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US ISPs Using Push Polling To Stop Cheap Internet

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the we-don't-want-your-kind-here dept.

Networking 417

An anonymous reader writes "What happens when a new ISP is started somewhere in the United States that completely blows out of the water all the other ISPs in the area, in terms of price and performance? Apparently, that question is being answered in North Carolina, where Greenlight Inc., a company started by a city government, is trying to offer faster, more reliable, and cheaper Internet service to the local residents. Time Warner and Embarq can't compete. So they are not only lobbying the state government to destroy the upstart competition, but are now using push polling methods to gain support, across the two cities that could benefit from the new ISP, for the 'Level the playing field' legislation they got introduced in the legislature." A local news outlet provides coverage more friendly to the incumbents' point of view.

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Well yeah... (5, Interesting)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757735)

Surprise someone finally realized that the last mile is a natural monopoly and should be a utility.

This totally ruins their business model of selling something that costs almost nothing for a lot more than nothing.

Of course they're going to pull out every stop to well stop this from happening.

Re:Well yeah... (5, Interesting)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757767)

They can pull out every stop if they want. But with an economy that sucks, even if most of it is in peoples heads, people are looking for every way they can to save a penny.

Now would be the perfect time for some upstart companies to gain some market share by simply pricing themselves $10 or so cheaper than the competition. Throw in the added bandwidth and its a no-brainer. The biggest hurdle is getting your name out there. They need to make sure they budget for the right kind of local marketing for it to work.

Re:Well yeah... (5, Insightful)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757789)

The reason that nobody has done that is actually very simple. The initial investment in infrastructure is at a minimum in the tens of millions of dollars, and too make that even worse the credit markets are currently frozen so good luck getting a loan.

Re:Well yeah... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27757807)

This is free market 101. Why government sucks. Want fiber to your house? Sorry. Johnny and Sally need new jump ropes for gym class. Your a-sync 8mpbs is good enough, now go away citizen, you had your vote, if you want change, get elected.

Re:Well yeah... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758177)

mod parent up, reality.

Re:Well yeah... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758219)

(Score:-1, Reply to Own Post)

Re:Well yeah... (4, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758279)

I beg to differ, this is exactly why government intervention makes sense in many cases. You believe that it is important to have a really fast Internet connection, but unimportant that little Johnny and Suzie have jump ropes. Someone else thinks the jumps ropes are WAY more important. Neither of you has the individual ability to afford to either upgrade the Schools (to any meaningful degree), or upgrade the Internet connection. Through tax dollars and bonds the local government has the ability to do a passable job of both and mitigates compromise. You don't get 100Mbps symmetric Internet (yet), and your neighbor doesn't get a Montesori school on every corner, but you both get some reasonable approximation of what you want.

Re:Well yeah... (2, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758477)

this is exactly why government intervention makes sense in many cases

This is why government intervention makes NO sense at all.

Why in the world should we have to choose between funding schools (Johnny's gym jumprope) and fast internet service? The two are totally unrelated! Of course, when everything is run by the Government Monopoly Inc. (GMI) then yes, they are related because the GMI can only confiscate so much per quarter from taxpayers, so all the money must come from a single, limited pot.

However, if the schools are private and the Internet service is private then the money is limited only by the market, which means that it is practically unlimited. So in a Capitalist system Johnny gets his jumprope, and a new playground set besides, and we all get 100MB service to our homes.

Of course, in that system the local government would NOT be allowed to limit the number of ISPs servicing an area, so there would be real competition for service in that last mile. There might be a few more wires strung and/or tunnels dug to run the lines, but there would be more service, more competition, and CHEAPER PRICES.

It never fails to amaze me how many people don't understand that most of the major socio-political and economic problems we have today are directly due to the application of too much socialistic GMI and not enough application of Capitalistic Federalism. It would be funny if it wasn't so sick and sad.

AS someone who worked for a small ISP (4, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758015)

What really stinks, especially in rural areas, is that you have to buy your back-end bandwidth from a person you are competing against.

They get their money either way, charging a fortune for a 1.5 Mb T1 line, again, especially in rural areas.

So they make a killing off of a bunch of bonded T1 lines or a partial DS3, and then you have to compete with them against their own offerings (i.e. 19.99 and 29.99 a month DSL).

So you get the headache of customer support and make a little money, and the phone company does good either way. Your niche market in a rural area is areas not serviced by the phone company, which means when the phone company does go into a new area, you lose your customers in that area because you can hardly compete with the people who own the infrastructure.

Again, I know there are more options in larger cities, but there is a reason a business likes to be a monopoly.

Transporter_ii

Re:AS someone who worked for a small ISP (5, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758239)

A similar thing happened to some "community internet" initiatives in the UK. In villages where there was no broadband, people costed out getting a T1 line to their village and splitting the cost. It usually came to slightly more than broadband from the big providers - but with the choice of that or dial-up people would sign up for the service.

The community projects would get the money together and order the T1 line. What British Telecom did, of course, was install a much bigger trunk than needed for a single T1 line, as the extra cost is pretty low and then offer broadband in the area. Many people would then say "I wouldn't have signed for the community project if I knew that broadband was coming here anyway" and try to get out of their commitment. Usually after a year which people had signed up to the project would fold because everyone would switch to BT rather than renew. So BT gets paid to install a line and then uses it to give cheaper competition.

Re:AS someone who worked for a small ISP (2, Informative)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758325)

This happened at a place that I used to consult for.

We would pay verizon about $30/mo per customer to get access to the physical infrastructure, and on top of that, we had to pay for the throughput bandwidth and support costs. We sold DSL at about $50/mo.

Then Verizon came in and started direct selling DSL to the customer for $30/mo.

I mean, we were paying them for local loop access, AND we were buying our upstream bandwidth (a fractional DS3, i think?) from them.

They get their goddamn money either way.

Now, someone like a city of 40,000 people probably has the clout to have a major ISP like Cogent or Level3 or someone trunk a connection at a much cheaper rate, skipping Verizon entirely.

Re:AS someone who worked for a small ISP (4, Interesting)

Shark (78448) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758351)

Actually, our company is in exactly this situation. But there are other factors that you do not take into account. Large companies also like to screw their own customers. We found that plain hatred of the competition has driven a lot of customers our way, merely because we like to treat them like human beings.

Very large corporations also compete within their own department. Our bandwidth salesman makes zero money off of his company's DSL customers. Any customer we get is more bandwidth sold for him and he gives us a very decent deal.

Re:AS someone who worked for a small ISP (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758615)

What really stinks, especially in rural areas, is that you have to buy your back-end bandwidth from a person you are competing against.

That's not just a problem in rural areas. In everyplace I've ever been in the US (including some major cities), all Internet connections go over either the cable infrastructure or Verizon's infrastructure. So any other ISP is basically paying Verizon to be able to provide DSL or a T1 or whatever else, and meanwhile they're competing against Verizon's offerings. In some cases, the ISPs are buying access from another company that's buying access from Verizon.

Re:AS someone who worked for a small ISP (2, Interesting)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758659)

At least in theory this was dealt with in the UK by making BT (the company which maintained the infrastructure, and worked as an ISP) split out the infrastructure side into a separate company (BT Openreach) which is required to sell bandwidth at the same price to BT and their competitors.

As with anything like that it hasn't been a complete success, but on the whole it seems to be working, with some excellent competition between providers.

REALLY misleading title (4, Insightful)

fishdan (569872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758205)

Read the senate bill: http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/Sessions/2009/Bills/Senate/PDF/S1004v1.pdf [state.nc.us] I hate the telcos as much as anyone, but this bill says that when the city enters into the communications business, it should have to pay all the same taxes and fees as private business would, and be burdened with the same oversight. They also say that other fees the citizens pay (trash, water etc) cannot be used to fund the communications business. I don't see how this bill is unfair at all. The telcos are essentially saying "If we didn't have to pay any fees to the city to provide service, we could be competetive." If government wants to set up a business, they should have go compete with other businesses on a level playing field. If municipalities want to open up their own ISP, I am all for that, but then they should stop collecting fees and taxing the other ISPs they are competing with. Municipal government should not be using taxes and fees to provide a commercial advantage for themselves. I think the "level playing field" is actually a good title for this bill, and not an unreasonable request. We're all hopped up on this because it's something that's near and dear to us, but imagine if the city set up a taxi service, but then did not have to pay gasoline tax or hackney licenses. Obviously it benefits the public who uses taxis, but is it fair to the taxi drivers and cab companies that they now have to charge more than the city taxis.

Re:REALLY misleading title (5, Insightful)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758367)

I don't see how this bill is unfair at all.

I guess you missed this bit:

Establish a separate enterprise fund for communications service and shall
use this fund to separately account for revenues, expenses, property, and
source of investment dollars associated with the provision of
communications service.

Is a telco or cable company required to keep separate accounts for their internet service? Why are they not required to keep their internet and other services separate? Why is a cable company allowed to leverage it's existing monopoly by subsidizing it's internet service (like it might do to drive it's internet competition out of business), but a city isn't?

If it was *REALLY* about "leveling" the playing field, I would assume that the bill would say that *ALL* internet providers would be subject to these rules, not just cities.

Re:REALLY misleading title (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758663)

And there's the rub.

When I was growing up, we used to have two choices for cable TV - Warner Cable (later became Time Warner) and Viacom Cable.

Warner was the "newcomer". They started running "specials", subsidized by their monopolies on OTHER cities. For a while, you got a basic cable package for $15/month and the pay channels like HBO for another $5 or so.

Then, Viacom folded. They couldn't compete any more, they were losing customers in droves to the "specials" because at that price, Warner was actually selling the service below cost (but claiming it was a "special" and a "sale", so getting around state laws against below-cost permanent pricing).

What did people find out once Viacom was dead? TW did what they do to everyone once they have a monopoly - they started running TV ads with the "happy king" declaring "I declare Warner Cable for my entire kingdom!" with a shit-eating grin on his face.

Meanwhile those "special" $15/month rates were expired out, and within 3 months the base price was $80/month.

Look at the prices you're offered for ISP service. If you are in a "competition" area, one of the lucky SOB's on a border (and the borders move as they put each other out of business), you can probably swing some ridiculously cheap pricing. Otherwise, what do you get? Comcrap pretty much has a monopoly on our area. DSL service is technically "available" if you want roughly the same data rate as a pair of 33.6 phone modems (no seriously: they haven't upgraded their equipment in 10 years or more).

Comcrap, 10 miles down the road, offers their "high tier" speed at $40/month. For us, "low tier" is $50/month. That's because 10 miles down the road, Verizon owns the lines and is offering FiOS to compete with Comcrap. Meanwhile, Comcrap's own internal memos show that they could double the speed to EVERY USER IN THEIR NETWORK, both up and down, for a mere $6/customer one-time cost, and they refuse to do it.

That's the kind of shit you deal with. They all want a monopoly so they can gouge the crap out of you.

"Levelling the playing field" my ass (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758251)

The funny thing is that almost all of these ISP's (cable providers, telco's) already HAVE government-granted monopolies themselves. Time-Warner has certainly never objected when a city has granted them an exclusive monopoly to provide cable service to a city (such agreements cover close to 100% of their market), nor has AT&T ever been shy about their monopoly. If these companies were so serious about "leveling the playing field" how about they agree to lease those cable and phone lines to competitors and forgo those exclusive agreements with cities and counties?

Re:Well yeah... (2, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758377)

"Surprise someone finally realized that the last mile is a natural monopoly and should be a utility."

Um, when I moved in to the house I own now, it had two cable services and a telecom service entering the house. No monopoly that I can see, though I am lucky enough to live 1500 feet from a switch and my DSL service was very hot.

Then the 2nd cable company was bought out by Cox. A monopoly emerged. SO I'm down to two 'last miles' entering my house. I don't see Cox and Qwest getting together anytime soon.

In Maine, my house had one cable service and one telecom service. I could choose either Verizon DSL or GWI DSL, which spanked Time-Warner on speed and both TW and Verizon on cost. They still do I think.

My point is that generally speaking, ISP monopolies are created by the collusion of business and government. You will find that most communities grant the dominant cable provider an exclusive agreement. Most communities have one hardline telecom provider, an arrangement that is usually negotiated at the state level, and is grandfathered in from the time of Alex Bell.

This is not a natural monopoly. My house can tolerate several services entering it. It is an artificial monopoly, and could be broken by one of at least two ways:

- Communities permitting competition by ending exclusive agreements.
- Communities offering the service as a 'utility'.
- others?

The last mile monopoly myth keeps us from considering genuine competition. And for those who will point out that the monopoly is what gave the incumbents the practical profit margin to be able to invest in their physical plant, well, yes, but if there is truly an opportunity to create a competitor and make a profit, someone will fill that opportunity. All it needs is a free market.

This is a Keynesian era, let's have at it, ok?

ps- Consider both the taxes/fees your community levies on the monopolies, and the excess cost permitted by the monopoly agreements, as a tax. How much do the much-vaunted european and Asian ISPs pay in taxes and fees???

Re:Well yeah... (5, Informative)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758415)

This might be slightly unrelated. But the Norwegian Government decided in 2006 that full broadband coverage should be a goal for the near future. Norway is a long coastal country with some people living in places that are way into the middle of some mountainside; and villages and towns with low population here and there. However eventually it was decided that Internet was pretty much required for modern live, and in fact; was more essential the more in the middle of nowhere you live.

The immediate goal was 98% coverage by the end of 2007 and 100% as soon as it would be possible to get there. At the moment the coverage is at about 99.5% with an estimate that they will reach practically 100% by the end of the year. To achieve this goal they have so far given local governments 850 million NOK to build and improve infrastructure; and ISP and local commercial interests have contributed to; in total about 1.5 billion NOK has been spent.

If you can read Norwegian www.regjeringen.no [regjeringen.no] has more info.
Here is a quote from 2007 by the then Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy; Åslaug Haga [wikipedia.org]
The quote is in Norwegian [regjeringen.no] so I have tried to translate as best I can.

Creation of a broadband infrastructure is an important part of our [the party coalition in Government] goals for the districts. We can not accept that anyone in this country becomes losers in the digital evolution. Broadband also gives opportunities for economic development and growth. To ensure full broadband coverage the Government has decided to stimulate faster expansions of the infrastructure; especially in those areas were it isn't commercially profitable to do so.

Think of this as you will; but despite my disagreements with some of the things said and done by various ministers and the government in general; at one point I agree. Full broadband coverage is essential to modern life. It is a means of communication, of gaining information about what is happening, of paying your bills if the nearest bank is a day away, or an important tool for education or self-education. And much much more. Providing full coverage with affordable broadband should be a goal for any country that wish to ensure their citizens grain a high degree of familiarity with technology; and wish to remain competitive in the global market.

Push Polling (5, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757745)

Because I had never heard of the (incredibly vague) term, I RTFS and found in the comments a description:

Push polling is done wherever the incumbents want to inject BS in to the conversation without "owning" it...In Lafayette, La they asked a series of questions about what would people "thought about" BS like the city "rationing broadband access like they do water" and silliness about banning religious channels. It was downright embarassing.

The story submission is lame, and the story it's about is too. Anyone have a link to a good story on the same subject?

Re:Push Polling (4, Informative)

zigmeister (1281432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758009)

How about Wilson, NC's Public Affairs Manager's blog [wordpress.com] It's got some decent posts, and some boring stuff. More about the push polling on the front page [wordpress.com]

Re:Push Polling (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758143)

There's less about the push polling at your link than there was in the inadequate original story. And there's NOTHING about it at your other link. I think what we've learned from this is that when your submission isn't really about the story, it needs more original material.

