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SCOTUS To Hear Small ISPs' Case Against AT&T

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the competition's-last-gasp dept.

Communications 80

snydeq writes "The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an antitrust case that alleges AT&T squeezed out small ISPs by charging too much for wholesale access to its phone network. The case, originally brought to US District Court in 2003, had been appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. But AT&T requested the case be heard by the Supreme Court on the grounds that prior conflicting appeals court decisions in this area should be resolved at that level. As part of the case, the Supreme Court will likely also ascertain whether AT&T could be held to violate antitrust law without setting its retail prices below its own cost."

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Place Yer Bets (2, Funny)

Aaron_Pike (528044) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914439)

Place yer bets! I'll take 5-4 in favor of AT&T.

... what, no takers?

Re:Place Yer Bets (1)

Hellcom (1041714) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914497)

Hey, it might go 5-4 in favor of the little guy.... nah!

Re:Place Yer Bets (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914807)

I was probably like any other fifteen year old when I was growing up, seemingly aways having to fight off a hard-on. Maybe it was hormones, maybe it was because I was still a virgin, but my almost daily jack-off sessions didn't seem to help much. I still wanted to experience the feeling of my dick actually plunging into some beautiful young girl's tight, wet cunt. Hell, she didn't even have to be all that beautiful!

This feeling was driving me crazy. I HAD to have me a piece of ass soon, or I was simply gonna explode! I just couldn't keep out the thoughts of some young girl's pointed, jiggling tits slipping between my lips while my dick plowed between her moist slit.

My imagination, summer bikinis, and dad's PENTHOUSEs helped me to fill out my favorite fantasies of what the girls in my classes looked like naked. Those vivid images of beautiful, naked young girls coming into my room looking at my dick with lust, or my plopping them down on a desk right there in school and fucking our brains out seemed to dominate my every waking moment. Hell, even my nights were filled with wet dreams of these nubile young girls offering their naked bodies to me on sight!

The truth was I had never even seen a live naked girl since I was about seven-years-old playing doctor with a neigbor girl. Even then I didn't know what it was all about, just that my little dick got hard when I touched her bare pussy and that it felt REAL GOOD when she touched my hard dick. 'If only I new then what I know now,' I thought. Furthermore, I was much too shy to even approach a girl my age to ask for a date, much less to ask for a piece of ass or a blowjob.

I was sitting under a tree fretting about all of this one summer day, when I was startled by the voice of a young neighbor girl who had walked up behind me.

"What are you doing out here all by yourself?"

Pauline was a typical eleven-year-old, her body just beginning to show the first signs of maturing into an hourglass shape, but she still was flat-chested. Her personality had definitely not matured, and I even cosidered her to be quite a brat.

"Nothing much, just moping around," I told her.

"What's wrong?" she asked in a soft tone, touching my knee as she sat down beside me on the ground, her small skirt riding up her smooth legs.

I had never looked at her in a sexual way before, but the combination of my frustration and her uncharacteristic soft-spoken manner caused me to take a second look at her. She was actually a very pretty young girl, with long dark brown hair that flowed down onto her flat, preteen chest. Her innocent dark brown eyes looked deeply into mine as she pondered my troubles, and I began to get an idea on how I might exploit this budding motherly instinct of hers.

"Well......, it's just that a lot of the other guys my age have dated girls already," I began, "some of them have even had sex."

I paused to check her reaction. She was still sitting there looking at me intently, her knees pulled up near her chest and her arms draped around them casually leaving her skirt to gape open under her legs. I was sure that anyone passing by would be able to see her panties, but she didn't seem to be aware of her immodest pose.

"I'm just too shy to ask anyone out, though. I guess I'll never have the guts to either."

She sat there silently, bending her head down and resting her chin on her knees. She seemed to be in thought as she began to stare blankly at the ground in front of her, possibly wondering about her own lack of boyfriends and whether she too would ever have the experience of having sex one day.

"Have you ever wondered what it's like to have sex?" I asked her, hoping to guide the situation into a possible encounter. v She looked at me momentarily to see if I was sincere, or just trying to poke fun at her before answering.

"Well...., yeah...., sometimes...., but nobody really likes me much around here. All of the boys in my class just want to play by themselves. I'll probably never have a boyfriend or anything," she said solemnly.

"Have you ever thought about doing it with anybody around here?" I asked, pressing further.

"EEEWWW, NO!" she said, raising her voice defensively.

"Don't get mad, Pauline! I was just wondering." I said, trying to salvage the situation. "I wouldn't tell anybody if you had thought about it."

After that exchange, we both sat silently for a few moments. She resumed her position of resting her head on her knees, and her skirt still left her entire bottom open below her legs. Hoping to get a better view of this sight, I stretched and yawned, feigning fatique. I then bent forward and crawled along the ground until I was stretched out on my side facing Pauline, my feet resting against the large tree. She looked at me momentarily before reaverting her gaze to the ground directly in front of her, resuming her thoughts. I waited until she looked away before looking under her legs, but when I did, I was greeted by the sight of her beautiful tanned legs disappearing into the rumpled bottom of her skirt. Between them was a bright white strip of cotton cloth, covering what I knew had to be her young twat. The tightness of the cloth stretched across her little pussy, clearly identifying just where it was by the indentation of the fabric along the slit. My dick immediately began to respond, and I quickly stuck my hand in my pocket to adjust it before it was too late, leaving it there to help hide the effect it was going to have on my pants.

"I've thought a lot about having sex," I said, looking back up to her eyes just as she turned her gaze back to me.

"Really? Who with?" she asked curiously.

Now she had me on the spot. If I told her all of the girls my fantasies revolved around, it would be just like this little brat to go and tell them. As I studied her face though, I noticed a look that I had never seen before. It was as if she was trying to form a mental image of two people having sex, me being one of them and the other still left blank.

"Well...., I don't know. You might think it's gross if I tell you. What's more, you'll probably go right off and tell them if I told you who it was," I said.

"I won't think it's gross, and I promise I won't tell...., please....." she pleaded.

Now I was beginning to feel I was getting somewhere. I really had her curiosity up, and I even thought that she might even be enjoying this line of conversation.

"Well...., OK," I began. "But you gotta promise you aren't gonna tell. And it's not like I would really do it with them or anything. I've just thought about it, OK?"

"OK, sure!" she replied, just a tinge of excitement in her voice. v "Um..., well..., you know Jodi McAllister? I've thought about doing it with her." I said.

"Oh," she replied, sounding slightly disappointed.

"Yeah, she's got a nice body. Blonde hair....., blue eyes...., and pretty nice tits too! And she's got a REAL nice ass on her!" I said, hoping to get Pauline's gears going.

Pauline raised up, resting her chin on her hands, her elbows on her knees. She shifted her geet out from her body, keeping her thighs together. Her little feet were pointed inward slightly, giving her a very little girlish look. Her gaze seemed to be far off now as she thought about what I had said.

My eyes returned to that magic spot between her legs momentarily, as I pondered how to word my next sentence.

"Who else have you thought about?" she asked in a faraway tone.

"Well...., if you promise you won't think it's gross.....," I said, pausing for a response.

"No..., no, I don't think it's gross!" she said, looking back at me with pleading eyes.

"Well...., I'm kinda embarrased to tell you who else I was thinking about," I said teasingly.

"Aw, c'mon....., I promise I won't tell!" she begged.

"Well...., you really won't have to...., 'cause...., I kinda have been thinkin' about doin' it with you," I said softly, not really lying about it now.

A look of complete surprise came over her face as her head raised from its resting place slightly and her hands came apart. Her mouth gaped open as she took in what I had just said and I noticed a distinct deep red blush spread across her face.

