I’ll admit it. I’ve been guilty of being mean to the cable company. Which is surprising since I’ve spent most of my life around Cable, as the son of two former FCC attorneys and one who spent a good part of his career representing cable before the FCC. Bite the hand that feeds me? Nah.
I spent most of my afternoon at a “blogger summit” hosted by NCTA CEO Kyle McSlarrow, where a bunch of us (including Dave Zatz, Art Brodsky from Free Press, and Josh Wein from my former employer Communications Daily) went over a plethora of issues ranging from liability for internet content, to the digital switch, to, yes, network management.
I’ll have more of a roundup and pictures on my own blog within a few days, but the overall impression? Cable does care. In dealing with VoIP companies, telephone companies, DBS providers, etc, Cable has an industry has made the greatest strides towards not being hated, towards better customer service.
The harsh reality is that they are limited by tons of regulations that I can’t go into detail about because I’d go insane. But Cable itself is one big pipe. Your internet is a small chunk (which they are trying to make bigger), and sadly, the vast majority of space goes to analog TV.
Some say that the solition is “a la carte” pricing, ie buy the channels you want. I’ll leave it to the guys at Cable Tech Talk to explain why that’s just a bad idea. Sadly our FCC Chairman has made it somewhat of a crusade, and perhaps what was a noble goal (some form of net neutrality, but probably not what the die-hards want) will probably be thrown out because Chairman Martin, in his zeal to “get” Comcast and the other cable companies he probably overstepped his bounds. As much as I believe there needs to be some kind of neutrality framework, probably as loose as possible, the FCC simply doesn’t have the authority to do it without Congressional approval. I don’t like it, but that’s how the process works.
(this is a well known fact in the industry that Martin dislikes Cable because they refuse to offer a la carte, which would allow families to banish MTV. Martin wants to run for office in North Carolina after his term expires, it is rumoured, and this would be his legacy).
I’m not happy about the rumoured caps, but after today, I do get the impression that Cable does want to offer you more cool stuff to buy, and more bandwidth. The only problem is giving them the freedom to.