Separate and Unequal

Categories: The Austere Publisher
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Published on: August 19, 2010

The very nature of the Alkranet promises freedom. There are no restrictions on what can be posted on this galaxy-wide information net. And there are no restrictions on who can access the information posted ‘on the line.’

Unlike other forms of media, the Alkranet is not dependant on Media Barons to decide what news is important. The only opinion the Alkranet expresses are the ones its users choose to search for. It is truly the most independent information network in the galaxy. And for the last two Dynasties it has remained free and accessible to all.

Now, however, Gaggle and the Horizon Communications Company risk jeopardizing that precious and fragile balance. Currently in negotiations, a deal is on the table between these two giants which could potentially lead to the creation of a ‘two-tiered Alkranet.’

Gaggle is something of juggernaut on the Alkranet. It runs such popular sites as MyTubez and the Gaggle search engine. But Gaggle has become concerned with Data Transfer Speed – DTS – which controls how fast a message travels through the channels of the Alkranet. Creating the DTS to work the millions of hourly transfers Gaggle sends to every corner of the galaxy takes an enormous amount of energy. Energy that has to be generated by someone.

And that problem has worsened due to planet-side communications companies that want to enjoy their monopoly without investing in infrastructure. Interplanetary – or wireless – communication can travel at faster speeds, so the planetary companies would be at a disadvantage. In response, the planetary providers have put off upgrades to their equipment. Kroy has slipped from the 4th to 44th fastest Alkranet speed in the galaxy. The people of the Kroy are paying more for less. Even worse, there is no competition for these planetary communications companies.. since they have signed agreements avoid it.

Since Gaggle is feeling the pinch of providing DTS for the majority of the Kroy population, A two-tiered Alkranet would provide two separate ways the access the network. The first tier would be a standard speed for standard planetary – or wired –  customers. The second tier would provide a faster connection for exclusive interplanetary – or wireless –  customers for an additional fee.

 

Because of that distinction between and Alkranet transmissions, Interplanetary communication would be able to discriminate or manage the Alkranet network however they chose. Critics for both Gaggle and Horizon have wasted no time in getting paranoid about what this change might mean for the free nature of the Alkranet. Besides marketing this faster access as a luxury item, a higher tier could open the door to rationing off certain areas of the Alkranet for a higher price than others. Something the Alkranet has managed to avoid during it’s short existence.

 

But Mogul Sergey of Gaggle has a more than personal interest in making this proposal a reality. Sergey has already created an alliance between the Horizon Moguls through Horizon Interplanetary, the largest interplanetary wireless carrier in Kroy. The alliance of these two conglomerates is being planned as carefully as a merger between two feudal baronies. And just like the land alliances of old, it is the people who these moguls supposedly serve who will be in harm’s way if the transaction is complete.

At risk are the principle freedoms of Net Neutrality which state that there will be no restrictions on content, equipment, or modes of communication. As Gosh Gold put it in a recent interview, "It has always been assumed that the Alkranet will travel at one speed." In breaking up that seemingly undeniable right, Gaggle seems to be creating a monopoly on a large piece of the Alkranet and by determining how it’s users use it.

The Galactic Communications Commission has halted any further closed-door talks between Gaggle and Horizon, claiming a broader input is needed before the right decision can be made. This intervention has surprised many experts. Not because the halt was all the GCC did, but that the GCC was able to halt the talks at all.

This has been one of the few times a barony has been able to interfere in closed-door discussions between the two communication giants. The GCC has yearly put out reports saying that the ETT/Gong conglomerate has a monopoly on the Alkranet connections in all Kroy regions. It has sited examples throughout the rest of the galaxy – even developed Eurysan regions – where smaller companies provide access. Because the burden is held by many, and not by a single conglomerate company, there is no need for extra charges or for tiers of communication. But those reports had not been acted on, or any action taken to slow the progress of Gaggle or Horizon’s actions.

In the end, the proposal released this week is unlikely to be adopted by the Baronage. But it still emphasizes the fact, that given enough power, companies like Gaggle and Horizon will try to over charge and isolate their customers. Even in a forum as free as the Alkranet. And if this proposal is adopted, Kroy citizens might soon see the freedom of the Alkranet come with a price too heavy to pay.
 

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