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WSJ Says Gov't Money Injection Won't Help Broadband

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the at-least-they-can-pay-with-free-money dept.

United States 647

olddotter writes "According to the WSJ, The US government is about to spend $10 Billion to make little difference in US broadband services: 'More fundamentally, nothing in the legislation would address the key reason that the US lags so far behind other countries. This is that there is an effective broadband duopoly in the US, with most communities able to choose only between one cable company and one telecom carrier. It's this lack of competition, blessed by national, state and local politicians, that keeps prices up and services down.' Get ready for USDA certified Grade A broadband."

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stuff that matters (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799169)

a little known provision of the stimulus bill will cerify shaved pussy as USDA Grade A. Landing strips and squirrel tails may also qualify.

Right Wing Nuts (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799179)

WSJ is parroting Right Wing talking points.

Anything government spending -> Bad.
Anything Tax Cuts -> Panacea for all ills.

Don't listen. Read a real economist instead Here http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/

Re:Right Wing Nuts (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799377)

The article does a poor job of identifying two separate problems: rural areas with no broadband vs all other US areas with crappy and overpriced broadband. We need to solve both problems, and the WSJ article doesn't offer a real answer to either, so the main point of the article appears to have been to whine about the stimulus package.

Re:Right Wing Nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799743)

You cant really call it overpriced if people are buying it. Maybe try and get together some people together and have a boycott by residential users if you want to lower the price. If it was actually overpriced, people wouldnt be buying it, because it wouldnt be worth the money they are spending, they feel it is worth it, so they spend, it is the consumers choice

Re:Right Wing Nuts (1)

Kushieda Minorin (1453751) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799885)

Maybe try and get together some people together and have a boycott by residential users

Boycotting Internet access? Count any Slashdotter out!

Re:Right Wing Nuts (5, Interesting)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799441)

What, they have a point. If companies were competing freely, instead of this messed up system of little fiefdoms we have now, you can bet that you'd see Comcast and Time Warner trying to outdo each other, while AT&T and Verizon raced to shove fiber everywhere. Remember - competition is good for the consumer. It forces companies to innovate or die, while keeping prices low.

But as it stands now, you basically have "The cable company" or "The phone company". Even independent DSL providers are still using the copper run by The Phone Company, and often costs more than if you got DSL from them directly.

Even the Economist points out that this stimulus package probably won't have the effect Obama is hoping for because the companies will simply sit back and wait for the government to pay them for the upgrades they would have had to pay for themselves.

The way I see it, the only way things will change is through good old capitalist competition. Someone needs to really step in with a reliable WiMAX solution for about $25/mo, and seriously start sucking business away from the DSL/Cable duopolies. In fact I'm rather surprised the cell phone companies aren't trying to jump into the residential data market. They already have the little notebook dongles, just shove that into an antenna you set on your roof (for better reception) and plug it into your router. Better yet, offer residential phone service over this as well, and really put a dent in the landline and cable telephony companies.

Re:Right Wing Nuts (0)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799565)

And if you happen to live in an area that isn't profitable to run service to I suppose you should just move then, right?

The reason everyone has access to a landline totally wasn't because ILECs were required by the government to provide dialtone to anyone, anywhere within their service region, nope. It was totally because it was absolutely profitable to run copper fricken everywhere man!

Re:Right Wing Nuts (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799577)

But as it stands now, you basically have "The cable company" or "The phone company"

Or, as Lily Tomlin's Ernestine put it so succinctly back in the late '60s and early '70s

We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company

Re:Right Wing Nuts (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799677)

I'm rather surprised the cell phone companies aren't trying to jump into the residential data market.

I thought that a big part of the problem you have is that the cable company, phone company and the cellphone company are actually owned by the same corporation, thus trying its best to make sure that there will never be fair competition.

Re:Right Wing Nuts (1)

pin0chet (963774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799829)

Wi-Max really can't operate without exclusively-licensed, and there's simply not enough of it to go around. The FCC has been dragging its feet on the AWS3 band, for instance, which is prime ground for a Wi-Max network. Breaking the DSL/Cable duopolies can happen only if the command-and-control spectrum allocation process is abandoned. Tim Wu made this point in the New York Times a few months ago, but it seems that nobody at the FCC has listened to him.

Re:Right Wing Nuts (1, Interesting)

thelexx (237096) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799505)

Right, left, what the fuck ever. There simply is no problem for which more government is not likely to be the worst solution.

Oh, and Krugman is an idiot, along with nearly everyone who seems to have a voice in 'fixing' the economic mess that they themselves created. AFAICT, Krugman's whole take so far is that we haven't pumped enough money at the problem of pumping too much money.

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2008/12/krugman-still-wrong-after-all-these.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Right Wing Nuts (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799587)

A product of radical ideological isms. NOthing to see, move on.

Help, Moderators (0, Offtopic)

Rooktoven (263454) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799563)

How is this flamebait? The article is an opinion piece, this is a counter opinion.

