Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Letter to the editor

Dear Mr. Stern,

I would like to point out an error in your article "The Coming Tug of War Over the Internet" published on the Washington Post website on Sunday, January 22, 2006.

Here is the offending paragraph:

"Whether or not you agree with Whitacre, you can understand his frustration. Companies like Google and Yahoo pay some fees to connect to their servers to the Internet, but AT&T will collect little if any additional revenue when Yahoo starts offering new features that take up lots of bandwidth on the Internet. When Yahoo's millions of customers download huge blocks of video or play complex video games, AT&T ends up carrying that increased digital traffic without additional financial compensation."

It is simply untrue that AT&T or any other carrier provides increased bandwidth without financial compensation.

Bandwidth is paid for by the consumer through monthly connection charges to their ISP. These connections generally have tiered rates with higher charges for more bandwidth. In other words, internet users pay for each byte they download. The more bytes downloaded, the more bandwidth used, the more they pay. It does not matter where these bytes originate. It is not more expensive to deliver a Google byte or a Yahoo byte or a byte from a new service. When one of these companies starts offering new features that creates a large amount of network traffic, it is because consumers are asking for it and paying their ISP for the bandwidth they use. With consumers paying for each byte they download, to say that AT&T is not being compensated simply fails the common sense test.

It is one thing for you to quote an industry executive trying to skew opinion with untruths, but for you to repeat it as though it were fact is poor reporting. I hope you have an opportunity to correct this oversight in a future column.

Thank You
Montana Jones