Tag Archives: Jared Newman

Verizon And Google Sitting In A Tree, Killing Net Neutrality

Edward Wyatt at NYT:

Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.

The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers. The agreement could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users.

Such an agreement could overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favored over another. In its place, consumers could soon see a new, tiered system, which, like cable television, imposes higher costs for premium levels of service.

Any agreement between Verizon and Google could also upend the efforts of the Federal Communications Commission to assert its authority over broadband service, which was severely restricted by a federal appeals court decision in April.

Jared Newman at PC World:

If Google and Verizon really are conspiring to kill Net neutrality, as several reports suggest, both companies would bruise their reputations in the process.

Word of a deal or near-complete negotiations between Google and Verizon appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, Politico and Bloomberg, each publication citing anonymous sources. The stories all present slightly different versions of the facts, but they generally agree that Net neutrality — the idea that all Internet traffic is treated equally — would erode.

The New York Times’ version is the most terrifying, claiming that Internet companies, such as Google, would be able to pay a fee to Verizon for faster delivery speeds on services like YouTube. If Verizon extended these kinds of deals to other companies, consumers could choose to pay more for these faster services in a premium package, says the Times.

All the reports note that the agreement wouldn’t apply to mobile phones, meaning Verizon would be able to manage traffic as it pleases, with no intervention from Google.

A deal like this would put Google’s reputation on the line. In the past, the company has defended the idea of an equal-access Internet, and in 2006 Google chief executive Eric Schmidt slammed “phone and cable monopolies” who “want the power to choose who gets access to high-speed lanes and whose content gets seen first and fastest.”

Comments like those give the impression that Google’s commercial interests were secondary to preserving a level playing field for all Internet companies. The supposed deal between Google and Verizon would jeopardize that impression if it allowed Google to pay extra for faster delivery.

Josh Silver at Huffington Post:

The deal marks the beginning of the end of the Internet as you know it. Since its beginnings, the Net was a level playing field that allowed all content to move at the same speed, whether it’s ABC News or your uncle’s video blog. That’s all about to change, and the result couldn’t be more bleak for the future of the Internet, for television, radio and independent voices.

How did this happen? We have a Federal Communications Commission that has been denied authority by the courts to police the activities of Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast. All because of a bad decision by the Bush-era FCC. We have a pro-industry FCC Chairman who is terrified of making a decision, conducting back room dealmaking, and willing to sit on his hands rather than reassert his agency’s authority. We have a president who promised to “take a back seat to no one on Net Neutrality” yet remains silent. We have a congress that is nearly completely captured by industry. Yes, more than half of the US congress will do pretty much whatever the phone and cable companies ask them to. Add the clout of Google, and you have near-complete control of Capitol Hill.

A non-neutral Internet means that companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Google can turn the Net into cable TV and pick winners and losers online. A problem just for Internet geeks? You wish. All video, radio, phone and other services will soon be delivered through an Internet connection. Ending Net Neutrality would end the revolutionary potential that any website can act as a television or radio network. It would spell the end of our opportunity to wrest access and distribution of media content away from the handful of massive media corporations that currently control the television and radio dial.

So the Google-Verizon deal can be summed up as this: “FCC, you have no authority over us and you’re not going to do anything about it. Congress, we own you, and we’ll get whatever legislation we want. And American people, you can’t stop us.

Jason Kincaid at Tech Crunch:

Yesterday, the New York Times published a story that detailed an agreement in the works between Verizon and Google that would effectively kill off net neutrality by allowing “Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege”. The news sparked outrage in the tech community, because Google has a long history of advocating net neutrality. Now both Google and Verizon are coming out to claim that the New York Times story is incorrect.A report in The Guardian cites a Google spokesperson as saying ” “The New York Times is quite simply wrong. We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open internet.”

Verizon’s policy blog has posted a statement as well:

“The NYT article regarding conversations between Google and Verizon is mistaken. It fundamentally misunderstands our purpose. As we said in our earlier FCC filing, our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.”

Google’s own public policy blog doesn’t have anything on the story yet, but its Twitter account did comment on the matter:

“@NYTimes is wrong. We’ve not had any convos with VZN about paying for carriage of our traffic. We remain committed to an open internet.”

