Imagine If The Internet Worked Like Your Cell Phone.

You would pay three times as much per month and only be able to be connected to the internet for 900 minutes out of the month except during certain times of the day and you would be billed by the minute every additional minute you were online. You would be charged extra fees for being allowed to use email and instant messages and have limited numbers of messages you could you could send without incurring penalties.  Your usage would be limited by not just the capacity of your connection, but also by how much actual data you transfer so if you download or upload too much in that 900 minutes, you get billed again (and the limit is around the size of a few dozen youtube videos).  Furthermore you are billed more for communicating to people with other internet providers or people you aren’t related to (as an incentive to make everyone you know use your provider) and you are also billed whether you are over your allotted minutes or bandwidth if you email or instant message someone in another country or visit the website of anyone from another country.

Wouldn’t that be insane?

In the age of the smart phone where phones are essentially just mobile computers and you are essentially just paying to access a network just like your internet connection, why in the world do phone companies have that kind of control to nickel and dime you to death and limit your activity instead of just charging you a flat fee to access the network and letting you do whatever the hell you want?  The reason is phone companies aren’t doing it, “the” phone company is.

Normally if you don’t like the service you get at one company you can switch to some other company so to keep you happy they have to offer the best possible service at the lowest possible rates.  But nearly all the phone companies operate under the same corporate umbrella – pretty much no matter what phone company you have it’s probably AT&T by another name.  By letting companies own and control “other” companies we’ve created a mirage of competition instead of the real thing.  This is the corporate history of AT&T after it was broken up for being a monopoly:

It was broken up into lots of smaller groups, which have since then mostly consolidated back into a few gigantic companies.

That is why you’re not paying $19.95 a month for unlimited everything on your smart phone.  There isn’t much competition, so they just collectively price gouge instead of cutting their rates to compete.

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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23 Responses to Imagine If The Internet Worked Like Your Cell Phone.

  1. TheSutraDude says:

    and try finding a phone booth in a pinch. on a related and perhaps even relevant note allowing health insurance companies to sell across State lines would likely cause rising prices to policy holders for the same reason banks were able to get people coming and going once they lobbied for and were allowed to issue credit cards across State lines. i wonder if the cellular industry uses the same tricks. 

  2. The_ATM says:

    You may also consider the infrastructure is like 1000 times more expensive per unit data. Monopoly is a problem in the cell phone industry though. Oddly enough, it is more heavily regulated than the internet…

  3. NeverSubmit says:

    @The_ATM – The internet is subject to net neutrality, which forbids the same sort of price-gouging that the phone companies get away with.  Currently, companies like Verizon are fighting that same neutrality.  

  4. The internet is cheap because it is not regulated by the government.Cell phones are expensive because the telecommunications is heavily regulated by the government.It’s as simple as that.

  5. UTRow1 says:

    @PrisonerxOfxLove – God you are stupid. The internet is heavily regulated by both state and federal governments, including federal agencies like the FCC, as well as the governments of other countries and intergovernmental panels. Google “internet law” or “internet regulations”. There are no less than 20 federal laws that I am aware of that directly and substantially regulate ISP practices or internet use, including the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, SOPA, FCC regulations promoting equal access, etc.  

