28 Oct, 2009 | Posted by: photosource

Net Metering

No, Iím not talking about power company net metering programs for those of you (us) who have installed grid-tied solar electrical panels or other forms of local electricity generation (wind turbines, co-gen, etc.), but rather the possibility (some even say the eventuality) of Internet service companies charging by the gigabyte for Internet usage. In some areas, trials are being conducted where new users are presented a tiered service plan. The more bytes you want, the more itís going to cost. After all, somebody has to pay for all the infrastructure. And, yes, this appears to be the result of a few spoiling it for the rest of us. You know who you are, the heavy downloaders taking advantage of movies and music available on the web. We went from really expensive (back in the day of 300 and 1200 bit dial-up modems) to cheap flat-rate plans, then inexpensive broadband, and now weíre coming around the bend toward metered Internet. By the way, the average Internet user consumes around 15 gigabytes a month.

Google Voice

Google Voice is a free web-based telephony system which allows one to set up a phone number which can ring any number of other numbers when called. It also offers many other neat features, including text messaging.
The question for the FCC: Is Google Voice an Internet company or a common-carrier service?
This is important because Google Voice blocks calls to certain numbers (those with high termination fees, like chat lines, for which Google Voice would have to pay much higher fees if it connected the call).
Under FCC rules for common carriers such as AT&T and your local phone company, all calls must be connected. But the rules are different for the Internet. Google has stated that it does block calls to certain numbers, and that to use its service, one must also have a "regular" phone service, and since it is a web-based application, is not subject to common-carrier rules. The FCC has opened an inquiry into whether Google Voice is restricting calls, and has asked for more information.

Bill Hopkins is the Webmaster of PhotoSourceFolio, where photographers
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and a regular contributor to PhotoStockNotes. Send comments to Bill via email. Fax: 1 818 831-0916. For on-line questions, contact Bill on the Kracker Barrel.


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