Internet vs. Telephone company

An interesting article was posted by the Seattle Times yesterday, it's at:

This was the Jan 30, 1997 issue. In it, Diedtra Henderson writes:

"US West serves 2.2 million customers in Washington state and spent $340
million improving its phone system here last year, a spokesman said. The
company blames a meteoric rise in Internet use for its phone-service woes.
"For the next five years we are in big trouble. There is no clear,
intelligent way to expand the phone system to handle the Internet
demands," said Lu, who expects metered Internet access in the future - in
other words, you pay by the hour. "

My question is: Have other people heard of similar attempts by the
telephone companies to have "metered Internet access"? It seems they
would need a hardware level signal analyzer on their switching equipment
to differentiate between voice/data.

  Who is to say that my data call is actually connecting to the

Does anyone know by what means such a technology could be implemented?
What would be the legal ramifications?

Also do people agree with the claims that our local lack of available
phone lines is due to Internet usage or just to lack of foresight in
growth management decisions?

  I would say an intential lack of foresight in order to increase charges
  for higher profits.