Comcast, Goodlatte and the free market economy

Brent Finnegan -- October 16th, 2007

There’s a pair of stories in today’s DNR about the five percent rate hike for Comcast customers, set to go into effect November 7.

I’ve been sharing my concerns about Comcast on this blog since last July. County officials are only now getting worried, because there is no competition for Comcast in the area. The BoS is drafting a letter to House Representative Bob Goodlatte, imploring him to help create “a more competitive atmosphere” in the Valley.

I’m not exactly sure what they expect Goodlatte to do about it. He’s a staunch proponent of “free market solutions.” Goodlatte has stated, “I take seriously our responsibility to prevent unnecessary regulatory restrictions that inhibit free enterprise.” Another statement on his official House website says:

The principles of free-market competition, minimal government regulation, and open consumer access have guided the growth of the Internet. If this growth is to continue, Congress must ensure that public policy reflects the best interests of the consumer. The environment that has nurtured the early growth of the Internet must be preserved and strengthened to spur continued innovation and ensure that the Internet and the information-based economy continue to flourish.

Instead of moving into the area to compete with Adelphia, Comcast bought them out. Not really sure how mergers and corporate buyouts figure into that free market model.

The TV and Internet industries are among Goodlatte’s top six contributors. What does the BoS honestly expect Goodlatte to do here?

40 Responses to “Comcast, Goodlatte and the free market economy”

  1. NotJohnMcCain says:

    Thank your state legislature – they approved a bill last year under the guise of ‘reform’ that applied the five percent sales tax to all telecommunications services (HB 568 from ’06 session).

  2. Kyle says:

    Goodlatte has stated, “I take seriously our responsibility to prevent unnecessary regulatory restrictions that inhibit free enterprise.”

    Translation: I will do anything I can to insure that there is no competition or oversight that might hinder big business from dominating and controlling their market.

    good for rich stockholders, not so good for the rest of us.

  3. finnegan says:

    For those interested in stats — I just checked Google Analytics, and found that 32 percent of hburgnews readers are using Comcast for their ISP.

    Compare that to the second largest slice of the pie, Verizon, which only accounts for 13 percent. NTelos accounts for around 11 percent of readers. JMU makes up 4 percent.

    Rural Broadband, Sheltel, AOL, CFW, Visual Link, and many other ISPs make up the rest of the pie, with less than 2 percent each.

    In other words, Comcast is king of the ISPs in this area.

  4. David Miller says:

    I personally love the way this works. We buy you from Adelphia (we bought them and they had you as a customer). We spend $85 million just to get the company running again (years of mismanagement that we knew about prior to our buyout but that we are now going to make look like we didn’t know prior, so that we can rationalize a fee hike to the FCC).
    “The company has invested $85 million in network improvements, call center expansions, new hires, training and equipment, she said. Comcast Corp. acquired Adelphia’s assets and 1.5 million subscribers, including 500,000 in Virginia, in a $3.5 billion deal last year.”
    Then we sell this to the public (who know full well that when companies buy their competitors, the public always loses in the long run) using the line “Price adjustments reflect the increased value of our services,” Linnen said. “[That includes] a more robust video-on-demand lineup, numerous additional channels and [high-definition] viewing choices.”

    Note that “price adjustments” are not referred to as stockholder profit rendering.

    I’ll be the first one to speak up for the free market. I’ll also be the first one to point out the hypocrisy of anyone who doesn’t recognize the benefit to America that anti-monopoly laws have rendered.

  5. MF says:

    I must say I am not impressed with comcast at all. We just got digital cable hooked up at our house two months ago, and it was more hassle then what its worth. They took 2 weeks to come out and hook it up. Then our on demand didn’t work and when we called them to come fix it, it took them another week to come back and look at it. Then they told us it was a national issue with the video box, so they can’t help us and we have to continue to pay for a digital box that won’t get on demand.

  6. Emmy says:

    I think I’m one of the few people in the area that doesn’t hate Comcast. I’ve never had a problem with my cable TV and the few times my internet has been down, its been resolved quickly. I had one instance that required a visit from them and the man was very nice and helpful, and cute ;)…..but, I do wish it cost a bit less!

  7. Justin says:

    The thing that got me was that the official letter said that because they are so dedicated to the bringing you the best technology with the best service, these rates were going into effect.

    I’m not getting more HD channels, faster internet, or a bigger DVR.

    Only basic cable charges were increasing.

