Saturday, February 09, 2013

Why I signed a petition to name Susan Crawford next head of the FCC

I just electronically signed the Whitehouse.gov petition to appoint Susan Crawford as the next head of the Federal Communications Commission. Let me tell you why.

The Internet was invented and deployed in the US. At one time, nearly all international traffic flowed through our National Science Foundation network. Today, our Internet is mediocre by the standards of developing nations and slipping.

In a recent interview by Bill Moyers, Crawford says U.S. Internet access is slow, costly and unfair and tells how we got in this fix. (The video is embedded below).

Here are a few quotes from the interview:
"What's happened is that these enormous telecommunications companies, Comcast and Time Warner on the wired side, Verizon and AT&T on the wireless side, have divided up markets, put themselves in the position where they're subject to no competition and no oversight from any regulatory authority. And they're charging us a lot for internet access and giving us second class access."

"So there's been a division. Cable takes wired, Verizon/AT&T take wireless. They're actually cooperating."

"In almost 20 states in America it's either illegal or very difficult for municipalities to make this decision for themselves."

"This is a moment when we have to separate out content from conduit. It should not be possible for a local cable actor or any distributor to withhold programming based on volume ...Everybody should get access to the same stuff at the same price and they should be announced prices."

"Michael Powell, who served as F.C.C. chairman for four years in the mid-2000s, is now the cable and telecom industry's top D.C. lobbyist."

"Meredith Attwell Baker who was one of the F.C.C. commissioners who approved Comcast's merger with NBCUniversal, left the agency four months later to join Comcast as a highly paid lobbyist."
Further reading:
Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight center for digital media entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, explains why Susan Crawford should be the next head of the Federal Communications Commission (http://bit.ly/XjaNEm).

Cory Doctorow, Internet activist, journalist and science fiction, agrees that Crawford should run the FCC ( http://bit.ly/WYv8fm).
I searched for a rebuttal -- someone arguing against Crawford's appointment -- but was unable to find one. Please let me know if you know of one.
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Update 1/28/2014

How cable companies "compete" -- dividing up the cable market

Comcast is near a deal to buy New York City, North Carolina and New England cable assets from Charter Communications Inc., but that sale is contingent upon shareholders approving Charter’s takeover bid for Time Warner Cable. Since Comcast would no longer be in the running for Time Warner Cable, they will probably accept Charter's offer.

This trading of monopoly territory reminds me of the way rival drug gangs divide up corners and housing projects -- I wonder if these guys watch "The Wire."