Friday, September 22, 2006
"Broadband Reality Check II," an update to a report published last year by Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America, and media policy group Free Press, found that the United States continues to promote duopolies between major telecom and cable providers as real competition, that the level of Americans' access to the Internet can be severely restricted by income level and geographic area, and that the FCC uses misleading statistics to claim that competition is healthy for consumers. "America appears to be a land of broadband haves and have-nots, where rural and low-income citizens are left behind in the information economy," the report stated. "This situation is the result of failed policy and a lack of imagination and vision from our policymakers." The U.S. broadband market is "essentially a series of regional duopolies," with the top four cable and telephone companies -- Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner -- controlling over 83 percent of the entire broadband market, while buyouts and mergers of companies like AT&T and BellSouth serve to reduce actual competitive markets even more.