BellSouth Makes an Offer You Can’t Refuse


The Internet Daily reports that BellSouth has confirmed that it is “pursuing discussions with Internet content companies to levy charges to reliably and speedily deliver their content and services.”

The article notes that “BellSouth has discussed its idea with MovieLink, a film-download service. [Bill Smith, BellSouth CTO] called MovieLink an example of the kind of company that wants customers to have a good experience and would view costs incurred in the strengthening of BellSouth’s Internet capacity as worthwhile.”

Am I the only one who gets an incredibly strong visual when reading that paragraph? Here’s what I see:

A man wearing a snazzy pin striped suit and snap brim hat walks into MovieLink’s offices. The diamond in his pinky ring catches the light as he taps the ash from his cigar onto the carpet of Jim Ramo’s office.

“My name is, ah…Smith,” he says, “and I represent a certain group of legitimate businessmen.”

“You’ve got a nice little business here, Mr. Ramo, and it would be a shame — a real shame, I gotta say — if anything unfortunate were to happen to your business. If, like, it took your customers a week and a day to download your movies, let’s say…I’d be real sorry to see something like that happen.”

Smith stubs his cigar out on Ramo’s desk, and looks off into the disance.

“You’re worried about things like that, am I right? Of course you’re worried about things like that. Your worries, they keep you up at night, right? Now my colleagues are prepared to help you out here. They can make you an offer that will make all those worries disappear — poof — and you’ll be able to sleep like a baby again. Like a baby. You’d have to be crazy to not want to sleep like a baby, am I right?”

Or maybe I’ve just got a very visual mind. Well, whatever…I still fail to see how this is anything other than a protection money shakedown that ends up hurting both online content providers (and pretty much everybody is a content provider online) and BellSouth’s broadband subscribers. Please explain…anyone? (And “yeah, but it totally benefits BellSouth so everbody else can go screw” isn’t really the explanation that I’m looking for.)