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Disclosure: This is an opinion piece. Nothing more or less. The writer is currently, unfortunately, a customer of Comcast.

There is a conflict going on. Not related to gaming, but related to something wider. Its a conflict for the fate of the internet in the United States and elsewhere. A major player in it, and some might say, the main centerpiece of it all, is none other than Comcast. Comcast is known widely for its poor customer service, unwillingness to introduce faster speeds for its customers, and its disdain for competing with other Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Comcast is also fighting for its life. They cannot afford to lose this war that is being waged against them – Financially or otherwise. If they do, their current business model risks being turned upside down and made irrelevant overnight. Comcast is known for spending huge amounts of time and energy in retaining the customers they currently have in what are effectively legal monopolies. What most people don’t see, or realize, is that there is a much deeper and well founded concern than that of simply losing customers to current competition.

They are afraid of becoming the next America OnLine. AOL as it was known, was at one point one of the leading ISPs for people in the United States. It managed to make signing up for and connecting to the internet a simple affair for its members. As time went on though, AOL was unable to adapt to new technologies quick enough, and their customers moved on to other ISPs that were offering better customer care and better prices in comparison. As their market share declined, instead of adapting, they switched markets entirely and became a media company.

The part of this that relates to Comcast’s current situation is that they have the same business model of not upgrading their service, and not adapting to new technology. In fact, Comcast has done all in its not-insignificant power to work against new technology becoming available to consumers. They have a history of being very much against introducing better networks, and have only done so when they have no other choice – for example, when Google Fiber decided to start its experiment in Kansas City, Kansas.

Comcast understands that if they lose the current conflict over the future of ISPs in the United States, that their entire business model turns them into the next AO-Hell. They consider it a priority enough to have spent USD $12 million on lobbying alone in 2014. The real problem is that if ISPs become regulated like utilities, the risk is then posed that other competitive ISPs might start popping up. They lack the time and energy to properly fight against each and every single one. Its a simple fact and side effect of how huge Comcast actually is.

There reaches a point when you become large enough, that sooner or later, you won’t be able to fend off a lot of smaller competitors. It then becomes economically viable to not expend as much energy on each competitor as they might expend on a competitor like Google. It happened to AOL, and on a much larger and more catastrophic scale, it is the same thing that eventually spelled the downfall of the Roman Empire. That is, they got so big that expanding any further would have actually become harmful. I believe that Comcast has very much reached this point, and is only starting to see that people are not happy with them. The struggle is not only over ‘if’ they are made to face a lot of competition, but how much competition they will have to face.

All is not lost, however. If you are a United States citizen, you can petition the FCC to reclassify ISPs under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. You can do the same thing to tell them what you think about the Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger. More information on how to do that can be found here at The Consumerist.

TechRaptor is a supporter of Net Neutrality and the reclassification of ISPs as utilities under Title II in the United States. We encourage you to contact your representatives and the Federal Communications Commission.


Keith Elwood

I have been a gamer ever since I can remember, starting with the Sega Genesis and original Nintendo consoles. I graduated to frogger on an ancient IBM home PC, and then onto Sim City 2000. In 2004, I got into shooters and MMOs. I haven't looked back since. Professionally, I am certified in private security. In my spare time, I dabble in information analysis and study geopolitics. I sometimes write at my own blog at keithelwood.com.



  • I hate Comcast with a fiery passion. I gave them custom for years and would rather not have internet service than ever let them see any more of my money.

    They are dishonest, their service is terrible, their speed is never as promised…the list goes on. There is nothing else they could have done to make my customer experience worse barring physically assaulting me when I turned their hardware in at the xfinity store near my house and based on the rest of their service I can’t say for sure that that wasn’t a possibility.

  • Megapewpew

    While I agree comcast is a horrible company, thanks to tons of government perks, it’s directly linked to networks(tv networks, Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC) getting special treatment from the government as well. All the special laws and regulations protecting them has created these monopolies. I dont see how you can possibly think there will be more competition if it is regulated like utilities…I mean utilities are practically monopolies as well, the electric companies are pretty dirty as well.

    Trying to be a startup ISP is almost impossible, specailly if you want to go broadbands, it’s very expensive and requires millions simply to put lines on the ground. The answer isnt simple, what-so-ever. The current big cable companies and network companies need to be tore down a peg or 50, imo, however for the to happen would require a rather large economic adjustment, and would temporarily hurt the market until the correction was finished. I’m afraid the government is just going to keep empowering these cable and tv networks. I think the only thing we can hope for at this point is making comcast, charter, cox, and ect actually compete against each other, how this can happen…who knows, since they all need help from the electric companies, to get their lines up in the air and under the ground.

    Seriously, cable right now is a mess, specifically because of how expensive it is for competition. Currently, without the big money in cable, broadband would probably take a step back, considering how expensive materials are. The economy really is broke, in this sector(world wide, really). To show how inconsistent it is, where I live I have 60mbs and only pay 60 a month for it, through Charters Spectrum service, with no caps or throttling.

  • I’d be happy if Comcast would just stop making excuses and enhance their infrastructure. The internet in our complex is terribad.

