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Thursday, February 2, 2006

How will I survive?

Posted by on February 2 at 15:31 PM

Here’s an interesting article about the sketchy future of the internet, courtesy of The Nation.

The nation’s largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online. Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets—corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers—would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.

I spend a good chunk of each day emailing friends and scanning gossip rags for celeb fashion faux pas. You could say my life revolves around emails and panty lines. If this article is true, the future looks bleak.

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One hopes that this world domination plan will be run with the same skill as these companies run their primary businesses. If so we have nothing to worry about.

Looks like it's time for community owned broadband in seattle

This isn't a done deal yet. There are groups fighting these plans and there is significant opposition. Businesses such as Amazon, for instance, don't want to pay these bribery fees. The ISP's already get the Internets paid for by you and I in the fees that we pay. This is just a money grab that will cost everyone some significant change if it goes through. I expect some skepticism in Congress about this.

No way this can work. The millions of us consumers who pay for internet EXPECT to be able to stream video, send email, look at porn, find plans for chemical weapons, etc. at a flat rate. With the sheer volume of fiber-optic cable out there available for sale, a smart business can offer a competing flat rate. Funny that Thomas Friedman mentioned in "The World is Flat" that Google is buying up lots and lots of fiber-optic cable.

If the telecom dinosaurs -- because that's what phone and TV companies are -- do try such a scheme, I only see them succeeding with some type of premium service with a guaranteed bandwidth. I suppose they would do their damnedest to make sure "outsiders" can't talk to their customers. Seems like AOL all over again.

Hubris - a la Bell System et al.

Look for the Chinese / Germans to do worlds best - very advanced satelite wireless system - worldwide, one low rate - jump forward over the ancient technos.

No afraid of brain dead white papers from passe telecom systems.

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