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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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  • Daniel: My experience with Verizon was CONSISTENTLY HORRIFIC. The sheer incompetence broke my brain. They would screw up everything they possibly could, and s...
  • Josh: Good grief. If they still have money, they HAVE to spend...I mean it's probably too late, but...what on Earth is wrong with these executives? I mean...
  • Paul Houle: The scary thing is that Frontier has a huge cash flow. There are still enough customers that use Frontier because they don't have a choice. "Cable" ...
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  • Dan: The high dividends aren't a problem anymore, but there's probably not enough money to do more than pay off the interest. If they were smart, they'd st...
  • BobInIllinois: Reminder---July 1 2010, Frontier took over Verizon properties in 13 states, including my DSL account in Illinois. Took them 3 months to send me a bi...
  • LG: Same as Christopher's post above. Great work. The longer this goes on, the more I believe regulation and laws alone will not be enough. I'm thinkin...
  • Paul Sheehan Jr.: Why doesn't WGBH move to ch. 44 and WGBX go off air and what is the future for wbts-lp in boston...
  • Josh: What the frak are they doing? For the past couple of years I've been assuming the top executives are just trying to get payouts, then jump from the c...
  • Dan: Don't you mean "a small independent phone company in Rochester?" Frontier didn't begin as SNET....
  • Joe V: I almost pity poor Randall and those that think that this "5G" will good enough once cord cutting internet streaming TV becomes the norm. AT&T's ...
  • MD: It only goes to 30, I know what it is technically capable of because they replaces all of the cables on the entire street, and the previous TWC cable ...

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