Republican Convention bloggers: Qwest has a big surprise for you

posted at 4:58 pm on July 31, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, I received my confirmation for my credentials to the Republican National Convention, and at first I was pretty excited. After all, I was one of the handful who blogged from the convention in 2004 at Madison Square Garden, and as I wrote yesterday, this time they designed us right into the venue. We have great seats, great view, and equal status with the mainstream media. How equal? Well … bear with me and read to the end, because it does get somewhat better as this goes along.

The welcome letter instructed me to contact Qwest in order to arrange any needed voice or Internet services, and they provided a helpful link to an on-line ordering process — as well as the rates for the service.  It took me nearly an hour to pick my jaw up off of the floor after reading it:

Qwest will provide high-speed Internet access via an Ethernet connection within the Convention Complex.

This service is for public Internet access only. This service does not provide any security capabilities or protections. The customer should ensure that any computers connected are properly protected and secured.

Qwest will provide the customer with a RJ45 plug for each 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps service and a fiber optic SC/PC connector for each 1 Gbps service. The service does not provide any hardware or cabling beyond the plug. The RJ45 cabling provided will be approximately 6ft in length.

  • 10 Mbps (Dedicated) – $850.00
  • 100 Mbps (Dedicated) – $7,650.00
  • 1 Gbps (Dedicated) – $53,550.00

That’s for four days of Internet service. Four days.  My son doesn’t pay that much a month in rent.

Now that was the bad news, obviously, but there is some good news.  I contacted the convention’s press office this morning and asked them about this, and they promised to send me a statement about this issue.  It explains that bloggers do have other options:

Internet access is available to all media outlets, including bloggers, in several ways.  Some will choose to purchase hard-wired access, others will choose to use their own wireless Internet card, and all will have hard-wired access at no cost in our state-of-the-art press filing center.

Within the Xcel Energy Center, drastic steps are being taken to provide the utmost accessibility for all members of the media.  Cellular bandwidth has been increased by unprecedented proportions compared to what was offered in past conventions and cellular providers are increasing their coverage capabilities to accommodate expected rise in usage.

In talking with the convention people, they emphasized the amount of bandwidth that wireless carriers would be adding to the Xcel Center.  They expect no slowdowns for Blackberries and wireless Internet cards despite the thousands of people who will attend.  Further, bloggers who cannot adequately access the Internet from their reserved seats can use the Media Filing Center at no charge, where the RNCC will provide free ad-hoc access for the media, which includes bloggers as equals.

In fact, this is actually a side effect of the equality in which the Republicans have treated bloggers as media representatives.  What we have been offered is the exact same price structure and services offered to the traditional media outlets.  Networks and newspapers pay these rates as a cost of doing business and probably didn’t blink at the menu.  Qwest has a captive market, and they’re taking full advantage of it.

Unfortunately, bloggers don’t have the same kind of deep pockets that other media outlets do.  Most of them will spend at least a thousand dollars on flights, hotels, and meals, and perhaps rental cars.  When they see an $850 price tag for dedicated hard-line access, it’s possible that many or most of them will simply skip the event.

Personally, I think the RNCC should have footed the bill for Internet connectivity to Blogger’s Row, which they did in 2004, but there were a lot fewer of us in New York City.  We have argued for equality, though, and this is one of the less pleasant aspects of it.  At least other options exist — so if you have already looked at the price and are thinking about canceling, don’t let it stop you.  Pick up an air card through your cell service and that should keep you blogging without breaking the bank.

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Something else to point out is those prices- especially the 10meg/850.00/4 days- is to keep the lookieloos and tire kickers out. Yah, 850.00 is a fair chunk for access for a small or medium sized blogger. But the way I see it, Hot Air, and by extension, Ed, is quickly becoming a serious news organisation. You’re being asked to prove your commitment. If you guys need to set up a donation link, go for it. I’m cetain there are more than a few people here who would be willing to help out. After all, Quest didn’t say they cared where the money came from.

BillH on July 31, 2008 at 8:42 PM

Thanks for the informative piece Ed. I did about croak at the prices, but as you said, you wanted equality, and you got it. There are alternatives, which you found out.

I am looking forward to your posts.

Pam on July 31, 2008 at 8:53 PM

I think others have touched on this, but if you’re text blogging, the entire blogging section could share a single 10 Mbps line and have no problem at all. Think about it -that’s about a million characters per second. I know some bloggers are fast typists, but it would still take a lot of them to even start to use up that kind of bandwidth.

Let’s see: 1,000,000 characters per second, that’s 3,333 5-character words a minute or 33 bloggers typing 100 words per minute continuously…

Another way to look at it is Ed would have to submit this blog (~4000 characters) post 250 times a second in order to saturate the line.

taznar on July 31, 2008 at 10:04 PM

upinak on July 31, 2008 at 5:57 PM
Mooseman on July 31, 2008 at 6:02 PM
Wow. We have geologists here?

Me? I finished two years, never got around to the other two, as life intervened.

Plate tectonics was my favorite… better than sex! (At least at my house)

Spherical trig, anyone? lol

wccawa on July 31, 2008 at 6:13 PM

Did I mention I used to be a schoolbus driver?

davidk on July 31, 2008 at 10:41 PM

With all due respect Ed, this is a silly post….

There is no blogger on the planet wondering where he was gonna get himself a 1 Gig line at the convention… that’s the sort of thing only the broadcast network guys need. — Even the smallest (10meg) line is about 40X the upload speed of the typical home “high speed” line. — Way more than any blogger would request.

The rates are reasonable in the business… it’s just that you ain’t the target customer.

The “story” here is that bloggers got a form letter that they used for the other media too. – big deal

You should have blogged “WOW, look what the big media pays to cover these events.”

Diogenes of Sinope on July 31, 2008 at 11:51 PM

Just bring the Iphone, no need for anything else.

noodlehead on August 1, 2008 at 12:02 AM

In reading all the comments I see (I guess unsurprisingly) many of you understand don’t what Qwest is selling here…

When you buy bandwidth at home you get ASYMMETRICAL speeds, ie ungodly DOWNLOAD speed but basically zero upload speed… That is to say you couldn’t run servers or stream data, it would be way too slow.

UPLOAD speed is VERY expensive. Consider the “industry standard” T1 line. It is a measly 1.54MB –slow by cable modem standards– but businesses pay usually about $400-600 a month for it because it is SYMMETRICAL, it uploads at 1.5 also.

A T3 (45meg) is about $2800 a month with a ~$800 set-up fee and 2 year commitment so $7,600 for a 100mb one time deal installed is not a horrible price.

Call your local telco and tell them you need 10MB SYMMETRICAL and see what they quote you. – Then this whole thing will be clear to you.

As I said above, this is the same boilerplate they send the network guys. No big deal.

Diogenes of Sinope on August 1, 2008 at 12:25 AM

So do you need us to make our comments longer so that you get your money’s worth?

exhelodrvr on August 1, 2008 at 12:50 AM

Diogenes of Sinope on July 31, 2008 at 11:51 PM
Diogenes of Sinope on August 1, 2008 at 12:25 AM

Dude, chill. The point (or so it seems to me) was not so much to cry foul as to point out something that seems at least borderline ludicrous and laugh at it. If anything, the fact that the bloggers receive the same boilerplate (as you so accurately called it) is a sign that they have arrived as a news-type service. Yeah, it sucks to pay those prices, but there are reasons for them which have been exhaustively pointed out and laughed at. It was a fun post, not meant to get us whipped into a torchlight and pitchfork frenzy!

BTW, the engineers need to hijack another thread. All this geology and IT speak is making me twitch! (Who am I kidding, I’m loving it!)

Militant Bibliophile on August 1, 2008 at 1:11 AM

I can donate a small amount to help out if necessary. :-)

SouthernGent on August 1, 2008 at 2:33 AM

Have you considered Carrier Pidgins? They were in use as late as 1945 by members of the press to get messages from the front lines to the rear areas. Perhaps you could have a bag full of Pidgins and then tie flash drives to them and send them home?

It’s an old school idea. It’s just crazy enough it might work. You’ll have to let us know how the group responds to the idea of Lieberman being the VP. Another crazy idea that just might work. It would certainly sew up the Maverick Loving vote.

Snake307 on August 1, 2008 at 3:49 AM

I’m with the rest of the crowd saying go in with 10 other bloggers, and bring a router. You should be more than good to go.

Farmer_Joe on August 1, 2008 at 7:53 AM

I’m not sure I need to “chill” I was the one saying it was no big deal.

I was just trying to provide context for people who don’t work with this stuff everyday.

