Back during some behind-the-scenes banter on net neutrality, I wrote the following of Comcast:
My take on net neutrality is both (probably) a wrong interpretation of what is actually at stake and too short for a post, but here it is:
Comcast is the shittiest company I have ever experienced in my life, with the worst customer service and pricing scheme I have ever experienced. Comcast uses its effective monopoly power to overcharge and lie to consumers and then tries to manipulate them into service upgrades when they call to complain about their lack of service. It has done it’s market research, so it knows just how much it can abuse consumers before they’re willing to give up Internet altogether. I strongly oppose anything that will give Comcast more control over what I see and how much I pay for it on the Internet. While I am extremely, extremely skeptical about claims that giving service providers more control over the Internet will stimulate competition and usher in an even-more-golden-than-the-present-golden-Internet age, I am more opposed to the most recent ruling because I think the government giving special privileges to any company – let alone the shittiest company I have ever experienced in my life – is a road that both recent experience and a plethora of past history demonstrate is almost never a good idea to travel down. In conclusion, Hitler.
That last part was a joke on what I perceived to be a relatively frivolous, yet righteous aggrievement. Nevertheless, now Comcast has further consolidated its stranglehold on information access by buying Time Warner. At least in my neck of the woods, this gives the new mo-mega-corporation 100% coverage of the market for cable and non-3/4G Internet service.
Thus, questions for my lawyer friends (or anyone really):
(1) How is this deal allowed to proceed under current antitrust law?
(2) Why does Comcast enjoy monopoly access to the markets for cable television and Internet to begin with?
(3) The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has repeatedly shut down plans for Partners in Health (affiliated with Harvard) to purchase South Shore Hospital, citing antitrust law despite several other major players in the market, such as Tufts, Boston University, the UMass system, Albany Medical Center, Rhode Island Hospital, and the Dartmouth-Hitchcock system. If such a low trigger for trust-busting exists in other industries, what is it about Comcast and telecommunications that lets the company be more like Major League Baseball and less like other things that actually matter?
(4) Does the fact that Comcast now has control over what content I see on the Internet and how much I pay for it due to the unholy firebombing of net neutrality at all factor into it being considered a trust not worthy of busting?
(5) Will the fact that the NSA now needs Comcast to track billions of potential tersts factor into the decision to bust or not?
(6) While writing this post, I experienced several slowdowns and other miscellaneous computer problems. Should I be paranoid? Will my online banking portal be hacked if I attempt to access change.org?
(7) Isn’t citizen/consumer access to information dangerously in the hands of far too few players at this point? And isn’t the fact that this all came about in just a few months something that we should all be very, very, very concerned about?