Script for Project 4

Hi Professor Staszel--

Here is my script for project 4. I am thinking hard about not having spoken narration, and I would also like to not that I have left a lot of room for audio silence during the graphic communication of charts, one of which will be around a minute long. I don't know if I could pull off complete silence. Do you know of any good examples with intermittent narration? I feel like it could change the tone too dramatically, which is my main concern.

I have written this script with simplicity in mind-- I learned how important it is not to get hung up on graphics during project 3, and for this project I will be making a handful of comps out of geometric shapes which will fit together (squares or diamonds or Xs) and move in certain ways, and will be using them for the majority of the piece. This will allow me to focus more on proportion and aesthetic considerations without having to create a million pic files and be in and out of photoshop and illustrator constantly. Here is the script, will do another post on the sources and audio:

 

You’ve probably heard news of the proposed Time Warner Cable and Comcast Merger. If you live in Pittsburgh, or one of the many internet markets dominated by either Comcast or TWC, this merger has implications that will effect not only you and your internet connection, but the accessibility of information in your wider community. I’m here to tell you the specifics, and to put this issue in the wider context of digital information politics and local practicality. We’ll start at the national level and work our way down to the local.

Here’s a map of the United States, with signifiers indicating which ISP dominates the market in that state. As you can see, Comcast is the most dominant ISP in 18 different states, and Time Warner Cable in 8. This is what the map would look like were TWC to merge with Time Warner Cable. Their total combined number of customers would be around ~70 million.

If the total number of people in the United States is 318,892,102, and if PEW research is correct in estimating that 87%, or 277,436,130 Americans use the internet regularly, we’re talking about around a quarter of the total market. To put that into perspective, currently Comcast has the most internet subscriptions nationally, followed by AT & T in second, Time Warner Cable in third, and Verizon fourth. This is what the market would look like if it were a pie chart.

As you can see, 4 companies dominate this chart. Keep in mind that this is on a national level. If the merger takes place, there will only be three competitors with a market share above x, with a clear market champion in Comcast/TWC. Is this the sort of market representation that we want in a country whose overwhelming majority makes use of the internet? One might then ask, what’s wrong with only four national competitors? This brings me to a few points about Pittsburgh as a prime example of this controversy, but first let’s look at what some people have to say about the benefits that the customer can expect to come from this merger:

Pittsburgh  has the following ISPs listed on Google: [Flash through websites with all of the available ISPs. Darken screen and highlight names while flashing statistics]
Here’s a rundown of their available speeds:
Comcast:3-105 mbps Cost:
Verizon: 25-75 mbps Cost:
Dish Network: 10 mbps, cap @ 50gigs Cost:
Cove: 56 kbps Cost:

http://www.netindex.com/download/4,228/Pittsburgh,-PA/

This is what the Pittsburgh pie chart would look like. Let’s compare this to the national one. As you can see, in this case, Verizon takes up a much larger share, as does Comcast. TWC is non-existent. However, Verizon and Comcast command even more of a market share here than do the averages of the top 3 dominant providers nationally. [Will replace if I can’t find statistics on Pittsburgh ISPs. If I can, and the information contradicts this, I will change it. This may be considered a stand-in], with x amount of the downtown Pittsburgh market share.

Let’s talk prices: Here are the various Comcast/Verizon/other providers in the area chart of prices per speed. To have an idea of how competitive the market is, we need to be able to estimate the cost of data production for the service providers. Here is a breakdown of how we might do that via (website):
[this will be a long explanation, perhaps as long as 1:15] Conclusion: the average ISP makes 200% profit on every gigabyte sold.

We can safely assume, then, that the price is unreasonably conflated. And, as CNet analyst Joan Solsman writes, ' It's difficult to find examples of consumer prices falling when two gigantic companies combine to an even bigger one. Typically, the elimination of competition means prices rise...’ This makes it hard to get excited about a TWC-Comcast merger, especially in light of the ongoing Net Neutrality controversy, which if strong pro-Neutrality laws are not created, it is widely feared that the internet will be controlled in a way that encourages censorship-for-profit, or throttling speeds to websites based on payment-- the analogue to the cable TV system, where those who can afford it get all of the channels, and those who cannot have the channels they are given, and then the fuzzed-out, blurry or unavailable-with-your-subscription channels. If this passes, the internet will be greatly changed, but viable competition could make it inert by offering an unbiased internet. This, however, is currently impossible due to the aforementioned monopoly-like realities of local ISP markets, and so the consolidation of these ISPs can only be counter-productive, or homogenizing. The Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger can only mean the limitation of content and perspectives we currently have equal access to, and the replacement of that content with that which is money-generative and able to spend a lot of money on visibility via the ISP.