PPLive and Net Neutrality

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PPLive and Net Neutrality

I was a bit harsh when I said it was game over for the LECs in a recent blog entry about content providers providing a Tivo-like service that prerecords a number of programs so as to simulate live TV. This could be done to avoid having to pay LECs for high-speed broadband access to their customers. The point is that if the LECs are going to spend all their time protecting their networks they will lose. It is that simple. What do I mean? Well if you spend your R&D, time, energy and effort exclusively in figuring out how to extract money from Google and other content providers you will lose the war.

Where is the innovation? The new services? The rolling out of new products before your competition has shown the demand is there?

I got to thinking about this after I made the above post and I was reminded again to blog about it when fellow blogger Ted Wallingford had this to say about my comments:

Rich makes another very great point about how store-and-forward caching technology could blow a hole in the "two tier Internet is needed for IPTV" argument. Not sure if it's really game over for the LECs on the neutrality debate, as Rich says, but as usual, the TMC kingpin makes a hell[uv]a point.

I am not sure if "kingpin" is positive or negative. It makes me think of the movie Daredevil which would make it negative. Then again I understand no one saw this movie (I liked it by the way) so I'll take it as a compliment.

Back to the point, Ted reminds me that I may have gone overboard.

In any business you may win a battle or two by focusing on exclusively stopping the competition but in the long run you won't be around unless you focus on the needs of the customer. On the Internet the best ideas win. It is the ultimate open and free market. If you are giving customers access to the Internet and try to block what users are doing, they will likely find ways around it.

In a perfect world the government would also be on the side of the consumer and protect us from such practices but I must admit that the LECs should be allowed to make money from their fiber roll outs. Then again they are free to charge customers for the access and should perhaps stop targeting content providers.

Of course this is just one man's opinion and I would like to introduce you to a site called PPLive before I go. I blogged about it a while back and subsequently forgot about it. The company is based in China and sells peer to peer TV software.

I went to the English version of the site and the translation is terrible and the links don't work. What I can tell you is that the traffic to this site is massive and I estimate it at around 15 million page views a month or more. The basis for this reasoning is their Alexa rank at 1,613 (out of all sites on the Internet) which is similar to TMCnet at 1,789. Last month TMCnet had just under 14 million page views.

Using such technology you can bypass the LECs two-tiered Internet. All that is left now is for LECs to outlaw p2p technology on their networks. P2p is already against the terms of service of Verizon Wireless Broadband Access service. I suppose this same rule could be applied to cable and DSL lines.

Another challenge for users is that cables companies can according to their terms of service shut your service off or restrict the bandwidth severely if you upload too much. They of course are the judge of what constitutes too much traffic.

Any way you look at it, LECs and cable companies are doing their best to protect their services but need to focus more on innovation. If they don't innovate, others will. In the short term restricting innovation may be successful but there are too many smart people in the world to hold back the advancement of communications on the Internet.




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