"Larry...!" she exclaimed, not really knowing what to say next.

"Y-y-you've really..... thought about...., y'know..., having sex..... with me?!" she asked in disbelief.

"Well....yeah," I said, more confidently. "You're a pretty girl, and even though you don't really have any tits yet, you still have a nice body."

She blushed again, instinctively reaching down and wrapping her skirt around her legs, drawing them together and hunching over to rest her chin on her knees once more. It was obvious that she had been flattered about my remarks, but at the same time she was totally caught off guard with the thought of someone wanting to have sex with her. I could see her playing out the scene in her mind as she sat there, rocking back and forth slightly.

A long, pregnant pause elapsed before anyone said anything again. It was me who initiated the next question.

"Well..., what do you think?" I asked her. "Do you think you would want to have sex with somebody like me?"

"NO!" she exclaimed. "I couldn't....., I mean....., I'm only eleven-years-old. I shouldn't be doing stuff like that. And besides, you're fifteen!"

"So, I know some girls who did it when they were nine- years-old," I lied.

"Oh yeah....., who?" she demanded.

"Well...., I promised I wouldn't tell. And promises are promises," I said, trying to get myself out of that one.

Pauline thought for a moment before saying, "Well...., I dunno....., I just don't think I better do anything like that."

"OK, OK......, but if you COULD do it, do you think you would do it with somebody like me?" I asked, trying to keep on the topic.

"Well...., I dunno," she said blushing. "I...., I guess so."

I just smiled back at her, "Thanks, Pauline. I needed to hear that!"

She looked back at me, and an embarrased smile flashed across her face as she had to look away. I wasn't through with her yet, however. I just HAD to get something out of all of this. My dick was pressing against my pants with one of the most raging hard-ons I had ever had. I had noticed Pauline looking down at my crotch a couple of times as we had talked about doing it, but I wasn't sure if she saw anything as my hand was still in my pocket, paritally hiding the tent-like effect my dick was having on my pants.

I waited a few more moments before starting again, "You know...., I don't even know what a naked girl looks like."

"What about your sister, haven't you seen her naked before?" she asked.

"Well....yeah. But that was a long time ago, when she was just a little baby. Besides, it's not the same when you see your sister, especially when she's only one-year-old."

I continued to look at Pauline. She was all balled up, and refused to look at me when we weren't talking. I had decided that I just had to at least see her bare little pussy, even if she wasn't gonna let me fuck her. At least I would have something to go whack off with for a while.

"What about you...., would you let me see you naked?" I asked hesitantly. "I'll let you see me naked."

"I..., I don't know. I better not," her voice showing her uncertainty.

"Aw, c'mon Pauline," I begged. "I'll probably never get to see a naked girl until I get married...., if I ever DO get married."

"I-I don't know, Larry." she said nervously.

I could tell she was actually considering it, but she still would have rather I hadn't asked. Even so, the thought of seeing a naked boy probably for the first time intriqued her.

"I'll make it worth your while," I went on. "I'll buy you an banana split when the ice cream man comes by."

She paused for a moment, biting her upper lip as she contemplated my proposal. The agony of the moment was almost unbearable for me.

Finally, she spoke, " Well....OK...."

I almost leaped for joy inside, but I kept my cool on the outside. At least as much cool as I could considering my state of excitement.

"But you've got to promise that you'll not touch me. And you've got to promise not to tell ANYBODY. And you still have to buy me the banana split." she rattled on.

"OK, OK," I interupted, "I promise, I promise."

"C'mon, let's go to my grandpa's barn where nobody will see us," I said, grabbing her by the hand and rushing her away before she had a chance to change her mind.

Grandpa's barn was way off in a field by itself, surrounded by a few old oak trees on the sides and back. He used it mainly to store hay for his cows, and hardly ever came there during the summer. He also kept an old Studebaker out there, and that is where Pauline and I stopped to carry out our deal.

"You go first," I told her.

"Can't we both just go at the same time?" she asked.

"Well...., yeah..., sure," I said almost reluctantly, not wanting to miss one second of her bare pussy being exposed.

"Remember, you can't touch, and you've got to buy me that banana split," she said.

"I know, Pauline. You don't have to keep reminding me," I said, as I unzipped my pants and she pulled her panties down under her skirt.

I quickly shucked my cut-offs down, exposing my underwear and the large bulge sticking out into it. Pauline had bent over to pull her panties down to about her ankles, then stood up, stepping out of them with her left foot and flipping them off with her right. As she stood, she became transfixed by the sight of my bulging underwear.

Knowing that her pussy was naked under her skirt, and that I was about to see it seemed to make my dick even harder than ever. What's more, knowing that my naked cock was going to be so close to a naked pussy, and me not getting to at least stick it in was more than I could bear. I just had to have more than just a look. My mind raced over what I could say to coax her into letting me at least try to stick it in her as we both slowly began to expose our sex to each other.

I bent over as I slowly lifted the waistband of my underwear over my pulsing cockhead, sliding them down my legs. My face was about a foot and a half from Pauline's crotch, as she slowly lifted her skirt. The hem slowly inched it's way up, and just as I saw the first signs of a tiny hairless slit she stopped.

"Well, stand up so I can see it. We've got to do it together," she demanded.

Reluctanly I stood up, my hard dick pointing up at her face at about a 45 degree angle. Pauline gasped as she looked at it bobbing slightly in front of her.

"OK, Pauline, take your skirt off," I said impatiently.

"I'm just going to lift it up so you can see it, I don't want to take it off," she replied.

I was at the point where I didn't care, just so long as I could see her whole pussy. Quickly she jerked her skirt up over her waist to expose my first full view of a live girl's pussy. It was so beautiful, just a tiny little hairless slit laying there between her closed legs. I marveled at the smooth folds of skin, and the lack of anything else around them.

"Spread your legs a little bit, Pauline. I can't really see anything yet," I asked, my voice almost choking in my throat.

Pausing for a second, she then stepped outward with first one leg, then the other, leaving me a clear view of the little line running down her crotch and disappearing up under her. We stood lie that for a little bit, both of us in awe of each other before I spoke again.

"Pauline.....," I began, "Just let me stick it in you one time...., PLEASE! Just one time, that's all."

"I don't know....," she said cautiously, "besides, you said all I have to do is show you my thing, then you would buy me the banana split."

"I know, I know....., but you look so pretty down there...., a-and guys who have done it before tell me that it feels REAL good when you do it. I promise I'll only stick it in and then pull it right back out...., OK?" I pleaded as I watched her let the hem of her skirt relax downward a little as she thought.

"Well.....," she thought for a moment, looking at my cock, "I......, I guess it will be alright....., just one time though."

"OK," I said, "I get to stick it in you all the way one time, then I'll pull it out."

"Then you buy me the banana split," she added.

"Then I buy you the banana split," I acknowledged. "C'mon over here to the car, we can do it in the backseat."

She dropped her skirt back down and stood by the car door as I opened it. Then she jumped in and lay down on her back across the seat, pulling her skirt up. One leg draped off the edge of the seat, giving me my first good look at her whole, hairless little pussy slit. It started just a little ways up the front of her body and continued down all the way between her legs connecting with the crack of her ass, making one continuous line. The lips of her hairless twat were tight together, leaving no clue as to where her little hole might be.

