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Comcast Sues Vermont To Avoid Building 550 Miles of New Cable Lines (arstechnica.com) 201

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast has sued the state of Vermont to try to avoid a requirement to build 550 miles of new cable lines. Comcast's lawsuit against the Vermont Public Utility Commission (VPUC) was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Vermont and challenges several provisions in the cable company's new 11-year permit to offer services in the state. One of the conditions in the permit says that "Comcast shall construct no less than 550 miles of line extensions into un-cabled areas during the [11-year] term." Comcast would rather not do that. The company's court complaint says that Vermont is exceeding its authority under the federal Cable Act while also violating state law and Comcast's constitutional rights: "The VPUC claimed that it could impose the blanket 550-mile line extension mandate on Comcast because it is the 'largest' cable operator in Vermont and can afford it. These discriminatory conditions contravene federal and state law, amount to undue speaker-based burdens on Comcast's protected speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution... and deprive Comcast and its subscribers of the benefits of Vermont law enjoyed by other cable operators and their subscribers without a just and rational basis, in violation of the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution."
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Comcast Sues Vermont To Avoid Building 550 Miles of New Cable Lines

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  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:03AM (#55121873)

    There was a section that said Vermont could change it any time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh no! You KNOW those Vermont lawyers pulled a fast one on those Harvard and Yale educated Comcast lawyers! The Comcast people are just simple folks who don't understand the complexities of the law and we should cut them some slack.

      And we know that government regulations are just evil and impede corporate prof.....I mean job growth and hurt the economy for us little people.

      So, I think, Comca$t should be allowed to reneg on the agreements that the VPUC bamboozled them into signing. After all, it's good for

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:42AM (#55122123) Journal

      Comcast is actually one of the reasons why I wouldn't move to Vermont. Unless DSL satisfies you're requirements (or you live in a few select areas), you're only real choice for broadband in Comcrap. Putting aside their horrible history of customer service, they actively work to sabotage every other broadband effort in the state. This is just another of many such efforts. They want the permits, but they don't actually want to build out anything. Why? Because if they did then another company could waltz in and use the lines.

      The reason Vermont put that provision in there in the first place is because they're fed up with bullshit companies like Comcast fucking them over by buying permits just to sit on them. So finally they said "You buy a permit, you have to fucking use it."

      • by nnet ( 20306 )

        Because if they did then another company could waltz in and use the lines.

        When have American cable operators ever had to open their lines to another company? Citation please.

        • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

          Because if they did then another company could waltz in and use the lines.

          When have American cable operators ever had to open their lines to another company? Citation please.

          Cable operators haven't, but the regional phone company monopolies in the US were required to open their lines to competition by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. That resulted in what I fondly recall as the "golden age of DSL," where you had a dozen companies in many areas leasing lines from the phone companies and vying for customers. Unfortunately, the Act also shattered most barriers to consolidation, so the bells responded by purchasing all the local guys and absorbing them into the fold, and then er

      • by cellocgw ( 617879 ) <cellocgw&gmail,com> on Friday September 01, 2017 @11:20AM (#55123299) Journal

        To correct this misimpression: VTel has run rather a lot of FTTH throughout their part of Vermont. It's really quite amazing to me that I can have a house on a 2 mile dirt road off a backwater other road and enjoy FTTH right out there in the boonies.

        Just hope the rest of the state gets the same treatment some day.

      • The state is big enough so some parts have other options, but Comcast is really the only state-wide broadband provider. We *should* have Verizon FiOS as competition out here, except Verizon has long considered that entire service a loss leader designed to meet obligations that let them collect big subsidies they could largely pocket with big pay raises for execs. (Any time you see FiOS service available out here in a smaller community, follow the money. There's always some high ranking Verizon exec who hap

      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        "... Unless DSL satisfies you're requirements ..."

        FYI, you have a typo. ;)

  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:04AM (#55121877)

    amount to undue speaker-based burdens on Comcast's protected speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution

    Sorry.... no "Speaker-based burdens". Deciding where to install cabling is business, not speech.

    Evidence: You require a PERMIT to install this cabling. If something's a constitutional or other legal right then you don't have to get a PERMIT to be authorized to do it.

    If you require authorization from the public, then the public gets to negotiate the terms of that authorization to provide the public a benefit offsetting the expense of the privileges you are being granted and expected to use.

    The SIZE of your existing installation is a germane topic regarding permits for operating a cable company.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by TFlan91 ( 2615727 )

      If I'm not mistaken, in most areas you require a permit to hold a rally, protest, etc. Pretty sure freedom of assembly is a constitutional right

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kierthos ( 225954 )

        Yes, there are certain checks on the freedom of assembly.

        Generally speaking, if your assembly gets violent, you can expect the police to get involved, and you really can't claim that as a violation of your freedom to assemble. (Well, you can claim it, but whether the judge buys it is a different matter.)

        And again, generally speaking, the law can restrict when you gather. For example, you can't expect to be holding a loud (albeit peaceful) rally in the wee hours of the morning without being cited for disturb

      • If your rally or protest deprives others of the use of a public resource then it is reasonable to require that you coordinate the event with those charged with maintaining the utility of said resource.
      • Yes, you have the right to free assembly, but you do not have the right to assemble wherever you wish. If you plan on using municipal property (including public streets that would need to be closed), then you need to get permission from the city. This is not a restriction of free speech or free assembly, it is a restriction on land usage, and a request for the use of city services for public safety.

        You are always free to assemble on property that you own, with whomever you wish as long as their rights are

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          You are always free to assemble on property that you own, with whomever you wish as long as their rights are not restricted in some legal way

          Yes... with the minor caveat that your land is still subject to zoning and land-use regulation (E.g. amount of Car and Foot traffic), plus the people in your assemblies may not violate any laws regarding safety, fire code (maximum number of people in a place), or cause noise complaints, or create a disturbance of the peace --- the assembly itself can become unlawfu

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        If I'm not mistaken, in most areas you require a permit to hold a rally, protest, etc.

        You have the right to rally, protest, etc, ONLY if it is your property or with permission of the property owner, and if the owner of the property you use will allow it they get to decide WHEN and WHERE you may do so.

        If your intended venue for any rally/protest-related activities is a public street or park, then the property owner is the public, and the process by which you
        secure that permission is a PERMIT.

        You DON'T

    • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:11AM (#55121931) Homepage

      If something's a constitutional or other legal right then you don't have to get a PERMIT to be authorized to do it.

      Unless Grayned v. Rockford has been overturned while I wasn't looking, that is just not true. The government has a well-established right to regulate the time, place, and manner in which you exercise that speech.

      • Hence "free speech zones."

        • by Raul654 ( 453029 )

          I don't like them, but as long as they are content-neutral then they are constitutional. That being said, they become unconstitutional the minute you start forcing your critics to use them but don't do the same with your supporters.

          • by flink ( 18449 )

            I don't like them, but as long as they are content-neutral then they are constitutional. That being said, they become unconstitutional the minute you start forcing your critics to use them but don't do the same with your supporters.

            That's exactly what they did.

          • >they become unconstitutional the minute you start forcing your critics to use them but don't do the same with your supporters.

            Why else would you have them at all?

      • by KingMotley ( 944240 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @10:22AM (#55122741) Journal

        First, IANAL, however after reading Grayned v. Rockford, it doesn't support what you say.

        Grayned v. Rockford was about the constitutionality of two city ordinances in which demonstrators were arrested while protesting outside a school while school was in session.

        The first ordinance, the "anti-picketing" ordinance was ruled as unconstitutional by the Supreme count of Illinois.

        The second ordinance, the "anti-noise" ordinance was ruled constitutional, but was only violated because of where, when AND manner that speech was exercised. They could have done any two of those things, but only when all three were done (adjacent to a school, during/30-minutes prior or after school session, AND loud enough to disrupt regular school operation) was in violation of the law.

