Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Follow-up on TV content

In a recent post, I talked about television content delivery and pricing. What I didn’t mention in that post, particularly when I talked about the lack of choice, is that there is another option for content delivery (besides cable/fiber and satellite): one can get the content online, through a service such as Hulu or Apple TV.

For now, not everything is available through these services, and the limitations on available content might deter some potential users. On the other hand, for people who’re specifically looking in this direction because they don’t want the overblown content circus, getting what’s available online might be just the thing. And you don’t just have to watch it on your computer: there are setups to put it — in 1080p HD — on your television set.

To make this work, we’re really depending upon network neutrality. Because one is receiving television content over the Internet, using the same service provider that would like to provide television content through their own dedicated service at additional cost, it seems clear that the service provider has an incentive to make the experience less than ideal. If service providers are permitted to block, slow down, or otherwise interfere with this kind of Internet usage, they can steer customers away from it, and back to the provider’s television service.

When I was on the Internet Architecture Board, I began setting up a technical plenary session about net neutrality for the Stockholm IETF meeting. IAB member Marcelo Bagnulo took it over when I left the IAB, and he moderated the session. You can see the result as a transcript (search for “4. Network Neutrality”), with the slides here and here (PDFs).

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