A Comcast sign is visible outside its customer care center June 9, 2004 in Romeoville, Ill.
Susan Crawford from Cardozo School of Law joins us once again to pick through the finer points of these conditions, especially as they relate to Internet access. The government has mandated that the new company make standalone Internet service available to 2.5 million low-income households for $10 a month and that they offer hardware (PCs, netbooks) to these same households for less than $150. The conditions also call for the company to offer standalone Internet access to everyone else for $50 a month. The idea is to separate high speed broadband from cable television and ensure that the new company delivers content with equal priority whether its coming through a cable or the Internet.
We also talk to Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET. She fills us in on the TV side of the discussion. Molly says the new company will be required to make its programs available to Hulu or any other video services out there that are serving up other shows. NBC Universal has a large stake in Hulu, but given that Hulu could be seen as a competitor to cable, the new company will be obliged to stay with Hulu but in a silent capacity.
Molly Wood cautions that while these provisions provide a lot of protection for TV watchers in the near term, they only cover extant technologies. If someone comes up with something brand new (had you heard of Hulu five years ago? Or YouTube 10 years ago?), Comcast/NBC/Universal can do what it wants.
Also in this program, we learn a new tech vocabulary word: "Max Lols", short for "maximum laughs out loud". The hacking of an AT&T database last summer was apparently motivated not by greed or nefarious criminal plotting, but by the desire for max lols.