Incumbents Preparing

about_bob.jpg Cringely gets pessimistic:
In the end the ISPs are going to win this battle, you know. The only thing that will keep them from doing that is competition, something it is difficult to see coming along anytime soon, rather like that lemonade-powered sports car.

Beyond Net Neutrality: If at first you don’t succeed, change the game. I, Cringely, Pulpit, April 6, 2007

Is he just whining?

No, he has a long list of reasons:

Meanwhile a LOT of gas has been and will continue to be spewed about network neutrality, which is the idea that ISPs should treat all packets equally. For the record, I am strongly in favor of network neutrality even if I see it as a fading hope. For the moment most ISPs have signed on to this notion, but I am here to tell you that’s not going to be the case long-term. The big ISP’s have long planned for the end of net neutrality and, whether it is next year or five years from now, most ISPs are ready.

Net neutrality be damned, the local multiple system operators (MSOs), any company operating multiple cable television systems, are preparing to give priority to their packets over others in the event of “network congestion.”

He goes on to talk about traffic shaping and throttling. These are things that might be considered to be directly contrary to net neutrality.

He also notes the incumbents will use various ploys to get various services declared to be exempt from any net neutrality restrictions they might have agreed to:

The next level of this ploy is to validate the un-Internetiness of the VoIP system through public service interconnects like 911. “Should calling the police get priority treatment?” will be the question and most courts won’t say “no.”
And we’ve seen AT&T start using a ploy like this, by claiming they’re monitoring video in order to prevent piracy. Who could be for “piracy”?

Is Cringely right? Maybe not. But competition sure could help.