  6. The_ATM says:

    @NeverSubmit – Errr.. huh? Net neutrality was just talk of legislation that also applied to cellphone carriers as well that never was enacted into law. Net neutrality is what you get when a bunch of corporations who are good at PR, form an interest group to lobby for legislation that benefits them. Fact is, the large volume of traffic generated by Google, Amazon, eBay… etc gives burdens carries with the extra cost, so the carriers want to charge more. It makes sense. Microsoft and google can piggyback the popularity of stealing music and movies over torrents to bolster their cause.No legislation on net neutrality has been enacted (besides mostly a bunch of threats from the FCC, who have been drooling over more internet regulation whether it is net neutrality or SOPA) and IS a bad idea. Net neutrality is bad. When you want to check your xanga at night, but your connection is slow because your neighboor is torrenting porn at 20MB/s you are probably going to want your cable company to do some “bandwidth shaping”, which would be plain and simply illegal for companies to do if net neutrality was passed into law (though it sort of has been ruled on in a few cases).Even if ‘net neutrality’ had passed as legislation and gone into effect (besides the FCC attempting legislation), the internet would still be much less regulated then cellphones. Think about cell phones for a moment. Their entire function occurs over airwaves. The FCC decides who gets what airwaves (there is some auctioning process within the bands when they are for commercial use). One of the hairest parts though is the contracts which have rules that vary widely by state some of these including service area disclosures, portability standards, contract lengths, uniform contract formats + font sizes, advertising standards, trial periods/cancellation periods, etc, most of which vary by state. Want a new cellphone? Just tell your current carrier you are moving to Iowa and they are forced to wave your cancellation fee. Switch to a new carrier and take advantage of their latest gimmick. These are just the regulations that apply to the contracts. Nevermind, that most any regulation they want to apply to the internet they will also want to apply to cell phones. You also have things like EM emmission standards cell phones have to conform to. To get back to the point, quality standards regulated by the government is very similar to the kind of power net neutrality requires (that is, government has to packet sniff pretty much everything to ensure bandwidth is being allocated fairly, I cant imagine a scenario where that could speed things up).@UTRow1 – It is probably safe to say the internet is regulated much less in comparison cellphones. Cat person may be dumb, but probably not as dumb as you for arguing against the idea that the internet is not as regulated as cell/smart phones. Missing the broad strokes for the minutiae much? Plus, what kind of loser gets off on going on the internet and calling people with lives stupid 😛 just rude. I thought your hero Barack Obama wasn’t a big fan of that sort of bullying.@PrisonerxOfxLove – I don’t disagree, but at least 60% of why the internet is cheap is because of the technology it utilizes. And there is internet regulation, just much less than the regulation on cell phone carriers. You are correct if you want to paint in such broad strokes.

  7. @UTRow1 – Why the lies?  You folks will lie, destroy people, insult people into silence to keep the truth from coming out about the evils of your precious government.Oil would would be as cheap as sand and telecommunication as cheap as air were it not for government regulation.The expensive part of the internet is having to heavily regulated telecommunications lines.

  8. UTRow1 says:

    @PrisonerxOfxLove – I didn’t lie. I disproved your assertion with 3 express examples. I am not going to argue with you if you are just going to cite stupid, unsubstantiated principles and ignore the facts I present. 

  9. @UTRow1 – You examples are the same out of context BS that you always use to twist things to fit your latest hallucination.The internet is dirt cheap except for what is called “the last mile.” That’s where the Internet has to connect to the phone lines to make it to the home. In the case of cellular its the cost of the interface between internet and telecommunications.Your three piddly examples don’t explain the HUGE amount of regulation of telecommunications in comparison to Internet.Take a look at your phone (or in your case, you mom’s phone bill) the next time to see all the different taxes and fees that get levied on your phone.Your blessed Democrats want to do the same thing to the Internet: tax it to hell.Taxes and regulations are what make most things so expensive.  That’s everything from your airline ticket to your gasoline, to your phone, to your health care.