Big Surprise (-1, Flamebait)

Reikk (534266) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799189)

The WSJ is a newspaper written by a bunch of neocon wankers. They don't think government can help with anything.

Re:Big Surprise (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799299)

They don't think government can help with anything.

Do you think the government issuing franchises that creates monopolies backed by the power of the state has helped?

Re:Big Surprise (1)

biggerboy (512438) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799409)

They don't think government can help with anything.

Do you think the government issuing franchises that creates monopolies backed by the power of the state has helped?

Seriously. Does anyone really want to go back to the days before the 1984 consent decree?

Re:Big Surprise (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799539)

Well what are you going to do? Allow every company that wants to dig up whatever infrastructure they want wherever they want?

Doesn't this seem to be a situation where you can't just have a "free market"?

Re:Big Surprise (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799683)

A government mandated monopoly whose goal is to maximize private profit is a whole lot different than a government administered network whose goal is public service.

Re:Big Surprise (0, Flamebait)

UberMorlock (1391949) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799417)

The WSJ is a newspaper written by a bunch of war-mongering, anti-civil-liberties wankers.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Big Surprise (1, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799569)

Since when has government fixed anything. Tell the children of today that they are already $50K in the red and that there is not financial hope in their future, because that is what the "stimulus plan" will do.

Re:Big Surprise (2, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799643)

Don't worry! The stimulus plan will include in-vitro fertilization for welfare moms and illegal immigrants. Once they start popping out babies (8 at a time!), that $50k debt per person will drop significantly.

Re:Big Surprise (2, Interesting)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799729)

Ideological slave. Take you ism elsewhere, slave.

Do not engage the ism. Do not feed the ism. Starve the ism-ite the food of attention, and it will wither away.

Because there is no saw dust in my bread because of regulation. Because regulation prevents 100's of women from burning up in locked textile factories.

Because our liberties are protected better because they are not on the market.

More help from the Moderators (2, Insightful)

Rooktoven (263454) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799601)

The WSJ article is opinion, and is leaving out the fact that the monopolies will not be broken without government interference.

Re:More help from the Moderators (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799719)

There are no monopolies on this. Monopolies denotes monopolistic behavior and since there are alternative service (at all location), this doesn't exist. Just because company B doesn't decide to compete with company A doesn't make company A a monopoly.

Cognitive dissonance... (5, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799191)

So the WSJ, viewed by slashdotters as a heavily conservative news source, is advocating a position that most slashdotters agree with?

Head explosions commencing in 3...2...1...

Re:Cognitive dissonance... (5, Informative)

Who Is The Drizzle (1470385) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799327)

Actually the article had an anti-net neutrality bent which would put it against many slashdotters.

The House bill also calls for "open access." This phrase can include hugely controversial topics such as net neutrality, which in its most radical version would bar providers from charging different amounts for different kinds of broadband content. Now that video, conferencing and other heavy-bandwidth applications are growing in popularity, price needs to be one tool for allocating scarce resources. Analysts at Medley Global Advisors warn that if these provisions remain in the bill, "it will keep most broadband providers out of the applicant pool" for the funds intended specifically for them.

Re:Cognitive dissonance... (4, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799603)

And yet in other countries, as TFA also points out, it is competition and NOT regulation which has delivered high speeds at low prices or 13 cents in Japan and 33 cents in France as opposed to $3 in the United States per million bits/second. We have seen our ranking slip to 15th in the world for broadband quality and penetration with regulation, why not give competition a chance? If there was lots of competition for your Internet connection dollars would you select an ISP that didn't respect Net Neutrality? Perhaps there is a way to get what most Slashdotters want (i.e. Net Neutrality) without having the government force it down everyone's collective throats with more regulation.

Re:Cognitive dissonance... (1)

pin0chet (963774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799673)

The bill doesn't define the term "open access"--it leaves that up to federal regulators. This means that if the FCC or NTIA decides to define open access as application-neutral network management, then ISPs wouldn't be allowed to give time-sensitive applications priority over non-time-sensitive ones.

Re:Cognitive dissonance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799391)

So the WSJ, viewed by slashdotters as a heavily conservative news source, is advocating a position that most slashdotters agree with?

Head explosions commencing in 3...2...1...


Many on slashdot identify themselves as having libertarian views (with or without a capital L). Libertarianism is more in line with "traditional" conservative ideology than anything, so this shouldn't come as a surprise. (Note the "traditional" - this isn't neoconservatism or religious right stuff). Whether many of them want to acknowledge it or not is another matter entirely.

Hello? (1)

corsendonk (1352607) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799205)

You can tell the US needs a network upgrade when I'm halfway around the world away getting the first post on a dial-up?

Re:Hello? (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799317)

You can tell the US needs a network upgrade when I'm halfway around the world away getting the first post on a dial-up?

Guess we don't need the upgrade cuz you didn't get the first post ;) Thanks for confirming that our tubes are working properly and saving Uncle Sam a cool $10,000,000,000.00!

Re:Hello? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799393)

That doesn't mean you have a better connection or that the US needs an upgrade, it just means that halfway around the world, you have less of a life then some of the "other slashdot crowd".

