably better ways to do it.

    I'm not saying its a good thing, I'm as much against the coropratization of the internet as the next guy, but in the post dot-com era, the content sites left really need a viable business model.


  • From a peer's point of view a content provider will consume bandwith, it might provide bits... but it still consumes bandwith. Only backbones provide bandwith, hosts never.

    Actually, backbones provide bandwidth capacity, not bandwidth data. Hosts are responsible for nearly all of the data. Some of it is fairly symetrical (e.g. SMTP) and some (e.g. streaming media) is highly assymetrical. In a settlement system, things like email would essentially be a wash. NNTP and the various 'web' protocols have the greatest imbalance.

    If you have a T3 peering connection, you'd compare the difference between inbound and outbound traffic over that connection and settle the difference. If you've got nothing but web hosts on your side, you'll send more bandwidth out over that connection than you'll receive in over it (something like 6:1.) If you've got nothing but modems, you'll see almost the exact opposite in traffic patterns (1:6.)

    The biggest side effect of this would be higher prices for bandwidth capacity for small ISPs who'll have to learn how to provide collocation services to balance their circuit, or die.

    It might be a nice idea in theory to charge towards peers who consume data and away from peers who provide data, with a slight surcharge per bit to pay for bandwith costs, but hosting a spammer or a DOS attack will provide data just as well as good content.

    DOS attacks are illegal and hosting spammers will turn your ISP into a rogue that'll be blacklisted by groups like MAPs and most have acceptible use clauses in the bandwidth agreements with their backbone provider. The last ISP that actively pursued spammers as customers, AGIS, was virtually destroyed by it. Even their legitimate customers found their email blocked as AGIS found their entire IP space blocked my mail administrators.

    Also keep in mind that settlements will provide a mechanism to pay for quality multi-media content. It'll also reduce some of the strain on the backbone by encouraging ISPs to implement caching of static content.
  • They would do this in order to take the content away from the small ISP's, which in turn would drive more users to the large ISP's. Then once again the larger services are giving away what the smaller services cannot afford to.

    You raise a good point, however I think that large ISPs could only keep out the small ones if the content providers were willing to charge a flat, high price. I don't think content providers would expect some mom and pop ISP to pay as much as AOL for access to their site.

    Also, content providers would have to be willing to cut off the majority of their visitors if they only deal with large ISPs. If you look at the access stats for a large site, the highest percentage for a given domain (usually AOL, is in the teens.) This would likely be death for community sites, like /. for example. They'd have to blindly abandon their current business model and put themselves at the mercy of getting all their revenue from a few large clients.

    It's not unimaginable, just highly unlikely and doomed to fail.
  • Do you? Netscape killed Netscape, but I wouldn't expect a Slashdotter to understand.

    Well, perhaps this is a troll, but I'll bite.

    I've been using Netscape since version 0.99. And watched its demise. As the courts have upheld, Microsoft abused it's market position to paint Netscape into a corner. If you've built a business on selling an Internet Suite (TCP stack, Browser, Mail and News programs), how do you compete with a competitor that not only gives the same stuff away, but pays ISPs to give it away (and bars them from supporting Netscape as part of the distro agreement)? Remember that when IE was first added to Windows (part of 95b) you could download netscape, but it was at a blazing 33.6kbps max speed.

    I'm sure Netscape could have done a better job defending itself, but being inept at self defense is not the same thing as suicide.
  • Point 1: It would be easy enough for an ISP to opt-in on a case by case basis so users could pay $20/month for access but $25/month for "premium" access.

    I'm not sure if I understand what you're saying? Are you saying that ISPs would create tiered services where their users would opt in for access to restricted sites. This would mean that someone like CNN would go from 1 million readers to something like 20 thousand. First, many ISPs won't be extorted like this and will pass on it, most likely cutting CNN to something like 20% of its current traffic. Then if end users of the ISPs who do pay have to opt-in to get access to the one or two top sites they want access to, many would pass on the additional $5 for those couple of sites. If 10% actually opt-in, your talking about cutting down to 2% of the original visitors.

    If instead you mean that content providers might strip adds if ISPs pay them to (basically bulk subscription), that would be interesting, but still unlikely.

    Point 3: Thats the thing about the internet, they wouldn't have to get to every ISP, just a few. Those could then sell full access or proxy access. "Your ISP isn't signed up for Slashdot? Pay $5 to and get Slashdot and 50 other great sites!"

