internet charges

Gordon C. Snelling (72203.127@CompuServe.COM)
13 May 94 21:50:09 EDT

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Subj: internet charges

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>Subject: Metered Usage of the Internet: JSN
>Please forgive the mass mailing, but I feel this is a subject
>which is of great importance to anyone who benefits from the
>bountiful resources of the Internet.
>A very bad storm is brooding on the horizon.
>In the future, you might have to pay a charge for every E-mail
>message you send or receive, every Usenet article you read,
>every kilobyte of data you transfer with ftp, every hypertext
>link you follow with NCSA Mosaic or Gopher...
>Hopefully this frightens you as much as it does me.
>But it will happen, unless YOU do something about it.
>Please read the attached, fill out the requested info, and
>mail it back to It also wouldn't hurt to
>forward a copy of this to everyone you know on the Internet.
>Thanks for your support.
>Craig Smith, <bcs@cs.tamu.eduor <>
>Texas A&M University, Dept. of Computer Science
>205 HRBB, 862-2084 (CPSC). [PGP2 Public Key Available on Request]
>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 (; 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
>(, 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
>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)
>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
>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.
>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.
>TAP-INFO is an Internet Distribution List provided by the Taxpayer
>Assets Project (TAP). TAP was founded by Ralph Nader to monitor the
>management of government property, including information systems and
>data, government funded R&D, spectrum allocation and other government
>assets. TAP-INFO reports on TAP activities relating to federal
>information policy. tap-info is archived at;
> and
>Subscription requests to tap-info to with
>the message: subscribe tap-info your name
>Taxpayer Assets Project; P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036
>v. 202/387-8030; f. 202/234-5176; internet:
>Gary M. Throop
>Clarkson University 315-268-3814
>Department of Management FAX: 315-268-3810
>Box 5790
>Potsdam, NY 13699

Dr. R. B. Halliday
Principal Research Scientist (Acarology) International Fax 61-6-2464000
CSIRO Division of Entomology Local Fax (06) 2464000
GPO Box 1700 Telephone 2464085
Canberra ACT 2601 Internet