You'll want to go here:
and click on:
14-57 Applications of Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable Inc. for Consent to Assign or Transfer Control of Licenses and Applications
Comcast is a blight and the cost on the American economy as a whole is underestimated. They would simply not exist in their present form if there was a diverse, competitive telecom industry.
Perversely, fighting for a healthy telecom industry seems like it might be one of the few things Democrats and Republicans could ideologically agree on, yet the truth is that no progress is even in sight. The relative lack of importance of ideology is highlighted in cases like this, where the excess of lobbyists are the only true source of influence.
For two weeks I had half the speed, I called them many times and got disconnected. I couldn't stay on the line for 45 minutes on a work day. When I finally got a hold of them, they apologized and fixed the issue. They promised me a free month of service. That's where things got interesting.
Maybe it was a bug, but every month, I got credit instead of a bill. So every month I was getting -20 dollars. A whole year passed. I never complained. If it was a good company I would report it. A year and a half into it, it was fixed. I got a call to ask me if I was paying my bill.
I answered "totally"
So every candidate is faced with "I can accept these huge campaign contributions from telecom companies, and not hurt my chances at winning, or I can decline them to take a stand against the telecoms...and do nothing to help my chances at winning". Of course they take the money, of course they vote to keep the money flowing to them.
Practices that Benn describes, like unreturned equipment fees and dubious installation fees, seem like a borderline legal way to eek out better margins--but it also seems like it shouldn't have taken all that much for consumers to say "no."
Anyway, TV was a big deal for a lot of people. People in mobile home parks who were barely scraping by would want expensive packages with ESPN and the like. Minor disruptions occasionally made people furious (as a smaller system, equipment replacement usually meant that a channel had to be off for a few minutes, and the downtime got worse as satellite equipment got "better").
Even now, go to an apartment complex and see how many small dishes you see.
It's been like this for a long, long time and Comcast and Time Warner and a few others have converted their considerable wealth into political influence to make sure that they have a locked in and minimally competitive market for a long time to come.
For those that aren't so interested in TV (like me), "high speed" internet access has become a staple.
Google is the only real newsworthy disruption of the big ISPs in recent history. If Musk does get a low-orbit satellite network going, that might change the game a bit. Otherwise, we're all just stuck with this situation for the foreseeable future.
In 1970, 1% of the U.S. population (20 million citizens) was illiterate. Do you know 100 people; friends, family, neighbors? One of them might not have been able to read. As an audio-visual medium, TV is an equalizer. America loves to think of itself as a classless society. With apologies to Andy Warhol: "You can be watching TV and see Alf, and you know that the President watches Alf, Liz Taylor watches Alf, and just think, you can watch Alf, too."
So much of cable TV's influence reflected its ability to educate, inform, AND entertain. Communities were given public access studios without the need for powerful, expensive transmitters. They could have a whole channel with computer-generated text over soothing elevator music showing the latest happenings at the public library. CSPAN put the legislative process in your living room. TLC was originally The Learning Channel and it had actual educational shows, but so did all the local community colleges on their own low-budget cable stations. On the morning of the Challenger disaster, I watched the shuttle crew drive to the launch pad on NASATV while I ate breakfast. Is this what everybody watched, all the time? No. But when it came time to vote on "Community Antenna TV" and eventually cable, this is what was trotted out and you can't deny the power of bringing that into people's homes.
TV was a huge deal until we replaced it with the Internet, and in many ways we're using it in the same ways. It's shared culture. It's audio-visual entertainment. It's news & information.
> The median age of a broadcast or cable television viewer during the 2013-2014 TV season was 44.4 years old, a 6 percent increase in age from four years earlier. Audiences for the major broadcast network shows are much older and aging even faster, with a median age of 53.9 years old, up 7 percent from four years ago.
> These television viewers are aging faster than the U.S. population, Nathanson points out. The median age in the U.S. was 37.2, according to the U.S. Census, a figure that increased 1.9 percent over a decade. So to put that in context of television viewing, he said TV audiences aged 5 percent faster than the average American.
So if it is just, or mainly, TV, Comcast is in serious shit.
Regulation as a utility, prosecution under anti-trust laws or disruption (like thaumaturgy suggests above) seem like the only hope.
The age stats are interesting though. Times have changed since the world that csixty4 describes.
Really the key isn't more regulation but the Sherman Act and related anti-trust laws that are clearly being broken, often abetted by local government.
One way to do this is to force the current monopoly to provide it's services at cost to competitors who can then sell value add on top (this is what we did in the UK with British Telecom (though the different here is that BT was nationally owned)) not sure if you could do that in the US since comcast is a private corp.
This worked reasonably well for long-distance services (those used to be separate from local phone service) but the advent of high-profit DSL meant that the local monopoly would prioritize fixing their own customers's lines over their competitors, and perhaps do difficult-to-prove-intent things like repurpose competitor copper during a field repair, and then never put it back.
Around here, Comcast (or their predecessor) actually does resell other providers' services through their service. I don't know if it's voluntary or not. It's kind of an odd relationship, but I'm happy to divert a few of my dollars from Comcast to Earthlink.
I use sonic.net here in SF and I think they work in a similar way by piggybacking on the ATT local loop. I wonder if there is any local law that forces ATT to co-operate in that case.
How can we get antitrust charges pressed against these assholes?
I'm thankful I have Cox where I live, who, while no white knight, know how to at least give off the veneer of giving a fuck.
I have had very few minor issues that at the time I thought were a big deal. It blows my mind the more Comcast stories I read how bad it can really be...
- My DC apartment only had support for Comcast
- My NY apartment only had support for TWC
- My Portland apartment only has support for Comcast
In every instance there was only two real options but because of the way apartment complexes work you really only have one option. It doesn't get better if you own a home either. I know plenty of homeowners that are stuck with Comcast because the alternative "isn't available on their street"...for whatever reason.
I live in one of those lucky areas where there are three residential bandwidth providers: Comcast, Verizon FIOS, and RCN. Having been a customer of all three, I can say that RCN has the least worst customer service and the least anti-user policies. If you think I'm damning with faint praise, you are correct.
* Internet service has been rock solid, never a problem
* Runs at close to advertised speeds
* Comcast adopted native IPv6 before other ISPs even knew what it was
* TV service has been probably ~99% reliable
Only complaint: When TV service went down once or twice, their phone support ability was utterly incompetent.
Basically, as long as you never have to interact with them in any way, Comcast is great.
One notable data point I can corroborate: Charter Business customer service is actually pretty good. It's their consumer end that has earned a poor reputation.
I will say, however, that just because those things aren't happening, does not mean that Comcast isn't a terrible company. I think it's pretty clear that there are a lot of terrible things that go on in the world that don't hit the news cycle.