Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Comcast = Standard Oil-style monopoly, writes ex-Obama aide

Your Internet costs more and runs slower so Comcast can earn 40% operating profits - but "it doesn't have to be this way," writes Susan Crawford in her new book, Captive Audience

Comcast = Standard Oil-style monopoly, writes ex-Obama aide


"Comcast is the communications equivalent of Standard Oil," John D. Rockefeller's old oil monopoly that was finally broken up by the U.S. Government, writes Harvard prof (and ex-Obama telecom aide) Susan Crawford in her new book, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age" (Yale University Press), which is mostly about Comcast and how Brian Roberts, David L. Cohen and their money have won, not just NBC Universal, but monopoly power without parallel public responsibilities. Extract here at Bloomberg.com; some highlights:

"Rather than try to ensure that the U.S. will lead the world in the information age, American politicians have removed all regulation of high-speed Internet access and have allowed steep market consolidation. The cable industry has done its best to foil municipal efforts to provide publicly overseen fiber Internet access. Now, the U.S. has neither a competitive marketplace nor government oversight...

"Wireless access, dominated by AT&T Inc. and Verizon, is, for its part, too slow to compete with the cable industry’s offerings; mobile wireless services are, rather, complementary. Verizon Wireless’s joint marketing agreement with Comcast, announced in December 2011, made that clear: Competitors don’t offer to sell each other’s products.

"It doesn’t have to be this way. Other developed countries have a watchdog to ensure that all their citizens are connected at cheap rates to fiber-optic networks...

"Compared with people in other countries, Americans are paying more for less and leaving many of their fellow citizens behind. Perhaps they will start to care when they see that the U.S. is unable to compete with nations whose industrial policy has been more forward-thinking."

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About this blog

PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at http://www.philly.com/PhillyDeals and his Inquirer columns at http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/joseph-distefano/. Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

Reach Joseph at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph DiStefano
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