Diogenes of Sinope on August 1, 2008 at 8:45 AM

To all those who offered to help with the pricing, thank you very much. I’m fortunate; I also have credentials with another media outlet (AM 1280 The Patriot), and I’ve confirmed that I can use their facilities at Radio Row, where I’ll be broadcasting as well. So I don’t need a bake sale, although if you’re baking with Splenda, I might not mind a snack or two! (I’m diabetic.)

I’m more concerned about the other bloggers who will spend a fortune getting here, and then wonder if they can even do the work they intended. I wanted to give them a heads-up before the sticker shock convinced them not to come.

Ed Morrissey on August 1, 2008 at 8:55 AM

Correct on point as to this being an excellent example of the GOP dealing with bloggers just like other media.

Although good for layman initial sticker shock, several people have already pointed out that a) the rates aren’t really out of line for the type of event/venue; and b) that the ‘small’ 10Meg pipe is a HUGE amount of bandwidth with respect to supporting the activity of blogging – even with a moderate amount of video clip upload/download. You might start to see lag if you had a number of people doing something live (webcam/skype, etc), but it would be a few.

Which brings up the other point that a couple of others seem to have hinted, but not said directly – that what you’re describing, Ed, seems to be a fantastic entrepreneurial opportunity in the finest tradition of free market capitalism.

Sure. One of the bloggers getting credentialed for the convention pops for the 10Meg line. He takes along a simple switch, and a WiFi box. At the convention, he sets up shop, and sells access to his secured WiFi access point right there on blogger row. Charge a daily rate and an event rate. Cut off subscriptions when either you’ve paid for the investment, or the number of subscribers starts to ‘slow down’ the connection.

Of course, be sure to document everything thoroughly, so you can itemize the entire venture for tax purposes, treating the cost as a business expense.

C’mon, Ed. . .you are covering the GOP convention.

Wind Rider on August 1, 2008 at 12:44 PM

Have you considered Carrier Pidgins? They were in use as late as 1945 by members of the press to get messages from the front lines to the rear areas. Perhaps you could have a bag full of Pidgins and then tie flash drives to them and send them home?

It’s an old school idea. It’s just crazy enough it might work. You’ll have to let us know how the group responds to the idea of Lieberman being the VP. Another crazy idea that just might work. It would certainly sew up the Maverick Loving vote.

Snake307 on August 1, 2008 at 3:49 AM

Presumably you’re referring to RFC 1149, IP over Avian Carrier.

tom on August 1, 2008 at 1:57 PM

So Ed, be forewarned, take along spare batteries for your laptop and your wireless internet card.

Good thing you’re here.

The Race Card on August 1, 2008 at 7:03 PM

I for one would definitely not donate to the most trafficked conervative blog online to help do what MM already proved she can do better than everybody else.

I don’t like handouts. I don’t think HA needs them.

Donate to your candidate. Donate to the RNC…unless you’re withholding funds on principle. Donate to a local food bank. Donate your time to some kid who can’t read.

Definitely support by visiting sponsor sites and spending money. But this talk of handouts for people to do their job(s) is meant for huffpo, du, etc.

The Race Card on August 1, 2008 at 7:11 PM

This is where the GOP stinks they are too close to big media. And explains why I cant get them to break the cord that binds them.

I have contacted dozens of GOP campaigns about hiring for them. I basically get told I can volunteer for them for fre and do many hours of work for tham.

There is no free lunch GOP in campaigns. Stop running your campaigns like highschool plays.

William Amos on July 31, 2008 at 5:02 PM


Hey Snappy, maybe they didn’t like your mobius strip of a website. Maybe you have no qualifications. Maybe you should engage your gag reflex before you drown in anti-MSM KoolAid.

Even worse than the most biased liberal networks are the ill-informed conservatives who spout anti-media bias with zero credibility or facts to support their rants.

What on God’s green Earth do you mean by the GOP is too close media?

I would bet next month’s salary that you have NEVER uncovered a piece of news that was not already scooped, packed and sold by hundreds of other media outlets.

You know nothing about gathering information and disseminating it. You essentially turn facts to nursery rhymes when you saddle them with your poor understanding.

Name one thing you can do better than even the leftest news corps. Just one. Butt-thumbing yourself does not count…MSNBC wins that one hands down thumbs up.

//white gloves meet face

The Race Card on August 1, 2008 at 7:22 PM