06 February 2009

One girl's rant against the legally sanctioned monopoly known as cable.

Long title, even longer ranting session. During my nightly aimless browsing where I often start at the Ubuntu forums and somehow end up looking at a Wikipedia article about a low-power radio station in Idaho by the end of the night, I stumbled upon some bullshit that my ISP's looking to get going soon.

DSLReports - Charter Confirms New Caps

Slashdot - Charter Cable Capping Usage Nationwide This Month

(Remind me, I need to kick a certain infernal package's ass for moving his IRC feedbot.)

Sadly, I'm in an area served by Charter, and only by Charter when it comes to cable TV and Internet. The only other options are the satellite companies for TV, and AT&T for DSL. The weather here is too unpredictable for satellite and AT&T's in bed with the **AA. (As we all know, I am most certainly against the illegal cartels known as the RIAA and MPAA. Any company supporting their aims is one to be buried.) Assuming there was realistic competition, I could do like a good capitalist consumer is supposed to do when they get pissed off over someone's services or goods - vote with my wallet by going elsewhere and doing without the offerings of the offending company. However, I'll note now that my parish has something known as a franchising agreement. In a nutshell, the only way to get cable here is through a single company.

Now that one company is screwing us.

One company, for a service that multiple provide. What's that called? Oh, that's right. It's a blasted monopoly, and last I checked, those are supposed to be illegal... not that it matters anymore. The pro-big-business laws enacted by the last few regimes have managed to destroy anything in business that would actually aid the people (sorry... consumers) when mega-companies screw them.

Now, I don't actually use the TV component that much anymore... I think the only things I watch on television anymore are wrestling and Olbermann. (He makes me laugh. So does Rush.) Truthfully, I could do without cable TV nowadays, even with the (now-delayed) digital transition, and no digital equipment. (My 15-year-old Trinitron delivers crisp enough picture for my tastes... screw HDTV.)

What I do use is the Internet aspect, and I use a good bit of it. Ever seen Serial Experiments Lain? I'm a real-life her, but cuter and bitchier. :P I enjoy exploring the work of various open-source movements and organizations... so I end up downloading a LOT of Linux .iso files. I listen to music on last.fm, Jamendo, OC Remix and Digital Gunfire. I watch some YouTube videos, specifically Freewayjim's stuff. I also watch some TV episodes online where ever I can. Don't forget all the images and flash shit that everybody and their mother seems to be putting on their sites now.

On the upload side, I sometimes grab files from my home machine to listen to on my laptop when I'm out and about. Sometimes I'll grab a video from a DVD I ripped onto my hard drives. Sometimes I'll even grab a whole season of said videos if I'm going to be away for a while. (NCIS never gets boring.) Other times, I'm uploading hundreds of highway pictures at a time to Picasa, Flickr or Imageshack. (Or all three.) Let's not forget seeding my Linux isos so others can have them... sharing is caring after all. The point is, I use a ton more bandwidth than the average user.

Right now, I have 5 meg service. That's it for downstream. Even then, I can roll through the proposed cap in a few days of light usage. Of course, they're saying they'll have an uncapped tier, but that tier isn't available here. The 5 meg I'm on right now is the top one there is. That means no matter what, I can't move past the cap. I'm not allowed the option to be uncapped by agreeing to be extorted for more. Never mind that I'm not exactly willing to pay the extra $100 to stop them from screwing me.

Some of us can't work, after all. Ever heard of a fixed income? Specifically, disability? I can't just make more money when prices go up. Can't look for better pay and all that. Don't have much of anything I can sell to make ends meet every single month to come up with another $100. Chump change to you? Huge f'n deal to me. This month, I'm already doing without groceries simply because having a working vehicle does more for my mental health than having food does. I'm also having to do without medicine that I need that Medicaid doesn't pay for. Needless to say that when bills go up, sacrifices are often made. This month, "sacrifice" was food and medicine. Next month, it may well be Internet.

(And please, do not ask me why I can't just give up Internet so easily instead of resorting to starvation. Of all the skills that I have that could help me land a job whenever I can get my mental state sorted and become un-disabled, computers are the only ones, specifically network-related stuff. It's all I have. It's like asking a carpenter or mechanic to sell his tools.)

As it is, I have no choice, none at all... except to call bullshit on the whole thing. All of it. I heard Charter's circling the drain as it is... let's hope they get sucked in and go away. No bailout for these bastards.

Now, I must go get my 15 hours of sleep and pray tomorrow's not so depressing.

1 comment:

US 71 said...

My ISP (Cox Communications) is trying to do the same thing. Not only capping usage, but slowing down what is deemed "non-urgent communication" (everything but instant messaging).

I can either (a) live with it, (b) go to dial-up or (c) satellite.

There is another High Speed ISP in town, but only in "select" neighborhoods.