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July 1994


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Jeffrey Starin <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 11 Jul 1994 11:46:32 -0700
text/plain (222 lines)
This is a well-known scam.  Beware!
{New York}
On Sun, 10 Jul 1994, Jeremy Butler wrote:
> I picked this up off of another discussion group and am posting it on
> SCREEN-L because of possible implications for LISTSERV-based groups such as
> ours.
> ______________________________ Forward Header
> Subject: Metered Pricing for Internet
> Author:  [log in to unmask] at SMTP-LINK
> Date:    7/5/94 6:20 PM
> Sender: Brian McCormack <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Metered Pricing for Internet
> I really haven't spent a lot of time looking at this, but it appeared
> that it might be important to all of us.  I apologize for the
> technicality.  I think everyone should try to understand this, because it
> could possibly have a major impact on our mailing list.
> May 7, 1994
> -    Request for signatures for a letter to NSF opposing metered
> pricing of Internet usage
> -    Please repost this request freely
> The letter will be sent to Steve Wolff, the Director of
> Networking and Communications for NSF.  The purpose of the letter
> is to express a number of user concerns about the future of
> Internet pricing.  NSF recently announced that is awarding five
> key contracts to telephone companies to operate four Internet
> "Network Access Points" (NAPs), and an NSF funded very high speed
> backbone (vBNS).  There have been a number of indications that
> the telephone companies operating the NAPs will seek permission
> from NSF to price NAPs services according to some measure of
> Internet usage.  The vBNS is expected to act as a testbed for new
> Internet pricing and accounting schemes.  The letter expresses
> the view that metered pricing of Internet usage should be
> avoided, and that NSF should ensure that the free flow of
> information through Internet listserves and file server sites is
> preserved and enhanced.
> Jamie Love, Taxpayer Assets Project ([log in to unmask]; but
> unable to answer mail until May 15).  Until then, direct
> inquires to Michael Ward.
> If you are willing to sign the letter, send the following
> information to Mike Ward of the Taxpayer Assets Project
> ([log in to unmask], fax: 202/234-5176; voice: 202/387-8030;
> P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036):
> Names:    ___________________________
> Title:    ___________________________   (Optional)
> Affiliation:   ____________________________________
> (for purposes of identification only)
> Address:       ______________________________________
> City; St, Zip  ________________________________
> Email Address: _____________________________________
> Voice:         __________________________________
> for verification)
> The letter follows:
> Steve Wolff
> Director
> Division of Networking and Communications
> National Science Foundation
> 1800 G Street
> Washington, DC  20550
> Dear Steve:
> It is our understanding that the National Science Foundation
> (NSF) and other federal agencies are developing a new
> architecture for the Internet that will utilize four new Network
> Access Points (NAPs), which have been described as the new
> "cloverleaves" for the Internet.  You have indicated that NSF is
> awarding contracts for four NAPs, which will be operated by
> telephone companies (Pac Bell, S.F.; Ameritech, Chicago; Sprint,
> NY; and MFS, Washington, DC).  We further understand that NSF has
> selected MCI to operate its new very high speed backbone (vBNS)
> facility.
> There is broad public interest in the outcome of the negotiations
> between NSF and the companies that will operate the NAPs and
> vBNS.  We are writing to ask that NSF consider the following
> objectives in its negotiations with these five firms:
> We are concerned about the future pricing systems for Internet
> access and usage.  Many users pay fixed rates for Internet
> connections, often based upon the bandwidth of the connection,
> and do not pay for network usage, such as the transfer of data
> using email, ftp, Gopher or Mosaic.  It has been widely reported
> on certain Internet discussion groups, such as com-priv, that the
> operators of the NAPs are contemplating a system of usage based
> pricing.
> We are very concerned about any movement toward usage based
> pricing on the Internet, and we are particularly concerned about
> the future of the Internet Listserves, which allow broad
> democratic discourse on a wide range of issues.  We believe that
> the continued existence and enhancement of the Internet
> discussion groups and distribution lists is so important that any
> pricing scheme for the NAPs that would endanger or restrict their
> use should be rejected by the NSF.
