Free Press Hypocrisy over Metering & Internet Price Controls

by on June 18, 2009 · 150 comments

In response to my essay last night about this new Free Press campaign to layer price controls on the Internet by banning metered prices via Rep. Massa’s new bill (the “Broadband Internet Fairness Act“), George Ou and Richard Bennett reminded me of some of the contradictory statements that the (Un)Free Press crew have made on this issue.  Indeed, if you look back at what Free Press and their chairman have said about the matter over just the past 18 months, they seem to be whistling two very different tunes.

For example, George Ou reminded me of what Free Press had to say in its November 2007 filing in the FCC’s Comcast-Bit Torrent proceeding:

“More importantly, if Comcast is concerned that the collective set of users running P2P applications are affecting quality of service for other users on a cable loop… they could also charge by usage.” (p. 29)

[...]

“Indeed, in many nations, network providers do meter, and bill their customers on the basis of amount used. So the transaction costs of doing so must not be prohibitively high. Indeed, a network provider can apparently meter cheaply because, in most networks, users’ traffic to and from the Internet passes through a single gateway, the network access server.” (p. 31)

And Richard Bennett reminded me of what Tim Wu, chairman of the Free Press, had to say about metering to the Washington Post just one year ago:

“I don’t quite see [metering] as an outrage, and in fact is probably the fairest system going — though of course the psychology of knowing that you’re paying for bandwidth may change behavior.”

So, what gives?  Will the real Free Press please stand up? Does the Free Press believe in pricing freedom or price controls for the Internet?

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