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Susan Crawford Warns the Tech Community: Protect the Gilded Age of Communications from a Corporate Takeover

“If (Comcast) can’t rape and pillage, it’s probably not a great investment.” — Dr. John Malone, former CEO Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI Cable)

Susan Crawford

The age of content producers blissfully producing websites and ignoring broadband policy is over.

That message comes courtesy of President Barack Obama’s former Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, Susan Crawford, who rang warning bells over corporate control of the Internet last week at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City.

Crawford, now a law professor at the University of Michigan, delivered a presentation arguing that increased corporate dominance over broadband has stalled the Gilded Age of the communications revolution.

Even as broadband becomes an increasingly important component of an American economy in recovery, marketplace concentration and laissez-faire broadband policies have combined to allow a handful of companies to control broadband access, with the potential of limiting access to web services and stalling entrepreneurial online innovation.

Crawford builds her case for a threatened broadband future:

  • As of 2010, 75-85 percent of the population will have only one choice of provider capable of delivering 50-100Mbps speeds — their local cable company;
  • Major cable systems have clustered their operations and do not compete with each other;
  • Verizon has suspended expansion of FiOS, its fiber to the home service, indefinitely;
  • Comcast, the nation’s largest cable operator with 24 million customers, 16.3 million of which take their broadband service, seeks a merger with NBC-Universal, providing a built-in incentive to limit broadband distribution of video content to non-subscribers who cut cable’s cord.

Watch Susan Crawford’s presentation warning the tech community about the implications of America’s broadband duopoly given free rein.  (17 minutes)

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