Critics of the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal made convincing arguments that it would be bad for consumers, and for the media companies that want to deliver stuff to consumers on the Internet…Astonishingly, Washington listened.
But in the end, killing the Comcast* deal just maintains the status quo. And when it comes to broadband Internet in the U.S., the status quo is pretty lousy: Most people who want high-speed access are stuck with a single provider, with no incentive to provide better speeds, quality or service.
A U.S. Department of Commerce report, produced a few months ago, lays it out clearly. If you define “broadband” as speeds of 25 megabits per second, as federal regulators want to do, only 37 percent of the population has any choice at all when it comes to providers. And most of that group is looking at a duopoly, likely split up between a cable TV company and a telco. Only 9 percent of the country has real choice — 3 options or more…
My family, my community, has only the monopoly of Comcast for a choice. They guarantee me 1 megabit more than the FCC minimum standard of 25mbps. All charges in, I pay almost $80/month. Not so incidentally, I get that through a “deal” which saves me a couple buck$ – and ComCrap then counts us as a cable TV customer as part of their nationwide lie about also providing that service to families in addition to internet access.
I don’t even have their crap TV box plugged in.
…An unintended consequence of the Comcast bid is that it pushed regulators to adopt net neutrality rules, making it harder — at least for now — for the monopolists and dupolists that control our broadband to abuse that control. But that doesn’t mean they’ll work hard to improve service, or their speed, or lower prices.
Peter Kafka concludes that Google’s here-and-there niche installations of Internet fibre are the last best chance we have for affordable, truly fast broadband.
It’s hard to imagine Google actually pushing Fiber through America, and creating real competition city by city. But it’s harder to imagine any other solution. And we need something.
I dunno. FDR made rural electrification work for Americans. Perhaps, if some election in the vaguely distant future gets us a progressive president and a Congress with backbone – simultaneously – we might stand a chance.