Sure. With a little luck and some hard work. What’s to worry about? After all, this is an Olympics and an election year! So, how can there be anything to ruin New Year’s Eve? Well, BusinessWeek (12/26) discovered it. We talked about "it" at the CableFAX Leaders’ Retreat early last month … "it" is the so-called "network neutrality" movement. That is, welcome to "Common Carrier Land." I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go there … at least not without a deal something like or better than Theodore Vail wrangled back in another century. This is one to really watch, thanks to the bad judgment exercised by Madison River Communications in rural Alabama. For a time, the company blocked VoIP use on its DSL network. For details and background see: At Stake: The Net as We Know It by Catherine Yang (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/dec2005/tc20051215_141991.htm). No cable operator (to our knowledge) has done such a stupid thing … and every one is on record saying "no way." But, and it’s a big but, there is a serious question about bandwidth and who owns what for which reason and how much control "ownership" grants … or doesn’t. (Hey, this in the midst of a complete overhaul of the concept of "contract" – OK for big companies to welsh now, just not individuals. The soon-to-become-false pension promises of major companies and governments will be the catalyst.) We’ve been following this (and not writing about it because we didn’t want to make a federal case of 1 company’s stupidity) … and so has the NCTA (Kyle McSlarrow told us it’s his "biggest worry"). The industry is on top of this … at the very least. But there isn’t any assured outlook. Too many decision-makers (i.e. politicians) haven’t focused on this (yet) and, for whatever sociological reason, the "’Net wants to be free." Here are some other issues to watch this year (and for a better and more complete look, don’t miss the 12/19 CableWORLD): "Battle lines being drawn "Nobody’s right " Everybody’s wrong." In the meantime, the digital deadlines, indecent "indecency" debates, a 5th Commissioner and other politically-charged issues will get lost. The ad boosts will help, though. The political arena itself will get downright ugly. Random Wishes:

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