The Source - February 19,2014
11:46 am
Wed February 19, 2014

The Source: Comcast And You...Oh, And Google Fiber

A proposed $45 billion buyout of Time-Warner Cable would add more than 11 million internet subscribers and nearly the same number of cable subscribers to what was already the largest U.S. provider of both -- Comcast.

Big mega-deals are fairly commonplace in today's world, media consolidation has been rapidly occurring since deregulation in the mid nineties, so why is this any different? 

Susan Crawford argues in Bloomberg that it is the worst deal to come around in a while for consumers. Nineteen of the 20 largest metropolitan areas in the country will have only one choice for high-speed internet access -- Comcast.

This consolidation acts as a disincentive to invest in their networks since no one can compete with their mediocre speeds. The U.S. ranks 9th, falling one spot, in internet speed according to a report by Akamai. Keep in mind US customers pay far higher prices than other industrialized countries for their broadband. 

With the landmark Supreme Court case making net neutrality a thing of the past --Verizon v FCC -- can large telecoms like Comcast slow the speed of their competitors online like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon? Will they try and reverse the trend of people cutting the cord on cable television?

Former Councilwoman Leticia Ozuna was an architect of the San Antonio Broadband Network Initiative (SAABN), an initiative to connect schools, libraries and research institutions to our municipally owned fiber optic wire, which was installed by CPS Energy years ago.

Ozuna said that this merger would further hinder access across San Antonio. She points to Austin as a city that has a vibrant marketplace for broadband providers, in which citizens can reap the dual benefits of higher quality and lower price.

From Google-Fiber to a similar municipal fiber network, there are good alternatives to large legacy telecom players.

Guests:

  • Dr. Susan Crawford, John A. Reilly professor of intellectual property at Harvard Law and author of the book, "Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power." On Twitter @scrawford
  • Leticia Ozuna

Additional audio for this segment was provided by TPR Reporter, Joey Palacios

*The Source airs at 3 p.m. on KSTX 89.1 FM -- audio from this show will be posted by 5:30 p.m.

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