The Net Neutrality Ruling and Telemedicine

The FCC’s historic reclassification of Internet backbone as a public utility along the same lines as phone lines and public radio waves was extremely controversial among a small segment of the population. But for telemedicine, it’s a strict win.

Why? Because at no point was any telemedical startup or existing firm likely to benefit from the failure of Net Neutrality. Quite the opposite, in fact: telemedicine represents the trifecta of “companies that would get hit hard by Internet backbone providers looking to capitalize.” That’s because the data moved by telemedicine is…

• Critically Important to an individual’s health — it can’t afford to have hiccups or gaps.
• Large in Volume — a video conference uses twice the bandwidth of a Netflix stream.
• A New Technology — so any early issues with speed could cause a wholesale abandonment of the entire concept.

With those three factors on the table, it would be a complete no-brainer for an ISP to charge a significant fast-lane premium for telemedicinal data bandwidth, which would in turn significantly impact the financial ability of the startup to operate.

The Pushback

Of course, since the FCC ruled in February that the Internet was in fact going to be a public utility and thus no ‘data discrimination’ is possible, that argument is moot, right? Not exactly — the fight for Net Neutrality is far from over. Coalitions of Congressmen have banded together to fight the ruling using a variety of tools that range from simply overturning the FCC’s ruling to defunding the FCC so it can’t enforce the law.

The Alternative

If that were to happen, insofar as it affects telemedicine, it could be potentially disastrous, for all of the reasons mentioned above. But is neutrality the only alternative? The President did, before the FCC made its ruling, suggest a lighter-touch approach that would create a special ‘hospital channel’ that would automatically put medical data on a higher level of priority than business data.

The problem with this alternative is twofold; first, it actually involves more government oversight than the FCC’s Net Neutrality rules. That’s because every individual telemedical startup that wants to use the hospital channel would have to apply for and be given permission to do so. A startup that failed that application, even on a minor technicality, would essentially be instantly relegated to the failed businesses pile, no matter how clever their business plan.

The second problem is that even if application to the hospital channel were a rubber-stamp process, it almost by definition wouldn’t include all telemedical data. Telemedicine is a much broader field than just ‘communicating with your doctor.’ For example, medical records are starting to modernize to the point where they have video clips of interviews with specialists recorded right there as part of the digital record. What happens when a private citizen wants to download that kind of medical record through their smartphone? Is that data qualified to use the high-speed channel?

The end result of all of this is simple: Net Neutrality is a huge boon for the young telemedical industry, and most advocates for advancing the cause of telemedicine are glad it’s been ruled that way.

Satellite Radio – Dedicated Music Channels

Many satellite radio fans find that dedicated music channels are one of the best advantages offered by this new trend in technology. Sirius, one of the two major satellite radio providers, offers a wealth of dedicated music channels that are perfect for music fans that just cannot seem to get enough of their favorite groups.

One such option is a channel that is dedicated solely to the Grateful Dead. Like all music channels, this channel is completely commercial free and operates 24-hours per day. This means that no matter what time of the day or night you turn to that channel you will have the opportunity to enjoy the very best of the Grateful Dead as well as specialty programming about the iconic group that is not available anywhere else.

The Grateful Dead; however, is not the only group that has received a dedicated satellite radio music channel. Elvis Radio is another high popular channel. In fact, it is the only official radio channel in the world dedicated to broadcasting all-Elvis Presley programming. Programming is broadcast live from Graceland. Everything from the early years to Elvis classics and his comebacks are played on All-Elvis. Listeners can even listen to live tracks and rarities that are difficult to find anywhere else.

Other groups and musicians which have received dedicated music channels include Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, George Straight and The Who.

Recently it was announced that Sirius will once again dedicate a channel to the Rolling Stones as part of the release of ‘Shine a Light’; a Scorsese film. Not only will listeners be able to enjoy fabulous hits of the Rolling Stones but also interviews with band members as well. Like many of the dedicated music channels on Sirius, Rolling Stones Radio will air for a limited time only. Broadcasting will begin on March 18th and last through April 15th.

In the past, Sirius has also offered music channels that were dedicated to providing music for special events and holidays. During the Christmas season, three different music channels were dedicated entirely to holiday music. An entire channel was also dedicated to the artists and personalities who helped to shape and influence African-American music during Black History Month. Lionel Richie, Charlie Wilson, LL Cool J and numerous others were featured on the channel during the month the music channel ran.

Satellite radio has become extremely popular in the last few years due to the amount of exclusive programming and entertainment that simply cannot be found elsewhere. Dedicated music channels are just one example of the unique content and programming which satellite radio offers over traditional AM/FM radio.