Comcast Apparently Feels Qualified To Give Google Lectures On Monopoly Power

from the ill-communication dept

For several years the telecom sector has been quietly trying to spur additional regulation of Silicon Valley. Why? As giants like AT&T and Comcast increasingly push into the online advertising arena, they’re keen on having competitors saddled with regulation, while they successfully eliminate oversight of their own problematic monopolies. Given the FCC (now headed by a former Verizon lawyer) just effectively neutered itself at telecom lobbyist behest while the DOJ (now headed by a former Verizon lawyer) goes the extra mile to vilify Facebook, you’d have to consider the gambit fairly successful so far.

To be clear, there are plenty of problems with Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other Silicon Valley giants that require attention and intelligent solutions by objective experts. And while a huge chunk of the animosity toward Silicon Valley giants is entirely genuine and well deserved, a lot of the “big tech” hyperventilation among lawmakers like (longtime AT&T ally) Marsha Blackburn is largely theatrical in nature and being driven by the telecom sector. Ferreting out which is which isn’t easy, but looking at campaign contributions can certainly help.

The mainstream press, for its part, has been oddly unaware of how much of the animosity against “big tech” has been co-opted and amplified by telecom for what should be obviously selfish reasons. For example, telecom (hand in hand with Rupert Murdoch) has been making the rounds trying to suggest that Google’s support of encrypted DNS somehow runs afoul of antitrust guidelines (it doesn’t). And Reuters, for example, ran a story this week suggesting that Comcast had suddenly emerged as a “new antitrust foe” for Google, levying criticism at the company’s ad business for the “first time”:

“Comcast, one of America?s largest media and communications companies, is wading into the epic regulatory pile-on against big tech companies such as Google, according to people familiar with the matter…Comcast may be drawing a line in the sand and wants to avoid letting Google do to the video ad business what it has done to the online ad market. It is the first time one of the most powerful companies in the United States, with its own muscular lobbying apparatus in Washington, is taking sides in the antitrust battle looming over the world?s largest seller of online ads.

So for one thing, Comcast’s efforts to push for a regulatory and antitrust crackdown of Google isn’t “new.” The cable industry’s top lobbying organization, the NCTA (whose primary backer is Comcast) has been pushing for a crackdown on Silicon Valley for several years now. Former FCC boss Mike Powell, now the cable industry’s top lobbyist, had this to say at an industry show in March of last year. Take special time to note how every criticism levied at Silicon Valley giants applies equally to telecom providers:

“Our governmental authorities need to get a handle on what kind of market power and harm flow from companies that have an unassailable hold on large pools of big data, which serve as barriers to entry, allowing them to dominate industries throughout the economy. For years, big tech companies have been extinguishing competitive threats by buying or crushing promising new technologies just as they were emerging. They dominate their core business, and rarely have to foreclose competition by buying their peers. Competition policy must scrutinize more rigorously deals that allow dominant platforms to kill competitive technologies in the cradle.”

While there’s plenty of individuals, groups, and companies that can provide helpful insight on the problems in “big tech,” Comcast isn’t among them. In large part because it’s guilty of nearly all of the criticisms it levies at Google. After convincing the FCC to effectively neuter itself recently, Comcast has been enjoying a growing broadband monopoly across huge swaths of the country as the nation’s telcos give up on upgrading aging DSL networks. Comcast then uses that monopoly to jack up prices, erect arbitrary barriers for competitors, and stifle emerging technologies (like better cable boxes).

And while Comcast tries to get DC lawmakers to impose all manner of new restrictions on Google, with its other hand it has successfully convinced DC (and a lot of policy folks who should know better) to ignore the problems with telecom entirely. Comcast has largely been criticizing Google via its advertising subsidiary Freewheel, and via its policy and lobbying extension organizations, while leaning on politicians like Marsha Blackburn whose sudden, breathless concern about tech monopolies mysteriously omits some of tech’s worst offenders: telecom providers.