Re:Push Polling (4, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758409)

Because I had never heard of the (incredibly vague) term

Example of a push polling question: "would you still vote for Joe Candidate if news of his secret heroin addiction were to become public?" Basically, it's a speech disguised as an opinion poll.

Merit (4, Insightful)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757753)

Any company started and run by any Government is not a "level playing field" IMO. It may be a way for Government price manipulation, but then that's not letting the market determine price.

Secondly, since it is started and run by the Government, wouldn't this be considered a public service instead?

Re:Merit (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757797)

Bingo.

The government either has a role in the business of internet service providing or it doesn't.

By putting the government in direct competition with private enterprises, the government is both pricing these companies out of the market and erecting a monopoly where natural competition would be the norm.

Now, you can say that TWC dropped the ball by refusing to pick up these subscribers, but is it really the government's business to wire these folks? And if it is, how should the government turn over these subscribers equitably to private enterprise?

The government here is in the wrong for poking its nose where it doesn't belong. Either the entire ISP business should be under government control or none of it should be. By cherry picking certain parts, the government has made a very bad decision with long term ramifications for all business in the state.

Re:Merit (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757853)

Look at it a different way: why shouldn't people be allowed to build their own network if they want to? If they donate their time are they stealing from a big, for profit firm?

The article implies that the city made a profit on their network, so subsidies didn't come into it.

Re:Merit (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758651)

But people ARE allowed to build their own network if they want to. It's called a Co-Op. If the local townspeople want to start a community ISP, they can do so in the PRIVATE sector by forming a Co-Op that anyone in the community can join by buying shares. That Co-Op ISP can then market for capital, hire technicians (bonus for creating local jobs without wasting tax dollars!) run lines, build a datacenter, and get started. If people REALLY want to do it, they can. There isn't a need for the government to get involved!

Of course, when the local government can opt-itself out of all the onerous and burdensome taxes and regulation they weigh down private interests with why wouldn't they? But that's just Socialism, not the free market.

Re:Merit (5, Insightful)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757893)

My (admittedly thin) understanding is that the people of the town were fed up with TWC, got together, and made something happen. That's what government is for: By the people and for the people. Of course it has its limitations, but when corporations have a stranglehold it is actually refreshing to me to see that the government is still a way for people to take a stand, even at a tiny local level.

I think the precedent is a great one. If it shoes people that they really can do something, rather than being squashed by a big corp, then great.

Also, the all-or-nothing argument seems a bit much. Do you just propose that people continue to live under the current oppression?

Re:Merit (0)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758105)

Why couldn't the people have formed a co-operative group, raised the capital investment and gone into competition with TWC - the same way any other entity would have had to? I don't like governments doing things like this because their position immediately puts them into a better stance for competing in markets.

Re:Merit (1)

Moridin42 (219670) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758459)

Telecom isn't a market. The bidding process to get the local monopoly agreement, yes. The actual production of service, no. It is rare to have real choices in your service providers. You might be able to choose between the phone company and the cable company. If you have more choices, it is probably someone reselling the phone or cable company's service. Oooh, the competition there is staggering. The government went to the companies and told them that their service was bad for the price. The response was too bad, so sad. They failed to meet consumer desires and then bit the hand that fed them their monopolies. Why should they be supported in any way? Ironically, delivering service at, or just above, cost is pretty much the result you'd expect from a market with competition. And yet, you decry those results because there supposedly isn't competition; although how adding a provider is less competition, I'm not entirely sure. Not that competition is some magical talisman of progress, anyway.

Re:Merit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758493)

Markets are not the be end and end all. Sometimes a healthy dose of government intervention (even a bit of socialism) is a damn fine idea!

Re:Merit (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27757915)

You should understand two things here.

1) The government is NOT using taxpayer money to fund this.

2) They are PROFITABLE

It's not like their selling low, and then subsidizing the costs with taxpayer money. They're selling the service at the price they sell it, and STILL MAKING MONEY.

I think that's the bottom line here.

I see Broadband as no different an essential service to live these days. I certainly couldn't live without it, my job depends on it.

If public companies refuse to provide this, then it should be the governments responsibility to step in and provide this service.

Re:Merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27757961)

are they paying taxes?

Re:Merit (5, Informative)

csartanis (863147) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758247)

They're a non-profit organization, with 100% of revenue funding the employees and expansion of service.

MOD PARENT UP, (-1, Offtopic)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758253)

Why are these astroturfers modded so high.. mid parent up, he puts them in their place!

No Sir! (5, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757985)

The government here is in the wrong for poking its nose where it doesn't belong. Either the entire ISP business should be under government control or none of it should be. By cherry picking certain parts, the government has made a very bad decision with long term ramifications for all business in the state.

Then let's privatize the Fire Department and all other services exclusively run by government.

Or even better, let's put the entire issue to a public vote. This would be the ultimate form of democracy. How about that?

You are one of the folks that thinks that anything run by government is bad as if, when you find yourself on the death bed...being bamboozled by insurance companies...as if who provides the service you need at the material time matters. What would matter to you is how you can get the help you need. I do not care who provides a service as long as I am satisfied.

