Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dealing With Cable Internet Providers Is Unpleasant But Unavoidable

This video has been making the rounds:


The broadband internet industry is changing so rapidly that previously-reasonable regulations designed to encourage infrastructure investment are now stifling innovation. Here's an interesting analysis on the problem of broadband monopoly power, and check out this fascinating interview about the regulatory constraints faced by Google as it experiments with its super-high-speed fibre network.

As for the terrible customer service, less competition probably means less of a reward to companies that provide excellent customer service, but I don't think that's the whole story. Errands requiring a physical visit to the retail store are never desirable or pleasant, and it's no surprise that many service companies have found a competitive advantage in finding ways to eliminate the ordeal. We deposit checks by app, change our cell phone coverage online, etc. All of that wonderful change is conditional on free-flowing internet, and to a lesser extent phone services. Internet is the core foundation for retail-visit destruction, but purchasing internet itself is a second-order dilemma: you can't enjoy the fruits of internet-based retail innovation to purchase the internet itself. So we're stuck taking a number at an overcrowded TimeWarner service center.

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