Obviously Verizon and Google are talking to each other about how best to deal with the backlash, and Google is making it clear that it’s still an ardent supporter of net neutrality. Still, it’s a bit odd that it took so long for Google to respond to this in any way (the NYT article came out last night, and literally dozens of stories were written about it before Google tweeted about it).

Daniel Indiviglio at The Atlantic:

Today we learned that Verizon and Google were near a deal to slaughter the principle of Internet neutrality in its sleep. Shortly thereafter, however, they denied that they are planning to inflict any harm on the maxim that the Internet should be an egalitarian utopia. While it’s possible that Google will try to hold onto this philosophical ideal, it’s rather likely practicality will eventually gnaw away at their willpower and force them and others to cut deals with Internet service providers (ISPs) like Verizon. If you combine this with several other ways the world is evolving, you quickly see that ISPs will eventually take over the world, or at least be one of the biggest forces in the economy.

Net Neutrality Is Bound to Fail

Net neutrality has already been alluded to. This is a complex topic that can’t possibly be fully explored here, but net neutrality won’t likely endure. It’s simply impractical. ISPs have legitimate reasons, beyond squeezing more profit out of customers, for wanting to be able to discriminate on pricing. When they eventually do break through the current barriers that exist, their pricing power will be incredible. Eventually most Internet-driven revenue will have to pass through the hands of the ISPs, who will eagerly take a cut.

John Hudson at The Atlantic with a round-up

Rosa Golijan at Gizmodo:

Of course, even if Verizon and Google come to such an odd agreement, they’ll still have to deal with the FCC before anything can happen, so let’s not panic just yet.

UPDATE: Alan Davidson and Tom Tauke at The Google Blog

David Dayen at Firedoglake

Stacey Higginbotham at Gigaom

Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch

UPDATE #2: Kevin Drum

David Post

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Roll Over Johann Gutenberg…

Ray Gustini at The Atlantic with a round-up. Gustini:

Amazon announced Monday that, over the past three months, Kindle book sales outnumbered those of hardcover books for the first time in the company’s history. The announcement comes less than a month after the company slashed the price of its flagship e-book reader from $259 to $189 amidst growing competition from Apple’s iPad. So far, the move seems to have paid off–Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Kindle sales have tripled since the price cut.

Charlie Sorrel at Wired:

As reported by my silver-tongued editor Dylan Tweney over on Epicenter [ED: flattery will get you nowhere], this has accelerated in the last month, with Amazon shifting 180 Kindle copies for every 100 hardbacks, and this is due to the price drop which saw the Kindle go from an expensive $260 to an affordable $190. Breaking the magic $200 mark has caused Kindle sales to rocket. Bezos again: “The growth rate of Kindle device unit sales has tripled since we lowered the price from $259 to $189.”

While the “growth rate of unit sales” is far too cryptic a metric to go by (note that the actual sales have not tripled) it shows that people are ready for e-books and e-readers, if they are priced right. It also shows that they completely disregard the big advantage of the paper book: buy it and it is yours. Whereas a Kindle book is pretty much still the property of Amazon, and can be deleted from afar whenever it likes, a paper book can be lent, resold and used to prop up a wobbly table.

The same limitations never held up the iTunes MP3 store, however. And the fact that you can read your Kindle books on almost any platform certainly helps to hide these problems. One thing is certain: with the number of e-book-capable screens we carry around today, it won’t be long before the paperbacks also fall into a minority market.

MG Sielger at TechCrunch:

Amazon also says that it sold three times as many Kindle books in the first half of 2010 as it did in the first half of 2009. The store now has over 630,000 books available for the Kindle. And over 510,000 of those are $9.99 or less — one clear advantage over Apple’s iBookstore, which is more expensive. Plus, Amazon has access to over 1.8 million free, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books for the device.

Also interesting is that there have been five authors now that have sold over 500,000 Kindle version of their books: Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts.

Earlier this month, Amazon also announced that an updated version its larger DX model with a better screen and a black frame.

All that said, Amazon is going to have a tough battle competing in hardware with the likes of Apple going forward. The Kindle, while great for reading, still offers only a fraction of what the iPad can do (and even Amazon highlights this). And I suspect another Kindle price cut down to $99 may be coming sometime in the next year. If Apple stays at $499 for the iPad, that should be enough to differentiate itself for a while. Amazon is also smart to offer its Kindle software on devices like the iPad, iPhone, and Android phones. This ensure that Amazon’s future in the book business will remain intact whether or not they’re the ones in charge of the hardware.

