If you're watching this right now, you have functioning Internet,
and you're probably also on the phone. You're reading Twitter.
You're scrolling through Reddit while you're driving to work.
And you're not gonna look up until I say the keywords
-like Drake, Jordans or Narendra Modi.
But I understand why you're distracted.
The Internet is so hard to put down.
The Internet is a drug.
The digital cocaine of our time.
“Electronic cocaine” or “digital heroin.”
Some folks call it “Internet crack.”
I can't survive. I'm an addict.
I gotta have my Wi-Fi, man.
You don't have to be like, “The Internet is meth!
It's digital black tar heroin, Snapchat is El Chapo.”
We get it.
The Internet is addictive, but we forget not everyone has access to it.
It's something we take for granted.
That's what I want to focus on tonight, Internet inequality.
Millions of Americans are denied access to the Internet,
and the U.S. government is making it worse.
Even presidential candidates want to fix this
and make it a part of their campaign.
We improve the infrastructure. We improve broadband.
Lightening fast broadband.
We have a problem with broadband where people cannot start businesses
in their hometown or finish their education
after high school because they can't get online.
They can't go to Tinder and find a date tonight, to find that special person
who's gonna make the difference in their lives.
Beto's like, “Look, Bernie's not out here fighting for your pleasure.
He thinks orgasms are for the 1%.
I'm out here fighting for your right to fuck.”
By the way, you missed the best part of that video.
Look at the dude in the bottom left.
Because they can't get online.
They can go to Tinder
and find a date tonight, to find that special person.
who's going to make a difference in their lives.
He's like, “Oh, my God. Why didn't I support Elizabeth Warren?”
This digital divide hits poor and rural Americans the hardest.
30% of rural Americans don't have broadband access.
And when I say broadband,
I am talking about fixed broadband.
The kind where that, you know, the sweaty dude in cargo pants comes into your apartment
and plugs stuff in.
Which is different from mobile broadband, like 4G,
which is basically your cell phone. People mix up fixed and 4G all the time.
It's like Charlie Hunnam and Garrett Hedlund.
They do the same thing for you, but they are, in fact, different.
The Internet is an essential utility. It's like electricity or water.
Now, let's be real, if you had to fuck, marry, kill:
electricity, water, and the Internet...
...you would definitely marry the Internet,
and you would fuck electricity just for the thrill.
I mean the socket's right there, you go for it.
Don't act like you wouldn't.
But I'm serious.
Listen, we rely on the Internet in critical ways you may not realize.
Like, when you need to see a doctor immediately.
It's faster for us to always use tele-neurology,
because our physicians are not 24 hours a day in the building.
And so we can actually get a physician to the bedside of a patient
within three to six minutes.
Every minute that we waste
is potentially more brain function that's lost.
This is the future.
Everything is happening online: health care, housing, employment, safety,
and especially education.
About three million kids across the country
have trouble completing their homework because they don't have adequate Internet.
That's why some people are taking extreme steps to solve the problem.
Like in California's Coachella Valley.
We started thinking about, “Hey, we have a hundred buses here,
why not put routers on the buses
and park them where there's no connectivity?”
“Eight Wi-Fi buses are now left overnight in various neighborhoods.
The graduation rate in Coachella is now up 8%,
with even more students on the road to success.”
Kids have to get their Internet from parked buses.
How is there a new thing to hate in Coachella?
Buses aren't even the weirdest place where people have to get Wi-Fi.
You'll see kids just sitting outside a McDonald's,
buying french fries 'cause it's the cheapest thing
on the menu for 50 cents and then connecting to the Wi-Fi
and doing their homework in the parking lot.
The story I heard in northern Minnesota of a doctor
who while he could get Wi-Fi at the hospital,
he couldn't get it at his house.
So, when he had emergency calls, he would go to the McDonald's parking lot.
This is wrong. When I was growing up,
the McDonald's parking lot was for cooking meth
or making out, that's it.
Illicit drugs or teenage pregnancy. It was a simpler time.
And now, there's just a full-on underground society there?
There's McDonald's doctors, McDonald's students,
and to keep order, the McDonald's Secret Police led by Grimace.
Trust me, he's seen some shit.
Now the reason a lot of Americans can't get on the Internet
has to do with Internet service providers, or ISPs.
These are five of the biggest ISPs in the country.
They all provide broadband Internet,
but companies like Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T
are heavily investing in their mobile networks.
So, if you want fixed broadband at home,
you'll probably have to deal with one of two companies, okay?
Comcast and Charter. Charter owns Spectrum.
Now look, all of these companies are terrible.
