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Google vs. Comcast - Not A Net Neutral Call

Perhaps I should subtitle this post "How To Lose Control Of Your Industry, A Little Bit At A Time."  You see, a battle is raging over the Internet's future, specifically around a concept called "Net Neutrality."   Net neutrality is the assurance that access to the Web and its content will not be blocked, slowed down, or sped up depending on where that access is based or who owns the access point(s).

On one side we have content companies (like Google) preferring a triage-free Internet.

On the "It's my network, I built it and I'll do what I damn well please" side are bandwidth companies (like Comcast and their cable provider bretheren) building and managing the infrastructure over which all that content flows.  They prefer the ability to restrict (or at least charge more for) certain types of bandwidth-hogging traffic. 

Believing it has the regulatory mandate to referee, the FCC seems to prefer Google's position.  Inexplicably, The Wall Street Journal recently editorialized in favor of the cable hangers.   So, I asked, which argument do I prefer?   Quite quickly I decided to prefer the simple over the complex (being as I am woefully ill-equipped to decide the argument on technical merits...)

Google makes things simple and elegant for me.  They give me what I want, when I want it, no more, no less.  Many times Google seems to know what I want BEFORE I know I want it.  There's always more functionality behind the scenes if I ever decide to drill deeper, but it's well-hidden behind a clean, friendly interface.  When I pay at all, I pay only for what I want and not some predetermined "bundle" of loss-leading services.

Comcast?  Not so much.  My screaming matches with Comcast's Customer "Service" Department are legendary as much for volume as for using certain profane terms in new and creative ways.  Comcast offers a "Business Bundle" for a third less than my standard package but won't extend the package to me because I'm not regarded as a business address, no matter that I operate two businesses out of my home. 

I don't play golf, speak Spanish, or plan to buy cheap cookware before the sale price expires (in 41.5 seconds) yet there all those channels are.  I can't NOT buy them, or buy others a la carte for a reasonable per-channel fee.

And don't get me started on Comcast's programming choices.  I live 80 miles from Chicago, 240 from Detroit.  Yet instead of Chicago's Blackhawks games, I'm force-fed the Redwings because Comcast's infinite wisdom has deemed them my LOCAL team.  Umm, no.   A mind and a map are truly terrible things to waste.

Though some allegedly smart people argue Comcast's position, don't you wonder what they say in the privacy of their own family room?  To put it another way, when your business model is based on abusing customers, don't expect them to ride to your rescue when the regulatory chips are down.

While the tech-heads and policy wonks debate, I'll simply choose in favor of the company meeting my needs and against the one struggling to spell C-U-S-T-O-M-E-R.  Actions have consequences and, Comcast, if it means you forfeit some control over your network, chalk it up to payback being quite a bitch.


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