On Thursday this week the FCC, led by former Comcast lobbyist, Chairman Tom Wheeler, proposed new rules that permit ISPs to charge content providers a fee to get faster and more dependable service than the other content that is being processed. Netfix has already paid fees to both Comcast and Verizon. This subject gets complicated quickly, but what it comes down to is that content providers who have lots of money and lawyers will be able to get preferred service from the ISPs, who have a monopoly on the “last mile” connection to our homes and offices . Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner, which includes the old ISP AoL, will concentrate even more power in Comcast’s hands to leverage payments out of content providers. Verizon, which was formerly Bell Atlantic, which was from your friendly old Ma Bell monopoly, is filled with managers and executives who know how to use monopoly power to manipulate markets. At its simplest level: If one party–or group of parties –can buy preferred service from the ISPs, then other parties, who cannot pay the fees, will get degraded service. On any given evening, your Netflix movie may be streaming quickly and clearly, but your Massively Multiple Player world game may be stuttering, crashing and buffering.With this kind of power and control, the ISPs will be able to dictate who can start up a content-proving service. Facebook and You Tube are just a couple content providers that probably would not have made it if their service from the ISPs was slower and less dependable than the other content providers. The days of a “free ” Internet are over, if this FCC ruling stands.
May 15, 2014