Monday, August 15, 2011

How the New York Times Reported Metered Billing...In 1886

The times wrote an article about metered billing in 1886.
"The greedy and extortionate nature of the telephone monopoly is notorious. Controlling a means of communication which has now become indispensable to the business and social life of the country, the company takes advantage of the public's need to force from it every year an extortionate tribute."
This was met by applause from the reading public at the time.

When local telephone service became available, costumers were charged a flat rate to make calls. Calling outside of a local calling zone cost a bit more. This was a formula that costumers found to be very acceptable, as costs were very predictable.

When the phone lines in the local area began to expand, costs ran up for their construction, putting the telephone companies in a jam. Money had to be found somewhere.

Edward J. Hall of the Buffalo, New York exchange had a solution to this dilemma. His plan consisted of renting the line out for a flat fee, and an additional 10 cent cost per telephone call. In addition, costumers had to make a minimum of 500 calls a year. Another plan consisted of prepaid calling cards, allowing one to make a set number of calls.

As long as each company charged its subscribers the same fee, the unanimous cry of the consumer was "keep the prices down."

When measured service came into play, it made it harder for consumers to demand lower fees.  It was at this time that an attempt was made to kill metered billing.

Several strikes later, rate caps were being discussed, and eventually put into place in some areas.

Eventually, companies realized they need to provide some sort of telephone access to everyone at what came to appear to be a decent rate.

Fast forward to today, and we are still seeing the results. Few are still campaigning against metered internet, such as OpenMedia.

Just goes to show how history repeats itself.


  1. technology is getting out of control

  2. Technology is awesome, I cant wait to see where we go.

  3. That makes me thing how old are some things