Economics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799237)

Voodoo religion of the beltway!

Newsflash (1)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799259)

The WSJ says that government doesn't work. News at 11...

WSJ says (4, Informative)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799283)

Of course they do. The Wall Street Journal is a temple of supply-side economics. According to them, the government can't do anything right, except cut capital gains taxes. I would have been very surprised if they'd had anything good to say about this bill.

Re:WSJ says (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799501)

Doesn't matter though, assuming TFS is correct, the WSJ is absolutely right.

Re:WSJ says (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799721)

The USA was founded under the assumption that government can't do anything right. I wish people would remember that.

Re:WSJ says (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799853)

Really. Nothing right? What croc. RightWingNut Ism-ite

Re:WSJ says (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799865)

No, it was founded under the assumption that the federal government is necessary for some things, but needs to be closely watched, monitored, and limited. The Articles of Confederation actually provided a weaker national-level government, and it failed.

I wish people would remember THAT.

Re:WSJ says (1)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799787)

This bill is terrible. Here are a few truly bipartisan ways to stimulate the economy that aren't being discussed:
  1. Energy independence Stimulus Package. Tax rebates for people who buy cars made in America, doubt rebate if the car is a hybrid. Add in money/projects to build wind and solar energy farms and that will make Democrats happy. Remove the offshor drilling band and you could easily create 3 million jobs and keep more money in county, making Republicans happy. If you toss in a few projects to build nuclear plants, which I think is the best and greenest energy model, then many common sense people will be happy.
  2. Education Stimulus Package" Student tuition vouchers, this will make Democrats happy and people in college/trade school happy. Vouchers for private and home schools will make Republicans happy.
  3. Tax Cut Stimulus Package (also delivering on campaign promise): Obama promised 95% of the people tax cuts, many people I know who voted for him for that reason wonder why he is not making the bush tax cuts permanent (which merely prevents their taxes from going up in 2010) and isn't pushing for the additional promised tax cut. This would help strengthen consumer confidence both in the short and long term because they know whatever they make, they will be keeping more, if they pay down debt that is good, if they save that helps banks with capital shortages and if they spend that helps companies who are having a hard time right now, plus it lets people decided what to do themselves.
  4. Reduce Government Waste: The above items will not cost as much and get money into the economy faster, cut wasteful proects so that the federal government borrows/prints less money.
  5. Obama proved one thing so far, he is not a leader. If he was he would have given specifics of what he wanted, cut a deal with the GOP to given them a fair representative amount of stimulus input and probably already had a bill on his desk. Instead he just said he wanted a stimulus bill and the result is that Congress is giving him a pork bill that doesn't spend money now, but waits until just before their election campaigns.

Re:WSJ says (1)

buswolley (591500) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799895)

I don't know sir. I think that you might be wrong.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799913)

You may not agree with their economic policies, but they have a point here. There has been a lot of fraud, waste and abuse in the use of the funds from the universal service fund that was set up to subsidize rural communications. Chances are, this $10B would just go into the money pit and end up padding the pockets of the major telecoms rather than being pumped directly into infrastructure development.

If you want to see a real change, then get rid of the franchising laws. If the federal government could help the railroads deal with local and state laws in the 19th century, it can do so today with franchising laws that restrict access to these markets.

There, I'll bet you never thought a conservative-libertarian would champion federal intervention.

I used to read the WSJ (1, Offtopic)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799289)

There was a time when the WSJ really spoke to me as a conservative Republican. I suppose it was because during my formative years in college, during the Clinton presidency, that I was trying to find recognition and validation for my smaller-government/more-freedom beliefs that I gravitated towards the high quality journalism of the WSJ. Sure, I dabbled a bit with the NYT, and I even once read USA Today, but these were only in experimentation. I never liked them and I certainly wouldn't read them again. I'm not a liberal, if that's what you're trying to insinuate.

Sure, I sometimes check the box for the Presidential campaign contribution on my taxes. And I suppose that government support for the Arts is a good and necessary thing. And yes, even I can agree that unions are a necessary organ of today's manufacturing system. But just because I sometimes hold these views doesn't mean that I'm any less conservative or somehow more liberal for it.

I have plenty of liberal friends, and I'm still not attracted to the ideology at all. Maybe I will occasionally join them on weekend camping trips in the woods and drum out my inner man-boy on bongos. And maybe I'll ride to work with them on my bike instead of driving my Prius. And so what if I take a couple days off to protest the cutting down of yet another plot of Redwoods? These are important things to me.

But I'm no liberal.

Re:I used to read the WSJ (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799403)

I have plenty of liberal friends, and I'm still not attracted to the ideology at all

It's a sad reflection on the political discourse of the modern world that Americans actually have to state that we have friends who hold differing political views.

Re:I used to read the WSJ (1, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799711)

Oddly enough, most so-called "conservatives" today are actually from what, classically, is the center of the political spectrum. It just doesn't look that way because so much of the major media outlets are hard-core lefties claiming that they are the "center."

