Given the Americans’ predilection for innovation and efficiency, it’s surprising that President Obama decided to appoint Tom Wheeler as head of the FCC. For those of you who don’t know, Wheeler was previously a cable company lobbyist (!) Not surprisingly, he has loosened the regulations placed on large cable companies, allowing them to basically charge content providers (like Netflix) in order to allow them to delivery content to customer at the Internet speeds that the customers are paying for in the first place. So basically the cable companies can choose what content providers they want to be nice to…probably those that pony up.
Policy-makers attempts to get rid of net neutrality have implications for all of us. It means higher bills and poorer Internet service. It is in the best interest of companies like Time Warner and Comcast to manipulate bandwidth so that content providers like Netflix and YouTube have to pay to play. They also have no reason to update their infrastructures or try to improve Internet speeds for customers. So what has happened is that over the past year, many customers have seen their Internet connection slow down, while still paying the same or more for the service. To make matters worse, if Time Warner and Comcast merge, as they have been planning, they will cover 40% of the broadband market and 30% of the cable market, giving them a huge amount of power to manipulate Internet speeds.
Is it surprising that customer satisfaction with these providers is lower than customer satisfaction with airline travel?
I hope Mr. Obama wakes up and smells the monopoly before it is too late.