Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

April 10, 2014

Comcast thinks its merger is a gift to us

(Continued)

For example, the company says that getting bigger will help it accelerate its investment in new technology. Maybe. But a bigger buyer of technology, programming and online applications can also exercise monopsony power: A bigger Comcast will be able to persuade cable-box makers, programmers and high-capacity online-application designers to do things its way. That’s not good for competition or innovation.

Comcast promises that current Time Warner Cable customers will gain faster Internet access. Perhaps. But those customers will also have little ability to switch from the Comcast behemoth if they think their service costs too much: The only direct national competitor to Comcast and Time Warner Cable is Verizon Communications Inc.’s FiOS, which overlaps with just 17 percent.

of Comcast’s territory. Comcast touts Google Fiber as a competitor, but if Google continues its current building plans, it will reach just 3 percent of U.S. households. Comcast, in combination with Time Warner Cable, will be poised to sign up two-thirds of American households.

Comcast also says it will help close the digital divide by getting more Americans to sign up for its Internet Essentials package: $9.95 a month for a 5 Mbps Internet connection. This is perhaps the most cynical of the company’s public-interest gifts: If you are now a Comcast customer, in order to get the reduced rate, you have to first drop your subscription for 90 days. You also have to have a child in a reduced-price school lunch program and fill out a lot of paperwork. Thanks to these barriers, the program has attracted just 9 percent of eligible families in Philadelphia, Comcast’s home territory, and just 12 percent nationwide.

Scale may be good for Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s ability to squeeze everyone else. But that will do nothing for the public interest.

Text Only
Opinion
  • Fear indifference ‘Perhaps the Catholic church would volunteer to pony up some cash for the illegals’ care then? Hmm?”“Pope should stay out of it. Matter of civil laws, not church laws.”“Thinking that the pope should want the illegals to go to Argentina to get better

    July 25, 2014

  • A push for felon voting rights If advocates have their way, voting rights could be a new reality for the nation’s incarcerated.Full voting rights for felons is as hot a topic in Washington as voting rights in reverse pushed by voter-ID-tickled Republicans. But with new legislation

    July 25, 2014

  • Big insurers need better oversight Could Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. threaten the stability of the financial system? The U.S.’s top regulators are asking themselves this question as they consider whether Berkshire and other large insurers should come under Federal Reserve

    July 25, 2014

  • Questions for Obamacare after the ruling Tuesday, I outlined what we knew about Halbig v. Burwell, the case in which a federal appellate court ruled that subsidies for purchasing insurance under Obamacare can only be made available on marketplaces established by states. Now I propose to out

    July 24, 2014

  • Pensions not the problem I see in last night’s Register-News paper that James Rippy has attempted to enlighten us on pensions in Illinois. I also notice he has written so often he no longer has the title “guest columnist.” It is obvious he has the time and energy to work on

    July 24, 2014

  • Impasse threatens border solution After more than a year of contentious debate, could Congress be any more divided over the issue of immigration? The answer is yes.In the House, positions are hardening over what to do about the tens of thousands of families and unaccompanied young im

    July 24, 2014

  • Take a lesson from Texas I like to eat at blue-collar diners and cafes, particularly when I’m on vacation.It’s a chance to step beyond the homogenized national chains and experience a bit of local flavor.And being a reporter, I like to chat up local folks to find out a bit a

    July 23, 2014

  • The future reality of terrorist drones A very small airplane rose over the Gaza Strip last week. It entered Israeli airspace and sped toward the coastal city of Ashdod. Then a Patriot missile blew it up.The plane, a rudimentary drone launched by the terrorist group Hamas, posed little thr

    July 23, 2014

  • We are headed to a jobless future In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers revived a debate I’d had with futurist Ray Kurzweil in 2012 about the jobless future.He echoed the words of Peter Diamandis, who says that we are moving from a history

    July 23, 2014

  • Pensions need to be addressed I will have to admit that I am slightly overwhelmed today with the receipt of articles and suggestions for a column. One of my Fitness Mafia colleagues constantly tells me the columns are too long and trying to address different subjects just dilutes

    July 22, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks