Comcast Is Trying To Ban States From Protecting Broadband & TV Consumers

from the this-will-surely-end-well dept

We’ve repeatedly tried to make it clear that while everybody tends to focus on the death of net neutrality itself, the Pai FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” order killing net neutrality had a far broader impact than just killing net neutrality rules. As part of the repeal, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T also convinced FCC boss Ajit Pai to effectively neuter FCC authority over ISPs entirely, making it harder for the agency to hold giant ISPs accountable on a wide variety of issues ranging from privacy to transparency (the recent fire fighter kerfuffle being a prime example).

The order also attempts to ban individual states from holding giant ISPs accountable as well, though early ISP efforts to take advantage of this legal language haven’t gone very well. In an effort to double down on weakening state oversight of natural telecom monopolies, Comcast lobbyists at the NCTA (the cable industry’s biggest lobbying and policy organization) have also started petitioning the FTC, urging it to similarly “pre-empt” (read: ban or ignore) state-level efforts to protect consumers:

“The FTC should ensure that the Internet is subject to uniform, consistent federal regulations, including by issuing guidance explicitly setting forth that inconsistent state and local requirements are preempted,” the NCTA wrote.

The FCC is already trying to preempt state net neutrality laws at the urging of industry groups, and courts might ultimately have to decide whether federal agencies can preempt such rules.

“The FTC should endorse and reinforce the FCC’s ruling by issuing guidance to state attorneys general and consumer protection authorities reaffirming that they are bound by FCC and FTC precedent in this arena,” NCTA argued.”

The shorter version: the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom order effectively cripples the FCC’s ability to protect consumers, then shovels any remaining enforcement authority over to the FTC, which is ill-equipped to actually police the telecom market. Predicting that states would then try to jump in and fill the oversight accountability vacuum (which is precisely what started happening on both net neutrality and privacy), ISPs have also been urging both the FCC and the FTC to ban states from doing so.

This is all being done under the pretense that blind deregulation of the telecom sector magically results in greater industry investment and broader deployment. But as we’ve explained countless times, that’s not how the U.S. telecom sector works. With neither competition nor reasonable government oversight to constrain it, natural monopolies like Comcast are simply free to double down on all their worst behaviors. To ignore this historical fact, one is required to pretend that the broadband industry is actually competitive, something Comcast again leans on in its filing with the FTC:

“ISPs claim they face so much competition that market forces will prevent bad behavior. Cable TV faces competition from online video services like Netflix, YouTube, and Amazon, NCTA noted. But notably, the NCTA filing includes a graphic listing “competitors” that doesn’t include any broadband providers.”

None of this logic is new. It was the same argument used by former FCC head Mike Powell (now the top lobbyist of the cable industry), who happily deregulated the broadband sector in the early aughts promising a cornucopia of investment and competition (consumers instead got a bigger Comcast monopoly, skyrocketing prices, usage caps, and virtually no competition at faster speeds). Oddly, giving giant telecom monopolies the precise regulatory landscape they want (no oversight, no concern about monopoly power) doesn’t end well for consumers, innovation, or competition.

That this is still debated speaks to how lost in the woods on these issues we’ve become. And like Charlie Brown and his football, we never seem to learn, so nothing changes. And our reward for this collective gullibility is expensive broadband, comically-terrible customer service, and a bigger, meaner Comcast.

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Comments on “Comcast Is Trying To Ban States From Protecting Broadband & TV Consumers”

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Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Wrong

As long as you keep blaming the WRONG people the problem does not get solved!

Since you are an unidentified poster, which "Obvious simple" solution would that be? The one where you declare that laws don’t apply to you (SovCit) or the one where we magically create competition by removing regulations without meaningful steps to break up the monopolies?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Wrong

I support Anti-Monopoly and Anti-Trust regulations.

My question for you is when will you get tired of lying? O wait, I keep forgetting… lies are the only game you got.

And to point out my other argument… we have had those regulations for a while and they failed too, because of folks like you. Let me explain how it all worked out.