  10. UTRow1 says:

    @The_ATM – Where did I claim the internet is as regulated as cell phones? I never claimed or insinuated that. Before you insult people that are more intelligent and informed than you, you should make sure you at least know how to read and/or bother to read what they write. Now that you mention it, what is your basis for claiming that cell phones are more regulated than the internet? I ignored that comment initially because it didn’t interest me, but now that I think about it, I bet you can’t substantiate that claim. Are there currently more laws or government regulations relating to cell phones? There probably aren’t, which is why law schools offer “Internet Law” courses and not “telecommunications law” courses (there are more independent, unique regulations on the internet that require studying than other similar communications mediums). Even if there are “more” regulations and laws regarding cell phone use, can you prove that those laws and regulations actually create “more” regulation than what is in place for the internet (quantity versus quality distinction)? Note: you would have to do an analysis of all the state, federal, and international laws and treaties currently regulating both cell phones and the internet. You can’t answer this these questions by citing libertarian principles and/or hypotheticals. They require factual, scientific evidence. I only ask these questions because you consistently don’t know what the fuck you are talking about. You make arguments based entirely on unsubstantiated principles and talking points that have no factual bearing in reality. Also: “Plus, what kind of loser gets off on going on the internet and calling people with lives stupid 😛 just rude.”Apparently you, given that you said “Cat person may be dumb, but probably not as dumb as you for arguing against the idea that the internet is not as regulated as cell/smart phones.”No offense, but you shouldn’t argue against someone like me if you can’t write 5 sentences without undermining your own arguments. I would dismantle your “analysis” of internet regulation above, but really, there’s no point when you think that the FCC passes “legislation”. The FCC doesn’t pass “legislation”. It “passes” regulations and issues orders/rules. There is a big difference. Federal agencies like the FCC don’t pass “legislation”. They pass regulations to effectuate legislation. Read the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and get back to me. If you don’t understand the fundamentals of administrative law, you don’t know enough to have a solid grasp on the law you are trying to tackle. It’s impossible to have done any research into these issues without knowing this distinction. It’s covered on the first day of Administrative Law and Internet Law in most schools, and it colors your whole analysis on what is “regulation”. 

  11. UTRow1 says:

    @PrisonerxOfxLove – No, they aren’t “out of context”. They are bodies of law created to regulate the internet and/or internet use. Explain how they are “out of context”. First, define “regulation.” Then, prove that there are more laws, regulations, rules, orders, etc. “regulating” the internet than cellphone use. This requires you to (1) list all the laws, orders, regulations, etc. that “regulate” both media and (2) prove that these “regulations” actually “regulate” one medium more than the other. Don’t respond if you can’t do these things. You are making unsubstantiated claims.Lastly, there are many aspects of the internet that are not “dirt cheap” outside the “last mile”, including the production, installation, and maintenance of fiber optics cables.  I know this personally because my uncle manufactures most of the fiber optics cables that the federal government installs. 

  12. @UTRow1 – They are out of context because you generalize all regulations the same way you generalize all taxes.

  13. UTRow1 says:

    @PrisonerxOfxLove – I don’t generalize regulations or taxations in any fashion, nor do I generalize them the same. Provide the information I have asked for or be quiet. You have no business making claims you can’t support.  

  14. @UTRow1 – You can call your Democrat Party flimflam and bamboozle anything you want.But please notice how I gave a very, very simple, very, very easy to understand rule of thumb:Government over regulation and taxation raise costs. And you replied with a lot of legalistic ridiculous gobble-d-gook.But the bottom line is still the same:  telecommunications is over regulated and that is why it is so much more expensive than Internet.

  15. UTRow1 says:

    @PrisonerxOfxLove – (1) I didn’t ask for your unsubstantiated rules of thumb. I asked for evidence to support your beliefs. I know this is difficult for you, but evidence does not mean “things I believe in my heart of hearts without any evidence and having conducted no research”. Provide evidence for your claims or just be quiet. (2) Your rule of thumb does nothing to undermine or weaken my claim or my evidence. You have failed to address anything I have said. 

  16. @UTRow1 – 1. Since you don’t get to determine the content of other people’s comments what you ask for is irrelevant. My rules of thumb are in response to this post not to your incoherent, rude, abusive ramblings.2. I didn’t question any of your basic claims. That’s just you hallucinating again. I objected to your violent, Democrat Party reaction to the fact that government regulation is why cell phones are much more expensive than Internet.

  17. UTRow1 says:

    @PrisonerxOfxLove -(1) What I ask for is not irrelevant, it’s the only evidence that logically substantiates the claims you make, you moron. That’s the exact opposite of “irrelevant”. (2) You most certainly did question my comment. In fact, the first sentence of your comment in response to me was “You [sic] examples are the same out of context BS [sic] that you always use to twist things to fit your latest hallucination [sic].” That is the definition of challenging my comment, if you meant what you illiterate ramblings indicate you mean. Are you mentally retarded or something? This is a serious question. Have you been diagnosed with a cognitive illness? I honestly would like to know. 

