Ever wonder why America’s two biggest cable providers don’t bother competing with one another? Or why you have only one choice for Internet service in your neighborhood? Or why cable prices have been rising at more than triple the rate of inflation? Well, wonder no more. Ars Technica flags some recent filings sent to the Federal Communications Commission sent by Internet service providers CenturyLink and RCN that detail how Comcast works tirelessly to keep them out of its markets and then justifies its actions as a favor to poor people.
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In its filing to the FCC opposing the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, CenturyLink says that Comcast has been “uniquely and extraordinarily aggressive in seeking to delay CenturyLink’s entry into new markets.” And just how has Comcast been doing this? We’ll let Century Link tell you in its own words.
“In the Denver metropolitan area, where CenturyLink is currently pursuing local video franchises, Comcast appears to be sending a similar letter to each local franchising authority from which CenturyLink is seeking a franchise or potentially might be seeking a franchise providing Comcast’s ‘concerns’ regarding CenturyLink’s entry into the video market,” the company explains. “The ‘concerns’ that Comcast has raised, while couched in terms of ‘fair competition,’ are in reality an effort to have the LFA [local franchising authority] impose such onerous and unreasonable buildout requirements that the new entrant will not be able to obtain a franchise agreement that will support a feasible business plan.”
CenturyLink goes onto explain that it’s just not reasonable to expect a new entrant to build out services in entire markets where the incumbent provider has a dominant market position. Rather, CenturyLink says it’s only economically feasible to chip away at the incumbent’s position one area at a time before expanding.
We’ve heard things like this before, most infamously when Comcast used its ties to local politicians to block RCN from setting up shop in the company’s home market of Philadelphia. However, in a statement to Ars, Comcast says that it’s doing all this out of the goodness of its own heart because it wants to make sure competitors build out their networks to poorer neighborhoods and not just wealthy ones that would yield the highest revenues.
“We believe competitors should have to live under the same requirements as incumbents, that means no redlining poor communities, no cherry picking of only providing services to wealthier communities – it means service to the entire community,” the company said. “This has been our consistent position, that new entrants should be prepared to live under the same rules we have for decades.”
For the record, RCN and other smaller cable providers have also sent letters to the FCC telling the commission to block the Comcast-TWC merger or to at least limit Comcast’s ability to strong-arm local government officials into putting onerous requirements on competing with Comcast.
Be sure to read Ars‘ full report by clicking the source link below.
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