Monday, January 29, 2007
Finally, Cable Competition - Thank You Verizon
I got this letter in the mail the other day offering me Verizon's new fiber-charged cable service - FiOS TV. Remember, Verizon is primarily a phone company - the marriage of old Baby Bells, GTE and Bell Atlantic.
Now I won't switch to Verizon cable for a few reasons. One, I have RCN and it's the fastest internet connection I have ever had - and that is including T3s I've been plugged into in office buildings. I essentially can't work (trade) from home without a blazing fast internet connection. I receive streaming quotes from three brokerage applications and can't have my data pipeline clogging. Verizon will probably be just as fast but I don't want to take the risk of switching. However, I may get it anyway as a backup internet connection when I buy a new PC later this year. It was just pure luck that my house has a fast internet connection. I had no way of knowing before I signed the lease and if the speed was as bad as Road Runner in Brooklyn, I'd have to rent an office and incur those higher expenses.
I also won't switch cable systems now because who wants to be part of an inaugural rollout? I'll wait until other guinea pigs take the risk and give me the nod.
So why then am I thrilled about Verizon's entry into the cable business?
Because it provides competition for local incumbents Comcast and RCN. Even if they don't lower their prices, they'll at least have to stop raising them. Competition will also force them to pay SOME attention to customer service. I defy anyone to show me where competition has ever not had a positive effect for the consumer. Satellite television helped a little but was held back by its inability to bundle fast internet service. Also, in places like Massachusetts, snow clouds are the bane of satellite TV. One just can't get a dish up here and expect 100% reception in the winter.
If you click on the picture above to enlarge it, you'll see this advertised feature of FiOS:
A massive OnDemand library of over 2,700 movies and shows
That can't bode well for foundering Blockbuster or even NetFlix. Blockbuster is of course struggling; I don't know exactly why because I don't follow it too closely. But one thing I always hated about Blockbuster was that it doesn't have any older, hard-to-find movies from the 70s or 80s. Verizon's OnDemand library conceivably could beat Blockbuster on selection and convenience. And it will at least compete with NetFlix on convenience.
If I were a sh*tty cable company like say Cablevision, I'd be very worried...
There's definitely more that can be said on this topic in regards to net neutrality - a subject that I haven't adequately researched to hold an opinion on.