Is The Current Greatest Threat to our Economy and Freedom of Expression: Comcast???
Barack Obama's campaign has been such an immense grassroots success--not just because of the inspiring rhetoric and charisma of it's candidate, but because of the internet.
Yes, more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. But more Americans, of various backgrounds and economic classes, have contributed to his campaign and registered to vote because they were able to log on to his website, register to vote, and make a very quick $25 donation by way of electronic means.
Last night alone, CNN and the Associated Press reported that the Obama campaign used the internet and wireless communication to contact 55 million Americans urging them to register to vote! Obama is able to skip public financing because more people were able to log on and donate a dollar on the web, and by filling out those 'give $1 to the campaigns' forms you get when you fill out federal income tax forms.
So what was happening the moment that Al Gore--of all people--was lobbying for wholesale change in America? Comcast was confirming to the Associated Press that it was going to launch measures to curb it's customers internet usage.
"We know from experience the vast majority of customers we ask to curb usage do so voluntarily," the company told the Associated Press, stating that on October 1, it's customers will only be able to access 250 gigabytes. Curbing the top users is necessary to keep the network fast and responsive for other users, Comcast has said. The company claims that the bandwidth cap is far above the median monthly usage of its customers, which 2 to 3 gigabytes. Very few subscribers use more than 250 gigabytes, it said. A user could download 125 standard-definition movies, about four per day, before hitting the limit.
Seems innocent enough for dabblers like you and me. But who uses that many gigs anyway? How about Barack Obama's website? Small businesses, innovative start ups like BlogHer, and broadband video networks who stand to be the economic forefront of any economic growth--aka JOBS Creation--this country will have to offer in the 21st century.
You are thinking, "TAS, isn't this a touch melodramatic?"
Okay, how about I offer you an example that will truly hit your internet jones? What if you couldn't get your Perez Hilton fix so quickly anymore??? Whatever you think of the content, Perez Hilton is possibly the greatest example of a successful small business digital start up. He's onto Comcast.... you should be too.
THIS is the proverbial slipping of the camel's nose under the Net Neutrality tent. If you don't know about the concept of net neutrality see my earlier warning here. Then learn from the pros here: And there. Watch a brilliant explainer here.
Personally, I believe that any deterrence of information, sans pornography, is censorship. But the way the courts are currently stacked, it will take years for a court to draw this conclusion and stop the telecos, and whomever else is behind this movement, from slowing access. Yet if commerce, communication and innovation are deterred by a slowing of the information online--coupled with, quite honestly, the wrong people in Washington, who could pass laws to give corporate telecos an even greater advantage then the American people--and the American economy--and even global democracy--are at risk.
Support, ironically, the FCC and Kevin Martin, who has said that it would not allow ISPs to be the gatekeepers.
Keep your eyes on an organization called Hands off the Internet the main lobbying apparatus for corporate telcos.
Also, be willing to support the smaller wireless and start up technology companies that promote an alternative to AT&T, Comcast, BellSouth, etc. I support a company called Speak Easy, for example.
Speakeasy gives me VOIP, unlimited domestic and international long-distance, and high-speed broadband, for about $150 a month. Sure I could pay less, and yes, it was a major hassle to get it connected because the corporate telcoms control the actual wiring that would get Speakeasy's technology to my house. But it's been five years now...with only a couple of blips. I love Speakeasy--and encourage you to support it...the way you might buy organic food....sure you pay more, but you know it's not tainted with toxins.
I'll stop here, because I know you're buzzin' from Obama and probably won't read this any way. But seriously, if something isn't done to stop this obstruction now, history will look back on this time and note that the launch overwhelming grassroots movement overshadowed what could ultimately be the end of it--and any others like it. And what a tragic irony that would be for all.