Yes, countless experts have noted for a decade than US antitrust enforcement has grown toothless and frail, and our definitions of monopoly power need updating in the Amazon era. Facebook’s repeated face plants on privacy (and basic transparency and integrity) have only added fuel to the fire amidst calls to regulate “big tech.” That said, if we’re looking for expert insight into the genuine problems posed by “big tech,” maybe skip taking advice from natural telecom monopolies whose only real motivation here is to elbow in on Silicon Valley advertising revenues while saddling competitors with layers of new regulation.

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Companies: comcast, google

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Comments on “Comcast Apparently Feels Qualified To Give Google Lectures On Monopoly Power”

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37 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Comcast's hypocrisy

Comcast calling Google a monopoly is not even the pot calling the kettle black; it’s a black hole calling the white sun black! Google actually has competition, even in the arena of search engines. Comcast has regional broadband monopolies and whenever those regions try to make their own community broadband, Comcast either sues or bribes state lawmakers.

It’s beyond ridiculous.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Monopolists redefining monopolies to exclude themselves

Comcast and their cheerleaders seem to have some kind of dual standard relating to the definition of monopoly. From Merriam Webster:

monopoly noun
mo·​nop·​o·​ly | mə-ˈnä-p(ə-)lē How to pronounce monopoly (audio)
plural monopolies
Definition of monopoly
1: exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action
2: exclusive possession or control
no country has a monopoly on morality or truth
— Helen M. Lynd
3: a commodity controlled by one party
had a monopoly on flint from their quarries
— Barbara A. Leitch
4: one that has a monopoly
The government passed laws intended to break up monopolies.

From those we can deduce that Comcast is saying that Google has exclusive ownership through legal privilege, command of supply, or concerted action of not just search engines, but online advertising. From Wikipedia we have a listing of search engines which contains more than one search engine. Hmm.

Then, with respect to online advertising, their claim would be that no web page that isn’t controlled by Google has any advertising on it, and we know that that ain’t so. Why doesn’t Comcast?

The answer is that Comcast is trying to set up a hand jive type defense of its own position. Hey, look over there, see what they’re doing? Don’t look over here, behind these curtains, what’s important is over there. Ain’t we sweet?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Monopolists redefining monopolies to exclude themselves

Then, with respect to online advertising, their claim would be that no web page that isn’t controlled by Google has any advertising on it

No, it could be that most advertising comes from Google even on pages they don’t control. Note that under US law, it’s not necessary to prove that there’s literally no competition at all.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

ECA (profile) says:

Everything is Right and everything is wrong.

Strange things.

When will Google just Slowly take over the Industry as a WHOLE?
ATT has made BIG mistakes spending TONS to buy other services, Verizon keeps raise prices on Internet and TV.. Comcast isnt far behind.
Looking at Stock prices I would go for Alibaba, over nay of the others.. and they arent an ISP.

SOMEDAY,
If our gov. really starts Forcing the laws to work.. do you think they can SCARE the hell out of the ISP’s?? Or will the Citizens end up paying higher rates to pay them off, AGAIN??
These folks control MOSt of the communications systems in the nation, at the end points.
Only way out at this time…is either someone BUYS them all up, and lets each area run independently, While upgrading everything. Or the Gov. take it over and rebuilds it AT OUR COST times 10.(lots of work there for everyone)..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Everything is Right and everything is wrong.

Fire sale…

Google is just waiting, it was too expensive to build competing infrastructure (fibre) when there is existing infrastructure in place.

So like any political entity, they are playing the game waiting for AT&T and/or Comcast make some political blunder causing a stock slide, which will tip the market enough to drop the value to the point where Google can just buy the infrastructure for pennies on the dollar… Don’t say you weren’t warned, it’s a big change from ‘do no evil’ or was that ‘o’no Devil’ and we just misinterpreted it?

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Everything is Right and everything is wrong.

the problem is holding these corps to THERE OWN failures insted of having them RAISE the rates and force the consumer to pay for their mistakes..
With no REAL choices, in many areas, we really dont have much choice.
How can we Cut 1-2 services and make the corp hurt…we Cant.
almost as bad as NOT buying food because 3 corps control all the pricing..

