Media reform organization Free Press urged the Federal Communications Commission yesterday to investigate anti-competitive actions by Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company and residential broadband provider.
Level 3 Communications an Internet “backbone” provider that supports Netflix streaming video service, made a complaint to the FCC that Comcast has unfairly hiked prices to carry its traffic. Earlier in that same day, equipment maker Zoom Telephonics filed a complaint that Comcast was violating Net Neutrality principles by throwing up hurdles that are preventing it from selling competing cable modems to Comcast customers.
These latest accusations thrown at Comcast, which was previously sanctioned by the FCC for interfering with lawful file-sharing online, come as the agency deals with major decisions on how to regain its legal power to regulate broadband services, how to draft meaningful laws to preserve Network Neutrality, and whether to give it’s blessing to Comcast’s up in the air $30 billion merger with NBC Universal.
Free Press President Josh Silver made the following statement:
“This is just a preview of what a media monopoly will look like in the Internet age – one company, consolidating its media power to squash competitors, stifle innovation and price-gouge consumers. Comcast has demonstrated time and again that it can’t be trusted and will do anything and everything to undercut its competition, abuse its power, and evade accountability. The FCC needs to launch an immediate investigation into these latest allegations by Level 3 and Zoom and do whatever it takes to protect Internet users.
“This is a moment of truth for Julius Genachowski. The FCC chairman can no longer sit on the sidelines endlessly weighing whether to take action. He must move now to restore the agency’s authority to police the new generation of media behemoths; to issue airtight Net Neutrality rules that shut down pay-to-play toll roads on all wired and wireless networks; and to stop this dangerous merger that would give Comcast even more control over what we watch, read and download every day. If the merger goes ahead, it will be the first domino, as the Internet becomes more and more like cable TV, with a handful of monopoly providers like Comcast overcharging customers and building toll roads on the Internet that stifle entrepreneurs and independent voices."
The ball is in the FCC’s court now. They could choose to protect the Internet and the free spread of information, or they could cave in to Big Media like the rest of the government has and create an Internet with virtual Berlin walls up all around it.
Maybe, just maybe there is still hope for an Internet that is allowed to freely exchange information.