Let's take a few examples:

- Health care. The "right wing" position would be hands-off government and competition between services. The "left wing" position is socialized medicine. The "center" would have a balance, with people going out of their own pocket for minor things and shopping for insurance for the major, and government assists for those who truly were unable to pay. Unfortunately, we effectively today almost have "socialized medicine" - when's the last time you had a choice of your HMO/insurance instead of having whatever your workplace provided? When's the last time you realized that yes, there are independent clinics out there that are actually cheaper (for the little stuff) than your copayment, except that for anything major you have to go see your bullshit "primary care provider" for a referral or the insurance company will dick you over?

- Immigration. The "right wing" position would be isolationism. The "left wing" position would be unfettered open borders. The "center" should be responsible, controlled, legal immigration so that we bring in people on (a) a sustainable level and (b) fill in spots in the economy where we need workers. Unfortunately, the left-wing open borders crowd insists that the responsible center are actually a bunch of "right-wing haters" when we say that hey, maybe we should know who's coming in to the country.

- Social services. The "right wing" position would be to do away with them altogether. The "left wing" position would be to stick everyone on them. In the center, we would try to provide the ones that are really needed, while getting rid of (or tightening down on) those that are either (a) being abused, (b) counterproductive, or (c) just plain unnecessary. Yet the moment you even try to have this debate, the left wing types call you a "hater."

I'm a proud member of the center. Where do you fall, honestly?

Funny story (1)

cptnapalm (120276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799951)

Years and years ago, I was in a bar, sloshed. Absolutely mind boggling drunk. I was so thoroughly intoxicated that I was seeing double. An easy solution to this was to slap one hand over one eye and thus eliminate the duality. And there was this girl. This really hot, blond dreadlocked, sleeve tattoo girl. So I gave money to the bartender to get whatever she wanted and I lurch back to my table.

The girl and her friend sit at the neighboring table and she turns to me and says, "You're going to buy me a drink and not talk to me?" I give my present state of blitzness as an impediment to conversation, but she won't hear of it. For an hour or so, we chat and she laughs and she touches and all is great. But at some point, my party affiliation becomes a topic of conversation.

"You're a Republican?" she asks.

"Yep."

She gets up and leaves the table. She would never speak to me nor even make eye contact ever again.

Ah, open mindedness.

Re:I used to read the WSJ (3, Insightful)

BunnyClaws (753889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799499)

In other words, the liberal or conservative stance in American politics is a false dichotomy.

Re:I used to read the WSJ (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799645)

Riddle me this... WHY WOULD YOU WANT to be "conservative"? Why would you be resistant to change? Why would you choose not to be open-minded to the fact that your way may not be the best? I truly don't understand... unless of course you are using "Conservative" as a synonym to "I like things the way they are" and "Liberals" as a synonym for "We want to stir EVERYTHING up... even if it doesn't make sense". Then, of course, this is akin to a PHB throwing out buzzwords.

Re:I used to read the WSJ (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799891)

"Conservative" != "I like things the way they are"

Conservatives (not neo-con's) say "Let's look at what has worked before, and try that." Note that I am not claiming that such philosophy is always correct. But I do think folks should understand philosophies before they disagree with them.

Why would you choose not to be open-minded to the fact that your way may not be the best?

Are you saying that liberals do not necessarily believe that their way may be best? Because I don't think that's the case. The current congress, for instance, is quite strident in their belief that the bailout is a great idea, and will not countenance the possibility that they are doing great irreparable harm, as has been suggested by many economists. They also do so despite the fact that a majority of Americans are against it.

Re:I used to read the WSJ (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799917)

Because change for teh sake of change is stupid, unnecessary, and potentiallly dangerous?

Re:I used to read the WSJ (2, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799927)

First of all, as others have pointed out, "liberal" and "conservative" are false dichotomies, most people are somewhere in the middle.

Second, "classic liberalism" is now libertarianism; neo-liberalism is not "liberal" at all.

While "neo-conservatives" may include religious fundamentalists, many modern conservatives are very much more liberal by definition than most people calling themselves "liberal" in the nomenclature of U.S. politics.

Lastly, there's different matters on which to be conservative and liberal, the most common (if overreaching) ones are socially and fiscally. I'm a libertarian, generally conservative based on the common nomenclature, I'm socially liberal (you can do whatever you want as long as you don't violate the rights of others) and fiscally conservative (which grants much more freedom to people and businesses to use their own money as they see fit). Both positions are actually "liberal."

Re:I used to read the WSJ (1)

lyz (988147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799973)

Riddle me this... WHY WOULD YOU WANT to be "conservative"? Why would you be resistant to change? Why would you choose not to be open-minded to the fact that your way may not be the best?

Because change doesn't always mean you are changing to something better. Especially when the reasons for the change are suspect and often hidden from the public.

Re:I used to read the WSJ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799805)

I caught the joke. It's amusing others apparently missed it.

USDA .. i think not! (2, Funny)

Kryptic Knight (96187) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799305)

Ha ! I laugh outrageously at your assertion that the USDA would be rolling out Grade A broadband. ...

