Thursday, December 2, 2010

How the Cable Companies Are Trying to 'Double-Dip'

Net neutrality is pretty simple: Regardless of the type of data or level of traffic, everyone who pays for the same Internet package should receive the same levels of bandwidth, access, and even customer service. If you have the money for an ISDN line (and you want one), you should operate at the same levels as everyone with a T1 line; just because you use yours to stream television should not give the Internet Service Provider (ISP), or anyone else, the right to charge you a different price or offer you a lower level of service than they do any other T1 customer who uses his connection to transmit another form of data.

What cable companies want to do is charge customers one rate for services, then charge content providers and distributors a rate for "carrying" their content to the customer! So the cable company would be making money, coming and going. Further, if accepted, the cable companies would be quick to assert "assumed" rights -- as Comcast already has -- to further control their network. This could lead to all manner of censorship, controlled access to sites and content, and more.

The biggest problem here is that traditional media representatives are doing their best to handle everything as though this were traditional media. From the studios (rights holders/syndicators) to the cable companies (distributors) to the ISPs (TV), they are trying their damnedest to handle new media in traditional form, and it doesn't work that way and it won't. Allowing these companies to control the Internet is like letting telemarketers run the phone companies.

TV executives are the ones who called selling episodes online "foolish," insisting that traditional syndication to cable networks was the way to go. Now, cable companies are losing customers to online providers like Hulu and Netflix (Hulu is owned by three of the major TV networks - Fox, NBC, and ABC), and are scrabbling for that lost revenue. If allowed to control the Internet's network, they will eventually force customers to pay for all-inclusive "packages," instead of offering TV and Internet separately, and you will be "taxed" for individual networks and episodes, and pay at least a surcharge for DVR access and every replay, and on, and on. This is already the case, to a lesser degree, but add another $0.10-.30 to every three or four TV shows you watch, and every three or four episodes of those, and every time you play a DVD (it will be on-demand, unless you have The Collector's Edition DVD Boxset) or listen to a song, and you are starting to get the picture.

Some say this is how it has to be, but that simply isn't true. Cable companies are not hurting for money, they're just hurting for more money. There are plenty of viable, alternative options to making even more money off an infrastructure they charged us out the frame to create and develop in the first place. And with IPv6 on the way, which will make transmissions smoother and free-up bandwidth all on its own, there is even less need for divvying-up the trunc lines.

The sad truth is that these corporations have proven they cannot be trusted, and will do whatever is in their best interest, despite the effect it has on customers, the Internet, and development in all fields. These factions have raised rates for years while pointing the finger at one another and neither has made a concession; the customers always lose. There are as many concerns if the federal government regulates it, but at least we wouldn't constantly be worried about losing access and content, or going broke keeping it!

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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