Why should I pay for someone else's Internet calls?
If unmetered local calls were to become universal, line rentals would have to increase across the
board to pay for them. Surely those who would use such calls heavily - Internet users, in the main -
would be subsidised by those who would not?
Subject to the usual proviso that we don't know the internal costs of telecommunications companies,
there are four answers to this:
It's absurd to treat Internet users almost as a different species from (voice) telephone users:
Internet users communicate more using all possible methods!
- Different strokes for different folks
In this country everyone is charged for telephone calls in the same way. By contrast US telephone
operators offer a great variety of 'call plans', each of which define what usage is allowed for a
given line rental - I (Alastair) have in front of me a Bell South phonebook which offers fourteen
different call plans. To give an example with simple numbers, people could pay £25 a month for
unmetered calls to all local numbers or £8 a month if they wanted all local calls to remain
- Balancing the 'haves' and 'have nots'
Currently there are few people with home Internet access and many without it; unmetered calls would
balance these proportions, so the notion of a small number of heavy users being subsidised by a
majority of light users would vanish. It depends on whose statistics you read, but the consensus is
that 1 in 15 of the UK population has Internet access at home; 1 in 4 of the US population
- Representation and amortisation
I have no children, yet I pay my Council Tax to support local schools. I have not been to an NHS
doctor since 1989, yet I pay my taxes to support the NHS. I know nobody abroad, yet pay Cable and
Wireless Communications for voice connections to other countries. Why? Because I might need these
facilities in the future. I don't resent paying for them, the way I don't resent paying household
- Talking and typing
Work I did with Cable and Wireless Communications customers show that the average spend, for nearly
seven hundred of them, was £52. This was with unmetered Internet calls as they were
former Videotron subscribers. Now the average CWC spend is roughly £26-£28 a month, so
these people were spending almost twice as much as the average.
Text by Alastair Scott