Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Carriers two-tiered Internet, temporarilly necessary?

A week ago or so on a golf forum I frequent there was a thread on the possibility of a 'tiered' Internet. I have purposefully been waiting to post about this on this blog until I had worked out an all encompassing view and solution to the problem. But thats not how blogs works all the time, so I'm copying my post from that thread here.....................

From 2/1/06:

A link to this article was posted:
http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=1386967

followed by a bunch of fears about carriers clamping down on Google, Yahoo, and the like. My response:

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Yes, lots of people need to get involved before it gets out of hand. But lets make sure we understand the REAL problem before doing so. The 'controls' they are talking about aren't really going to be as draconian as many are reporting. Here is why:

Search, email, etc. are not what the carriers are threatened by and therefore will not be blocking, or controlling (it would be ISP suicide). They are threatened by voice and video. They are making overtures at controlling things that require 'special delivery' (high bandwidth and/or real-time); which basically means voice and video. In my professional opinion, they will not get away with controlling voice - they need to get over it and let that antiquated business go (they are just having separation anxiety, and it will get worse before it gets better). Voice does not have bandwidth requirements that can be reasonably controlled or bothered with (a 25kbps stream just ain't much on your multi-megabit connection is it?). Yes, imagine it if you can, but the carriers need to get over the fact that there will be precious little money to be made in voice in the near future. If you're a voice carrier - be afraid, be very afraid - the world as you know it is about to end and there's nothing you can do about it.

Since I deal in the future (somewhat) the voice argument for me is over - lets move onto the good stuff:

Video - this is where the real interesting argument lies today. And lets preface the argument by saying that its only a CURRENT problem - bandwidth solves lots of things, and this is one of them.

At this time, delivering enough Internet bandwidth to support multiple HDTV streams is difficult - again, at this time. So, what the carriers are doing is implementing newer technologies that will deliver more bandwidth - but they are going to control it. You can get yourself a, say, 5M internet connection for reasonable fees - but to get bandwidth enough for video you will have to subscribe to that carrier's service, no one elses. This is how they will get away with it - they still offer unfettered Internet access, but they neuter it. To get the high bandwidth for video you have to subscribe to that carriers video service. Rather that just giving the customer all the available Internet bandwidth, its reserved for that carriers offerings only. 'TV' from any other provider would be unreachable, or unusable given the artificial bandwidth constraint.

Some technologists (Mark Cuban for instance) that I believe would otherwise resist this are actually calling it a good idea. Why is this? Well, its because they cannot see beyond their noses. Again, the bandwidth problem will solve itself - there will be a day where its not an issue. So, however temporary this type of service is necessary - there will be a day when its no longer required. If we allow the carriers their way, this day will never arrive. What we have to do is allow them such a business model (again, it will be temporarally necessary) but still encourage competition from someone that does not have a vested interest in the vertical applications (such as voice and video).

There are several opinions on how to solve this problem, none of them perfect, but I've rambled on enough for now.

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