In moving off my university’s campus, I experienced one of today’s newest and least revered rites of passage into adulthood: frustration with my cable provider. Aside from my appointment being rescheduled twice and the representative on the phone trying to convince me that bundling my services was a matter of life or death, I found there to be a surprise or two in my bill. Cable companies advertise a certain price, but then upon receiving their bill consumers learn of the staggering number of fees that are often tacked on.
This recent story (paywalled) about the financial challenges YouTube TV and other “virtual cable” providers face is a good illustration of some points we’ve been making at Public Knowledge for a while. As the story notes, “these streaming services have yet to figure out how to make money. In fact, the more people they sign up, the more money they lose. That’s because the services are paying more for programming than what they’re charging consumers.”
The recent Internet Day of Action for net neutrality illustrates how intensely consumers feel about net neutrality protections, as more than 50,000 people, websites, and organizations demonstrated in favor of a free and open internet. Many Internet Service Providers claim that they, too, want net neutrality, but with one exception: they don’t want any rules that can be enforced against them. Asking giant internet providers like Comcast to behave is, quite frankly, implausible given their history of anti-competitive behavior.
Tired of skyrocketing cable bills and paying for an old set-top box you don’t need? The FCC has a plan to help consumers save $231 dollars a year and bring more competition. 84 percent of consumers say cable prices are too high, and the FCC’s #UnlockTheBox plan offers them real relief.
Today, eight rural advocacy organizations filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission in support of Chairman Wheeler’s proposal to open up the set-top box market for consumers. The letter emphasizes the importance of competition and choice from cable and satellite providers for rural communities, which often have limited access to to over-the-air broadcasters and broadband access.