Also, why is Amazon issuing press releases about these numbers? They’ve famously shied away from saying much about the Kindle sales in the past. Of course, they weren’t the subject of a weekly “iPad is killing Kindle” story in the past.

Chris Morran at The Consumerist

Jared Newman at Technologizer:

I hope book publishers are encouraged, not frightened, by the news. They should be converting books into electronic form faster than ever to capitalize on the e-reader craze. But they might also liken e-books to paperbacks — both are less profitable than hardcovers — by delaying the digital versions to drum up hardcover sales.

Delaying the digital version of books is a bad move because there’s nothing comparable to hardcovers available in digital form. If publishers want to charge more for new releases — and they can with the agency model, which allows several major publishers to set their own e-book prices — that’s fine. But as Amazon’s latest numbers show, Kindle owners are determined to build their e-book libraries, and publishers should do everything they can not to hold those readers back.

Megan McArdle:

I now have an iPad and a Kindle, and while I think the Kindle reader for iPad is terrific, the device itself is too fragile for many uses, and the shinyness of the screen is a serious problem, because I can’t easily use it outside, or even in front of a big window.  I wouldn’t want to have just one or the other.

And ultimately, I’m not sure how much Amazon cares how much profit it makes on the Kindle–the machine is a way to sell more content, not a profit center on its own.  So far, Apple is trying to pull all of its profit out of the device, not the content stream, but I wonder if that will last.  The more powerful Apple gets, the more disenchanted the hard-core tech fans become.  Meanwhile, they’re getting stronger and stronger competition from devices like the Droid, which may push their margins down the way they pummeled the margins on the Kindle.

If Apple needs to pull more revenue out of its content stream, it will be interesting to watch.  They haven’t positioned themselves as the low-cost or the high-performance provider in that space; everyone I’ve talked to with an iPad reads their books on the Kindle reader, not iBooks.

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Jay-Z’s Got 23 Points, But A B*&%h Ain’t One

CNN:

Attention scrabble players! Mattel, the company that produces the popular game, is changing the rules. It’s allowing you to score points by spelling out proper nouns.

A spokesperson told the BBC it will add a new dimension to the game by allowing an element of pop culture, which could attract a new, younger generation of players.

“This could cause a power shift between the generations, with those possessing a keen knowledge of the top 40 singles’ chart legitimately able to cite such high-scoring examples as singers N-Dubz (17 points) and Jay-Z (23 points),” the spokeswoman told the BBC.

Ariane Sherine at The Guardian:

That’s right: Sugababes, Toyota and Clearasil could soon be coming to a Scrabble board near you, if you’re the kind of deviant who embraces expedient marketing decisions. Throw out the dictionary! Replace it with Heat magazine! Why confine yourself to the mere 171,476 words in the OED?

“We believe that people who are already fans of the game will enjoy the changes,” fibbed a Mattel spokesperson, fully aware of the wrath and welcome publicity that would ensue. “They will also enable younger players and families to get involved.” Are these demographics allergic to uncapitalised words? Are they so in thrall to brands that they need to incorporate them into every second of their leisure time?

But why stop at proper nouns? Surely foreign words should no longer be verboten? If new Scrabble better accommodates the young, just imagine how Euro Scrabble could improve relations avec nos continental neighbours. Txtspk Scrabble would be next, in all languages including Esperanto, swiftly followed by Creative Scrabble, where you make up your own words. Dissent will not be tolerated: innovation can only advance our development, never hinder it. Those of us who claim to prefer the lexical beauty and simplicity of classic Scrabble clearly fear change, and are standing stubbornly in the way of progress.

Andrew Swift at Foreign Policy:

Finally my dream of using “Reykjavik” (30 base points), “Kyrgyzstan” (30 base points), and countless others (readers, feel free to chime in your favorites) has finally been realized. (Anticipate long arguments over the spelling of “Qaddafi.”)

Purists take heart, the classic version will still be available — but I won’t be playing with you.

(Note: there is only one “Z” available for play, but using a blank tile would still give a base score of 24 points for former-President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor.)

**Update: It appears the new version will not be sold in North America, where Hasbro owns the rights to the game (Mattel owns the rights to Scrabble elsewhere in the world.) Perhaps someone should just make my dream come true, and create a (solely) international relations Scrabble edition?

