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Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age Hardcover – January 8, 2013
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About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
On Jan. 1, 1983, engineers launched the basic protocol for sharing bits between computers, setting in motion the networked world we live in today. Susan Crawford's book is published as the Internet enters its middle years, and it offers a timely diagnosis of the problems Americans face as we try to make the most of our digital age.
Crawford's basic prognosis is this: Internet users can no longer take the network for granted. For too long we have allowed powerful phone and cable incumbents to dictate Internet policy in America. The result is reflected in international rankings of broadband access and services, which have the United States falling far behind other developed nations. The tendency among paid corporate apologists and shills (one of whom has made an appearance in these reviews) is to blame the American geography for this decline: We're a rural nation that isn't as easily connected as, say, Singapore, they argue. Another tendency is to put the regulators at fault: If only we unchained the invisible hand of the marketplace, then the American Internet would be Numero Uno.
The truth, as Crawford points out lies somewhere else -- in our policymakers' failure to put the interests of the nation before those of profitable companies. Lobbying powerhouses like AT&T. Comcast and Verizon have flexed their financial muscle in Washington to ensure that the billion-dollar spoils of the Internet access business are shared only among a few corporations. The policies resulting from this largesse have led to the destruction of a competitive marketplace. Most Americans buying home Internet access today have just two choices: the local monopoly phone company or the local monopoly cable provider.Read more ›
Comcast is the communications equivalent of Standard Oil in the Rockefeller era. Even before its merger with NBC Universal it was the nation's largest cable operator and the owner of many cable content properties - including 11 regional sports networks. It had almost 16 million subscribers. NBC Universal owned some of the most popular cable networks and one of the largest broadcast networks. The merged company would control 20% of all television viewing in the U.S. Mobile wireless is too slow to compete.
A similar situation happened in the 1880s when 15 holding companies controlled 85% of electricity distribution, and the FTC found they routinely gouged consumers. In response, thousands of communities formed their own electrical utilities, more than 2,000 U.S. communities such as L.A., San Antonio, and Seattle, provide their own power, and electricity is a regulated public utility. Only a few cities provide their own Internet service (eg. Chattanooga, TN and Lafayette, LA) , there's no regulation of Internet rates and service, and the leaders reap 95% profit rates.Read more ›
She accurately pinpoints the causes and characters behind the United States' lag of the developed world in the broadband space. That lag is one entirely of the telecom industry's own making (that is of course aided and abetted by Congress), and which restricts the platform for growth and participation by the wider American workforce. As someone who resides in an area with limited, expensive and unreliable broadband service, I am intimately familiar with the stranglehold the lack of adequate and affordable broadband has on our regional economy, and on the vitality of our population. When you multiply this situation which is repeated in rural areas around the country - and compare our levels of adoption with other nations - it becomes clear how this critical avenue for national productivity growth is being throttled by the interests of one industry. Why should we inhibit the productivity of all other industries and small business in favor of one sector?
I truly hope both the essence and details of Crawford's message gets to our politicians - including newly-engaged legislators like Elizabeth Warren - and our country embraces the broadband policy changes needed to enable the American economy to fire on all cylinders.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My anger increased after each page. It's truly amazing...no...it's criminal the way all the telecomm companies operate in the US, and it's shameful our government allows it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by T-Bone
Susan Crawford is the most articulate person on these critical issues of telecom policy and democracy. This is a Must Read for every concerned citizen.Published 11 months ago by Jane Brown
This is a long book and dry, but compelling. It is also a little out of date being written in 2012. Read morePublished 12 months ago by R. Mitchell
Good read. Real insight into how we get owned by corporations.Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
The subject is how we got ourselves into this telecommunications mess where most people depend on a monopolistic cable pay tv provider for their (overpriced) high-speed Internet... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jeffrey Hart
"Captive audience" is good analysis of a very aggravating and possibly unsolvable problem.
Crawford is showing us that some problems just cannot be solved in the U.S. Read more