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(The Consumerist)   Is Comcast the 21st century equivalent of Standard Oil?   (consumerist.com ) divider line 39
    More: Scary, Standard Oil, Comcast, regional sports network, cable operators, cable industry, FiOS  
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3241 clicks; posted to Business » on 27 Dec 2012 at 1:14 PM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



39 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2012-12-27 04:41:20 AM  
No.
 
2012-12-27 06:16:26 AM  
No, because back then there were actual trust busters that would go after businesses like this. Now they own the government and operate under an endorsed monopoly.
 
2012-12-27 08:47:06 AM  
RCN and their 20 soccer channels beg to differ.
 
2012-12-27 09:51:07 AM  

Gunny Highway: RCN and their 20 soccer channels beg to differ.


RCN is selling off their infrastructure and will cease to be anything other then a reseller, if even that, in the near future
 
2012-12-27 10:33:18 AM  

zedster: Gunny Highway: RCN and their 20 soccer channels beg to differ.

RCN is selling off their infrastructure and will cease to be anything other then a reseller, if even that, in the near future


What does that mean for me?
 
2012-12-27 10:42:50 AM  

Gunny Highway: zedster: Gunny Highway: RCN and their 20 soccer channels beg to differ.

RCN is selling off their infrastructure and will cease to be anything other then a reseller, if even that, in the near future

What does that mean for me?


expect RCN either ceases to be or becomes a nameplate acquisition for another company trying to enter their markets . They might just split off their business units but either way I hear they are in bad shape, not owning your own fiber at this point is pretty bad.

Here is the only link I could find about their issues but I would assume this is true across their markets
Jeff Carlson, general manager for RCN in the Boston area, tells me that RCN's total customers in the region will be up by 1.5 percent at the end of 2012 compared with a year ago, to 74,000 customers (67,000 consumer accounts, and 7,000 businesses). That compares to a 0.5-percent drop in 2011 and a 3.5-percent loss in 2010.


Then again, I was talking with someone about Metro-E so maybe they were just talking about RCN Metro and the consumer level stuff is fine for now
 
2012-12-27 10:45:43 AM  

zedster: Gunny Highway: zedster: Gunny Highway: RCN and their 20 soccer channels beg to differ.

RCN is selling off their infrastructure and will cease to be anything other then a reseller, if even that, in the near future

What does that mean for me?

expect RCN either ceases to be or becomes a nameplate acquisition for another company trying to enter their markets . They might just split off their business units but either way I hear they are in bad shape, not owning your own fiber at this point is pretty bad.

Here is the only link I could find about their issues but I would assume this is true across their markets
Jeff Carlson, general manager for RCN in the Boston area, tells me that RCN's total customers in the region will be up by 1.5 percent at the end of 2012 compared with a year ago, to 74,000 customers (67,000 consumer accounts, and 7,000 businesses). That compares to a 0.5-percent drop in 2011 and a 3.5-percent loss in 2010.


Then again, I was talking with someone about Metro-E so maybe they were just talking about RCN Metro and the consumer level stuff is fine for now


Thanks for the heads up, friend. I will keep my eyes peeled.
 
2012-12-27 12:48:05 PM  
Also this.
 
2012-12-27 12:49:03 PM  
 
2012-12-27 01:24:12 PM  
Standard Oil actually had a good product.
 
2012-12-27 01:35:22 PM  
Hmm, vertically integrated media creation and delivery is in the vein of SO, they don't have anywhere near a monopoly. Now, if they were to use their ownership of the media creation arm to make their delivery arm cheaper than the competition we'd have a clear federal case.

As far as the notion of "highly consolidated cable industry" I have more options today than we had 20 years ago. 20 years ago we could take Cox cable or put up an antenna. Then we had Cox vs DirectTV. Then Cox vs DirectTV vs Dish. Now I have access to Verizon FiOS, AT&T Uverse, DirectTV, Dish, and probably something else I haven't noticed. Just because there are fewer names in the industry doesn't mean I have fewer options.

/FiOS was actually a determinant when I looked for an apartment.
//Most complexes had some scummy Rio Grande communications.
 
2012-12-27 01:38:49 PM  
Of course they aren't the 21st century equivalent of Standard Oil.

