Comcast’s rise coincides with decline in service

In Corporate Tie Binds US to Slow Internet (Financial Times), Edward Luce makes the connection between Comcast’s
near monopoly in American cities and its active lobbying efforts (not to mention its large campaign contributions to Obama),  with the terrible state of broadband service in America:

If Dwight Eisenhower had General Motors and George W. Bush had Halliburton, Barack Obama arguably has Comcast. US presidents are often linked to one or two corporations that donate a lot of money to them and then benefit from their actions. Comcast, which is America’s largest cable television and internet provider and is a near monopoly in most of its largest cities, is no exception . . .

The FCC has been a good friend to Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the two largest cable providers that dominate US broadband. In contrast to the spread of electricity and telephones, where the US was far ahead of the rest of the world, Washington has abjured the same regulatory promotion for the internet. Through brilliantly effective lobbying, US cable companies have escaped the universal access and affordability clauses that were imposed on telecoms and electricity companies in earlier eras.

Obama is expected nominate the next FCC Chairman to replace Julius Genachowski within the next few weeks. We will see if he appoints someone friendly to the cable-telco duopoly or someone who will push for more competition in the market for broadband services. I am not optimistic.

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