Tag Archives: Julius Genachowski

The Cable Monopoly is Hurting Us All, Especially the Poor!

New Orleans    Finally after toadying up to Comcast in the business pages this week, the New York Times allowed Susan Crawford from Cardozo School of Law to talk truth to power about how the cable companies and, most importantly, their monopolies are hurting the entire US economy and educational advancement while certainly innovation, caging the poor and increasing inequality, and strangling entire cities with slow internet, high prices, and limited access.  As we have done, Professor Crawford, pleads with the FCC Chair, Julius Genachowski, to move from lip service to direct and meaningful action to create real reform in communications.

Professor Crawford minces no words, especially when it comes to Comcast, Verizon, and Times-Warner:

At the heart of the problem lie a few powerful companies with enormous influence over policy making. Both the wireless and wired markets for high-speed Internet access have become heavily concentrated, and neither is subject to substantial competition nor oversight. Companies like Time Warner Cable routinely get their way when they seek to prevent local officials from encouraging competition. At the federal level, Verizon Wireless is keeping the F.C.C. in court arguing over the scope of its regulatory powers — a move that has undermined the agency’s authority.  As a result, prices are too high and speeds too slow. A third of Americans opt not to buy high-speed Internet access at home, often because they can’t afford it. (emphasis added!)

She cites the fact that there is little “competition when 94 percent of new wired high-speed customers bought service from their local cable distributors” at the end of 2012.   As she says, there is “little question that our wired (Comcast and Time Warner Cable) and wireless (AT&T and Verizon Wireless) giants need to be reined in.”

Her proposals for action and reform from the federal government are modest and reasonable.

1)      Barriers for investment have to be removed and “Congress must act to restore local communities’ right to self-determination by pre-empting…unfair and anticompetitive state laws.”  She cites 20 states with where the communications cabal have created such barriers.

2)      The FCC “must make reasonably priced high-speed access available to everyone.”  Here  she is talking about a “lifeline” system that would also guarantee access to lower income families on the wrong side, as usual, of the communications divide.  She has joined our team big time on our Comcast, Cox, and Times-Warner campaigns as well when she says, “Nor will voluntary cable programs run by local monopoly cable distributors like Comcast meet our country’s needs.”  Amen!  As we have shown repeatedly these programs are cruel fictions throughout the country.

3)      The FCC “must foster more competition by changing the rules that keep the status quo in place.”  If both parties were not so “in the pocket” of these companies, one would think this demand would be perfectly in tune for both Democrats and Republicans.

I’ll let Professor Crawford give the big finish!

With a truly pro-competition agenda at the F.C.C., we could discover great reservoirs of increased productivity and new forms of making a living. Contrary to what giant companies like Comcast and Verizon would have us believe, communications regulation does not stymie entrepreneurial behavior. It unleashes human ingenuity.

Right on, Professor!  We are with you all the way!



FCC Notes Broadband Failures While Still Snubbing Digital Divide

New Orleans    FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski released the annual report on  broadband internet access this week in Washington, DC, bemoaning the fact that the United States is still not among the leaders in broadband speed and that 19,000,000 do not have access.  The FCC thinks this is mainly a rural problem, and god knows, having just been in Montana where even Sprint and T-Mobile can’t muster a signal in Missoula, they have a long way to go.  The FCC is claiming they have taken various steps to extend this, and I’m sure they have, but….

The FCC’s concept of “access” we are learning is a very, very limited thing.  Access for the FCC simply means that you can manage to get to the internet a bit faster if you have the big bucks to pay the bills to do so.

Nowhere was that made more clear than in reading fragments of Comcast’s latest lameness and corporate back slapping about their shell game offering of internet access to low income families.  They claim about 90,000 signed up in the last year which is better than previous results even though simply shameful when one looks at their limp efforts at any outreach and their “access by brochures” strategy of informing and enrolling people in the program.

All of this was painfully obvious in visiting Little Rock, where Comcast is the cable operator.  Talking to head start parents, some remembered seeing a brochure from Comcast, but found it indecipherable and certainly not encouraging.  Officials from principals down to teachers mentioned nothing about the “program,” if one would actually call it that.

Admittedly, Comcast still at least is doing something, no matter how pathetic, since other than Chairman Genachowski’s press conference announcements of a year ago, there is still no sign of any action by Times-Warner or Cox Cable, both of whom he claimed we launching programs this spring.  Repeated efforts by Local 100 United Labor Unions and our community partners to obtain information from these companies about any efforts to implement these programs in New Orleans, Dallas, and other cities where they operate has been fruitless to date.

The FCC likes to shout about what it is doing through the airwaves, but its follow through for low income families is a signal lost in space and just empty sounds of promises and pretense lacking any proof.