    Proxy access has a few problems. First, many site visitors won't go looking for a proxy until the site is no longer reachable. Some sites may redirect the requests to a list of paid ISPs and proxies, but that could be a hassle to maintain.

    Second, if the only site you want out of the ones offered by the proxy is Slashdot, would you pay $5 for access to it?

    Third, users won't be able to go to via a proxy by typing into their browser instead they'd have to go to something like and then will have to rewrite all the internal site URLs.
  • Look at it this way -- MSIE's dominance only really started when Netscape 4.x started to lag behind.

    According to this dataquest press release [], Microsoft had already captured 39% of the market when NN4 was being released.

    Let my explain my perspective with an analogy: Mr. Netscape decides to take a short cut through an alley in the middle of the night. Out from the shadows, comes Mr. Microsoft, who stabs (bundles browser with OS) Netscape, takes his wallet (gives away the browser and pays others to do likewise), and leaves him for dead. Bleeding but still alive, Netscape stumbles out of the alley and turns south looking for help, eventually he collapses, and dies, on the door step of Mr AOL who revives him as an undead zombie. Mr AOL hides Netscape in his basement because he has an agreement with Microsoft not to show him to anyone, not even his closest friends (their subscribers.)

    Now, was Netscape stupid to go down that alley? Sure. Could he have done a better job of defending himself against the knife weilding attacker? Sure. If he wasn't in shock and new first aid, could he have lived? Perhaps. Does his failure to do any of these things adequately make it his fault that he was knifed and robbed? No.

    Another thing to consider is that had Netscape been more successful in fighting off Microsoft, something the court says would have been difficult given Microsoft's unfair dealings, it would mitigate much of any claims of damages Netscape could now sue for as a result of those judgements.
  • by cybermage ( 112274 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:30AM (#87644) Homepage Journal
    This will not happen in the US for several reasons, including:

    1. The only sites that have enough of a percentage of any one ISPs user base that an ISP would even consider paying, are the ones already making money. Usually, it's is the big guys in price wars who give it away to eliminate competition (remember how Microsoft killed Netscape's 90% marketshare.)
    2. There are better models under consideration. A better system is settlements. Like the current TelCo model, peers pay each other for the imbalance of traffic across their peering points. The concensus opinion on how to do it is to pass the charge toward the people consuming bandwidth away from the people providing it. This would ultimately drop the cost of being on the Internet for the people who are providing content. One of the chief reasons this hasn't happened yet was PSINet's refusal to go along with it (reason they offered free peering.) Now their failing and turning off peers.
    3. Who is an ISP? Internet access comes in more forms than simply from a traditional ISP. It would be a major undertaking just to contact all of the people who control an access point to the Internet. There's something like 14M usuable Class C networks in the IP v4 address space. Even if the typical ISP has 10 of them, that's still 1.4M places to try to shake down for money. Good luck reliably figuring out which are in the US.
  • Waddya think my coffee cup is sitting on right now!
  • This is an example of what the internet isn't supposed to be. What is happening to the original premise...the free exchange of information? Here's a news flash for those so called content providers (Does this "constitute content"? I won't even charge you): The net wasn't built to facilitate restricted access! Example: Why do think your music is being shared freely and there's nothing you can do?

    Another thing: Who decides what constitutes "content"? RIAA? MPAA? Time/Warner? Disney? And how do we even know that their "special content" is even worth anything? I'm going to be mad as hell if I have to pay for "content" sight unseen and find out it's some sucky pseudoarticle "informing" me aboutBritney Spears' first zit!

    Here's another twist: Haven't these guys heard of mirrors? What's to stop someone from gaining access to their precious content and mirroring it in a jurisdiction where they can't be touched?

    This is an idea that needs to be stomped to death before it even gets off the ground.

  • Good points, but I would say the the net equivalent of land is bandwidth (or perhaps eyeballs or domain names, seeing the way ppl have fought over those), and not hd space.

