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$6 Billion Proposal For High-Speed Internet Grants

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the gentlemen-gentlemen-there's-plenty-to-go-around dept.

Communications 280

witherstaff writes "House Democrats have proposed $6 billion in Internet investmentsas part of a sweeping economic stimulus bill that the full House is expected to vote on next week. The $6 billion is considered a down payment on efforts Obama will make in this area over the next several years. Of course let's not forget the $200 billion broadband scandal that the large telecommunication companies have been paid but never delivered on."

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280 comments

Subject (4, Insightful)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600733)

As long as we get some return on the investment I'm all for it, but as the FS says: we've sunk a lot more than $6bn into this same thing already and got nowhere.

Fool me once, shame on you...

Notice to Sourceforge: Kill off Slashdot! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26600751)

A much better website: http://www.madonna.com

Notice to Sourceforge, Inc. management: Close down Slashdot, sell the domain to a squatter, and focus on your core competency: Sourceforge. It needs a lot of work.

Slashdot no longer serves a unique purpose. The forum is a mess of buggy AJAX, it is irrelevant, the editors have no talent, and the news sucks!

News for Nerds. Stuff That Matters. NOT!

It's not news, it's not written by journalists and it's not stuff that matters. The only true part about their tagline is that it's for nerds. Stupid ones. Ones who are probably wearing some lame t-shirt from ThinkGeek with a stupid expression like "All your haXoRz are belong to us."

This thread about the 2.4.18 kernel release is a typical Slashdot news item. Idiocy, misinformation, testosterone-poisoned posturing, technology punditry, arrogance, bad logic: just another day in Slashdot-land.

The classic exchange is one Slashdotter complaining about ACs (people posting as Anonymous Cowards, i.e., not registered) and another Slashdotter blasting him for being so stupid and then outlining the steps need to get a for-all-intents-and-purposes anonymous Hotmail account and registering on Slashdot with a bogus name.
Lame personalities

Some of the Slashdot people have personality cults which is weird because they are incredibly lame. Every single poll seems to have a reference to a character named CowboyNeal. One of the founders/editors, Rob Malda, goes by the handle CmdrTaco, and his posts are incredibly shallow and stupid (although admittedly not much more than those of the other editors).

Every Slashdot-hater will claim to have a particularly dark place in their hearts for a certain individual, but frankly, they're all about the same. I ran into them in the Linux pavilion of Comdex a couple of years ago and they're a truly sorry bunch of humans. Just more proof that if you had the choice to be smart or lucky, you're much better off being lucky.
The problem with online forums: Why Slashdot isn't different than the rest

Admittedly, Slashdot's lameness isn't unique. As a matter of fact, it's normal. The main problem with online communities is that they do not scale well. While engineers argue about whether or not MySQL-backed sites can handle significant traffic, etc., they are really missing the point. Even if the software can handle it, the community can't.

Throwing more hardware at it doesn't help the problem. Nor does throwing more software. Nor does throwing more moderation. Nor does adding big warning messages to "please search the archives before posting a question." People get tired of hearing the same old questions over and over. What was once a place where new and innovative discussions sprang up every day is now a place where the same ten questions get asked over and over. Many of the most valuable contributors are the first to leave, just like talented employees bailing out of a foundering corporation.

The only hope is to pick a topic that is so esoteric that growth is extremely limited. Splitting up a community into sub-communities is also a possibility, but one that doesn't always work. If done too late, the majority of the most valuable contributors will have already left. Splitting a big blob of noise will result in many little blobs of noise. If done too early, there might not be sufficient energy/critical mass to nurture the newly-founded subcommunities.
What makes FC different?

The, uh, community citizens at F---edCompany.com contribute about the same quality of knowledge as your average forum participant, but unlike Slashdotters, A.) they aren't as arrogant, B.) they all seem to realize where they're posting (i.e., after all, the website is called F---edCompany.com), and C.) Pud (the founder/editor) knows he's a lucky idiot.
The very worst part about online forums

For the newcomer, a vibrant, high-traffic online forum seems like the El Dorado of information. It's not. It's a Pandora's Box, but even worse. The biggest single problem about online forums is the amount of incorrect information being provided. For the average newbie, there is absolutely no way to tell who is telling the truth. Veteran status doesn't count, nor does his/her post count (i.e., someone with 3000+ posts isn't any more credible than someone with 150 posts).

Many online forums have an "Off Topic" posting area so specific forums don't get watered down with unrelated issues. These places are very, very dangerous. These are places where opinions are offered, often backed by little/bad/no facts. While it's one things to ask people in a photography forum about cameras, it's another thing to ask a bunch of DVD aficionados about income tax law.

The saddest thing is that people apparently believe that soliciting the thoughts of total strangers on serious topics such as personal bankruptcy, medical procedure issues, dealing with troubled children, etc. is normal on these relatively anonymous online forums.
Can you do anything about misinformation?

No, not really. For every one or two people with actual knowledge, there are dozens of people with no/little/bad knowledge.

If you refute someone, you will get a dozen people saying, "but I do _____ and it works for me" or the indignant "leave _____ alone, his answer is just as good as the next person's!" It's pointless to argue online. Unlike real life, everyone's opinion counts online. People will hear what they want to hear, and mostly it's their own voice (or other people telling them that they agree).
Me, me, me!

This thread about good web design (again, a non-newsworthy item) is pretty much the perfect example of the "My voice is just as loud and therefore just as authoritative as anyone else's" train of thought.

Go ahead, read the comments. An abnormally large number of them are actually thoughtfully written, only to be lost in the maelstrom of "Listen to me!! Listen to me!!" Sad, truly sad.

