Net Neutrality and the Haters Who Want to Own Bandwidth

I know, I know.

I’ve been away too long and y’all are sick of the infrequent posts. It’s been a super busy 2015 and I need to adjust to the increase in activity and work. I’ll make it happen, just bear with me.

While I was away, the FCC announced plans to support the idea of Net Neutrality we think is fair. You know, good ol’ fashioned concepts like content, competition, fair and open travel, and knowing-what-you-pay-for. On the other hand, the cable companies, and their shills in Washington have predictably foretold the death of the Internet as we know it, and that innovation will falter now that cable companies can’t charge huge premiums to discriminate against content providers they don’t like. This week on theSync, my not so humble opinions about these fools and Net Neutrality.

1. It’s About Time This Government Demonstrates It Has Balls

For the last two decades, our government has gone against the will of the People and chose to serve big business. We’ve seen this from everything involving clean energy to insurance and brokerage services. Then Comcast happened to block Netflix traffic. By telling cable and wireless service providers that all traffic must be treated equally, the government is saying that consumers can choose who wins in the content market and that bandwidth isn’t available to the highest bidder. Big business executives can claim this as commie hogwash, but America is the land of the free, for everyone, not an autocracy.

2. We Know What We’re Paying For

One of my biggest issues with this whole affair is the so called fast lanes and hyper fast lanes proposals coming out of Comcast and VZN. What the Hell does this mean and what is fast? It made me question what the Hell I’m paying Comcast for each month. You may remember when Comcast used organized crime’s Broadband Protection tactics against Netflix and extorted higher fees out of them to deliver their content to Comcast customers ‘unimpeded’. My question is, “don’t I already pay for this?” If I’m paying Comcast for high speed Internet service to use the services of my choice, why is Comcast charging Netflix to deliver me content at the same damned speed? If Netflix is paying. What am I paying for? I thought I paid Comcast for “fast” service. I thought I paid them to design their network with some degree of integrity and to build an infrastructure that delivers the content of my choosing to my home. So, what the Hell? If Comcast is going to arbitrarily slow down Netflix traffic or traffic from another content provider I choose to buy from, then what the Hell am I paying for?

3. Threats of Lower Investment is Bulls*&t

Why? Because this is America. The land of red, white, blue, and green. They want to make money. And if Net Neutrality has its way and our governments grow bigger balls, Comcast and the like will face competition from Google, smaller fiber upstarts, and even municipalities. They’ll need to actually begin upgrading their riggidy raggedy infrastructure to stay in business. Right now, the cable companies employ a mob-like business model. Time Warner have their turf in New York and the upper East. Comcast the mid-Atlantic, and Road Runner down South. And guess what? (say this in a thick Brooklyn accent), “Fuggetaboutit! We don’t go on their turf and they don’t come on our turf.” They run a monopolistic, territorial business and don’t have a need to deliver super fast speeds or significantly improve infrastructure. I have Comcast by necessity not choice. VZN didn’t run FIOS to my neighborhood when we moved in, and satellite wasn’t an option, and I can’t afford the line conditioners I’d need for a Tx line. So I had to use Jones Communications for my cable Internet line. I also tried to hire them for TV, but they botched that job and I now have satellite. You get that? They are so entrenched, they leave money on the table. When Google comes calling, they’ll need to either improve their customer service (not likely to happen) or spend money to actually deliver.

4. They Can no Longer Game the System When It Suits Them

VZN and ATT like to play games with their data networks. When it suits them, they ask the government to classify their copper and fiber lines as telecommunications lines so they can get the tax breaks and advantages that come with it. When they don’t want to deliver to less financially attractive areas, they reclassify their lines as data communications because the Telecom Act states that you MUST deliver the same service to everyone. Not with data. By classifying their lines as data lines they don’t have to spend to deliver high speed to low income, rural, or low populous areas. And then, when local municipalities try to bring high speed to their citizens when these guys won’t they’ll fight them in court.

5. It’s Their Own Fault

Guess what industry is viewed as the least favorable by consumers? That’s right, the cable service industry. Cut cables, down service, 8 to 4 tech appointment windows, low delivery zones, poor customer support, and then they decided to mess with Netflix. When they started messing around with people’s choice in entertainment the proverbial stuff hit the fan. Netflix implemented a successful campaign along with their service providers to call out Comcast on their crap. One of the chief’s at L3 even stated on the record, that they’d buy a router and hook it up for Comcast if they wanted them to. Predictably, when news hit that Comcast wanted to charge people for slow lanes and fast lanes (thank you Al Gore) the people went wild, especially when the FCC began showing signs of shilling for the industry. The people overwhelming demanded Internet traffic equality. After all it is what they are paying for. So the people trust their government more than your corporation (a laughable concept, I know) then you have only yourself to blame.

