Tuesday, December 13, 2005

My Own Private Internet

Here's a Boston Sun Story about select telecoms wanting to wire their own Internet. The argument is that they create a closed network to serve high speed, high quality content. Presumably this would carry better security and for-pay services. What? Is this 1992? Has Compuserve emerged from the grave?
Some big players (Google, eBay, etc.) have come out against this plan. What is likely is that these telcos will get their wish and produce their own networks. There will be two networks: the safe high value network and a network for the commoners (that's where Google will hang out like McDonalds-- playing to the masses). The problem will come if these telcos are large.
They will offer a finite set of enhanced services of the stuff you want out of the Internet: content, news and the like. They will protect you from harmful stuff. They will protect your kids from harmful sites. They'll drop high expense staples of the Internet: Usenet, FTP, unlimited VOIP (like Skype). Rogers' High Speed in Canada has done this. They are dropping support for Usenet and directing users to use Google Groups. Big ISPs are sometimes the only game in town, so you have to sign up with a large, stable ISP; or go for the flaky mom'n'pop ISP. The stable ISP calls the shots of what services it offers. Because joe blo user doesn't know what they're missing they blissfully accept the small offerings. AOL does such a good job of talking up its services, I know one user that signed up to use AOL through their Shaw High Speed account: that's like riding a moped around the interior of your motor home. When Telus workers striked this year, the union website was blocked to its Telus user base. Just because you pay an ISP doesn't mean you'll get what you want.
The downside of the Wild West nature of the Internet is that there are no rules for delivery and content. If your ISP decides to omit services for your benefit, you may have to take it.

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