The Digital Divide continues to grow wider every moment, and with it income inequality – but we have a chance to narrow it by requiring free and affordable universal broadband as a condition in the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. New York States Public Service Commission will be voting on whether such a merger is in the public’s-best-interest. The approval from, arguably, home of the nation’s top media market is essential to the current merger. (Article 01/14/2015)
Universal broadband has become a mandate at all levels of government, from President Obama, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio. But even with this mandate, according to the Knight Foundation, one-third of New York City residents do not have broadband. The internet has become as essential a utility as electricity and phones. Without it, one can no longer engage normal day-to-day activities or communicate effectively with family, friend’s even governmental services.
There is precedence for government and private companies partnering to close service gaps: The FCC offers a lifeline program for phone service to low-income families, that’s paid for by telecommunications companies. Cable and Internet providers have become just as much a lifeline as phone service providers and should similarly, do their part to achieve the mandate of universal broadband. This opportunity was missed with previous mergers involving members of the cable industry.
Update: In April, two days after the FCC and Justice Department expressed plans to oppose the merger based on indications that it would not help consumers, Comcast scrapped the $45.2 billion merger plans. On 17 April, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said the merger posed “unacceptable risk to competition and innovation.”
This marks the second merger failure for Comcast in the past year. The Philly-based dinosaur suffered a previous loss when the FCC adopted open Internet rules that protect in law Net-Neutrality – the principle that broadband providers “cannot block, throttle, or create special ‘fast lanes’” for Internet content.
Read Article (Kaufman & Che | huffingtonpost.com | 04/24/2015)
The merger of the two largest cable and broadband providers in the country would surely have created a terrifying Comcast. But a “Conditional” precedence for future mergers has been set.
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