Cerf: Get Ready To Pay More For Internet Use - InformationWeek

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Cerf: Get Ready To Pay More For Internet Use

Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf, now employed at Google, told a Senate committee that telecoms and cable operators should look to their own customers to recoup the costs of providing high-speed services.

U.S. consumers are expected to pay more for using the Web, no matter which side Congress favors in the ongoing debate over whether cable and telephone companies can charge Internet businesses for the use of high-speed networks.

Indeed, while arguing that Google shouldn't have to pay broadband providers a Web toll, Internet pioneer Vinton Cerf told the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday that telecoms and cable operators should look to their own customers to recoup the costs of providing high-speed services.

"These companies can charge their own customers whatever they want, in order to make back their investments," Cerf, who works for Google, said in his prepared statement to the panel, which is hearing testimony on the debate. "Trying to extract additional fees from Web-based companies -- who are not in any way 'customers' of the provider -- would constitute a form of 'double recovery.'

"Google takes no issue with the broadband carriers' ability to set prices for Internet access that compensate for the costs and risks associated with their network investments."

The debate involving industry titans revolves around the concept of "Internet neutrality." Web companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft MSN don't want to be charged for the increasing amount of bandwidth their services require, particularly as the companies launch video and Internet telephony services. They claim that all data should be allowed to flow democratically, and no content should get to use the fast lane because providers can pay a toll.

Companies such as AT&T, Comcast and other high-speed providers argue that Internet companies that need more bandwidth should pay for it, particularly companies offering bandwidth-hogging video and phone applications. As AT&T Chairman Edward Whitacre noted in a Business Week interview in November, for "anybody to expect to use these pipes (for) free is nuts!"

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