Broadband in America. Sometimes you have to go down to go up.
Comcast, Mediacom, Verizon and all the other major telecom and cable TV players are doing their best to contain their excitement about the pending undoing of Network Neutrality. But what these good-old boys think is victory, is more likely the last gasp of the 100 year old land-line industrial machine before it dies a quick death.
For decades, these companies have purported to be “bringing broadband” to America, taking government grants and low/no-interest loans to build out their infrastructure. That was a ruse.
In reality, these companies have been transferring — and growing — their monopoly power from the telecom world (landlines and DSL) to the television distribution world, complete with hard to understand digital TV bundles and subscriptions.
Becoming the backbone that delivers Netflix, HBO now, and Hulu was not part of their plan. Their plan called for us peasants to just check email and watch cat videos via our internet connections. And for us to pay out the ass to watch Friends re-runs.
Americans pay more for less when it comes to internet access. And in some areas, internet speeds are getting slower and more expensive as these companies attempt to discourage “internet only” subscribers (those without related digital TV packages). It has already happened on my street thanks to Centurylink.
We can expect our internet connection to only get worse, our subscriptions to get more complicated, and our bills to be bigger thanks to these land-line providers.
But our descent into the ravine of internet hell will be short lived. In a couple of years we will be able to look to the sky for fast, network-neutral bandwidth.
Unlike their geosynchronous cousins, these fast moving LEOs offer fast bandwidth for both downloads and uploads, and have such low latency that their response speed matches or bests that of most land-based fiber systems.
Since LEO satellite systems can integrate ground stations at major data centers throughout the world — plugging directly into the source for all our streaming and gaming fun — they will make much more efficient use of bandwidth. (Much of your land-line bandwidth is devoured by network overhead.)
For the consumer there is another benefit: These new satellite providers have never been addicted to the fat profit margins of a monopoly business. There will be plenty of competition in this market.
The cable TV, telephone, and ISP providers in the United States were already ripe for disruption. Undoing network neutrality only increases the demand for an alternative. Broadband LEOs are the ultimate way to “cut the cord.” Thanks to Verizon and Co., America has its scissors at the ready.