Two-timing Netflix will speed the downfall -- and rebirth -- of a free Internet

Netflix's deals with Comcast and Verizon are terrible in the short run, but bring us closer to Net neutrality's moment of truth

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A bleak Internet landscape

Good-bye independent content, individual bloggers, and fresh-from-the-garage brilliant but underfunded Web apps. Even if we find out about you, you'll take so long to load that our collective ADD will kick in, and we'll be forced to click over to Comcast's new reality show, "Hoarders of Mountain View," or 5-year old Japanese action movies that Netflix procured through a deal with a bargain-basement movie studio in Tokyo. That and porn, since those guys can usually afford anything Web-related.

Some may point to new wireless infrastructure as a possible savior since providers in that space only need to rely on big-boy pipe access at the very last stage, if at all. Even that's a weak hope since anything that touches a major pipe provider anywhere will be tiered. Also, tiered service is a major revenue generator for any infrastructure company. Unless this unnamed, yet-to-be-invented, unicorn of a Wi-Fi provider has another, more lucrative revenue stream, it'll conform to the tiered model too.

It gets better

Why am I'm still optimistic? Because these deals are verging on the Dr. Evil-style malevolence the FCC is waiting for. If we all suffer through enough of this crap with some near-future content consequences, the Avenging Angel that is Tom Wheeler will reach into his dungarees, locate his backbone, down a Xanax smoothie, and fight the good fight against an ignorant legislative political engine, even if that engine is being continuously showered with money -- er, entirely legitimate campaign funding by superslick pro-fast-lane lobbyists.

When Wheeler crushes that opposition, he'll turn pipe provisioning into a tightly regulated public service. That'll slow down our infrastructure upgrading process, since pipe providers would be able to rob us of only a few billion rather than a gut-wrenching, degenerately greedy pile of billions, and we'll have our content-neutral Internet back. Then maybe the Zuck will get bored with "Batman" comics and deploy a neutral, super-high-speed wireless drone network to impress his bros online. Here's hoping.

This article, "Two-timing Netflix will speed the downfall -- and rebirth -- of a free Internet," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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