Last updated: February 20, 2008 - 11:53pm
[SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer, AUTHOR: Jeff Gelles]
[Commentary] Right now, cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner own the primary pipeline through which a majority of American households get their television programming. That same pipeline is often a consumer's best or only high-speed, or "broadband," route to the Internet. An unfettered duopoly will hardly be much of an improvement over unfettered monopoly. Jonathan Rintels of the Center for Creative Voices in Media advocates for "network neutrality" that would bar any Internet provider from blocking or slowing down data streams from any source to give a competitive advantage to content in which it has a financial stake. Neutrality is crucial to keep the Internet as free and open as we trust it is today. It's also crucial if the cable-television business model -- selling consumers a large bundle of content, most of it unwanted, at a high price -- is ever to give way to an Internet model of unlimited choices for consumers. Cable companies like Comcast don't like this concept, for obvious reasons: If you can buy an individual TV show or movie from, say, "movies.com" and watch it on your TV same as you would a movie or TV show on traditional cable, the whole cable-TV business model is at risk. Net-neutrality rules that guarantee us access to content and applications -- not just movies, but inexpensive phone service and other new Internet technologies -- while barring broadband providers from discriminating in favor of affiliated sites.
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