Verizon has deversified enough into Many little companies that they get write off’s on Write off’s.. They have a Ton of services for No contract phones its weird..
But the IRS is so backward and using OLD equipment its F’ing stupid, they cant track anything..
Would love to get involved in that, fix/replacement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Everything is Right and everything is wrong.

The only mistake these corporations are kicking themselves in the ass for is not raising all these rates sooner, seeing that the sheep in this population will let them get away with everything they do by not boycotting the fuck out them, bringing their bottom line to the very bottom, bringing them crawling back, begging for mercy from the citizens of this country.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Everything is Right and everything is wrong.

You find a way to do it…
Tell everyone..

Cutting the ties to ALL that they do, is almost suicide.
If you cut one then the others fill in what you didnt..
Cut 2-3-4…And you wont have a phone, cell, internet, Cable/sat..
Now try to get at least 1 million to Cut it all…for about 1 year.
What would they do?
Raise rates on the others. by 1 penny.

a president long ago, said that, Yes we dont have enough jobs, so we need those men in the middle to help create more jobs..
How many Middle men do we need? You cna cut the cake Only so much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’m a totally disabled veteran. I have a meager monthly income which I scrape by on. And I’m thankful to have it. But I haven’t seen an increase to help cover increasing cost of living since well before the 2008 crisis before whats his name got into office. These politicians just crapped all over us citizens by giving themselves these UNHEARD OF OUTRAGEOUS RAISES. What a complete insult to us as a nation, as a state, and as a people.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

not saying much here, as Im on disability and they didnt give a raise for 3 years… And the food prices went up Twice..
I love how they do the COLA(cost of living allowance) and change how its calculated every few years.
When I started it was based on starting wage of Book keepers.
My mother, 20 years older then me(im 60) got her SS checks and its not much more then my own and she worked her BUT OFF…but there is a dirty trick, they fire you or force you to Quit in your later age. Because SS’ is based on last 10 years of employment.. so you start over After 45-50…F’ing stupid.

Story..
Rich person said to me that he paid more taxes then 100 poor people, Why should he pay more…
I mentioned, thats Not how it works…Its how much you Pay to bills, Taxes, Rent, Grocery, Cable/internet, insurance, Gas,….,.. that MAKES an economy work..
Those 100 poor pay For A family of 3-4…thats 300-400 people TRYING to pay off all those bills. Every bit of their money is probably gone, and YOU’ still have some at the end of the month..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

These adults just had their right to chose taken from them. Everyone of those adults 18 and up is going to skirt this idiocy by having someone buy those cigarettes for them. Just before they mail that selective service application into the fascist government who wants them all to possibly die for their country, they’re gonna smokem if they gottem. New York used to be a fucking beautiful state before some of you started destroying it with your extreme totalitarianism. You seem like you are INVITING A RIOT so you can test new waters to see how much you can get away with. That is not good government. Good God ya’ll.

ECA (profile) says:

Everything is Right and everything is wrong.

You find a way to do it…
Tell everyone..

Cutting the ties to ALL that they do, is almost suicide.
If you cut one then the others fill in what you didnt..
Cut 2-3-4…And you wont have a phone, cell, internet, Cable/sat..
Now try to get at least 1 million to Cut it all…for about 1 year.
What would they do?
Raise rates on the others. by 1 penny.

a president long ago, said that, Yes we dont have enough jobs, so we need those men in the middle to help create more jobs..
How many Middle men do we need? You cna cut the cake Only so much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Bluntly brutally honest

Ok Comcast first off: no one likes you.
2nd: if at keeps losing it and needing blood transfusions since you all pretty much follow the same business model with no plan for forecast future profits or customer loyalty in mind just short term as well quite frankly an infrastructure people with the most basic of engendering and drive could probably do better with your probably going to be somewhere down the line if they go under.
3: no one will really care if it happens. I mean your that bad. A least google offers decent service.

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