    God does not play dice with the universe. Albert Einstein

  • small isp's can sell their demand for content

    I small ISP's already buy their bandwidth from a bigger ISP.

    death is change
  • We all (well, many of us), got on the internet in an earlier time... and I'm not talking about last century. Originally, the Internet was meant to be about sharing... information, files, whatever... but sharing. That's a cooperative thing. Over the past five years, we've seen (I'd imagine) a decline in non-commercial pages... fewer (percentagewise, at least) people put up useful personal pages, and I don't think even those of us who use the internet for research (either technical or otherwise) really benefitted that much from the boom of the last 3 years. So why shouldn't an internet that's about big companies serving info to people charge? If the people don't give back to the big companies (which they don't) by putting up smaller, useful, web pages, shouldn't they give back money? In the geek circles, we give back to each other by helping each other out... which is why we do it in the first place... but what does a company get out of the internet if not money? I know someone will post a higher modded response talking about importance of communication, how the companies benefit, etc. etc. etc. But think for a minute... the outside worlds internet is, has been, and always will be a commercial venture. "Our" internet is about IRC, Freenet, .org's, and .edu's which will continue to be a community... I hope ;)
  • This seems quite similar to what music publishers do with radio. In this case large providers will probably cut their own deals, but smaller sites will have to band together to get their piece of the pie. Good or evil? Inevitable.
  • What is stopping users from using anonymous proxies?

    Someone sets up an ad-based anonymous proxy server in one of the paid-for ISPs, and everyone can access the site. Am I missing something here? How do they stop this from happening on a large scale? This just doesn't seem like it'd be a very effective business model. If your payment scheme is annoying enough, people will try to circumvent it.

    Think of a shared network of encrypted anonymous proxies, where everyone on the network lets everyone else on the network use their bandwidth in exchange for being a part of the network. Kind of like a grass-roots organized effort to combat silliness in pricing schemes (e.g. Napster or Gnutella).

    Oh yeah, that's basically what the Internet was supposed to be in the first place. Silly me. The only way I could see this working is if somehow (miraculously) the costs of an Internet connection did not go up significantly as a result.

  • I was actually assuming a system where the connection was closed by default. Anything else would be silly (after all, why wouldn't people just switch isps then?).

    I was thinking more along the lines of a piece of proxy software that allows you onto a whole network of proxies. i.e. I have a connection to, but not or I set up this proxy software so others can access my and I can access their and

    If you perpetuate this by a few generations, you get a system not unlike the original Internet.

  • Don't ya think that the ISP will give you a checklist of 'channels' which you can pick 'n choose from?

    I would think that cable companies would do this, too, but they don't. Well, they do to some extent. I can sign up for HBO or Skinemax. But, with basic cable, I'm getting things like the Womens' Entertainment network, Disney, Nickelodeon, and about 50 other channels that I'd rather not pay for and rather not get. But since I don't have a choice, I am paying for them and I am getting them. It's easier and more profitable for the cable company to charge everybody for these.

    There's really not enough competition in the ISP market these days for them to make the extra effort (and lose the extra profit) of allowing personal choice in these matters. They make their money by selling you more, and it's not going to be any different with this macropayment business.

  • Another thing to keep in mind is that this idea is being sprouted in Sweden - a country where nobody sees anything wrong with paying a premium for anything - and the local phone call to the isp(used to at least)was metered and cost more than the internet access.

    I seriously doubt that this kind of model will fly in America/Canada - any more than metered local phone service.

  • by Therlin ( 126989 )
    Didn't MTV try this when they first launched their site and it flopped?
  • In general I support the uncoupling of the various financial layers involved in music, video, and other commercial content. I am against todays IP laws but let's assume for a moment that quite a lot of music and video will be distributed within some kind of DRM system. Just relax and think this through, ok?

    Todays music and film industry is heavily concentrated at most of the levels, acquisition, production and distribution. Markets were always too rigid for consumers to find and sample and buy direct from artists.

    Distributed finance on the internet, technically, allows every one of millions of artists, to go forward creating and selling content and every song could be with different musicians, writers, producers, distribution. And all of them could have different "cuts" of the proceeds (fixed, percentage, etc.) This is a good thing folks. Everybody wants this flexibility even the record labels and distributors. But the accounting was simply impossible before.

    Distributed financial systems let the original funder, and the whole chain of distributors thru to the final website, radio station, record store etc. similarly, bid to perform distribution at different prices. This is a good thing too.

    What is REALLY great is that if this kind of flexible, distributed system takes root in the media industry, you have also uncoupled the payment or settlement system. You have really unleashed a pandoras box because, at the same time unleashed 1 million artists looking for ways to get paid for gazillion small credits from a gazillion places his music might have been sold. Many to many charging, crediting, and settlement on a peer to peer basis. That is a cool thing. Even if there are clearinghouses. Once this is setup, it will educate millions of people about distributed finance. The central clearinghouse would be the only choke point and it would literally stick out like a sore thumb. It will look ridiculous. The artists, distributers, etc. would route around it within a few years, i.e. alternative settlement houses would appear.