Robert Quigley at Geekosystem:

I’m a fairly serious competitive Scrabble player (no, really), which is why I was seriously freaked out to read this morning that Mattel was changing the rules of the game for the first time in 62 years to allow proper nouns like “Jay-Z” and “Shakira” as playable words. The story has been enthusiastically picked up by British media outlets, including The Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and BBC News.

This would be a nightmare for a number of reasons, not least of which would be deciding which nouns are “proper”: Which brands, celebrities, and acronyms are “big” enough that they warrant dictionary entries? Does “TomKat,” for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ annoyingly portmanteaued relationship, work? Is “Bennifer” still valid even though Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez have since broken up? All of which raises another point: Scrabble as we know it would become really dumb.

Fortunately, we got in touch with a Mattel rep, and he confirmed that the rumors of a Scrabble rule change making the rounds in the British press are wildly overblown.

Philip Nelkon, a representative for Mattel and a legendary Scrabble player in his own right, told us that the proposed rule changes applied to a family-oriented new variant on the game, but that classic Scrabble would continue to exist as it currently does, with no changes to the rules or the dictionary.

[The British press] refers to a new edition of the classic game that introduces new twists on the classic rules. One of the new rules includes the opportunity for players to play proper nouns and there are others included such as playing a word backwards or stealing opponent’s tiles, introducing new dimensions of play. The new rules provide a great new opportunity for families to get involved in word play.

The new game will appear later in the year, the classic game will still be available and will not change.

Interestingly, despite all of the “outrage!” stories popping up about the largely made-up Scrabble rule change, some of the more photographically-memoried expert-level Scrabble players might actually welcome such a change, as it would give them more words to memorize and thus more tools with which to trounce their competition: With an expanded dictionary, there would be an expanded number of better optimum plays in many positions.

Jared Newman at Technologizer:

Here’s where technology comes in: Scrabble, or games like it, have become quite popular on computers and mobile devices. Scrabulous was one of the most popular games on Facebook before it was suspended amidst lawsuits from Hasbro and Mattel (the game eventually came back as Lexulous). One of my favorite iPhone apps is Words With Friends, another Scrabble clone that lets you play remotely with friends at your leisure, and it’s at least popular enough to have its own fan site.

So I reject the notion that Mattel needs to bend the rules in order to attract more players. The players are there, it’s just that Mattel hasn’t been able to capture them itself.

My hope is that Mattel’s rule change doesn’t creep into any online versions of Scrabble. Enforcing the proper use of proper nouns online would be difficult, and a computer-made set of rules would make it impossible for players to debate which words qualify and which are clearly made up.

Dave Levy at Mediaite:

I was being mildly generous with the laws of random chance related to tiles while steering clear of multipliers for scoring; I did observe some of the major rules of letter distribution from the English version as best as possible, though. This last rule has me heartbroken: With only 1 z in the standard, 100-tile game, there’s no way you could  end up with a pocket of ZZEINEB and turn “SKI” into Brzezinski (which would be a savage 152 point play on a triple-word score if it was humanly possible). There is still a lot more out there though, so let’s get this going.

Cable News Division

Mika Brzezinski may be out thanks to one too many Zs, but that doesn’t mean her other Morning Joe counterparts couldn’t help you out. With high letter frequency, GEIST could be a nice early play. Carrying a hand of  OORSUHG and you could turn the measly four-letter CARB into a bingo driven SCARBOROUGH. Willie will only get you 6 points, but Morning Joe himself could be good for a minimum of 69 without multipliers, which would be tough to avoid on a word that long.

= 6

= 69 (with Bingo)

Let’s stay on the 24-hour nets for our next one: picking between Glenn Beck and Rachel Maddow? The Scrabble board says the MSNBC host is going to slightly more productive for your scoring needs, but as Beck would point out, you’d have to get more handouts from the bank after you play Rachel’s name for only one additional point. And he just doesn’t understand why he’s the only one pointing that out.

= 13

= 12

Late Night TV Division

Team Leno or Team Conan? The math says that Conan will get you a slight advantage, especially in the 18-34 demographic. However, massively appropriately, David Letterman takes care of both them quite easily in the game of Scrabble. If LET or MAN are on the board, it won’t take significant luck to get the tiles you need to make a quick strike on your opponent.