Re:Subject (2, Insightful)

wITTus (856003) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600759)

As long as we get some return on the investment I'm all for it

Like, say, protection from terrorists?

Re:Subject (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601221)

You know what? I took the plunge and installed Linux today. Top Hat or some hat version. But now I have a problem. Im getting these big red lesions all over me. Im not allergic to anything that would cause that, and I havent become infected with any diseases, my doctor checked me out fine. Then I figured out what Linux really is. Open Sores. Linux is killing me! Help!

Re:Subject (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601425)

Even more basic than ROE...

Where the hell are they going to get all this money from for all these programs?

Geez..people were bitching about all the money the Bush admin was spending (Hell, "I" was bitching about it too, Bush never seemed to see a spending bill he didn't like).

But, really...I thought the Dems. were supposed to go back to being Clinton-ian, and try to get back to a balance budget.

Re:Subject (2, Insightful)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601577)

Now you see the difference between political Rhetoric and political Reality. They were only opposed to the spending b/c it was not being spent on their pet projects, and it was politically convenient to seem opposed to large expenditures, since it was going to happen anyway.

Re:Subject (4, Insightful)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601659)

$6bn, as absurd an amount as it is, is a drop in the water compared to some of the things the last President put through. At least that kind of spending is starting to get funneled back into the US as opposed to, say, across the world in military misadventures that are actively damaging our security.

Re:Subject (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26602117)

"But, really...I thought the Dems. were supposed to go back to being Clinton-ian, and try to get back to a balance budget."

Why did you think this? The only thing Cliontonian about The Messiah's campaign promises was his promise to decrease investment by raising the capital gains tax to the level it was at during the Clinton years. Anything else resembling Clinton's rule was superimposed onto Obama by a willfully ignorant electorate.

Re:Subject (3, Insightful)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602655)

As long as we get some return on the investment I'm all for it

Like, say, protection from terrorists?

Like, uh...they haven't attacked us since we started 'investing' in it.

As far as telco's go, we invested heavily in the 80's via tax cuts, and all those little $0.25 and $0.50 fees on phone bills. What did they develop with billions? ISDN. Yeah. 128k. No thanks. I don't need the government to take money from me at the point of a gun to give to a bunch of huge monopolistic telephone companies to squander.

...or auto makers for that matter.

Nationalise the networks (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600829)

If the taxpayer is doing the investing then the taxpayers (ie the government) should own the networks. The private telcos are free to compete and provide better services. If the taxpayers invest in private telcos then the taxpayers should have partial ownership of the telcos and profits should go back to the people (ie govermnet).

After all, the big bank bail out is not by just giving money to the banks. The government has bought loans from the banks.

Re:Nationalise the networks (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601115)

The government didn't buy loans. The government bought preferred shares ie an ownership stake in the banks.

Re:Nationalise the networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601695)

And then demanded dividends of $.01.

Re:Nationalise the networks (2, Informative)

zxnos (813588) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602093)

from what i understand the government is buying up troubled assets (TARP) from banks and whatnot to get them off the banks books. in return the government gets equity warrants which allows the government to purchase non-voting shares (which probably may or may not be preferred) in the bank from which it bought the troubled assets.

this really all goes back to how our finance system works. normally a bank has 'x' dollars to lend out. once they lend out the 'x' they package up those loans and sell them to someone else. now the bank has more money to loan out. problem is, no one wanted to by debt anymore since many people have been defaulting on those loans.

here is a basic place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troubled_Assets_Relief_Program [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nationalise the networks (4, Informative)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602513)

Your information is dated. The TARP program never bought any "troubled assets." The TARP program directly invested in banks by buying newly issued preferred shares.

The TARP program originally sold to Congress was to buy troubled assets. That plan was quickly abandoned after the program was passed. See the "changes to the initial program" section from your wikipedia link.

Re:Nationalise the networks (5, Insightful)

znu (31198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601119)

The most logical structure for telecom networks is to have the government own the physical infrastructure (which is a natural monopoly) and then allow any private company that wants to to provide services (Internet, television, phone, whatever) over that infrastructure. This would create an actual competitive market for telecom services, which is something we're never going to see otherwise.

Of course the existing telecom companies have lots of lobbyists, give lots of money to both parties, and are quite happy with things just the way they are, so this is unlikely to ever happen.

Re:Nationalise the networks (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601395)

Telecom is NOT a natural monopoly.

Re:Nationalise the networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601815)

You say this every time the topic comes up, but that doesn't make it true.

Half right (5, Insightful)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601973)

Telecom *services* are not a natural monopoly. Telecom *wires* are a natural monopoly. What we need to do is separate the service providers from the wire provider.

Re:Nationalise the networks (3, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602315)

Telecom is NOT a natural monopoly.

This is true, but the intent of the original poster is easy to understand. It's a problem to put in lots of competing wires because every time someone digs they risk breaking already laid wires. Every time someone strings wires it reduces the reliability of all the others because the weakest wires fall first and damage others. Almost everywhere there are laws restricting the laying of wires to one phone one cable and one power because it does solve a lot of problems. It's not a natural monopoly in the traditional sense, but neither does it invalidate the point.

Re:Nationalise the networks (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602571)

The OPs point is not valid. There are already multiple data lines going into most houses. So, the argument that the market can only support one data line going into a house is demonstrably false. The same goes for the engineering side of it. As for the fact that the laws restrict who can lay wire, that is exact the the opposite of a NATURAL monopoly. That is a government mandated monopoly. If it really were a natural monopoly, there wouldn't need to be laws to restrict it to a monopoly. It would happen without laws.