  8. Justin says:

    I don’t remember being asked what I wanted from Comcast. Was there a form online I could have filled out for what my increase would go towards?

  9. David Miller says:

    My internet (basic) went up 20%. Rationalize that.

  10. Dave Briggman says:

    The Board of Supervisors is correct in seeking competition for Comcast and I believe they should do it for Verizon as well…both offer service AND services in other areas in the country that we can’t get universally throughout Rockingham County (Verizon’s “Call Intercept” is an example as is their FIOS)…hell, I live on Route 620, a major secondary road and we can’t get Comcast to pull the cable up this road.

    If this City/County want to compete in the 21st century economy, there must me universal access to broadband…we don’t have that here.

  11. Emmy says:

    Yikes, not looking forward to my next bill. I’m already paying more than I can afford. I didn’t know it was going up that much. I got the info in the mail, but I can never remember what I have.

  12. Dave Briggman says:

    I think Goodlatte’s been in office long enough to go back to “cable deregulation”…you remember that, right? When Congress promised that deregulation would lower cable prices 10%, but forgot to tell all of use that they would allow the companies to cut 20% of the channel offering at a given price point?

    Goodlatte’s been here way too long…time for some new blood.

  13. Gxeremio says:

    We just have Broadcast Basic cable (for like $12.50), and the cost for that actually is going down a bit (because they’re getting rid of some duplicate network affiliates). High speed internet, I think, is staying the same cost (since it’s not the only service we buy). So it’s no skin off our teeth. There may be only one cable company option for most of us, but there are lots of other entertainment options – Netflix, internet TV, iTunes downloads, etc. etc. They may be shooting themselves in the foot to make cable more expensive at a time when people have so many other choices.

  14. David Miller says:

    I still think that our municipality should look into transmitting all of these features over the powerlines, and just letting individual companies sell to consumers via the municipal lines. That way a company wouldn’t need huge infrastructure to compete. Consumers would win.

  15. JGFitzgerald says:

    May I offer some perspective?

    It’s television. Just television. Sitcoms, lawyer shows, doctor shows, Law & Order. It’s not water, electricity, phone or sewer service. Just television. Reruns. Football games. Game shows called “Who wants to look like an idiot?” Occasionally a good documentary, but you can see it at CST first. It’s just television. It makes money. Selling ads. For ED drugs and toothpaste. Beer, pickups, widescreen TVs, closed course professional driver don’t try this at home. Television. Yes, it costs you money. Every dime that every player can get every step along the way.

    Library’s free.

  16. Frank J Witt says:

    Electric company charges per kw used…water company charges per use, gas company charges per use BUT Comcasrt charges whether I use their service for 1 hours (normal) or 8+ on Sundays…explain THAT !

  17. Barnabas says:

    If you have a high speed internet connection than you should look at Vonage for your phoneline. It’s $31.00 a month and I can call my sister in Ireland for free.

  18. David Miller says:

    or skype her for free with no monthly charge

  19. Frank J Witt says:

    We 86’ed our home line because of our cell #’s but there is only a minimal difference between the 2 cable/internet packages pplus the extra channels….

    Just curious as why the cable company can’t/won’t do like every other industry.

  20. Kyle says:

    Not only are these companies flexing their monopoly muscle, but they are also over-stepping their bounds as they dapple dangerously close to censorship. Recently ther has been a lot of neg. publicity (and rightfully so) concerning the blocking of text messages of a pro-choice group by Verizon, and the more infamous censoring of anti-bush comments by Comcast made by Pearl Jam during a televised concert.

    If we allow these mega-corps to censor at will we are in trouble.

  21. Kyle says:

    correction: it was AT&T that censored Pearl Jam not Comcast.

  22. Eli says:

    Comcast has also been receiving some negative attention recently due to what appears to be Bittorrent filtering.

    http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/08/its-comcastic-i.html

  23. Kyle says:

    Comcast also started closing people’s accounts who were using too much capacity for their liking.

  24. David Miller says:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2004785759717366066

    I love this Colbert video that so beautifully illustrates the steps backwards we have taken (monopoly busters).

    JG
    I agree, I don’t have cable television (or any besides movies from BB). I’m not arguing that TV is somehow great.

  25. andy says:

    Joe is right! It’s just television — not water or electricity. You can actually turn television off and forget about it.

