Recently the CEO of BellSouth made some rather strong comments regarding data flowing over the Internet. To summarize, he said that companies are using their data lines to send people information and they aren’t paying for it. (For more details, look at this article.) I know many people don’t think about the money that funds Internet operations but lets put it together, shall we?

1) The end user (or company) pays an ISP for a data line. You do NOT pay for Internet access. Your software takes care of that. You pay for a data line.
2) The ISP leases high speed lines from various telco providers. That money comes from the end user of course.
3) Those telco providers pay money to regional telco services to handle buiding the physical data lines and connecting everything together.

BellSouth is in that #3 bucket. Obviously the money being paid to them is coming directly from the #1 bucket. In an example scenario containing your home high-speed connection and say Google search results, both you and Google are in that #1 bucket.

Obviously they are being paid. Still lets go further down the rabbit hole. They are upset that voice over IP is stealing customers. They are upset about things like Skype which eBay now owns and the fact that they are losing their telephone customers to these services to companies who aren’t paying for their lines.

Here’s the issue: the customers ARE paying for those lines. What we are seeing here is large companies with control of a valuable market losing that control to services for whom their own company has set a foundation. Now they are trying to use that control to retake that market and mightily abusing the consumer in the process.

If you know anyone in Congress, now would be a great time to educate them on this issue. Just like the media industry and the broadcast flag, this will probably be appearing on their doorsteps shortly.