If you live in Portland, Oregon or the surrounding metropolitan area, you probably have Comcast as your internet provider. And because most of us like things to be simple, you probably have them for cable television too. In my neighborhood, we don’t have a choice. There is no Qwest or Clear Channel to provide us with competitive rates and services.
Across the United States, people are cutting their cable television at an alarming rate (Technologizer). Some of them are doing so in protest of the monopoly held by large companies, others because they have simply lost interest in the product and are choosing to read rather than flip through 225 channels hoping for something worthwhile to spend their time watching. For many citizens, the economy has dictated that corners must be cut, which has caused us to eat out less and find alternative forms of entertainment.
Enter WII, Netflix, HULU, and probably a dozen other alternatives to that $80.00 ‘basic’ cable bill. My household disconnected cable for “all of the above”. It made us mad we didn’t have a choice in providers, we started reading more and it just didn’t make sense to pay so much for so little. Realistically, if we are patient, we can watch Dexter commercial-free in a few months, or sooner, at our leisure for a lot less than it costs to get it “Right Now”. We’re okay with that and our quality of life has not suffered since we reverted back to Rabbit Ears. In the technology world, this is called “Good Enough”. Cable was more convenient, but we’ve found work-arounds that are satisfying enough to offset paying for “On Demand” television. In fact, a lot of it is On Demand, you just have to know where to find it.
What we do use every single day, is the internet. For roughly $60.00 per month, we have the same privileges as anyone else who pays for a High Speed Internet Provider. When I send an E-mail from home, it goes out at the same speed and efficiency as it would were I to send it from a large, publicly traded company. Right now it does, but some companies want to change that across the board and frankly, some of their motives are highly suspicious, verging on unwholesome and possibly, morally corrupt.
There is an excellent article on Wikipedia about Net Neutrality, the pros and cons, and what it could mean to consumers and businesses both large and small. Essentially, Net Neutrality will allow your internet providers to create a tiered billing system similar to those used by your mobile providers. Packets of data, FTP and file sharing will cost more. That makes sense, right? The heavier users like youtube, Amazon and other large retailers will have to pay more for their traffic. The problem is, simple users like me could end up paying more each month as well, or suffer a loss of efficiency unseen since the dial-up days. Write your E-mail at 6am? Perhaps it will get sent by 8:00am. Or maybe not, it depends on your level of service and where you fall within the hierarchy of the New Web Order.
My internal Conspiracy Theorist thinks that it has more to do with competition for entertainment dollars than anything else. There’s simply too much competition out there on the internet, and they want to make us pay for it, one way or another. Your Netflix subscription may be only $18.00 per month, but in the future, if you want to stream that video live rather than pop the DVD in, you might get a little surprise on your tiered internet bill the following month.
Peering around the corner in my trench coat,