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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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  • Ian Littman: One catch here is that Comcast's own xfinitywifi network is *not* available to CableWiFi customers; you have to have a Comcast account to use it or pa...
  • Josh: I don't know how anyone passes laws like that, or upholds them or whatnot with a straight face. It couldn't possibly be more blatantly because you're...
  • Paul Houle: This is a sad day. Many of the states involved with these fights are the ground zeroes of the broadband struggle. While Wheeler pursues suburban p...
  • Lee: Ah the magic of corporate debt to pay dividends. They are not the first nor will they be the last to use debt to pay dividends....
  • Jackripper: What bs so now we are stuck with limited services and no consumer choice. Like mobs owning their own domain. How thuggish....
  • Josh: Still totally irrelevant so long as they have laughably tiny caps....
  • Derpson: Just ran speedtest on my galaxy s7, got a blazing 8/1. They need more towers next!...
  • Phillip Dampier: A paid subscription is required to access the article in question which is why you are probably having an issue. I have captured a screenshot which is...
  • Paul Houle: @rcxb, it could be worse. You could live in Frontier Country where you pay $90 a month for phone + 1 Mb/s DSL. Fiber prices for smoke signal s...
  • jhf5: I wonder what is in store for New York, wondering if 100Mb/ s will be standard service or not, NYSPC requirements say 100 required, though I am not su...
  • rcxb: Does anybody else remember back when AT&T DSL was $12.99/mo? Sure it was only 1.5Mbps, but I'm sure plenty of people would go for that speed at t...
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