Or at least, they weren't until they dynamited my satellite dish...

/ok, not really.
//They want to though. I can hear it in their telemarketing voices...
 
2012-12-27 01:48:11 PM  

wildcardjack: Hmm, vertically integrated media creation and delivery is in the vein of SO, they don't have anywhere near a monopoly. Now, if they were to use their ownership of the media creation arm to make their delivery arm cheaper than the competition we'd have a clear federal case.

As far as the notion of "highly consolidated cable industry" I have more options today than we had 20 years ago. 20 years ago we could take Cox cable or put up an antenna. Then we had Cox vs DirectTV. Then Cox vs DirectTV vs Dish. Now I have access to Verizon FiOS, AT&T Uverse, DirectTV, Dish, and probably something else I haven't noticed. Just because there are fewer names in the industry doesn't mean I have fewer options.

/FiOS was actually a determinant when I looked for an apartment.
//Most complexes had some scummy Rio Grande communications.


Or you could go the British way of breaking up a monopoly and have four hundred ISP to choose from like I do right now.

Rather than break up the GPO/BT (the former state owned phone company) into regional monopolies, as the US did with Bell, they split up the network from the consumer facing business and made the network required to let anyone use the network at the same price. I could start a phone company or ISP from my bedroom tomorrow and be able to serve the whole country and compete on price with the big boys. We have genuine competition on price, with lots of different packages (free local calls, free overseas calls, free weekend calls etc) on offer.

The BT that owns the network still upgrades it and is spending a lot of money laying fibre (I got fibre last year and its great. Not quite in the same league as Korea but still very good and good value)
 
2012-12-27 01:55:03 PM  

Flint Ironstag: Rather than break up the GPO/BT (the former state owned phone company) into regional monopolies, as the US did with Bell..


The hilarious thing is that the 7 regional monopolies they were broken into have all since re-consolidated into just 3.
 
2012-12-27 01:58:32 PM  
While sometimes feels like it here in Boston, the truth is that you can always get a cable modem from someone for around $50/ month and then just sign up with a download content provider online and use skype for a telephone. It's not like you had that choice with standard oil. Well, I guess you could have burned manure and chopped your own firewood, but that's hardly effective for any group larger than a single family on the prairie,
 
2012-12-27 02:01:46 PM  
They have a monopoly on the Houston Rockets. My area doesnt even carry the games since Comcast is the owners of the rights and are looking to gouge the other cable operators.

Comcast ownership should be rounded up and shot.

F you Comcast, F you Stern, and F you Les Alexander
 
2012-12-27 02:03:20 PM  

Flint Ironstag: The BT that owns the network still upgrades it and is spending a lot of money laying fibre (I got fibre last year and its great. Not quite in the same league as Korea but still very good and good value)


So you still have one monopoly that has arranged for many resellers to mask the fact you have a monopoly. For a quick analogy, imagine there's one company that makes hamburger patties and all the fixings. But they'll contract with anyone to become resellers within the scope of the products available, but it's still the same burgers.
 
2012-12-27 02:06:22 PM  
Comcast is a giant piece of shiat is what it is.
 
2012-12-27 02:08:34 PM  
Anytime a person or "news" article makes a comparison such as, "The _____ of the ______, I.e. The Harvard of the South, or in this case, The Standard Oil of the 21st Century, my immediate reaction is always no. And it is always correct.
 
2012-12-27 02:10:21 PM  
the earth isn't even 21st century old. reed your bible moran
 
2012-12-27 02:22:49 PM  

TommyymmoT: No.


yes
 
2012-12-27 02:29:29 PM  

wildcardjack: Flint Ironstag: The BT that owns the network still upgrades it and is spending a lot of money laying fibre (I got fibre last year and its great. Not quite in the same league as Korea but still very good and good value)

So you still have one monopoly that has arranged for many resellers to mask the fact you have a monopoly. For a quick analogy, imagine there's one company that makes hamburger patties and all the fixings. But they'll contract with anyone to become resellers within the scope of the products available, but it's still the same burgers.


