Give Us an Internet As Innovative As Our Streets!

by Mike Wendy on March 24, 2014

Comcast and Apple have reportedly begun exploring a “TV deal,” which The Hill reports would:

“…[L]et users stream live and on-demand television stored on the Internet, essentially replacing a normal cable box.

“Service over the potential arrangement would be separated from regular Internet connections over the so-called ‘last mile’ of connection to a consumer, where heavy traffic can slow down web speeds. That would theoretically make the streaming video as smooth as it would be for people watching TV via a traditional cable set-top box.”

Because the deal would involve so-called “managed services,” it would likely fall within an exception to the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules – rules which Comcast must still follow as a result of its NBC-Universal merger, even though Net Neutrality was tossed out by a Federal Court in January.

(Gosh, overturning that terrible rule seems to have gotten the Internet humming with innovation again)

Still, the we-want-your-property-free crowd is screaming, especially so after the recent Netflix agreement with Comcast to help ensure the former’s bandwidth-hogging HD movies make it to end users better.  The Freebies see an “evil” trend – that is, private property owners doing what they want with their private property, without the Freebies’ permission (how dare that happen!).

Decried one exasperated Freebie writer about Comcast’s recent moves:

“I feel like I’m shouting at the wind, but I re-iterate: The Internet is a utility. We’re shipping entertainment, products, and overlord drone software via the Web like we do over highways and railroads. Do we let state highway administrators tell trucking companies what they can and can’t ship? No, because that’s as stupid as hitting yourself in the head with a roofing hammer. Why then are we doing it on the Web? We shouldn’t, ’nuff said.”

street2 copy

A utility, eh?  Well, last time I checked, public administrators heavily regulated the roadways.  And, boy, are they bristling with innovation.  As the picture at right attests: 25 miles per hour in Old Town (speed throttling, which has been the same for at least 25 years); HOV lanes (subsidies for favored vehicles but none others); closed roadways (to host state-sponsored events); and electronic parking meters (new pricing mechanisms to wrest more fees from users). All this is about as innovative as it gets on the George Washington Parkway – a road not much different from others here in the U.S.

Imagine that type of public utility control and innovation for the Internet?

Then again, don’t.

Comcast is a private communications company.  It should be able to do what it wants with its property. To this end, I hope we get bushels and bushels of Apple-like deals in the future. Only in this manner will our networks grow and develop.

A public utility model for the Internet would leave the medium as “innovative” as our streets.

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