Ma Bell created a monopoly.
Anti-Monopoly laws did not stop them because the regulators themselves failed, NOT because the regulations were bad.
Then folks got tired of the regulatory failure and guess what they did? Asked for moar regulation.
Guess what the politicans learned?
If we fail, they give us moar power? Why again should we actually do anything that works? They will give us moar power when we fail, and guess what! We can even make regulatory agencies so when they do fail… we can blame them! Those fucking losers will NEVER know what hit them!

I don’t know why you think I would be a SovCit, but I guess being intelligent is not something you are familiar with.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Wrong

I don’t know why you think I would be a SovCit,

Why? Because the SovCits always post as Cowards – because, and I’m trying to understand this, if they post with a name, they have granted authority to Mike to make them slaves.
So I was careful to frame that with the possibility you were the other kind of Coward, that misstates the history of natural monopolies and ignores the example of European ISPs, and that all regulatory agencies are impositions on the Free Market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Wrong

“Why? Because the SovCits always post as Cowards”

Ohh… is there some reason you need a name up here? I am just to lazy to give a fuck about making accounts. If you don’t like that excuse, I have an ass, you can kiss it, no wait… I would not want your nasty fucking lips on that! So sod off instead eh?

“So I was careful to frame that with the possibility you were the other kind of Coward, that misstates the history of natural monopolies and ignores the example of European ISPs,”

I misstated no history of the natural monopolies, just exposing the lies you are peddling about them. And I don’t give a shit about the example the Europeans ISP’s are setting last I checked they are well on their way to a surveillance state where freedom of speech is already lost. You want that you can have it, but don’t come to me and tell me to look towards a bunch of idiots that are near destruction. Europe is going to look very different in the next 30 years…

“and that all regulatory agencies are impositions on the Free Market.”

Damn you are a fucking knob that just does not have a fucking clue!

Newt Rallity says:

"uniform, consistent federal regulations" would be neutrality.

But how many more shrieky little rehashes of "the sky is falling!" are you going to do without a bit of actual harm? You’ve already got a rep for that, you know.

By the way, I don’t agree that broadband is "expensive". You’re just not getting unlimited HD video on your phone the way you want for one fixed low price effectively subsidized by those who just use it for a few voice or texts.

You know, you kids don’t and perhaps can’t enjoy the best time in human history ever! You’re always complaining of oppression. Lighten up, kid. You aren’t starving, never even have to meet a writing schedule, let alone labor. Throw your stupid little phones away, you’ll be happier.

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: "uniform, consistent federal regulations" would be neutrality.

I know, right?

If the ISPs could have proven actual harm caused by net neutrality instead of just claiming (in opposition to their own reports to shareholders!) that it was damaging investment, maybe the vast majority of the public would have come out on their side, instead of what actually happened.

Their constant shrieking about how "the sky is falling" were really annoying, though.

You’re making a lot of assumptions about whoever you’re calling "kid", though.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:


how many more shrieky little rehashes of "the sky is falling!" are you going to do without a bit of actual harm?

Are you asking us, or are you asking Comcast?

I don’t agree that broadband is "expensive".

United States broadband is expensive when compared to countries such as Japan, which offers much faster speeds for a lower price than Americans would pay for those same speeds.


You are the only one here who sounds like a child—to be precise, you sound like a whiny brat.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'It's not fair, we didn't want ANY rules(that we didn't write)!"

"The FTC should ensure that the Internet is subject to uniform, consistent federal regulations, including by issuing guidance explicitly setting forth that inconsistent state and local requirements are preempted," the NCTA wrote.

We had those, they were the network neutrality rules and privacy rules, and you killed both of them with the help of your stooge in the FCC and tools in congress. It was only after the ‘uniform, consistent federal regulations’ were killed that the states felt the need to step in and do it themselves, making this a problem entirely of Comcast and company’s making.

Claiming that they want consistent federal rules after killing them… why, it’s almost as though they’re lying through their teeth and in fact don’t want any rules that they themselves didn’t write.

