It’s been a rough few weeks for the Internet, Broadband and even media services. Time Warner and Comcast agree in principle to a merger which will impact about 70% of US customers.
Time Warner shows the power of it’s new merger by helping the customer out, to ease the way. Oh wait, no, they actually just raised rates. Effective March 1.
Time Warner Cable is also starting to charge users a $2.25 “Broadcast TV” fee next month, which as we’ve been discussing is something most cable operators have been doing as a way to sneakily bury retransmission fee hikes from broadcasters in below the line fees.
That allows cable operators to not only sock you twice for content (since such programming hikes generally should be included in the overall cost of business and the existing rate hikes), but it allows them to misleadingly leave advertised rates the same. It also lets them increase prices for users in price-guarantees or under contract.
As with most rate hikes, the notices are accompanied with the insistence that the hikes are about bringing you added “value,” and necessary because of all the great upgrades the companies have been busy with. Except in Time Warner Cable’s case those upgrades have been slow in coming, the company considerably slower than Comcast in deploying faster DOCSIS 3.0 speeds or new TV technologies.
Contracts are good for TW, not so much for you, because TW can rewrite them at any time. Hell of a contract.
But, with such trustworthy people now in charge of the majority of US internet access, there is nothing to fear, right?
Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee will introduce legislation in the coming weeks to block what she calls the “socialistic” proposal.
"Federal control of the Internet will restrict our online freedom and leave Americans facing the same horrors that they have experienced with HealthCare.gov," Blackburn said in a statement.
Blackburn’s bill will likely be more symbolic than substantive, as was a bill introduced by Democrats in early February aimed at restoring net-neutrality rules. The Republican bill would not pass in the Senate, while the Democratic bill would never make it through the House. Rep. Anna Eshoo, author of the Democrats’ bill, recently admitted the bill had no chance of passing.
The effort also leaves the FCC sharply divided, with both Republican commissioners opposing the plan.
"Today’s announcement reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day," Commissioner Ajit Pai said in a statement. "I am skeptical that this effort will end any differently from the last."
Republicans have long said net-neutrality regulation stifles innovation and oversteps the FCC’s legal authority. Democrats welcomed the FCC announcement as an important step to protecting a “free and open Internet.”
Ok, now technical, IT person me has to come to the table. I am puzzled by the assumption that ‘this prevents innovation’. What kind of innovation do they plan? Do they think a private ISP is suddenly going to roll out IPv6 only network? Would that be innovation? Or do they imagine a whole new technology will come about to make rates lower? Considering Republicans have made moves in states like the one I’m in (Kansas) to block anyone but cable companies from competing, I’m not sure how that plays out either.
The problem with Republicans on this issue is that they so badly misunderstand the technology that they cannot come up with a valid argument that does not sound hopelessly foolish. Saying ‘their should be innovation’, would be like me saying: We should stop regulating gasoline quality because it stifles innovation.
What Marsha Blackburn and Republicans can’t seem to get across is that fulfilling a standard of practice is not the same as a government take over, any more than requirements that a AT&T Phone user can call people on Verizon. Would it be innovative if AT&T offered a lower rate, but you could only call AT&T customers? Maybe, but AT&T can’t do that because the market confusion would be considerable, and people would end up paying more to get less.
As I’ve grown older, I have realized something. What we are missing in congress and Republicans isn’t education, degrees are no proof of intelligence and lack of degree is no sign that someone is unable to put forward a reasoned argument. No, what we are missing is the lack of critical thinking.
But I want to go back to her statement, here:
“Federal control of the Internet will restrict our online freedom and leave Americans facing the same horrors that they have experienced with HealthCare.gov.”
Is she implying that ending net neutrality would allow ISPs the innovative practice of blocking access to government (.gov) websites? Is she now in favor of privately run firewalls that block out domains of those they don’t like, but specifically healthcare.gov? I’m trying to wonder what horrors HealthCare.Gov has in store to her that she has to block it out, in comparison to say the millions and millions of fetish porn sites?