Crybaby's (updated)

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A coalition of small cable companies are complaining that a minor FCC condition attached to the Charter merger means there’s a small chance they may just have to compete. As part of the FCC’s merger conditions the agency states that Charter needs to expand broadband to an additional 2 million homes — 1 million of which must already be served by a competing broadband provider providing speeds of at least 25 Mbps.

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That has upset the ACA — a lobbying and policy coalition of small cable providers — which says the demand for greater competition would somehow “damage economic efficiency, injure small providers, and harm consumers.”According to the ACA’s filing (pdf) with the FCC, the overbuild condition is “stunningly bad and inexplicable government policy” that would have “devastating effects on the smaller broadband providers Charter will overbuild.”
Granted most of these more rural providers operate in markets wear competition is weak to non-existent, and they’d all like to keep it that way. On the other hand, the ACA does make the point — as we noted — that the FCC’s order approving the merger spends a huge amount of time detailing how bad the merger will be for consumers.
“On the one hand, the FCC found that Charter will be too big and therefore it imposed a series of conditions to ensure it does not exercise any additional market power,” stated the ACA. “At the same time, the FCC, out of the blue, is forcing Charter to get even bigger.”
But in one sense, the ACA’s statement and filing make it clear it hasn’t really been paying attention. Charter CEO Tom Rutledge last month made it very clear that the company would primarily adhere to the FCC’s build out condition by targeting small phone companies, not cable companies. Why? Charter doesn’t want to build duplicate facilities if it can just turn around and buy these smaller cable companies in a few years.
“When I talked to the FCC, I said I can’t overbuild another cable company, because then I could never buy it, because you always block those,” Rutledge recently said. “It’s really about overbuilding telephone companies.”
That’s because most phone companies are so debt-loaded and cash strapped they can’t possibly deliver fiber to the home anytime soon. That makes them much easier targets than cable companies, for whom DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades are notably less expensive.
“Why would we go where we could get killed?” rhetorically asked the CEO.
So while that means the ACA’s member companies don’t really have much to worry about from the FCC’s order, trying to pretend that a tiny shred of additional competition would somehow hurt consumers is a nice theatrical touch.

.Saturday, June 11, 2016
A handful of elected officials who are doing the bidding of the cable industry lobbyists, aka Washington politicians loyal to telecom campaign contributions, are trying to kill Net-neutrality regulations for the benefit of Cable Company’s..

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Congress simply won’t stop trying to kill net neutrality and other pro-consumer FCC efforts via language sneakily attached to budget bills. The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 29-17 to approve a funding bill (pdf) quietly embedded with a provision that would effectively stop the FCC from protecting net neutrality or bringing competition to the cable set top box.

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As written, the bill would prevent the FCC from enforcing any net neutrality infractions until the telecom industry’s lawsuits over the rules have been settled in the courts.Chairman of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee Ander Crenshaw (R, Jacksonville FL) claims the bill amendments are an attempt “to turn the FCC’s focus to ‘mission critical’ work and away from politically charged rulemakings.”
Except net neutrality has broad, bipartisan consumer support, as do most of the FCC’s recent, uncharacteristically pro-consumer efforts.
Another provision prohibits the FCC from moving forward on its plan to break the cable industry’s monopoly over cable boxes until the plan gets sent back for protracted study. That’s effectively a gimmick intended to bury the idea in committee, something pushed for by cable companies worried about losing $21 billion in captive revenue annually.
FCC boss Tom Wheeler recently stated a protracted additional studies weren’t necessary because of the extensive public comment period that would lead up to the full rules.
“The notice-and-comment process, as well as subsequent ex parte communications, will constitute the most complete and thorough examination of this issue ever undertaken or contemplated,” Wheeler said.
Consumer advocate groups issued statements making it abundantly clear they were growing weary with telecom-beholden politicians trying to covertly dismantle any FCC attempts to improve service quality and pricing for consumers.
“Today featured more of the same from a handful of elected officials who are doing the bidding of industry lobbyists dead-set on reversing the FCC’s Net Neutrality order,” said consumer advocacy group Free Press. “The representatives voting for these measures care more about protecting cable companies than their own constituents. But the public won’t stand for any scheme to sneak these attacks into spending bills and legislate away internet freedoms.”
“Public Knowledge remains committed to thwarting any attempts to abuse the appropriations process in an effort to undermine federal agencies’ mandates to protect consumers, and promote competition and innovation in the 21st century,” said Public Knowledge in its own statement. “We encourage all Members of the House to oppose this bill as long as it contains these harmful policy riders.”
In addition to stealth bill riders and other hidden amendments, politicians loyal to telecom campaign contribution have dragged Wheeler and the FCC in front of what’s been an endless series of taxpayer-funded hearings held under the pretense of ensuring FCC “accountability and transparency.” In reality, the hearings sole purpose have been to try and shame the agency for standing up to telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast.
Ultimately the efforts are not only annoying and costly to taxpayers, they’re simply not succeeding. The only way for the net neutrality rules to be killed is by successful ISP lawsuit (a ruling on which is expected any day now) or via Presidential election and the repopulating of the FCC with significantly more AT&T and Comcast-friendly Commissioners intent on voting to dismantle net neutrality..


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