Al’s TechCrunch OpEd: The Tide Is Turning Against Comcast’s Proposal To Buy Time Warner Cable
Reports that attorneys at the Department of Justice (DOJ) may recommend blocking Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable are good news, because if this $45 billion deal goes through, it will create a telecom behemoth unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
Comcast is already the nation’s largest cable company and largest broadband Internet provider; Time Warner Cable is the second-largest cable company and third-largest broadband Internet provider. Under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) updated definition of broadband, the new mega-Comcast would control 57 percent of the high-speed Internet market.
This colossus of a company would have unmatched power to destroy its competition, abuse its customers, and bully the government agencies charged with regulating it. Consumers would face even higher prices, even fewer choices, and, if you can believe such a thing is possible, even worse service.
That’s why I’ve been a vocal opponent of this proposed acquisition since shortly after it was announced last year. I think consumers should come first when it comes to technology policy – and I believe they’ll get a raw deal if this transaction is allowed to go through.
The fight to stop this acquisition is an uphill battle against a corporation that is already incredibly powerful. But there are good reasons to believe we have a shot.
Here’s one of them: A year ago, it looked like net neutrality was in real trouble. Even though the Internet had always been a free and open platform, the big Internet service providers (ISPs) had been pushing the FCC to create fast and slow lanes online – and in May 2014, the FCC issued a draft proposal that would have done exactly that. ISPs like Comcast stood to make a ton of extra money by charging websites through the nose for access to the fast lanes, but for consumers and small (and most large) businesses, the end of net neutrality would have been a disaster.
So we organized, and we fought back. Millions of Americans raised their voices in protest – signing petitions, writing letters, even showing up at congressional hearings. And we won: The FCC changed its mind and decided to adopt bright-line rules to preserve net neutrality, ensuring that the Internet will remain a place where everyone can participate on equal footing, without fast and slow lanes, and free from interference from the big ISPs.
The successful effort to save net neutrality is an example of how grassroots organizing can overcome the big guys’ lobbying power. But it also provides a prime example of how duplicitous these big guys can be in trying to get their way.