This might be a choppy entry. I’ve already tried two analogies and failed. How to explain what I want to say?
I’ve just read an article on c|net which points to an upcoming controversy. As video shifts from broadcast to on demand (and make no mistake, that change is happening) will the gatekeepers allow unfettered access if that access diminishes another part of their business?
Is that obtuse? Am I making the point?
Try this. Lets say you own a high speed Internet provider. It could be a cable company or phone company or other business. It doesn’t make much difference because they are all becoming the same business.
Your customers are looking to download video programs over the fat pipe of data you bring into their home. Do you allow them to download programming that you currently sell… or want to sell? Can your customers pull an end around on your pay-per-view offerings, for instance?
If you’re a phone company, can your Internet customers use the Internet to hatchet your POTS (plain old telephone service) package?
The brief item in the newsletter implies that SBC will block all video traffic traveling over its broadband network even if it comes from the public Internet. This means that SBC would essentially block video traffic from any Web sites that distribute video, if the content provider has not struck a deal with SBC.
SBC’s PR people were quick to say it’s not so. Then, the author of the original report actually put a comment on c|net, sticking by his assertions.
When an Internet provider in North Carolina limited its customers access to the Vonage VOIP phone service (which would eat into it’s phone business), the FCC quickly stepped in.
However, we’re talking about the big boys now. There’s a lot of money and control at stake. Actually, that sentence works better as: There’s a lot of money at stake with control.
I know this is a complex issue, and I’m not sure I’ve done it justice. Even if I haven’t explained it well enough for you to get every nuance, here’s what you should take home – People are currently fighting over the future of our communications infrastructure. It will affect you at home and at work. It will affect you in the wallet.
One thought on “Watch The Gatekeepers”
This is a very big issue that a lot of technologists are talking about. A good starting point is reading some of David Isenberg’s writings on the topic at http://isen.com