Bonus: It’s All About TV

People mistakenly think that Net Neutrality is about web competition, but it is not. It’s about television. TV is still one of the highest consumed mediums for information and entertainment. Depending on who’s numbers you use, it’s second behind radio. Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube are bringing more competition to tele-entertainment. Thanks to Apple TV, Google TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, and others it’s easier now more than ever to stream Internet based content to the big screen in the living room. Now that Comcast, VZN, and others are buying content makers like the NBCs of the world, they thought they had the right to protect their content investments by discriminating other’s content distributed on their networks. Our business friendly government provided a state making it possible for providers, distributors, and producers to exist under the same corporate umbrella and this is the result. It should have predictable for anyone allowing the purchase of content producing companies by content distributors. And now that Netflix is producing their own content it’s a fight for the death. Unfortunately, Comcast and VZN (you don’t hear much static from the Charlie and Dave [the satellite guys]) are the gate keepers, and they can say who can get in. It’s our government that has allowed this and set a stage in which the service providers can charge high rates and receive higher profits while offering an inferior product. We don’t have the fastest or most reliable Internet service on the planet, even though we invented it. I’ve traveled abroad and received 5 bars of wireless Internet in the UAE desert. Used lightning fast Internet in Darmstadt, Germany, and placed clear as a bell calls in Paris. And we pay more for it. If Net Neutrality improves our service then I’m for it. But if the government allows these fools to simply raise rates and pass along the upgrades they need to make as taxes, —- them all!

These are my thoughts about Net Neutrality. Please share what you think in the comments.

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5 Things a Smart Technology Contractor Can Do During the Government Shutdown

The government has shutdown. This shit just got real.

Now don’t act surprised. You had a gut feeling that TEA Party Republicans were for real this time and you’ve spoken with your Prime and your agency counterpart thinking the same thing, “…Damn! This might actually happen.”

I’m writing you today to encourage you to get your ass off the sofa, turn off The Colbert Report, and make this time useful. You might love your government customers, but you and I both know they’re responsible for 90% of your sleepless nights.

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If you’re a business owner or self-employed technology contractor, here are 5 things you can do to be productive while and O and Co. duel against Boehner’s Boners.

(Notice Boehner’s House website is still operational while WhiteHouse.gov is down)

1. Come Up with 10 Things

After running a small business that had 2 or 3 LARGE customers at a time, I’ve become a practitioner and advocate for having multiple streams of income. You wouldn’t be thinking about how to budge your December if you had other revenue streams. Right now, grab a waiter pad, or a sheet of paper and jot down 10 ideas for generating other streams of revenue. Don’t over think it and don’t try to map out a business model. Just let your mind free play and come up with ideas. It could be an idea for creating a better toilet plunger or an e-commerce site helping people find penguin feed. The key here is to open to things that can come to you.

2. Call Your Govvies and Empathize

be-empatheticSure enough, some of your government colleagues are happy to have the day off, but for some of them it really does suck to not be at work. If they’re liberal, call them up and complain about how the Tea Party sucks. If they’re conservative, call them up and talk about how much we’re really providing value about our project and how the rest of government projects are just waste and I like to drink black tea for breakfast. The people you work for are people.

3. Appify

Yeah, I know. I own a mobile development company, but here’s some real talk. In 2013, 57% of Internet ios7-control-centerusage will be coming from mobile devices and it hasn’t taken very long. Our world is increasingly mobile and you need to figure out how you can get your products and services used and access while on the go. Hell, make sure your website is responsive, take the time to see what it looks like on your phone at least.

4. Write an E-Book

You and I both know that you’re doing more writing than real work. Why don’t you put those ideas you’ve been sharing into an easily digestable and DOWNLOADABLE format. An e-book doesn’t have to be 100 pages. I’ve downloaded e-books that are 10 pages but filled with a key nuggets of information. Think about this; when you go back and meet with your Director debriefing the shutdown fallout, you could be like, “…that shutdown sucked, but I’m glad to be back. You know we have a downloadable e-book that details the most effective ways of deploying quadruple-ply toilet paper in bathroom stalls. It’s short, but presents solutions others haven’t thought about.”

5. Spec Out a New Feature or Extra for the Project You’re Working On

360px-Specification_and_Levels_of_DevelopmentDuring the project, you’re focused on requirements, making sure you implement all of them, and doing it on time. Now that you have a little time, think about how you can make your deliverable that much cooler, or that much more effective. And do this with the knowledge you might not be able to bill for it. I was raised that you have to do a 151% better than the next guy to get ahead and I make sure our companies do this on all of our projects whether it’s Snapperific, DRIS, or our other government projects. Plus, think about this, you might be working on a government contract, but your customer is still a person. That person has a Director to report to and they want to look good. Giving that extra sumthin’, sumthin’ may have an upfront cost, but will pay dividends later on.

I don’t about you, but I’m fully dressed and being productive this morning. You may not be able to bill today, but doing these quick things could help your long term billability.

Or you could always punt and keep the TV on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Bonus – You could always use this time to recharge. Take a walk, play your guitar, or have lunch with your wife. Being a technology contractor ain’t easy.

If you’re a contractor or business owner that does government work and you’re not billing, I’d love to know what you’re doing today. Please let me know in the comments.