Slowly, I climbed in the car over her until my dick hovered right over the top of her slit. I wasn't quite sure just where it was supposed to go, so without further ado, I began poking at her slit with my dick. The first prod ran along the very top portion of her hairless slit, the head of my cock parting her lips slightly as it slid up and onto her lower belly. She giggled a little bit at this new stimulation, as the shaft of my dick slid against her preteen clit. I raised up and tried again, producing the same effect. I propped myself up with my left arm as I backed up a little and eased my dick head down her slit with my right hand. 'Where is her little cunt hole,' I thought as my cock head explored the length of her slit. Suddenly, my dick felt something slightly more moist and hotter than before. 'That must be it," I thought, as I held my dick in place and pushed slightly. Her hole was tight, and my dick glanced off and ran down between her ass cheeks.

Again, I backed up and placed the head of my dick at the entrance to her tight, hairless hole and pushed. This time I felt the head go in slightly. As hard as my dick was, it began to bend so I backed off of the pressure a little, but keeping my dick in the same place. Once more I pushed in, and again I felt my dick slip in a little more. This time when I stopped, I felt the walls of her pussy begin to slip down around my cock, readjusting themselves to where they had formerly been. Again I pushed, and I noticed that her pussy lips seemed to go with my dick inside her. When I stopped again, I could see her slit slowly reappear as the walls of her pussy slowly slid back down my dick.

Again I pushed, and suddenly Pauline gasped. I wasn't sure what happened, all I was sure about was that the feeling was incredible. It was like pushing my dick through layer after layer, fold after fold of hot, moist skin. Her tiny hairless hole was so tight that I could only go in a fraction of an inch at a time. Each time I pushed, her whole twat would go with me, and each time I stopped her hole would slowly ease it's way further down my dick, giving me the feeling of passing yet another fold of her inner skin.

I could tell that Pauline was experiencing some discomfort, but she was not protesting. This was a business deal. Both of us had a bargain to keep, and she was certainly going to keep hers. After all, it wasn't very often that a kid around here got a banana split.

I kept up my assault on her tight, hairless, virgin cunt. I had almost gotten my entire dick in her on the last push when I felt the bottom of her pussy come into contact with the head of my dick. The last push had only allowed her pussy to slip down my dick part of the distance of my thrust, and her tiny slit was just barely visible between her legs, my dick resting snugly between them.

Well, I was all of the way in now. We looked at each other, both of us breathing heavily as I stayed inside her for a moment, relishing the feeling of my cock buried deep inside this eleven-year-old's tight, hairless pussy.

"Pauline....," I managed to speak between gasps, "how about if I move my dick back and forth inside your pussy some? I'll still buy you a banana split!"

She lay there with my dick inside her for a moment, panting heavily as she thought before asking hoarsely, "How many times do you want to do it?"

I looked at her for a moment. I hadn't thought about that. How many times does it take before I can cum?

"I dunno...," I gasped, "maybe about...., a hundred?"

I hurried to quell the look of apprehension on her face by explaining, "A hundred times is not a lot. Hell...., I can count to a hundred in less than a minute!"

She looked at me for a moment, then nodded in agreement as I began to slowly withdraw my dick until it was about halfway inside her. As I withdrew, the inner walls of her pussy seemed to hold onto my dick, creating an effect similar to the one when I entered her.

Gradually I began pumping back and forth. The grip of her pussy, combined with the wetness and moisture was causing that familiar feeling deep within my loins. Her gasps became little "Ahh's" that came in time with each quickening thrust of my dick inside her.

I don't think I needed to bargain for "about a hundred times", as the combination of the feeling of her tight hairless cunt wrapped around my dick, the feeling of her tiny body under mine, and the fact that she was looking me right in the eyes as I fucked her brought me over the edge with the most ball busting orgasm I had ever had.

The force of my orgasm forced me to thrust completely inside of her, burying my dick to the hilt. I could feel the hard little nub of her cervix pressing against my cock head as I erupted spurt after spurt deep inside her preteen pussy. The amount of my jism was so much, and the room inside her was so little, that after I filled her preteen womb completely with my spunk, I began to feel it spurt out between my dick and the walls of her twat, running down onto my balls and between the crack of her ass.

I had expended so much energy on my orgasm that I collapsed on top of her, my dick still buried deeply inside her. I rolled over slightly and eased my dick back out of her tiny twat, and as my cock head emerged from between her hairless pussy lips, one last spurt of pent up jism held inside my dick from the tightness of her pussy splashed across the bare lips of her slit, covering them completely.

Our deal was done. It was late however, and the ice cream man had already gone by for the day. It was also getting on to be about supper time, so Pauline slipped out of the car and put her panties back on under her skirt, leaving my cum dripping out of that sweet hairless hole and soaking those pretty white cotton panties.

I saw Pauline around the neigborhood a lot after that. I heard from my freinds that she eventually fucked almost every other boy in the neigborhood, but we never again got together like that, nor did we ever speak of it again. Come to think of it, I never did buy her that banana split!

Re:Place Yer Bets (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914883)

Its not polite to masturbate in a crowded room. I suggest you grow up and do it elsewhere. We understand that you are not a /.er with a girlfriend, but you'll have to deal with that on your own.

Re:Place Yer Bets (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915135)

You'd think he would at least vary the copypasta he uses, rather than recycling the same few ones.
At least this is better than the shit-eating one.

We understand that you are not a /.er with a girlfriend, but you'll have to deal with that on your own.
With his level of immaturity, it seems unlikely he will fix that in the near future.

Re:Place Yer Bets (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916871)

Dude, you need to get some exercise - there's this girl named Michelle, maybe you should ask her to give you a bike ride [messagebase.net] .

Re:Place Yer Bets (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914999)

What the spread?

Re:Place Yer Bets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23984605)

The little guys' legs, apparently.

Re:Place Yer Bets (0, Flamebait)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915653)

With George W. outright *owning* at least 4 judges (this case was accepted at his urging) and having influence over at least one other, I would say that AT&T is pretty much guaranteed AT LEAST a 5-4 ruling.

Re:Place Yer Bets (1)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915917)

You got it spot on:

Ma Bell is no dummy. You don't get to be a powerful corporation by making dumb decisions; They asked SCOTUS to take the case because they know there is, based on the history of the court, a very good chance there will be a ruling in their favor:

http://tinyurl.com/4pugrm [tinyurl.com]
http://tinyurl.com/2klpc3 [tinyurl.com]
http://tinyurl.com/2pafg6 [tinyurl.com]

Remember, we're talking about a court which said it's OK to patent a genome, and that if a GM crop happens to blow into your farm, *you* are responsible for it, and have to completely remove it at your expense:

http://tinyurl.com/3onetv [tinyurl.com]
http://tinyurl.com/4rh5wb [tinyurl.com]

I think it's more likely it'll be 6-3, although 5-4 is, indeed, all it takes.

Re:Place Yer Bets (1)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916447)

FYI, nobody wants to click "tinyurl" links. It's not actually helpful to anybody and potentially puts the future of the internet in tinyurl's hands. For the future, and for the sake of the anti-goatse community, don't use tinyurl. Thanks.

Re:Place Yer Bets (1)

bob.appleyard (1030756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917613)

Proper links will become invalid when the site being linked to changes or disappears. TinyURL links become invalid when either the site being linked to changes or disappears, or TinyURL changes or disappears.

I get the feeling that DNS is a better bet than TinyURL.

So we need to look beyond the courts. (2, Interesting)

RustinHWright (1304191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918991)

A lot of how they do this is because of the chowderheaded we way approach infrastructure in the first place. If we did was what some corporate campuses do and put in service tunnels [typepad.com] with the kinds of raceways every sysadmin on the planet knows how to access, they would lose a hell of a lot of the control they now exercise. This is about "last mile" b.s., it's about lack of transparency about technique, and it's about our relentless shift away from the envisioned network architecture of the internet to a backbone and subnode topology that puts all the power in the hands of the people who control the backbone.