  • Draw a circle around any aggregate of hardware, software, people or bandwidth. Bolt on a general ledger and call it a business. If its a router, bolt on an embedded general legdger. Let all the stuff bill each other. When the accounts receivable or accounts payable pile up, offload them to settlement agents for clearing. This is what we have today except the freakin circle is wayyyy too big, it is ridiculously too big. The smaller decentralized finance model will help evyerybody. If somebody deserves 1% more of the revenue from some arbitrary process, go in there and up their fraction of the revenue of that object. Todd.
  • Actually, my understanding is that everywhere ISPs (amongst other corporations) are desperately wanting to get into pay-for-content business. Now, the idea is (or IMO should be) like: "instead of user paying $10 / month for site subscription, we (ISP) pay site $0.5 for each user we have and charge users $1". And, in theory at least, if enough people do find this useful (I'd guess at least like 1/4 of ISP customers being regular readers), everybody would win. Assuming, of course, that other ISP customers would get some other content that they do read, for deeply "discounted" prices. ISP would earn more money, content providers most likely would earn more; not many people want to individually subscribe... And even if they do, for getting advertiser money, nominal 5x or 10x addition could easily allow them to charge less from readers themselves.

    It's also good to note that the idea of per-ISP access is not new. Universities do have deals with sites like Webster or various scientific papers and magazines so that their faculty and students get "free" access to the services, when university pays a fixed sum, probably based on number of potential readers.

    Even though I can see potential problems with paying for stuff you don't care about, that is exactly what you get with newspapers, magazines and TVs. Not all articles are interesting or good; you probably downright hate many of them. And still, there are good ones too, and those make it worth the subscription. Of course the power customers have in choosing what they want affects the success of these programs... But the basic idea might not be all that bad as many writers here have declared.

    Besides; couldn't this be a new chance for smallers ISPs too? I would guess that even though big ISPs will get bigger discounts, smaller ISPs might be able to focus more closely on exactly what their customers want. Or, they could divide the IP-address space (including DHCP) so that they'd have "virtual ISP"s, if the IP-nubers are used for access/blocking, and their customers could choose which domain they want to be part of.

    Well, anyway, it might be good to carefully consider all possibilities of the idea before dismissing as yet another Corporate Plot.

  • The difference is that if I read NY Times and my neighbour reads Playboy, I only have to pay for my NY Times. I think most people would like it to stay that way

    Do you watch all the channels that are available for you on cable/satellite tv (or broadcast)? You are still paying for all the crappy channels you never watch. And the difference between playboy vs. NYT compared is similar to difference between columnist. You can subscribe just one magazine, but not just one columnist. But that's because of level of bundling.

    Most important, though, is that if cost to get this mass subscription was significantly less than individual membership, who cares if you just use small part of them? You'll still pay less than for just getting what you want. And as an added bonus, should NYT interest you, not just Playboy, you can start reading articles.

    As to universities, well, both students and faculty can be thought of paying for it indirectly. However, I guess that total costs are insignificantly low per person, due to fixed prices.

    I'm not claiming it's not a problem that bundling might not fit your needs. But there are also opportunities there (cost, mainly), and it might even spur competition. ISP that has bet "feature set" for you would have a definite edge.

    And finally, subscription model would most likely still only be used for minority of sites, and even those that do, would/will probably have a freebie section as well.

  • Sure hope this doesn't catch on in North America. The great thing about the net is the vast amount of free information, and just surfing from one page to the next. If we have to pay for each site, that would be the death of the term "surfing".


  • Yeah, except my cable bill is a flat monthly rate. Wouldn't this scheme mean I was paying for each site individually?


  • I always thought this was a good idea, at least for small independent content providers. If we're going to have the web be for more than just buying stuff, the money's gotta come from somewhere. It's pretty clear that advertising doesn't work, at least not enough to keep everyone afloat. People are used to "paying for the internet" in one place - at the ISP. The internet kinda has an amusement park feel to it - pay once and you get to go on all the rides for free. So if some of the money coming from the ISP went to the content providers, I think it'd be a good thing.

    on the other hand, when this does come to america, it'll probably just be used to funnel a bunch of money to msnbc or some other big-business net-presence that doesn't need it. there's very little chance of it actually getting money to the independent content producers - the ones who really need and deserve the money.
  • Would 802.11 scale like that? Can we setup city-wide networks?