People with your thoughts are partly responsible with the current financial crisis. It's insane. I would like you to call for a referendum on this issue instead of ranting around here.

Remember, a drowning man will cling to a reed with the hope that it will offer a lifeline of some sort.

Re:Merit (5, Interesting)

cjsm (804001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758065)

You know, socialism isn't outlawed by the U.S. Constitution. I'm in favor of the government doing whatever it can do better then big business, e.g. replace the joke of a medical insurance system with a single payer government run system.

Admittedly socialism doesn't work well in many cases because the process is corrupted by the rich and powerful and special interests. But on the local level, a socialized industry might work better then on the national level, because the people will have more influence to avoid corruption then they do on the national level.

If cities can provide broadband service cheaper then private companies, I want them to. As long as its self supporting and not subsidized.

I'm tired of CEOs making millions of dollars for doing nothing unique or that a lot of other people making far less couldn't do.

And the telecoms are among the worst of the bunch in undeserved profits.

Re:Merit (0, Flamebait)

acoustix (123925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758313)

"I'm in favor of the government doing whatever it can do better then big business"

The government can't do anything better than the private sector with the exception of national defense.

You do realize that the government's administration costs of social security, medicare, and other bureaucracies is on the order of 3-4x what it costs the private sector, right?

Re:Merit (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758525)

The government can't do anything better than the private sector with the exception of national defense.

And yet without any cross-subsidizing, this government is providing a level of service far beyond Time Warner's for far cheaper. As far as I can tell, that would be "doing it better" than the private sector.

Re:Merit (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758569)

Medicare admin costs are cheaper than private sector costs.

Re:Merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758575)

The government can't do anything better than the private sector with the exception of national defense.

Then your country, and by extension its citizens, suck.

Re:Merit (1)

Dotren (1449427) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758697)

The government can't do anything better than the private sector with the exception of national defense.

In a lot of cases I'd say your right, however, this whole issue has illustrated a situation where government is doing better than the private sector.

The situation is this: the corporation in question has no realistic competition in the area, and therefore has no need to keep prices competitive for the services they offer. The prices need to only be JUST low enough to be in the "acceptable" range by most of the area's consumers. After that, they have no incentive whats-so-ever to decrease prices OR increase service.

When a government entity comes in (and remember, this one was set up by the local people and doesn't use tax money) and manages to undercut the corporation AND make a profit what does that say about the corporation?

Sure, the corporation probably could do a lot better and could probably undercut the government by a significant margin and still make a profit. The problem is, they won't. It won't look good to their share holders to make less profit (even though it still is profit) and they're far too used to working in a no-competition environment. Had this been another corporation, they'd probably attempt to buy them out, but with this being a government entity set up by the people, they'll simply try to eradicate it.

Re:Merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758639)

Admittedly socialism doesn't work well in many cases because the process is corrupted by the rich and powerful and special interests.

You mean it's just like democracy?

Re:Merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758093)

well then you have forgotten the idea that governments purpose is made by the people to serve the people. I dont mind government making a better service than whats available as long as its in the interest of the people.

You seem to support the bullies of the market that cant compete which says much about you.

Re:Merit (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758109)

If we had adopted that thinking in other areas, half the country would still be in the dark, or only have access to 2 AMPs of power, when the areas with densest population had 20 AMP service.

The government either has a role in the business of electric power delivery or it doesn't.

By putting the government in direct competition with private enterprises, the government is both pricing private companies out of the market and erecting a monopoly where natural competition would be the norm.

Now, you can say that General Electric dropped the ball by refusing to pick up some subscribers, but is it really the government's business to wire these folks? And if it is, how should the government turn over these subscribers equitably to private enterprise?

...

Re:Merit (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758123)

Ah, but this is exactly where government can help: by passing laws requiring monopoly utilities to provide such services to even the most remote users.

Why do you think people in the middle of nowhere have power? Out of the goodness of the hearts of the power companies?

Re:Merit (3, Insightful)

drjzzz (150299) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758115)

Either the entire ISP business should be under government control or none of it should be.

Why all or none? Both capitalism and government can be powerful forces for good and evil, depending entirely on how they are managed. A local government or semi-public cooperative might work very well as an ISP.

Re:Merit (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758117)

What the hell is government for? It is to serve the people. When a for profit company doesn't want to serve the people because it might not make them as much profit, but the people want that service, then government should be able to step in. The big companies cry about a level playing field, but they get the their lobby to "bribe" the legislature to pass regulations in their favor, which if far from a level playing field. The more crap that I see big business doing, the more socialism doesn't seem so bad. (And I make $250k/year, so I'm not one of the have-nots).

Re:Merit (1)

csartanis (863147) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758273)

And the users still have better service that is cheaper. That's all that matters.

Re:Merit (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758511)

but is it really the government's business to wire these folks?

Yes. Otherwise you likely wouldn't have electricity, phone service, gas, sewage, or running water today.

The Internet is an important part of our economy. While it is not treated as such, it is an important utility. Even worse, in many places, ISPs (cable companies and/or phone companies) are getting legal monopolies as any other utility but are not pricing them as a utility - rather they are priced as a monopoly because nothing requires otherwise. Since its a monopoly, competition simply doesn't exist.