  18. The_ATM says:

    @UTRow1 – You are an idiot. “there’s no point when you think that the FCC passes “legislation”‘Read carefully, that is not what I said.

  19. UTRow1 says:

    @The_ATM – Nice try.You said “Even if ‘net neutrality’ had passed as legislation and gone into effect (besides the FCC attempting legislation) . . . .” The FCC doesn’t “attempt” “legislation” because it’s can’t “pass” “legislation”. Why would you say it would “attempt” legislation if you did not believe it could “pass” legislation? There would be no other reason for the FCC to “attempt” legislation other than the ultimate goal of passing it. You clearly think/though the FCC is a legislative body, and the fact you are trying to pretend otherwise now is just fucking absurd. You either mistakenly wrote something retarded or you have a retarded understanding of federal administrative power.  Look, even if I am a moron, I am a moron who knows the absolute fundamentals of administrative law. However, you are a moron who does not know the absolute fundamentals of administrative law. The fact remains that you were wrong: the FCC doesn’t “attempt” legislation.Don’t waste my fucking time with this bullshit. 

  20. The_ATM says:

    @UTRow1 – Yes, attempted. If you construed the word “attempted” to mean that they actually wrote legislation rather then attempted have the effect of legislation through the regulatory rules they set, then you misunderstood. Choose to deliberately misunderstand if you like. I have no stake in your understanding of something ambiguous I said.”Don’t waste my fucking time with this bullshit. “It probably should have been clear from my response I read like 5 sentences of what you wrote in response. I was wasting your time dude, you called it. You and I will never be able to talk public policy without thinking the other is an idiot when I am pretty sure both of us are relatively intelligent. (You are just wrong.) I don’t really like talking to you.

  21. UTRow1 says:

    @The_ATM – [If you construed the word “attempted” to mean that they actually wrote legislation rather then attempted have the effect of legislation through the regulatory rules they set, then you misunderstood. Choose to deliberately misunderstand if you like. I have no stake in your understanding of something ambiguous I said.]Are you fucking kidding me? It’s my fault you can’t articulate what you mean? Look, the most obvious interpretation of the FCC “attempting legislation” is just that: the FCC attempted to legislate. What literate person would read “the FCC attempted legislation” and believe it meant “[the FCC] attempted [it to] have the effect of legislation through the regulatory rules they set”? Nobody. More importantly, nobody who understands these issues or the absolute basics of administrative law would write that, even with your kindly interpretation. Your interpretation still fails you because that’s not how federal agencies operate. Federal agencies don’t create regulations to have the effect of legislation because legislation and regulations are two very different things with two very different purposes. Regulations are “passed” to effectuate legislation. That is, Congress (typically) passes legislation that the agencies then implement through specific regulations. Agencies don’t “intend” for their regulations to have the effect of legislation because that would be completely nonsensical. Agencies intend for their regulations to have the effect of regulations. Period. This is not parsing words, this is using words correctly as legal experts use them. [It probably should have been clear from my response I read like 5 sentences of what you wrote in response. ]I guess this is one way to write an assinine response that (a) doesn’t adequately defend your own position and (b) doesn’t address any of my arguments. Job well done. [You and I will never be able to talk public policy without thinking the other is an idiot when I am pretty sure both of us are relatively intelligent.]First of all, we weren’t discussing “public policy”. Maybe if you read what I wrote you would understand what we are discussing? I wrote entirely about specific legal terminology and asked you to provide evidence to support factual assertions, not policy positions. Secondly, how am I be wrong? As you should have gathered by now, I am not interested in your unsubstantiated assertions, ethereal principles, or personal feelings. I want some actual arguments backed by sufficient evidence and reasoning. You are currently wading in the urine soaked kiddie pool. I am inviting you to swim in the deep end with the rest of the intellectual adults. I am absolutely 100% correct about my legislation/regulation distinction. Feel free to find a law review article, hornbook, or treatise that proves me wrong. Similarly, the remainder of my comment simply asked you to provide evidence for your claims that cell phones are “more regulated” than the internet. You have (inartfully)  failed to do this because you can’t. There’s no evidence for the unqualified claim that cell phones are more regulated than the internet because that is an overly-broad, meaningless claim. What is “more”? What is “regulated”? What evidence do you have for the claim “more regulated”? On and on.I can think of at least two dozen instances where the internet is more regulated than cell phones. Take YouTube’s copyright policy. If I post a home video of my baby dancing to a copyrighted song, any person who can access YouTube can notify YouTube and allege an unauthorized use of the copyrighted song. YouTube will promptly remove my video until I can prove my use was not copyright infringement (e.g., fair use). YouTube generally doesn’t even investigate the merits of the claim first, or check to see if the material is copyrighted, before pulling the video because of the way copyright law is currently set up. There is no comparison in cell phone use and/or regulation by service providers. My cell phone service provider won’t cut off my service if I am talking to someone while the radio in my car is playing a copyrighted song. Cell phone service providers have little to no legal liability for the content of the information shared over cell phones because they don’t “host” that material like YouTube hosts content on its servers. Note: this was a real 2008 case.Similarly, if I wrote an online newspaper article stating “The_ATM molests little boys,” both the online newspaper and myself could be liable for libel (me as the author and the newspaper as the publisher). However, if I was speaking on a phone and said “The_ATM molests little boys,” the cell phone provider would not be libel for my false statements. As a result, online newspapers (and other internet content providers) tend to “regulate” content that they “publish” on the internet while phone companies rarely regulate speech of any kind. This results in “more” regulation, at least in one sense.   Again, I am not saying you are wrong, I am just saying I doubt you are capable of making the type of nuanced, well-researched argument required to support your incredibly broad, unqualified claims. If you are going to call people dumb for not agreeing with you, or argue with people who actually know what they are talking about, you need to be able to do this. 

