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Cable Cutters

It seems that while technology makes a significant impact on our lives--as has IPT ranging from Skype to SIP--that it would return the favor with the likes of cable and satellite TV companies that provide paid TV services, yet instead these are offered as bundled traps. These traps are the same ones used by cell companies only they call them plans. According to the WSJ, there's a new and growing trend of "cable cutters" severing their paid TV subscriptions in favor of watching Internet TV.I received an email that advertises software to enable PCs to watch TV using the Internet with unlimited FREE access to over 1,000 channels worldwide. Now think about the paradigm shifts we've seen with dial tone and business telephony services. The network chiefly is bandwidth and the "content" is what seemingly carries the premiums.

Bandwidth is bandwidth and basically that's what should be the commodity. In lieu of millions of consumers and businesses forking over billions of dollars each month to watch the tube, can't the same thing be accomplished "free" over the web? Our flat Samsung big screen hanging on the wall at home is network enabled and ready as are many other TV boxes. It seems that users or consumers could use less energy by maintaining less hardware if there was a "box" (device) to do the same thing that the advertised software does with PCs by taking the place of the PC and "routing" the TV traffic to the TV network card. What would you pay to never have to pay again for the privilege to watch TV (channels of your choice) to any of these companies?

What can be devised to take the place of what we pay monthly and connect what we want to watch (by choice not by bundle) to our TV? Cell companies, your turn is probably coming too and it's long overdue. Reader's Digest did a global survey that reveals consumer attitudes about TV, cell phones and Internet. Think about it a little further and really, paid TV and cell service-it's just bandwidth. Shouldn't they fall under the same forces of commoditization as voice? I may not understand what it's like to be a 20-something year old struggling to make his way in the world today, but I do remember doing more with less and doing without. The millennial generation isn't any different and they will work around the choices and are leading the "cable cutting" trend because all they want is bandwidth. Let's not make the IT gods angry but let's be practical too--bandwidth is bandwidth. The Telcos, carriers and CATV and satellite operators are holding customers hostage with devised plans that maximize their revenue while providing and inbound and outbound revenue for themselves-as well as advertisers and subscribers. They throttle our bandwidth to get more dollars and lay traps online to devise schemes to limit our bandwidth and use with far reaching EULAs used to justify rate increases and surcharges; all the while they don't see themselves as being redundant.

The "cable cutting" trend is vividly different from John Malone, CEO of Liberty Media who knows "how to get consumers to pay for previously free content." Their latest move is to offer paid subscribers cable shows on the web and I don't think it's about content as so much as it is about money. People may pay to get entertained just not advertised at, to a point of being annoyed and charged again for what's already free on the web. Everyone knows a 30 minute show is an 18 minute fantasy with 12 minutes for commercial advertising. Imagine using the Internet for 18 minutes and then having to watch ads from "sponsors" for 12 minutes.

Convergence where it counts and makes a lot of sense is elusive. If the cable cutting trend continues along with the other trends--landlines sliding downward, aging copper plants abandoned by the Telcos, and business telephony services shifting towards IP/SIP--then convergence may forcibly make its way, leaving behind another dust cloud as a tribute to those failing to change their ways. An ensuing wave of consumer adoption or abandonment similar to the growth of iPhones and tossing of landlines may eventually garner some respectable attention. Folks are shifting their priorities and they do vote with their pocket books. The "triple play" is not only overrated but it's failed to deliver what people need and want--lower prices, reasonable choices and open bandwidth. Which is more important--TV, cell phone or Internet? Maybe it's an easy question to answer just by eliminating the redundant choice(s).