The Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger just imploded and Mark Cuban isn’t happy about it. The outspoken billionaire investor and “Shark Tank” star took to Twitter today to kvetch about the failed fusion, sarcastically congratulating the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for its “first skin on the wall” in its crusade for a free, open Internet.
Cuban’s cranky tweet-venting on the foiled merger, the news of which broke yesterday, doesn’t come as a surprise. (What did, however, was the tweet’s lack of profanity.) It’s no secret that the swear-happy serial entrepreneur vehemently opposes net neutrality, nor that he would point the finger at the FCC and its net neutrality rules for the demise of the $45 billion merger.
He’s not off the mark. After all, Comcast and Time Warner climbing into bed together would give rise to a single media monopoly wielding power over 40 percent of the public’s access to the Internet. Nothing neutral about that.
In the past, Cuban has called the FCC’s Open Internet Order the “dumbest thing ever” and warned that “it will *uck everything up.” And, apparently to him (and everyone else who can see the forest for the trees), it did just that with the dashed Comcast-Time Warner mega merger. The Chicago-based former tech exec, who, mind you, built his own empire on the open Internet, made no bones about placing blame for the merger meltdown:
Basically, Cuban is saying that, monopoly issues aside, because the two corporate giants are against net neutrality, the FCC turned their potential marriage into a divorce before they even said “I do.”
As you probably know by now, last February, the FCC adopted a landmark policy known as net neutrality. On the day of the historic ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the aim of the controversial policy is to make sure “that no one -- whether government or corporate -- should control free and open access to the Internet.” In short, the order doesn’t allow broadband ISPs, like Comcast and Time Warner, to charge content providers for faster speeds. Instead, they must remain neutral Internet traffic gateways that handle different types of online traffic the same way and for the same costs. Sorry, Cuban, no fast lanes allowed.
The FCC reclassified broadband ISPs as "telecommunication services'' subject to regulation similar to the telephone monopolies of the last century. The reclassification gives the commission far greater authority to prevent the companies that own bandwidth from favoring some content providers.
Cuban recently told the Washington Post that he thinks ISPs should be able to charge content providers for fast lanes, saying that future high-bitrate applications that we can’t even fathom yet will require them. These coming applications, he says, could include bandwidth vampire medical apps that would enable doctors to view live video from accident scenes over 5G networks, as well as machine vision apps. Without fast lanes, the content won’t be delivered quickly enough, he claims.