A.) We need to start building service tunnels, even if only one street per city at first.

B.) We need to start building a mesh network of wireless nodes that are then owned by nobody at all. (Make a node out of a cantenna, an old PDA, and a solar panel, duct tape it to the side of building, walk away. Maybe even make tiny nodes and stick them under the seats of city buses.)

C.) Eventually we need to look at the technologies made better by the N Prize and start bloody well launching our own damn satellite network.

I, for one, do NOT welcome our new familiar overlords and am working on a regular basis to route around them. How about you?

Re:So we need to look beyond the courts. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23921957)

If most of the people in the US lived in cities, that might make sense.

Running a raceway down a city street makes sense when there are apartments and businesses on it. Running a raceway down a suburban street with 20-30 homes on it makes almost no sense at all. In large cities, like Chicago, there are already ducts and tunnels in downtown areas that date back to the 1800's.

In older suburbs there are still alleys with telephone poles.

Value vs. price of service tunnels. (1)

RustinHWright (1304191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23936189)

Um, most of the people in the U.S. *do* now live in cities. As for "almost no sense at all", well, first of all, I said that the best bet is to start with one or several streets in a given city, which leaves vast amounts of work to be done before "typical" suburban streets would be a factor, but even so, I have found that when I talk to people who make their living at this, telecommunications company engineers and project planners, government folks working in infrastructure, etc., they pretty reliably disagree with you.

I'll start by handing you a gimme and concede that for now doing this anywhere with a very high water table is simply not going to happen. Let's work a few numbers and get at least *some* idea of the money invested in this issue.

These days we've seen some pretty open discussion of what a cable company is willing to pay to get one more subscriber. Conservatively, they've been willing to pay as much as two hundred dollars per subscriber. And these days, especially with home businesses and legal or illegal sudividing within a house, one house adds up to more than one subscriber; let's call it 1.2. So, taking your numbers as a starting point, this gives us an existing value of 25 homes x 1.2 = 30 subscribers. 30 x 200 = $6,000 per block. Sewage lines are also increasingly required to be one per home. Even assuming the ever less valid assumption of only single family homes, each of those sewage lines reflects, very conservatively, another $200 of value to be maintained. So we've got another 25 x $200 = $5,000.

Let's be very conservative and assume only another $10,000 in utility line value at stake and move on to street repairs. And we'll calculate value just from that, not from, say, the cost of one preventable fire or any of the other metrics we could use. As we should be admitting by now but generally aren't paying for yet, the way we build streets ain't workin' out so well. As usual, we focus on short term minimized cost and end up having to rebuild the frackin' things way too frequently. Part of what doing this would accomplish would be providing far more stable and substantial foundations under the road. How much do people pay to redo a single driveway these days?

I could get into increased cost of stormwater treatment and management or the huge value of having better access to such services when a new house is being built but let's just say that from what I can see, there's quite a lot of value to such an approach, even in a street of the sort you describe.

Anyway, I'm not going to argue this in any more detail here. After all, there are plenty of higher density areas that could stand to be addressed before "typical" suburban streets would even be under consideration. After all, the very Chicago system you're talking about was a vast success that they're only now starting to publicly calculate the value of. (It got flooded a few years back so now it would all have to be redone and judging from the people I spoke to in Chicago in recent months, it *will* be rebuilt.) In fact there was a thread about this [slashdot.org] here on /. a few months back.

And to take this more obviously back to the subject of this thread, how much do you value your access to reasonably priced, net neutrality compliant services? 'Cause it looks to me like those are going away in many parts of the country. The current approach ain't working. What are YOU planning to do about it?

Squeezed out? (3, Funny)

stainlesssteelpat (905359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914467)

alleges AT&T squeezed out small ISPs

Where I'm from that would be most unpleasant, not mention unsanitary!!

Hail Ye SCOTUS (4, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914513)

Hail Ye SCOTUS
Swift to save
habeas corpus,
ISP codpiece, and:
Burma Shave

GNAA Penis Rocket To The Moon Project (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914521)

http://www.gnaa.us/penis-rocket-to-the-moon-project.html [www.gnaa.us]

Fuck you, GNAA's gonna rape the moon, cunts!

SCOUTS? (2, Interesting)

crimperman (225941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914599)

There's a theory [cam.ac.uk] that people can read words correctly just as long as the first and last letters are correct.

On that basis.. anybody else read the headline as "Scouts To Hear Small ISPs' Case Against AT&T"?

Re:SCOUTS? (3, Funny)

stainlesssteelpat (905359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914621)

That would never work. These [wikipedia.org] guys would be easily bribed with lavish gifts, like cookies and milk. That would never happen with SCOTUS.

Re:SCOUTS? (2, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915017)

That would never work. These [wikipedia.org] guys would be easily bribed with lavish gifts, like cookies and milk. That would never happen with SCOTUS.
Yeah, they want at least a couple of kilos of cocaine, a case of 20-year-old single malt Scotch, and a blowjob. Trust me, I know.

-- Bill Gates

Re:SCOUTS? (1)

XavidX (1117783) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914665)

There's a theory [cam.ac.uk] that people can read words correctly just as long as the first and last letters are correct.

On that basis.. anybody else read the headline as "Scouts To Hear Small ISPs' Case Against AT&T"?

yep, I did

SCROTUS (3, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915395)

I misread it as a porn-related article.

Re:SCOUTS? (1, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915747)

I hate it when people use acronyms for no good reason. SCOTUS would be understandable if you had to say "Supreme Court of the United States." But most people understand "Supreme Court" just fine. I think the context of the article would make it quite clear that this wasn't a reference to the Supreme Court of Paraguay. This is a similar thing with the acronym POTUS (instead of simply "The President" or "President Bush" or even just "George Bush").

Acronyms are particularly annoying on /. because too many people assume that everyone is familiar with the technical jargon used in there particular field (leading to conflicting acronyms).

Re:SCOUTS? (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23917855)

What part of "News for Nerds" isn't making since. This is a nerd website. Without our precious acronyms we are nothing.

Please kindly place your geek card in the shredder and walk away slowly.

Re:SCOUTS? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23923539)

Hey, guess what? Acronyms are easier to type, and as they enter into common usage, there is no ambiguity about what as meant (given context).

Perhaps here on slashdot we should never use acronyms like AJAX? Would that make you happy?

As for your argument that "the President" or "the Supreme Court" works well enough, perhaps you should consider that not only is a significant portion of the slashdot readerbase not American, but that some people might be offended by the hubris of assuming that President == President of the US, unless otherwise specified?

Seriously, acronyms are useful.

Never mind the fact that there are tons of organizations with presidents within the US. And that each state (or at least lamost all of them) have their own Supreme Courts?

Resolving ambiguity is a good thing... I would think that anyone on slashdot would agree, since we tend to be literalists.

Anyway, sorry for the semi-rant, but is it really that bothersome for you to learn a few new acronyms now and again? Especially ones like POTUS and SCOTUS which are in widespread use?

Re:SCOUTS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23930939)

Agreed. I had no idea wtf scotus was until I read your comment. I thought it was some kind of corporation or something. Wait, Supreme Court of the United States? Guess it is a corporation!

Ownership of the network (5, Interesting)

Kenz0r (900338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914603)

IANA US Citizen, so I only have a limited understanding of how you handle things over there. But I think things like a telephone network should not be privately owned. Shouldn't the US government have invested in laying telephone and network infrastructure, and then lease it out to telco's? Then there could have nice fair competition, which would be good for the customer, right? What happened down here in Belgium, is that the government used to own the telephone network, but then partly privatized the phone national company, which now owns the entire network and sells access to smaller companies (similar to the situation described in TFS). Down the line, it's us customers who get overcharged and get really crappy DSL lines.

