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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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  • Josh: Wow, great article! I'm feeling nostalgic, and kind of weirded out by VHS going away, and the realization we're (once again) likely to lose a giganti...
  • Jeno: My family and I had Verizon for years, and it was just fine, no problem. It seems almost as SOON as Frontier came into the picture, our internet was ...
  • Sharon: I too have gotten taken by Verizon, and they are continually trying to add more costs to my plan; daily. This number did call today, showing as a Ver...
  • Josh: I need PBS and The CW...I can't believe those aren't on here! I'd want BBC America too. I'd really want a much longer DVR too...28 days isn't good...
  • Len: I have a 25MB/s CenturyLink connection (internet only) that costs $83 / month. I have a "discount" that brings it down to $53. These guys at Century...
  • Josh: Having to pay to get your bill is just an hilarious low :-D And I'm sorry about those people :-( Somehow I doubt they're not needed......
  • Len: 100 MB/s....... For ONLY 300 Euros a month! OK, sarcasm here, but you see what I'm getting at. MB/s is only part of it. It makes no difference...
  • Mike D.: There are giant delicious pies being feasted upon and Comcast isn't able to gorge themselves. That will end soon, and unless customers drop them like ...
  • Josh: Glad you mentioned that. Yeah, I'm nowhere near Chicago and am affected....
  • BobInIllinois: Just a note to explain what Comcast means by the "Chicago Region". It is a Comcast regional market designation for more territory than just the Chica...
  • Josh: This is just an excuse to raise bills by at least $50/month (or more, if you go over without realizing you have to *CALL* to add this $50/month fee). ...
  • 7879878: And why isnt the FCC getting Involved? The fact there is NO OPT OUT and a $35+ option to get back what you had before should be a huge red flag to an...

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