Comcast has been in the news recently for its acquisition of Time Warner Cable. It hasn’t been approved as of yet, and only time will tell if it will be allowed. These companies are the top two Internet providers in the United States and they could soon become one giant Internet Service Provider (ISP). This doesn’t mean anything good for the consumer. Given most ISPs have a monopoly in a geographical area and thus they get to make all the rules, all this merger will do is broaden Comcast’s monopoly.
A company gaining more territory wouldn’t really be a bad thing if the company didn’t have such dismal customer service ratings (check out number 7 and number 4). For fairness sake, Charter was slightly worse and Time Warner only slightly better, but that in no way changes the fact that dismal customer service for what is a monopoly, and a growing one, is a problem for anyone that has to bend to the will of the Comcast machine.
With the Internet becoming an ever-more present force in the way we consume media, and potentially do many other things in our lives, the way we receive it and how reliable it is could very well become imperative. Recently, Internet service was called into question in regards to Netflix streaming through Comcast. The service was not the problem, however, Comcast was purposefully slowing down Netflix so that the customers would use less bandwidth from that source, which forced Netflix to strike a deal with Comcast to get its speeds back up to normal. This sets a troubling precedent because Comcast is becoming a media machine, and with the power to slow down services to all its (growing number of) customers, it could mean that Comcast gets to decide who wins and loses on the internet. Oh, by the way, Comcast is a major shareholder in HULU, a competitor to Netflix.
Think about it. A company that controls quite a bit of media is controlling how you obtain your media. Why would they allow any other media to be as fast as the media they make money from? Unless of course, the competing media pays a surcharge to get their streaming service up to speed. What this problem really boils down to is net neutrality, but Comcast has the potential to be the worst offender, given all of their existing media ties.
So, looking a bit into the future, what is stopping Comcast from slowing down service streaming from a Roku because it competes with their X1 platform? The same goes for Apple TV or any other device that allows you to mirror media from a smart device, or a gaming device, such as the ones from competing companies like Amazon and Google.
Taking on Netflix is one thing, but it’s a different league to take aim at Apple, Google or Amazon. I don’t know if Comcast would take on such a serious challenge, especially Google with Google Fiber, but either way, nothing but unnecessary slow down in both internet speed and innovation can come as a result of Comcast getting even bigger and, as a result having a wider customer base they can hold over companies’ heads.