On January 18, 2011 the FCC approved the deal to create a joint venture(when two companies unite forces) between Comcast, the largest cable company in the nation, and NBC-Universal, which owns NBC, Universal studios, Telemundo, part of Hulu, and several cable stations. This deal gives Comcast majority control (51%) of NBC-Universal, which was previously was fully owned by General Electric (who retains 49%). This is the first time in history that a cable provider controls or owns a major media company. So what does this mean for us? Although there are concerns about how this will affect deals that Comcast has with other networks (search for Cablevision Vs Fox fiasco for more info), I’m more interested in how this merger will affect the internet. More specifically how we pay for the internet 5 to 10 years into the future, and how that will be affected by Net Neutrality. But first a bit of back story: back in August 2010 Google and Verizon came up with “joint net neutrality plan” which they presented to the FCC. Basically the agreement said that Google and Verizon were fine with keeping wired internet connections neutral (as we have them today), and making wireless networks regulation free and non-neutral. In a non-neutral network Verizon could throttle speeds of certain websites, and they could charge whatever they want for access (both from consumers and from companies). While this agreement isn’t law, or official policy, it does give us a nice insight into what internet providers want and what content providers are willing to give up. Plus the FCC bases its policy on plans like that. Now let’s fast forward 10 years into the future: -4K video over takes HD and 3D as the new standard for video quality. Perhaps Netflix, Hulu, or a service like is capable of streaming 4K video. -Next Gen systems have On-Live like qualities -Browser games evolve as HTML 5 and future HTML 6 evolve. Let’s say that Facebook (or the social network of the future) makes a push for more hardcore browser based games -MMORPG’s with far more realistic graphics and physics -We move further away from the desktop and move to smartphones and tablets that can do what today’s top of the line desktop can do. -App stores (more on that in a second). Apple has an app store on all of their platforms. Google has an app store on their current OS projects, and Windows 8 is rumored to have an app store. So it's safe to say that these are the future. And before any Linux fans pop up, realize that you guys invented app stores. You get the picture. The future looks awesome, except for that Comcast-NBC Universal thing. You see internet providers don’t like all of that bandwidth being used up. So Comcast-NBC Universal offers three types of internet: -The wired internet that we have today, which quite frankly sucks. We can barely stream 720P content on Netflix. Imagine trying to stream 4K content in a few years. Sure due to net neutrality rules this internet will cost the same or less, but there is no innovation. Basically today’s Fios is tomorrows 56k. -Wireless internet. The 6G of the future. Super fast, super expensive, and super limited. Basically just a faster version of what we have today. The lack of net neutrality in this space basically assures us that this will remain the way it is. -The super duper fast wired internet of the future equipped with app stores. Welcome the cable TV internet. This will be the new standard, and it’s going to suck. Instead of accessing the internet through a browser that goes anywhere you want to go, you will access the internet through Comcast-NBC-Universal’s app store. The app store will have different levels of apps depending on how much you pay (like cable plans today). Want to play World of Warcraft: 2023? You better have the app for that. You can only afford $50 a month for internet? Too bad because that plan doesn’t have the fancy 4k movie streaming service, but don’t worry at least you get 100 apps that you don’t really want but that come with you package. Are you guy creating content well you are screwed because you will be the future equal of public access today since you won’t be able to afford to get on the app store. The beautiful (in a dark way) part is that net neutrality only covers networks, not what access the networks. So it doesn’t matter if you internet is super fast and open, when only certain apps can get to it. If you are naïve enough to think that Comcast-NBC-Universal wouldn’t do this then I would like to remind you that Comcast is the company that already throttled bit torrents, and studios like NBC-Universal are the only reason why Netflix isn’t able to stream the latest DVD releases. Not to mention how much has been blocked out of Google TV. These companies have no problem destroying freedom and innovation in order to keep their monopolies intact. Now that we have a single entity that controls how many of us get content, a lot of the content that we want to get, and the direction of the industry in the future things are looking bad.