An online reader on NY Times recently commented that “a computer with an Internet connection is the most vital employment tool a person needs. “ I thought the comment was a good segue into the subject of broadband Internet service, which in turn brings up Comcast’s Time Warner Cable acquisition that has been all over the news.
It is amazing to see the sway that Comcast has had over the broadband market, even without the addition of Time Warner Cable. As the gatekeeper to a vast user base that is set to grow even larger, they certainly are able to call the shots. And that appears to be exactly what they have been doing, with some backbone providers even paying Comcast for the privilege of accessing their customers. Which does seems to turn things on their head.
Clearly all this does not bode well for the future of the Internet. Hence I find it hard to believe that regulators could possibly let this merger go through.
Any way I slice it, supply of broadband looks to me just like any other utility such as water, gas, or electricity: albeit one whose importance has been growing by leaps and bounds (consider the recent valuation of Internet stocks). That the broadband industry has escaped significant regulatory scrutiny for so long speaks to the power of their lobbying machine I guess. Perhaps this proposed acquisition is just the spark needed for far reaching changes to be made in how the broadband market is governed.
Jumping a few steps ahead, Comcast does seem like a candidate to be broken up sometime in the future, just like what happened to AT&T back in the 80s. A number of baby Comcasts should be easier to rein in!
In the interim, more alternatives need to emerge for access to the Internet.
Perhaps what Facebook has talked about is a possible solution. Drones in the sky beaming down Internet access to consumers. Going beyond being a solution for difficult to reach areas, it should represent a whole new way to deliver an Internet connection to users, providing a much needed alternative to ISPs like Comcast.
The Internet is much too important and critical to allow it to be controlled by a select few. Got to free it up to become a willing partnership of the many.
Hey, I would like to hang on to my $8 per month Netflix subscription, if I could. How about you?