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Cable merger revives antitrust agenda

Comcast is seeking to buy Time Warner Cable. This is a great opportunity to reiterate that antitrust action should be part of the progressive agenda.

By and large, Americans hate their telecom providers. Monopolist service providers push prices up while investing little in capacity or repairs. The result is that consumers are gouged for crummy speeds and atrocious service.

There are two basic solutions: Either treat telecoms as a monopoly deserving regulation, the way Ma Bell used to be, or break up the telecoms within individual markets, forcing them to compete. Both approaches have pros and cons, but government action would be required either way. This raises another reason to prevent pointless mergers: to level the power imbalance between regulators and corporate conglomerates.

Telecom capacity is relatively cheap by infrastructure standards. Romania manages to have the third-fastest Internet in the world. Better service is within reach – if we can get our act together.