Is Internet Access About To Change?

Last week I wrote about concerns Internet providers might some day change the unfettered access we currently have. You can understand their worry about providing me a workaround to services they’d like me to buy from them, like local telephone and pay-per-view video.

In the past Helaine and I bought Major League Baseball’s web package. It’s delivered by Comcast on my high speed Internet connection and competes with Comcast’s own video-on-demand service. Comcast is the passive carrier and gets nothing from this sale. My gain is Comcast’s loss – literally.

If you read this article from the Washington Post you can hear toes being stuck in the water. Bell South wants this to change. I’m sure they’re not alone.

Of course it makes sense for providers to try and monetize their service. But my selfish concern is me, not them. I want to be able to decide what I want, when I want it, and then get it with all the speed I’ve paid for.

Unless my ISP is currently holding back (and I don’t think it is), the only way to make some services faster is to throttle back the non-favored while allowing the others free access.

This is a very complex issue, as cable and phone companies watch their core businesses get cannabilized by ‘fat pipes’ they themselves provide!

You haven’t heard the last of this. The fact that it’s in the Washington Post as a news and not tech story, written by a staff writer, says it’s already on the mainstream radar.

Blogger’s note: I own a very small amount of Comcast stock as part of my retirement plan.

No Cable Modem

I think this is being sent to you via my next door neighbor’s high speed Internet connection. I’m not 100% sure. I’ve scrambled around, looking for a signal and found one… if I sit in the corner of the bed with the edge of the laptop facing Dubuque. It won’t work any other way.

Next door, in my office, the cable light on the cable modem is off. Bad sign.

I called Comcast and spoke to a Canadian woman (based on her accent). Dealing with the first level of tech support is the part that makes me want to pull out my hair.

Before I call I unplug, replug, reset, double check – you get the idea. I am not without some knowledge in this arcane subject. Yet the first thing she had me do was unplug the modem (again) and the router.

The router is behind the cable modem. Only through a thorough repealing of the laws of physics could it be causing my trouble. It would be as if my pipes didn’t work, so the plumber checked the glass I was thinking of drinking from.

Helaine points out this has happened more frequently lately. She’s right. And, the fact that this technology, though getting more mature, is failing more is a very bad sign. It’s also not good that my neighbor’s connection (also via Comcast) is fine.

A problem limited to an individual account is going to be harder to fix and slower to fix than a widespread outage.

Meanwhile, back on the phone, she couldn’t find my account, couldn’t find a way to schedule my appointment, and often seemed to be talking to herself! None of this is reassuring.

I continue to fear the cable connection will fail right when I’m taking some pivotal timed online test for school. Until then, I’ll be popping back into my office every few minutes looking for a lit cable modem light.