Everyone knows its the USCG (Coastguard) who have responsibility for broadband delivery!

We need broadband regulation! (1)

agrestic (1434457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799329)

This is nothing a Broadband Czar couldn't fix. Who needs competition anyway? :-) Many federal politicians have already _proven_ the fallacy of believing a capitalist market can sustain itself, ergo Tarp v0.1.

Re:We need broadband regulation! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799635)

If your calling Tarp v0.1 proof of your ideals that capitalism is a fallacy, then you need to wake up from your dreams. It was/is neither and the failure resulted from abuse instituted by the government, not capitalism.

You would do yourself a little good to find out some of the fact about what your talking about. Also, if I was you, I would stay away from political biased sources who's end game is going to be having you clueless and blindly supporting their ideals.

So we've got a duopoly (0, Troll)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799335)

And just imagine all the complaints if every tom, dick and startup were given permission to plow in new cable or fiber. We'd go back to gravel roads. Then all we'd have to do is dig down in the trench with a shovel and add yet another layer of soon-to-be-dark fiber or copper.

We're a geographically big nation once you step outside of the starbucks ridden cities. The population can get pretty damn sparse. It seems easy if you're going the CLEC route and just buying access to already existing infrastructure. But you'd be in for one hell of shock if you suddenly had to start plowing out to every customer.

I hate to break it to ya, but dropping fiber to every home is very, very, very expensive. You think that a non-governmental for profit company is going to take a massive guaranteed permanent loss to give Joe Redneck in the sticks a 20mb/s connection?

Re:So we've got a duopoly (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799471)

You think that a non-governmental for profit company is going to take a massive guaranteed permanent loss to give Joe Redneck in the sticks a 20mb/s connection?

why not? they did it with the copper wires for phone. and last I checked, 4 pair Fiber was cheaper than 4 pair copper.

Oh and laying copper costs EXACTLY THE SAME as laying fiber.

If they could get off their asses in the 60's and 70'stio lay the copper then they can get off their overpaid asses and lay the fiber or upgraded copper. Honestly moving telcos from a regulated agency that had to do things the Govt said to unregulated caused more issues than anything.

Right now they all care only about maximizing profits. They dont give a flying rats ass about the customer or future.. If they could cut 90% of their infrastructure and charge the difference to the 10% in the big cities and tell all rural people to go to hell they would do it in a heartbeat.

The only thing keeping telcos from telling most of america to "GO AWAY" is government regulations.

Re:So we've got a duopoly (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799745)

Fiber switching & splicing equipment are *a lot* more expensive than copper switching equipment & splicers. Just saying.

Re:So we've got a duopoly (5, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799489)

We already paid $200 billion [newnetworks.com] for a nation wide fiber optics network that never delivered. When is anyone going to ask what happened to all that money?

We paid for nation wide fiber optics, and it never got delivered. The telcos should give us our money back, all of it. If they can't afford it, go bankrupt, get nationalized, and let someone competent take over. Oh, and send the execs who squandered it all to jail.

Not one red cent should go to the telcos until they pay back what we're owed.

Re:So we've got a duopoly (2, Interesting)

pin0chet (963774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799769)

The tax breaks and other incentives given to the telcos by Congress in the 90s for network build-out never actually mandated the construction of residential high-speed fiber networks. (Read the 1996 Telecom Act if you don't believe me).

The telephone companies were never legally bound to deploy 50mbps symmetric FTTH. What actually happened was that some telco execs testified to Congress that incentives would hasten FTTH deployment. There were some extremely bold predictions made--predictions that turned out to be wildly optimistic--but if you look at the legislative history of the 200 billion, there is simply no basis for jailing anybody.

Re:So we've got a duopoly (1)

Dotren (1449427) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799921)

We already paid $200 billion [newnetworks.com] for a nation wide fiber optics network that never delivered. When is anyone going to ask what happened to all that money?

Telco Companies: "What money? What, you're not satisfied with your '8mb' *snicker* connections?"

Re:So we've got a duopoly (1)

pin0chet (963774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799707)

What about Wi-Max? Or LTE? Or unlicensed Wi-Fi? Alternatives to cable and telco ISPs don't have to involve digging up the ground. They can use the airwaves. But since the FCC maintains rigid control over all but a few relatively small chunks of the spectrum, there are too few frequencies available for entrepreneurs to use. And the artificially high price of the spectrum that is available is held largely by major incumbents. Increase the quantity of spectrum available to firms, and new entrants would actually have a shot at getting their hands on enough spectrum to build a competitive WISP.

In that case... (1)

tripmine (1160123) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799337)

Good thing Broadband money was cut from the stimulus pack.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799887)

N/T.

Let's get something straight (1)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799343)

But broadband, once thought to be in line for $100 billion as part of the stimulus legislation, ended up a low priority, set to get well under $10 billion in the package of over $800 billion.

