Whenever I complain about the lack of broadband competition here in the US, I’m reminded of how stacked the deck is against the consumer in Canada. Proving how far bought and paid for regulatory agencies will go to satisfy their monopoly benefactors, Canada has ended unlimited broadband. At the same time, Canadian consumers are not permitted to buy service by the byte and are still limited to monthly subscriptions. What’s really troubling is that the costing of building and maintaining usage based billing systems is often higher than simply adding capacity.
It’s very important to understand that overpriced, underpowered broadband with low usage caps is an economy killer. In thoery, government regulators grant monopolies when they serve the public welfare. Adhering to a model that keeps an entire nation in the technological dark ages to provide greater benefit to an inefficient and entrenched monopoly is suicidal for any developed nation in the connected world. Canadian business and consumers will be at an extreme disadvantage as a result.
For American’s this is a clear demonstration of how fast and far the slippery slope of regulation can impede a free market. With our own FCC demanding more authority over the internet, and a provider ecosystem that is evolving from a duopoly to a monopoly we could very easily see more attempts to impose the same limits here. The cost of a free market is vigilance. I hope everyone is in regular contact with their elected representatives.
If you’re into to photography, Flickr is an active community of like minded folks. In fact, my own informal research shows that photography enthusiast and professional group membership is a growing on the site. The problem for Flickr is that there is an exodus of masses the of casual snapshot sharers to Facebook and other social networking sites.
Although Flickr is well known and still widely used, its traffic is shrinking. Unique visitors to Flickr in the United States fell 16 percent, to 21.3 million, in December compared with a year earlier, according to comScore. Meanwhile, for that same time frame, use of Facebook’s photo features grew 92 percent, to 123.9 million users.
Flickr’s trajectory largely dovetails that of Yahoo, which is struggling to re-emerge from years of underperformance. Carol A. Bartz, the company’s chief executive, is leading a turnaround effort that includes jettisoning products that are not central to her strategy of emphasizing Yahoo’s strengths. (New York Times)
There is probably nothing that Yahoo can do to stem the tide of snapshot sharers from abandoning Flickr. The critical mass of Facebook as a social hub with unlimited photo sharing will be impossible to overcome. Flickr could have a bright future in returning to its roots as a community of photo enthusiasts. These enthusiasts are more likely to pay for value add and premium services. Lower demand on resources with more users willing to spend, Flickr could contribute more to the bottom line. With Yahoo’s current strategy of shedding non-growth enterprises, it will take savvy insight to recognize and take advantage of Flickr’s return to its roots.
While the Constitution’s limits on search and seizure should have it covered, fed agencies like DHS continue to be very aggressive in using technology to keep tabs on all of us. The courts have been a little too supportive of this dismantling of the fourth amendment. Thankfully, Senator Ron Wyden has proposed legislation requiring a warrant for obtaining device location information. Far from enough to insure some level of privacy, but a good start.
In response the the shuttering of the Internet in Egypt, Senator “Kill Switch” Susan Collins put out an email stating
“‘My legislation would provide a mechanism for the government to work with the private sector in the event of a true cyber emergency,’ …… ‘It would give our nation the best tools available to swiftly respond to a significant threat.’”
Senator, give it up, we’re wise to you. Just in case, PC World has a good guide to working around a shut down.
Rather than trying to defend its position, the FCC has asked the courts to dismiss Metro PCS and Verizons’ net neutrality lawsuits.
The FBI starts search and seizure of equipment suspected to have been used by DDoS group Anonymous.
DMCA gone mad: A federal judge shuts down PS3 jailbreak hackers.
Netflix continues to buck the bad economy with it’s cheap online streaming service. Hulu continues to grow as more Americans change from appointment viewing via broadcast to on demand. With one or two companies dominating the market, there is certainly room for more. In fact if we had a good economy and start ups had an easier path to going public, I think we’d have a very crowded field of broad catalog streaming services. Lacking this, the field is still wide open for players with deep pockets. While it’s not the first company I would have expected to enter the arena, Amazon may have enough synergies and clout to pull it off. According to Cnet, the company is planning to add unlimited streaming service:
Rumors have been heating up over the last few weeks that Amazon was on the verge of offering “free,” unlimited video streaming to its Prime members, who pay $79.99 a year for free two-day shipping on many items sold on Amazon. Now a tipster has sent a few screenshots to Engadget allegedly showing an unlimited video streaming section to complement Amazon’s VOD (video-on-demand) offerings.
Whether someone at Amazon accidentally jumped the gun on the launch is unclear, but the section has now disappeared along with the “Watch now,” free unlimited streaming button (I have an Amazon Prime subscription and nothing like this showed up for me).
It can’t happen here, right? Using the Internet, loyal opposition organizes demonstrations against the government in power. That government ends their ability to communicate and organize protests by shuttering the Internet.
Hundreds of service providers offer connections in Egypt, but just four own the infrastructure – Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya [VOD-LN 178.15 -0.90 (-0.5%)], Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr.
Daniel Karrenberg, chief scientist at RIPE NCC, a European not-for-profit Internet infrastructure forum, says immature markets with few providers can achieve such shutdowns relatively easily.
“The more simple the topology is and the fewer Internet services providers there are, the easier it is for any government or the telco themselves to control access into any geographical area,” he said. (CNBC)
While facing the facts are uncomfortable. there are strong parallels to what could happen here. There is a push that will not die in the US Senate to give the president, present and future a kill switch for use in “case of emergency”. In America, we’re a little different in having a somewhat larger collection of backbone carriers, but the last mile is a near monopoly in many parts of the country. It’s not much of a stretch to envision an unpopular president declaring an emergency to disrupt communication if opposition becomes too vocal. Only 3 or 4 providers would need to be closed to effectively end public communication. For me, the slope we are on is a little too slippery for comfort. I hope you’ll join me in reminding your representative that the internet kill switch is not the proper authority for any president of a free republic. While you’re at it, you could remind them of the perils of too little last mile competition.