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Philly Used Its Franchise Agreement To Win Internet Access For All

How is it that internet carriers like Spectrum came to dominate service in New York City, while others like Xfinity reign supreme in cities like Minneapolis? While residents are familiar with the major internet providers in their cities, they’re less familiar with the agreements that brought them there. Across the country, internet access often reaches homes through the public right of way — the edges of privately owned land under which public lines are laid. Utility providers of everything from water to electricity and internet use these lines to deliver their services to customers. To use these public lines, internet providers from Comcast to Cox enter franchise agreements with local governments.

How Our Biggest ISPs Are Failing Students During COVID-19

Early in the pandemic, one of our MediaJustice Network members reached out to us in hopes we could support a group of high school students in Baltimore who were trying to amplify their campaign. The students are leaders in a Latinx and immigrant student organization called Students Organizing for a Multicultural and Open Society (SOMOS), and this was their first time organizing for digital equity. When school ended last year, SOMOS realized that many of their fellow Baltimore city schoolmates who’d relied on Comcast’s Internet Essentials discount program didn’t have a connection fast or reliable enough for online school.

This Is Why We Need Real Net Neutrality Rules

By Chris Mills for BGR - At the heart of the matter are new fees that Comcast recently introduced, described as a “broadcast TV fee.” It’s a fee that even Comcast admits goes to paying content providers for cable channels, which is exactly what your cable bundle is supposed to be paying for already. It’s a problem because, as the regional regulators outlined in a letter, fees are supposed to be used for things outside the core contract, like government taxes or equipment rental fees. Instead, Comcast (and other cable companies) are breaking up the costs of providing a service and hiding some of them under the fold of the bill. It makes it difficult for consumers to sign up for a service and actually know how much they’ll be paying per month; worse, the fees can change arbitrarily throughout the course of a contract, with zero recourse for the customer. So what does this have to do with net neutrality? Well, the abuse of fees is a classic case of a couple powerful companies with near-monopolies abusing their power at the expense of consumers. The FCC has a “voluntary” program that says that ISPs aren’t meant to do this kind of thing, but it lacks enforcement power to really crack down on it.

Washington State Sues Comcast For $100M

By Staff of Komo News - SEATTLE -- Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed a $100 million consumer lawsuit against Comcast. The lawsuit accuses Comcast of "engaging in a pattern of deceptive practices." It asserts that the company’s own documents reveal a pattern of illegally deceiving its customers to pad its bottom line by tens of millions of dollars. Comcast said in a statement that it intends to fight the lawsuit.

Check This Before You Overpay Comcast

By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica - You probably know that Comcast is hitting subscribers with overage charges of $10 when they exceed their 300GB monthly data caps. But can customers trust Comcast to measure Internet usage accurately? The nation’s largest cable company points to research it commissioned showing that its data metering is usually accurate, but one customer who contacted Ars was able to prove that he was being incorrectly accused of using excessive data. Oleg, a programmer from Tennessee who prefers that we not publish his last name, said he got repeated warnings from Comcast that he was using too much data.

Comcast Got What It Deserved

Comcast, the giant cable company, is one of the most reviled companies in America. It is notorious for its terrible and odious customer service. In addition to this infamous reputation, it sought to become ever-bigger and more powerful. Not satisfied with its dominance and near-monopolistic position, it sought to buy Time Warner Cable and become ever more dominant and unmistakably a true monopoly in cable and broadband. To accomplish this goal, it hired legions of lobbyists and public relations flacks. Early on, it looked like it had the clout to win. President Obama made more than one visit to Comcast Vice President David Cohen's home to attend fundraisers. Even more stunning and blatant, the chairman and CEO of the company (and co-founder's son), Brian Roberts, golfed with Obama on Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Talk about being well-connected!

