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Save the Internet

Driven Back to Dial-Up

Megan Tady

You know your company is performing poorly when someone cancels your high-speed Internet and opts for dial-up instead.

But that's what Bettye W. Clark from Chattanooga, Tenn., did. In a letter-to-the-editor of yesterday, Bettye wrote about her decision to cancel Comcast: "I hung up [with Comcast] and immediately called the phone company to have dial up installed and am leaving Comcast completely."

We've all probably experienced frustration with our Internet providers - whether we're repeating "speak to a representative" to a confused robot on the phone, trying to figure out why a bill is so startling high, or simply getting service turned on.

It reminds e of an old skit from comedian Brian Regan about phone service:

  • Regan: Can you turn on our telephone?
    Phone rep: OK, it's going to be a problem.
    Regan: I figured. How? Why?
    Phone rep: It's just going to be a big nightmare. That's our policy.

These days, Regan's joke increasingly reflects reality. ISPs like Comcast - with their near monopolies in many communities - can set nightmarish policies and prices for many consumers.

Bettye expressed her frustration with the Comcast's cartel. "I think it is a horrible thing when one company has a monopoly and treat people in the way I was treated dealing with Comcast."

But here's the thing: Our answer to Comcast's shoddy service shouldn't have to be to simply shut it off or accept a lesser, but less frustrating, service. We need real competition that would not only give us other local options for high-speed Internet service but also pressure Comcast to do a better job. But unfortunately, most people don't have a second or third option in their communities - in fact, 96 percent of households have access to two or fewer wired broadband services providers.

The FCC recently released their National Broadband Plan to help connect all Americans to high-speed Internet. But as we've noted, the plan is lacking in details about how to increase competition to give consumers another option besides forgoing broadband. And of course, Comcast and others are doing all they can to ensure that the status quo remains - high profits for them, terrible service for us.

You can do something by telling the FCC you want a broadband plan that supports the public's needs, not the ISP's.

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Megan Tady is a blogger, content producer and campaign coordinator for Free Press.

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