        According to Grayned v. Rockford, they didn't need a PERMIT, nor was there a way to get a PERMIT to do what they did (make enough noise close enough to a school to disrupt it's normal operation). While an interesting case, it simply doesn't support what you say it does. The government isn't regulating free speech in this case. It is however interpreting what happens when one's right to free speech violates another's rights, and deciding which takes priority and codifies it in law.

        • by Raul654 ( 453029 )

          It says exactly what I said it does. Quoting verbatim from that decision: "Our cases make equally clear, however, that reasonable "time, place and manner" regulations may be necessary to further significant governmental interests, and are permitted."

          • ".... may be necessary to further significant governmental interests, and are permitted."

            We understand in the age of selfish morons with a platform thinking they must voice everything as fact, but did you fail comprehensive reading class in school?

            MAY BE is not WILL or MUST.

    • While I do agree that you shouldn't need a permit to exercise your constitutional rights, there is sadly plenty of precedents that say otherwise. In almost all states (although a bit ironically here, not in Vermont) you need at least one permit if not more to exercise yous second amendment rights to bear arms, and in many cities you need a permit to exercise your first amendment right to protest.

      • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @09:23AM (#55122329) Journal

        You can protest any time you want, but if you want to use city property and expect the city to help you (e.g. close streets) then yes, you need a permit. If you don't close the streets and obstruct traffic with your protest, you are committing a crime - your rights to free speech don't come above others' rights of freedom of movement, or established municipal code.

        Feel free to walk around on the sidewalk with a sign and have your protest with no permit, no law enforcement will say a word.

      • There is no such thing as a constitutional permit. You have the right to bear arms (typically hand guns for self defense) and free speech anywhere in the US, you don't have the right to shoot everywhere without cause and disturb the peace by screaming. You can't encroach on others property either.

        • >You have the right to bear arms (typically hand guns for self defense) and free speech anywhere in the US

          Well most states require a permit to carry a gun, and in some others you need an additional permit just to buy one, so... I don't see how you are correct

        • by torkus ( 1133985 )

          Sure...and with that in mind please do try walking through Times Square with a shotgun across your back. Catch up with us in 5-15, 3 with good behavior.

          I don't disagree with the sentiment, but there are many restrictions placed on otherwise constitutionally protected rights. Speech has held up much better than the right to bear arms. Assembly is somewhere in the middle.

          Each of them have their own reasons - some are more justified than others. Restricting gun ownership arbitrarily in each state is stupid

          • by Xenx ( 2211586 )

            Sure...and with that in mind please do try walking through Times Square with a shotgun across your back. Catch up with us in 5-15, 3 with good behavior.

            That would all depend, is the gun loaded or are you a resident of NYC? If the answer is no to both, you're in the clear. You'll probably be stopped, at the least, but peaceable journey laws apply.

            Not really countering any argument, just pointing it out.

    • by I75BJC ( 4590021 )
      That's not accurate. Some jurisdictions require a permit for "Free Speech". The Governments aren't permitted to discriminate in the issuing of permits but a permit is definitely require. Too bad that you aren't aware.
    • by El Cubano ( 631386 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:26AM (#55122029)

      The SIZE of your existing installation is a germane topic regarding permits for operating a cable company.

      I agree with you. However, levying a requirement on one operator and not others strictly because of size is clearly discriminatory.

      A better approach would be to establish a formula that mandates build out to un-cabled areas as a function of gross revenues generated by customers in the state. It needs to be revenue based instead of based on the number of customers or amount of profit because being based on the number of customers would be easily gamed and of course anything profit-based would easily fall victim to accounting tricks which big companies are so fond of.

      In that way a mom and pop operation that makes small $$ would have a small build out requirement and Comcast and other big fish would that make lots of $$ would have a bigger requirement. The objective is still achieved and in a clear, open, and fair manner.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "levying a requirement on one operator and not others strictly because of size is clearly discriminatory."

        But not any more illegal than, say, having different tax rates for different income levels.
        • But not any more illegal than, say, having different tax rates for different income levels.

