Should one giant corporation be allowed to control more than half of the high speed broadband in homes across the country?
That’s a key question at the center of the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. And it’s a big reason why the merger has generated so much public opposition.
If Comcast gets the green light to merge with Time Warner Cable, it will control 57 percent of the broadband market, giving the company unprecedented power over what we see online and how much we pay.
Comcast is notorious for charging high prices and delivering less than stellar service. At Consumers Union, we’ve heard from hundreds of consumers frustrated with the lousy service they’ve experienced with the company and the lack of better options. Long waits with customer service, technicians who fail to show up as scheduled, and billing mistakes are some of the more common complaints.
So why don’t their customers just switch to another company? The answer is simple. Most people don’t have meaningful choices when it comes to high speed internet service. Of course, whenever there’s a lack of competition, prices go up and service suffers.
Last year, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler noted that nearly three-quarters of Americans have just one choice when it comes to broadband providers. Consumers benefit when they can effectively bargain with their residential broadband providers. But to bargain effectively, they need the ability to take their business elsewhere. And in many areas of the country, there is already little or no opportunity to do that.
Wheeler pledged that the FCC will do all it can to foster more competition. That’s encouraging. A good place to start would be to reject the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which threatens to stifle competition and make things even worse for consumers.
Help us keep up the pressure! Urge the FCC to stand with consumers and reject Comcast’s broadband takeover scheme. We can’t afford to let one corporation have so much control over our choices and our rights to connect and communicate.