This article was also published on On the Commons.
Conservatives would have us believe the public sector can’t compete with the private sector. The private sector itself knows better. Nowhere is this more evident than in the telecommunications sector.
People hate their telecommunications companies. The poster child for poor customer service in the public sector may be the Department of Motor Vehicle Bureau, but its unresponsiveness and arrogance pales into insignificance to those of Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and AT&T. In 2010 Comcast, the largest cable company in America bested 31 other companies from all sectors to win Consumerist.com’s Worst Company in America award.
As if to prove it was worthy of the award, Comcast recently pulled $18,000 in funding for a girl’s summer camp because one of the organizers had disapprovingly tweeted about Commissioner Meredith Baker’s jump from the FCC to Comcast just four months after approving Comcast’s $13.75 billion union with NBC. In an e-mail to the group, Steve Kipp, a vice president of communications for Comcast explained, “Given the fact that Comcast has been a major supporter of Reel Grrls for several years now, I am frankly shocked that your organization is slamming us on Twitter. I cannot in good conscience continue to provide you with funding — especially when there are so many other deserving nonprofits in town.” (The resulting uproar from the mainstream media’s reporting led Comcast to rescind the cutoff.)
The increased importance of high speed broadband in everything from business to education to entertainment coupled with soaring prices, slow speeds and bad service from private providers finally led cities to take matters into their own hands and build their own broadband networks.