Even $10 billion is a mind-numbing overwhelming fucking shitload of money. I don't really believe that what Congress and the President are doing right now is going to help many people (except maybe their campaign contributors) and it's fine to talk about how those 10 gigabucks aren't going to be spent wisely. But don't diss the magnitude or claim that decimating the dollar amount means it can't work. The actual reason it can't work is that it isn't meant to. The still-incomprehensibly-huge amount has nothing to do with it.

WTF? (1, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799395)

How is helping broadband going to stimulate the economy? The way to stimulate the economy is to get the banks lending [slashdot.org] again and get consumers spending again. Cutting taxes on the poor and middle class does the latter, but I have no idea how to get the banks lending.

I do think that the banks need to be reregulated, and heavily. They have shown themselves to be thieves and need to be kept on a short leash. What happened to that $800b they already were handed?

Why are CEOs getting "performance bonuses" when they're doing a piss-poor job? These companies are failing because their leadership is incompetent, crooked, or both.

Yes, US broadband sucks but pouring money into the cable companies asn't going to stimulate the economy. It probably wouldn't do anything but make the cable companies richer.

Re:WTF? (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799439)

The way to stimulate the economy is to get the banks lending [slashdot.org] again and get consumers spending again.

Ah, the hair of the dog. Wasn't it poor lending standards and people living beyond their means (i.e: greed on everyone's part) that got us into this mess? Just once I'd like to hear somebody talking about people needing to save in addition to talking about them needing to spend....

Re:WTF? (1)

agrestic (1434457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799693)

"Poor lending standards" established and enforced by the government on the likes of Fannie, Freddy, et al. Certainly the poeple's fault, but also the fed. gov't.

Re:WTF? (1)

Rycross (836649) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799777)

What poor lending standards would those be?

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

AioKits (1235070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799699)

I am unsure about the rest of /. but for me 2009 is the year of 'No Debt'. I've made it my goal to obliterate as much of my personal credit debt as possible. No more use of the magic plastic, and by the end of February, I'm gonna pay off one card entirely and possibly have the second card near paid by the end of May. I'm not going to list specifics of my debt as it is embarassing that I let it happen to me. No more though, if I can't buy it with cash (or debit card as I am a small guy and carrying cash makes me paranoid), then I don't need it now and can do without for a while.

Sorry for getting off topic, but I figure if I kill off my debt, save up my cash to give an emergency buffer and can still once a paycheck afford a nice steak dinner, I should be happy. The 'I need it now' mentality, almost killed me here.

I guess what I'm getting at is this 'Gotta have it now!' mentality and the illusion of easy money got more than just me into trouble with money.

Savings (2, Interesting)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799703)

Ok, people need to save more instead of spending everything they earn. That's been true for a long time. However, savings accounts earn such a low rate of return that with any inflation at all it costs money to have it in savings.

Re:WTF? (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799947)

Like my 401k 'savings' that lost nearly 20K in a few months time?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799949)

no, it wasn't. folksy bullshit isn't sufficient to reason our way out of this situation.

Re:WTF? (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799549)

Why are CEOs getting "performance bonuses" when they're doing a piss-poor job?

Because none of them have been lynched yet. OK, extrajudicial capital punishment is illegal, but a lot of these guys need to have ALL of their assets seized and exiled to a desert island (which is much cheaper than jail).

Re:WTF? (4, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799613)

The way to stimulate the economy is to get the banks lending again and get consumers spending again.

Yes, because the way to get out of a 10 foot deep hole that is filling with water is to dig deeper.

The CEOs deserve their bonuses (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799705)

... according to their shareholders.

The CEOs secured the shareholders a great bail-out and the shareholders just want to say thanks.

The big idea with recession-time spending is to generate infrastructure that will help build the economy in the future. Spend now, reap later. For the Great Depression this was roads, bridges and the like. The problem with extrapolating this thinking into the modern age is that a road continues to perform its function for 50 years while broadband goes obsolete in a couple of years.

Re:WTF? (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799759)

How is helping broadband going to stimulate the economy?

Well, it seems like a silly question to me, but I'll go ahead and give it a stab anyway. First, building a ton of infrastructure means jobs of some kind. Someone has to dig the trenches. Someone has to build and operate the communications hubs that those trenches are connecting.

Beyond that, remember the tech boom of the 90s? Remember how that was this period of unprecedented economic growth? Honestly, yes, it was a bit of a bubble, but there was a lot of genuine growth there too. Do you know where that came from? The Internet. Largely, at least. The Internet allows businesses to operate more efficiently as well as opening new avenues for business. There are services that exist today that couldn't have existed before the Internet, and there are services that don't exist yet because our existing Internet is too slow.

Very often, improved infrastructure spurs economic growth, or at the very least supports economic growth.

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799925)

more bank lending and consumer spending? The problem was consumers spending money they didn't have and banks lending money to people that couldn't pay them back (sometimes approving loans with no proof of income). Consumers need to stop living beyond their means (this applies to the government) and banks need to be run as a boring for-profit businesses (which means no bailouts when they fuck up).