Iggy says:

The telcos stand up for every important and noble issue!

When petitioning the government for financial aid in building out networks, they are for universal access to internet and Title II.

When Google Fiber or another overbuilder comes to town, they are in favor of minimizing environmental impact, nuissance levels. They are for the sanctity of property rights for their utility poles built in front of peoples houses without asking them.

When the Obama FCC tried to preempt state laws banning municipal networks, they were in favor of State Rights and against burdensome regulation.

When the states try to enact their own Net Neutrality laws, they are in favor of uniformity and regulation.

When the Trump FCC throws out Net Neutrality on the Federal level, they are for public safety. They are against Title II as burdensome regulation.

When firefighters get throttled after signing up for a phony “unlimited” data plan designed to upsell them, they think its a shame were all so confused.

You have to admire their nobility and activism!

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: The telcos stand up for every important and noble issue!

Your saying the telcos have more than two faces? I tend to agree, but it’s getting crowded. They are going to wind up not actually understanding what they believe, except that some things earn them more money, and other don’t.

Getting Congress to just pass a law that guarantees not only certain levels of profit, but growth in profit along with overall growth, forever, is just a bit beyond their reach, so far.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: The telcos stand up for every important and noble issue!

Yep, but the politicians gave them all of those BS loopholes to work with.

Again, stop blaming the Telcos for playing the game that the Regulators and Politicians came up with. This has been my eternal complaint there.

The politicians sucker you guys and make you think they are working for you, they are not. They are creating these legal loopholes and gimmicks to make you think they did their part while the companies are still bad. Companies don’t give a shit, they just want money and they will do whatever they can to get it.

When you get the politicians to fix it, then we can get somewhere, until then this is what we are going to get… BS gimmicks and loopholes that allow these businesses to screw us and the entire time folks continue to avoid blaming the MOTHERFUCKING PROBLEM!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The telcos stand up for every important and noble issue!

You seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle.

Corporations fund PACS who fund politicians who rubber stamp legislation written by PACS in order to run roughshod over the minions in their sprint to the bottom line payoff big bonus …. and you want others to believe your story about how it is their fault for this crapfest – gaslighting is for pimps.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: The telcos stand up for every important and noble issue!

I am not missing that. At the end of the day it the blame of the politician for accepting those “legal bribes”.

If you feel gaslit, then there is probably a reason for it. Politicians spend a lot of their time tricking knobs like you into believing everyone else but them are the problem.

Read this article by Charley Reese that reveals folks like you for the fucking knobs you are!

Anonymous Coward says:

Regulatory Capture

Regulatory capture is a form of government failure which occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating.[1] When regulatory capture occurs, the interests of firms or political groups are prioritized over the interests of the public, leading to a net loss for society. Government agencies suffering regulatory capture are called “captured agencies”.

ECA (profile) says:

to all that care..

Dont know how many times, Iv seen Strange groups/agencies CREATE DATA, to support anything a corp says..They get paid VERY WELL for this strange data.

Also, our Gov has Cut back so many people that knew how to do a job, that they cant give ANY specific data. We/they know the Cellphone maps are WRONG..and the Cable/DSL listing are CRAP, even if you call to check if a residence is covered, THE Data is 50% wrong.

The Old phone system was/is the only developed system. but the Corps dont want to replace Anything. If they could/would replace all the lines with Fiber..They could do TONS of things with it. From Phone, Cell site, Wireless local phones, 1000 channel TV..

What is the problem with these folks??

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Problem with that is IF’ they are doing the right thing, would we worry about them STOPPING doing the right thing??

In the past Getting married was as simple as saying YOU ARE MARRIED..
Then the Church got involved, but you could STILL do Common law marriage..
THEN the State said, NOPE cant do that, we need the $50 to register it..

Common law marriage had a stipulation.. that you called yourself by the Mans last name, AND you were together more then 6 months..(and sometimes LESS)

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