As the Congressional battle to secure network neutrality nears, with a possible Senate vote next month, itâ€™s important to place a spotlight on the broadband domination plans of both the cable and telephone industries. We know that companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner fear the Internet. They donâ€™t wish to see an open, non-discriminatory platform compete with them in the delivery of IP-based communications (voice, video, etc.). As a Alacatel white paper explained, “service providers [meaning cable/phone coâ€™s] are really competing with the Internet as a business model, which is even more formidable than just competing with a few innovative service aggregators such as Google, Yahoo and Skype.â€ [Alcatel is helping both AT&T and Verizon build its networks].
Comcast, the largest and most powerful cable T.V. company, plans to use its clout to leverage greater control over the delivery of IP video. It has recently acquired â€œthePlatform,â€ a major web publishing technology company. Through thePlatform, Comcast will be able to ensure that it can deliver its own and â€œapprovedâ€ broadband content more efficiently, including better positioning, pricing, and the capture of critical personal subscriber/user information (so they can more effectively market to us vs. competitors and other providers). Comcast plans to use this technology as part of its plans to make its web portal a national broadband video [rich media] serviceâ€”one that can better compete with Google, Yahoo!, and other independent providers.
Comcast also plans to deploy an advanced video/broadband integrated set-top box that will serve as a â€œhigh-endâ€ home gateway, capable of delivering a full range of multimedia into the home (including a powerful personal video recorder). They call it â€œRNG,â€â€”standing for real next-generation. Comcastâ€™s other recent acquisitions, including interactive TV software developer Liberate [now called Double C Technologies, a joint venture with Cox], will also be part of its platform.
It doesnâ€™t take a mind reader to understand why Comcast, its cable brethren, and giant phone companies lobbied the FCC to sweep away the Internetâ€™s non-discriminatory safeguards. By removing the key policy impediment to their plans for broadband dominance (or relevance!), they can deploy the range of technological/economic controls that will shape our broadband future.
Source: â€œNew Cable Strategies Spawn Efforts By Vendors to Push Set-Top Envelope.â€ ScreenPlays, August 2006.