e-mail in jeopardy?

merlin merlin at neuro.usc.edu
Mon Jun 21 01:22:55 EST 1993

>|> Most of you are probably aware of a plan to limit free use of
>|> INTERNET to "scientists" transmitting huge files and to start
>|> charging for e-mail.  Apparently, this is the result of private
>|> telecommunications interests putting pressure on the National
>|> Science Foundation.

The underlaying issue here is a claim by US telecommunications carriers
that dedicated circuits leased to academia/government/military interests
were provided under tarrifs (our term for a license to charge a fee for
a very specific legally described service) allowing transmission of real
academic data at discount rates -- but these tarrifs have been abused by
numerous private individuals who use these discount facilities to avoid
premium charges for transmitting personal messages via premium carriers.
Telephone companies (AT&T/PacBell/etc) and third party network providers 
(CompuServe) are in a position to make this objection.

However, as it stands today, it would seem INTERNET is not an essential
part of the electronic mail network.  Similar postings in the past have
elicited numerous comments by network managers that privately owned nets
(CerfNet/etc) could easily pass all current & projected email traffic
in the absence of the INTERNET.  This fragmented 'bypass' would be very
similar to the 'bypass' described above -- except it is unlikely that a
telecommunications carrier could successfully litigate or lobby against
hundreds of smaller academic 'bypass' networks.

The issue comes back to the benefit of the few (Compu$erve) vs benefit
of the many (everyone else).  Ultimately I would suggest INTERNET/NSFnet
etc will continue to pass email traffic with no restrictions.

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