Mark Cuban vs. Sen. Franken on Internet Bandwidth

IU grad and Dallas Mavericks owner/billionaire Mark Cuban recently took Sen. Al Franken (Minnesota) to task on his blog regarding Franken’s contention that if a pending $30 billion deal between NBC and Comcast goes through, then they must agree to post their TV shows online so everyone has access — and Franken seems to be pushing for caps on user bandwidth.

Some of this seems a little "inside baseball" (man, I loathe that phrase… how ’bout "inside ice dancing" in honor of the Winter Olympics?), but I’m sure our savvy readers will glean more from it than I. Anyway, it’s a relevant and interesting topic, and in his usual calm, sober way, Cuban drops the hammer on the former NBC employee. An excerpt:

According to the LA Times, “In written questions to Comcast and NBC Universal regarding their $30-billion proposed marriage, Sen. Franken — who has been one of the harshest critics of the deal — wants Comcast and NBC Universal to promise that it will put all its television shows online. He also wants assurances that shows that the companies put online be made available to every one and not just people who get their Internet service through Comcast.”

Also in the Times article: “As Franken notes in his questions to the two companies, “The Internet is the future of the media business.”"

Lets start with the first request that all NBC Universal/Comcast shows should be delivered over the internet.  Someone needs to explain to Sen. Franken that TV shows delivered over the internet consume bandwidth. A lot of bandwidth.  There are  reasons why Youtube limits the size of files that users can upload to it. The first is that video is the ultimate bandwidth pig.  The 2nd  reason is that bandwidth is not unlimited or elastic.  The more bandwidth that is consumed, the more bandwidth that must be added to maintain existing levels of service. That costs a lot of money.   Think that might push up internet rates to consumers ?

I get that no one really cares if Comcast has to spend money on capital improvements to add bandwidth to the home.  They should. Its pretty damn stupid to push consumption in a direction that will raise internet rates  to receive the same content for which there is already a phenomenal digital network in place to deliver that content.

Think about it for a minute Senator Franken. Comcast, and every large TV Provider has a digital network in place that can and does deliver gigabits of tv content perfectly,  every second of every day, to any TV set in any  home that is connected to their network. It works. Well.  What you are asking Sen Franken, is that Comcast duplicate the delivery of theirs and NBCUniversals shows on a network, the internet,  that is not, and has never been designed to handle the delivery of huge volumes of video and tv shows.

What you are forcing them to do is not only going to impact Comcast, its going to push ANY internet provider  on which NBCUniversal/Comcast owned shows are delivered to deal with the increased bandwidth needs your request requires. Increased bandwidth needs to the home means more money spent on infrastructure needed to support that delivery, which in turn is going to mean  HIGHER INTERNET RATES and/or caps on internet bandwidth consumption for consumers .   Did you even think through what would happen if NBCUniversal/Comcast was required to simulcast  the Olympics over the internet ?

What do you think? Who’s right here?

One thought on “Mark Cuban vs. Sen. Franken on Internet Bandwidth

  1. Franken is right. It may cost some money to upgrade the system to accommodate the new influx, but the Internet bill that Obama passed in the summer of last year has already put this into motion. That is why we are seeing commercials for the new “Xfinity” by Comcast, which leads you to assume they are doing it because they are awesome… Another debate. Also, Google is currently looking for places to test it’s 1G bandwidth idea, which I think would push us to the top when it comes to the Internet.

    Sites like Hulu, Boxee, and Netflix are already using this method of delivery for TV and Movies. As these sites gain popularity, this too would detract from the Internet experience as they become more popular and bandwidth is absorbed.

    Everyone is afraid of the money it seems, but it takes money to make money. If we don’t do something about our Internet infrastructure, we are going to be left in the dust… Again. Currently, America is ranked in the middle when it comes to Internet connectivity vs. other countries. The sad thing about that fact is that we invented the Internet… Quite frankly, I am tired of losing ground to other countries when we live in the greatest one on earth. You can only lose so much before you are no longer the greatest.

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