In some ways, law and politics is a game. Most of the time the big bullies push around everyone, but these days, things are changing.
I shared this with friends, but thought it merited sharing with the world. It’s funny because it’s true.
Google Fiber not long ago announced that it is releasing another couple of zones. After a successful attempt with Kansas City (in both Kansas and Missouri), it is expanding. Lucky bastards in Austin.
For those who haven’t been paying attention to the Google Fiber thing, it’s interesting stuff. For $300, you get internet for 7 years at current cable provider speeds. Or, for the same overpriced amount you pay your cable provider for cable television and internet (~$120), you get the same cable package, plus internet that ranges from anywhere from 200 to 1,000 times faster (depending on your current internet speeds).
Yup, you read that right. 1,000 times faster.
It’s insane. It’s groundbreaking. And it’s going to happen, whether the cable providers want you to do it or not.
From a cable spokesman, they “expect that you don’t want faster speeds because you haven’t asked for it.” Except in my area, where FIOS exists and people buy homes in the right areas just so they can get the Fiber Optic speeds, which are far below that of the Google Fiber project.
I would love to be able to buy HBO or TNT, but don’t want to buy ESPN. I support one product and not the other. But, since the cable companies and cable content providers are working in collusion and the cable companies are operating within state supported oligopolies, we are forced to take what they give us. What they give us is packages so that they can maximize their profits and advertisements.
Things like this give us options that are legal. Technically, the current regime is the one that is breaking the laws (spelled “Legal Monopoly”) with congressional support.
I would like to have local channels too, but don’t want to pay for the antenna or get up on a roof, even if that is able to happen. Plus, I don’t want to buy all of the equipment (slingbox, dvr, etc) to do this. I can, but I don’t want to. A fun new service called Aereo provides this service for you. They basically set up an antenna, a dvr, and a slingbox, and give the control to you.
People and cable companies are up in arms over this. Everyone is screaming “Thief!” And when I say everyone, I mainly mean content providers and cable companies. Why? Because they have a nice little cash cow that they don’t want to see end. So what do they do? They take Aereo to court to sue the pants off of them. Turns out that Aereo was absolutely prepared for that. In a recent court case decision, they won the court case based on the fact that antenna, dvr, and slingbox are all legal for you and have been decided so in previous court cases. Plus one for the underdogs.
This is a valid service that they are providing. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it immoral or copyright infringement.
Senator McCain and the a-la-carte options
Even better yet, Senator John McCain, a man that I would not say that I align with politically, has a fabulous idea that he sent to the New York Times. Basically, a-la-carte pricing has been requested for about 20 years by the government. The FCC doesn’t want to step in and get involved in that, because that would be government putting limitations on businesses, which would be a political crap-storm. However, he is willing to cut off the subsidies that they are getting from the government when they don’t do this. BAMN! Thank you Mr. McCain! It’s about time.
The cable companies are putting pressure on companies that might take their business (Google, Microsoft), but they can only do so much. With the updates to the Home Theater PCs (by Dell, Boxee, Plex, XBMC, and even the new XBoxOne, for better or worse), it’s possible to connect your home in ways that were unheard of. The only problem is that the content is still coming. It’ll get there soon enough though.
With all of these different forces building, it might just be possible to losen the grip of some of the worst-liked companies in the US today. Here’s for hoping, right?