Internet-loving Americans have been waiting way too long for a team of benevolent juggernauts in Washington to take on massive money-hungry cable companies. This week, four freedom-fighting senators took their first swing in the form of a strongly worded letter to the Federal Communications Commission. The message was clear: Bring down broadband prices.
Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, and Ed Markey joined forces in asking the FCC to investigate companies that are charging “ridiculous prices” for cable and broadband services. The consumer advocates—quite correctly—argue that this country’s citizens are forced to buy internet from “de facto monopolies.” The letter reads:
As the telecommunications industry becomes increasingly concentrated, this lack of choice has resulted in huge price increases and often poor service customers for consumers.
Then, the internet advocates get specific:
In addition to steeply rising prices, consumers are often unaware of the various fees that are tacked onto their monthly bills because of the lack of transparency in pricing. To cite just one example, Time Warner Cable began charging a cable modem rental fee in 2012 of $3.95 a month. TWC then raised the price to $5.99 a month in 2013. Today it charges $8 a month, a 203 percent increase in three years’ time, in addition to monthly broadband charges.
That’s bullshit! But it’s familiar bullshit because these kinds of charges and terrible customer service have become commonplace, when dealing with big cable. We’ve known for a while that America’s internet is awful, but now the nation’s top lawmakers are essentially the calling the monopolistic industry un-American.
Of course, a strongly worded letter to the FCC doesn’t not quite constitute an all-out war on big cable. The FCC will have to cooperate, though it helps that this is an issue that President Obama has been pushing for months now.
Inevitably, with celebrity consumer advocates like Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken fighting the good fight, it’s certainly a good start. The fact that net neutrality pioneer Ed Markey and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are backing them up bodes well for everyone. After all, we have to put up with this crappy internet. We might as well band together to fix it.
Images via AP