NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The dream of Internet monopoly lives on.
According to Om Malik, founder of GigaOm, John Malone is trying to roll up the cable business because he thinks he can force through monopoly prices on both sides of any Internet transaction.
The idea is this: Cable offers more bits than any telephone wire and as the cost of running new wires and trucks keeps going up, that's not going to change. Thus, as consumers switch from buying cable television services to Internet subscriptions, the cable system still has the advantage. It can charge what it wants for those bits, and charge the people on the other side, like Netflix (NFLX), for reaching "its" customers.
Thus Malone's Liberty Media (LMCA) is eyeing all the other big cable companies, starting with Time Warner Cable (TWC) and Charter Communications (CHTR), aiming to build a huge Comcast (CMCSA)-sized footprint that can dominate the delivery of Internet services far into the future.It's a great dream. I've been hearing variations of it for 30 years. In the 1980s and 1990s I heard it from telcos, which thought they had a monopoly. In the last decade I heard it from cellular companies, who thought they had a monopoly. Now cable. My favorite version of this dream was dreamt by Enron in the late 1990s. Enron built a communications market just as it built markets in energy, and the idea was that if it could control access to all the Internet's major pipelines of data, it could do just what it was doing to California with electricity, squeeze everybody. Trouble is, as I later wrote in a self-published book about technology history, most recently offered as "Moore's Lore", Enron had a cat problem. You can't get two cats, sell a litter of kittens, and then capitalize those cats based on all the kittens they and their descendants will later supply. Cats are like widgets, those imagined items you read about in economics. They have infinite utility but no economic value. The same is true of bits. Thanks to Wide Division Muliplexing (WDM), optical cables could soon transmit not just streams of white light, but separate streams of light in all the colors of the rainbow, even colors that can't be seen by the human eye. By changing the electronics at either end of a link, a fiber cable could have its capacity increased many times over.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV