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Last week was a busy one for not only Time Warner, but also the cable industry. First Time Warner released a statement about the new national broadband initiative to which the FCC has taken on a “consultative role”. In the statement they essentially tell the FCC that the nation needs to stick with worrying about broadband deployment on this project and to completely forget any inkling of net neutrality. Now this doesn’t sound like such a big deal to most because the goal of the project is to get broadband internet access to rural areas and help connect the rest of America. However, you must read more into this.
You see Time Warner, like most cable companies, don’t like the concept of net neutrality at all because it would prevent them from leveraging the control of their customers internet access to force feed them their services and products. So obviously this means that Time Warner sees the FCC’s position on the subject as a threat to their negative position on net neutrality. They see that the FCC could recommend that restrictions be put on the new networks that include forcing net neutrality on the network operators. So they are trying to make dang sure that the FCC backs off the issue long enough for them to construct their own rules and policies for the network.
The second news-worthy event that happened was that Time Warner released a press release stating that they will be backing off the tests for creating absurdly expensive broadband caps that they were going to implement this summer in Texas and New York. I would like to note that they have backed off, but not entirely ended the idea within the company. Instead the plan is on hold while they “educate customers” on broadband caps. Essentially they are waiting for a successful PR campaign to soothe customers and ease them onto the idea. Hopefully most people will see through the efforts, but I’m not holding my breathe.
Then a news story came out discussing broadband caps versus bandwidth throttling and comparing broadband providers in the US with those in the UK. Now I find it interesting that in the UK users will get a few nice emails asking them to cut back on usage during peak hours when they use too much. Then when they don’t comply, instead of cutting them off or charging them a boatload in overage charges, they just throttle down their connection speed. Seems like a lot more reasonable approach than scheming and planning new ways to pump more money out of their customers.
Finally, just to rub salt in our wounds, a report comparing broadband access costs and features around the world came out that shows that if you lived in Stockholm, Sweden you would be paying $11 a month for 100mbps internet connections that are fiber-based residential services and uncapped. Now the reason for this is because they have a municipal network that reaches every block of the city. Then they lease this network to service providers and since all providers use the same lines and don’t need millions in capital to get started they get to compete on equal footing. This encourages fair competition and real value for consumers. Unfortunately here in the United States companies get to have monopolies on metropolitan areas and face little to no competition. It would be nice if we could break the stranglehold that providers here have on our politicians.