Re:Ownership of the network (2, Informative)

Kenz0r (900338) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914615)

IANA US Citizen, so I only have a limited understanding of how you handle things over there.
But I think things like a telephone network should not be privately owned.

Shouldn't the US government have invested in laying telephone and network infrastructure, and then lease it out to telco's?
Then there could have nice fair competition, which would be good for the customer, right?

What happened down here in Belgium, is that the government used to own the telephone network, but then partly privatized the phone national company, which now owns the entire network and sells access to smaller companies (similar to the situation described in TFS).
Down the line, it's us customers who get overcharged and get really crappy DSL lines.

made a repost because I slacked of and didn't preview the last one :(

Re:Ownership of the network (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914733)

In the US the phone lines are consistently referred to as "the public network" in FCC rules and regulations. I owned an ISP in Michigan and yes the telcos did squeeze out the small guys. SBC offered to sell me DSL lines at 37.99 per month when they were selling them at 39.99 per month. For that measly 2.00 per month per customer I was expected to provide tech support, billing and collection services and accept all of the bad debt risk. At that point I decided to get out of the ISP business and concentrate of other things. Pity that one large company can put 6,000 small ISPs out of business when their infrastructure was given to them by the people (think of the right of way behind you house that they use for nothing.

Re:Ownership of the network (2, Interesting)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914869)

And the reason they are allowed to do that? They can't be expected to just hand over their business to competitors.
What I mean is the following situation is completely unrealistic; what will be claimed in court; and Why they can do this to you.

Assume They have a cost of $30/month per DSL line.
Assume you resell your line at $50/month.
Assume your package of tech support quality, email addresses, special features, and customer care were all so grossly superior in 'likability' that all of SBC's customers flocked to you.

Yes, they still make $37.99/month per customer you have.. giving them a profit of $7.99/month per customer(minus expenses). You on the other hand, are gaining 11.99/month per customer(minus expenses).

After a while, it's expected that you may attempt to buy them out to get your cost down by $7.99/month+their expenses(as it would be an unwanted redundancy) further.

It could be considered over jurisdiction of the U.S. Government to force them to maintain their profit margin as lower then the profit margin of those they are whole selling to

Re:Ownership of the network (2, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914969)

Sorry, thats incorrect. Telcos almost universally lease that space from power companies, and they pay for it. There are some rare cases where the telco owns the poles or right of way, but they are very rare. Long haul runs are often, if not almost always, done using leased space from owners of train lines.

If you, as an ISP owner, wanted to lease space on those poles and run lines, you could've. There's some big companies like, say, Comcast that did it.

Re:Ownership of the network (3, Interesting)

anwaya (574190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915185)

Telcos almost universally lease that space from power companies [...] There are some rare cases where the telco owns the poles or right of way, but they are very rare. Long haul runs are often, if not almost always, done using leased space from owners of train lines.

Not entirely correct.

SPRINT = Southern Pacific Railroad Information NeTwork. Used rights of way along the railway network.
MCI = Microwave Communications, Inc. Used Microwave for its backbone. Now part of Verizon.
WilTel = Williams Telecommunications. Ran fiber through decomissioned gas (not gasoline) lines. They've done this twice that I know of: one network was sold to MCI, another to Level 3.

These rights of way have been provisioned to carry enormous amounts of traffic.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915403)

No, its entirely correct.

1) We're talking about DSL competition not long-haul, and virtually none of the country has local telcos using infrastructure that was given to them -- its leased from the power company, from the town in some cases, but it is *paid* for.
2) If we're talking long-haul, in all of the examples you gave they ALSO are leasing from the parties that actually own the infrastructure.

Telcos (unlike power companies) do NOT get a free ride. Its also worth pointing out, since we're on the subject, that the data infrastructure (including upgrades that provide for DSL at the CO's) are not federally subsidized.

Re:Ownership of the network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915659)

Are there power lines in back (or front) of your house? I bet there are. Do you get a check from the phone or power company every month? I didn't think so. Hence the telco's don't pay for the right-of-way. What the telcos pay for is the right to hang wires on the power companies' phone poles. The right of way was GIVEN to the power company and the telcos to use as a public utility right-of-way. Not that there is anything wrong with that in and of itself. The problem comes when the telco's act like something GIVEN to them by the government (and by extension the people) is their bought and paid for asset. IT IS NOT. I own the land under those power poles and if the telco's want to act like it theirs they need to pay me for that right. They don't. What should have been done it to split the phone company into a wholesale piece and a retail piece with the wholesale side required to sell to all comers at a set price. In that way the natural monopoly of the grid would be maintained but the retail customer would get the benefit of competition.

Re:Ownership of the network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915779)

Telcos (unlike power companies) do NOT get a free ride.

If the power companies didn't get a free ride, isn't it possible they might charge the Telcos more? I.e. The Telcos *may* be getting *part* of a free ride.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#23922479)

Hrmmm, here, the phone lines are buried in everyone's front yard while the power lines run overhead.

Neither one pays me any rent.

Where phone lines are run on power poles, they're paying for use of the poles the power company placed at their own expense on right of way they did NOT pay for.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#23932347)

Your mistake is assuming that land is yours or ever was yours. Its not, you don't pay taxes on it.

In most jurisdictions there's a 10' zone along the street (although the size of it varies by town/city) that does *not* belong to the homeowner. They may think it does, they may landscape it and make it look nice, but that land is not theirs. They pay no taxes on it, they need town permission to cross it (thats why you need a permit to move a driveway), the city can dig it up when they need to, or cut trees on it, etc.

If the power company had to CROSS your property to get to a neighbor, you would be paid for that. When communication lines bisect a property, they typically are leased.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#23933257)

Actually, that's sort of true. For all purposes other than the government granted easement (an exercise of imminent domain) I do own it. Who gets a fine if I let the grass grow 4 feet tall in that area?

In any event, that easement for the phone and power companies via exercise of imminent domain is a grant made to them by the local government (in theory, the public).

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915733)

MCI used plenty of railroad right of ways, I guess you don't spend enough time outdoors or you would know that from first hand knowledge =)

Re:Ownership of the network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23918717)

MCI had mostly stopped using microwave/SSB backbones in favor of fiber for quite some time before the company's implosion several years ago.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

izm (592666) | more than 6 years ago | (#23921581)

Here's how it works, at least for Verizon on the east coast... Depending on the arrangements between Verizon, your electric company, and your town, Verizon either owns the poles, leases space on the poles, or jointly owns the poles with the electric company. Verizon lays and maintains the cable for their copper and fiber networks. In the case of the copper network and their legacy (non-FiOS) fiber network, they are obligated by law to lease the pairs out to CoLocators, or more simply, mom and pop telco's and other telcos without a presence in the area that still wish to supply service (like AT&T local service). For every cable, fiber, pole, anchor, guy wire, conduit, and duct placed or owned by Verizon, Verizon is taxed above and beyond the regulatory fees they might pass on to you in your bill. It functions much like property taxes. In essence, Verizon is leasing space within the town's right of way. Anyone can use the right of way, including gas, electric, and sewage, subject to the same regulations. In rare cases where Verizon needs to extend beyond the right of way, they will arrange an agreement with a property owner known as an easement. This agreement grants Verizon the right to extend beyond the right of way within an agreed apon area in exchange for monetary or other compensation. The bottom line is that Verizon (or more generically, your local telephone company) owns the network. They are taxed to high heavens on the network. Due to antitrust rulings of old, they are required to share their network at a reasonable cost to prevent them from establishing any sort of monopoly. The antitrust rulings apply to the copper network as well as their last-mile fiber. These laws do not however apply to their up and coming FiOS network. Now, what they happen to charge for the right to use their network is their choice, but that being said, it must be fair and may not be anti-competitive, which is what this court case seems to be about. One thing must be made certain though...Verizon is NOT getting a free ride by any stretch of the imagination. They pay through the nose for every piece of plant they deploy. For more information on regulations for your area, check out your public library, city hall (the town engineer's office), and maybe even your telephone company. >cue the "The More you Know!" screen graphics...

