Is Broadband Internet Turning into a Monopoly?

The Internet exemplifies freedom. On the Internet people decide what becomes big and what fades into obscurity. As the years pass, the faster and faster it goes. The more and more information enter the average American’s home. Being an on the edge consumer must involve having the fastest Internet service. It might surprise you to know that Apple co-founder, Steve Woz, does not have broadband internet. Well, to be honest, it should be noted that Mr. Wozniak can get access to internet speeds that are as fast or faster than cable internet through his LTE enabled phones. However, Wozniak cited monopoly conditions that high speed internet providers operate under. How true is that statement?

According to an article written by Susan P. Crawford in the Yale Law Review, 85% of Americans live in an area where there is only one high speed internet provider. In 2006, the assets of Adelphia Communication, which went bankrupt, were divided amongst Comcast and Time Warner. That, combined with a regional monopolies which have been forming since 1997, according to then-President of Tele-Communications, Inc, Leo Hindery, has created a situation in which 70% of consumers live in an area in which there is no broadband competition. So it seems that the Woz is correct. We do, for the most part, live in an age in which telecommunication companies do not compete with each other. This is most troubling since, for the most part, they have achieved this through their own designs. We, the consumers, have paid the price, a highly inflated price. A study done by Hugh Thompson of Digital Home, suggested that the actual price of a gigabyte of data transferred is about 10 cents. On average, that is a 5,000 percent mark up.

This is a serious problem. By the FCC’s own admission, broadband access is important to the economic well-being of the United States. History will tell us that at a time when an essential product is controlled by a single company, quality goes down. I think the last thing that we need for the American economy is for a drop off in quality in any sector. A strangle hold on the Internet chokes freedom, from sending e-mail to communicating to holding our files on cloud hosting sites.