    This would be really cool :)

  • by General_Corto ( 152906 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @05:50AM (#87664)
    Back in the day (just before the AOL takeover), I was a contract employee for CompuServe Germany ('hi' to Robert Stabl, my boss!). CompuServe, at that time at least, was pushing a technology called RPA (Remote Passphrase Authentication) as a way to prove a user's identity to a third party website, without that third party needing to know anything about the user's passphrase (reasonably well designed too).

    CompuServe GmbH also used this RPA technology to control micropayments to some of its more interesting (to some) content. The example that comes to mind was a site called Recht Online, which was a pay-per-view listing of all court judgements in Germany (I believe). However, there were many other areas of content which CompuServe wanted to sell, and not just to their own subscribers.

    My job was to create an ISP authenticating proxy. The idea was that if you, as a user from ISP 'blinkenlichten,' wanted to view some pay-per-view CompuServe content, then you could as long as your ISP had a service agreement with CompuServe. It was the ISP's problem to figure out who viewed what, and how to pass the cost on to their customers.

    Perhaps the most magical thing of that whole time was going onsite to a couple of ISPs (one in Frankfurt, the other in Dusseldorf), and seeing the highly sceptical sysadmins' jaws drop when I started happily connecting to expensive CompuServe content through their IP range.

    Ironic part of the story: CompuServe lost the source code.
  • Ironic part of the story: CompuServe lost the source code.

    Sorry Alanis, but that ain't irony.

    It's shitty luck

  • That's like (pardon the poor analogy) a cover charge for WalMart.
    I think that's Sam's Club. But to your point, the cover charge is why I don't shop at Sam's Club.
  • Just try to imagine and see the future:

    I use one ISP to read /., another one - "The Economist", and by girlfriend's login to read "Gamespot". Damn! No more "click-throughs"!

    But in the end this system will not work. For the business isps - ok, companies need real-time content. But for consumers surfing the web - NEVER!

    It will put internet back to the 1990's - BBS (paid access) and free hobby and scientific sites. Do you want that?

  • The problem is that the access to "Our internet" will again be restricted. Groups of content providers will be able to pressure ISPs in all sorts of ways. You lament that fewer people will be able to put up useful home pages. If this goes through, corporate interests will be able to determine what the majority of users can publish and what they can see!

    I like it not!
  • Well, that's actually opposite of what's going on. It's the contentproviders who are asking the ISPs for money.

    >the ISP has no way of knowing what the users
    >want, only they know, and only those who want it
    >should pay.

    Exactly, the ISP doesn't know what the user wants, therefore they may have to sign deals with severeal contentcreators, just to give their users a choice.
  • It's shitty luck.

    Actually it's gross negligence.

    I know it happens over and over in big banks and large telco outfits. Still:

    Save for 15 minute perl-hacks, productive source code (including DDL SQL scripts) should never get lost. Period.

  • This is a non-starting solution as smaller ISP's operate on a very slim or even none profit margin. I know of some ISP's where the owners have had to take pay cuts to enable them to pay the bills with the slim profit margins that they have right now.

    I can see one of two possible outcomes from this.

    • 1. This plan is successful - This outcome is not likely, as the larger ISP's that are making a profit from a large user base are not going to want to cut into their profit margin. However lets consider that it is; you have the smaller ISP's and new ISP startups forced out of business and only the larger ISP's left. The result would be less competition and much higher prices. The net audience would grow at a much smaller rate. I do not know about you but I have enough to deal with paying my 80$ satellite bill each month and really do not want to add website content charges to that.

    • 2. This plan isn't successful - Smaller ISP's still make little to no money. The Larger ISP's have competition and the prices stay down as the Internet audience grows. With this growth eventually, advertisers seeking these new audiences start to pay the content sites to host their Internet ads once more. Note the recent trend of content sites refusing to provide click though information.

    When I'm good I'm very good, when I'm bad I'm better, But when I'm evil you better run :P
  • remember how Microsoft killed Netscape's 90% marketshare

    Do you? Netscape killed Netscape, but I wouldn't expect a Slashdotter to understand.


  • It seems that a year ago, the article would have appeared here to show how greedy some people were; how dare they charge us for content that "wants to be free."

    But today, with the content market collapsing and ad revenue dissipating, the article makes /. as a possible solution to our collective content provider woes.

