June 11, 2008

Is this the end of our internet?

Filed under: law, News, politics — Tags: , , , , , — skeptisys @ 12:35 pm

media ownership corporate

Time Warner Cable has announced that, as an ISP, it has begun charging for total bandwidth used, starting in Beaumont, Texas.  This is an effort to destroy competing video and audio companies like Netflix, Itunes, and youtube.  Time Warner cable sells tv, movie, and radio stations through their digital cable service and have found competing internet companies able to provide cheaper and more extensive services than Time Warner.  Instead of reducing their prices to compete, they found a way to use their monopoly to charge a surcharge on higher bandwidth internet services, Time Warner has found a creative way to use their area monopoly to increase the price of their competitors.  This latest act may stop new innovative technologies from being developed.

People are encouraged to contact their government representatives, and representative hopefuls like Obama, to help end this latest action of illegal and unfair trade practices.

By using their influence on government officials, companies like Time Warner and Verizon have already caused American internet access quality and quantity to become very poor, as measured by speed and cost compared to the rest of the world.  In the past, Time Warner has used their influence to avoid paying taxes at all, on their billions of dollars in income.

Even though internet access in America is already relatively expensive, ISPs are beginning this new vile attack on their users to drain even more money, in addition to crushing any competition.  Time Warner has introduced an additional cost for content, in addition to speed. If this is successful, you will pay for content either by type or by size.

This decision will affect almost all internet users in a negative way.  I will not be able to list all ways here, but want to touch upon as many as I can.

1.  Argument of ‘bandwidth shortage’ is false.  Time Warner argues that we are running out of bandwidth because some people are using too much.  However, when too many large files are transferred at once, the transfers are placed in a queue, slowing down the connection.  The speed returns during off peak times.  If we were currently at or near the peak usage (as argued), we would see remarkably slow connection.  We aren’t close to that period yet, and if and when we do – Americans have already paid mightily in taxes that went to ISPs for ‘innovation’.

2. The bandwidth limit is unreasonably low. Time Warner lists between 5GB and 40 GB as the maximum total allowable monthly internet transfer before a $1 per GB additional charge is levied.  At the current purchased rate, that total can be reached within only a few hours.  At 20mb/s, the 40 GB limit will be reached in less than 4 hours (limit also includes upload).  These limits do not match what the companies have been advertising and selling to us for years.  Time Warner admits only 5% even come close to using the bandwidth they paid for.  When I checked my internet connection, I was surprised how much bandwidth my software updates, email, and other ‘idle time’ automatic activities were taking up.

3. Users can’t control the limit of bandwidth used. Much of the email received is unsolicited containing unpredictable file sizes.  The content of websites (flash, streaming audio and video) can’t always be controlled by the user.  Spyware and adware takes up bandwidth and has been used by the American government, including by ISPs – that can neither be controlled nor detected by the average user.  Software now tends to have automatic downloads and update checks.  These also take up bandwidth.

4. Main uses of the internet will become too expensive. Here are some types of internet services that will need to be avoided by the user, unless they want to go over their limit: Youtube, Netflix, and all streaming video.  Sites with pictures or digital images, or unknown content.  Email is unpredictable (people always send photos of family members and friends) – I’ll wait until next month to check email.  Ecards and cute cat photos will be risky.  Movie trailers – no more.  Software updates?  Um, no thanks – mail me a new CD.

5. Computers will be more insecure. “I will not spend my money downloading necessary OS or antivirus updates.  Maybe next month when the kids are at camp.”

6. People will hesitate to start or test new technology. Youtube or Skype would never have started if this limitation was in place.  Neither would peer to peer.  Streaming games would never have made their mark.  Many new technologies rely on high bandwidth to start, and this will prevent them from taking hold.

7. Artists and nonprofits or small companies threatened: People who create their own pictures, photos, movies, or music rely on high bandwidth transfering technology like email, peer to peer, or streaming sites like youtube.  Nonprofit websites designed for discussions of art or politics can be destroyed by this action.  I would not be surprised if the RIAA and MPAA were supporting this decision.

8. Free speech will be curtailed.  The internet allows for people to express themselves freely.  If companies are unable to distribute free blogs, these voices will be stifled.  Mass communication helps people find out the problems around the world that need attention, like earthquake victims, out of control police, or if Time Warner is trying to destroy your rights.

9. Future of few affording new technologies.  Technology has and will continue to increase file sizes and bandwidth needed as more realistic images and video becomes available.

10. Science and other intellectual/medical content compromised. Real time information is vital for medical and scientific information, but the transfer of ECG images and other test results take up tremendous bandwidth, as do the various databases.  Contractors in this area will be hit very hard, resulting in a downturn of the medical and scientific industry.

11. No working from home.  Working from home saves expensive gas, and saves the company resources.  This will make it more expensive to work from home, and transfer files back and forth, or use some virtual desktop application.  People may not be able to join long net meetings from home.

Graph at top from Democratic Underground:  Also from their site:

“Time Warner is the largest media conglomerate in the world, with holdings including: CNN, the CW (a joint venture with CBS), HBO, Cinemax, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, America Online, MapQuest, Moviefone, Netscape, Warner Bros. Pictures, Castle Rock, and New Line Cinema, over 150 magazines such as Time, Cooking Light, Marie Claire and People.

Time Warner services 17.9% of all cable subscribers, gaining 3.5 million subscribers from its joint acquisition of Adelphia with Comcast. Time Warner now has 14.4 million cable customers (plus 1.5 million held in partnership with Comcast).”

1 Comment »

  1. Nearly two decades ago, I remember a journalism professor explaining how cable companies had the ability to provide telephone service more cheaply and efficiently than the phone companies themselves, but the phone companies strongarmed legislation to prevent it from happening in order to protect their livelihood. Now that the cable companies made progress on behalf of regular folks, it seems they’re perfecting the art of becoming greedy protectors of their own perceived self-interest. No surprise, but dag.

    Comment by Elmo Valo — July 24, 2008 @ 11:55 pm

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