Re:Nationalise the networks (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601427)

in other words, have tax payers fork out the money for the infrastructure, and then let the telecoms charge the public to use the infrastructure that they "own"? that's pretty much what we've got now.

if you want to harness the power of free market competition, then have private companies develop the actual physical technologies that would increase transfer rates, increase the reliability and range of wireless broadband, etc.

but have the national government set up the trunk connections that connect the nation, and then let local governments manage their own local ISP offering FttH to residences and municipal WiFi for everywhere else. that would put control over the ISPs into the hands of the local community. if residents don't like how the local ISP is run, they can change it. that is the only way you can ensure that the ISPs have the best interest of the public at heart.

Re:Nationalise the networks (1)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602015)

have tax payers fork out the money for the infrastructure, and then let the telecoms charge the public to use the infrastructure that they "own"? that's pretty much what we've got now.

Except now we give out local monopolies over use of the infrastructure, protecting telecoms from competition. If we stop giving out monopolies, then competition will ensure reasonable prices.

Re:Nationalise the networks (4, Insightful)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602365)

well, "we" don't give out local monopolies. it's the laws of economics and the nature of telecommunications that creates natural monopolies. there are no laws stating that X county must only have one ISP/telecom. but communications networks work best as a single large monopoly rather than a handful of small disjointed competing networks. so even if you start off with a couple of competing networks in an area, over time the larger ones will absorb the smaller ones, giving them an even greater competitive advantage over the other small networks until eventually there's just a single carrier left. if it weren't for government regulations that force major communications carriers to lease out a portion of their networks to smaller second-tier carriers, there'd be even fewer ISPs/telecoms for consumers to choose from.

just look at the Japanese model. they have a single national telecom & ISP, NTT [wikipedia.org] , which the Japanese government as a 1/3rd control in. they are leading the world in FttH penetration, offering residential users 1 Gbps symmetric broadband connections at $51.40/month--$0.05 per megabit (symmetric). compare that to Comcast's 50 Mbps "wideband" service that costs $150/month--$3.00 per megabit for asymmetric access.

while American ISPs are wasting money on traffic monitoring & packet shaping technology, lobbying against net neutrality, trying to convince the public that open wireless & municipal wifi will never work, and bitching about consumers actually making full use of their measly 3.5Mbps downstream connections, other countries in Europe and Asia are leaving us in the dust. and to make matters worse, we have all the tier-1 networks trying to extort money out of one another on peering agreements that would actually benefit everyone by making internet routing more efficient.

Re:Nationalise the networks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26602025)

What a ridiculous statement you just made...our government should own the internet? What?!

That is just a ridiculous idea.

Re:Subject (2, Funny)

Snufu (1049644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601355)

Telcos: "May we see your six billion dollar bill?"
Obama: Ah-ah, you see with your eyes, not with your hands."
FCC stooge: (whispering) "I think we can trust the telcos, Mr. President."
The president hesitates, then gives the bill the telcos.
Obama: "Now give it back."
Telcos: "Give what back?"

Re:Subject (4, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602261)

As long as we get some return on the investment I'm all for it

And I'm against it, even if we get some return on the "investment". The ends don't justify the means.

But, then, what choice do I have in what is done with the money I earned? When a society puts mob rule above individual rights, its no surprise that people assume that whatever passes a vote passes as just.

Public wireless - no other option (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600745)

ANYthing you pay to any private telco company, will be pocketed. pockets will be so deep that you wont be even finding a nickel when you plunge your hand in. Remember how did the money given to banks vanished just 1-2 months ago ?

well. these are telcos. they have numerous times tried to scam/suffocate public in terms of cash and choices and even freedom of information before.

it would be stupid, stupid to trust them with anything.

Re:Public wireless - no other option (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600895)

Remember how did the money given to banks vanished just 1-2 months ago ?

That money didn't vanish . . . it's just went somewhere, where you can't see it.

And whomever now has it, says, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."

Or, 'thank you for the music'. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601207)

if they had given it all to abba, at least we'd have some music now ...

Re:Or, 'thank you for the music'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601669)

There's some mention that in 2000, ABBA [wikipedia.org] turned down an offer of over 100 million US dollars to do a reunion tour of 100 concerts.

Anyway, remind me again, how much money given to the banks disappeared?

hm (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601813)

i remember first half was dispatched to 'get the credit system working' again. around 330 or 370 bn or so.

And the oversight? (5, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600821)

Any chance we could look to put some REAL oversight into this round of spending?

If the oversight committee was a total of 5 people with backgrounds in actual accounting that ended up costing $1 million a year, but prevented the "loss" of billions in funding, I'd say it was money well spent.

Obama, you could prove your salt here by putting some REAL Common Sense behind MY money.

Re:And the oversight? (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601017)

Because that's exactly what we need, a country run by even more bean counters.

Re:And the oversight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601147)

Rather more bean counters than beaners! [illegalaliensgottago.com]

Re:And the oversight? (2, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601199)

why not. At least the pork barrel useless projects that every one and their cousin asks for will stop being built.

Why should a sports stadium for a team that earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually be paid for by the state taxpayers? Why not simply pay the players less than a million dollars a year, and pay for it yourself? yet you will find NYS state helped pay for the Yankee's shiny new stadium.

Re:And the oversight? (2, Insightful)

Stephen Ma (163056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602391)

No, what the country needs is a bunch of honest bean counters. Enron's funny books should have been a memorable lesson, but we didn't learn -- and now we are $trillions deeper in the hole.

Re:And the oversight? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601137)

If the oversight committee was a total of 5 people with backgrounds in actual accounting that ended up costing $1 million a year, but prevented the "loss" of billions in funding, I'd say it was money well spent.

Sadly, the government does indeed pay millions a year to CPAs and other professionals that actually find out where all the money is going and how much is lost each year. It's just that nothing is done about it.

