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Some Monopolies are Good... But not Comcast
12/30/2004
By Simbey

Our government, as well as those of other countries, has spent millions of dollars over the last decade either trying to decide whether Microsoft is a monopoly or trying to decide how to punish Microsoft since they mostly think Microsoft is a monopoly. Although extremely sad and pathetic, the truth is that Microsoft really isn't a monopoly. Aren't there always alternatives?

Of course there are alternatives. But why are you going to bother with the alternatives? The software you already own probably isn't going to run as well, if at all, on competing operating systems. If that's not a problem, you actually might be able to get quite a bit of "equivalent" software for competing operating systems for free, or near free. The quality and ease-of-use isn't going to compare to Microsoft's software, but is that Microsoft's fault? Of course not!

I guess that's why everyone wants to attack Microsoft... Everyone else just sucks. Everyone else wants to get a chance to catch up because at some point in their history, they lagged while Microsoft was on the ball, every step of the way. And now, apparently, their misjudgements are Microsoft's fault, and that's what makes Microsoft a monopoly.

Now let's consider Comcast. Have you ever heard Comcast in the context of being a monopoly? Probably not. But wouldn't you consider Comcast a monopoly in any particular region if Comcast is the only cable TV/Internet provider in that region? I would! But whether a company is a monopoly isn't really important. It's all a matter of how that company behaves when it is a monopoly.

Let's compare the two monopolies, Comcast and Microsoft, and see which is okay as a monopoly and which one should be dismantled or otherwise punished.

Comcast Microsoft
...offers no reward for people moving from one location to another and remaining customers of the company. The company will actually charge the same setup fee for existing customers as for new customers. ...does not charge existing customers from moving to a new location.
...will send a representative to a customer's new address and replace the customer's current cable modem with a new cable modem. The representative claims this is because the customer ordered a "self install" kit, even though the customer did not. Furthermore, the rep never checks to see whether the "new" cable modem works. ...does not send any representatives out because the operating system functions fine in the new location.
...schedules someone to come out the next day to fix the connectivity issue even though it should have been resolved that day. The rep also tracked in mud onto the clean carpet, needlessly replaced cables between the TV and wall, unplugged the X-Box, and left cords and splitters lying around the house. ...did not need to schedule anything because everything's working on the computer. Also did not track in mud, replace cables, or unplug the X-Box. Actually, this company built and distributed the X-Box.
...promised to charge the customer $45 for the next day's visit, even though it was their fault. Customer checked phone book for alternatives to the company, but none was found. ...isn't going to charge a penny for this situation.
...sent out a representative the next day who determined the new cable modem was, in fact, bad. The rep replaced the modem with one identical to the one customer was using prior to moving. ...never replaced anything because everything was working fine.
The representative found another problem outside the house (crimped wires?) and was finally able to connect to the Internet from the computer. However, there was one last connectivity problem that the rep blamed on the computer, so he restarted it. He claimed the computer was grabbing an invalid IP address. I asked why he didn't just release and renew the IP address, but he said he had. I accused him of being incompetent. When the computer restarted, connectivity was restored. ...offers a command line utility called IPCONFIG that allows you to release and renew IP addresses without restarting the computer. I used this after Comcast's minion left because the modem still had to be registered with Comcast using the special Comcast website and the customer's password. After registration, the website said the modem and computer needed to be restarted. But they didn't. I used IPCONFIG (provided by Microsoft), and everything worked without restarting.

From this chart, I think it's pretty clear that Microsoft is okay as a monopoly, but Comcast is not. Comcast is pretty retarded when it comes to customer service and technical support. Since there aren't any alternatives to this company, perhaps it is time for some government intervention. No, I'm sorry, government never solves anything. But something should be done...

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