But Comcast deserves a very special place in hell.
In 2016, they were fined over $2 million for charging customers for services
they didn't even sign up for.
People were like, “Why are you charging me for the Scott Baio network?
Is that even real?”
They've done all sorts of crazy shit. They once told a widow
that because her plan was in her husband's name,
they wouldn't cancel her service until she proved her husband had died.
Yeah, that's thoughtful Comcast.
You're like, “Oh, your husband's dead? Prove it.”
In 2015, a woman named Lisa Brown tried to change her service.
So Comcast changed the name on her bill
to “Asshole Brown,” which is kind of lazy.
It should really be “Brown Asshole.”
A customer named Julia Swano got bills to “Whore Julia Swano.”
A woman named Mary Bauer got bills to “Super Bitch Bauer.”
All of these names sound like they came from an incel name generator.
And it turns out...
a lot of people don't like being slut-shamed by their Internet bill.
In fact, Comcast has been called “America's most hated company,”
which explains the Weinstein Company's new slogan:
“Hey, we're not Comcast.”
The emotions are real.
People hate Comcast.
We need a change, a big-ass change.
It's always more money than it's supposed to be.
It's not a good company.
You want to know what's the root cause of me being mad?
I'll tell you what the root cause of me being mad:
I love how this guy's at a sleepover
and the first thing he does, he's like, “Let me get my leopard pillow,
little glass of wine, let me open up my burn book,
and talk about my cable provider.”
Now, one of the reasons why Comcast
doesn't provide good Internet to a lot of areas
is because it hurts their bottom line.
The reason Comcast isn't there
or the reason why other providers aren't there
is because it costs a lot of money
and the revenue is not very high.
Even in the places Comcast does cover,
they have no incentive to provide better service,
because they face virtually no competition.
The thing about Comcast, and most cable providers in fact,
they have a de facto monopoly in the areas where they have customers.
“So it's like a cartel?”
I would not describe it as-- Yes. Maybe. It is similar to a cartel.
This guy would be the worst attorney.
He just folded so fast. He's like, “Your honor, my client is not guilty.
Okay, he's guilty. He's guilty.
I always felt it, you felt it, right? I could feel it.”
Look, I know what you guys are all thinking,
“Of course, you're calling Comcast a cartel.
You're only doing this 'cause Netflix would love
for everyone to have better Internet.” And I'll own it!
I will own it, okay. Yes.
I love Netflix.
Because I love job security, but you know what I also love?
The Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Dropping on Disney Plus, November 12th.
just look at Comcast and Charter.
26 million Americans only have broadband through Comcast.
31 million Americans only have broadband through Charter.
These maps barely overlap. They're like Jeff Dunham and black people.
They're never in the same place at the same time.
And that's by design.
There is no competition.
The cable guys long ago, something they called “the Summer of Love,”
-divided up systems. -“The Summer of Love?”
Yeah. They clustered their operations, it makes sense from their standpoint.
You take San Francisco. I'll take Sacramento.
You take Chicago. I'll take Boston.
And so Comcast and Time Warner are these giants
that never enter each other's territories.
Comcast and Charter have essentially divvied up entire states.
It's like gerrymandering, except white people get fucked over, too.
Now in theory...
the government should have a problem with cable companies carving up the U.S.,
but Comcast spends so much on lobbying that they say disclosing all of it...
is too hard.
It's like asking Emeril Lagasse how much he uses the word “bam?”
I like to give it a little bam, bam, bam!
-Bam! Bam! Ba-bam! Bam! -Yes!
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Damn, I miss Emeril!
Look, if you're wondering what happened to Emeril,
he blew out a shoulder on a chicken parm in '07.
He was like, “Ba-bam!
No!” That was his Kevin Durant Achilles.
What? I didn't tear his Achilles.
Bob Myers did.
Now look, the most frustrating part about the broadband cartel
is that the government isn't just letting this happen.
It's helping this happen.
They are protecting broadband monopoly power over the public good.
And most of the blame falls on one agency,
the Federal Communications Commission, or the FCC,
which is now run by a Ajit Pai, or as Comcast would call him,
a “brown asshole.”
You probably know Ajit Pai best from killing net neutrality
and always smiling like he just got his braces off.
But Pai is so much worse than that.
Pai actually used to work for Verizon
and has a long history of siding with the companies
he is supposed to be regulating,
and that's exactly what's happening with broadband.
The Telecom Act of 1996 mandates that the FCC
makes sure that every American has access to telecom services.
And one of the ways they do that is by drawing coverage maps.
According to the government,
21 million Americans don't have high-speed Internet,
which may not sound that bad,
but a private study conducted by Microsoft found
that that number could be as high as 163 million.
How do you screw up your numbers by the entire population of Russia?
By the way, everyone knows the maps suck.
The accuracy or the value of the map is nearly nil in my view.
These maps are bogus.
These are phony maps.
I got to hear a lot of conversation about the maps.
The maps stink, basically.
We gotta kick somebody's ass, truthfully.
I love Senator Drew Carey. He's like, “I'm gonna kill these cable motherfuckers.
So what is the number?
What is it? How many people don't have Internet?
No one knows, because of the way the FCC collects coverage information.
They ask companies to fill out something called Form 477,
which lets ISPs self-report on how many people they're reaching.
It's the government version of “grade your own quiz.”
Remember when your teacher was like, “How did all of you guys know
how to spell ‘bourgeoisie?’”
By the way, it gets even worse.
If a cable company tells the FCC
one household in any given census block has broadband,
then the FCC assumes that the whole census block has broadband.
They're like, “One house has Internet, that means all the houses have Internet.”
It's the ultimate rounding up.
That's how you can miss 142 million people.
They rounded up like Bono counting in Spanish.
Listen, Bono. You can't go. “Uno, dos, tres, catorce.” It doesn't make any sense.
But incorrect maps have huge consequences.
The FCC's shitty data helps dictate what areas get money
from something called the Universal Service Fund, or the USF.
The USF is money Congress came up with to ensure that
all Americans have telecom services, including the Internet.
Over the next ten years, we are going to distribute $4.5 billion
to rural communities. If we get it wrong, they're gonna pay a really big price.
They won't get the funding they need.
This is simple.
You can't help distribute $4.5 billion
if you don't even know which communities need it.
This hits rural, tribal, and low-income Americans the hardest.
There are entire sections of major cities in America
that don't even have adequate Internet.
We know who lives here.
These are black people.
These are people who may not have the wealthiest of jobs, right?
These are the people who probably need the most opportunity.
These are the underserved.
This type of blatant discrimination...
isn't something we should see from a company like AT&T.
It's a massive problem.
But Ajit Pai doesn't seem to think that the government
should be a big part in solving it.
In rural America, you know, certain parts of the inner cities
where they have very little, if no broadband access at all,
does the government then have a role in subsidizing parts of those areas?
I do think the more important part is encouraging the private sector
to take the lead, and the reason is that there is only so much money
that the FCC has under its purview.
God, he's such a tool!
I like, feel the pain as an Indian. I'm like, “Why are you doing this?”
I fucking hate his logic.
Yeah, Ajit, let the private sector fix the problem.
'Cause you know who loves helping poor people? Giant corporations.
Ajit Pai hates government programs for poor people
as much as the Internet hates this video.
Recently there's been quite a bit of conversation
about my plan to restore Internet freedom.
Here are just a few of the things you'll still be able to do on the Internet
after these Obama-era regulations are repealed.
[Star Wars theme plays]
[dance music plays]
Somehow, that was the worst thing he did to the Internet.
You know that clip started with him swinging a giant lightsaber
and then it got exponentially worse.
So to recap, broadband companies and the FCC are protecting cable companies
at the expense of rural and poor Americans
who don't have high-speed Internet. Now, here's the thing.
This isn't the first time utility companies have failed Americans.
In the 1930s, rural Americans didn't have electricity
because it was expensive for companies to build power lines.
So in 1936, Congress passed the Rural Electrification Act.
It provided infrastructure for all Americans to get electricity.
“I hear there's a new kind of power: government.
That's right. I hear there's an agency: Rural Electrification.”
“Now wires swing out to the country.
They're stretching out long wires,
reaching out where wires never went before.”
Was that, like, an Apple commercial from the 1930s?
There must have been, like, a product launch with 1930s Steve Jobs.
He's like, “We've all been living with wires,
but today, introducing...
the Long Wire!
No more short wires now we have long wires!”
And everyone's like, “What do we do?
Wasn't he a monster to his kids?”
“Yeah, but that's what it takes to make long wires.”
Now, in this case,
the Federal Government sided with American citizens
over huge corporations.
But today, it feels like the opposite, and some communities have had enough.
Wilson civic leaders went to the cable companies
and said “we want faster service,”
but the cable companies said, “No.”
So, the folks here said, “Okay...
we'll just build it ourselves.”
Okay, somehow that clip started in 1983
and then she walked into 2019.
How is that possible?
Small cities are going DIY, and they are setting up their own Internet.
It's become known as municipal broadband, and it is phenomenal.
