Earlier in January, the D.C. Court of Appeals put the kabosh on the FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules, which could mean that broadband providers could implement fee structures to access certain sites, rather than have users pay a flat fee to access the whole internet. After all, Comcast started the battle for a neutral net when they started slowing down Internet connections to peer-to-peer networks back in the day.
Why should you care about these things? Consider the following:
Comcast currently has 22 million cable subscribers and about 20 million broadband subscribers. If this deal goes through, that would bring an additional 11 million cable and broadband subscribers on board and would mean that Comcast would be controlling roughly one-third of the entire country’s cable/broadband market.
Cable is a dying animal so Comcast is probably relying on the extra broadband revenue to buoy their bottom-line. Comcast is already experimenting with data-cap and overage charge schemas so it seems plausible that TWComcast could charge the 11 million World of Warcraft players, or the 46 million Xbox Live and Playstation Network customers, a lot more money just to access their networks.
Digital game subscriptions – a 5.9 billion dollar industry in the U.S. alone – would be heavily affected because customers would have to pay additional money for adequate Internet service. All MMO and live player mediums would be severely affected for the same reasons.
Even those of you who have other service providers would not be able to escape the TWComcast empire. Essentially, TWComcast would be the ultimate schoolyard bully, essentially forcing content creators, other Internet companies, and other communications networks who would be directly connecting to TWComcast servers to deliver their services to do as their overlord bids.
Comcast argues that this mega-deal is mutually beneficial because customers would be getting higher quality broadband, Wi-Fi- and an overall superior videogame experience. And this could be true; just ten days after Comcast announced its acquisition of TimeWarner, Netflix signed a deal which would allow it direct access to Comcast’s broadband network rather than delivering its traffic through third parties which further slowed down content delivery.
Whether this deal will serve as industry precedent for all digital streaming services, influencing how Microsoft, Sony, and other major videogame companies that are focusing on streaming services for gamers has yet to be seen, but so far some critics are skeptical of what the implications will be.