Tag Archives: Internet access

Data Collection Matters

There was a piece on MediaPost about how the broadband providers and their trade associations have gone to court to prevent the FCC from imposing some of the new rules on how those providers may behave. The specific ones upon which I’m focused today are the ones concerning privacy and data collection. The article explains the issue nicely:

They specifically complain that the FCC’s decision to treat broadband as a utility also empowers the agency to impose privacy rules that could curb its behavioral advertising efforts, which involve targeting ads to users based on the Web sites they visit.

“Today, broadband providers can lawfully use information about customers’ Internet access services and usage to develop customized marketing programs that benefit both the provider and its customers,” AT&T and the others say in their court papers.

On the surface, maybe they have a point.  After all, many of us prefer to see targeted ads and as someone who has made a living off of marketing programs I’m all for them.  There is, however, a broader issue and it’s one of which any business who collects data (that would probably be YOU, dear reader) needs to remain cognizant.

The amount of data your wireless and/or broadband provider has about you is staggering.  They know where you’ve been and when.  They know what you research and with whom you communicate.  This fabulous piece demonstrates what all of this data retention means.  Ad targeting is one very simple use, but what happens when some insurance company decides to work with a broadband provider to find speeders and raise their rates?

Honestly, I’d still be OK with all of it with a very big IF.  Ask yourself this: do you know what’s being collected and do you know how it’s being used?  I can can “yes” to the first question and a very big “no” to the second.  I’m not a tin-foil hat guy – I don’t think there are seriously nefarious things going on at the ISP’s involving data misuse (the government is another matter).  I do think, however, that data collection needs to be explained to consumers in simple language and with sample data.  I think we all need transparency and the ability to opt in, not the demand that we opt out.  Having some protections in place isn’t a bad thing.  After all, the brief history of the commercial internet is rife with bad actors (see ad injectors, malware distributors, browser hijackers, etc.) who will do just about anything to line their pockets.

How do you see it?

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Filed under digital media, Reality checks, Thinking Aloud

The Future At The Gates

Over the holidays I spent time catching up on a lot of video content I had missed.  Not unusual, I know, but what was different was how I accessed it.  Some I watched using the VOD capability of my cable provider.  Some I streamed via an Xbox and either Hulu, Amazon, or Netflix.  That video came via my internet connection which was not through my cable provider.   It got me thinking about the gatekeepers, both current and future, and why the battle over Net Neutrality is so critical.

You probably haven’t read the latest PWC study on how consumers are using video.  You can read it here – it’s an excellent study.  The term they use is “videoquake” and I think it’s apt:

This is a wake-up call not just for cinemas and film studios, but also for traditional cable and satellite players and anyone involved in video content production and distribution. The shift is here—alternative forms of video content will continue to rock not only what we watch, but how, where and with whom.

Most of us don’t have more than one high-speed internet provider from whom we can buy service.  There is very little competition and, therefore, no market pressure for many of these ISP’s to upgrade their services.  In many cases it’s the cable TV provider who is also the ISP.  Part of this has to do with the legacy of how cable came to be.  The companies were granted local monopolies in return for building out the systems.  Seemed like a fair trade at the time.  Data to the home was not on many people’s radar when this went on and today these systems are under no obligation to allow anyone else to access their poles or wires.  Building out a competitor is extremely difficult.

You might be aware of the impending FCC rule making on net neutrality.  I won’t write to 3,000 additional words it would take to explain it but in brief many are calling on the FCC to reclassify ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The popular belief is that Title II classification would allow the FCC to protect net neutrality by regulating against paid prioritization.  You can read a longer explanation here.

While I’m not sure that’s the right answer (rules from 1934?  Seriously?), one effect this would have is to require access to those poles making build out much easier.  If you’re a business that has made money (a LOT of money) from a monopoly on bringing content into the home via coax (cable TV) or ethernet (internet service), you can hear the future at the gate and it’s banging rather loudly. Imagine what happens when not just Google Fiber but companies such as Apple or Yahoo offer internet service (everything old is new again – AOL, anyone?) via their own pipes.

With more and more content being delivered on a stand-alone basis via our internet connections, the gatekeeper (now the wireless carriers or the cable companies in most cases) will collect not just the monthly fees but the data associated with the usage.  That data might be even more valuable (hmm – a free high-speed internet provider who just sells data?  Investors?).

Are you hearing the banging at the gates too?  What are your thoughts?

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Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud

I Can’t See You

Once in a while we play a little game of compare and contrast which is what we’ll be doing today.

Person with PDA handheld device.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The two items causing a bit of cognitive dissonance are studies from Pew and from Mongoose Metrics.  Let’s start with Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project:

  • Nearly a third (31%) of adult U.S. mobile Web users say they now go online mostly through their cell phones
  • Leading the mobile-only Web trend are young people and minorities. Nearly half of all 18- to-29-year-olds (45%) who access the Internet on phones do most of their online browsing on their mobile device. Half (51%) of African-Americans and 42% of Hispanics in the same category also mostly go online through their phones. By contrast, only 24% of white mobile Web users turn mainly to their devices for Web access.
  • Less affluent (income of under $50,000 annually) and less well-educated people were also more likely to rely mostly on their phones for Web browsing than those with higher incomes and college or higher levels of education.

OK – pretty straightforward.  Nearly everyone has a mobile device, more than half (55%) use them to go on the web at some point, and as incomes go down the mobile device tends to become the primary point of access.  Got it.  Next.

Part of the 2012 Mongoose Metrics Data Series found that mobile internet access accounts for approximately 9 percent of all traffic. However, the report also found that about 10 percent of websites are fully optimized for mobile access, which means 90 percent are incapable of serving these users completely.

Oops.  You can read the study here if you’re interested.  It also reminds us that 80% of users preferred mobile sites when searching for prices and product reviews.  But then again, if they can’t see the great content you have, what difference does it make?

We’re at yet another point of change.  The desktop computer is dying a lingering death, and I think it will be an enterprise-only device within 5 years.  So why are a lot of us behaving as if nothing has changed?  We need to be thinking and building mobile first, as the data points out.  After all, being discoverable and social is useless if you’re not optimally visible.

Right?

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Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints

Why Learn?

Plots of quadratic equations with discriminant...

Let’s start the year off with a question I’m sure you’ve heard if you have kids. It goes something like this: Why learn? “Why do I have to learn all this stuff in (math, history, chemistry – pick one) when I’ll never use it anyway?”  The easy way out is to remind them that you had to labor through it and it’s the unfortunate lot of children that their play gets interrupted to acquire certain life skills. However, in an age when damn near everything anyone has ever learned is pretty much accessible via a search of some sort, and access to search is immediately available everywhere, why learn indeed? Well, here’s why, and it’s a business lesson as well. Continue reading

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Filed under Growing up, Helpful Hints