  22. The_ATM says:

    @UTRow1 – “I can think of at least two dozen instances where the internet is more regulated than cell phones.”I think you are confusing law arising from cases in civil court with regulation. I don’t consider court cases, which are considered on a case by case basis to be the same thing as regulation. I am generally opposed to regulation. I support or oppose cases in civil court by a case by case basis. Much of the “regulation” you are mentioning is not regulation in the sense I am speaking, but precedence arising from cases.”Are you fucking kidding me? It’s my fault you can’t articulate what you mean? “Well, if you expect me to be speak like a legal expert, yes, it is your fault. I am an engineer, not a legal expert, so you might expect me to not be absolutely technically correct when it comes to ‘administrative law’. I think it is clearly a case of you being an asshole.”YouTube’s copyright policy”This is not regulation in the sense we were talking about.”Similarly, if I wrote an online newspaper article stating “The_ATM molests little boys,” both the online newspaper and myself could be liable for libel (me as the author and the newspaper as the publisher). However, if I was speaking on a phone and said “The_ATM molests little boys,” the cell phone provider would not be libel for my false statements”I would imagine you already see how this is a stretch. A phone conversation is far different than resources like newspapers or online publishing. It is possible to to use a cell phone as a web sever and host files, publish libels or anything like that. I imagine that if this were the activity, courts may find cell phone networks liable for the content that passes over them. Again, this is something that is not regulation, but a court case. Nonetheless, I think it is worthwhile pointing out the bad logic.”What is “more”? What is “regulated”? What evidence do you have for the claim “more regulated”? On and on.”I gave quite a few examples, assuming you read what I previously wrote. But, I would prefer if you didn’t answer those, since I really don’t like talking to you. I don’t know why I ever replied.btw. When I said “attempting legislation” I should point out that, on a few occasions, legislation the FCC favored has failed to pass, the FCC would go on to attempt to affect the same ends, as if it had passed. I think there are a few examples of this with SOPA. In some sense, this is attempting to legislate.

