Thursday, April 24, 2014

Back to the future: Two-speed Internet

The New York Times reports that the F.C.C., which I am starting to think is run by Clay Davis, Evan Burrell, and William Rawls of The Wire, wants to let big bucks rule the internet even more than is currently the practice.

Content providers can pay for fast speeds.

And all those web sites for universities, digital projects put up with grant funds and a lot of sweat equity, and other knowledge-content sites that are there because someone believed in them? They can wait--or, rather, you can sit there and watch them load with 14.4-baud dial-up modem-like speed.  Remember those speeds?

It'll probably be like hotel wifi.  You know when you're in the conference hotel and you use the basic-level wifi? Sometimes the basic costs $9.95 to 15.95 a day, but it's still nothing to brag about.

You sit and wait for sites to load, until they time out.

Sometimes you watch a site that loads as if a content curtain is being slowly lowered, like some kind of information strip-tease, before a pop-up emerges on the screen and kills what little information you've been able to gather.

You watch the signal drop and reconnect.

You hope that the one button of wifi that the indicator is showing you will allow the email you're trying to send will get through.

Surprise! The wifi drops and times out before that happens. 

From the article:
The F.C.C. proposal claims to protect competition by requiring that any deal between a broadband company and a content provider be “commercially reasonable.”
But then the F.C.C. thinks that a Comcast   cable and internet provider monopoly is "commercially reasonable," so I'm not holding my breath. The U.S. already has slower internet than, say, Latvia because it's "too expensive" for the big companies to upgrade, or so they tell us.

I hope the F. C.C. comes to its senses.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

This is going to be such a disaster for people who already can't afford cable internet. (DSL is way cheaper in our area -- like $30 a month -- but is way slower.) The thing that makes me mad about foregoing net neutrality is that people in the middle class and higher will probably suck it up and just pay more, but the people who really are living paycheck to paycheck or who don't have jobs and need the internet to search for one are going to really have a door shut on them. That, or they will continue to surge in to public libraries, who won't be able to afford the upgrades either, because you know, who needs a library?? Ugh. I am so pissed about the implications of this! Not to mention the fact that it will certainly hurt start ups! And my husband would like to do a start up in the next five years or so when we're wrapping up our get-out-of-debt program. Will it even be possible then??

undine said...

Fie, I agree--this is going to hurt everyone except the big companies. I think that even if we pay more, we won't get the good service because the bandwidth will get eaten up by Amazon and Comcast, with the crumbs left to the rest of us.