This Week in Comcast: Can municipal broadband save customers money? [telecom]

This Week in Comcast: Can municipal broadband save customers money?

As the digital media world continues to evolve, there's no question Comcast considers its broadband services to make up the core of its connectivity business, with CEO Brian Roberts saying in October it's "increasingly the epicenter of our relationship with customers, and ultimately where we derive the majority of our profitability."

It makes sense then, that the company would throw its support behind organizations fighting to block municipalities' efforts to create their own public broadband systems and argue that the infrastructure costs are too much of a burden for taxpayers to bear.

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Monty Solomon
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Municipal ownership of utilities has been around for ages. It has been a mixed blessing.

For instance, the City of Philadelphia has owned the Gas Works for many years. Until the 1970s, day-to-day operation was contracted out to the United Gas Improvement Co. (UGI) who did an excellent job. But then, for purely idiotic political reasons, the mayor had the city take it over. PGW's service quality and efficient got terrible.

This leads to point #1--sometimes politics gets in the way of efficient operation of a publicly owned utility. (Politics can and do screw up private utilities, too, but not as much.)

The article mentions a key point--Comcast rates are very difficult to figure out due to 'teaser' intro rates. But overall, I'd say Comcast rates are too high given they have increases every year that are higher than inflation, and, they are very flush with cash. Point #2--sometimes a private utility will exploit its monopoly power and charge too much.

Note that Comcast owns NBC/Universal. In the old days, the courts ruled that exhibitors and producers had to be separate companies. NBC and Universal are each big and profitable enough to stand on their own individually, there is no need for Comcast to own them as well.

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