Posting Anon for obvious reasons.

Re:And the oversight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601625)

Obama, you could prove your salt here by putting some REAL Common Sense behind MY money.

It's not YOUR money. You don't own it. The government does. Those bills actually belong to the government and they loaned it to the companies that loaned it to you, pretending to "give" it to you, but actually capitalism requires you to give it back to the government through other companies. Those pieces of paper BELONG to the government, literally. They request them from the central bank which loans it to the government with interest. The government has to pay back every single cent they borrowed from the central bank + interest, which means that the central bank owns the money which the government controls. They also control the central bank, therefore the government owns your money. They printed those pieces of paper and if you dare destroy them, you can go to jail (at least in most countries, burning money = burning the flag = crime against the state = terrorist => if you dare say that you own the money, you are trying to take it away from the state => you are a terrorist). Maybe the last sentence was a long stretch, but the rest is the plain truth. They do what they want with their money.

Yes, let's not forget ... (4, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600827)

So, okay, we got soaked for some two hundred billion in tax writeoffs. If the Feds really want to make good on that, just allow for actual competition in the national broadband market. No incumbents holding onto their last mile monopoly by hook-or-crook, make it clear that if you enter a region you must serve everyone in that region (outlaw cherry-picking) and see what these guys can do when forced to go head-to-head. Right now, for example, I'm in an area that was previously served only by Comcastoff. In fact, my townhome complex signed an exclusive deal with Comcast a couple years ago, ostensibly to get better rates. Of course that didn't happen: I ended up paying more for my service than people only a half mile away who were not in the complex. Something smelled there, let me tell you.

So, now AT&T U-Verse is in the area (I'm switching: I'm about fifty feet from the local VRAD box and I'm shooting for the 18 Mbit/sec tier ... wish me luck.) Last Monday in the mail I received a postcard from U-Verse confirming my installation date, which was cool. Hilariously, there was also a postcard from Comcast boldly proclaiming that they had doubled my download speed FOR FREE! Really!!! Nevermind that I'm getting more speed for about half the price from U-Verse, for now.

Don't let the FCC fool you ... competition is good for consumers and ultimately good for providers.

Re:Yes, let's not forget ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601739)

my townhome complex signed an exclusive deal with Comcast a couple years ago, ostensibly to get better rates. Of course that didn't happen: I ended up paying more for my service than people only a half mile away who were not in the complex. Something smelled there, let me tell you.

Your bargaining skills? *ducks*

Re:Yes, let's not forget ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601921)

my townhome complex signed an exclusive deal with Comcast a couple years ago, ostensibly to get better rates. Of course that didn't happen: I ended up paying more for my service than people only a half mile away who were not in the complex. Something smelled there, let me tell you.

Your bargaining skills? *ducks*

Ha ... like I had anything to do with it. I just got a letter in the mail proclaiming how wonderful the condo association was for working out this great deal.

Ahh ... the generosity (4, Insightful)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26600917)

The $6 billion is considered a down payment on efforts Obama will make in this area over the next several years. Of course let's not forget the $200 billion broadband scandal that the large telecommunication companies have been paid but never delivered on.

I'm so glad that the Democrats are so generous with MY money. Of course, the Republicans before them were basically the same, as were the Democrats before those Republicans, and so on going back quite a ways.

Seriously, why is the answer to mismanagement of money (tax payer or private money as the recent market troubles have shown) always to give away tax payer money?

School run out of money? Here is more tax payer money. Spent too much building your pro sports team's venue? Here is some tax payer money. Make bad choices in the marketplace? Here is some tax payer money. When is this going to stop? When we've mortgaged how many generations' future earnings on today's ridiculous growth of government?

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (1, Insightful)

Carbon016 (1129067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601013)

I fully agree! Throwing money at the private sector with no accountability is a horrible idea. A great argument for nationalization (of those companies that can be nationalized) if I've ever saw one. ;)

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (2, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601069)

No, no, no. Nationalization solves nothing other than allowing the government access to more information about you and higher taxes. Just look at the patriot act (mind you, passed by BOTH republicans and democrats) and you can see why the government shouldn't run any ISPs. What should be done if we are going to make a national project (which, I honestly think is a bad idea) is give it to small, local ISPs to extend lines along with granting money to start-up ISPs who operate in rural areas. Basically, a nationalized ISP would only lead to higher taxes, worse service (just look at the USPS for an example) and a massive eroding of freedom. We don't need that.

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (3, Insightful)

znu (31198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601183)

The solution is to just have the government own the infrastructure (which is where all the monopolistic abuse occurs anyway), not provide any of the data services. The government would be completely out of the loop with respect to what content was flowing across the network. They wouldn't be your ISP, just your line provider. You'd probably even see services catering to the extra-paranoid, where the ISP would encrypt everything before sending over the government fiber to your home.

Conceptually, think of this working the way Internet access used to work in the days before broadband. You'd dial into your ISP over the phone network, but the company that owned the phone lines was just carrying an electrical signal; they had no involvement with what that signal was. This would be the same thing, but with a government-owned packet-switched digital fiber network serving a role analogous to the analog phone network.

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601231)

The government would be completely out of the loop with respect to what content was flowing across the network. They wouldn't be your ISP, just your line provider

Unless they were fighting "terrorism". Similarly, governments are completely out of the loop for mobile phone transmissions, but as AT&T shows, if they are fighting "terrorism" the government can just rip apart the constitution.

This would be the same thing, but with a government-owned packet-switched digital fiber network serving a role analogous to the analog phone network.

You WANT something like that? Remember what happened whenever the government started giving grants to modernize America with phone lines? The AT&T monopoly was formed. Granted, all the AT&T monopoly could do is charge you money, but with the Internet the consequences are far, far, far greater than just a few more dollars per month.

Honestly, there isn't anything that the government hasn't screwed up in other than the basics of the government which is to protect the rights of the citizens, protect us for foreign attacks, print a stable currency and maintain order. And in the basics that they have screwed up in it is mostly because of something else they were trying to do.

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (1)

znu (31198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601263)

You WANT something like that? Remember what happened whenever the government started giving grants to modernize America with phone lines? The AT&T monopoly was formed.

That's exactly what I don't want. The government should improve telecom by investing in publicly owned infrastructure, not by handing money to private companies. That was bad enough when those companies were regulated monopolies. These days they're unregulated monopolies.

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601399)

That's exactly what I don't want. The government should improve telecom by investing in publicly owned infrastructure, not by handing money to private companies. That was bad enough when those companies were regulated monopolies. These days they're unregulated monopolies.

But then it similarly does the same thing, the government is going to lease the lines to whoever pays them the most which will only be the most established ISPs (Comcast, Time Warner) and smaller ISPs either have to start charging a lot more or merge in order to stay afloat.

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (2, Interesting)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601409)

>You WANT something like that? Remember what happened whenever the government started giving grants to modernize America with phone lines? The AT&T monopoly was formed.

Yes, I think we need another monopoly like that. Because basic research is a huge tragedy of the commons problem, you need a big monopoly that *is* the commons. When AT&T was, they were able to create one of the best research labs ever and invented the transistor which has accelerated human development at exponential speeds.

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601373)

>Just look at the patriot act (mind you, passed by BOTH republicans and democrats) and you can see why the government shouldn't run any ISPs.

Just look at the FISA domestic spying indemnity for telecoms who broke the law bill, and it is clear your argument applies to both government and telecoms. I really doubt cable companies would have been any different.

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601125)

It won't ever stop till the whole thing fails. The US Government has grown so large, so complex, so corrupt, and so dirty, there is absolutely no way to cure it. It will continue on its projected path until it implodes.

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26602413)

I'm so glad that the Democrats are so generous with MY money.

Stop right there.... tax money is NOT your money. You elect these people to disburse is as they see fit.... don't like what they do? Well:

1) Get involved in politics yourself and have a direct say in how it's spent.
2) Exercise your right and vote them out

Re:Ahh ... the generosity (2, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602433)

Seriously, why is the answer to mismanagement of money (tax payer or private money as the recent market troubles have shown) always to give away tax payer money?

Your mistake is believing this is an attempt to solve the previous mismanagement of money. That is not the case. This and the other public works projects are about wealth redistribution. Basically, the idea here is to take money from the few, incredibly wealthy people who have gained ever larger shares of the wealth, in order to move some wealth to the huge portion of the US that has none and save the economy from total collapse.

I'm so glad that the Democrats are so generous with MY money. Of course, the Republicans before them were basically the same, as were the Democrats before those Republicans, and so on going back quite a ways.

This election we did have a clear economic choice with the two parties. Both parties understood the need to move wealth to the poor in order to save the economy. Both (I think) understood that trickle down economics and moving more wealth to the wealthy was a failure. Both claimed to want tot trim government spending but understood the realities of how small of cuts they could really make without making the economy even worse.

The clear difference was the Democrats want to increase taxes for the ultra-wealthy and move that to the poor. The Republicans wanted to borrow more money from foreign powers and move that to the poor and hope that our currency would hold value anyway and we'd find a way to pay it off somewhere later on.

Make bad choices in the marketplace? Here is some tax payer money. When is this going to stop?

The problem we have now is we can't realistically let the failed economic ventures collapse because it will take the whole show down with them. After we solve this crisis, there is one simple thing we can do to help prevent it from happening again... but I doubt you'd get more than a few votes for it. Ban foreign and corporate lobbying and put strict controls on favors given to civil servants or people who recently were civil servants. People have rights to give their money to political parties and candidates, but corporations and foreign power have no inherent rights and it is absurd that this legalized bribery is tolerated. If you really want this to stop, push that agenda has hard as you can locally and in your state.

Decisions, Decisions (5, Insightful)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601009)

When the government invests X billion into something, they should come up with a list of specific items to be accomplished by the investee, put it into the contract, and send auditors to check up on the progress on a regular basis.
Anything else is just charity.

Re:Decisions, Decisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601663)

...and the contract should stipulate federal "professional incompetence" charges if the terms are not met.

Re:Decisions, Decisions (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602033)

"Anything else is just charity."

"Charity" buys campaign support buys a second term.

Nuffin' I cans do 'bout dat, but I better git MY forty acres an' a mule or I'm votin' fo' Massuh Jeb an' Miz Sarah come 2012!

Re:Decisions, Decisions (1)

crazycheetah (1416001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602429)

The great part is that, at least in some cases (like the $200 billion mentioned in the summary), they do go as far as as saying such-and-such has to be done with it. But then the companies throw probably that money into lobbying to get such-and-such lowered and lowered until we're sitting here going "wtf happened to x?!" And then the government just sits there happy, because all of the politicians got their bribe money, and by listening to the lobbying, don't have to listen to the companies bitch that they can't do it, even though we gave them billions of dollars to do it.

What's great is, right before I came on slashdot, I saw the History channel comparing what led up to this supposed crisis to what led to the great depression. A pretty big line came up: corruption. As if that's a surprise...

Re:Decisions, Decisions (3, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602473)

When the government invests X billion into something, they should come up with a list of specific items to be accomplished by the investee, put it into the contract, and send auditors to check up on the progress on a regular basis.

They often do. The problem is, if the government gives a company a few billion, it is cheaper for them to spend a small amount of that on paying lobbyists to basically bribe politicians to do away with those items, than it is to accomplish those items. So long as we let corporations lobby, this will probably be the norm.

Dust off the Resume (1)

Starvingboy (964130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601033)

Well, dust of the Resume, perhaps AT&T (or Verizon, there are only two left) will be hiring soon.

Re:Dust off the Resume (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601775)

I don't have any dust on my resume, you insensitive clod! I've been looking for a job.

That's why you see so many AC postings.

Verizon Fios cherrypicking (5, Informative)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601065)

You know how FiOS is just about everywhere along the east coast? Well, everywhere except Boston.

Why? Because in MA, each town decides if it wants to grant a franchise for cable TV. Not internet- just TV.

Verizon doesn't like that, but the burbs are the best customers- they have lots of HDTV sets, they like the packages, and they don't do annoying things like share their Wifi connection to 6 other people in a apartment building.

Well, guess what? Verizon has been rolling out FiOS to damn near everywhere in the state, even west-nowhere places like 500-person towns out near Worcester nobody has heard of...yet still no FiOS for anyone in Boston. It's even been in the papers- THREE YEARS AGO- about how Verizon was cherrypicking. A year ago, someone asked Mayor Menino what the fuck was going on, and he pointed the finger squarely at Verizon. Not that I trust him, but in the meantime, some hick represetative from the western end of the state gave Verizon tens of millions of dollars to roll out services in the western end of the state...with no requirements that they provide service to the city.

Meanwhile, we're stuck with really crappy DSL offerings, Comcast's throttling and misleading advertising (go on, try to find the real speed, not the "powerboost" speed which you get for all of about 10MB of transfer), or RCN's overall shittyness. Worse still- Comcast has just started getting really nasty about incoming SMTP and HTTP; they've shut me off twice, despite best efforts to sneak under their radar. I suspect they're enforcing their ToS to try and catch small/home business owners saving $50/month (yes, you read that right- $100/mo for internet service for businesses.)

Re:Verizon Fios cherrypicking (4, Interesting)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601567)

If it makes you feel any better, they're cherry-picking FIOS deployments in the DC-metro area. I live almost exactly 1 mile from my local CO, which translates to about 7000 wire-feet. I know, because DSL is the best thing I can get. I live in a fairly urban suburb of DC, and I can't get FIOS to save my life. Why? Because I live in a single-family neighborhood that was built in the mid 1950s. Putting fiber on the poles would be expensive. They'd much rather do build-outs in new communities where the builder passes last-quarter-mile connection costs onto the new homeowner, and Verizon only has to hook up to the community pedestal. If you live in town houses or condos, you have a much better chance of getting FIOS because the connection-density potential is higher.

As noted in another post, the physical plant (fiber, copper, wet string, etc.) shouldn't be a sanctioned monopoly, but should rather be a municipal resource. If you can't stomach that, then require universal access for services. Enforce that. If you're offering FIOS in the state, Verizon should be obligated to deploy it to *any* customer who orders it. If Verizon squeals, tell them to stop using the government-mandated right-of-way access through private property.

A final note - one of the reasons this issue torques me so much is that Verizon has run fiber through my yard. They're more than willing to expect right-of-way through my property, but they steadfastly refuse to provide me with a service I'm more than willing to pay for. The State mandates that I allow this, so I don't have any recourse short of getting elected Governor. And before you comment that I get indirect benefit from the fiber, no I don't. The fiber in question isn't a backbone, it's a last-mile bundle installed to service another community.

Cry me a F*ing river (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601983)

Haven't lived in Western MA in roughly 6 years, but as a former "hick" from the "western end of the state" I can feel confident that my family still in the area would like me to tell you to go F*ck yourself.

Western MA has been getting screwed by Boston since before there even was a United States of America.

Western MA, didn't want to ratify the consitution so the politicians in Boston redrew the district lines.

We footed the bill for the majority of the MA turnpike and had to fight for 5 years to get the tolls removed from our end, which was promised when they first started construction.

how much does Westfield, Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee, etc. benefit from burying the highway in downtown Boston? Hell, since all of the contractors and politicians involved are from east of Worchester, we didn't even get our share of the kickbacks.

Far more tax money is spent in and around Boston than is actually collected from there. All that graft, and public works money is collected from the whole state and spent in your back yard. So forgive me if I don't feel sorry for you that you have to deal with the same ISP that my parents have, but have a slower connection. If you are running a business out of your house, shell out the $50 each month b/c I can guarantee you lose more money when they cut you off then you save by gaming their system.

Re:Verizon Fios cherrypicking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601991)

I'm on-board with the rest of the post (the *only* broadband I can get here is Sprint wireless - well, that and the satellite-based solutions), but then you lost me at the end. You're angry because they're enforcing the terms of service that you agreed to? When I've shopped for bandwidth before (when I lived where that was possible, and when I moved here), I didn't buy things that didn't offer terms of service I could agree to. I wanted to run a mail server, so I paid the extra money for permission to do so. If the company didn't offer the service, I didn't buy it. Seems pretty straight forward...

So much for limiting the influence of lobbyists (1, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601093)

The is no doubt a direct result of intense lobbying by representatives of Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner et al. Don't think for a second that this type of spend directed at a specific industry happens unless those folks are doing some heavy-duty knob-polishing.

It's sad that it's that easy for our government to spend BILLIONS of our money with that little oversight, process, or public input or debate. People really deserve the type of government they receive.

Has 20megabit fiber to the home (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601127)

/not complaining. Sorry.
 
It's been "live" in the Dallas area and suburbs for at least five years now, I know seattle just announced it too. Stringing fiber might not be that complex, but it's more complex than stringing electrical wires and underground coax.