    That's the kind of irony that tickles me.

    Besides, what kind of freaky porn site [] could get away with such a tactic?

  • I never thought I'd be arguing in favor of a subscription model but if this is the alternative, then let customers subscribe to indevidual sites to recieve their content. I don't see how any ISP could be expected to subscribe to all the sites it's customers might demand access to.

    The net is far too varied and there are far too many specialty sites which might only appeal to a few customers from each ISP (but a large population overall...

    A PAyPal micropayment based subscription solution on a per site basis would be much better. An earlier poster pointed out the problem of an 'ISP content subscription committee'. It would be the same problem as seen on cable services (only the most universally popular content would be available for subscription) but substancially magnified since there is so much more content available on the net.

    I could however, see a mechanism where a clearinghouse might act as a group buying club for subscription based content, where, perhaps members of this group buying club might access the web through the club's proxy servers which would manage subscription content delivery for members where the price of subscription to particular content would be a function of how many other members have also chosen to have a portion of their membership fees go to that particular content subscription. This aleviates the issues discussed, relating to the 'content subsscription committee' where the ISP would be responsible for selecting content to which it would subcribe.

    My solution would probably require special content licensing much as the Tric AB solution, but it would take the ISP out of the picture, eliminating the bottleneck that would have created. Instead, embers of the group buying club would be alble to vote for the content to which the clubshould subscribe, on a monthly basis....

    Just my 2 cents


  • I use Time-Warner Road Runner. Since TW/AOL owns most of the content ever created, I ain't sweating this. Think about it. There are 4 major ISPs that account for %90 of the (home)users in the US. At worst, smaller ISPs get crushed because they have nothing to offer in exchange for rights to content.

    Thisis where Anti Trust becomes an issue. Since the line b/t Content owner and ISP is rather blurred (AOL-TW..) A nice case could be made that AOL was using it's rights to all of it's TW holdings to gain an unfair advantage.

    That is, if something of this sort was tried. When you think about it, this would make ISP more like Cable/DSS providers. You pay a flat fee, they handle all the content. I hope all you pro-privatization freaks enjoy the Commercial Internet.

  • Most of the "big media" sites that would go for such a thing are welcome to blackhole themselves from most of the `net if they wish.

    This will give the internet back to the small-time hobbyist websites.

    I'm actually hoping that this becomes popular, AND that my ISP doesn't pay, of course.
  • by TGK ( 262438 ) on Friday July 13, 2001 @06:04AM (#87694) Homepage Journal
    I think the real problem would not be the 10,000 sites and nothing's on problem but more the fact that the web (we're not seriously considering content charges on routers are we?) serves a fundamentaly different purpose than TV. TV is not a content on demand medium. Thus, it's not terribly useful for much other than entertainment. The web contains a wealth of information that, without the free content model, will die out. The reason for this death is not that people are unwilling to pay to have the data. On the contrary, numerous specilized data services have proven that's not the case. The problem is that the internet is poorly cataloged (yes, even by Google) and has no journalistic responcibility for providing accurate information. I am willing to pay for the data I want when I want it. I am not willing to pay for the privilage of searching your site to discover that you don't have what I'm looking for. That's like (pardon the poor analogy) a cover charge for WalMart.

    This has been another useless post from....
  • "This would also be the death of smaller ISP's that feed off the free structure of the net"

    Only if consumers sit back and take it. The fundamental infrastructure of the net allows for inexpensive access to anyone's content...

    And while it makes sense to charge the highest volume content providers to account for the preponderance of bandwidth they consume, the day my ISP starts blocking all content that doesn't pay off is the day I get a new ISP, with a sharp letter to my former provider that I'm not interested in my internet becoming the next homgenized crap fast that is cable TV. Broadcast economics and technologies don't favor somebody that only gets hundreds of "viewers" per day, but the internet allows this, and I'm confident that someone will sell me the kind of internet service I want.

    Another real possiblility is for related small content producers to band together into little networks. They could band together to pay fees for access or possibly there could be "premium" internet service - pay a surcharge of 5 or ten bucks a month, access your choice of networks of smaller content providers. The network splits the difference with the ISP, I get enhanced content from the providers I like without the stupidity of trying to figure out how to pay a nickel evry time I want to see the day's Net Comix.

