One of my New Year’s resolutions is to finally bring high-speed internet to our rural community in Cumberland County 50 miles south of center city Philadelphia. For years I’ve been engaged in polite letter writing and political lobbying efforts with no tangible result. The efforts of our community leaders like Meghan Wren and State Senator Jeff Van Drew brought further discussion but no new wiring. The lack of high-speed internet has become a serious obstacle to economic growth in our community and the education of our children. We need the wiring now! I’ve been told that it could be done in a week if Comcast gave the order.
My resolution comes as I end a multi-year effort to provide alternate wireless internet service through Verizon Wireless and HughesNet. This was never a great solution since the signal is weak and cuts out as cellular satellites move or weather changes. Over time, the data used by internet applications has grown and the data overage prices charged by these carriers has also increased. The result is that I’ve paid hundreds of dollars per month for barely usable wireless internet service. This is not an acceptable solution.
No more Mr. Nice Guy
This year I will take a new approach and launch a campaign designed to publicly shame the directors of Comcast and Verizon corporations for continuing to allow this cherry-picking practice that serves short-term shareholder profits but hurts our nation’s poorest and most remote rural communities.
While I would not normally endorse a negative campaign in other situations, it is important to hold the directors of for-profit corporations responsible to the community for the actions. The fact is that the world has changed and Internet providers are now suppliers of a service essential to the well-being of the entire community that they serve. Refusing to provide such service for short-term profits is a shameful practice that should be exposed and exploited as such.
I hope to enlist the help of activist investors as well as influential social media leaders. The first phase of this campaign will focus on individually reaching the member of Comcast’s Board of Directors. If you know any of them personally or have influence in an associated organization, please consider lending a hand to this effort by expressing your opinion.
- Kenneth J. Bacon, Lead Independent Director
- Sheldon M. Bonovitz, Duane Morris LLP
- Edward D. Breen, E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
- Joseph J. Collins, Aegis
- J. Michael Cook, formerly with Deloitte & Touche
- Gerald L. Hassell, The Bank of New York Mellon
- Jeffrey A. Honickman, Pepsi-Cola
- Eduardo G. Mestre, Evercore Partners Inc.
- Brian L. Roberts, Comcast Corporation
- Johnathan A. Rodgers, TV One
- Dr. Judith Rodin, The University of Pennsylvania.
Let’s let them know that it is not OK to deny cable internet service just because it costs Comcast more to run wires down some rural roads. While providing rural internet service is not something that the directors are required to do by law and because it may not be perceived as being in the best interest of Comcast shareholders, it is up to us to convince the Board Members that the eventual cost to Comcast – in terms of the total negative consequences of ignoring obvious community needs – is far more than the cost of a few wires.
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