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John Scholz
05-25-1994, 05:32 AM
John Scholz
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From: william.mace@mail.cc.trincoll.edu (William Mace)
X-Sender: wmace@Mail.trincoll.edu
Subject: Potential Internet changes
content-length: 10364

This is of primary interest to U.S. members. Because it could surely
affect everyone sometime, I thought I'd leave the mailing list intact and
let each person decide whether or not to do anything right now. We use the
network a fair amount and it seems relevant to pass along information that
could have a large affect on what we do.


-----------From Washington, D. C. organization --------------

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 Email message you send or receive,
every Usenet article you read, every kilobyte of data you transfer with
ftp, every hypertextlink 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 mike@essential.org. It also wouldn't hurt to
forward a copy of this to everyone you know on the Internet.Thanks for your


NOTE 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 it 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 (love@essential.org.)

If you are willing to sign the letter, send the following information to
Mike Ward of the Taxpayer Assets Project(mike@essential.org, fax:
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
DirectorDivision 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 NetworkAccess 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)facility. There is broad
public interest in the outcome of the negotiations between NSF and the
companies that will operate the NAPs andvBNS. We are writing to ask that
NSF consider the following objectives in its negotiations with these five
firms:PRICING.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 pricing.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 any 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
than100,000 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 is 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. Since1991 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 tha
tmust 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 toinsure that the operators of the NAPs do
not unfairly discriminate against
unaffiliated companies.

Recommendations:As the Internet moves from the realm of the research
community to a more vital part of the nation's information infrastructure,
theNSF 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
affect 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 anumber of policy questions related to
the operation of the Internet, including questions such as the NAP pricing,
NAPoperator disclosure of financial, technical and operational data,
systems of Internet accounting which are being tested on the vBNS and other

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-IN FO is an Internet Distribution List provided by the TaxpayerAssets
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 ftp.cpsr.org;gopher.cpsr.org and wais.cpsr.org

Subscription requests to tap-info to listserver@essential.org with the
message: subscri be tap-info your name
------------------------------------------------------ ---------------

Taxpayer Assets Project; P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 20036
v. 202/387-8030;
f. 202/234-5176;
internet: tap@essential.org