Saturday, June 30, 2007

The New Internet Caste System & The Fall of the Television Broadcasting Empire

Get ready for your ISP to reduce both your freedom & accessibility to the real world !!

All the major communication carriers are lobbying to reduce your bandwidth to a censored trickle. Unless you are a major corporation, special interest group, or a major advertiser; your ISP will be throttling your internet connection down to a dribble. Their plan is to have both the end users & the content providers create revenue for a multi tiered internet.

As I remember, early in the 1990's when cellular phone service started to trickle down to the average consumer, there was a promise to create a lower cost solution for lower income individuals to be able to benefit from the technology. But, it never came. Buying a disposable 'Trac Phone' at the local 7-eleven is the only low cost solution available today. And that's not what was promised. The low cost system would have been unreliable, spotty in coverage, & you would have to wait a minute before the connection actually began to ring. But the promise was forgotten as everyone managed to create a new status symbol at the expense of their personal budget. Even today, disposable phones carry a certain stigma attached to them. "Only drug dealers & poor people use them!"

Let me ask you a question, but only if your over 30 years old...
"Remember the UHF channels on old analog TV's? Channels like 22, 45, 67?"
Well, on Feb. 18, 2009, the FCC's Mandate will kick in. Let's review just a small portion of the document.

The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005

In late December 2005, the House and Senate agreed on legislation to speed the nation’s transition to digital television while helping consumers to continue to use their analog televisions, recover spectrum for use by public safety officials and improve emergency communications, and auction off additional spectrum to reduce the national deficit. As of January 2006, the legislation, a piece of a major budget bill, awaits final approval from the House which plans to reconvene just before February. A summary of the legislation follows.

I. Spectrum Recovery
The bill directs the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to take all steps necessary to require, by February 18, 2009, that full-power television stations stop analog broadcasting, and that Class A stations, whether broadcasting in analog or digital format, and full-power television stations broadcasting in digital format, conduct such broadcasting on channels 2 to 36 and 38 to 51. This enables spectrum now reserved for TV channels 52 to 62 and 65 to 67 to be auctioned, and channels 63, 64, 68, and 69 to be used for public-safety purposes. Among the necessary steps the FCC will need to take are to issue a report and order on the digital television table of channel allotments, and to coordinate those allotments with Canada and Mexico to resolve any international interference issues.

The bill also clarifies that only full-power stations, not low-power stations, must cease analog broadcasting by February 18, 2009. Low-power stations, including Class A stations, may continue broadcasting in analog format after February 18, 2009, subject to future decisions by the FCC on how to complete the digital television transition for such stations. Low-power stations other than Class A stations may also continue such analog broadcasting above channel 51, subject to future FCC decisions, so long as those stations' use of those channels is secondary to the use of those channels by the auction winners and public safety officials.

This 'Spectrum Recovery' is the same electromagnetic real estate that both HAM Operators & Computer Networking groups have been begging the Federal Government for since the early 70's, back when packet radio was a blazing 300 baud !!

Here is an excerpt from a popular web magazine, CNET:
In December 2005, the Senate passed a budget bill that calls for over-the-air television stations to cease their analog broadcasts by February 17, 2009. After that date, TVs and other gear with old-style NTSC tuners will be incapable of receiving over-the-air broadcasts. Part of the government's quandary is that the switch-off would cause thousands of TVs to go dark and would deprive many lower-income viewers of their only source of television. To address this issue, lawmakers propose to subsidize converter boxes that would allow people to watch the new digital broadcasts on their old analog TVs. source

Ah, yea right... Just like the cellular phone subsidy !!
If your interested in just your TV reception, stay away from the big sales at your local retailers over the next two years. A good place to begin research in this area is EFF. TV source
By the way, WalMart & Circuit City ARE Supposed To Tell You The TV Your About To Buy Will Not Work In The Future !! Even the FCC will try to point you the right way,(here).

"Keep 'em deaf, dumb, & blind... Then cut off their internets !!"
Well, get ready for the same shell game the Federal Government, Big Industry, & the FCC have always been playing with the public since the end of the second world war. We're taught to call it Competitive Capitalism. But even the public education system is becoming a ruse.

Last year the fight was for 'Net Neutrality'. That fight was never really ratified. It's still up in the air, so expect the Senate to pass a bill on it when nobody is looking, like late December (see above). What's different this year is the investment & interest that the big communication carriers (Verizon, Comcast, Bell South, & ATT) have with the tier system. Last year, they concentrated their efforts on the Neutrality Front, while they developed the new Tier System. Just take a look at the 'White Papers'(here). This year they'll switch over to the Tier Front & push the Neutrality Bill through the Lobby Machine while the public is not looking. Once the internet is no longer a neutral system, the teiring issue will follow easily through congress.

In conclusion...
Here are the choices:

An internet system where anybody can access anything, at an equally standard cost to all; Without issues regarding privacy, habits, or end use.


A tiered system where what the end-user pays, the content provider pays, divided by the bandwidth cost efficiency indicator, delimited by the social &/or financial ranking; With the pre-agreed dissemination of the user's mode, system, content, cookies, history, and end use.

I thought I knew what democracy is, but I guess public education will do that to ya' !!

Courtesy: Google Video