Thursday, February 20, 2014

Does the FCC Have the Cards to Win the Comcast/Net Neutrality Wars?

The cable guy is frightening but not for reasons you might imagine.

Comcast wants to buy Time Warner Cable for one reason: to make more money. No, it's not by expanding their market, which would theoretically be okay, but the other way, by leveraging their larger position to gain concessions from content providers, other than itself, of course (Comcast owns NBC Universal).

This very simple truth means we consumers are screwed, potentially, by this deal.

Slate magazine hosted three articles that offer us a way out.

Matthew Yglesias identifies, correctly, what the Comcast deal means. It's all about the broadband.

Eliza Krigman notices, intriguingly, that the FCC's reboot of net neutrality protections holds promise of reintroducing municipal attempts at providing broadband as a utility. Legislators in 20 states had shut down attempts by ISPs to cooperate with municipalities -- like Philadelphia -- to provide free wireless. (Surprisingly, this isn't totally a Republican effort. Some states like California and Washington find reason for common cause. Go figure.)

Finally, a week-old article by Marvin Ammori worries about a limp FCC response to the Appeals Court loss -- mitigated by the FCC's just-announced reboot -- but serves a good purpose in reminding us about how close we came to Internet disaster when we confronted SOPA -- and won. Ammori then shows the path to winning the net neutrality war in similar fashion.

The stakes in both cases -- in three cases if you include the possibility that content providers will try for another go at SOPA-like legislation -- are high. What's at risk?

It's a familiar theme: Rich people and companies want to own all the marbles and control all the games. We see it here in the Internet sphere, but it's a constant battle in healthcare, mega-farming, free access to information, easy and affordable access to entertainment content, and free and unfettered access to voting, for that matter.

Guess who doesn't want us to have that? No surprise here: the wealthy and their flying monkey armies, the Republicans. And, sad to say, some blue dog Demos.

Keep up the good fight. Sign the petitions, everyone of them, write your Congresspeople, and donate to the good guys (you know who they are).

Walt Disney wanted a Magic Kingdom, not a content kingdom as far as the eye could see.

Note. Just noticed my mixed metaphor in the blog post title. I'm a genius.

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