Re:Ownership of the network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23923485)

You are exactly correct in your analysis except for one major point. Verizon (or any other telco for that matter) does not own the network. They own the piece of it that they built, but they do not own the most expensive piece - the real estate over which it runs - this piece was given to them by the people and they should respect that gift. As to anti-trust regulations etc. that all effectively went out the window with the 1996 Telcom Act. The fact of the matter is that for all practical purposes the phone company is a monopoly (just like Microsoft)and they should be treated like one. BTW where do you think that the phone company gets the money to pay the taxes on their phone lines, poles etc. - their customers!

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 6 years ago | (#23920325)

Where I am, the power company owns the local poles and they are divided up into three parts--power, cable, and phone. Verizon rents _all_ the "phone" space on all the poles--somehow it's theirs by default--and if an ISP wants to put up their own fiber or copper, they have to go through Verizon to lease the space, which is, of course, loads of fun.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

xj (958167) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915309)

I have DSL service, there is no other option at the moment. Verizon owns the phone lines, I can get phone/dsl service from another company and I do but they must lease the lines from Verizon. Getting service from another provider is slightly cheaper than getting it from Verizon directly. When there is a problem though nothing gets fixed quickly, they blame verizon, verizon blames them, each can only test their part of the chain. I could get service directly from verizon but I have seen how poor their customer service is in dealing with another ISP who is a much larger customer than I am. Why would I expect their customer service to be any better when dealing with them directly? It is not like I have a choice, cable, satellite, cellular are not available or are not practical in my area. It is a royal pain I had to complain to the public services commission just to get a land line. A company acting in its own self interest to the detriment of the consumer ... (fakes shock) ... say it ain't so.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 6 years ago | (#23924361)

I agree that their customer service isn't the best, but it isn't the worst either. I've had DSL service at first with GTE, and then with Verizon when they bought out GTE. Since about 1998 when I had a 384k DSL line, I've experienced less than a week of down time... and that's counting being offline for a couple of hours as an entire day. In terms of actual hours of no service, I'd say maybe 50-60 hours in ten years.

Re:Ownership of the network (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915525)

Yup I can also attest to the Above. In the mid 90's I also owned a medium sized ISP in michigan. When 56K became popular and we had to move from 28.8 (we had working 33.6 lines, but then magically the line speeds dropped fast to 28.8 and they would not explain why.) to 56K the Telco I had to deal with gave me prices on the T1 lines that would support 56K dial up channels at a $3500.00 a month rate AND had a fee of per minute charges on incoming and outgoing. It would have forced me to up my rates to almost $30.00 a month from the $19.95 I was charging. Lots of other local ISP's DID up their rates which allowed me to run an extra year at 28.8 speed at $19.95 a month and then we ran the last year at $15.95 a month while I was negotiating selling my customer base and business to earthlink.

The moment you told them you were an ISP or were looking for ISP dial up services, they started treating you like crap. My POP for my internet connection was down near the indiana border because the local Telco's prices were insane and I was lucky enough to have found a backbone ISP that had a decent rate, I paid $2500.00 a month for my T1 line and T1's worth of bandwidth..

Re:Ownership of the network (2, Informative)

mitgib (1156957) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916243)

In the US the phone lines are consistently referred to as "the public network" in FCC rules and regulations. I owned an ISP in Michigan and yes the telcos did squeeze out the small guys. SBC offered to sell me DSL lines at 37.99 per month when they were selling them at 39.99 per month. For that measly 2.00 per month per customer I was expected to provide tech support, billing and collection services and accept all of the bad debt risk. At that point I decided to get out of the ISP business and concentrate of other things. Pity that one large company can put 6,000 small ISPs out of business when their infrastructure was given to them by the people (think of the right of way behind you house that they use for nothing.

I too was a fairly large ISP in St Louis, and was squeezed out by SBC, but didn't go away without a small fight.

I really wish you didn't post AC, but that is your choice, at least I can respond instead of use mod points now.

Also in that fantastic $2/mo gross profit you got the privilege of paying $3,200/mo for a DS3 into the SBC ATM cloud, and then also had to provide transit to your customer. I never chose to provide DSL and sold the company at a fire sale after failing. But I learned alot over that 90's on how not to do stuff, and little by little I've scratched back just providing web hosting that I can now earn a modest living, but I'm sure my days are numbered in this market as well, can't allow the little guy to earn a living doing their own thing when some big corporate entity could much better use those profits for their shareholders, why on earth would I think I deserve to put food on the table and a roof over my head.

Re:Ownership of the network (4, Informative)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914889)

In the USA, we tend to not trust our governments very much (that whole taxation without representation thing), so we're constantly vacillating between government and private ownership of public services. We often compromise on government-regulated monopolies for such infrastructure, which occasionally works reasonably well.

In Texas, for example, the power wiring is owned by a government-regulated monopoly, but power generation is privately owned and competitively sold to consumers across the public (well, monopoly-owned) grid.

As I understand it, the original wired communications infrastructure ("the Bell system") was installed by a government-regulated monopoly (AT&T), which was later broken up into regional companies ("Baby Bells") that owned the wiring and local phone service. Long-distance service between them was opened to competition, one competitor of which was the original AT&T (which was barred by regulation from owning wires).

Then the telecom market was de-regulated (because we don't trust the government), resulting in the Texas "Baby Bell" (Southwestern Bell, or SBC) buying up several other regional Babies and then the long-distance company AT&T (whose name it took), then diversifying into Internet, satellite TV, and various other communications arenas and re-establishing at least part of the old monopoly.

Does that simplify things? Well, it doesn't help me much either. *sigh*

OK, yes, government ownership of the infrastructure makes sense, but only if you trust government. We don't much, and it shows. So there you are.

Props to Colbert for explaining it all (2, Funny)

Insightfill (554828) | more than 6 years ago | (#23916233)

Thanks to Stephen Colbert for explaining the AT&T breakup and re-merger in this video. [youtube.com]

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

fizzup (788545) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918701)

An old joke. I heard it from /usr/games/fortune in slackware, but it's got to be older than that.

There were in this country two very large monopolies.

The larger of the two had the following record:

  • the Vietnam War
  • Watergate
  • double-digit inflation
  • fuel and energy shortages
  • bankrupt airlines, and
  • the 8-cent postcard.

The second was responsible for such things as:

  • the transistor
  • the solar cell
  • lasers
  • synthetic crystals
  • high fidelity stereo recording
  • sound motion pictures
  • radio astronomy
  • negative feedback
  • magnetic tape
  • magnetic "bubbles"
  • electronic switching systems
  • microwave radio and TV relay systems
  • information theory
  • the first electrical digital computer, and
  • the first communications satellite.

Guess which one got to tell the other how to run the telephone business?

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

innerweb (721995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918745)

I think in this case, it has very little to nothing to do with trust of the government. It has much to do with very wealthy businesses and people pushing the government to give them resources that allow them to greatly increase the resources those privates have. This is more a case of abusive practices by powerful business interests using the government agencies as tools.

