BellSouth CEO wants to charge Internet transit fees

BellSouth's CTO Bill Smith plays with the idea of charging Internet companies extra fees to transit through his company's network. He told CBS Marketwatch in an interview that extra usage "drives up more costs that we have to recover." Smith also said that media companies like Apple could be charged a nickel or dime to insure rapid transmission.

In the interview, Smith compared telephone companies to shipping companies of the "digital age". This is not the first time industry executives have advocated charging extra fees. Back in November, SBC's CEO Edward Whitacre said "The Internet can't be free" and that companies like Google or Yahoo would be "nuts" to expect to use the pipes for free.

These statements have concerned many consumers who already pay a monthly access fee for high-speed DSL or Cable Modem service. Media companies are equally concerned and this may explain rumors last year about Google trying to buy up dark fiber. Google's Vint Cerf has publically stated that the company plans to build a network that can bring video broadcasting costs down to "a penny or two per hour" by 2008.