Ma Nopoly?

How would you like to see one company controlling the bulk of the Internet access market and the customers within that market? How would you like to see one company deciding where people will start their online sessions, how fast they’ll be able to see your site, and whether they’ll see it at all?

You wouldn’t? Then you should be very, very concerned over AT&T’s $62 billion bid for Media One.

When AT&T acquired TCI in February, the FCC made the mistake of ruling it would not require that other Internet Service Providers be given access to its cable. AT&T is controlling shareholder in @Home, whose technology controls access speeds to the pages it serves as a matter of course.

Once @Home owns Excite it will lock that portal down as its users’ home page, and Excite’s Matchlogic unit will build databases aimed at controlling those users’ shopping behavior, by tracking all their clicks and serving ads based on that tracking. AT&T will be the gatekeeper controlling all of this, and consumers won’t have a choice. Not if they want cable broadband.

Wall Street likes this kind of monopoly power, and it’s wild about AT&T’s desire to extend that power. Even though AT&T has yet to build-out any system, or prove it can make that power work on the bottom line. Wall Street assumes that such a cable Internet monopoly will win it monopoly profits, and enormous control over who wins and who loses in e-commerce.

If the FCC were really in favor of competition, it would halt this empire building in its tracks. It would require the same equal access to cable it requires on the telephone network. If you like a competitive market, I think you should demand that it not be taken away from you.

What do you think? Let’s talk about it.

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