Ars Technica released an article today titled -
Comcast accused of cutting competitor’s wires to put it out of business.
Comcast "systematically destroyed" an ISP with 229 customers, lawsuit claims.
It's hard not to get angry about the state of affairs these days. As a rule of thumb I generally stay out of moral, race related discussions even though I find myself inadvertently caught up in them every day. I just don't let them get to me. Capitalism on the other hand. That's a different beast.
I take no issues with the foundational theories of capitalism. It's a natural system that will grow up over time unless the system is trimmed and kept in place like one would a Bonsai. But unregulated, the human nature tends towards something vicious. And reading this today made me furious. From the article:
[D]uring the time Mr. Luna spent calling, the contractors had cut three additional cable lines. Defendants paid no notice to Telecom’s markings and continued to destroy Telecom’s lines, and Telecom's complaints fell on deaf ears. One would like to believe that the destruction was accidental, but the comprehensiveness of it—coupled with Comcast’s prior interest in Telecom—renders such a conclusion doubtful. Within six weeks, Defendants destroyed or damaged the lines servicing every single Telecom customer in Weston Lakes, and not one of those lines was ever repaired by Defendants.
The lawsuit may be won, but I suspect giants like Comcast will continue to go their way. Destroying others in the name of competition to create a monopoly. All this while they wrap the government up in cozy paychecks that magically make problems go away. They've likely not only run a company with 299 customers into the ground but they've also, if found guilty, have disrupted the work of 299 people in the name of profits. It's a small number of people to be sure. But in a good world, they'd be taken to the highest courts for criminal charges, and the shareholders would vote a CEO out or at least take him to task. Why? A cursory reading of an HN comment (unverified of course) hints at this being a systematic practice:
This does not surprise me, in fact a Comcast technician told me they do this (on a much smaller scale) by disconnecting or cutting competitors' cable runs to buildings they are working on (and also sometimes their own).
I lived in a multi-unit apartment building and one day noticed my internet was down (I was a Comcast subscriber). I was suspicious because a Comcast technician was just out earlier in the day installing internet for a new tenant in the building. After going through the phone support steps they scheduled a technician to come out and check the line.
A couple days later, when the technician arrives, he checks the line only to confirm no signal. Then he goes out back to the cable box outside. I was unable to check this myself since it was mounted high on the building and required a ladder to access. Within a few minutes it was working again.
The Comcast technician then told me my line was just disconnected. I asked him if the previous technician made a mistake during the install. He said something along the lines of: "No, often in these multi-unit buildings we will disconnect people at random in case they are trying to steal cable. If they are a paying customer they will call and get it turned back on". He then went on about how they would have fun disconnecting competitors, and that competitors did it back to them etc.. all very nonchalantly and candidly.
But it'll take a lot to find the truth won't it? And we might never find the truth either. Because profits care so much more than a well behaved market.
Photo by Jimi Filipovski on Unsplash