Friday, December 12, 2014

Cable Companies Hold People Hostage

The issue of net neutrality has garnered most of the attention for major broadband providers — and how they plan to manage access to their networks and the information flowing over them to maximize profits, address government regulation and innovate in the years ahead.

Cable Company Monopolies

From Gizmodo . . .

More than 60 huge tech companies including Intel, Qualcomm, Cisco, and IBM have written a letter to leaders in Congress and the FCC opposing net neutrality. The free and open internet isn't going to happen without a fight.

In an effort to implement net neutrality regulations that would stand up to legal scrutiny, President Obama has proposed that broadband internet be classified as a utility under Title II of the telecommunications act. It's a smart proposal that ultimately favors consumers, and it's supported by slews of companies like Google and Facebook. Obviously, the companies that own the infrastructure—Comcast, AT&T, et al—oppose the idea because they want to be able to charge money for internet fast lanes. These companies also wield a lot of influence.

In the letter, an entirely separate set of companies oppose Title II reclassification because they say it will impede private investment. These companies create many of the components that are used in broadband infrastructure. In fairness, this doesn't mean they oppose the idea of net neutrality and a free and open internet. Just that they oppose the reclassification of the internet as a utility. But after the courts struck down the FCC's old neutrality regulations earlier this year, Title II reclassification is one the last ways to actually ensure the important regulation actually happens.

It's not surprising that these companies oppose net neutrality because it's in their financial self-interest. It just means that in the lead up to next year's FCC decision, proponents of open intent have a slew of well-monied opponents in the way.

And what if your internet connection could be 10 to 80 times faster if it was provided by your local government?

In a report by the Center for Public Integrity, they found more than 130 cities offering fiber or cable Internet connections, many of which compete with major providers such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable. But rather than invest more of their money in broadband infrastructure (or giving their employees raises), big telecom has spent millions on lobbying Congress, in campaign donations to state lawmakers and for litigation to ban those cities from expanding services (and to prevent more cities from creating their own networks). Many cities are looking to the Federal Communications Commission to override state bans on public broadband. [Not to mention, your cable bill keeps going up every year, but the signal, just like their customer service, sucks big time].

As an incentive to approve its 2011 merger with NBC Universal, Comcast offered a low-cost service called Internet Essentials for low-income families. However a review of the program earlier this year (also by by the Center for Public Integrity) found only 2.6 million low-income families out of 7.2 million in Comcast’s service area were eligible for the program — and only 12 percent of eligible families were participating. Comcast is offering to extend the program to sweeten federal approval of its proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. Why? Because if the deal is approved, Comcast could control about 40 percent of U.S. Internet users.

Related: TPP Trade Agreement will Raise Internet Costs

1 comment:

  1. "Usage-based billing." It sounds so innocent! Kind of like paying for what you use, right? Don’t be fooled.

    The usage-based billing playbook was developed by the mobile wireless industry, which itself is nothing more than a duopoly (Verizon Wireless and AT&T) with a fringe of a few other firms with similar business models. I’ve been predicting for years that usage-based billing will be used as a sledgehammer by other internet access providers like Comcast. Unfortunately, it looks like I’ve been proven right.

    The sledgehammer (as employed by the mobile carriers) is a part of a complex scheme designed to hijack the development of a fast, cheap, competitive, unlimited-capacity data communications systems — like the one our country should have.