    Of course content on the internet is going to be dominated by big business. They have the resources to build the whiz-bang content and to buy bandwidth and access. And as far as IO can tell from the Billboard charts a lot of people really like the "art" they consume after it's been nicely pre-chewed by some fat-cat executive type. Hey, it's a free country. But the beauty of the internet is (or should be) that costs don't spiral out of control when you scale down the way costs in broadcast media do.

  • I agree, and the ultimate insult here is that the digital spectrum most cable providers use was public property. It's old news, but I point it out because not many people seem to know this. The role of the FCC is to auction off 'bandwidth' (for lack of a better term) to companies in the business of Television -- and the idea is that they're thusly required to adhere to regulations on serving the public interest and providing a forum for public views and opinions. Instead [] , corporate lobbyists and corporate 'donations' (sic) inspired legislation that required the FCC to give away licenses to these airwaves, and to only give them away to existing broadcasters. The greatest quote you'll ever see in any law the claims to promote competition in the United States is this:
    `(4) COMPETITOR CONSIDERATION PROHIBITED- In making the determinations specified in paragraph (1) or (2), the Commission shall not consider whether the public interest, convenience, and necessity might be served by the grant of a license to a person other than the renewal applicant.'.

  • If I like a website enough to pay for it, I will. But there's already too much commercialism on the net that I could care less if slashdot or other advertising supported websites begin charging their users. I'll just go elsewhere to find my FREE tech news, sports news, etc. Hopefully this will cut down on the noise ratio at least, getting rid of arrogant websites that think they can charge their users for marginally good information and still expect to make a profit. Here's my prediction: All websites that now survive from banner ad revenue alone switch to 'subscription' systems. They lose users to all the .ORG's of the world with the same info, and no charge. Said, now unprofitable, websites create an online coalition like the RIAA, we'll call it: S.H.I.T. for short. They begin to sue all the free content providers for 'copyright' and 'trademark' infringement over the information carried on their websites. Our world spins out of control and becomes an elitist versus the commoner world where everyone hates their life, and only wants to make everyone else as miserable as they are or worse.

    If you don't get my sarcastic pessimism about profit and the need for everyone to be making ridiculous amounts of it (aka - GREED), then I can take you out back and show you exactly what I mean.

  • Well, the nature of the Internet is that you surf to sites. If it costs more for a given ISP, you get another. If a site charges and people can't get there because their ISP doesn't pay, people will go to another site that is similar. The pay site falters, and scraps the idea.

    A site like Disney might be able to get it, but I never paid for Disney as a premium channel. Eventually, my cable offered it as part of the extended package, which I got anyway for other reasons. There is no such thing as the "extended package" in Internet (yet.) This could be a forerunner, but it would only work for things like Disney that were popular and had unique content.

  • This won't work in America, ISPs here don't take the role of choosing content for users (except perhaps in the case of such do-all ISPs like AOL...). This would be decision would be better placed in the hands of the consumers, this could be done via the Clickshare [] system, which allows sale of content for low prices without the intrusion of shopping carts.

    A simple click-through purchase system not requiring users to give up there credit card info (Which could still be stored only on the ISP, if they were brought in to help in that way).

    This would be the best solution, the ISP has no way of knowing what the users want, only they know, and only those who want it should pay.

    Think about it...

  • the infrastructure isn't too complex and is already in place, check out [], I really don't mean to constantly plug this, but this is what clickshare does, and it is the perfect solution.

  • And this would be why we have proxy servers.

    Get a distributed proxy server software, so it routes round people's ISPs who do have access.
  • as the next stage in the media consolidation

    Could someone please explain to me what process is described by the term media consolidation? I mean, it sounds like a nice flippy 21st century information society term, but nevertheless I'd like to know what it means and what it's definition implies about where it's leading.

  • As if this concept will work here. Looking at the current ISP field. All the big boys are hurrting, UUNET,(Worldcomm) stock is down in the tubes, laying off. AOL is a content provider (not sure how they are doing ,but raising rates any way) My company has about 500,000 56k users. Stock is at 20 cents on a good day. DSL providers are dying. I just don't see isp's paying for content is going to catch on. The money just isn't there. Also, if all ips's refuse to pay for the content. The site dies, or charges individuals who want it. The way it should be. Why should I pay an extra buck or 2 a month, so you can access And what are these companies really doing? Wow Access lists on a router? wow, thats hard. Its not too difficult to figure out which blocks an ISP owns, if you have help from the ISP.

"Well hello there Charlie Brown, you blockhead." -- Lucy Van Pelt