The fall of net neutrality: Cable's plot to destroy the internet

Higher costs and worse service loom on the horizon

But it remains to be seen whether these same titans will put their own money to work lobbying against cable.

"It's a neat coalition, but I don't know where their lobbying dollars are going," says Barnett. "Yeah, they signed this letter and sent it to the FCC. Kudos to them. But, you know, show me the money."

"They're in the business of dominating"

In the end, regulating broadband as a utility appears the simplest way of ensuring the internet doesn't grow as concentrated as the rest of the economy.

"People would be up in arms if you suddenly had to pay a toll on your phone calls based upon which companies you were calling," Wassenaar points out. "The social expectation for how phone service works is built upon the regulation we imposed upon these corporations. And if they were treated as utilities, the public could actually determine if there is enough investment."

Of course, the rules imposed on the phone companies didn't break them. Verizon and AT&T are doing just fine, thank you. While cable may be dealing with the erosion of its pay-TV franchise, its broadband service will only grow.

"They'd be able to adapt just fine, but they're not in the business of adapting," says Barnett. "They're in the business of dominating."

He's not hopeful that consumers will be protected. "When you have a fairly complicated issue and all the money — and I mean all the money — is on one side of the issue, it's pretty clear what's going to win."

While Congress has oversight and could intervene, it can barely muster a consensus to scratch its own belly, much less pass legislation. That leaves the five FCC commissioners to decide, with Wheeler as the swing vote. At least he has a sense of humor — sort of.

In a segment on his HBO show Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver suggested that putting a former cable lobbyist in charge of net neutrality was like calling a dingo to babysit your kids. The episode caused such an uproar that viewers crashed the FCC's website with their comments.

Wheeler responded by insisting "I'm no dingo." Time will tell.

The new rules won't be adopted until at least September 15, and the public can still comment at FCC.com until July 15.

Speak now or forever hold your peace.

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9 comments
Juli Wunder Simmons
Juli Wunder Simmons

They already control it. I have comcast internet and cable TV. I don't qualify for their faster internet because 1) I don't have phone service through them and B) I have basic cable.

M Vinay Kumar
M Vinay Kumar

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willspankyourass2003
willspankyourass2003

In a nutshell, this is why allowing the government to “do something” outside of it’s Constitutional mandates is wrong. This is the result of the slippery slope argument which is often laughed at, but invariably always proven right.

TC4L
TC4L

$143 a month per subscriber.  Mine went from this and suddenly over $200.  I took all my boxes and brought them to Comcast.  They were quick to offer lower prices.  I kept saying no and they kept lowering the price.  After saying no 3 times I cut my cable and gave them the boxes.  My bill is now $75.  A lot of Hulu is free so I stream the shows I use to watch.  Funny Concast owns 1/3 of Hulu.  I also have Netflix.  Everyone I know who cut the cable and went to alternative streaming methods don't regret it.  For over a year I advised my brother to cut it.  He finally paid a one time fee of $85 for a Roku box.  Now I hear him spreading the word.  No regrets.  I feel Concast has seen their peak in ripping people off.  If you rent the modem, that's $96 a year just to rent what you can buy online or BB for $60.  "But what if it breaks you can swap it out at Concast."  Modems don't break for a very long time.  Props to Al Franken for looking out for the people regarding this.  It's just not right what Concast does and what it's trying to do.

MGII
MGII

Best article to date that I have read explaining the situation

Brettskie
Brettskie

Good article, but your link to the FCC comment page should be FCC.gov, not .com

 
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