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Monday, February 24, 2014

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Ellen

Bravo! A disgusting situation, and well summarized. Yes, internet access =should= be a public utility! It's a disgrace.

Matt Belge

Hi, George,
Great post! Thanks for educating us.

Chanson de Roland

it is perfectly clear what Comcast is doing.  Once it has merged with Time Warner Cable (TWC), it will, after waiting for a discrete period, raise the price of broadband to be equal to or just slightly less than a Cable TV subscription, so that, whether you want cable or not, you'll be forced to pay a cable subscription fee just to get broadband.  And, as Ms. Crawford explained on Moyer's, the broadband that you get will have the dual virtues of being both more expensive and slower than what most Western Europeans get.

To stop that the anticompetitive conduct and rapacity of the Cable TV and integrated phone companies, we need competition in broadband, and we need to restructure the broadband industry. The U.S. Post Office can be one source of competition. Congress, pursuant to its constitutional Commerce Clause authority and its constitutional authority to establish post offices and post roads (U.S. Const, Art. I, Sec. 8), can and should pass law that authorizes and funds the U.S. Post Office to become a broadband ISP. After the U.S. provided the initial capital investment, the U.S. Post Office/ISP would have to operate as a profitable going concern, but with the mandate to expand broadband to everywhere that it could do so profitably, while Congress would provide subsidies to provide broadband service to the remainder of Americans, where providing that service isn't profitable. That would not only rescue the U.S. Post Office by bringing it into the 21st Century of electronic communications instead of being restricted to dying snail mail; it would also institute more competition in the market for ISP services.

To provide another source of competition, Congress should pass a law, pursuant to its Commerce Clause authority, that authorizes both local and state government to build their own broadband services, overriding and preempting state laws to the contrary.

And finally, Congress should pass law disaggregating the Cable TV providers, so that providing broadband service is an independent business that is separate and apart from distributing television programing and/or other content. If, as a result, the creators of content decided that that the cable TV side of the business had no value for them as a middleman without its current lock on broadband service and, thus, set up their own websites and networks for distribution of their content over broadband to sell directly to consumers, putting the cable TV business out of business, as far as I am concerned, that would be just the proper outcome of a fully competitive markets for broadband service and distribution of content. Because, under antitrust precedent which dates back as much as seventy years--movie studios owning theaters was held to be an anticompetitive combination; and tying, here broadband to cable TV to charge the same price for each, regardless of costs, is also a per se violation of antitrust; and, as Mr. Jenkins notes, supra, Cable TV and phone companies have colluded in restraint of competition by dividing the nation into regional oligopolies to avoid competing with each other (citations omitted)--Cable TV companies should never have been allowed to be both providers of broadband and distributors of content.

Though the head of the DOJ's Antitrust Divisions knows the antitrust law quite well, because his specialty as a private lawyer, who represented the Cable TV industry, was antitrust law, don't hold your breath waiting for him, FCC Chairman Wheeler, who represented the Cable TV industry as a lobbyist, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, or their Harvard Law-trained boss, President Obama, to do any of the above, even the stuff that they could do without Congress' assent, such as disapproving the Comcast/TWC merger and/or suing to breakup and separate the cable TV business from the broadband business.

Rob

A British man invented the Internet, Americans are always taking credit for other people's work.

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