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Internet Clampdown

by Orion on January 30th, 2011
http://openmedia.ca/meter

Stop The Meter On Your Internet Use -- OPEN media.ca

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to stop paying for cable.

Apart from live hockey and my morbid fascination with the latest in bad “reality” TV, I feel like I’m just throwing a lot of money every month at a service that simply refuses to meet my needs.

There are a lot of exciting alternatives out there now offering a better service for less money (eg. CBC.ca, Centre Ice, Google TV, Netflix, Boxee, iTunes, etc.) and I have been psyching myself up to make the leap from the clutches of our entertainment overlords… only to hear that Canadian ISPs and the CRTC are joining forces to save our archaic cable industry, perpetuating our media streaming enslavement.

Sure we’ll be able to sign up for all these other new options for online video entertainment, but we’re going to have to pay for it.  And if the cable companies lose the kind of market share I think they’re going to lose, we’re going to pay for it BIG TIME.

I’d be ok with cable if I could select a few channels that I actually watch and pay for them only on a reasonable basis (eg. a few bucks, per channel, per month).  Instead I pay for about a hundred channels that I hardly watch, or don’t watch at all.  And when I do tune in I’m forced to contend with obtrusive advertising bombarding my family about a 3rd of the time we are watching.

My plan is to get some sort of box that connects my TV to the internet with applications installed to easily browse and stream online video.  The front runner right now is Boxee (http://www.boxee.tv/).  It seems to do well with third party applications and may be the most friendly with bigger networks as they improve and upgrade their online streaming options.  Apple and Google have interesting solutions (http://www.apple.com/appletv/ and http://www.google.com/tv/), but I’m not interested in getting locked into iTunes for TV shows and Movies, or getting caught in a power struggle between Google and the Networks for control of content (http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/10/google-tv-growing-pains-networks-block-web-tv-shows/).

If you’re into video games and have any of the latest gaming consoles, chances are you can connect your TV to online video services such as Netflix through it (http://www.netflix.ca/NetflixReadyDevices?cid=Game+Consoles).

With Netflix, live NHL hockey streaming (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXJYiYU50SM) and access to video from news sites (http://blog.boxee.tv/tag/news/) and other online broadcasters, this might solve all my video entertainment needs, for a MUCH lower price than cable…  And most of these sources have mobile apps for smart phones and tabs (iPhones, Android phones, Blackberries, iPads, etc.), which could add a whole new dimension to my video lifestyle…

If our ISPs and the CRTC get their way however, we’ll be paying the price if we leave cable for online video solutions.  George Strombo sums the situation up well here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rUsRCyS6PU.  George also provides the link to the online petition by OPENmedia.ca to “Stop The Meter” (http://openmedia.ca/meter).  I signed it, and I would encourage anyone else who cares about open and affordable access to the internet to sign it.

I’m all for paying what things are worth, and even paying per usage, but it sounds like they’re planning to jack prices well beyond what their infrastructure is worth.  I don’t think we need government subsidies to keep prices down, but we may need some “public service” involvement to make sure our monopolistic ISPs don’t gouge us to make up for the losses they will suffer from the failing business model that is cable TV.  If the CRTC allows this, something tells me they won’t be doing it for the public.

From → ideas, media, sports

5 Comments
  1. John Boy permalink

    I hear you, Orion. Reasonable control of choice for reasonable cost.

    And, I suspect that underlying all of what you are considering for yourself is the notion that the internet, as a peoples’ media, should continue to remain “free” from big commerce — and big brother.

    The internet (and wireless communication)in this age and for the past two decades is a critical tool of democracy — and we, the people, should be prepared to preserve that right. There’s no more obvious example of its importance than the Wikileaks political revelations. Whether or not I like Julian Assang, he’s used the internet to challenge and thumb his nose at the supreme capitalist beast itself — on a world stage no less. Bravo Julian! Bravo for us!

    Just look at how the Egyptian dictatorship attempted to block cell-phone transmissions to those organizing against them in the streets. Yet, the rebels and the hackers discovered ‘20 ways around that blockade’…

    And, closer to home two years ago (lest we forget), we witnessed that brutal gang of RCMP in the Vancouver airport beat an innocent Polish immigrant to death — via one man’s free cell phone camera.

    Power to the people, and power to unfettered communication through all media.

    Keep us posted on your quest to maintain reasonable cost and control of the internet, Orion. It’s actually a very important issue, albeit on a day-to-day level, which we can all benefit from.

    John Boy

  2. Orion permalink

    Thanks John Boy,

    Not sure I want to associate myself with Julian Assang here, or even suggest that we take the internet away from the fine corporations that brought it to us in the first place…

    I’d just like to see our government ensure that there is healthy competition and fair consumer choices, and maybe step in and regulate if necessary (i.e. if monopolistic companies start charging us 100 times more than it costs them to provide).

    But yes, power to the people none-the-less!

  3. John Boy permalink

    OK, so Assang might not be as pure as the Superhero I portrayed. And maybe his ego is part of his game. But, it does remain that he is courageous — and for a good cause. C’mon, how many flesh and blood people would risk their necks against the covert slings and arrows of Uncle Sam? Not me!

    Also, you surely jest when referring to the “fine companies who brought (the internet) to us…” We both know that they are the big brothers of internet who want to milk us for all they can.

    You’re far too diplomatic.

    John Boy

  4. Orion permalink

    I’m certainly not trying to take on Uncle Sam here, and I was being a little sarcastic about the “fine companies” that brought us the internet. You got me John Boy.

    The bottom line though is that I recognize that these companies may have invested a lot of money in their networks. And I’m sure it’s not an easy thing to keep them running. I just want them to charge a fair price for the service.

    Somewhere deep down, I may even agree with you that access to the internet should be a right (which I’m[ sure relates to fair pricing).

    At any rate, it looks like the politicians have heard us: http://www.thestar.com/business/article/931674–harper-tweets-promise-of-internet-billing-review.

    This is why democracy is a good thing. And this is why governments are forced to have regular elections. Every few years they have to throw us a few bones to show they care.

    Here are a few more links for anyone following this story:

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2011/02/04/f-crtc-usage-based-billing-industry.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2011/02/08/technology-crtc-internet-billing.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/money/smallbusiness/story/2011/02/08/f-dianne-buckner-internet-usage-based-billing.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/politics/insidepolitics/2011/02/battling-over-bandwidth—liveblogging-the-usage-based-billing-debate-at-industry.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2011/02/14/bertrand-crtc-internet-usage.html

  5. Internet Fan permalink

    The Google TV option is very impressive.

    I’ve been a bit concerned about the push by the monopolies (Rogers and Bell) to make companies like Netflix into a broadcaster.

    The CRTC has already put limits on Internet downloading which helps the monopolies push out the competition.

    Overall the customer service from Rogers and Bell is bad enough as it is, less competition and they won’t have any reason to even bother trying to serve the customer at all.

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