The corporate toll on the Internet

Telecom giant AT&T plans to charge online businesses to speed their services through its DSL lines. Critics say the scheme violates every principle of the Internet, favors deep-pocketed companies, and is bound to limit what we see and hear online. AT&T is back, it’s big, and according to consumer advocates and some of the nation’s largest technology companies, AT&T wants to take over the Internet. The critics — including Apple, Amazon, eBay, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo — point out that AT&T, along with Verizon and Comcast, its main rivals in the telecom business, will dominate the U.S. market for residential high-speed Internet service for the foreseeable future. Currently, that market is worth $20 billion, and according to the Federal Communications Commission, the major “incumbent” phone and cable companies — such as AT&T — control 98 percent of the business. Telecom industry critics say that these giants gained their power through years of deregulation and lax government oversight. Now many fear that the phone and cable firms, with their enormous market power, will hold enormous sway over what Americans do online.

Site – http://www.salon.com

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