How Cable Monopolies Hurt ISP Customers

“New York subscribers have had to overpay month after month for services that Spectrum deliberately didn’t provide,” reports Backchannel — noting these practices are significant because together Comcast and Charter (formerly Time Warner Cable) account for half of America’s 92 million high-speed internet connections. An anonymous reader quotes Backchannel:
Based on the company’s own documents and statements, it appears that just about everything it has been saying since 2012 to New York State residents about their internet access and data services is untrue…because of business decisions the company deliberately made in order to keep its capital expenditures as low as possible… Its marketing department kept sending out advertising claims to the public that didn’t match the reality of what consumers were experiencing or square with what company engineers were telling Spectrum executives. That gives the AG’s office its legal hook: Spectrum’s actions in knowingly saying one thing but doing another amount to fraudulent, unfair, and deceptive behavior under New York law…

The branding people went nuts, using adjectives like Turbo, Extreme, and Ultimate for the company’s highest-speed 200 or 300 Mbps download offerings. But no one, or very few people, could actually experience those speeds…because, according to the complaint, the company deliberately required that internet data connections be shared among a gazillion people in each neighborhood… [T]he lawsuit won’t by itself make much of a difference. But maybe the public nature of the attorney-general’s assault — charging Spectrum for illegal misconduct — will lead to a call for alternatives. Maybe it will generate momentum for better, faster, wholesale fiber networks controlled by cities and localities themselves. If that happened, retail competition would bloom. We’d get honest, straightforward, inexpensive service, rather than the horrendously expensive cable bundles we’re stuck with today.
The article says Spectrum charged 800,000 New Yorkers $10 a month for outdated cable boxes that “weren’t even capable of transmitting and receiving wifi at the speeds the company advertised customers would be getting,” then promised the FCC in 2013 that they’d replace them, and then didn’t. “With no competition, it had no reason to upgrade its services. Indeed, the company’s incentives went exactly in the other direction.”

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