Campaign for Unmetered Telecommunications

Tim Berners-Lee (29 November 1998)

As an economic enabler, universal Internet access for all in a country is very important. To be practical, Internet connections must be permanent - after all, when available but unused they need take no resources apart from the local wire. The time taken to dial up over a telephone line makes many uses of the internet - such as checking the weather, or ordering a turkey, prohibitively bothersome. Regulatory systems and charging which support the status quo in which the telephone system is used to dial every time the internet is used hobble a country's ability to use the network - it is a bit like asking a motor vehicle to be preceded by a man carrying a red flag. It is forcing the new technology to operate in the mode of the old technology.

I would also point out that a connection bandwith which allows access to essential emergency, health and transport information, and also allows consumers to browse electronic catalogs and order online, requires very very much less bandwidth than higher-end applications such as video. A reasonable target, then, is that a permanent connection to the internet at low bandwidth should be subsidized by high bandwidth connections such as those used by commercial sales sites. This will boost the adoption of the internet as an economic medium, bringing the country concerned to the forefront in its ability to exploit new technology.

When higher bandwith is required, I can imagine this being available in a number of ways, as a flat rate - this is essential - , or per session, bought from a competitive set of carriers, with a click of a button, on demand.

Personally, having the luxury of a permanent (ISDN-speed) connection at home I notice the change of role the computer plays in the home - it becomes immeasurably more friendly -- one is much more inclined to order things, pay bills, and check news and weather using it than when one does not have to wait and bother with dialing in to a service provider.

Tim Berners-Lee
Cambridge, Massachusetts
November 1998

And Tim offered some advice:
Can I suggest replacing all the menu-linked 'here' in with noun phrases or titles. For 'See _here_ for more' put 'See _further notes_' or something. 'Click here ...' is terrible web style.

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