  23. UTRow1 says:

    @The_ATM – [I think you are confusing law arising from cases in civil court with regulation. I don’t consider court cases, which are considered on a case by case basis to be the same thing as regulation…] Civil case law has nothing to do with anything I have written. The two examples I have written are examples of private sector regulation by companies as the result of “regulation”.There are two meanings of regulations that my points rely on: (1) federal agency “regulations,” which are typically passed to effectuate congressional legislation; and (2) “regulation” in the sense of businesses self-regulating (usually done in an attempt to comply with agency regulations, congressional statutes, or executive orders). Part of my argument is that you don’t seem to be taking into account the self-regulation that many businesses do when you claim that cell phones are obviously “more regulated” than the internet. It’s another dimension of complexity that makes the unqualified “more regulated” assertion you keep making perplexing to me. [Well, if you expect me to be speak like a legal expert, yes, it is your fault.]You don’t have to be a legal expert to use these terms correctly, you just have to be minimally educated about these issues. Furthermore, pointing out that you lack the basic understanding of these issues required to have meaningful opinions about them does not make me an “asshole”, particularly when you started this conversation by misreading my comment and insulting my intelligence for having a different opinion than you (in a comment addressed to someone else). [This is not regulation in the sense we were talking about.]It is regulation in the sense I am talking about, because I actually understand what “regulation” means.  This is an example of regulation (self-regulation) by internet content providers in response to federal legislation. “More regulated” includes self-regulation by businesses to comply with the laws, which is one of my issues with your unqualified claim that cell phone providers are “more regulated” than the internet. And just to be clear, you still haven’t provided any evidence whatsoever that “the internet” (whatever that means–ISPs only? Content providers? Hosts? Users? Intermediaries?) is LESS regulated than cell phones in any sense–even if you were only referring to government regulations. None. Hint: naming a few examples of government regulation does not support your claims (more on this below).  [I would imagine you already see how this is a stretch. A phone conversation is far different than resources like newspapers or online publishing…]I’m not making an argument by analogy, I’m providing an explicit example of one way in which the internet is demonstrably “more regulated” than cell phones. The fact that they are different is the point: their differences result in different regulations. For instance, as I demonstrated, there are heavy speech regulations that exist on the internet that are largely absent from cell phone use. Both the speaker and service provider can be held liable for factual misstatements online that cell phone providers can’t be held liable for. As a result, there is a significant amount of self-regulation by ISPs, content providers, etc. that doesn’t exist for cell phones. In this sense, there is “more regulation” of the internet than cell phones.[I gave quite a few examples, assuming you read what I previously wrote.]No, you haven’t given “quite a few”. You have given maybe 2 concrete examples, but that hardly proves your statement that cell phones are “MORE” regulated than the internet. Again, to prove that “the internet” is “more regulated” than “cell phones” you need to (1) define what you mean by each of those terms and (2) provide a comprehensive and quantitative analysis that demonstrates that the “regulations” affecting “cell phones” are “more” than the “regulations” affecting “the internet”. You have not done, or even made a good faith attempt of doing, any of these things.As things stand now, I have given more examples of federal laws and “regulations” affecting the internet than you have provided for cell phones. I have also given you more concrete examples of internet content provider self-regulation.  [ When I said “attempting legislation” I should point out that, on a few occasions, legislation the FCC favored has failed to pass, the FCC would go on to attempt to affect the same ends, as if it had passed.]Sigh…This is not what you initially meant, and you know it. Anyways, what specific legislation are you referring to? I want (1) the name of the legislation, (2) confirmation that “the FCC favored” that legislation, and (3) “the FCC would go on to attempt to affect the same ends.” I am particularly interested in the third claim, because the FCC literally can’t do this. It’s against the law for the FCC to act outside its enabling act, legislation passed by Congress, or an executive order. I’m not saying the FCC never does it, I am just saying that I want to see evidence that they did in these instances before I took your word for it.I am not interested in your unsubstantiated claims. I want you to define the terms you are using and then provide evidence that supports the claims you have made.

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