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Leading a Horse to Water

Mark Goldberg

It is one thing to bring broadband internet to the masses, but how do we make them drink from the fountain of knowledge?

One of the challenges, of course, is that the industry has not yet sold turn-key applications that capture the imaginations of the unconnected. Surprising as it seems, email, Facebook, file swapping and web surfing have not yet attracted 100% of the population.

Are there some applications that might lend themselves to a toll-free model in order to reach the rest of the market?

For example, would home health care warrant installing a broadband connection as part of a monitoring service? The broadband access would be enabling underlying service, but the costs would be incurred by the health care agency, not the infirmed. Like toll-free calling, the application provider would pay the charges.

Your aging grandmother may have no idea that she would have a broadband connection coming into her apartment — perhaps complete with a wireless router. All she would know is that she can stay at home for routine monitoring check-ups.

Besides health care and elder-care, what other applications might "reverse-the-charges" for broadband access? Security services? Gaming? Entertainment? Energy management?

Among other considerations such as driving more universal connectivity, a reverse-the-charges model might put a very different spin on net neutrality — these applications will be asking the ISPs to bill them for a specific kind of access.

This article originally posted on the Telecom Trends blog weblog.

By Mark Goldberg, Telecommunications Consultant
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