InnerWeb

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23926799)

I could be speaking from my own perspective, of course. *I* don't trust the government. I don't trust big corporations, either, but I can usually choose to not deal with corporations if they don't treat me with respect. Unlike the government, corporations don't have guns.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

innerweb (721995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23928599)

No disagreement there. Though I may be wrong, I do seriously doubt you were one of the major investors who pushed so hard to de-regulate the telco industry after the break-up (just playing the odds). I seriously doubt you were one of the people who had major ownership in the companies that stood to benefit most from that de-regulation. I agree that trusting the government is not a good thing. Unfortunately, trusting a business is no better, and you do not always have the choice you think you have. In markets like the telco, cable and health markets, choosing between competitors might not be that much of a choice, if you have a choice at all.

Just because the businesses that pushed this change through had ideas in mind that had nothing to do with trusting the government does not preclude you or me from not trusting the government. Its just that what we thought did not matter as to what happened.

InnerWeb

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23931733)

Well, I'm not sure if telco stocks were part of my mutual fund portfolio or not (like most people, I have retirement investments and such), but I certainly was not "a player" in that regard. And my ability to vote my stocks gives me no more say in those corporations than I have in the government - which is to say non-zero, but precious little.

I do support managed deregulation, for example the power deregulation in Texas, as long as actual competition exists and its not just two or three big corporations turned loose to wreck havoc on the market.

I have had choice in communications, however. I was with AT&T, but they treated me poorly (a lot of suspicious extra charges, and almost English-speaking "customer service" people). I switched to T-Mobile for communications, and while they treated me well, we had trouble maintaining a signal. I switched to Voicestream, and was happy. Of course, AT&T then bought Voicestream (*sigh*), but haven't screwed it up very badly yet.

I signed up with Comcast for Internet as soon as it became available, and was quite happy until I moved 4 years ago. At the new house, I couldn't get reliable service from them, and after 6 months and innumerable "service" calls (where the "technician" just jiggled the cables until he got it limping along again), I switched to DSL. That has worked well... then AT&T bought my DSL company, too, but haven't yet screwed it up.

Yes, I see the pattern here. BUT, I have had and exercised my choices.

As for the government, I have no choice. They send me a tax bill - I pay it or go to jail. They send me a census - I fill it out or go to jail. When I bought a car from a friend who was moving to Canada, I made *4* trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the thing registered. Each time, I got a different set of forms to mail to Canada for my friend to complete, get notorized, and send back. They kept it up until the "penalties for late registration" kicked in.

I'd switch governments, but they seem to have a *true* monopoly.

So while we agree that neither governments nor communication giants are to be trusted, I don't consider them to be equal necessary evils. The biggest and best-armed monopoly is the one I distrust the most.

Of course, I'm from Texas. You'd hardly expect a government fan. :-)

Re:Ownership of the network (2, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914843)

But I think things like a telephone network should not be privately owned. Shouldn't the US government have invested in laying telephone and network infrastructure, and then lease it out to telco's?
It brings a tear to my eye to think of what could have been.

No, my friend, that's how it should have gone, but lobbyists, corporate campaign donations and insidious effort to convince people that siphoning wealth from the bottom half of society into the top 1 percent is actually a good thing called the "free market" have prevented anything so sensible from happening.

In fact, here in the US, the current trend is to take the wonderful common assets that were built by the government (like our highway system) and give them to whichever corporation gave the most campaign donations to the politicians.

I know, it's fucked up, but there you go.

Re:Ownership of the network (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23915211)

AT&T laid out the telephone network in the United States for the most part, not the federal government. It's been that way for over a hundred years. Why should some fly-by-night ISP get sub-retail prices on AT&T's network that they poured their heart into building? It's not like taxpayers had anything to do with it.

Re:Ownership of the network (3, Informative)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918275)

Emminent Domain

Re:Ownership of the network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23921209)

Theft.

Re:Ownership of the network (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915271)

The complexity is that it isn't as simple as government -vs- private. There are several reasonable ways to do it. The government could own the lines, and contract a private company to maintain them. Or the private company could lease the rights to them from the government. Or the company could merely provide service over the lines while not owning them.

Where it becomes a problem in the US is that it is not done any of these reasonable ways. :( The phone company owns the lines, yet the money is government. The company also is the sole provider of service over the lines. And in theory, they only get all of this if they obey the rules. But nobody bothers. Same thing with cable service.

Electrical service and water service in the US is done somewhat more sanely. Water is provided by the government, and contractors do the work. Electricity is split so that the lines are provided by one company, but the electricity and service is done by another. So no single company "owns" the lines and can abuse it quite the same way (although some of this varies state-to-state).

My point is merely that it often isn't as simple as "privately owned" or "publically owned" - there are shades of gray, some of which work very well.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915787)

Your rosy picture of other utilities isn't exactly on target, there are plenty of for-profit power companies that operate all aspects of electrical distribution from generation to home delivery, same with water, from treatment to the pipes under your street.

I grew up with phone, electric and water co-op's in a rural area, it wasn't a bad model but they were heavily subsidized by the government early on. Now I have electric and gas by a end-to end for-profit distributor, water and sewer are private but the city council appoints some of their board members, and phone/broadband/tv is a standard for-profit cable co.

Re:Ownership of the network (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915911)

Here in the UK we had a very similar situation, BT owns the copper phone network so for people outside of cabled areas (which are owned by the borderline monopolistic Virgin Media now, but that's another story) they had a choice between BT ADSL, or other companies' ADSL which used BT's equipment in BT's exchanges over BT's network.

Now something called "local loop unbundling" is providing some power for other telecom firms to install equipment at exchanges, for the last mile IIRC. It's still BT's network and BT's exchanges, but at least we're using other people's equipment now (for ADSL2+).

"Cost" (3, Interesting)

mother_reincarnated (1099781) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914613)

the Supreme Court will likely also ascertain whether AT&T could be held to violate antitrust law without setting its retail prices below its own cost.

That might be because they [were/are] a [monopoly/oligopoly] whose network was largely built at public expense and 'their cost' is a calculated 'average cost' when the rest of the world gets measured by marginal costs...

Remember that the world of RBOCs has a sky of a completely different color.

Re:"Cost" (3, Insightful)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914727)

Please keep in mind that IANAL, my reading of the positions is as:

As smaller ISPs are also customers of AT&T themselves, they should be eligible (under normal market conditions, for regular goods and services) for price negotiation to lower theÅYr costs, as they are buying said services in bulk. However as AT&T is a monopoly, it is using that superior market position for squeezing direct customers, by narrowing their profit margins. Which, besides collapsing your customers being a bad business practice, should be illegal, as it is an "unfair business practice". As far as I know there is no requirement for fairness in real market environment so that law maker do not care about your regular fairness concept, but "unfair business practices" usually is a placeholder for "Mafia like extortion techniques"...

Re:"Cost" (2, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915047)

As far as I know there is no requirement for fairness in real market environment so that law maker do not care about your regular fairness concept, but "unfair business practices" usually is a placeholder for "Mafia like extortion techniques"...
No, there's no requirement for fairness, but using a monopoly position to control a market through pricing is a pretty clear violation of antitrust laws.

Re:"Cost" (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915599)

Want to remove the monopoly? Simple. Remove the government restriction on the creation of competing lines. The government thinks there shouldn't be multiple lines "doing the same thing". That's a nice opinion, but when backed by force, it results in monopoly control.

Re:"Cost" (1)

TTURabble (1164837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919343)

This happened originally with the telephone lines, competing companies all ran lines along the same path which created a mishmash of lines crisscrossing all over the place. the consequence of this was unsightly and dangerous.

I don't want to see 30+ telephone lines when I look outside my window, so I guess I take the opposite approach as you, instead of half-assing it, create a quasi-governmental non-profit agency that owns and leases the lines to whoever wants a piece?

