In its "Do No Evil" quest to become the entire Internet, Google hit a milestone in May that no other website has ever hit before. Just when you thought that the company couldn't possibly attract new visitors simply because everybody and his sister already used the service – no one searches the Web anymore, after all, they Google it – the Internet giant became the first website to ever have 1 billion unique visitors in a month.
One of Google’s big arguments for aggregating news stories and presenting them on its own site is the practice drives traffic to the originating site--it’s a win-win situation. News providers, on the other hand, are not so sure of Google’s claim. They’re seeing declines in readership in the real world, and a hard sell for revenues in the digital world. This while Google continues to haul in money by the bucket-full.
Outsell, a research firm, has released it’s third annual News Users’ Report, and it seems to agree with the news providers: Google isn’t doing them any real favor. According to Outsell, which surveys the real world and digital news preferences of 2,787 U.S. news consumers, 44 percent of visitors to Google News scan headlines, read the brief synopsis, and leave it at that--they never click through to the originating news site. No click-through, no traffic. No traffic, no ad revenue. According to Outsell analyst Ken Doctor, “Though Google is driving some traffic to newspapers, it’s also taking a significant share away.”
Revenue problems for newspapers are exacerbated by the move from print to digital. According to Outsell, 57 percent of users go to digital sources, up from 33 percent a few years ago. Online traffic, therefore, is even more crucial if news providers are to make a buck (or are to survive).
Google may be the least of new providers' worries. The report also says only 10 percent news users would be willing to pay if a subscription to a print version is necessary for digital access. And 75 percent say they’ll seek their news elsewhere if a paid subscription is required for online content.
In a seemingly never ending battle with the FCC, Comcast is back on the offensive. The cable giant is looking to overturn the ruling reached on August 1st which found them in violation of the FCC’s network neutrality principles. Comcast was mandated to immediately cease any packet shaping initiatives and to publically disclose the full extent of its traffic blocking policies. Experts close to the case have chimed in on the issue and it would appear as though news of the appeal wasn’t all that surprising. Comcast has become famous in legal circles for appealing any decision it doesn’t agree with, and this case is no exception. Comcast firmly believes that packet shaping of peer-to-peer traffic is a legitimate and reasonable means of managing network traffic and intends to defend that contention to the bitter end. Despite the impending appeal, Comcast has agreed to abide by the FCC mandates until a new verdict is reached. Comcast’s packet shaping activities have been in the spotlight since late 2007 when the Associated Press revealed proof that Comcast was blocking P2P traffic during peak hours. The FCC case was seen as a test run help to determine if it could enforce its network neutrality principles. I’m sure most Maximum PC readers are rooting for the FCC, but since so little precedent in a case like this; the outcome of an appeal could still go either way.
The Federal Communications Commission is now going to reign in on Comcast’s controversial practice of hampering peer-to-peer internet traffic. Out of the five FCC commissioners, three have voted, thus far, on whether Comcast is liable for punishment for filtering internet traffic. And all of them want the cable company to be punished, but the punitive order will officially be executed once the remaining members have voted – a mere formality. The FCC doesn’t intend to fine Comcast but merely wants it to abstain from internet traffic filtering altogether.
Comcast has been in the eye of the “network neutrality” storm since August, 2007, when TorrentFreak revealed that the leading cable company was filtering internet traffic. It is rumored that the company utilizes Sandvine hardware for warding off P2P traffic but Comcast has not even acknowledged that it indulges in such practices. Comcast is currently busy defending itself in a class-action suit which alleges that the company’s actual services betray its promises, for it restricts internet access despite promising unshackled service.
This being such a contentious issue, that has invited intense reactions from all corners, you all are expected to set the comments section afire.