Re:Merit (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757821)

"The Market" was rejected by the monopoly players in this case. If you had been following the story, the local government requested better service and lower prices and they simply refused. There are times when "the market" (aka, "the people") need to push ahead instead of "waiting for the leaders."

This story is quite similar to others where these players in the ISP game quite frequently refuse the requests of municipalities resulting in the municipalities building their own infrastructures which then results in the communications companies filing legal actions against it. I find it most profound when it happens that a given company doesn't want to offer ANY service to an area and yet will fight tooth and nail when a local government wants to build its own.

Re:Merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27757859)

there wasn't sufficient demand for the service. it would not have been profitable. Now authorities have access to your traffic, and you're paying them for the privilege. Delicious!

Re:Merit (1)

stanchion7 (1123477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757935)

I'm not sure what your point is, but if it is what I think it is you're an idiot. The big telecoms are in cahoots with the US intelligence community. Those "authorities" have access to your traffic. Some small town in NC won't bother to sniff your infoz.

Re:Merit (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757951)

It's a city government, you usually can drive up to the mayors office and throw eggs at it if you want. It would be a different story if it was a far removed government. In the end AT&T has your traffic anyway. The NSA doesn't need local taps.

Re:Merit (5, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758147)

Those notions had occurred to me. But "authorities" have always had access to my traffic... some of it quite secretly.

"Not sufficient demand" arguments are great reasons for these telecoms to NOT CARE and yet they do. The reality is that these ISPs are trying to protect their over-sized profit model as municipalities are going to learn how expensive it is to operate and install these services versus how much they pay for them and begin to realize that the consumer is NOT getting a good deal at all. Exposing that kind of truth is a big deal and threatens their million-dollar annual bonuses.

And given that this service is paying for itself and ultimately will be quite profitable negates the argument that it wouldn't have been profitable... it wouldn't be profitable ENOUGH.

The fact of the matter is that internet service is quickly becoming a necessary utility just as telephone and electric power services are today. (They were once fancy options as well!) It is a utility that has yet to fall under regulation and as we can see throughout history, unregulated necessary utilities tend to drive prices higher and burden consumers painfully to the detriment of local economies. (more money being drained from local economies by high utility prices and less money available for local spending which ALSO means less taxed income for local government) Texas and California deregulated electric power and we experience rolling blackouts, the highest prices for power in the nation and even more complaints about their profitability. Meanwhile, in states where power utilities are regulated, no such problems exist for power, no one is going out of business and the citizenry is less burdened.

Government regulation over various aspects of commercial activity are not bad by definition. A guest on the Daily Show put is ever so simply when she explained that since the beginning of the U.S., we have had financial crisis cycles until we emerged from the great depression with strict regulations and government backing. Following that was more than 50 years of relative stability and prosperity and a defeat of the financial crisis cycle. But when regulation was pulled back on S&Ls, an S&L crisis soon followed. Some said the answer was "less regulation" and so more regulations were removed and even more crises occurred.

Here's a truth that EVERY parent knows:

Unregulated kids are going to do dumb, crazy and bad things. They WILL burn your house down if you are not careful.

I find that this truth is not just restricted to children includes adults and the adults who run businesses as well. And this is especially true when these adults who run businesses are as arrogant and narcissistic as they are demonstrating themselves to be... and they demonstrate that they don't feel at all responsible or accountable for the mess they created.

Re:Merit (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757875)

Hmmmm...here's some food for thought: city governments already run trash collection services, schools, snow removal services, real estate brokerages, electrical services, cable TV services, electric utilities, water utilities, etc. There are private equivalents for all these services (and more) that city governments provide. (Yes, including water utilities and trash removal. If you don't believe me, I will show you my water bill and trash removal bill) and in some instances these even compete in the same community.

I don't see anybody fighting over that. How is running an Internet service provider any different?

Different Communities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758413)

The urban county where I live (no city) doesn't provide many of the items you listed. Private companies do.

trash collection = Private
schools = Public, best in the state
snow removal services = Public, but 1 day a year with 1" of snow doesn't really matter
real estate brokerages = Private
electrical services = Private
cable TV services = Private with pub utility commission oversight
electric utilities = Private
water utilities = Public

It is a little crazy that my small neighborhood has trash collection every day of the week since different trash companies visit us on different days. Of course, that means on any weekday, 20% of the homes have their 50 gal trash bins on the street.

We tried to get everyone together (50 homes) to get a contract for the community, but we couldn't agree on the required services. Some wanted grass clippings, others recycling, others Monday pickup. My provider charges $8/month extra for recycling. No thanks.

I have plenty of compost area in my back yard. Half the homes have a similar setup, so grass clippings aren't needed. Everyone here should use a mulching mower anyway. I haven't picked up clippings in over 10 years.

I ran some numbers for providing ISP services to my community. I could do it cheaper than 50 x $40/month = $2000, but the headaches from customer services wasn't worth it. Soon after the infrastructure was paid for, everyone would demand price cuts since I'd have to oversubscribe bandwidth just like the big guys. What happens if 20% of the people use IPSec VPNs? Netflix, VoIP? I'd probably purchase 5+ business class cable connections to do this at about $500/month.

Re:Merit (2, Funny)

ArtemaOne (1300025) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758489)

I don't believe you. Please show me your water and trash removal bill.

