The dystopic fast lane future of the internet

The Verge has imagined what our not so distant internet future could look like with fast lanes and prioritized content … Your corporate internet nightmare starts now.

Recommended reading … get yourself aligned with just how bad things could get.  As I don’t currently subscribe to Comcast – nor to I even have the option – I’m curious how things will evolve for the smaller broadband providers like Cablevision.  So far they’ve been decent enough … but they are about to be considerably over run by a mega-corp producing, distributing and carrying what could be perceived as the majority of content we want.


Using McDonald’s as a Study Hall

not bad

interesting piece in yesterday’s WSJ on how lower income families are using the free online access via McDonald’s or other locations for school work. While many of us may have scoffed at McDonald’s having Wifi, it’s become an important “third place” for kids who need to get online for their school-work thanks to the limits of the digital divide. My kids are still too young to really need online access for school work and we also don’t have to worry about connectivity, but I really empathize here and would love to see a bigger initiative to provide real internet connectivity as a baseline utility rather than privilege as it is now. McDonald’s is not an ideal place to do school work … though I appreciate as well that in some cases it may actually be less chaotic than at home.


Photo Credit Shawnblog on Flickr


Cablevision – ABC = No Oscars and Millions of Pissed Consumers

We’ve officially lost ABC on Cablevision today.  Thanks Disney.  Aside from the Oscar blackout tonight, which upsets my wife more than anything, we’ll lose access to Lost as well the only other show we care about on ABC.

The question I have for ABC is this … If it’s really about the money, how are you able to justify the efficacy of the ads sold for the Oscars with such a substantial portion of the NY Metro removed?  Charging for what’s available for free over the air (if we all hadn’t switched to digital) is ridiculous and you should be ashamed.

Nokia and Skype – With an Open Phone it Won’t Matter

It was only a matter of time for carriers to make stink about the inclusion of Skype on the N97.  I had first read about the issue via Simon Judge and was surprised it had even take this long to be a public complaint.

Carriers will always hate things that compete with their bread and butter and when you look at the possibility of Skype operating as a voice over data service the carrier is reduced to a mere pipe.  From my perspective as an end user, I’m always looking at more opportunities for just this situation.  I don’t use any operator services currently other than the connection on on either my home broadband or mobile connections.  I have not purchased a phone from a carrier outside of the original iphone since that was released and before that it was years earlier.  When I moved to Cingular (now ATT) I only requested the SIM since I knew I knew I’d be bringing my own devices.

One might argue that Skype delivered pre-loaded on a device would greatly impact the conversion to use numbers and I can’t argue that, though I would suggest that the Skype base is strong and enthusiastic enough that installing it yourself – with or without the Ovi Store – is going to happen anyway.  As it happens there are already no shortage of VOIP options for mobile devices … Skype just happens to be BIG!

I hope Nokia does not back down on the potential for the partnership here.  If it’s really a mobile computer they are looking to sell, I should be able to use any compatible application I want to make the most of my purchase.  That is after all how computers work.

From the WTF are you thinking dept …

NO NO NO! So both the consumer and content provider pay … yeah – no thanks.

The BBC would have to pay ISPs to deliver iPlayer traffic under the government’s new internet policy recommendations. Say bye bye to HD BBC iPlayer.

Lord Carter, the Communications Minister, released his Digital Britain report yesterday, outlining the Governement’s plans for internet regulation in the future, and one of the key recommendations was to allow ISPs to charge for prioritising types of traffic. In other words, providers of bandwidth hungry services like BBC iPlayer would have to pay extra to guarantee that data would be delivered to users at a reasonable rate. Sounds like being held to ransom, if you ask us.

via Electricpig.

No Muni-Fi for NYC

To be officially confirmed later today, but apparently the Mayor’s office will be passing on lighting up the city. The plan is to instead focus on providing affordable access to everyone which is certainly an admirable goal.

According to a piece in Computerworld, the consultants have decided not to focus on a particular access technology, but are very interested in the $8 Million available from Verizon, Cablevision and Verizon to help fund the underserved initiative.

Now I don’t want to sound too ungrateful or suggest anything too out of line here, but the main providers of access in the city would stand to lose the most from a low cost / free wifi citywide network right? I’d have no need to connect to my cellular connection or pay more to my cable / phone provider to get additional out of home access. And someone does have to pay to maintain it …

I can’t imagine we are really even going to see that much progress with $8 Million in “free” money. No one burns money like our benevolent overlords talking about doing things rather than just getting it done.

Is your phone Born Free?

Nokia Nseries - Open to Anything

Walt Mossberg has a great piece (Free My Phone!) up on All Things D, which is a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the mobile industry.

While he’s not saying anything that we (you gentle reader) have not heard or discussed, to hear it from someone with as much consumer clout as Walt Mossberg is something worth noting.

A shortsighted and often just plain stupid federal government has allowed itself to be bullied and fooled by a handful of big wireless phone operators for decades now. And the result has been a mobile phone system that is the direct opposite of the PC model. It severely limits consumer choice, stifles innovation, crushes entrepreneurship, and has made the U.S. the laughingstock of the mobile-technology world, just as the cellphone is morphing into a powerful hand-held computer.

Whether you are a consumer, a hardware maker, a software developer or a provider of cool new services, it’s hard to make a move in the American cellphone world without the permission of the companies that own the pipes. While power in other technology sectors flows to consumers and nimble entrepreneurs, in the cellphone arena it remains squarely in the hands of the giant carriers. [All Things D]

Interestingly there’s no mention of Nokia in the piece, just that Apple was able to sell the iPhone without the carrier getting inside. This is not entirely correct, there are no ATT apps or services, but there are limitations in what the iPhone can really do…. VOIP anyone? We can argue there are no applications later.

When I was in San Francisco last week the topic of unlocked phones came up and Bill Plummer suggested the phrase Born Free instead of unlocked. The term unlocked implies that the device was actually locked at one point and is now no longer that way. The Nokia N-Series devices are largely sold direct in the US – without a carrier contract and without carrier involvement on any level.

It took me a moment to appreciate that this is not just semantics, but truly an important difference. There are not too many manufacturers offering open devices… Palm has previously sold a GSM Treo without a carrier and I believe Motorola is starting to offer a device or two.

Clearly buying an open device is not something the average consumer seeks today. Devices are not subsidized so they cost more on the surface and you typically cannot use carrier services like music and video. Since I don’t use any of those services anyway. I literally just want open access to the network.

Without a carrier getting in your way, it’s easy to add your own content, browse and customize the device the way you want AND most importantly use things that were intended to be used in full. You simply pick a GSM carrier add your SIM and are all set. Should you choose to switch carriers, you are free to do so (outside of any contract term of course) and use the same device with another carrier.

The carrier BS has progressed to a point that goes well beyond reason and basic business and can only be seen as driven by greed. It hurts the consumer and I think will start to hurt the carriers as people become more savvy to the experience they could be having. There’s absolutely no reason for matters to be as locked as they are and I will advise those who ask to buy open to keep the as much of the power in the hands of the consumer.

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