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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: sigh Of course he does. Elections have consequences, people......
  • kaniki: I would say, as a whole, most places really only have one option. Especially in rural areas.. The only places that will usually have at least 2, will ...
  • kaniki: Trust me, I know this.. Look at the current merger / takeover / buyout in alaska.. They are charging something like $180 to get unlimited internet at ...
  • EJ: As I have stated before if these companies are smart they will collaborate together and make it clear that if net neutrality is reversed they will col...
  • EJ: I think you are confused on what Net Neutrality really is. It is not about ads, it is about the ability for your provider to control the bandwidth bas...
  • kaniki: "It could give internet providers such as ... more flexibility to use bundles of services and creative pricing to make their favored content more attr...
  • El Ma: It's a monopoly and our lawmakers have the ability to force this corporation to provide the services that they are charging us all for. Yet, they don...
  • El Ma: I live in an area that is so remote that I cannot even use a cell phone. I have had Frontier for 11 years - it is the ONLY land-line service availabl...
  • BobInIllinois: My observation has been that Xfinity/Comcast will compete on speed if the local market is competitive. If they are the speed leader already, they won...
  • Josh: It's not where I am. There's a Fiber company available that's both way cheaper and way faster. I've wondered if they're trying to compete with that....
  • BobInIllinois: Xfinity must have goal to be fastest broadband speed in its markets....

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