20.4.09

Free Your TV?

My wife and I always complain about our insane cable bill, but we're both TV junkies--so what's our alternatives? Well, it looks like "internet-TV" is about to take a huge step forward. Via /. via NYT, Adobe is about to announce a new "Flash TV," which would be a huge step in piping internet content straight to your TV. Got an internet connection? Got Netflix? Dump your cable. These days, even most professional sporting events can be watched online for a price.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't mention quality--and its direct correspondent, file size. Last year, I was closely following concerns over bandwidth--I have to believe that if streaming video goes anywhere near this mainstream, then this conversation will resurface will a vengeance. Especially since this other conversation won't go away. The web is not, despite popular belief, an unlimited resource. It depends on material cable--and, if high density file formats such as streaming video or even flash video go mainstream, then ISPs are going to have a much stronger case against net neutrality. I only hope that, if net neutrality is doomed, that the increases in cost are at least shared between provider and consumer; and that those increases are closely regulated by the federal government to prevent gouging.

4 comments:

actnaturally11 said...

I can see the overall gist of trying to balancing out one thing to make up for another, but there are several alternatives to this other than just relying on the web's limited material.
Gary Foreman, a dollar stretcher maverick, estimates that television on regular if left on for eight hours every day should only add around $4.80 to your monthly bill. Now, this of course goes up as you add on things like a plasma screen, etc.

http://www.stretcher.com/stories/960909b.cfm

One way around the internet, is to downgrade any extreme extras on your television racking up the bill, like plasma. The second way is to make small changes with other things adding to the electricity bill. Lowering the wattage on the bulbs placed in your household can significantly counter your television dilemma. But then again, you could always just write a blog critiquing the television you watch, get a large amount of followers, get paid for ads, and use television to pay for your television habit.

Casey said...

I was with you right up until that last sentence -- describe a scenario where a lack of regulation could lead to gouging for me... I'm having trouble picturing it.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

Oh come on Casey--this one is easy. Music and video files are relatively large; ISPs declare that the increase in digital traffic requires them to increase prices on certain kinds of file exchanges; you are given a cap (like long distance minutes with an old cellphone plan) and are charged overages when you exceed your cap.

And the ISPs will have a virtual monopoly, since there's very few alternatives. Many areas are lucky to have one broadband provider, let alone two.

There's a quick article here that lays out Time Warner's strategy to cap digital transfers.

There's a reason we made roads public works way back when--they were such an integral part of our economic and social existence that they needed to be protected and maintained for all citizens (by all citizens). So let's go back to calling the Net the Information Superhighway. I'm not saying that private corporations cannot maintain the web, only that it requires government regulation (in the same way that the government regulated the telephone).

And, yes, I realize the irony in asking the government to regulate and maintain the structure of the internet while not regulating the content that gets exchanged on that structure. But that's the essence of the first amendment to me (and the essence of ethics in a Levinasian sense): to absolutely respect and maintain every person's ability to respond, to communicate, to connect.

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