While listening to podcasts, I came upon Susan Crawford’s argument that in the United States, access to the Internet has been managed to benefit large corporations, and not for the benefit of the public. She points out that retail communication costs are rising in the United States, while they’re falling in most other countries. Why? Lack of competition. She recently appeared on Bill Moyers’ PBS TV show with Susan Crawford. She’s studied and documented the parceling of the American broadband market by the usual suspects: AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Time-Warner, et al.
Both the telephony and cable-TV industries require very large capital investments, so the entry fee is high, effectively keeping newcomers out of their markets. Ms. Crawford has discovered that the incumbent cable-TV and telephone companies have consolidated and co-operated so that each broadband vendor enjoys a monopoly or at worst a shared monopoly.
I noted in Privatize profits. Socialize costs, that
Despite plummeting computing and data transport costs, average monthly AT&T bills have risen(!). This makes no sense. One reason for this absurdity? Itemized bills with numerous indecipherable items; the amount of each creeps upward imperceptibly a few times each year. Another reason: bloated management filled with MBAs, lawyers, and “managers” who don’t know Ohm’s Law. It’s surprising that this gouging has taken place under the watchful eyes of fifty state Public Utilities Commissions and the Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Johnston explains that the common carriers’ lobbyists have helped shape regulations to favor the regulated companies.
Ms. Crawford confirms that both the telephone and cable-TV companies employ very effective lobbyists, so communication legislation favors them, not the public. I’ve since heard Ms. Crawford speak in other venues, such as at Harvard’s Berkman center. Her newest book is Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. It sounds like a good read.
She argues that wireless, despite AT&T and Verizon’s claims, is not a viable competitor to wired broadband service. I agree. Here is a link to her well-written blog.
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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695