          It is interesting that you mention that. I actually started use income taxes as an example, but I figured it would detract from my overall point, seeing as there are lots of people who would reflexively down-mod any suggestion along the lines of "taxing those who earn more at a higher rate is not right and everyone should be taxed at the same rate".

          You are correct in that it is not illegal to have different income tax rates, but that doesn't make it right. Personally, I don't think "they ca

          • by msauve ( 701917 )
            "If you tax someone who makes $50k at an effective rate of 10% and someone who makes $150k at an effective rate of 20%"

            Why stop there? Even if the rate is the same, the person earning more still pays more. Do they get additional government services for their greater payment? How about property taxes? Subsidies/tax breaks which go to one industry, but not another?
            • Why stop there? Even if the rate is the same, the person earning more still pays more. Do they get additional government services for their greater payment? How about property taxes? Subsidies/tax breaks which go to one industry, but not another?

              This is why I happen to think income-based taxation is the worst possible strategy. Property taxes and most other taxes are already uniform. For example, I am not aware of any jurisdiction that taxes properties differently based on their assessed value. They may have exemptions (e.g., lower your assessed value if it is your primary residence, or lower your assessed value if you are drawing Social Security disability, etc.). But they don't have 1% tax rate for properties up to $100k assessed value, 2% ta

      • I agree with you. However, levying a requirement on one operator and not others strictly because of size is clearly discriminatory.

        It's only discriminatory if the cable operators are in direct competition with each other. I'll bet that the smaller cable operators are in regions serviced by two ore more cable companies in competition with each other. But most of Comocast's service is in areas where they enjoy a monopoly. You can't discriminate (favor one over another) when there's only one entity.

        In f

      • Discriminatory in this context has no negative connotation. It's responsible government.

        There are many ways to provide equal treatment under the law. It is not always desirable or efficient to legislate and regulate for every possible situation. Instead of having a thick rule book, Vermont has a public committee who is responsible for permitting cable operators. Every operator, from small mom & pop shops to Comcast has to deal with the same government run committee, which the media and the public (sh

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        levying a requirement on one operator and not others strictly because of size is clearly discriminatory.

        Yes, but discriminatory or not, eliminating monopolies [wikipedia.org] makes the market work better [wikipedia.org].

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:36AM (#55122087) Homepage Journal

      While I agree with your conclusion, I think your line of reasoning is a bit shaky.

      Laying cable is not subject to First Amendment protections, not because it requires a permit, but because it is not speech. There is no expressive content, and you're burying your work in the fricken' ground.

      Comcast's argument, if I understand it, amounts to an analogy. They're claiming that saying, "You can lay cable here as long as you also lay a certain amount of cable there," is analogous to saying "You can hold a rally, but you have to praise the Dear Leader." And it is analogous; but like all analogies it has its limitations; in this case the limitation is that laying cable isn't protected by the First Amendment.

      Still, it'd be a huge victory for Comcast if they could get the court to rule that laying cable is speech. This would greatly limit the power of government to regulate their business.

      • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:53AM (#55122169)
        This whole 1st Amendment shit is a red herring. Even if laying cable is "speech", Comcast signed a contract to do it, which isnt any different than Susan Bennet signing a contract to be the voice of Siri.

        Here is the applicable text of the contract:

        33. Comcast shall construct no less than 550 miles of line extensions into uncabled areas during the term of this CPG. Comcast may satisfy this obligation either by fully funding the line extensions or by collecting contributions-in-aid-of-construction from customers pursuant to its line extension tariff. Any line extensions that are funded by a grant from any federal or state governmental agency shall not be used to satisfy this requirement. Comcast shall annually file with the Board and the Department a report that details all line extensions completed during the prior calendar year. This report shall, at minimum, describe the length and location of all completed line extensions and the funding source for such extensions.

        There are a few more sections about line extensions, but only in the manner in which they are handled.
        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Well, just to play devil's advocate, some contracts are unenforceable because by their very nature they're invalid.

