The Comcast/Time Warner Merger Won't Destroy the Internet, Just Our Access To It
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The Comcast/Time Warner Merger Won't Destroy the Internet, Just Our Access To It

By Dustin Rowles | Think Pieces | March 24, 2014 | Comments ()


I won’t recount all of the horrible things that could happen because of the impending Time Warner/Comcast merger , except to say that those horrible things are beginning to come to fruition. The merger, which would mean that Comcast will own 30 percent of the nation’s access to the Internet, means that Comcast will also own 30 percent of the control over that access, and unless strong net neutrality laws are put into place, we’re all kind of screwed.

Why? Well, for starters, after the merger was announced, Netflix struck a deal with Comcast to get favorable treatment so that Comcast subscribers wouldn’t have their access to Netflix disrupted. That’s good, right? Not really. As Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings explained, Netflix only paid up because they were basically in a position where they had no choice. Comcast gave them the shake down.

Now? Apple has fallen into line. Apple is in discussions with Comcast to get its own special little pipeline into our homes so that when it rolls out its new Apple TV later this year, Comcast subscribers won’t blame Apple if they run into a lot of buffering problems when they open their brand new Apple TV sets. Amazon Prime and Hulu are probably only days or weeks behind, and what will it all mean?

It’ll mean that the major streaming services will have to pay extra for favorable treatment, and those who can’t afford to pay extra or are unwilling to do so will not get fruit cup. This is precisely why we want net neutrality in the first place: So that Internet access is open and available to everyone equally.

Indeed, not only will the money that Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and Hulu pay to Comcast eventually filter back down to the consumer in terms of higher prices, but we may get the double whammy by not only having to pay Netflix a higher subscription rate, but Comcast, too, in order to avoid caps. Many of us already pay an outrageous amount for Internet access (I pay $72 a month), and how many of us are actually happy with it? Still, without net neutrality and stronger competition among ISPs, that’s our future.

In fact, as Slate points out, it may actually benefit ISPs to have crappy Internet because it will force streaming services to pay the ISPs to open up better lanes, so the rich will get richer, and the poor will get poorer, and our Internet will eventually mirror the outside corporate structure even more than it does now. Moreover, without net neutrality laws, there’s nothing stopping ISPs from throttling traffic to your favorite sites, so that one day, you may have a crystal clear path to Netflix, but opening up your local online newspaper or that Mommy Blog you can’t get enough of may remind you of the old days of dial-up service.

This is why anti-monopoly laws exist. It’s too bad they have no teeth, and the FCC is a bunch of weak-willed ninnies.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • ktzn

    I transcribed the call C0mcast had with journalists the day the merger was announced. Two things were very telling to me.

    1. They had two lawyers on the call, one from C0mcast, one from Time Warner---and the lawyer from Time Warner spoke three words the entire hour long call. "Hi." and "Thank you!" And that's it.

    2. C0mcast's argument for how this merger isn't an anti-trust violation, whilst shitty in the extreme, is actually pretty solid. I was incensed whilst transcribing and thought it a load of bunk. Not true. The gist of the argument is thus: Time Warner and C0mcast do not compete currently, hence consumers aren't losing a choice. Yes, they're trading one shitty choice for another and creating a behemoth in the process, but consumers are not losing choice, which is the litmus for anti-trust. They have a lot of experience with this argument because this is what they argued with every other merger they've done---and won.

    C0mcast is willing to divest of certain Time Warner assets to make sure they stay under the 30% market dominance threshold rule. Those people apparently will be the lucky ones.

  • kali yuga

    Thanks for nothing, again, Fraud.

  • Any half way intelligent person can see that this merger is a Pandora's Box just waiting to be opened. But our government is so fucking corrupted with the shiny allure of dollar signs in the pursuit of almighty capitalism that it will pass with barely an oversight.

    It would be nice if the people of the United States had lobbyists working to write laws that protect and benefit us just the same as the corporations and banks do.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    I wish a hell mouth would open up and swallow Comcast as well as their shitty Xfinity re-branding in its entirety. You can see my disdain for them is very understated.

  • Al Borland's Beard

    On one hand, this sucks. On the other, it brings back the nostalgia of my awkward teen years, staring at the top half of a JPEG and waiting for the nudity to load.

  • Well it's also the fact that the FCC was (from what I read) deemed not able to control the net neutrality stuff and wasn't able to gain direct oversight over this stuff because of outdated laws and other stuff.

  • Stephen Nein

    And this is where I weep. In my normal life, I'm a wide-area network engineer - Comcast is going after the low-hanging fruit right now, and the other cable monopolies are carefully watching what happens. If Comcast is successful, Internet backbone providers are going to demand a piece of the action as well from all parties, ultimately landing in your cable bills.

    Just wait until someone decides that VPNs are a pay-for-play service. Because, reasons!

  • John G.

    most expensive for worst service, just like our healthcare system:

  • Miss Jane

    To fix this it needs an act of Congress -- no really. Like the Digital TV Transition of the mid 2000's, all it would take is for Congress to say we need speeds to be at or better than 100Mbps by 2020 and provide funding to help this along.

    But it's the do nothing congress, so probably not going to happen.

  • Because we think corporations are citizens, and we seek to optimize their well-being as opposed to those of customer. Our system is ridiculously stupid. We grant non-competitive utility service areas, then somehow construe to give away the value to the service provider rather than delighting the customer with quality service for a reasonable fee. You can see that the other countries listed are able to deliver that, even Canada, which is infected by proximity to our corporatism.

  • John G.

    corporations are people, President Mitt Romney said so.

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