> It is important for NSF to recognize that the Internet is more
> than a network for scientific researchers or commercial
> transactions.  It represents the most important new effort to
> expand democracy into a wide range of human endeavors.  The open
> communication and the free flow of information have make
> government and private organizations more accountable, and allowed
> citizens to organize and debate the widest range of matters.
> Federal policy should be directed at expanding public access to
> the Internet, and it should reject efforts to introduce pricing
> schemes for Internet usage that would mimic commercial telephone
> networks or expensive private network services such as MCI mail.
> To put this into perspective, NSF officials must consider how any
> pricing mechanisms will change the economics of hosting an
> Internet electronic mail discussion groups and distribution
> lists.  Many of these discussion groups and lists are very large,
> such as Humanist, GIS-L, CNI-Copyright, PACS-L, CPSR-Announce or
> Com-Priv.  It is not unusual for a popular Internet discussion
> group to have several thousand members, and send out more than
> 100,000 email messages per day.  These discussion groups and
> distribution lists are the backbones of democratic discourse on
> the Internet, and it is doubtful that they would survive if
> metered pricing of electronic mail is introduced on the Internet.
> Usage based pricing would also introduce a wide range of problems
> regarding the use of ftp, gopher and mosaic servers, since it
> conceivable that the persons who provide "free" information on
> servers would be asked to pay the costs of "sending" data to
> persons who request data.  This would vastly increase the costs
> of operating a server site, and would likely eliminate many
> sources of data now "published" for free.
> We are also concerned about the types of  accounting mechanisms
> which may be developed or deployed to facilitate usage based
> pricing schemes., which raise a number of concerns about personal
> privacy.  Few Internet users are anxious to see a new system of
> "surveillance" that will allow the government or private data
> vendors to monitor and track individual usage of Information
> obtained from Internet listserves or fileserves.
> We are also concerned about the potential for anti-
> competitive behavior by the firms that operate the NAPs.  Since
> 1991 there have been a number of criticisms of ANS pricing
> practices, and concerns about issues such as price discrimination
> or preferential treatment are likely to become more important as
> the firms operating the NAPs become competitors of firms that must
> connect to the NAPs.  We are particularly concerned about the
> announcements by PAC-Bell and Ameritech that they will enter the
> retail market for Internet services, since both firms were
> selected by NSF to operate NAPs.  It is essential that the
> contracts signed by NSF include the strongest possible measures to
> insure that the operators of the NAPs do not unfairly discriminate
> against unaffiliated companies.
> Recommendations:
> As the Internet moves from the realm of the research community to
> a more vital part of the nation's information infrastructure, the
> NSF must ensure that its decisions reflect the needs and values
> of a much larger community.
> 1.   The NSF contracts with the NAPs operators will include
> clauses that determine how the NAP services will be priced.
> It is important that NSF disclose and receive comment on all
> pricing proposals before they become final.  NSF should
> create an online discussion list to facilitate public dialog
> on the pricing proposals, and NSF should identify its
> criteria for selecting a particular pricing mechanism,
> addressing the issue of how the pricing system will impact
> the Internet's role in facilitating democratic debate.
> 2.   NSF should create a consumer advisory board which would
> include a broad cross section of consumer interests,
> including independent network service providers (NSPs),
> publishers of Internet discussion groups and distribution
> lists, academic networks, librarians, citizen groups and
> individual users.  This advisory board should review a
> number of policy questions related to the operation of the
> Internet, including questions such as the NAP pricing, NAP
> operator disclosure of financial, technical and operational
> data, systems of Internet accounting which are being tested
> on the vBNS and other topics.
> 3.   NSF should solicit public comment, though an online
> discussion group, of the types of safeguards against
> anticompetitive behavior by the NAPs which should be
> addressed in the NSF/NAPs contracts, and on issues such as
> NAPs pricing and Internet accounting systems.
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