In other words, Comcast is the very definition of a corporate behemoth that has a direct impact on the lives of tens of millions of us every day.
And it is one of the most reviled companies, too. According to one survey, Comcast was the single most hated company in the country. Comcast service is famously unreliable. Its customer service is notoriously poor. The price you pay for the same package varies dramatically from place to place. And it makes it as hard as it can for you to cancel.
More importantly, Comcast isn’t interested in giving its customers faster, more reliable service, and thanks to its power in the market, U.S. internet speeds are pitifully slow. South Korean internet runs at twice the average speeds you get here. Actually, our internet speeds don’t even keep up with Latvia. We have Comcast to thank for that.
This $12.7 billion that just dropped in Comcast’s lap is really the second lucrative goody it has gotten from Donald Trump and the Republican Congress. No company lobbied harder to eliminate net neutrality than Comcast did, and for good reason. Before net neutrality was imposed, Comcast was accused repeatedly of making it hard for its customers to access certain sites – throttling them – like Netflix. In 2013 Netflix paid what amounted to extortion money to Comcast so that viewers could watch its content.
Clearly a company like this deserved a $12.7 billion give-back from the rest of us. So here’s the test we can run with Comcast customers: Will Comcast use that $12.7 billion gift from the GOP to increase your internet speed? Or even improve your service so that it doesn’t konk out as often? Will it spend those billions to hire more customer service people and put more repair vans on the road so that your service window isn’t always 10 a.m. to never?
Or will Comcast cash its check, inflate its earnings report, reward shareholders, and give bonuses to the executives and lobbyists who worked so hard to get that big cash-back bonus in the first place?
Steven Conn teaches history at Miami University and is a regular contributor.