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Comcast must be regulated untill competition exists September 18, 2007

Posted by Pontiff in comcast, Telecommunications, unbundled, unbundled content, web 2.0, web applications, web video.
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From Slashdot

Alien54 writes Comcast has finally clarified what ‘excessive use’ is when it comes to their cable internet service. A customer is exceeding their use limit if they: download the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month. ‘[A Comcast spokesperson] said that Comcast’s actions to cut ties with excessive users is a “great benefit to games and helps protect gamers and their game experience” due to their overuse of the network and thus “degrading the experience.”‘”

My take on this from Slashdot:

People actually depend on the internet to make a living these days. The only thing that will control abuse by these common carriers is competition. Period. Government cannot regulate their service levels but consumers can vote with their business and take it elsewhere. That is if there was a place to take it. Your argument would be reasonable if Comcast was not a government enforced monopoly. No actually and more accurately it would hold water if they, Comcast, were not the beneficiaries of government policies that enforce their defacto monopoly. These policies are by and large promulgated by Comcast, Bellsouth now ATT, Verizon ect. Take Nashville, TN for example. Comcast is the only provider of highspeed internet service in large sections of the city because Bellsouth , a similarly protected monopoly, was too incompetent and complacent to offer DSL in huge sections of the city. Their state reason is that the equipment needs upgrading. They still can’t get it together under ATT. Bottom line is both Bellsouth and Comcast exist under franchise agreements with the city which in effect keep competition from easily accessing consumers. So Comcast enjoys an artificial and bogus advantage . Until that is rectified they should not be allowed to kick anyone off their network if they are paying the bill.

It’s worth repeating is here I think. When it comes to possibly cutting off someone’s livelihood there needs to be some sort of due process. Competition ensures a kind of due process in being able to take your business elsewhere. However if a monopoly exists whether real of de facto then safeguards need to be in place that ensure vital services are not cut capriciously. It doesnt really matter if the monopoloy is the result of government policies or not. In point of fact almost all cable is a government induced monopoly of sorts. Municipalities enforce the franchise agreements that were crafted in the 60s and 70s under vastly different technological constraints. They sort of made sense then.Now these agreements are just a digital protection racket. Big telcos pay cities to keep the competition out and its not good for consumers who are potentially victimized by the behavior of the monopoloy.

The choice is simple really. Cities like Nashville should open the market [for TV, Phone, Broadband not just one or the other] to anyone who can afford to lay new cable. Period. The telephone poles can handle the extra weight. The only franchise fee they should ask is to require the new entrants start their buildout in the underserved areas. The market will take care of the rest.

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