Except that 'monopoly' is not allowed to dictate prices or any conditions, has to allow ISP to install their own equipment in their exchanges if they want and there are cable companies that have their own networks as well. There is also a government body telling them what they can and cannot do.
The proof of the pudding is that it works. We do have competition and choice. The network is being upgraded to fibre, big time. They have no conflict of interest with broadcasters or sports rights holders. They can't stop anyone else setting up their own network.

How about 20GB a month at up to 14Mb for about $2 a month? (On top of your phone line rental of $20 a month)
 
2012-12-27 02:42:51 PM  
Close. It's a monopoly as much as Cablevision is. I HAVE to use their service because there is no competition.

And they suck ass, so screw you consumer, no choice for you.

They should open it up so that different providers using the same infrastructure.
 
2012-12-27 02:46:22 PM  

EbolaNYC: Close. It's a monopoly as much as Cablevision is. I HAVE to use their service because there is no competition.

And they suck ass, so screw you consumer, no choice for you.

They should open it up so that different providers using the same infrastructure.


In NYC (and other dense areas) it's a little different since in many cases, satellite isn't an option.
More to your point, it's been bandied about since forever that perhaps local gov't should actually own the infrastructure (cable/phone/whatever) and resell it to the various telecoms, but that idea caries its own problems.

A close eye is being kept on what Google is doing in KC.
 
2012-12-27 02:48:04 PM  
I recently signed up for Comcast internet and cable.

They wanted to do a credit check on me before I could subscribe. I thought that was really odd.

I asked the customer service guy what would happen if someone had BAD credit (mine was fine, but I wondered, in general), and he told me that such a person would have to pay a deposit. I then asked him how much the deposit would be, and the bastard wouldn't tell me.

That REALLY bugs me. Why wouldn't he tell me how much the deposit is?

Does anyone know???

NO ONE KNOWS!!!

It's driving me friggin crazy over here.
 
2012-12-27 02:52:04 PM  
Yes Comcast should be kept from getting to large same as for any other company but no its not as bad as standard oil.
 
2012-12-27 02:52:24 PM  
Google. Fiber.

everyone I know would drop their cable companies wholesale if google fiber was available.

and google is showing that yes, bandwidth is dirt cheap, and data caps are a scam. I expect comcast to hire some "urban youths" to go tear google's fiber off the poles in KC soon.
 
2012-12-27 03:09:35 PM  

doczoidberg: I recently signed up for Comcast internet and cable.

They wanted to do a credit check on me before I could subscribe. I thought that was really odd.

I asked the customer service guy what would happen if someone had BAD credit (mine was fine, but I wondered, in general), and he told me that such a person would have to pay a deposit. I then asked him how much the deposit would be, and the bastard wouldn't tell me.

That REALLY bugs me. Why wouldn't he tell me how much the deposit is?

Does anyone know???

NO ONE KNOWS!!!

It's driving me friggin crazy over here.


It's probably tiered, 400 credit score == $400 deposit
500 score == $100 Deposit
600 score == $25 deposit
 
2012-12-27 03:11:50 PM  
If cell phones were as much of a monopoly, we'd still all be using crappy Nokia phones from the late 90s.

The fact that my cablevision DVR has such a horribly slow, awful interface that looks like some kind of old DOS program is proof of that.
 
2012-12-27 03:19:50 PM  

bofkentucky: doczoidberg: I recently signed up for Comcast internet and cable.

They wanted to do a credit check on me before I could subscribe. I thought that was really odd.

I asked the customer service guy what would happen if someone had BAD credit (mine was fine, but I wondered, in general), and he told me that such a person would have to pay a deposit. I then asked him how much the deposit would be, and the bastard wouldn't tell me.

That REALLY bugs me. Why wouldn't he tell me how much the deposit is?

Does anyone know???

NO ONE KNOWS!!!

It's driving me friggin crazy over here.

It's probably tiered, 400 credit score == $400 deposit
500 score == $100 Deposit
600 score == $25 deposit


400 dollars to get internet?

That's insane.

Can you have a lower score than 400?
 
2012-12-27 03:34:37 PM  
Standard Oil's price regulation was seen as a good thing in hind sight as it minimalized market volatility, and they gave their workers good pay with health insurance.

I'm doubting this will be said for Comcast in the future.
 