          In a contract one party agrees to do something (say, hand over a good) in return for a consideration (say, receiving payment in some form). A contract in which a party agreed to do something in return for not being prevented from doing something they had every right to do would likely be ruled unconscionable.

          So if laying cable is an act of speech, the government can only restrict it by means n

      • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

        Just to play devil's advocate, we are talking about the construction of a communications network so it's conceivable there's a first amendment angle. To use an analogy (though as you point out, they have their limitations) imagine Vermont mandated that the newspaper you wanted to circulate in Burlington had to offer daily home delivery in Montpelier in order to operate in the state. Would this be a legitimate exercise of the state to regulate a business, or an unconstitutional restriction of a free press?

        • Its wrong because the State has not mandated anything. Comcast signed a contract with the State agreeing to build out more infrastructure in exchange for an 11 year franchise permit.
        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Well, here's the flaw in your newspaper analogy. A physical copy of a newspaper is an embodiment of expression. A network is not; it's just a delivery mechanism.

          So the closest newspaper analogy would be a newspaper vending box -- something younger people here may never have seen but which were once ubiquitous enough to be considered a nuisance. And there's even case law about regulating newspaper vending boxes. Generally you can as long as you don't do it based on what the box contains (e.g. no differ

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          Vermont mandated that the newspaper you wanted to circulate in Burlington had to offer daily home delivery in Montpelier in order to operate in the state.

          That's not analogous to the current situation... It's more like Vermont mandated the installation and maintenance of 550 new Newspaper stands in unserved areas, in order to sign a 11-year contract providing the exclusive monopoly right to continue to operate a few hundred stands which are in the city on public property.

          See... Vermont is not tell

    • Sorry sir, Citizens United (the SCrOTUS verdict, not the organization) has created a precedent that pretty much anything can be redefined as "speech". This is merely the logical next step the liberal hippy communist SJWs have been warning you about.

      Also, that sentence from Comcast's court complaint you're quoting is going to be my "exhibit A" in arguing why lawyers should never ever be allowed to smoke pot, even if they're in inhumane pain and it's the last analgesic on earth.

    • Such a poor defense strategy suggests Comcast doesn't intend to win this court case. Rather, they probably intend to tie up things in legal proceedings for a good long while.

      I'd check the contract carefully to see if there is any sort of clock they can run out by delaying this implementation, or some elected or appointed official's term expiry coming up.

    • There is great danger it seems to me to arise from the constant habit which prevails where anything is opposed or objected to, of referring without rhyme or reason to the Constitution as a means of preventing its accomplishment, thus creating the general impression that the Constitution is but a barrier to progress instead of being the broad highway through which alone true progress may be enjoyed.

  • Translation... (Score:5, Informative)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:06AM (#55121895)
    Our CEO can't buy a bigger yacht if we put customers first.
  • concast cable We don't care about the law. and we have IPTV channels that you need to rent our box to get and do not work with your cable card.

    • by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:22AM (#55122005)
      Its not law, its contact.

      ..and if Comcast didnt like the contract, they shouldnt have signed it.

      I feel this way on both sides of this issue. Both Comcast and Vermont should be held to their contractual obligations.

      If Comcast doesn't want to live up to the contract then they can pound sand and the court can decide how to make Vermont whole. I'm sure there are more than a few competing cable companies that want to service those areas, and I'm sure a nice big financial judgment against Comcast will delight the voters.

      If the people of Vermont don't like whats in the contract then the voters should make it a key issue during the next election and vote out all the people involved in signing the bad contract, and additionally all the people they support too just to get the message across that signing contracts that are not in the peoples best interest will absolutely not be tolerated.

      Also... an 11 year franchise contract? What the fuck?
  • violating state law and Comcast's constitutional rights

    The Constitution of the United States does not protect "corporations", but only "persons", "the people", and "citizens". Enough of this granting protection to corporations. Corporations are a construction of the government and only exist to serve the people.

