Think of it like electricity. Let’s say Sony buys your local power company…
Sony rolls out a new deal, saying to you “given the size of your home, you pay us a flat $50 a month and we’ll give you enough electricity to power everything you could need in your house.”
It’s the only deal they’re offering, but it sounds fair, so you go with it. A few months down the road, everything’s fine, and then Samsung suddenly comes out with this new super awesome hologram TV. And everyone wants it. You rush out and buy it, and it’s great. It really sucks up the electricity, but that’s okay, you’re paying a flat rate per month and you’re not exceeding the power Sony promised you.
Everyone’s glued to these super awesome TVs. Suddenly, Sony is seeing all these people using near the maximum amount of electricity that they promised, almost all the time. They hadn’t expected that. They expected you to leave a lot of the electricity they promised you on the table, because you don’t keep everything turned on all the time. They’re still making a profit, but it’s cutting things closer. They might even have to spend some cash to upgrade the grid to handle all these TVs.
Instead, Sony decides to install new monitors outside everyone’s home. Now they can see exactly what devices in your house are using what electricity and when. Think that’s too invasive? Tough shit. After all, the electric lines to your house are theirs, they own them, they can do what they like with them. Sony quickly realizes it’s these Samsung TVs sucking up all the juice and they decide to do something about it.
They limit your electricity to Samsung TVs. Now you can only watch your super awesome TV for 2 hours a day before Sony restricts the electricity to it, shutting it off. After all, it’s their electric lines, they can control them how they want. They tell their customers: “We’ll give you the electricity to watch your TV for longer, but it’s gonna cost you can extra $5 an hour.”
Customers are unhappy. They don’t want to pay these insane fees, but can’t switch to a new power company. Sony power is the only game in town.
Samsung is furious. Their TV sales are plummeting and their customers are freaking out at not being allowed to use what they paid for. Samsung tells Sony to knock this shit off, and Sony replies: “Hey, we get it, but we have own interests to look out for. Tell you what. You, Samsung, pay us $50 million and we’ll make sure all these people with Samsung TVs get enough electricity to them to watch them for 6 hours a day.”
Now Samsung is stuck. This is extortion and they know it. But Sony still owns the electric grid and can do what they like. Samsung’s options are pay up or watch their product die. So Samsung pays. Now people can watch their super awesome Samsung TVs for 6 hours a day. Better, but not perfect.
And then Sony comes out with their own super awesome hologram TV.
Sony’s TV costs a little more, but does the same thing more or less. But the kicker is Sony promises that they’ll provide you with all the electricity you could ever want to watch it 24/7 at no extra cost. Now Samsung is fucked. There’s no way they can compete with Sony’s TV when theirs can only be watched 6 hours a day. Their only choice is to start their own power company, but they can’t afford to lay down their own lines to every house. And so Samsung goes out of business. Sony TV’s are now all you can get.
Sony likes this model, and decides to expand it. They restrict power to XBox consoles, then come out with the Playstation 5. Now Microsoft is fucked. They restrict power to Apple computers, Whirlpool appliances, damn near everything. And they replace them with their own products. All these companies now face the decision of creating their own power grid from scratch, or paying the extortion fees to Sony to provide what is ultimately still going to be an inferior product.
In the end, you’re left with Sony electricity to power Sony TV’s, Sony computers, and Sony appliances. Because nothing else works.
All because Sony claims they own the lines to your house and that lets them control the electricity they give you.
This is what Comcast is trying to do to the internet.