Don’t get me wrong, I like it when I see Canada make it into the tech news but what I don’t like is when a writer takes a situation in this country and uses to validate some line of thinking in a post – without checking some simple facts.
The latest incident of this is a post at ReadWriteWeb by Dan Rowinski where he was talking about the sale of Hulu and the implication of that sale on the future of the web. In the post he points to Canada as an indicator of what his fellow American can expect.
To be fair he is partly right but really for all the wrong reasoning.
Dan is right that if Americans want to see what their Internet future is like just look north; but it has nothing to do with Hulu but something that has already happened in the US. I am talking of course about the purchase of NBC by Comcast and the dangers of a carrier owning a major content producer.
You see in Canada this has already happened – on a wholesale level. Here’s a few simple facts:
- Bell Canada / Bell Media – owns the nation-wide CTV television network as well a national newspaper, The Globe and Mail.
- Rogers – one of Canada’s largest wireless and cable providers and owns a large number of cable television stations as well as the CityTV network of stations.
- Shaw Media – primarily a western Canada wireless, cable, and broadband provider. They also own the Global TV network as well as a large number of cable television stations.
- Cogeco – while it owns no television properties the company is one of Canada’s largest cable and broadband providers.
At this point there isn’t a national television network or major cable station that isn’t owned in whole or in part by a broadband or wireless provider. Every single one of those companies have a vested interest in a managed network to put it politely and this is why companies like Shaw are trying to hogtie Netflix and other streaming media companies by making their cable movie content not count against download caps.
When it comes to Dan’s post though the point he was trying to make was that carriers should be looking at buying content producers and that the consumer would win in the end.
Did you notice that last couple of words in the paragraph above – the one about download caps?
You see in Canada the only way you even could think about having an unlimited account is if you were lucky enough to have an existing account grandfathered in when all the providers started instituting bandwidth caps (I am one of the lucky one’s – so far). In other words there is no such thing as unlimited in the country and this has caused nothing but grief for companies like Netflix which has to lower the quality of service because of those bandwidth caps.
So, how is that benefiting the consumer – it’s not.Period.
To suggest that carriers should actively buy up the networks and that it’s good for the consumer is just a stupid assumption, when in fact all the evidence to the contrary.
Just look to Canada, and the exorbitant prices we are paying for a service that actively seeks out to provide a lesser quality service, unless of course it is the provider’s own content.
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