= 4

= 7

= 11

Bad Pop Culture Reference Section

Some great news for everyone who got a chance to read Rachel Sklar’s excellent breakdown of the Release the Kraken meme: ZEUS beats BIEBER in the Scrabble test. If that’s not good news from the universe, I don’t know what is.

= 13

= 10

dd

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Broadband Across America

Grant Gross at PC World:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will seek to take back 120MHz of spectrum from U.S. television stations in the next five years and reallocate it to wireless broadband providers in a voluntary program that would allow the stations to share or keep spectrum auction revenues, under a national broadband plan that will be officially released Tuesday.

The FCC would seek approval from Congress to conduct “incentive auctions” of unused spectrum, including TV spectrum, and the agency could either act as a third-party auctioneer of the spectrum or share the auction proceeds with the sellers, according to the broadband plan, which the FCC released to reporters Monday.

The TV spectrum auctions are part of a goal to free up 500MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband over the next decade, one of the major goals of the 400-page broadband plan. If, however, the FCC doesn’t get enough volunteers to free up spectrum, it will look for other ways to take back the spectrum, but FCC officials said Monday they expect to get enough TV stations to give up their extra spectrum in exchange for auction proceeds.

Ryan Singel at Wired:

The FCC is set to share the nation’s first official broadband plan with Congress Tuesday, a sort of Declaration of the Internet which seeks to ensure that a fast broadband connection is just as much an unalienable right as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That’s pretty ambitious, but the FCC is as unambiguous about its intentions as the Colonists were about throwing off the yoke another form of oppression. For example, goal number three states that “Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.”

Still the plan, put together by the FCC after months of hearings and public comment periods, turns out, in details, to be pragmatic and reformist, rather than revolutionary. That is, at least according to a summary (.pdf) released Monday.

The FCC is calling for more competition among broadband providers, more spectrum for wireless data services, subsidies for rural and poor citizens, and education for the digitally challenged. There’s a little bit for every constituency, from those who worry most about the digital divide to those who see a future where all health records are digital and networked.

There’s not much for those who dreamed of a drastic call for an all-fiber network to be built and subsidized by the government. There is, in fact, no government building of public networks at all. Nor is there much in the way of support for municipalities and states.

And for those itching for a confrontation between users and the big telecoms, the plan will disappoint since it steers clear of controversial topics such whether the wireless industry has to follow the same open requirements now applied to DSL and cable companies, and whether those who own the infrastructure connecting people to the net have to rent their lines to competing services at a fair price.

Though we don’t have full details of the plan yet, the insight we gain from the executive summary shows that Washington may have finally reached a “we get it” moment when it comes to technology. Broadband access isn’t just about rural America checking out YouTube videos. This is also about creating the broadband infrastructure that can drive future innovation on the homefront, update public safety, education, health care and energy to improve efficiency and grow jobs by fueling competition.

And it’s also not a policy that can be set in stone. Ten years seems like an eternity in Internet years, but it’s smart for the government to look at a long-term plan. There’s no way such ambitious goals can be rolled out in a year or two, There are a lot of moving parts and if the timeline – which we should see next – is a good one, hopefully some short-term advancements will offer a peek of what’s still to come.

Nancy Scola at Tapped:

The absence of creative thinking in this new plan is particularly worrisome because the small crew within the FCC that produced it had the chance to stir passions about what our broadband future might look like. The National Broadband Plan isn’t a set of regulations. It’s not a piece of legislation. It was meant to be an aspirational plan, but it’s not that aspirational. Blair Levin, the seemingly autonomous point-person appointed by Chairman Genachowski, talks about the FCC like Alaskans talk about the United States. It’s not clear if recommendations in the plan made to the FCC will actually be regulations made by the FCC. In other words, is the FCC prepared to actually enact the policies, like form new public-private partnerships or re-purpose the Universal Service Fund from telephones to broadband? I was told the FCC commissioners — the people with the power to turn the plan into action — had seen the report as early as a full month ago and had access to the broadband team’s staff.

Nicholas Deleon at Crunch Gear:

Up until a moment ago, this was going to be a standard “newsy” post: the FCC will announce its National Broadband Plan on Tuesday, here’s what it’s all about. Then I read the comments of a PC World article discussing that very same plan—many people are outraged that the government would muscle its way into the free market! If Americans wanted fast broadband then the market would provide it on its own terms. That, of course, is complete nonsense: plenty of Americans live in one-ISP towns, and if said ISP provides terrible service, well, though cookies, chico. This is America! Love it or leave it~!