Re:Merit (5, Insightful)

deleveld (607488) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757925)

It is only a non level playing field if the government *loses* money in their own ISP but keeps it afloat anyway. If the government ISP company *makes* money using the same business processes that the industry would (or could or should), how can you talk about a non level playing field?

If the governemnt ISP makes a fair and honest profit, then the ISPs have no right to complain. But of course it makes business sense for them to complain anyway.

Re:Merit (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758195)

I agree 100%. And in this instance of Wilson, NC, this is the case. From the Mayor Brian Bowman's blog:

One last note, Wilson tax money does not fund Greenlight (ed note: Wilson's municipal ISP). Citizens who choose Greenlight buy the services just like they would from any other provider.

Re:Merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758041)

When I see this kind of blind faith in "the market" in a situation where "the market" has already failed, I'm simply glad I don't work with the author. I can just imagine sitting through a meeting where the author stubbornly refuses to admit that their favorite solution is simply wrong in some given circumstance.

Re:Merit (2, Insightful)

azadrozny (576352) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758125)

Secondly, since it is started and run by the Government, wouldn't this be considered a public service instead?

I find this an interesting argument. Where is the line between an essential public service, like water and electricity, and something that is less essential like an Internet connection? The electric company in my area is a non-profit electric cooperative. It was started in the 1930's to supply power to what was then a very rural area. Electricity at that time was about the same as the internet is today, can you get by with out it? Yes. It is a boost to your standard of living? Yes.

I do not think there is anything wrong with the citizens of a community getting together, through their local government, to provide a service they they want. It probably would be best if Greenlight was spun off into a separate non-profit, but I am not sure if that changes much for companies like TWC. They got beat because they (allegedly) ignored the demands of a segment of customers. I really don't blame them for ignoring these smaller communities. TWC only has so much money to spend. I probably would have made the same decision, to focus on larger markets first. The even bigger shame is that the NC legislature is seriously considering this bill.

corportate behavior, government dependency (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757849)

The corporation is just using the tools available to them to maintain a favorable condition. I've seen Time Warner use its 24 hour news program to push its agenda in a dispute with content providers over fees. Same with the content providers scrolling messages at the bottom of the screen. While questionable ethically, the real problem is we have a government structure where it is too easy to "bribe" legally. Campaign donations and lobbyist activity craft nearly every bill, and when something passes that isn't liked by some group or institution, conflicting legislation soon follows forcing courts to decide. If we had a culture of common sense and integrity in our legislators then we would have to come up with a way to by-pass "free speech rights" of corporations and collective organizations to give the right back to individuals.

Re:corportate behavior, government dependency (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758299)

I think you need a different country. This one has been the way it is for a long time, and there isn't any motive force for change, despite B. Obama's fine rhetoric.

A more populist government, it seems, would naturally follow from changing the voting structure to something other than FPTP. The chances of that are negligible, as are the chances for any real change in the causes of the issues you name. I think it's more significant even than 'the devil you know'; the corporate culture has become a cornerstone of the national identity.

If anyone can produce a convincing argument otherwise, I have some hope I'd like to affix to it.

How can they win? (2, Insightful)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757867)

It sounds to me like internet is becoming more and more of a "needed commodity" than it used to be. Consider, if you will, roads. The taxpayer dollars go towards those and in turn, the government hires private contractors to do the work - this article doesn't sound much different.

However, this would make the internet a public service more than a paid for service, so, unfortunately, there is a large gray area there - and the companies making the pretty penny are going to fight in that gray area.

Re:How can they win? (4, Informative)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757941)

Its not just roads. As an earlier post pointed out, many city or county governments handle garbage collection, electricity, and/or natural gas.

All of these are handled in other places by private companies.

City of Chicago handles garbage collection.
In the city of Darien, BFI handles garbage collection.

City of Naperville does electricity.
ComEd sells me my electricity.

Internetz = Utility? (1)

thomsomc (1247152) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757869)

I'd love it if my local government could run the numbers on tax and subsidy benefits and figure out that they can offer $99 Internet/Cable/Phone service. They might even be able to cut it down if they used a third party VOIP provider for digital phone, as many people in my area have completely ditched phone lines. I think it'd be great if I could just pay my "data" bill, like my "water" bill. Sans usage-based billing, of course :-) But that's a whole 'nother can of beans.

Corporations trolled (5, Interesting)

Zsub (1365549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757883)

And I fucking RAGED.

*You* didn't want the customers, fuckers, *YOU*. They came to you begging for service. You denied. Now they did it themselves and you blame unfair competition? Go jerk off in some cold closet, incompetent bastards...

Please stop (1, Insightful)

hansraj (458504) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757889)

What in the heavens is the matter with kdawson? Is everyone on slashdot so dumb that they need to be "led" to the right opinion about whatever the fuck the story is about?

This story was already published here without the kdawsonishness and the response was overwhelmingly what the editor seems to be leading everyone up to anyway. But you still can't resist putting the drama in the summary. Can you?

Please, really. If we want an editorial, we would ask for one. Just give us the story and let the discussion unravel. Slashdot has quite a homogeneous viewpoint of many thing already. There is no need to try to lead up the discussion somewhere you like even before it has started - especially if you are (most probably) not going to be in the discussion. Furthermore, just the thought that you think you can change the wordings of a sentence and fool anyone into making a different opinion than I would make otherwise should be quite offensive for them.

