If I slip into Libertarian mode, the party that should be most annoyed about the recent Comcast flap is Verizon. Verizon has invested heap big bucks in fiber, on a theory that customers want to use high-bandwidth features like BitTorrent. (Verizon announced recently they are now marketing 20 Mbps symetric. When they finally deploy here, I am switching like Rf interference off a wet copper pair.)
Comcast's solution is much more economical. They lie. Since August, they have been accused by various sources of blocking or otherwise degrading BitTorrent, and Comcast has flat out denied it. Caught red-handed, they continue to deny it. Now they sort of kind of acknowledge it. But claim it doesn't really effect people.
Those who believe that Comcast is "taking a beating" over bad publicity ought to talk to a broader spectrum of people. The vast majority of people who I talk to who are Comcast customers (a) don't know about it, or (b) don't really get it, or (c) notice that the Comcast FAQ still denies it. Yeah, it's a big issue for those online who follow this stuff. But for the vast majority of people, who still get the bulk of their news from traditional media sources, it barely registered.
The problem is, this creates negative consequences for the rest of us. Because if Verizon decides that lying is a more economic form of competition than fiber (which it is proving to be) then they will drop their fiber build out in favor of lieing. Because we get what the market rewards. In which case, I will remain stuck with my crappy DSL connection. Unless I move to one of the countries with a better broadband policy.
Now mind you, not all Libertarians are sanguine about lieing as a viable market strategy. There are a bunch of folks who think that Comcast ought to be more trasnparent. But why should Comcast be more transparent? Unless the FCC or FTC finds that this constitutes a deceptive trade practice, or mandates some form of disclosure, then there is no reason for Comcast to adopt a new strategy. Unless customers switch. Which they are unlikely to do, because Comcast lies to them.
My head hurts.