NBC's scheduled coverage of the 2008 Olympics is absolutely breathtaking in its scope: It's broadcasting over 3,600 hours of the world's greatest athletes performing feats that reveal how shapeless and amoebic the rest of humanity is-that's 1,000 more hours than the last 12 Summer Olympics combined. The internet is a huge component of their nearly omniscient coverage. You can even download and watch full-length events. But NBC has a fat red warning on the page: If you've got metered or capped broadband, you might want to think twice before downloading. It's the first shot by major media in the next great battle for the internet's future. Here's why you—and most media companies—should be worried about the new wave of internet pricing.
This might seem like an odd topic for Giz Explains, our weekly "WTF is that?" series, but a bunch of comments last week revealed a need to plainly explain the tussle going on between internet service providers, the Federal Communications Commission, content providers and you, and how it's shaping the way you'll use internet over the next couple of years. First, a quick primer.
Comcast was caught slowing down BitTorrent traffic last year by the Associated Press. It (re)sparked cries for government-mandated net neutrality-treating all internet traffic equally, whether it's email, Skype or a bootleg of The Dark Knight over torrent. While that didn't happen, a complaint against Comcast went through the FCC, which ruled against it last week, saying that slowing down BitTorrent was a naughty thing to do, and that they must disclose all management practices to subscribers.