It turns out when cities create their own Internet
and their own broadband customers get faster speeds,
lower prices, and better customer service.
You know, all the things that violate Comcast company policy.
So Comcast does everything they can to kill it.
Look at the smear campaign that they helped pay for.
I love Fort Collins, and things are really moving.
But that usually means traffic isn't.
Instead of focusing on this,
the city wants to get into the Internet business.
Measure 2B would spend $150 million on a broadband network
with no plan for how to do it.
Vote “no” on 2B.
'Cause the Internet won't speed this up.
Okay, I'm sorry, Fort Collins.
But that's not traffic.
That is ten cars at a red light.
And they're like, “You know what that means!
No more Internet.
We can only do one of two things.”
Cable companies are pulling out all the stops
to fight Municipal Broadband.
Just look at Chattanooga, Tennessee,
which has been an Internet battleground for the last decade.
In 2008, Chattanooga decided to set up their own Internet
because Comcast and AT&T sucked.
And the broadband companies got pissed.
Representatives of AT&T and Comcast paraded into my office to tell me
why they didn't think Chattanooga should get into this business
of competing with private enterprise.
“Comcast sued the utility to prevent it from building out it's network.”
Comcast was part of two lawsuits against the city,
but Chattanooga won and set up an Internet 200 times faster
than the national average,
which forced Comcast to compete.
Chattanooga forced Comcast to magically find a way
to offer the best broadband they had ever offered.
After years of people complaining,
Comcast was like, “Sorry, bro. Just saw your text.
I can totally turn on that good Internet.”
Chattanooga won that battle.
But then they tried to expand out to rural areas
and the broadband companies killed the expansion.
They shut down the Internet like it was the Arab Spring of the South.
lobbying from broadband companies has worked across the country.
26 states now have laws restricting or prohibiting cities
from creating their own Internet service.
And broadband companies aren't doing this on their own.
They've gotten help from a right-wing advocacy group
“The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
It puts state lawmakers at the table with corporations who have paid
thousands of dollars to be there.
AT&T, Altria, Pfizer, ExxonMobil have all participated.”
You automatically know ALEC is sketchy
because they've been on the same team as Viagra, oil, and cigarettes.
ALEC has their fingerprints on basically every terrible issue you can think of.
Stand your ground, voter ID, and private prisons.
Here's how they work.
They write a template of a pro-industry law
and then they hand it to local politicians to pass in their states.
Often times, they barely change a word.
Here's the original law from ALEC.
Now, look at what passed in Utah.
They are practically identical.
Basically, ALEC is the kid in class who lets all the other kids copy,
and they're also best friends with the Koch brothers.
Yeah, the Koch brothers are really into Supreme apparently.
Comcast will do anything to protect their monopoly.
Look what's happening in Colorado.
In 2005, Colorado passed a law called SB-152,
which made it harder for cities to create their own Internet.
Now, assume in this scenario that SB stands for shitty broadband,
but over the last few years,
cities in Colorado have been voting to opt-out of SB-152.
First it was Glenwood Springs, then it was Longmont,
then Fort Collins, and the cable companies freaked out
because a recent study showed
that when Fort Collins starts offering their own Internet,
Comcast could lose up to $2 million per month.
That's just one city with no traffic.
So they fought the Fort Collins initiative head on.
“A lot of money is being poured into this opposition group.
Priorities First Fort Collins has raised more than $200,000
in just the past two weeks.
The Colorado Cable Telecommunications Association
donated more than $125,000 to stop the measure.”
Just so you know,
the Colorado Telecommunications Association
is backed, in part, by Comcast.
Now, here's the good news.
Their campaign to kill municipal broadband didn't work.
And more cities in Colorado are following their lead.
40 of Colorado's 64 counties
have voted in favor of municipal broadband.
They're basically saying, “Hey, let us run our own Internet.
Because if the government and broadband companies
aren't going to look out for us,
the least you can do is get out of the way.”
And the ironic thing is this.
We're doing this episode, it's great.
But the people who are being screwed over by this
and by the telecom industry probably can't even watch this episode.
This show only exists on the Internet, so it got me thinking...
Netflix still has a DVD service.
I don't know how
but they do.
And 2.7 million people still get those little red envelopes.
So we decided to put this episode of Patriot Act on DVD,
so you can rent it from Netflix.
This is real. If you go to DVD.com/patriotact
it will take you straight to the Netflix website
where you can get this episode.
So please, if you're watching this right now,
go to your nearest McDonald's parking lot,
tap on those windows and let 'em know,
“I have a DVD for you.”