Re:"Cost" (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#23925847)

Further, they are buying less that a residential or business DSL customer is.

When they buy bulk from the ILEC, they're buying just the raw data line to the customer. Radius server (for authentication), the needed pppoe server/router (usually), email, personal web, upstream bandwidth etc are all things they bring themselves. Not to mention tech support, office overhead, billing, accounting, etc.

AT&T provides those things for their direct customers. By offering the raw connectivity at only $2 less than the whole bundle, they're essentially claiming that all of that AND a portion of the profit margin fits in to $2 per customer.

I REALLY doubt that's even close to true.I wouldn't be at all surprised if ATT makes several times as much on the so-called wholesale deals than it does for retail.

The thing with the ILECs is that they are a monopoly even beyond MS's de-facto monopoly. They actually enjoy legislative protection.

Bigger ISPs should have invested (3, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914823)

I know they never had boat loads of cash, but during their heyday, the big independent ISPs should have invested a lot of money into buying their own lines. Hindsight is 20/20, but if they had spent their money wisely, they could have bought up a lot of cheap dark fiber the way that Google did a little while back. Then, they'd have had a lot of their own infrastructure to play with.

Re:Bigger ISPs should have invested (4, Informative)

adri (173121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914987)

Google has purchased dark fibre because:

* it was available; because
* a lot of it was put into the ground and bought by other companies; which
* went busted.

Also, laying dark fibre capacity inter and intracity is way, way different to last-mile access. You have to realise that the US market is full of government-granted monopolies which make laying last-mile access not just prohibitively expensive but a political issue. Damn!

Re:Bigger ISPs should have invested (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23915571)

When I did the ISP thing in the 90's a Single-mode fiber tranciever that was 10Base capable was over $6500.00 I could buy 2 HP routers that were T3 capable with the outbound CSU/DSU's for that price. It was stupid expensive back then to do anything fiber.

Two words (2, Interesting)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914837)

Telecom Immunity

Granted it's not passed the Senate yet, but you can bet your sweet patootie it will, and should SCOTUS miraculously find in favor of the ISPs some slick lawyer will find a way to make it apply here.

After all, those small ISPs were probably run by terrorists, or sympathetic to them, or .... something.

Re:Two words (5, Insightful)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914919)

It is a *lot* easier to ask ONE company to conspire with certain Government Officials to unlawfully spy on innocent citizens without warrant or oversight, than to ask HUNDREDS of little ISPs.

Re:Two words (3, Funny)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 6 years ago | (#23914935)

The small ISPs were the ones that were allowing terrorists to upload child pornography via spam and phishing messages. I think that should be enough to get them shut down now.

GNAA PROJECT: DOBERMAN (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23914915)

i shaved her black pussy bald and plunged my erect white penis head against her stubbled cunt and slid a plastic pink doberman shaped penis into her anus and we both howled together as we came: GNAA!

GNAA Project: Doberman, coming soon!

This is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23917629)

...really just another opportunity for Hemos to refer to them as "The Supremes" [slashdot.org] .

AT&T used to actively sabotage competitors' li (2, Insightful)

Jimmy_B (129296) | more than 6 years ago | (#23918297)

There were a few years where I had DSL from Flashcom (now defunct). Every time AT&T did any kind of servicing for any of the telephones on the street, they would unplug our DSL connection and blame it on Flashcom. After they did it a few times too many, we would watch for their trucks, and complain before they left to force them to put it back. The only way to get them to stop was to get a line that was shared between DSL and POTS voice. Apparently, they check phone lines for a dial tone before they unplug them, and since Flashcom's DSL lines weren't also phone lines, they didn't have dial tones.

Incompetence, malice, or malice cleverly disguised as incompetence? In any case, it's wrong to give a misbehaving private company exclusive access to vital public infrastructure.

The battle is long over, and local ISPs lost. (3, Insightful)

nesta (11896) | more than 6 years ago | (#23919849)

The ISP I worked for just recently folded up due to AT&T's DSL pricing structure. The writing had been on the wall for years, but we hung on as long as we could.

Back in '99 Ameritech was our ILEC, and as they were preparing to roll out their DSL network they actually said that they wouldn't be competing in the DSL market themselves, but would instead do the wholesale side and have other ISPs do the internet services side. That was probably BS, but it didn't matter anyway because they were shortly bought by SBC.

SBC dragged their feet for years, with a very limited initial roll-out in our area. As of now there are still a number of remote terminals in our LATA that haven't been equipped with RDSLAMS, and it seems never will. SBC used their deployment schedule as a bargaining chip against the states that were doing things they didn't like, such as allowing communities to deploy their own telecom infrastructure.

Now AT&T is rolling out their new U-Verse [wikipedia.org] fiber to the neighborhood service. Competing ISPs have no way to get this much faster service wholesale, and AT&T is actively pushing people to convert from their DSL to U-Verse. Our speculation is that no further DSL DSLAMS or RDSLAMS will be rolled out, and that their DSL network and support will continue to degrade. Their answer to any customer that complains will be to switch to U-Verse.

At the same time as the U-Verse roll-out they announced they will be raising the base circuit cost to ISPs by 50%. That was the nail in the coffin for us. The rate we paid for just the individual circuit was already about what the end-user could get the full service at the same speed directly from AT&T. That was before paying for the back-haul circuits to AT&T, our backbone charges, staff, equipment, and other facilities. As a result we had to price our DSL much higher than AT&T, and although our service and support was much better than AT&T's it was extremely difficult for customers to see beyond the bottom line (though many regretted it after it was too late).

SBC / AT&T has been lobbying hard to get out of the Telecomunications Act of 1996 [wikipedia.org] , especially the provision that they had to provide access to their DSL service. The first blow was back around 2001 IIRC when they managed to remove DSL as a tariffed product, so they could charge competing ISPs different rates than they charged their own ISP. The next blow was when they got the FCC to classify DSL (and future internet service offerings like U-Verse) as a data service in FCC Order 05-150 [techlawjournal.com] , which completely removed the requirement for AT&T to provide ISPs wholesale DSL products. If it was politically feasible I'm sure AT&T would turn off every competing ISPs DSL right now, and it would be (mostly) legal to do so. Instead, though, it seems they are going to slowly phase out DSL by offering a faster service that they never had to allow ISPs to use, and to make the transition faster keep bumping up the wholesale rates until all the DSL providers are forced out of business.

I wish LinkLine Communications all the luck in this case. It's clear to anyone who has dealt with SBC / AT&T wholesale DSL that AT&T is doing what they can to push out the competing ISPs who use their network. I can't say I'm optimistic that they will win, or even if they do that it will do any good. The FCC and the state governments were bought and paid for a long time ago.

SCROTUM? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23922671)

SCROTUS ?

It's a difficult situation for them too (1)

Douglas Goodall (992917) | more than 6 years ago | (#23930315)

I remember that when DSL was first rolling out, there were a number of factors that affected the speed that your line could be provisioned for. Not all these problems occurred on purpose but still had to be dealt with by AT&T when they allowed third party DSL providers to operate. Bridge taps, disturbers, packaging options as well as unfortunate distances from the CO all contributed to the difficulty in making a DSL line work. There was also a cute little module at the demarc that allowed them to remotely disconnect the line for testing that had to be removed before DSL would work. Sometimes not worth the trouble to AT&T for their piece of the pie. Experienced people know all these terms by now. Learning them was part of the task of making a homeowner know things previously known only to communications engineers contracting for data services with the telcos. "Provision-Speak" I call it. I know something about this having worked on the firmware for Copper Mountain DSLAMS.
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