Comcast’s New Bullshit Wireless Service (XFINITY Mobile)

So Comcast rolled out a plan similar to Google’s Project FI recently. I was, like most thinking Americans, skeptical. I knew it had to come with a horrible catch attached to it, like possibly requiring my mother to undergo experimental medical testing to get the deal. Comcast is one of the most hated companies in American history after all and their partner Verizon isn’t far behind. Actually, Comcast is one of the most hated companies in all of human history.

Google, a Net_Neutral company, partnered with slightly more reasonable wireless carriers T-Mobile and US Cellular but their pricing is about the same. Still, their pro Net-Neutral stance shows that they are at least a progressively run company for the time being.

Comcast partnered with super Anti-Net Neutrality carrier Verizon. We all know these guys for charging us at least 10x what people pay in other developed countries per for our services and backing them up with half-assed technology, like copper instead of fiber-optic based wiring, now they’re teaming up to pretend they’re doing you a favor again while taking advantage of you. Here’s how.

You have to have an XFinity account in the first place to even get XFinity Mobile. They mislead you with their advertising and say you can get unlimited calling for $45/month, but that’s only if you have one of their premier TV packages which start at $150 a month. If not, because you realized that traditional TV is going the way of the dinosaur and stupid, you will pay $65/month. So a family of 4 without a premier TV plan will pay almost $100 a month more for an unlimited plan than they will even with Verizon directly, who overcharges them too. The flyer I received also indicated that this may be a limited time offer that only extends through July as part of their “amazing” launch. In short, they’re screwing you again.

Yes, there is a pay per Gig option of $12 per gig, but this pricing is on par with many other providers that won’t hypothetically eat your firstborn if you sign a contract with them. The wireless hotspot access they advertise is largely stupid and pointless. Most businesses will allow you to use their Wi-Fi if you’re in range, staying with them, etc.

Comcast is also fervently against Net-Neutrality. This is probably because the truth is that Net-Neutrality is good for the end user. It effectively requires companies to actually improve their infrastructure without charging their customers more as their demands increase. It also keeps questionable companies like Comcast and CenturyLink from doing things like censoring the news, etc. using network prioritization or stealing bandwidth from their poorest users. All of that will be fair game if we lose Net-Neutrality by the way.

In the end it’s a bandaid to the problems we face with telecom today. We need public broadband that is Net-Neutral. Sure, private local providers can help provide access to this network, but without it we’ll just keep playing these games and keep being taken advantage of. How about this. How about instead of shitty Comcast hotspots we establish a network of public broadband Wi-Fi hooked up to public fiber that people can use to get their work done anywhere at no cost and get America out of the telecom dark ages.

So in short, one of the most immoral things you can do during this dark time is voluntarily give Comcast, CenturyLink, Verizon, and any of the other telecom companies supporting Trump’s Anti Net-Neutrality policies your money. It doesn’t even make financial sense to anyway.

One more note from the standpoint of the government. Whenever a new service comes up government officials who either don’t get it, or claim not to get it because they’re invested in these big telecom companies, use these services as justification that services are becoming available to more and more people at better rates but that simply isn’t true. The competition we’ve seen in the private market gives us all about the same services for about the same prices with limited equipment options. The companies carve out territories and stop competing almost immediately, creating an illusion of competition while establishing virtual monopolies. It is not in their interest to really make improvements. The only times that they do are when public options are established that actually bring pricing down, and give citizens a better option.

Before doing the right things, the big providers will usually start out by trying to force communities not to provide a public option in the first place, turn them off if one has been installed, or even use red scare tactics and call it socialism. Basically, they will try everything not to let you have better service, from an ethical provider, at a better price, but if your community sticks to its guns it will change their behavior for the better too.

Be Leary of Candidates with Endoresements

I know, you look at the title and think that I’ve gone off the deep end. Well perhaps you think I’ve gone off the deep end again, but there is solid logic to this argument. You see, when candidates run for seats they seek endorsements, but many of us do not know how that process works. Essentially, it’s a pay to play process. If you want to vote for a candidate, say with the Whatcom Democrats, you have to show up and pay a fee. Sure, they’ll argue that the money is used for events, etc. but the point is that you have to pay just to get in and vote.

So in a town like Bellingham where 1/3rd of the people, including families, earn less than $25,000 a year per household you will probably end up with a lot of those people supporting a candidate that is considered “more liberal” which these days translates to less bloodthirsty, or not crazy, or not a dirt bag of a human being, etc. The poor not only have a hard time affording a fee of any kind, but it is inappropriate to ask them to pay any amount to vote. The minimum wage here is $8.75, and low-income voting is $10. So you’re asking them to give up more than an hours worth of pay to vote. Plus, they may work later shifts meaning that making the meetings are harder for them than the rich people that can easily make the meetings, pay the $20 “normal” fee (or more accurately the “make sure you do me a favor with a Waterfront Construction Contract fee”), and make it home in time for supper.

So by default these organizations bias their votes, and endorsements, to the very wealthy. For instance, we have approximately 800 homeless people in Bellingham and Whatcom County. A simple luxury tax would take care of the issue. We have tons of millionaires in Bellingham, especially in Fairhaven. Still a candidate like Todd Donovan will support new roads for bicycles before a luxury tax, because growing a spine and doing the right thing would probably cost him the endorsement. So all I’m saying is to read between the lines. Candidates with endorsements are often bought, like Todd Donovan. He was directly asked this question recently and tried to tell poor people essentially to shut up because they don’t pay a lot in taxes. He was more business like about it, but that was the gist.

To recap our taxes in Bellingham,

  1. Our homes just went up in value. So we paid higher property tax than ever before. This is part of the real-estate scam. It works out well because the govenrment can bring in more money while not raising the percentage of the tax. So they can say they didn’t raise the tax even though you’re paying more. Again, that’s what we call a scam.
  2. We have almost 9% sales tax.
  3. We have some special taxes.
  4. We legalized marijuana recently, meaning that we have about $70 million extra in taxes earmarked for healthcare but the government always tells us that we’re out of money.
  5. There have been many “voluntary” tax increases. They should not be considered coluntary because they included issues like replacing bad fire equipment that the city didn’t budget for. So the choice was, “do you want to pay an extra tax and have a reliable fire truck, or not.” They did the same thing with educational technologies.
  6. The police purchased a $400,000 tank in the midst of all of this. They sold our snow plows because they said we don’t need to keep specialized equipment around. I guess a tank doesn’t count.

… Sadly, the list goes on, but you get the picture. We pay more all of the time and they do less with it.