    • by Zak3056 ( 69287 )

      violating state law and Comcast's constitutional rights

      The Constitution of the United States does not protect "corporations", but only "persons", "the people", and "citizens". Enough of this granting protection to corporations. Corporations are a construction of the government and only exist to serve the people.

      The scenario you propose would imply that the New York Times, a corporate entity, should not enjoy the protections offered by the first amendment. Corporations are not people, but people acting in concert should have the same rights as people acting separately.

      • by jbengt ( 874751 )

        Corporations are not people, but people acting in concert should have the same rights as people acting separately.

        They should then also have the same obligations & duties as people acting separately. So get rid of the limited liability of corporate owners, and I'd be willing to treat a corporation as people. But since that isn't going to happen, I don't think it's right to treat a corporation to all the rights & privileges people have.

        • It is neither rational, nor just, nor good for the economy to have stockholders liable for the actions of corporate executives that they cannot control in any meaningful manner. Corporate executives should be liable for any criminal activities they undertake in the corporation's name.
          Making corporate owners liable for the actions of a corporation's executives makes as much sense as making the residents of a town liable for the actions of the town's mayor.
  • Solution! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Vermont could build its own municipal cable company to wire all the homes, with blackjack, and hookers, too. Then Comcast would sue for unfair competition, I suppose.

    • ..like Vermont has the money for that...

      I suspect that the States intent was to get Comcast to wire up the islands in Lake Champlain, the so called "Grand Isles." The smallest of these islands has about 500 people living on it with the largest having about 2000 people living on it.

      Of course, the people on these islands would already have a satellite solution for television if they wanted it and one of the lake's WISP (Wireless ISP) solutions for internet as well.
      • 2000 people is 0.3% of the population of Vermont. On the face of it, it's not an unreasonable request.
    • I honestly think that'd be a better solution. I'm a little bothered by Vermont's decision to make renewal dependent upon this kind of obligation. While I'm no fan of Comcast, I honestly think we need to be immensely careful on how we regulate infrastructure companies. If the government's belief is that private enterprise cannot do the job, the solution isn't to hack on a set of obligations to an entity that requires profits to be sustainable, it should instead be filling in the gaps.

      This kind of over-reg

      • Re:Solution! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @10:09AM (#55122631)
        This isnt regulation. Its contract.

        Comcast signed it. Thats the end of all "regulation" arguments.

        I would personally prefer that no State permit be required and thus no State contract, that Comcast and so forth would instead need to get individual contracts from each and every property owner individually rather than use State power to force all property owners to allow Comcast an easement.

        My better world isnt here. The world of contracts is here. Comcast signed it.
  • Network Investment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anomalous3 ( 1564795 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:14AM (#55121949)
    Something Something Network Investment. Something Something Title II. It's pretty hard to claim that you WANT to invest in infrastructure when you're suing to breach a contract that said you'd invest in infrastructure.
    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      Especially one that says to install 50 miles of it per year.

      I mean come on, 550 miles over 11 years is NOTHING.

    • This is all about freedom. Sure, they _want_ to spend the money, but they want the freedom _not_ to spend the money. And sure, it's a freedom they have exercised in the past and continue to exercise. But what good are freedoms if you don't exercise them?

      So really, you should feel bad for questioning such Great Patriots as our American (tm) Cable Companies. It's Ok, just write some anti-Net Neutrality comments to apologize.
  • turnaround (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jm007 ( 746228 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:15AM (#55121951)
    Customer: the terms are hideously one-sided and I have no other options
    Comcast: you signed it and a contract is a contract; no backing out, you have obligations

    Comcast: the terms are hideously one-sided and I have no other options
    VT: you signed it and a contract is a contract; no backing out, you have obligations

    Comcast: you don't have the authority to do that!

    no need for more to be said
  • Public property (Score:5, Insightful)

    by buck-yar ( 164658 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:19AM (#55121979)

    Last time I checked, Comcast used mostly roadside utility poles and roadside underground cabling. All owned by the state and local municipalities. If they want to use the public's property, they have to abide by the public's rules.

