“Time Warner Cable has announced new services allowing people to track their eBay bids via their cable TV and display Caller ID on the television screen. New technology will allow cable companies to increase their bandwidth and offer more channels to subscribers.
“All this means that prices for video are likely to drop, just as they have in the past with voice and broadband. Additionally, the high tech economy will expand as the competition attracts new capital, spurs product innovation and creates new jobs.”
Big Cable’s response has not been limited to Texas. Peter Grant of the Wall Street Journal reports that cable monster Comcast Corp. “has 400 software engineers building what amounts to a TV version of the Internet, stocked with movies, archived television programs and other interactive features, including a search function.” The company is even in negotiations with Google to team up to buy America Online.
What does all this competition and change mean for you and me? Well, to localize it, the time is not far off when you will read an article on Town Hall from your television set (or more likely some form of television-computer hybrid device, which has yet to be engineered) and with a touch of your remote control button or the poke of your stylus, engage in face-to-face dialogue with the author or some other interested reader.
For as Peacock avers, “While Texans may experience some of these benefits sooner than citizens of other states, the effects of the Texas reform will be felt nationwide. The timing and extent will depend on when Congress and other states follow Texas’ lead.”
Yes, that’s the clincher. Unless regulations at the federal and state level are reformed in such a way that opens up competition, lower rates, and better service will not occur. The invisible hand is presently hindered by the handcuffs of outdated regulations crafted in the 1970’s and hardly reflective of the communications revolution, of which we stand at the precipice. Both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate are considering telecom reform that would address these (and a host of other) issues. As you can imagine, Congressional leaders are being lobbied from every direction. Where all this ends up will determine how we interact electronically for decades to come.
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