Cable companies are often criticized for a variety of shortcomings: inconsistent customer service, billing errors, and rising prices. But, it seems the players in the industry bring much of the scrutiny on through their actions. Recently, Time Warner floated the idea of trying a pay-per-usage service rather than a flat fee but dropped the plan after an outcry from consumers and advocacy groups. Now, Time Warner and others in the cable industry are exploring ways to restrict the impact of municipal wi-fi services. A specific case in North Carolina involves the cable industry supporting legislation that would enact stiff regulations on cities that build their own networks.
The defense used by the cable industry is that taxes levied on their services are indirectly being used to build networks that compete against them. In other words, they now have another competitor. Competition should serve as a challenge to become more innovative, whether it be in the content offered or customer support provided. Also, the cable companies have the advantage of brand recognition in the marketplace. Strengthening brand relationships through products, services, and social responsibility initiatives are ways the entrenched cable companies can take advantage of their standing with consumers. Exerting energy to legislate barriers to entry to competition certainly does not benefit consumers, and it seems cable companies would be better served focusing their resources and energy elsewhere.
Link: The Daily Online Examiner - "Cable Companies Try to Cripple Municipal Broadband"
Labels: Cable TV, Marketing and Public Policy