In a speech given at a trade show made up of digital printers, Brian Roberts (chairman, president and CEO of Comcast) threw down the gauntlet.

“Comcast Corp. is working to give its Internet customers download speeds of 200 megabits per second, its chairman, president and CEO said Tuesday.

“The day is coming when, in 45 seconds, you can download a movie (to a personal computer),” Brian Roberts said.”

The article this quote was taken from can be found here:

Please Note – Mr. Roberts has been saying this type of thing for quite some time now and I do not see this as a specific announcement of this service starting on Monday – any Monday. We need to remember that the throughput levels he is discussing are a technical reality with the equipment now being available and ready to deploy should Comcast choose to do so.

If we allowing Comcast five years to actually implement this technology (yes, I pulled that number out of my ass) what will we have to meet this level of service? Comcast certainly has the money and the network infrastructure to handle this while we would be looking at a forklift replacement – if that were economically feasible. Verizon in that same five-year tineline should have a large percentage of their customers connected to their Fios network allowing them to deliver ultra high speed service.

WISPs, however have nothing that can even begin to approach this technology, at this time or in the foreseeable future for that matter. As lead times for product development is measured in years and the necessary production scale up then needs to be put in place, I can’t see us meeting the five-year timeframe as things stand now. In order for the WISP industry to be able to meet this challenge we will need to demand that our suppliers start to design and manufacture this equipment right now, in earnest, if we are ever to become anything more than a footnote in the history of connectivity deployment.

It would seem a shame to have had so much potential and have wasted it because we couldn’t read the handwriting so clearly painted on the wall. Conversely, if we claim we are an industry that is focused on providing broadband to areas that are not covered by the cable companies or the ILECs it would seem that we will be creating and maintaining the next generation of the digital divide, one that I like to think of as the multimedia and communications divide(tm).
The battle of the “haves” and the “have nots” still continues in earnest.

One thing I do see being clearly foreshadowed is the ability of many of the larger service provider to use their network to provide targeted advertisement directed to the end user. While this is certainly not a new concept by any means it does provide an glimpse into one of the ways this network will generate revenue aside from direct billing to the end customer.

Think of this as GMail on a much larger scale.

“Comcast also is trying to develop verbally controlled remote controls and technology that allows it to deliver personalized ads to customers, Roberts said.”

Comcast (or any capable provider) would now look at monitoring my surfing habits and generate a profile of exactly what my interests are. This profile could then be marketed to advertisers so that they could tailor their advertising to only be fed to people who have an interest in their product, perhaps on a fee per shoving it in my face basis.

Aside from the privacy issues (which I am unwilling to address here) we are now looking at a service that will soon turn my Internet experience into something almost as enjoyable as commercial television. I would expect that Comcast would encapsulate this “service” into their Terms of Service agreement making it mandatory for me to accept this more than likely unregulated barrage if I want their service.

Could I have some more spam, please?

The insidious flaw in this plan is that as the Internet evolves into a communications medium I have to wonder if as I setup my high definition video conference link to my customer, will I be treated to “Sorority girls gone filed!” as I am trying to explain the value of my services and why he should spend his hard earner money on me to provide them.

There was a time when communications was held at a near sacred level in this country or more correctly, the industrialized world. Are we now going to allow this critical function to become simply another medium for a continuous stream of brain-numbing commercials to be fed to us?

I believe it is time for us to take a hard look at what we are creating here and what this technology could do for us or to us. Will we be facing a future of more advertising shoved down our throats? Will subliminal advertising be allowed in this new medium further distracting us from what we are trying to accomplish? Will I be caught in a world where there is no way to have a conversation without advertising (even if it is targeted advertisement tailored to my “tastes”) forced upon me?

We do reap what we sow. Incredibly, this does not hold true, in any meaningful way, for manure.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.