The big telecommunications companies, fearing that the days of over-priced, under-serviced products could near an end if things don’t change in their favor, have begun a new campaign. This propaganda campaign states that the Internet will be at capacity by 2010, and is currently being pushed by telecommunications big wig AT&T. AT&T is one of the big three telecommunication providers, and has much to lose financially if the current ways of network neutrality and a relatively free and open Internet continue.
Is it possible that the Internet could hit some kind of capacity? Of course it is. Anything can hit capacity if the big companies don’t work together to make the network connect flawlessly. Recent problems over ISPs refusing to work together in Europe have led to communication breakdowns in remote areas, with people suffering from an area Internet at capacity and companies that don’t have consumer interests at heart.
AT&T states that at least $55 million in infrastructure investment is needed to keep the Internet at sufficient levels to handle the load of increased usage. I’m sure that is true, but I’m not sure of AT&T’s motives. It seems to me like a scare tactic to offset increased costs and decreased service. Other telecommunications companies like Time Warner and Comcast have already started using various methods to control internet use, from throttling to tiered pricing.
The CEO of AT&T blames user generated content for the increase in bandwidth drain on the current Internet system. In addition to user generated content, there has been an increase in user consumed digital content. People are watching their television and movies online more and more often now, streaming their sports, and downloading everything from music and books to family videos. I know that as an avid television junkie, I not only have a full DVR at all times, but I download shows I miss from iTunes and Unboxed as well, and I’m not the only one who does this.
AT&T states that it has already committed $19 million to infrastructure to be deployed by 2015. The underlying message of his speech was one against Network Neutrality, and issue at the heart of the current Internet tug of war. Keeping the Internet neutral is of paramount importance to internet users, a free press, internet entrepreneurs, creative content producers and more. The big telecommunications companies would like to see network neutrality go away so that they can control what you see when you are online, and make money for special placement of web pages. Governments would like to see network neutrality go away so they can control the spin on current events and news. (For more on why network neutrality is important, visit SaveTheInternet)