You have to carefully look at the setup--the way we set up cable systems in this country--to understand the fatal flaw in the ointment: As another poster above stated, allowing monopoly cable systems to also own content and other services (Comcast is the basket case here) is a fatally designed system. Comcast has a monopoly on the coax cable going into 10's of millions of homes in the US (forget AT&T because DSL over copper wire will never approach coax for bandwidth--never, and AT&T will -never- make the investments necessary to be competitive--never,) and Comcast also owns a HUGE ISP, plus NBC, CNBC, Bravo, USA Network, MSNBC, Universal Studios, Comcast Sports Network, Telemundo and more and more.
If I owned all this, what would my behavior be like? You guessed it: Terrible service, lousy technology, near-zero investment, thwarting competition at every opportunity, and constantly rising prices. This is the natural order of things. Monopolies create artificial scarcity and have no incentive to improve. Why should they? They have no competition--or what they do have can "be dealt with." BTW, if the Comcast merger is allowed, look for a ComcastFlix coming soon through a cable near you. They'll put Netflix out of business pretty quickly, and your new monthly fee for ComcastFlix won't be $9.95. Bet on it. It's what I would do if I ran Comcast. Wouldn't you? David Cohen, SVP of Comcast, has already publicly stated that he expects to implement Metered Billing for internet service "across our footprint" within 3-5 years. And the US National Cable Industry Association has also publicly predicted that the average consumer bill for internet service--just internet service--will be $200 to $300 per month in that same time period.
That's what I mean by "the setup." It's fatally flawed in America and must be changed. If it isn't, we will continue to fall behind other countries--and not just in internet service. Every system administrator reading this board knows that if Comcast doesn't like what El Reg is saying about them, POOF!, El Reg is throttled out of existence to Comcast users. You know it can be done without a trace of evidence. Readers will just stop coming here because, half the time, it just takes too long to load the page--or worse. Goodbye forever.