Grumpy Cat Claws Comcast

Grumpy Cat is giving a big middle claw to Comcast. In celebration of the Federal Communications Commission’s newly approved open-Internet rules, net neutrality supporters on Friday flew a 2,000-square-foot banner featuring the Internet’s favorite feline over Comcast Corporation’s 58-story headquarters in Philadelphia. The massive banner featured a photo of the ubiquitous Internet meme Grumpy Cat along with the phrase, "Comcast: Don’t Mess With the Internet." The phrase was followed by the hashtag #SorryNotSorry. The splashy stunt was sponsored by Fight for the Future, Demand Progress and Free Press, three organizations that have been aggressively campaigning for rules that prohibit broadband providers from throttling content or offering Internet “fast lanes.”

Rallies Against Comcast Merger & For Net Neutrality Today

Today’s the final day to comment on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to create a two-tiered Internet — and at lunchtime I gathered with a crowd of 100 activists outside Comcast’s headquarters in Philadelphia. We were there for a Free Press rally to save the Internet ... and we came to demand real Net Neutrality and oppose the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. Joseph Torres of Free Press, Bryan Mercer and Hannah Sassaman of the Media Mobilizing Project, Vanessa Graber of Common Frequency and Chris Rabb of Temple University all gave brief speeches, and then people in the crowd spoke out. We livestreamed everyone’s testimonials to a digital billboard our friends at Fight for the Future stationed right in front of the FCC building in Washington, D.C. “So far,” said Torres, “Tom Wheeler has sided with the big broadband companies, demonstrating just how out of touch he is. He doesn’t seem to understand why millions of people have called on him to protect real Net Neutrality by treating Internet service providers as common carriers.”

65 Groups Urge FCC To Reject Comcast-Time Warner Merger

Sixty-five organizations representing consumers, content producers, and social justice and democracy-reform advocates called on the Federal Communications Commission today to reject the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The FCC is currently reviewing the deal to determine whether it serves the public interest. In a letter to the FCC, the groups warned that the merger would give Comcast “unprecedented gatekeeper control” over the nation’s telecommunications and media landscape and lead to higher prices and fewer choices for broadband and cable customers. The merger would give Comcast too much control over the future of the Internet and communications infrastructure and undermine the diversity of ownership and content in media, according to the groups. The letter highlights Comcast’s history of failing to meet commitments made to gain approval for its previous merger with NBCUniversal. “Given this history, no amount of promises or conditions would be good enough to assuage concerns about this merger….The deal needs to be rejected outright.”

Comcast Affiliated News Outlet Censored Article

In a move that smacks of censorship, Republic Report has discovered that a telecom industry-affiliated lobbying group successfully persuaded an African American news website to remove an article that reported critically on the groups advocating against Net Neutrality. The order to delete the article came from the website’s parent company, a business partner to Comcast. Last Friday, I reported on how several civil rights groups, almost all with funding from Comcast, Verizon and other Internet Service Providers, recently wrote to the Federal Communication Commission in support of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan, which would create Internet fast lanes and slow lanes, an effective death of Net Neutrality. That piece was syndicated with Salon and The Nation, and several outlets aggregated the article. For a short period, NewsOne, a news site geared towards the African American community, posted the piece along with its own commentary. Then, the NewsOne article with my reporting disappeared. If you Google the term ‘MMTC NewsOne,’ the NewsOne article (“Civil Rights Groups Blocking Efforts To Keep Internet Fair?”) still appears in the result list, though if you click it, it’s been deleted off of the web. Luckily, the Internet cache still has a copy.

Why I’m Speaking Out Against Comcast Merger

Free Press has more than 750,000 members — more than 50,000 of whom live in New York State — which is why I’m traveling to Albany this Wednesday to offer public comments at a hearing on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. If approved, this deal would create a media behemoth with unmatched power to raise prices, squash competition and reshape the future of the Internet — for the worse. Comcast is the nation’s No. 1 cable and Internet provider and Time Warner Cable is the No. 2 cable provider. They regularly come in dead last in customer-service surveys. In fact, Comcast was recently named the worst company in America — for the second time — in a Consumerist poll. A larger Comcast would lead to even less consumer choice, even less diversity and much higher cable bills (Comcast’s fees for basic cable in some cities rose 68 percent from 2009–2013).

Emergency – All in to Save Internet Freedom!

On Monday, May 5 at 11 am ET we will discuss the FCC’s plan to eliminate net neutrality on May
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