There isn't much competition among broadband providers in the United States. Most people only have a choice between a cable company and a phone company, and both act like monopolies; both have poor customer service. We know that the answer to protect net neutrality isn't government intervention, which carries potential risks, but in competition. If there were several internet service providers, there would be better prices and better service.
Joe wants to put his DirecTV on his boat. DirecTV says they can do it, but he doesn't believe them. Leo thinks that if he's in the harbor and there isn't a lot of movement, then it could be possible. But since boats move up and down according to the tides, Joe will likely lose that satellite connection often. It's not a good idea, especially for internet access.
Karen wants to know how much data she uses on Comcast because she's thinking of switching to cellular data only. Karen can log into her Comcast account online and it should tell her how much data she uses.
Kevin Kelly, a longtime editor at Wired Magazine, wrote a post on Medium saying that the internet is really only just beginning. "You Are Not Late" is the title of the piece, and he says "Right now, today, in 2014 is the best time to start something on the internet. There has never been a better time in the whole history of the world to invent something."
You Are Not Late by Kevin Kelly…
Mike is a gamer and he lives in a remote area. He needs to find internet service so he can use his XBox One. Leo says that's a drawback to the XBox -- it requires a constant online connection. Mike switched to a wireless service but the download speed is really slow. Mike's frustration is that he can see the cell tower from his house and he still can't get a good signal. Leo says it sounds like the ISP lied to him about the performance he would get. What they promise and what he'll actually get can be two different things, and it sounds like the tower is overburdened.
Driver Mike has a Toshiba Laptop and now he can't get online after reinstalling Windows. Leo says that when he reinstalled it, he likely wiped out all the settings. So he'll have to go to his ISP and get them back and reinstall them.
Louis says that cookies or tokens are a violation of privacy. Leo says they're pretty benign, though. The cookie only exists to allow him to keep from logging in to a site every time he visits. It reads the token and knows who he is. He could turn them off or prevent third party cookies. The browser leaks enough information about him to identify him, though. He could surf privately and delete all of his cookies, but even with all that, his ISP knows everything he does online. So if he really wants to be anonymous, he'd have to pretty much give up being online.
The net neutrality issue is whether ISPs should be allowed to charge to have access to us, their customers. But Time Warner claims the controversy over fast lane access is a red herring. They claim that the shoe is actually on the other foot, and that Google and Netflix could demand payments from the cable company. Leo says that's why Net Neutrality is important. It protects both sides.
James says he's noticing that over 300 MBPS is available overseas for under $40 a month. It's maddening that Europe gets that kind of performance and James pays $50 for 3MB down. That's outrageous. Leo says that is disgusting. We pay more than many countries for less service. And because we invented it, we have incompatible systems still in use and that can be expensive. There's a benefit to not being the first, but it's almost always the meddling of governments who have created a duopoly for internet service.
Dave says that Riverside is ending their free Wi-Fi service tomorrow after complaints that some people couldn't use it. AT&T, who set it up, pulled out a few years ago and Riverside may have decided it was too costly to operate on their own. Leo says that's a shame because Riverside was one of the first communities to give it a try. It's not likely that more communities will be able to join in, as most ISPs have lobbied legislatures to outlaw free Wi-Fi service so ISPs can charge more.