Skip to main content

Bandwidth Outrage: A Corning Connection?

UPDATED 4/10 [Adds statement from Massa’s office]

A cable industry insider pinged me last night with an interesting conspiracy theory:

Rep. Eric Massa (D.-N.Y.), who this week blasted Time Warner Cable’s bandwidth-metering plan as “monopolistic” and inflicting harm on middle-class Americans, is based in Corning, N.Y. — the hometown of the world’s biggest fiber-optic supplier, Corning Inc.

The implication: That Massa is railing against Time Warner Cable because a big Corning customer is Verizon Communications, which has bought thousands of miles of fiber-optic cabling for its FiOS buildout.

As I say, interesting theory. But I’m not sure how bright a line you can draw here.

Corning’s customers span the globe, and its telecommunications segment, which sells fiber-optic cabling to network operators, represented 30% of total sales for 2008, according to the company’s annual report.

Note, too, that cable operators are no small customers themselves for fiber cabling, as they continue to extend their HFC networks.

To me, a simpler explanation is that Massa, a freshman congressman, is looking to score populist points and easy press with an anti-corporate tirade.

Well, to be sure, an anti-cable tirade in this case.

One wonders if Rep. Massa would summon the same level of outrage if, say, Corning Inc. had been selling strands of glass for a fixed, all-you-can-eat flat rate (surely something it has never done) and shifted to charging by the mile.

UPDATE: Asked whether Corning Inc.’s interests played a role in his complaint against Time Warner Cable, Massa’s office provided this statement:

“Congressman Massa’s number one concern is the people in his district and the revitalization of the national economy. To introduce a billing system that will vastly reduce Internet access at a time when this will kill jobs is unacceptable. Furthermore, the legislation he is introducing has tax incentives that will help businesses without hurting consumers.”