  • Time for municpal inter…oh wait, Comcast lobbied it away

  • Megapewpew

    That doesnt make sense. The cost inst using the polls, the cost is the stuff they put on the polls. I mean, there are area’s where Charter, Comcast, and Cox intersect(at least in michigan). In Charlevoix, you can even see multiple groups on the lines. Comcast in no way has “tight controls”, the electrical company has tight controls, in fact comcast and the electric companies regularly get in fights over cost of using their polls.

    It will never be “anyone can use those lines” and nobody in their right mind would want it that way. It would be a nightmare for any tech to actually work on those lines, seeing as it would be a cobweb of misery. You dont want 5 different drops coming from the polls, that would be a nightmare(and not very safe). What you are suggesting wouldnt happen anyway. The major roadblock isnt polls, it’s everything. Material costs, labor costs, and ect are not in any way cheap. Also, comcast isnt in charge of the polls, infact, that have almost no control, the electrical companies conrol the polls, so if Google cant use the polls it isnt as simple as “comcast fault”. You are looking at it incredibly simplistic, imo.

    Treating it as a utility will create a monopoly, we have no indication anywhere it would mean more competition. Asking for it to be treated like a utility would require price controls and a whole host of new regulations. If you think this means cheaper over all for us and faster internet speeds, I think you’re kidding yourself.

  • If you want to see what a regulated utility can look like if allowed to be the sole arbiter of the infrastructure, look no further than Ma Bell. It was totally unnecessary for it to get that large (and it did stifle competition), but breaking it up did nothing to affect the underlying cause of the problem… crony capitalism.

    These government-sanctioned monopolies from cable companies (and similar industries) beget situations where competition isn’t even considered. Sure there’s DSL/Satellite/Cable in many large areas, but the “first” guys to lay the infrastructure (cabling, etc.) get all the government perks associated with eminent domain and right-of-way usage to the tune of many billions in subsidies.

    Other companies are “free” to join the market, but since the subsidies for infrastructure went to the other guy, there is a barrier of entry many times higher than the “first” company.

    What we need to do is nix the subsidies, allow truly free market competition to work, rescind all the government sanctioned monopolies, and let the companies duke it out.

    Otherwise, we’ll have the internet equivalent of Ma Bell, only this time the balkanization of the internet will make the phone company’s antics look tame.

    Oh, and Net Neutrality is not the answer. (In case anyone was thinking I was advocating that as a fix.)

    It’s not even a band-aid on a gushing head wound.

  • @NakkiNyan

    Utilities are not quite as much an unbreakable monopoly as you might think. A city of people wanting better could push for the sale of a new internet infrastructure and knowing they have customers a company can rent the lines already in place. The gas company does this all the time since they keep folding in areas. The new company could then lay newer lines if needed over time while the revenue from the old lines comes in. Cable can support a crap load of data, it is the back-end and those randomly placed boxes on poles that are not supporting it.

  • Nick

    Thank you. someone else that finally understands what becoming a utility means. Whne you go to get power hooked up how many choices do you have? When you go to get landline phone service how many choices do you have? When you go to get water service how many choices do you have? .. And yet we want to put internet in a group with all of those?

  • Cenobite

    Okay, lets look at this, and reason it out. Internet as Utility.

    Companies like Comcast have usage meters already. So all it would really take is some Government interaction. Comcast has a second name Xfinity. So lets work with that. On one side you get Comcast the Internet Utility. On the other you get Xfinfity the content, and service provider.

    Comcast the utility hooks you up by running a single connection to the house/apartment, and they put a meter on the line. The price is fixed, and you can pull all the speed and as much data as you like. You’re paying a fixed rate per the megabit hour. It won’t matter to Comcast in fact they will be happy to let you hook up anything. They won’t trouble shoot it or anything on your side of the connection. If they can see their metering device their answer, and quite rightly so will be, “Call an electrician.”

    That price will probably be regulated, and companies like Comcast will become Federally regulated utilities. They will also get subsidies to provide internet to schools, and poverty level housing. The hard part for us will be controlling all the stuff that we get over that connection. Also we’re going to have to get choosy over what we play, and how much because every hour spent in a game is going to cost money.

    It doesn’t have to stop there either. Now with IPv6 they could assign a static IP to every household in America. Then a Facebook/home Page for every home, and a Federal email address for every physical location. The USPS finally goes Digital.

    Now lets talk content. Xfinity remember? Well they become a provider of shows since they contain NBC Universal. Also you get Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, ESPN, and so on. Every channel. Good for us because now we just pick the channels we like. Down side is that we’re paying for the channel, and the data usage. Same with Telephone you can call everywhere but your paying for the call at the megabit hour rate. Not saying this is going to be expensive, but it will add up.

    Advertisers are going to have their work cut out for them. Ad blocking will become a constant thing. So I think we’ll see ad placements inside of shows, and most will be digital overwrites in live streams. Sort of like what happened in Time Square that one New Years where a network covered the actual ads in time square with their own as it was broadcast over live TV. Picture a new “Star Trek” where the Captain asks for a “Coke, iced” from the replicator. Fun times…

  • TeLin特林

    Sounds like a God Damned Nightmare.

  • Typical

    Comcast sucks, but if you think that making internet a utility is going to help, then obviously you don’t know the condition of the infrastructure for Gas, Water, Electricity, Phone, etc in this country. It’s only when a residential gas line explodes from being old and poorly maintained that you hear about the bad shape of the infrastructure, it’ll be the same with your data.