Comcast Spends Big on Local Elections in Seattle & Fort Collins
The telecom giant would lose millions in revenue from real competition, new ILSR report says
MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. — Comcast has a lot to lose from competition in broadband Internet access. That’s why the telecommunications giant is spending big in municipal elections in Seattle and Fort Collins to maintain its monopoly on broadband Internet access. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s latest policy brief shows that Comcast could lose from $5.4 to $22.8 million per year in Fort Collins and between $20 and $84 millionper year in Seattle if faced with real competition.
In Seattle, Comcast faces absolutely no competition in four of the ten census blocks it offers broadband service. In 73 percent of the blocks with competition, there’s only one other option, according to FCC data. Comcast joined incumbent telephone company CenturyLink with a $50,000 donation supporting preferred candidate, who just happens to oppose a municipal fiber network. Local group Upgrade Seattle is holding an event at Seattle City Hall on November 2nd to rename the building Comcast City Hall because the cable giant’s remarkable influence.
In Fort Collins, the state cable association and Chamber of Commerce had already spent over $200,000 (with 2 weeks left before the referendum) opposing an effort simply allow the city to later create a telecommunications utility. Comcast is a powerful member of both organizations and has a history of pushing its policies through such organizations
Evidence from other cities helps highlight that Comcast may actually be under-spending relative to how real choice in broadband service would reduce Comcast’s revenue by millions of dollars per month in Seattle (up to $84M annually) and Fort Collins (up to $22.8M annually).
“Massive firms that monopolize single industries threaten the fabric of our political system because of the incentive they have to protect their turf,” says Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and a co-author of the policy brief.
Nearby Longmont, Colorado, built a municipal fiber network and has half of the households as subscribers in the areas where it is offering service.
“Campaign expenditures are one of the many tools that firms like Comcast uses to protect their business from competition. It’s well-documented how their direct access to decision-makers via direct meetings, trade associations, and ‘philanthropic’ pursuits gives them undue influence for their business,” Mitchell says.
If you’re interested in gaining perspective on this issue from Christopher Mitchell, please email back here or schedule an interview through Nick Stumo-Langer at 612-844-1330.
About Christopher Mitchell:
Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Mitchell leads the acclaimed MuniNetworks.org as part of ILSR’s effort to ensure broadband networks are directly accountable to the communities that depend upon them. He is a leading national expert on community networks, advising high-ranking broadband decision-makers and speaking on radio and television programs across the United States.
FOR MORE INFORMATION and to schedule an interview with Christopher, call Nick Stumo-Langer at 612-844-1330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.