Broadband – How Broad?

I read an article on c/net earlier today. It’s about broband ISP’s, like Comcast which I use, limiting bandwidth.

The article was interesting in that some customers had been kicked off line, unsubscribed to the service, for violating an unpublished limit which Comcast will not divulge. Just don’t go over it!

What seems to be missing from this article, and what worries me about broadband, is the people selling the service are selling it at their own peril.

Comcast and other cable companies make good money on pay-per-view and premium services. But, with a good broadband connection, there’s a case to be made for getting your premium entertainment directly off the net and eliiminating the middleman (Comcast). Comcast’s profit on PPV and premium channels comes from being the gatekeeper. If they’re bypassed, that’s gone.

A perfect example already exists in sports. Both MLB and the NFL sell Internet packages. Those packages compete with other premium channels available on some cable systems. Comcast gets nothing extra for providing the pipe that brings basbeball to my house. And, I don’t buy games on PPV.

Are the cable companies and/or phone companies the right companies to be our broadband gatekeeprs (After all, even phone companies are now seeing competition from VOIP carriers like Vonage)? Certainly, they have an advantage with much of the infrastructure already in place because of ther more mature businesses.

It’s going to be interesting to see this play out over time. At this point the FCC is not exactly pro-consumer, so I don’t expect outside pressure, yet.

(As part of my retirement portfolio, I own a little Comcast stock)

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