The US already has distinctly mediocre Internet service. According to Speedtest.net, Gizmodo, cnet, TechKnowTimes and other sources, the US ranks only around 30th in Internet speeds, with speeds lagging at anywhere from 1/4th to 1/12th of the top-ranked countries, depending on which figures you use. Many parts of the country still make do with the dialup modem service; some still have nothing! Now it looks like we'll be even less well served by the major ISPs than we already were.
None of this bodes well for the increasing use of the Internet for all forms of telecommunications -- the Web, music, TV, voice, etc. I'm not myself a huge eater of bandwidth, although my usage has certainly edged upward, particularly after I cancelled my cable TV service some months ago and now watch my 1-2 hours a week online. But I have plenty of friends who might as well live and die on broadband. And virtual worlds like Second Life don't do well on slow connections.
Botgirl Questi recently commented on the stagnation of virtual world growth, arguing for the importance of browser-based access, and suggesting that
OpenSim Hypergrid technology (or something like it) is the way ahead for those of us who want to continue to push forward the old-school Full Monty experience. An integrated system of grids owned by small businesses, non-profits and private individuals will not have the kind of financial pressures that necessitate the kind of growth that investors in venture-backed companies demand.Botgirl ought to be right. Along with browser-based access, there should be access through mobile apps. But under this ruling, one has to wonder how well small businesses, non-profits and private individuals, or for that matter Linden Labs, will be able to provide access of any sort to the worlds they create, or whether they'll simply get pushed aside. As the behemoth telecommunications corporations make the world safer for themselves, I have to question whether the "small fish" really won't have the sort of financial pressures she speaks of. I suspect the opposite is coming true.