    My wife and I did it when our first kid was born (turned the tv off, wisenheimer). It was difficult at first. But now my oldest is ten and we don’t miss it a bit. All you intelligent hburgnews people! Rise up! You don’t actually need television.

    Unless, you’re into sports. Then you need television.

    My friend Alan is really into sports. He got to throw out the first baseball at a Mets game once when we were teenagers in the early 70’s. He won some contest. I still have the picture, and Alan has this huge afro and looks like a total dork.

    After he threw out the first pitch we took our seats in the box seating area behind the Mets dugout. In about the 4th inning someone on the upper deck threw a paper airplane made from the gameday program. It was heavy and sliced through the air and into Alan’s afro and stuck there. He spun around because he thought someone had tapped him on the head.

    Everyone all around started laughing and Alan turned right and left because he didn’t know he had a paper airplane stuck in his afro.

    I caught sight of the airplane sticking straight out of Alan’s afro and CocaCola came our of my nose because of my involuntary laughter. Alan was pissed.

  26. lol.. great story andy.

  27. finnegan says:

    Well put, Joe and Andy. I watch about as much TV as your average household cat. Which is to say, not very much, and not for very long. And it’s never at my house, because I don’t receive any channels. That’s right, I’m a Comcast customer, yet I get 0 (zero) channels on my TV. I just use it for the Internet. At the time I signed up for it, Comcast was the fastest connection available in my neighborhood. I’d like to know if that’s still the case, because my modem is crap. I’ve called Comcast at least three times in the last two months because my connection was down.

    The only thing I watch on my TV at home is DVDs. I also watch a lot of Frontline on my computer.

  28. Eli says:

    I don’t watch TV either. In fact I don’t even own one.

    I had Adelphia just for internet, which I do consider a bit more of a necessity. I’d like a nice, fast, neutral connection without having to pay through the nose for it.

  29. David Miller says:

    My new modem is crap too. I’m switching to DSL. They apparently have a new plan that doesn’t have to be tied to a phone line.

  30. finnegan says:

    Let me know how that works out, David. I’d like to get rid of Comcast without sacrificing connection speed.

  31. Josh says:

    David,

    I have Verizon DSL and it’s my understanding that I need basic phone service in order for the service to work. Who is offering non-phone service DSL?

    My DSL is very reliable but my cable using friends have much faster access rates.

    I’ve been thinking about switching my internet provider for a while. I’ve reluctantly signed 1-year contracts with Verizon due to fuzziness regarding municipal IPv6 stuff (fearful that I’d have to pay $$$ to break contracts in order to use the city’s new access).

    Does anyone here live in Liberty Square and have the Ntelos “Broadband XL” fiber service?

    http://www.ntelos.com/landline/residential/broadbandxl.html

  32. Washingtonian says:

    Oh sh*t, this STUPID MONOPOLY CALLED COMCAST again!

    [“The Board of Supervisors is correct in seeking competition for Comcast …”]

    I wish someone had the guts to actually do it… but I doubt it.

  33. Bubby says:

    Mona! If, if I could get DSL we would be gone from Comcast in a Manassas-minute. No, it isn’t as fast as cable, but how fast is your cable broadband when it isn’t working? DSL is multiply more reliable service.

    Intelos has a wireless broadband option at $35 per month.

  34. David Miller says:

    I’ve been told by a tech that they now offer no-dial tone service.

  35. Phil says:

    It’s not just television. It’s a very large chunk of the mass communication passing in and out of our community. And with so much media consolidation and things like Vonage, how long until the TV, Internet AND Phone companies are all the SAME company?

    Now think of that without Net Neutrality.

  36. Dave Briggman says:

    Here’s a current story on Comcast blocking peer-to-peer net traffic.

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D8SCEBLG0&show_article=1

  37. Frank J Witt says:

    Here are 4 pages of updates coming soon to a comcast set near you.

    http://comcastbignews.com/images/faqs/05_harrisonburg_faq.pdf

  38. Phil C. says:

    You don’t like the cable rates going up…get a Dish if you can.

    I love my Dish Network.

Reader Tweets

Latest Flickr photos in the hburgnews Flickr pool
Announcements & Press Releases
  • Friendly City Grand Opening Set for July 9

    Friendly City Food Co-Op, Harrisonburg’s consumer-owned grocery, invites the community to come see its new destination for natural, organic and locally-produced products at the store’s grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 9 at 150 East Wolfe Street.

  • Friendly City Becomes Member of National Cooperative Grocers Association

    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.