Re: Mosaic, Netscape and Net Expenses--Was Re: Network Abuse by

Fri, 28 Oct 1994 05:10:13 +0100

On Thu, 27 Oct 1994, Girls & Boys wrote:

> This is just downright silly (and not WWW-specific so I'll keep it short).
> Roger Collins says:
> > Has anyone been keeping track of what the economists have to say on this
> > topic ? According to Hal Varian (U. Michigan) packet - or similar -
> > use -based charges are more or less inevitable
> Screw the economists. Anyone with half a brain and a pencil/paper can tell
> you packet-based charges are impossible. Why? Because under that regime,
> either movies-on-demand (many many packets) become prohibitively expensive,
> or voice (very very few packets) becomes prohibitively cheap.
> Anyone who asserts differently doesn't understand the concepts of
> price-point and service delivery to consumers.

Alan, nobody is assuming that a useage charge would have to be constant
in terms of microcents per packet, or whatever; phone companies are
already quite adept at slicing up parts of a long-distance phone call. It
would'nt be much of a stretch to introduce a pricing regime - for phone
calls - which was time-related ( $2 for the first minute, 50c for the
next four minutes - and progressively higher or lower after that,
depending on what kind of user behaviour you want to produce). So far as
pricing packets are concerned, what is to stop someone creating some
software which monitors the number of packets passing a certain point in
the network, identifying the source and pricing accordingly - in this case,
low for large numbers of packets and high for a smaller amount ? Movies,
after all contain so much data that they're relatively easy to distinguish
from other items - very few of us are going to pass text over the Net in
Brittanica-sized chunks. So far as I'm aware, the router problem is
still the major technical barrier to packet pricing; screwed or not, I
don't think you should underestimate the ingenuity of economists - or of
the business community in general, when it comes to getting "buck for the

Roger Collins

PS Unless anyone wishes to contribute re the technical aspects of the
proposals above I propose that Alan and I continue this conversation "off