Actually? (4, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799399)

The problem is that local governments (municipalities, primarily) have signed exclusive agreements with these companies. Because laying wires requires approval of each municipality, installing new infrastructure literally requires tens of thousands of permits, applications, meetings, etc., to get anything worthwhile installed. Our "marble cake" form of government, creates a tangled mess of conflicting rules and legislation that create such a high cost to enter the market that $10 billion could easily be spent just negotiating. That money will largely dissipate the same way it vanished in Iraq -- because everyone believes they deserve part of the pie.

If you want options, two things need to happen. First, the infrastructure -- that is, the wires that carry the data, need to be owned and operated by an entity separate from the users of that system, and that exclusive contracts be ended immediately. Secondly, we need to eliminate municipality-level and move it to at least the county level. The fewer people that have a voice in the process, the less resources wasted dealing with them. Because city-level employees are amongst the most petty, corrupt, and difficult to work with of any class of government official in the Union.

Re:Actually? (1)

oboreruhito (925965) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799575)

"The problem is that local governments (municipalities, primarily) have signed exclusive agreements with these companies."

OR

"LUS Fiber [lusfiber.com] is officially "Open for Business" - already providing Video, Internet and Phone services from its state-of-the-art network to Lafayette residents. This community-owned 100% fiber optic infrastructure will supply residents and businesses with the most advanced communications system in the world. Better, faster and more cost-efficient communications means improved quality of life and numerous benefits for our community."

Your municipality may very.

Re:Actually? (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799733)

Actually that only applied to cable.

Trust me, if AT&T wanted to put copper (or fiber) in Verizon areas, or if Verizon wanted to run into AT&T areas, they could and would do it.

The problem is that they absolutely do not want to ever do that, and have an unspoken agreement not to compete directly for wired service in each other's service areas.

But yes, you idea of the copper infrastructure not being owned by one monopoly telco is a great idea. Google for 'structural seperation'. Sadly, big telecom will never let that happen and will fight tooth and nail to avoid it.

"Shovel Ready" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799401)

From the article, "Maybe there are shovel-ready programs to bring broadband to communities that private providers have not yet reached, and to upgrade the speed of accessing the Web."
Inside the Beltway is not the real world, so the recession just isn't seen on the street. How many people are ready and willing to pick up a shovel (pick, hammer, etc.) and perform real, physical labor aside from illegal immigrants? I won't believe we are in a depression until I see others doing this or I have to.

HA! (3, Informative)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799405)

...one cable company and one telecom carrier...

Man, that would be so awesome, to have a separate phone and cable company. I would have two places I could get internet service from, instead of one!

Re:HA! (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799963)

You are in an area where one company owns both the "cable TV" and "telephone" networks? That is unusual. Where are you (zipcode/areacode) and what company is it that controls both?

There are many areas where there is service from the "telephone" network, but not any from the "cable TV" network, (vica versa is rare, although lots of areas where there is copper for phone but its too far from the wirecenter for DSL) but I've never heard of both being available but controlled by the same company.

Im discounting the "TV over DSL", and "phone over cable" that the respective providers are offering these days -

I'm talking:

copper pair 'phone network' which can deliver:
  -traditional phone
  -DSL if you are close enough,
  -TV-over-DSL type service (where offered);

and

  coaxial cable 'cable network' which can deliver:
    -tunable television channels directly to TF VHF inputs
    -IP networking/Internet over DOCSIS modems
    -VoIP telephone service (offered either by the cable company itself, or over the public backbone by Vonage and many others)

Free Ads for Politicians with no opposing views (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26799469)

Why would they ever give up such a deal?

They hand out a municipal monopoly or doupoly. They get to charge a municipal "service" fee that is some non-small percentage of a bill the nobody notices. And they get several channels free and video editing and technical support to fill with non-dissenting viewpoints telling us how wonderful our local government and our local incumbents are. And with nothing that can be claimed as "taxation."

They will never give this nonsense up for anything like competition.

These "other countries" should start to lag behind (3, Interesting)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799495)

I wish Australia would "lag behind" like the US, maybe then we could get almost unlimited download quotas too.

Sure compared to technology heaven like Japan it might seem like you're lagging behind, most of the world is probably lagging right there with you.

But you're far from the worst off.

Re:These "other countries" should start to lag beh (1)

FiveDozenWhales (1360717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799931)

15th in the world is remarkably low for the nation with the highest GDP and a history / tremendous self-pride of being technologically advanced for the past 100 years or so. That said, you make a good point; this is yet another examples of Americans being slightly below #1, and running around screaming about it.

ridiculous (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799509)

the reason the usa lags behind other countries is that the other countries are small, compact and densely populated. like korea, or any european country

if you were to examine say, new york and new england, alone, or california, alone, the usa does fine in broadbrand penetration. but the usa is still sparsely populated in vast rural areas in the middle

want proof? look at canada. canada obviously has different governmental mechanisms, but it has virtually the same digital access ratings as the usa:

http://www.internetworldstats.com/list3.htm#dai [internetworldstats.com]

broadband penetration has to do with only two factors:

1. how rich the country is
2. population density

all other factors, including government policy, are neglible in comparison

Re:ridiculous (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799641)

Canada is a geographically larger country with ten times fewer people. Consequently, it has a much lower population density. For it to keep up with the US in terms of digital access, even in its most rural areas, only validates this story's premise.

