HD video will kill the Web 2.0 stars

HD video will kill the Web 2.0 stars

Summary: HD will force others out of the pipes connecting the consumer to the Internet - unless we can have broad competiton in Internet access

TOPICS: Enterprise 2.0

Wednesday I managed to catch up with Sean Garrett, one of the co-founders of 463 Communications, an agency that represents tech firms in Washington D.C on tech policy issues. Obviously, net neutrality was a topic we discussed, and Mr Garrett mentioned that the telcos were out spending everyone by enormous amounts on the net neutrality debate.

But this issue is a red herring because there is no way that legislation can force a pipe owner to carry all packets, including its own, on an equal basis. As Mr Garrett pointed out, the real issue is competition, "If we had real competition then the whole net neutrality debate would go away."

That is very true, it's because our access as consumers to the Internet is controlled by the telephone or cable TV companies and we don't have any choice. For example, efforts by municipalities to provide WiFi for local residents have often been blocked by the telcos yet this is clearly limiting competition.

If we had a broad range of competitors we could choose, and choice is good for consumers, it's also good for the vendors of the infrastructure: Intel, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Sun Microsystems etc.

Choice would be great news for the many hundreds/thousands of startups, the so called Web 2.0 companies that are based on the premise of equal access and equal performance on the Internet. Without this capability they will die on the vine--it will wipe out the promise of this next wave of innovation.

The net neutrality debate is bogus because there is no way to mandate/regulate/force the communications network owners to provide equal access and performance. Because the telcos and cable TV companies want to pump torrents of bits through their pipes in the form of their own web services but more importantly, in the form of high definition (HD) TV/video.

HD will squeeze everyone else to the margins and marginalize the entire Web 2.0 generation. That means thousands of small startups, plus the many thousands of VCs and other investors in those companies, will be drastically affected by this net neutrality issue. But Mr Garrett says it is difficult to get the startups interested in political issues that affect their future, and that has to change.

So how do we break the local duopoly? And it is a federally regulated duopoly at that--which means the government is part of the barrier to competition.

WiMAX, the Wi-Fi technology on steroids that has a range that can be measured in tens of miles could vault over the walled gardens of local Internet providers. But that technology is not yet ready for commercial use and it might be couple/several more years before it is ready.

In the meantime, HD will kill the Web 2.0 generation by pushing them out of the pipes, IMHO.

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Please also see: Tom Abate at The San Francisco Chronicle, the first in a series on net neutrality, over 200 hours of investigative work: Speed Bumps on the Information Highway

The 463 Blog: Inside Tech Policy which is also a good resource pointing to other good sources on tech policy issues.

Topic: Enterprise 2.0

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  • not likely

    While competition might solve the problem, you have to consider who the competitors are. These guys snort butter to keep slithering over each other and us in their custom built snake pit.

    I use WiFi and my provider (Edge Wireless in Oregon) charges a penney per MB, sounds reasonable until you think about downloading a DVD. That and extorting young people with cell phones at $.75/minute is their formula for acting out the new robber-barron scenario of the 21st Century. Then you try to get normal monthly service and they won't do it unless you have AAA credit and a $100000 limit CREDIT CARD. Won't even look at you if you have a debit card. Those people get served the extortion contracts.

    My point is this: With the likes of Verizon, Sprint, ATT, Cinular and others in the game, you have to know that they want us to pay by the lb, like they do in Europe. Competition my ass. And the government, as usual, has no clue and WILL sell you and me out. They want to change the rules of the game, like the RIAA did. Pass laws to keep you in the hole.
    • exactly...

      Which is why we need *true* competition or let's make it a public utility like the roads. We can still have private "toll" roads but at least we would have reasonably choices...