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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.
http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/Susan Crawford at PdF 10 Rethinking Broadband 6-2-2010.flv

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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  • Phillip Dampier: But how often do we see a cable company's customer service center held up? Truth be told, it's the people behind the glass who are doing the robbing. ...
  • Michael Elling (@Infostack): I used to say that the free market competitors were supported by the social democrats, while the social monopolies were supported by the free-market c...
  • anon: if you can afford a bill that high, you can afford to move the hell out!...
  • Bob Mc: Have to say that there was no problem with Brighthouse (Florida, Merritt Island) in setting up my new TIVO Roamio Plus with the M-card and tuning adap...
  • bop: In part of Phillip home town. A bank took down their plexiglas because it wasn't needed. Held up three times since....
  • Josh Taylor: I'm glad that Time Warner is taking a stand against selling itself to other companies. otherwise it would be the end of Cartoon Network if NewsCorp ge...
  • Colt33: Well there's all this plus the fact that they keep adding new customers and not updating their lines. $45 for getting 1.5mb/s max is criminal compared...
  • Tye T.: Cox doesn't actually throttle their customers. If you should exceed your data cap to an excessive extent then cox will eventually terminate or suspend...
  • Cicuta: I just got the Comcast stupid email letting me know about the modem upgrade and as soon as I read it I said .... screw them! If other people want to u...
  • anon: it is only expected when you are operating in an urban ghetto like philadelphia....
  • Joe Siegler: The Time Warner Cable office near me has the same kind of set up....
  • Scott: Sad thing is that service center actually looks half decent, the facility I went to on the way out of town as I left Chicago and was cancelling my cab...

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