And really, the FCC isn’t doing anything particularly controversial, at least I don’t think it’s controversial. All it’s doing is saying, by 2020, we’d like to see 100 million homes (out of an estimated 130 million homes come 2020) have access to broadband with speeds of up to 100 mbps. Some people already have access to that type of Internet connection, myself included. Other ISPs, including universally loathed Comcast, plans to roll out 100 mbps service in the coming months. So it’s not like the FCC is making some sort of unreasonable demand: the market has already decided that it’s worth its while to deploy 100 mbps service all over the country. A cynic might say that the FCC knows this, that 100 mbps service is closer than you might otherwise think, and is merely latching itself onto the ISPs so that it can be all, “See, FCC = leadership.” But don’t be cynical, don’t hold grudges: while you’re holding a grudge, the other guy is dancing.

I don’t know, I suppose it makes sense to get into this a bit more when the FCC actually makes the Plan public on Tuesday. But for now, all I have to say is: chill out. Not everything the government announces is tantamount to quartering British soldiers in your house without permission. I suppose I’m talking to people right now who actually believe, and understand, that a wired country is truly in the best interests of everyone.

So on Tuesday, Grant Gross at PC World:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission officially released the country’s first national broadband plan Tuesday, and one of its major goals is to bring broadband service to all U.S. residents.

The FCC meeting Tuesday was a bit anticlimactic, because commission officials had conducted briefings on the major proposals in the 360-page plan in recent weeks. The FCC on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a two-page joint statement on broadband, but did not vote on the broadband plan in its entirety.

The approximately 200 recommendations in the broadband plan will need to be approved separately, FCC officials said. The agency is planning a series of about 40 notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) in coming months, and some recommendations in the plan will need action from the U.S. Congress. The FCC also makes a series of recommendations to other U.S. government agencies.

Jared Newman at PC World:

The actual implementation of the plan could change lawmakers get their hands on it, but here’s an early look at who gains and who loses from the national broadband plan:

Winner: 100 Million Patient Homes, Plus Communities

One major long-term goal of the plan is to provide 100 million homes with 100 Mbps broadband, and to install 1 Gbps broadband at community sites such as schools and government buildings, all by 2020. That’s an eternity in Internet time, but it’ll ultimately mean that most homes and communities could have blazing-fast connections.

Winner: People Who Can’t Afford or Access the Internet

Another major goal is the availability of free or cheap wireless broadband, coming from wireless spectrum that the FCC will identify for auction. The point is to provide basic Internet nationwide for people who otherwise can’t afford it.

Winner: Wireless Carriers

Companies like Verizon Wireless and AT&T are dying for more wireless spectrum to feed a growing number of data-hungry smartphones. The FCC plans to throw them a bone with 500 MHz of spectrum. Wireless industry group CTIA is thrilled.

Loser: Broadcast Television

The government is largely relying on broadcasters to voluntarily give up some of their spectrum so it can be used for broadband. Broadcasters like having the choice, but worry that the government might force them to give up spectrum if they don’t play along. Things could get ugly if broadcasters have to start sharing spectrum or use low-power cellular transmitters to broadcast. People who rely on broadcast TV may find that service is merely surviving, rather than improving.

Loser: Lawmakers

Members of Congress were the ones who mandated a national broadband plan, but now they’ve got the unenviable task of figuring out what to do with it. The total cost of the plan could range from $12 billion to $25 billion, and though the FCC hopes those costs can be recouped by auctioning spectrum, it might be a hard sell to taxpayers.

Unknown: Internet Service Providers

Companies such as Comcast are getting a hand from the FCC to build their infrastructure and offer better service to more people. But government help raises questions of how much regulation those companies will face, and whether they should continue to rely on private investment. Service providers seem happy about the proposal for now, but things could change as lawmakers and the FCC delve deeper into the issue of national broadband.

UPDATE: Farhad Manjoo in Slate

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When The Old Men Talk About The Googles, We All Strain To Listen

googlecard

Jared Newman at PC World:

Once News Corps’ Web Sites go behind a paywall, chief executive Rupert Murdoch suggested that they’ll disappear from searches on Google and other engines.

