Monday, March 26, 2012

and there goes your net neutrality

A couple months ago Comcast announced that it would bring streaming cable to Xbox Live. Great news if you want to get rid of a cable box and replace it with your Xbox. Not so great if you want to ditch cable altogether. The internet collectively yawned. Until today that is, when someone discovered that Comcast's Xfinity on Demand service for Xbox live doesn't count against a Comcast internet user's 250 gig data cap.

Why is that really such a big deal? Comcast would argue that they're providing the same service, via their own internet pipes, that they already provide using their cable pipes (yes it's the same pipe, and yes I know it's not a real pipe). Making sure the Xfinity on Demand service isn't restricted by a bandwidth cap is just good business, right? Well it might be good for Comcast but it's not so good for Netflix or Blockbuster or Pandora or Vimeo or Youtube or really anyone else that streams anything on the internet.

It's a slippery slope my friends. Sure it starts with a data cap, but next year maybe it's an "optimization" for Xfinity on demand followed by an optimization for devices that use Xfinity on demand like your iPad and your Xbox (but not your PS3 or your xoom tablet). Before you know it blogger loads 3 times faster than wordpress, and CBS online looks like dogshit because it's constantly buffering.

But hey that's the free market, right? If Comcast doesn't give the people what they want the people will just go to the next cable internet provider. Oh yeah, there isn't one because local counties sell their cable rights to a single bidder. USA USA USA!


Anonymous said...

Slippery slope is exactly right. Hopefully the FCC takes a hard look at this quickly, because while this Streampix thing isn’t a huge deal, it could set a precedent for some very, very bad business practices. I don’t buy their explanation either. If that’s the case, why bother calling it a ‘streaming’ service at all? I think that it’s more likely that they know their streaming option isn’t up to snuff so they’re trying to strong-arm their customers into it. It would be better for their customers if they simply put out a great streaming service. Other companies have done it, and it’s not like Comcast is a small company, so why not? As an example of what I mean, my employer, DISH made excellent use of Blockbuster when they created the Blockbuster @Home service. It gives me video game and movie rentals by-mail, a bunch of high definition movie channels, and of course, unlimited streaming—all for a very reasonable price. Come up with something like that Comcast! Competition is good, especially for us consumers.



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