2012-12-27 04:26:07 PM  

doczoidberg: bofkentucky: doczoidberg: I recently signed up for Comcast internet and cable.

They wanted to do a credit check on me before I could subscribe. I thought that was really odd.

I asked the customer service guy what would happen if someone had BAD credit (mine was fine, but I wondered, in general), and he told me that such a person would have to pay a deposit. I then asked him how much the deposit would be, and the bastard wouldn't tell me.

That REALLY bugs me. Why wouldn't he tell me how much the deposit is?

Does anyone know???

NO ONE KNOWS!!!

It's driving me friggin crazy over here.

It's probably tiered, 400 credit score == $400 deposit
500 score == $100 Deposit
600 score == $25 deposit

400 dollars to get internet?

That's insane.

Can you have a lower score than 400?


Those numbers were for demonstration purposes. FICO scores range from 250 to 900.

FIOS installs with $1000 ONT's on the side of the house plus the set-tops could justify those deposits. Fancy dvr set-tops are expensive to replace for the cable company/ATT/Verizon due to their closed development/limited sourcing and justify high deposits. Beyond the hardware, if Bad-credit Bob runs up $500 worth of tv/phone/internet service before they get cut off for non-pay and then the cable company sells that bad debt for a quarter on the dollar those deposits help recover that cost without impacting all customers.
 
2012-12-27 04:40:44 PM  
She points to South Korea as a country where regulators work to insure that consumers have affordable access to high-speed fiber networks. Only about 7% of U.S. households have access to fiber, says Crawford, while she claims that more than half the households in South Korea are connected to a fiber network.

That's SOSHALISM!
 
2012-12-27 04:51:03 PM  

bofkentucky: doczoidberg: bofkentucky: doczoidberg: I recently signed up for Comcast internet and cable.

They wanted to do a credit check on me before I could subscribe. I thought that was really odd.

I asked the customer service guy what would happen if someone had BAD credit (mine was fine, but I wondered, in general), and he told me that such a person would have to pay a deposit. I then asked him how much the deposit would be, and the bastard wouldn't tell me.

That REALLY bugs me. Why wouldn't he tell me how much the deposit is?

Does anyone know???

NO ONE KNOWS!!!

It's driving me friggin crazy over here.

It's probably tiered, 400 credit score == $400 deposit
500 score == $100 Deposit
600 score == $25 deposit

400 dollars to get internet?

That's insane.

Can you have a lower score than 400?

Those numbers were for demonstration purposes. FICO scores range from 250 to 900.

FIOS installs with $1000 ONT's on the side of the house plus the set-tops could justify those deposits. Fancy dvr set-tops are expensive to replace for the cable company/ATT/Verizon due to their closed development/limited sourcing and justify high deposits. Beyond the hardware, if Bad-credit Bob runs up $500 worth of tv/phone/internet service before they get cut off for non-pay and then the cable company sells that bad debt for a quarter on the dollar those deposits help recover that cost without impacting all customers.



Makes sense, I guess, if someone is trying to get a bunch of expensive equipment.

All I was ordering was friggin internet access and the cheapest basic cable they had (didn't even want the cable, but I had to get it along with the internet if I didn't want to wait two weeks for them to show up for the install).

I wonder what the deopsit would have been for that. Maybe the cost of the modem?

I imagine 100 bucks would be fair. Maybe 200.
 
2012-12-27 05:06:01 PM  

doczoidberg: bofkentucky: doczoidberg: bofkentucky: doczoidberg:
I wonder what the deopsit would have been for that. Maybe the cost of the modem?

I imagine 100 bucks would be fair. Maybe 200.



Buy your modem, if your cable company isn't charging yet they will soon. 50-100 bucks at best buy vs. $3-5 a month in rental fees. 3 years to pay off something that will last 5+ years.
.
 
2012-12-27 06:35:15 PM  

bofkentucky: doczoidberg: I recently signed up for Comcast internet and cable.

They wanted to do a credit check on me before I could subscribe. I thought that was really odd.

I asked the customer service guy what would happen if someone had BAD credit (mine was fine, but I wondered, in general), and he told me that such a person would have to pay a deposit. I then asked him how much the deposit would be, and the bastard wouldn't tell me.

That REALLY bugs me. Why wouldn't he tell me how much the deposit is?