Re:Has 20megabit fiber to the home (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601675)

Fiber has far more capacity than 20 Mbps. WTF are they doing? Sharing 100 people on one fiber? 20 Mbps is enough for 1 or 2 HD program streams, and then it's used up. Ultra definition TV will be coming in about 15 years, and that will need about 40 to 50 Mbps for one program stream. What if different members of a family want to watch different programs? We need something that will grow. 100 Mbps in 2010. 1000 Mbps in 2020.

Re:Has 20megabit fiber to the home (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601733)

Well they stream your TV, internet and phone over that fiber. In theory fiber has almost infinite bandwidth potential, I think it's mostly that Verizon doesn't want to have to pay for the pipes to connect everyone at 100 megabit to the rest of the internet. Buying more Fat Pipes for 3+ million people between the fiber link at home and the internet backbone isn't cheap. I'm sure throughput will go up as the infrastructure improves over time, just like water pressure and electric amp capacity to the home has improved since the 1920's.

misallocation of resources (3, Insightful)

nester (14407) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601187)

As if the economy isn't in bad enough shape, let's redirect billions towards another thing that's completely unnecessary. Who cares, we won't have to pay for it, our grandkids will. Since reckless spending and investment was the problem, let's do even more of it see how well that works out. /sarcasm

When will people learn there is not an endless supply of money for the government to spend? There are limits to how much you can steal from the future.

If the government doesn't spend now, who will? (3, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601307)

Nobody in the private industry seems to want to open their pocketbooks. Consumers aren't in the mood either.

Somebody has to do it... the only entity that really can is the government. Would you rather they do nothing and let our economy sink into a huge downward spiral?

I'm curious what your idea is to get our economy moving?

Re:If the government doesn't spend now, who will? (1)

Main Gauche (881147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602001)

Nobody in the private industry seems to want to open their pocketbooks. Consumers aren't in the mood either.

Agreed. After they've been holding them upside down and shaking them for years, I guess their arms got tired! Seriously, this is what we get after letting things get out of hand (e.g. mortgages).

Would you rather they do nothing and let our economy sink into a huge downward spiral?

You're implying that if they do their something (effectively print money), then the economy won't sink into a huge downward spiral.

I'm curious what your idea is to get our economy moving?

My suggestions would be (1) avoid letting things get out of control in the first place, and (2) stick with sound basic economic principles. Too late to do the former. The latter includes increasing the money supply to make it easier for firms to borrow, which is already being done.

Of course, Joe American wants a solution now. And passing a welfare transfer bill under the guise of stimulus is going to make a lot of people think "something is being done".

Re:If the government doesn't spend now, who will? (3, Insightful)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602013)

How about spending that money on infrastructure that actually belongs to the government. Roads, bridges, etc.

The 2 main bridges in my home town were build with money from the New Deal. Both have been needing replacement for the last 3 decades. We've finaly replaced one and are still 3 years away from opening the replacement bridge for the other. Every town I've ever lived in has at least a couple of old bridges from the same era that need to be replaced. That's the kind of infrastructure that lasts entire generations.

Paying to build out network infrastructure and then handing over the reigns to private industry will just mean that the industry makes major proifts off of the backs of the tax payers.

Re:If the government doesn't spend now, who will? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602181)

You could give 200B to the incumbent providers, like the story says, and get not one job out of it, nor one mile of fiber. Well, they might hire an extra masseuse to work the Information Infrastructure symposium they hold in Aruba to "educate" lawmakers. Like the fine summary states, we have already tried that.

Maybe instead of bailing out the ridiculously profitable incumbents we could try something new and encourage Public Utility districts to hang fiber on their poles with the electric wires - They sell composite fiber/electrical transmission wire, and the expensive part of the operation is the labor.

But no, that's not going to happen. Instead we get this and probably a $100B Microsoft bailout to provide "Education software". Ugh. To think for a while I had hope for change.

Remember the Cities, ok? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601291)

Some cities (i.e.: Worcester, MA) have horrible choices: 5Mb/.7Mb Charter with their copious outages and soon-to-be-reborn NebuAd or (about) 2.5Mb/.7Mb Verizon while Cape Cod enjoys 30Mb/2Mb cable access. Reason: old "last mile" wiring.

Remember us in the cities too please?

Get the providers out of the last mile (4, Interesting)

wkk2 (808881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601317)

We need to get the providers out of the last mile. Any new housing developments, larger than 20 homes, should be required to star wire single mode fiber to all homes from a common equipment vault. Let the providers give access at that point and contribute to a local maintenance pool.

Interesting idea (2, Insightful)

jaypifer (64463) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601651)

However, I don't see the benefit. If everybody is responsible for the access point then nobody is. If there is no ultimate responsibility, the finger pointing would be staggering.

No scandal? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601379)

Of course let's not forget the $200 billion broadband scandal that the large telecommunication companies have been paid but never delivered on.

So... you say they got paid 200 billion bucks for a scandal but didn't actually deliver one?

The back fourty (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601383)

I can see it now. Internet to the country folks. They will spend all there time interneting instead of growing crops. "Derrr hey Jimbo right click start LOL WUT"

Thats what i want to see.. (1)

deviceb (958415) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601523)

Just as any network designer would! Lets beef up our infrastructure while we can.

Yes this money needs deep accountability though. Force the ISPs to spend it quickly, & on upgrades.
-screw the roads, lets get more telecommuting going on.

Graft Happens (1)

jaypifer (64463) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601605)

Here goes a massive transfer of wealth to the politically connected. I bet Clearwire's name is going to come up....

