As mentioned earlier on this site, President Obama recently crafted a letter in support of net neutrality. This morning, Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) sent a response via Twitter, knocking net neutrality, calling it “Obamacare for the internet.”
While Obamacare has proven to be extremely controversial, until now the net neutrality debate has really only had two sides…High Speed Internet providers, and essentially, everyone else. In order to make sure that Senator Cruz was properly informed regarding the actual issues involved with net neutrality, blogger Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal takes the opportunity to welcome him to the net neutrality party. While pointing out that Comcast provided a significant amount of money to the Senator’s recent campaign, and acknowledging that this may have had quite a bit to do with the nature of the tweet in the first place, Mr. Inman shows that, “[n]et neutrality is a bipartisan issue. It’s something liberals, conservatives, sinners and saints, sasquatches, cyborgs, and all the crab-infused-tex-mex-loving men, women, and children of this great country of ours can get behind.”
This quick and entertaining explanation details just what net neutrality is (an equal playing field that has been a tenant of the internet since its inception), why it’s bad for everyone except Internet Service Providers (because charging more for different speeds of service can cripple those with little capital, like start ups, or consumers with little choice in providers, like almost everyone else), and which companies have already began leveraging the issue (Comcast, yes, we’re talking about you). The Oatmeal has crafted a great post that almost anyone can use to help inform our less savvy friends of the dangers of not paying attention to this issue, be they our children, our grandparents, or our less informed public servants.
In a week when President Obama seemingly deals a blow to cable companies by asking for stricter net neutrality rules, Comcast receives another bit of bad news. The city council of Worcester, Mass urged the City Manager not to transfer the city’s cable tv license to Comcast Corp. from Charter Communications in a stunning 8-3 vote. The overwhelming majority vote of the council was completely based upon previous reports of “substandard customer service practices.” City manager, Edward Augustus, Jr., who has the final say in the matter, has requested a two week extension from Comcast during which he plans to study the issues affecting employees and consumers.
Even if Mr. Augustus fails to respond, or disapproves the license transfer, Comcast will be able to appeal the decision to the state Cable Television Commission. Denying the transfer can only be based on company management, technical and legal experience and financial capabilities. Since customer service complaints would not technically affect company management, it is likely that the state Cable Television Commission would approve any such appeal.
Well aware that their vote will likely have no affect on the outcome of the situation, Councilors Frederick C. Ruston and Gary Rosen both indicate that their constituents desire better customer service from cable companies.
Councilor Konstantina Luke also, feels that even though the vote of the council is unlikely to result in a different cable provider, the vote may succeed in attracting the attention of the Federal Communications Commission. “This is not a paper vote; this is not an empty vote. This is a very clear vote that we are not going to tolerate the kind of responses we got from Charter and Comcast.”
Whether or not Comcast is successful in adding the town of Worcester to its customer base, the national nature of this story once again highlights the importance of a good PR team, and the dangers of not positively engaging with current and POTENTIAL customers.