Originally published: May 24, 2012
Last updated: May 24, 2012 - 6:30pm
[Commentary] There probably was no great need for Comcast to raise the usage caps on its broadband service, as it did last week from 250 gigabytes (GB) to 300 GB per month. If the company thought for an instant that the modest increase bought it any good will from its theoretical regulators, it needn't have bothered. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) doesn't care.
As FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski told the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA), data caps are simply another "business model innovation." Chairman Genachowski said that pricing based on usage "could be healthy and beneficial" to consumers. (Cable is fine with that, as is AT&T.) It could. Or it could not. The problem is that the FCC really doesn't know and doesn't display any curiosity to determine the basis on which Comcast, or any other company, are establishing, evaluating or adjusting the caps. Public Knowledge has asked the Commission repeatedly at least to ask those questions, but the FCC has repeatedly declined to do so. When consumers who want essential information and services are at the mercy of a tightly controlled marketplace dominated by big companies, which were given that dominance by regulators in the first place, the government agency charged with consumer protection should be extra vigilant. It should not make a point of making big industries feel good about themselves, which is unfortunately what happened in Boston.
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