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April 15, 2016

How to Shut Down the Internet

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

I had a great discussion with my Friday morning coffee group about how the Internet is going to change in a few years. It’s just a prediction, but my coffee group found it shocking.

Apparently, India recently rejected an offer by Facebook to provide “free Internet” to the entire subcontinent. I don’t have a link to confirm or deny, but one of my coffee friends claimed that the offer was rejected because the “free Internet” was only free to access Facebook and a few other sites. The rest of the Internet would be either unavailable or severely throttled. India rejected the offer.

My guess is that the future of the Internet is similar for the rest of us: A limited collection of sites will be available at a flat rate. The rest of the Internet will either be speed-limited, require more money to access, or simply restricted. My reason is simple: Internet Service Providers are owned by the big media companies that lose millions of dollars a year (if not billions) through online piracy. They want it to stop.

Yes, this topic borders on something called Net Neutrality. That term doesn’t mean anything anymore because both sides of the argument are calling their position, “net neutrality.” One side wants to regulate the Internet and the other does not. So which is which?

The solution I proposed at coffee is simple, and probably will take form as the future of the Internet in a few years, if not sooner. Your Internet picture will look like this:

1. For a low monthly price, you will get top-speed Internet access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney sites, Time-Warner sites, plus a few others. These sites will come through the pipes at blinding speed.

2. The rest of the Internet will still be out there, but it will be slow. For more money, you get more speed or perhaps access to the additional sites. I’m not sure which.

3. For top-dollar, you can get today’s Internet, full-speed and full access. It’s not going to be cheap.

The reality might be that only Level 1 is offered through the major ISPs. Perhaps the rest of the Internet will go underground and have limited or spotty access. But, seriously, the big media companies will have to do something about the overseas piracy operations that cost them big coin. They can’t shut down those sites (and they’ve tried), but they can shut down your access.

Will this trick work? Sure! It was done before with radio.

Back in the early 1900s, radios were all transceivers. You could broadcast as well as receive. A budding capitalist named David Sarnoff put an end to that when he convinced the government that the airwaves should be regulated. And who should get the license to use the airwaves? Why David Sarnoff and his company, of course. The Internet may follow the example from the early days of radio.

Then again, maybe we’ll always have full-access, high-speed Internet. I’ve been wrong before.

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