Cable Companies Strangling Internet to Maximize Profits

Date: 29 Apr 2009 | posted in: information, MuniNetworks | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Who makes the rules for how you use your Internet Connection?  Who decides whether it should upgrade the network speeds?  For most of us, private companies make these decisions and they are more interested in maximizing their profits than what is best for the community.  This is a major reason why broadband is slower and more expensive than other countries like Japan, Sweden, and France.

The Economist takes on the cable companies and why they are not interested in bringing faster speeds to the U.S.

IN THE land of free enterprise and the home of discount shopping, there can sometimes be an appalling lack of competition. High-speed access to the internet is one. Cable television is another. The reason is that in America cable-television companies, which provide a lot of the high-speed access, do not want their customers to cancel their contracts and watch television over the internet instead. Yet a growing number of people are poised to do just that.

Communities that have built their own networks do not have to deal with these cable companies and arbitrary rules made to benefit the network owner rather than the subscribers.  When the community owns the network, it makes the rules.

Consumers’ new-found freedom to choose has struck fear into the hearts of the cable companies. They have been trying to slow internet television’s steady march into the living room by rolling out DOCSIS 3 at a snail’s pace and then stinging customers for its services. Another favourite trick has been to cap the amount of data that can be downloaded, or to charge extortionately by the megabyte.

 Until we change the rules, private companies will do what is best for them rather than what is best for the community or even country.  While we dither, the rest of the world is building faster networks and making sure the rules encourage economic development rather than private profits.

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Christopher Mitchell

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He runs MuniNetworks.org as part of ILSR's effort to ensure broadband networks are directly accountable to the communities that depend upon them.