The legacy of America's local free call policy is thousands of Americans being online while not at their computers. It is not unusual, for example, when doing a "Who is" on an IRC channel, to find the user "idle for 17 hours 45 minutes". Invariably they are asleep, having turned off their "Disconnect if idle for xx" option in PPP, and simple auto routines either prevent any IRC bots kicking them or, if they do, the programme reconnects. If they did not have free calls, they would not do this.
Who is responsible for the Internet Gridlock? Well, we are all guilty, but perhaps free callers are more guilty than most. At the very least, the ISPs should disconnect blatant idlers. Just my two cents' worth. Or at BT rates, just sending this e-mail in the daytime has cost me about 15p.