Friday, August 19, 2011

Corporate Doublespeak

Mobile phone carriers in Hong Kong and the US claim that a small minority of users abuse the network by downloading a huge amount of data. CSL in Hong Kong says that 5% do 50% of downloading; that seems a bit more than a "small minority", and it makes me wonder about their claims of "abuse".  In principle, what they says makes sense, but I'm suspicious because they seem to be using this idea to move away from unlimited data plans. The whole effort seems to be a way for them to increase their revenues (or to find a "new revenue stream").  I'm especially suspicious because of the way they justify the new charges.  The statement from CSL in Hong Kong is laughable; don't they have their PR people read these things?!

     Nothing has changed and that’s why we have heard what our customers have said
     about our policy and that’s why we are moving to adjust it;

Huh? No change, but an adjustment? Are we quibbling here?

     Only abusers who may impact the experience of all our customers by using a
     very high amount of bandwidth will be affected by our policy. At the moment
     approximately 5% percent of customers are very high bandwidth users;

In order to gain the approval of the majority of customers, attack a minority (your best customers, from a certain point of view), and label them "abusers." Slick.

And they move towards giving priority to some users over others, which has been very controversial in the US and Europe:

     Our broadband network is like a high speed motorway. When traffic is light all users can
     move as fast as their cars (or devices) will allow them. When traffic is heavy at peak
     times we guide the heavy vehicles (unless they pay for special access to the fast lanes)
     to the slower lanes so that they do not hold up users who want to have access to the
     fast lanes.

This is a very clever use of the highway metaphor, except that congestion charges and special prices for fast lanes have not been accepted for the Internet.  So I think the doublespeak and PR fluff is, after all, designed to misdirect us from the fact that they are moving to controlling who gets Internet access at what speed, all in the guise of "fighting abuse."

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