Stimulus? (2, Insightful)

drik00 (526104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26601909)

I've come to terms with the fact that our government has no conscious about spending ever increasing amounts of taxpayers' hard earned money. What I don't understand is how this could be considered economic stimulus. Sure, it'll help in certain marginal ways, but the only thing that can fix the US economy is if the government quits taking half of what everyone earns and lets the earners of the money figure out the best way to spend it.

If you give tax breaks to the lowest earners, they buy more tv's and mcdonald's... give the tax breaks to the middle and upper class, and they end up investing in new business and current business expansion. If the greedy bastards in DC would quit thinking of tax revenue as their "income" and just cut taxes across the board, including corporate and capital gains taxes, I'd bet you a non-free beer that you would see IMMEDIATE stock market growth, followed by strong GDP growth, dropping unemployment, and REAL opportunity.

The govt can't grow the economy by spending tax revenue on infrastructure (the most deserving of tax dollars). If you allow more of those tax dollars to stay in circulation, the private sector CAN create real, sustainable growth.

J

Universal Communications? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26601933)

Here's something for the audience to chew on. If access to the Internet is the end and not the means? Then why should Universal Broadband be the means instead of a Universal connection to the Internet? In other words why can't a subsidized slower speed connection be pushed instead of High Speed this, and High Speed that? The former exists, is nearly universal, already paid off, and it works. The latter is neither, and has issues coping.

A couple of big steps they need to take (2, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602191)

1.Force any provider wishing to service a given region to service every customer. Regions would be defined by the government and the FCC. (so it might be "all customers in " or "all customers in ")
There would be an exemption for co-ops (e.g. a group wanting to run a fat pipe into one members shed/barn/etc and then run something from there out to the rest of the co-op). Municipal efforts run by a local government would be required to service the entire local government area.

2.No provider (cable, DSL, fiber, wireless, whatever) would be allowed to have any monopoly agreements with anyone (state, local govt, residents association, owner of townhouse complex/apartment complex/etc). No authority (state, local govt, residents association, owner of townhouse complex/apartment complex/etc) would be allowed to have any kind of rules/laws/by-laws/whatever that granted monopolies to anyone. Oh and providers would be prohibited from making any kind of complaint or legal action (to the courts, to local authorities, to state PUCs or whatever) in an attempt to stop someone else from providing service. (no more "I dont want to provide service in because its not profitable for me but I dont want someone else running service either because it might become profitable for me in the future" like we have seen from some providers)

3.New rules would be put in place that define what constitutes "broadband". (with minimum speeds set at say 1.5Mbps) For rule #1, the requirement would be that everyone in the area be served by "broadband" as defined by this rule (so no running 256Kbps DSL to some customers and 20Mbps FTTH to other more profitable customers in the same city or town). ISPs WOULD be allowed to apply traffic shaping and bandwidth quotas (i.e. "you get 50GB per month on your plan, once thats gone your speed gets cut back for the rest of the month unless you pay more money"). Net neutrality law would ensure such shaping didnt discriminate (so no shaping of YouTube or BitTorrent whilst allowing CNN videos or netflix movie downloads at full speed)

Re:A couple of big steps they need to take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26602545)

Net neutrality law would ensure such shaping didnt discriminate (so no shaping of YouTube or BitTorrent whilst allowing CNN videos or netflix movie downloads at full speed)

But then what about things like having their voip and video on demand go over non-IP protocols and not count against your cap? Thats where net neutrality really becomes an issue -- Should ISPs artificially penalize you for bandwidth that doesn't actually cost them anything, or should they be allowed to have an unfair advantage against people that have to go over the internet?

Re:A couple of big steps they need to take (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602623)

If you set the minimum speed at 1.5Mbps, the network will be outdated by the time its built. Set the definition at least to 10Mbps, and even that is pathetic compared to other first world countries. Why not 50? 100? The technology exists...

Hey "several years"??? (0)

pha3r0 (1210530) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602275)

I admittedly did not vote for Obama but the submitter is _assuming_ he'll be around for several years? I don't think Obama's evil or anything but can we at least see how the first 6 months go before we start thinking that way?

Why is it... (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602299)

The only way these Congressmen leave is by ambulance?

Why do I seem to be the only guy screaming for Term Limits? We need sane decision-makers, not self-centered money-takers. No one person should spend more than 20 years in elected office of ANY kind.

Why is that so hard to accomplish? Why does no one else care? OH! 16+ years of abundance through the recent administratons.

200 Billon eh? (1)

NovusTyro (1353567) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602337)

Quote from the original Cringley article: >Over the decade from 1994-2004 the major telephone companies profited from higher phone rates paid by all of us, accelerated depreciation on their networks, and direct tax credits an average of $2,000 per subscriber for which the companies delivered precisely nothing in terms of service to customers. That's $200 billion with nothing to be shown for it. Exactly the sort of funny math and vague accounting that the MPAA or RIAA uses when it comes up with it's latest round of looney toons figures about piracy and its impact on their respective industries. How the hell can Cringley possibly know the value of accelerated depreciation on a telecom's network? And yet I've heard it quoted for years with no other sources than the Cringley article. I've got no doubt that something seriously fishy went on, but we'd be all over that 200 billion claim if someone else were to make it.

200 Billon Cable Companies eh? (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602511)

I note in the article he says telephone companies NOT cable companies. They both may be evil but it does no good to muddy the waters by mixing up the two when discussing broadband.

Re:200 Billon eh? (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26602659)

$200B is the tax savings that the telecoms got in exchange for building out high speed Internet to the entire country. Changing the depreciation rules for the telecoms allowed them to pay less taxes.

Cringely didn't come up with the figure, it came from teletruth.org. They have a 400 page ebook detailing the entire scam. The scam is far better documented than anything the RIAA has ever put forth.

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