In other words, comparing Canada to the US is like comparing the US to one of those densely populated countries you named.

Is this (1)

Akita24 (1080779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799519)

the journal of the same Wall Street that said I was supposed to keep making a bunch of a-hole fat cats richer so that some scraps would trickle back down to me? Only to find that they're so damn greedy they ignored their own self interest and completely screwed the pooch with the economy? Yeah, I really give a fsck what that collection of self-serving greedy 'tards has to say. If I were them I'd start working on getting ANY credibility back. Until then I'm working under the assumption that anything they're saying or doing involves them retiring in the Bahamas nad me being bent over a table.

Did you guys already give them billions... (2, Insightful)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799555)

...years ago? It didn't work out too well from what I hear.

I'm sure they got some nice jets, and while they can hold a tremendous amount of data, the latency on the things is terrible.

It won't help fix the core issues. (3, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799583)

This massive injection of money, which is being obtained through printing money and borrowing, will not fix the core problems that caused this mess, namely:

  • the budget deficit
  • the trade deficit
  • the massive consumer debt
  • low wages, which causes the above ( when inflation is factored in the average worker make less now than 10 years ago)
  • the sending of manufacturing over seas, which exported wealth creation and good paying job, leaving low paying service jobs resulting in the above

All this talk about need more credit and more lending is a red herring. Over-consumption and over-spending is what got us into this mess in the first place. The US$1.5 trillion would be better spent buying up bad mortgages or just giving an equal share to every legal resident in the U.S. than what they are doing with it.

This will only put off the inevitable correction (crash), and it when it does happen, and it will, it will be even worse.

Re:It won't help fix the core issues. (1)

agrestic (1434457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799763)

All this talk about need more credit and more lending is a red herring.

There's an estimated $13 trillion offshore b/c of our draconian tax system. Move to a flat tax, or (even better) the Fair Tax, making us the greatest tax haven on Earth, and watch how fast that money rushes into the country. But this, I fear, wouldn't happen due to the Fair Tax taking power away from the gov't and giving it to those evil capitalist bastards. :)

Case in point... (1)

linuxjack55 (536587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799651)

I'm a 10Mbps Charter subscriber who, as of yesterday, became subject to a 100GB monthly cap on my service. I really, really, really want to change providers, as much to punish Charter for its hubris as to get out from under the cap. My only other broadband option is DSL, which The Phone Company provides to our neighborhood in one flavor: 768Kbps/256Kbps. Some choice, eh?

I'm sorry, but... (1)

archer, the (887288) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799959)

that is not a good reason to be annoyed at your ISP, in my opinion. Having monthly caps should improve things. If an ISP has N customers that all use only 1GB a month, that ISP has lower capital expenses than an ISP with N customers that all use 100GB a month. Having caps (and appropriate pricing!) makes sense. They shouldn't be offering unlimited service to begin with, at least not without charging you for it.

If your ISP starts mucking with your packets just because your using a third party VOIP app, the it's time to be upset.

Wow. (2, Insightful)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799655)

A mainstream media property actually "gets" something technical related to the Internet. Assuming the summary is right, they've got it dead-on.

The stimulus money should only be permitted to go to non-incumbent providers.

Alternatively, it should only be permitted to be used by a given provider to extend full wired (or fiber) service to geographic areas currently completely unserved by that provider (Eg AT&T would have to extend into non AT&T areas currently serviced by other telecoms, etc, ditto for cable)

The entire 'stimulus' package is a joke.. (1)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799783)

The focus on tax cuts by republicans is ridiculous Im all for tax cuts but we tried handing everyone a check last year and it did little to prevent this. People are saving money right now (those who can) if you give them more its not going to get spent.

The Democrats trying to use this as a do everything bill hiring more teachers, nurses, cops, and the like is *not* stimulus, its not a bad thing to do but every teacher you hire has an indefinite growing expense. Are you going to fire all these teachers when the package has run its course or have you just increased the ongoing expense of government?

--

The Tax cuts, if any, should be limited to people within 15% of the poverty line.

The Spending should only be for capital projects Build a birdge and there is a much smaller annual cost for maintenance when the package is done.

--

The Republicans are doing nothing but fighting for ground to piss on, and Obama and the Congressional Dems are doing nothing but using FUD to push though a package with some stimulus and mostly wasteful open ended government spending.

WSJ Says Broadband Is (2, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799811)

Bad juju.
No likey series of tubes.
Broadband not truck. Can't fill up.
Bad juju cause bad thing happen.

Paper good juju.
Old ways best.
Good juju make good thing happen.

You know that is funny (1)

kingcobra0128 (1131641) | more than 5 years ago | (#26799839)

Canada must be even further behind then the us then. Because our internet is slower and more expensive then the providers give in the USA.
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