Thursday, May 1, 2014

Broadband Usage Looking Like A Los Angeles Freeway

The FCC is hard pressed to maintain net neutrality, equal access for all content, large and small, across the broadband pipeline.  But companies like Netflix are hedging their bets by paying for faster routes with providers like Comcast and Verizon FIOS.  As a result, broadband pipelines are looking like LA freeways in that they have regular lanes and HOV lanes.  These high occupancy lanes give special treatment to multi-passenger vehicles and; in fact, LA is selling express passes for solo drivers that also want to use these lanes.  Unfortunately, the remainder of the lanes become more congested with other drivers either unwilling to pay extra for HOV or carpooling. 

The loss of net neutrality simply turns highways from equal access to all into freeways like the 110 or the 10 in Los Angeles.  While good for bigger companies like Netflix, it hurts the rest of the content field seeking to avoid traffic jams but unable to pay the "convenience fee"  And like always, consumers will eventually pay more to cover these content streaming costs. 

Until technological innovation comes along to reduce the size of content streams or improve the speeds of transport, the fast rise of digital content consumption by consumers will only continue to clog the broadband pipes.  Net neutrality sounds like a good idea but it doesn't solve the underlying problems of broadband congestion.  I believe the FCC should do more to encourage additional broadband competition; open more airwaves, encourage new players to enter, and allow competition for platforms to be best for consumers. 

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