The new FCC chairman himself has vowed to protect competiton in the ISP and cable markets. Keep in mind he's a former cable company lobbyist, and those statements were likely made to offset the lack of actual Net neutrality regulations coming from his desk. It could be argued that because Time Warner and Comcast serve different markets (there's that oligopoly again), combining them doesn't really reduce competition.
However, that ignores the rest of what's included in the deal, and it ignores the fact that Comcast would be able to control pricing and force whatever restrictions it wants on the television and Internet services in a vast number of homes in the United States without any real threat of competition. Comcast will become an even more powerful lobbying juggernaut, convincing legislators that because there's a small ISP in Des Moines, Iowa, its own stranglehold on the state of Maine is A-OK.
That's the pinch: You can't let Comcast and Time Warner merge and claim to be a champion of competition, and you can't block the merger and claim that we don't need Net neutrality, because that will be a major casualty of this merger.
These companies think they can eat their cake and have it too. Unfortunately their substantial lobbying dollars are flowing through Washington at feverish rates, greasing the skids for exactly this kind of unconscionable outcome. It would be bad fiction if it weren't all too real.
We have been down this road before with AT&T, though with less at stake as it turns out. Any reasonable person would see that this deal should be scuttled as anticonsumer, anticompetitive, and bad for the country as a whole. In addition, any reasonable person would see that ISPs should be classified as common carriers and regulated as such. Unfortunately, when it comes to public policy and Internet service providers in this country, it seems that a modicum of reason is too much to expect.
This story, "Comcast and Time Warner join forces to kill the Internet as we know it," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.