Murdoch was responding to Sky News political editor David Speers, who asked why News Corp. hasn’t blocked search engines from indexing sites. “Well, I think we will, but that’s when we start charging,” Murdoch said.

In August, Murdoch said that all News Corp. Web sites will go behind a paywall by next summer, a bold move as many Web sites have abandoned their unsuccessful paid subscription strategies, relying on eyeballs and advertising revenue instead.

I’m not sure Murdoch fully understood Speers’ question about blocking search engines, because he then adds “We do it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it’s not right to the ceiling.” Many reports on Murdoch’s comments suggest that Murdoch will block search engines entirely, but that’s not the case with the Wall Street Journal. You can still find occasional stories by searching Google News.

Regardless of what Murdoch meant, the bigger point remains that he’s not interested in readers who find News Corp. articles through search engines. “Who knows who they are or where they are,” Murdoch said, referring to search-driven visitors, “and they don’t suddenly become loyal readers of our content.”

Murdoch’s philosophy of getting money from loyal readers is still a huge gamble, because there’s no guarantee those readers will stick around once they’re forced to pay. Think of it this way: If we’ve been friends for five years, and I suddenly tell you that our friendship requires a lot of work on my end, and that I’ll need money to keep it going, will you happily pony it up because you value what I provide, or will you look for someone new?

John C. Abell at Wired News:

Rupert Murdoch has made this kind of noise before (and he gets wrong the extent of actual public access to Wall Street Journal content online, which is 100%). But in an interview with Sky News the News Corp chairman sounds a lot like he would be inclined to take up Google on its oft-repeated suggestion — to all old media titans who think they are being ripped off — to programatically withhold content from the search giant’s massive gene pool of news links.

We all know that these are uncertain times for traditional publishers. Newspaper circulation is cratering; the latest numbers show it down another 10% in the last year, and Murdoch’s New York Post is down nearly 30% in the past 2-1/2 years).

Many newspaper executives grumble that the internet’s link economy is to blame. But we’ll believe that New Corp intends privatize all of its digital content when we see it. This just might be Murdoch’s way of goading competitors to beat him to a punch he never intends to throw. Nevertheless, he talks the talk very well.

“We’d rather have fewer people coming to our web sites — but paying,” Murdoch tells Sky News Australia, explaining that “the fact is, there isn’t enough advertising in the world to go around to make all the websites profitable.”

Ryan Tate at Valley Wag:

This isn’t the first time Murdoch, 78, and his lieutenants have been made unfriendly noises about Google; they’ve recently attacked the search engine as a “parasite” with “promiscuous” users. This hostility must seem perfectly sensible if you’re an old man who has your secretary find and print up Web pages on your behalf. But here’s a pro tip, Rupert: Old media doesn’t instant message those pages to your assistant’s Twitter, via Blogger, on AOL. She just does what your newspaper reporters and Fox News producers and sales executives and tabloid editors and attack-dog flacks and mid-level accountants do all the time every day: Sticks a hot, throbbing search query into Google and gets busy with a bunch of strange website she doesn’t subscribe to. Welcome to the internet.

Stan Schroeder at Mashable:

It proves that Murdoch is sticking with the old model of how news and information is disseminated, and doesn’t plan to change it. The problem is, things don’t work the way they used to any more. Sometimes, a visitor will come to a news site or a blog and won’t even know where he is; he might think he’s still on Facebook (Facebook) or MySpace (MySpace). And he won’t be interested in anything on the site except that tiny bit of information that made him click on the link. Sometimes, the conversation will develop around your article, but not on your site; it may develop on Twitter (Twitter) or Digg (Digg). As a site owner, you have to adapt to this. If you plan to just ditch all these visitors, claiming they’re all worthless, you might end up with an empty auditorium.

E.D. Kain at The League:

Rupert Murdoch, media mogul extrordinaire, has decided that links coming from the search engine monolith Google are parasitic and should be banned outright.  Yes – what most of us online strive for – links from everywhere and especially Google – Murdoch has decided actually hurts his business model.  This really, really confuses the hell out of me.

I was always under the impression that links pointing people to your content improved the visibility of that content – paywall or no.  I guess, one way or another, this move will be a great experiment for the online news model.

UPDATE: Conor Friedersdorf and Julian Sanchez at Bloggingheads

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