California's plan to protect net neutrality will shield consumers from telecom bullies

"At the hearing, Barbara van Schewick, director of Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, succinctly put the kibosh on this notion. She observed that from 2015 through 2017, Comcast repurchased $16 billion of its own stock. "If they took this money they could deploy a fiber network to 80 to 160 million people in the United States." She could have gone further: In 2017, Comcast, Verizon and AT&T earned a combined profit of $82.3 billion on revenues of more than $371 billion.

What really allows big ISPs to flout network neutrality in their quest of higher profits is a lack of competition, Van Schewick pointed out. About half of all Americans have only one ISP to choose from, and this near-monopoly allows the incumbents to underbuild their networks, squeeze providers for fast-track and zero-rating fees, and pitilessly pick their subscribers' pockets."