    I don't see how this is a first amendment issue at all.

    • Last time I checked, Comcast used mostly roadside utility poles and roadside underground cabling. All owned by the state and local municipalities. If they want to use the public's property, they have to abide by the public's rules.

      That suggests a fair resolution. Since they no longer like the terms of the contract, then they don't have to build the 550 miles of additional cabling. And in return - because this is contract law, so there's always consideration - all they have to do is remove any existing cabling from public infrastructure.

      Hmm, I wonder how much that would cost them ...

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:20AM (#55121991)

    Fine, don't want to play nice? Then the state should open up any area where Comcast operates to the free market (and state it that way, to confuse and bother the corrupt republicans who will undoubtedly try and block it)

    • Comcast has a huge head start. They can drop prices and run anyone out of business they want. Then they can buy up their former competitors for a song.

      Like most public utilities Telecom doesn't really work in a free market sense. It's too expensive to get started but once you do you're entrenched.
      • And the city can say "You may no longer use our utility poles." And then Comcast would have to spend an absurd amount of money to move their cable lines, negotiate with land-owners for right of way and have to do all of that while competitors buy up the old utility line rights. More likely that would lead to Comcast selling their cables to someone with a utility pole lease and exiting the business.

  • by PortHaven ( 242123 ) on Friday September 01, 2017 @08:28AM (#55122039) Homepage

    They want to have a monopoly that requires they have a license from the state, then they're subjected to that license.

    Frankly, we have been paying fees to the telcos for decades, these funds were supposed to facilitate their reaching rural areas. Except they basically pocked them and do zero upgrades to their infrastructure. Sorry, absolutely zero sympathy for Comcast.

  • Solution:

    Step 1: Update the terms to require all Vermont cable companies to install an extension into rural areas based on their available subscriber base (if Comcast has 90% of Vermont and has to do 550miles, then a cable company that has 1% must run 5.5 miles). Now there is no discrimination between companies, it is a fair percentage.

    Step 2: Put into the license that Comcast has 10 days to comply or their cable monopolies will be revoked and their equipment seized by the state of Vermont. Comcast will b

  • I'd like to get out of the terms of my mortgage agreement too. Suck it Comcast. Remember corporations are people. That's how you slime bags wanted it. Enjoy!
  • The government should be *outlawing* the construction of any new cable lines, not mandating it! What is going on here? If it was requiring them to lay fiber, I could totally get behin them, but the notion of putting that much additional garbage coax in the ground in 2017 makes me sick. The cable industry is dying, and its old infrastructure is insufficient for modern internet needs. Since soon all media will be delivered via the internet, it really is a no-brainer.

    Still, Comcast needs to shut the fuck u

    • by nnet ( 20306 )

      The government should be *outlawing* the construction of any new cable lines, not mandating it! What is going on here? If it was requiring them to lay fiber, I could totally get behin them, but the notion of putting that much additional garbage coax in the ground in 2017 makes me sick.

      What said every inch of comcast network is coax?
      What said it was all underground?

      The cable industry is dying, and its old infrastructure is insufficient for modern internet needs. Since soon all media will be delivered via the internet, it really is a no-brainer.

      What said its revenue was solely based on providing TV content?
      They have an Internet backbone network that provides access to millions that use it to consume media. Over the Internet.

      Still, Comcast needs to shut the fuck up. Corporations need to have all of their "rights" stripped away. Corporations are allowed to operate at the pleasure of the people. Period. If they don't like it, they can leave Vermont or shut down entirely.

      Granted, greed hurts.
      Here's an idea, why don't you start a grassroots movement about how you think things should be.

  • Fine Comcast $500 per day per mile uncompleted.

    Tell Comcast what their early contract termination is going to cost them.

    Or both.

  • If it made financial sense from a business perspective Comcast would lay the cable. Clearly Comcast doesn't see a ROI as an outcome of what Vermont is mandating so why should they spend company (and investor) funds on a bs initiative like this? Typical politicians overreaching their authority because they can get away with it.

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