Does anyone know???

NO ONE KNOWS!!!

It's driving me friggin crazy over here.

It's probably tiered, 400 credit score == $400 deposit
500 score == $100 Deposit
600 score == $25 deposit


It's not. At least, it wasn't when I worked there. It varies from region to region - Comcast regions have a lot of autonomy, but in the East Division, when I was there, deposits depended on your credit check and what kind of service you ordered. Really, it was the equipment you wanted - if you wanted a DVR and your credit sucked, you had to pay a $50 deposit against the cable service. If you wanted phone, phone requires an EMTA, which is another $50 deposit, but that was it - the max deposit required was $100. If you wanted cable, but didn't want a DVR, there was no deposit on the cable service.

This was a couple of years ago, so it may have changed since then - it wouldn't surprise me if they've tightened that up with the economy going in the crapper and all - but realistically, your credit has to be pretty miserable to even get that far.
 
2012-12-27 08:26:12 PM  

thecpt: Standard Oil's price regulation was seen as a good thing in hind sight as it minimalized market volatility, and they gave their workers good pay with health insurance.

I'm doubting this will be said for Comcast in the future.


Rockefeller bought up other oil companies, took them over, and provided a standard product (kerosene). Most of the companies he took over were selling crap to the consumer that was a fire hazard.
 
2012-12-28 08:29:13 AM  

Ed 'Too Tall' Jones: bofkentucky: doczoidberg: I recently signed up for Comcast internet and cable.

They wanted to do a credit check on me before I could subscribe. I thought that was really odd.

I asked the customer service guy what would happen if someone had BAD credit (mine was fine, but I wondered, in general), and he told me that such a person would have to pay a deposit. I then asked him how much the deposit would be, and the bastard wouldn't tell me.

That REALLY bugs me. Why wouldn't he tell me how much the deposit is?

Does anyone know???

NO ONE KNOWS!!!

It's driving me friggin crazy over here.

It's probably tiered, 400 credit score == $400 deposit
500 score == $100 Deposit
600 score == $25 deposit

It's not. At least, it wasn't when I worked there. It varies from region to region - Comcast regions have a lot of autonomy, but in the East Division, when I was there, deposits depended on your credit check and what kind of service you ordered. Really, it was the equipment you wanted - if you wanted a DVR and your credit sucked, you had to pay a $50 deposit against the cable service. If you wanted phone, phone requires an EMTA, which is another $50 deposit, but that was it - the max deposit required was $100. If you wanted cable, but didn't want a DVR, there was no deposit on the cable service.

This was a couple of years ago, so it may have changed since then - it wouldn't surprise me if they've tightened that up with the economy going in the crapper and all - but realistically, your credit has to be pretty miserable to even get that far.


Companies use screening software that they set up to their own particular standards. They select the type of scoring model, and they set the things they look for, from credit and criminal history, if they choose. And they set the bar on whom they will do business with or not. It is not the job of the reporting bureau or the reporting agencies. It is the determination made based upon the criteria set up by the company you chose to try to do business with. They can set conditions, too. They may look at how much you earn, in some cases, like rental properties. And then, you can get false negative results, or old data about your that was supposed to have been purged, but never was, or magically showed up on a server when they restored a back up. Anything can happen. A guy like me, with 0 trade lines, because I pay cash up front for everything, probably wouldn't pass a credit test, because I'm responsible enough not to have credit cards. It's a farked up world out there. The only safe thing to do is not play the game. And no, I don't have a TeeVee. Why do you think they call it "programming", anyway?
 
2012-12-28 12:53:34 PM  

doczoidberg: I recently signed up for Comcast internet and cable.

They wanted to do a credit check on me before I could subscribe. I thought that was really odd.

I asked the customer service guy what would happen if someone had BAD credit (mine was fine, but I wondered, in general), and he told me that such a person would have to pay a deposit. I then asked him how much the deposit would be, and the bastard wouldn't tell me.

That REALLY bugs me. Why wouldn't he tell me how much the deposit is?

Does anyone know???

NO ONE KNOWS!!!

It's driving me friggin crazy over here.


I had to pay 100 when I moved to MD, got it back at the end of the year (8 years ago).
 
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