In the most recent episode of his weekly Netflix show Patriot Act, comedian and former Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj answers the question we’ve all asked ourselves: “Why does my Internet service provider suck so much?” To figure it out, the show, which features research from the Community Broadband Networks initiative, takes a deep dive into Internet access inequality, lobbying telecom monopolies, inept federal regulators, municipal broadband networks, and more.
Minhaj, citing our Profiles of Monopoly report, points to monopoly broadband providers as one of the main reasons for slow speeds, poor service, and uneven access. He calls out Comcast in particular:
“Now look, all of these companies are terrible, but Comcast deserves a special place in Hell . . . In fact, Comcast has been called “America’s Most Hated Company” . . . The emotions are real. People hate Comcast.”
Later, he notes that the federal government shares responsibility for the sad state of affairs:
“The most frustrating part about the broadband cartel is that the government isn’t just letting this happen; it’s helping it happen. They are protecting broadband monopoly power over the public good, and most of the blame falls on one agency: the Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC.”
In the episode, Minhaj also explains how the FCC’s data collection methods vastly overstate broadband coverage, calling Form 477, which the agency uses to collect deployment data from providers, the “government version of ‘grade your own quiz.’”
As a counterpoint, Minhaj highlights how communities across the country, like Chattanooga, Tennessee, are building their own broadband networks to get around monopoly providers and sluggish regulators:
“Small cities are going DIY, and they’re setting up their own Internet. It’s become known as municipal broadband, and it is phenomenal. It turns out, when cities create their own Internet, then their own broadband customers get faster speeds, lower prices, and better customer service — you know, all the things that violate Comcast company policy.”
Municipal broadband, he says, is creating competition and faster, more affordable Internet access:
“Chattanooga forced Comcast to magically find a way to offer the best broadband they had ever offered. After years of people complaining, Comcast was like, ‘Sorry, bro. Just saw your text. I can totally turn on that good Internet.’”
For more, stream the full episode on Netflix, or watch a portion of the show below. If you are one of the millions of Americans who don’t have access to high-speed broadband, the episode is also available to rent on DVD.
Check it out: