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U2 manager blasts telco pigopolists

Don't play the innocent with me

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On the first count, McGuiness is on firm ground, historically. While there are many ways of delivering music from producer to us so that it "feels free"- radio and music in pubs and shopping malls, for example there aren't any examples where a transport technology has popped up where the operators don't pay the creator at all. (The nearest we can think of is US radio, which doesn't pay the sound recording owner, but it does pay the songwriter. Some non-US radio stations consequently snub the US on reciprocals - but that's about it, and it's an anomaly).

Network operators today claim they're just passing along bits, but that argument has been tried before and failed every time.

The counter argument is that when you're in a pub, restaurant or mall, then you hear the music whether you want to or not. Why should users who don't consumer any digital music online, except where and when they choose to, also share the operators cost? That's one the music business has to make, and I haven't heard it addressed yet.

Can broadband suppliers afford it?

The results of the largest companies speak for themselves. We're talking telephone numbers.

Verizon, for example, today reported quarterly revenues of $23.8bn, with a net income, after tax, over $1bn. But half of this comes from mobile, and much of the rest of the profit from business the company might also point out it has $31.2bn in debt, and that it's spent hugely to create a competitor to cable. Comcast earned $7.7bn in its most recent quarter, with broadband earning $1.6 billion.

The money's there, and Big Telco dwarfs the tiny music business, which globally nets less than Verizon does alone in three months.

The music business has a strong argument up its sleeve, however. Data is a drag on revenues, which is cross-subsidized by either voice or TV. Once a subscriber has ticked the box marked "Internets, please", the only way the telco can make more money from them is by cutting costs, usually by consolidating - and in the US at least, the era of consolidation is almost over. The other way is to offer new services which are actually better than the darknet, in which net users become a revenue opportunity rather than a whining nuisance.

But that needs a carrot, as well as a stick. What kind of carrot? For audiophiles, here's an excerpt from McGuinness:

There are signs of a consumer backlash and an online audiophile P2P movement called “lossless” with expanded and better spectrum that is starting to make itself heard. This seems to be a missed opportunity for the record industry shouldn’t we be catering to people who want to hear music through big speakers rather than ear buds? This is obviously going to need more bandwidth in the future. Do the digital machine makers and network owners care? They WILL because they’ll have to ramp up capacity to service all their other legitimate users properly

That's a start.®

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