There’s one important detail that people are missing in this whole argument about ISPs to policing traffic and suspending the accounts of filesharers. One small factor which should render the whole debate null and void. Same goes for the idea that everyone who goes over a certain bandwidth cap should pay extra in order to renumerate struggling musicians who may have had their songs pirated. Not a great plan, Muse-man.
It’s quite important, if you’re a business of any size or shape, to have an internet connection these days. Apart from the obvious roles of email, e-tail, instant messaging and file swapping collaboration in getting absolutely anything done, the biggest growth market in telecoms right now is Voice over IP. Telcos are falling over themselves to give away high quality, wide bandwidth, voice-ready internet connections at cut down prices to small businesses for two reasons. 1) They can, because they’ve all just (or are in the process of) upgraded their networks to ‘next generation’ fat pipes. 2) If they don’t someone else will.
Seriously, if you’re a small business, you can get an unlimited, guaranteed and traffic-prioritised broadband connection for a tenner a month. For £22 (+VAT), you can get an all you can eat package that includes WiFi hotspots and an IP phone bundle that charges just 5p an hour for calls. If you’re running a small business and haven’t looked into this yet, you probably should. You can get consumer accounts cheaper, but not much.
Now, here’s the question. Are ISPs supposed to be monitoring all business traffic for excessive and illegal usage as well? And will they be applying the same sort of tough love when it comes to disconnecting them. Or, as is more likely in my opinion, will they leave their most lucrative and sensitive market the hell alone?
Even if you could stop just anyone signing up for a business account – and that would be yet an another regulatory nightmare on top of simply spying on consumers – the government is really pushing the concept of homeworking at the moment. It’s far more efficient and healthy for a company to pony up for one of these cheap but rock solid business packages for an employee who wants to cut down on their carbon footprint and get back a bit of quality of life, they say.
So what happens when sales reps are banned from the net for a couple of years because their kids ripped a couple of Lily Allen’s singles? Think the CBI might start getting involved?
The thing anyone involved in the proposals to cut off pirates should remember is that ubiquitous, cheap broadband is here to stay and any plans to enforce copyright restrictions simply can’t get around that. I’m no economist, but the costs of policing such a system must surely come close to anything the music industry is realistically losing, and still be unworkable, because the internet doesn’t differentiate between a consumer and a business.
Debate the ethics of filesharing and the damage/benefits it brings to bands to your heart’s content. But any public money spent on drawing up plans to withdraw internet access is just a waste.