by Mike Masnick
Mon, Dec 10th 2007 8:32pm
For most people, broadband ISPs are really little more than dumb pipes. We want our connections to the internet and that's all. Many people use third party email offerings (especially from portals) and set their own home pages. Unfortunately, being a dumb pipe is the last thing that these broadband providers want. It makes it a lot more difficult to communicate with customers and especially to try to charge them for premium services. It appears that Canadian ISP Rogers is testing a system where it inserts its own messages into Google's home page. In the screenshot, Rogers inserts a huge message at the top of Google's homepage to let a user know that he or she is approaching the monthly bandwidth limit on the account. This is troublesome for a number of reasons. There's simply no reason to hijack a site like Google (and, in fact, I'd imagine that the folks at Google wouldn't be particularly pleased about an ISP messing with its page). If an ISP really wants to communicate with people, why not just pop up a proxy page when the browser is first opened? Most importantly, though, it shows how some ISPs feel about its position in the value stream. They feel that they are more important than the content and services you are using. This is what leads to all those network neutrality debates, where the ISPs forget that they're providing just a pipe and think that they are the most important part of the process and have the right to change how everything else works. This doesn't mean they should be regulated -- but it does mean that both users and service providers (such as Google) should make it abundantly clear to ISPs like Rogers that this will not be tolerated.
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