Re:Please stop (-1, Offtopic)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757957)

Oh come on, it is no worse or better than any other tech forum. Think Kdawson is bad, back in my day on Slashdot we had Jon Katz [wikipedia.org] . Now get off my lawn!

Re:Please stop (-1, Offtopic)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758043)

Honestly, Katz isn't the best example here. You ought to have pointed to kdawson's previous alias "michael [slashdot.org] ".

Re:Please stop (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27757983)

kdawson is horrible, water is wet, sky is blue

Re:Please stop (1)

stokessd (89903) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758323)

WTF?!?! You actually READ the article before posting here? Are you lost?

Hello...This is Slashdot...People who read articles are one door to the right... :)

Sheldon

Explain push polling to me? (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757897)

Tried to RTFA, but blocked from work as P2P.

Re:Explain push polling to me? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757987)

What is your opinion of NC's attempt to socialize internet access?

Do you think the government should be in the business of competing with private business?

Re:Explain push polling to me? (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758025)

You ring lots of people on the pretence that you want their opinion. Then you ask leading questions like Would you vote for candidate X even though he has voted for higher taxes in your city, or some such. The idea is to promote an idea about candidate X, not to find out where the votes are going.

It is a very popular political tool.

Re:Explain push polling to me? (1)

dejanc (1528235) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758061)

It's a loaded poll. You call as many people as you can, and ask them questions like: Q) How do you think introduction of socialism into our community that is caused by cheap Internet access will affect our already fragile economy? a) Very badly. b) Somewhat badly. c) Not that badly.

Re:Explain push polling to me? (3, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758155)

It's a "political poll" delivered under false pretense with prejudiced questions.

A poll designed not to collect your answers but to feed you misinformation (FUD) and influence your opinion.

Generally, they are very effective. People investing time in taking a poll believe the pollster is an authority on the subject, so there is a strong tendency tend to believe all the misinformation, and many people's opinions can be influenced dramatically.

(Especially if they were neutral on or unaware of the subject beforehand)

The practice is actually illegal in some states.

What a racket (1)

mc1138 (718275) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757911)

I talked about this before, but its a real shame seeing this sort of behavior out of companies. I know they're backed against a wall a bit, but really, if they'd been taking the time to upgrade and provide better service all along then they wouldn't be in this position in the first place. It's almost as bad as giving people a crappy service and then trying to charge people for "extra" bandwidth...

TW pays a bribe for access; Greenlight benefits (3, Interesting)

gelfling (6534) | more than 5 years ago | (#27757975)

At least in the Triangle area in NC, TW pays the local municipalities a bribe, I mean an "Access Fee" that can approach something like 15% of the revenue. While their methods are all unsavory, they are rightfully angry that their bribe is underwriting a competitor.

Re:TW pays a bribe for access; Greenlight benefits (1)

tychovi (1221054) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758189)

Exactly, you highlight the point perfectly. If they can afford to pay an "access fee" just how much of a margin are they charging? In this day and age communications are closer to being a utility than a luxury. The need for unfettered communication access in our society is something required so we can, as informed citizens, make intelligent, informed choices. Access to media/communications should be considered a utility and regulated like other services (power, transportation, municipal). The handful of companies that control the communications/media in the U.S. have proven again and again to be greedy, controlling, selfish and manipulative bastards. This is just one more example.

Re:TW pays a bribe for access; Greenlight benefits (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758439)

The project in Wilson, NC isn't costing tax payer money. It was financed by bonds. Only the credit of the town was tapped to get the infrastructure built. Users of the service are paying its costs and paying on that bond.

Bonds help spread a utility investment cost over time for the people who use it over time.

Only one way for city and citizens to win (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758011)

They should not set up a single company which brings the service. Instead, set up a monopoly that does the fiber from a block (or possibly subdivision) green box, AND a separate company to connect these that will have future competition. If they approach it in that fashion, then new tech can be brought in quickly and cheaply, EXCEPT for the link to the home. But with a small limited monopoly, it would be possible to do that when new tech requires it. In fact, the could simply make that box-home connection be owned by the city and then do competitive bids on the servicing of such. It limits the monopoly to just the ownership of the lines.

Re:Only one way for city and citizens to win (4, Interesting)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758305)

The city of Ashland in southern Oregon operates a fiber-optic network that's open to multiple ISPs. The city does not operate its own ISP at all, and they don't sell Internet access directly to residents; you have to sign up with an ISP, and the ISP pays the city for access to the fiber network. The city sets the speed and charges the ISP more for faster speeds, but the ISP provides the Internet connection, tech support, etc.

Won't work (0, Troll)

+Addict-09+ (239664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758127)

Don't be fooled... other Municipalities have tried this

they build it
they never get it profitable
they then sell
millions of tax payer dollars wasted

Re:Won't work (2, Informative)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758687)

Except that in this case it's not funded by tax payer dollars. Greenlight's infrastructure layout was funded by special bonds. It operates at a profit completely independant of tax payer dollars. TWC is in a hissy precisely because of that, they've been shown that what the community asked for was and is completely possible.

Slashdot arguing for bigger goverment? (1)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758137)

I am not saying that what the big ISP's are doing is right, but I do not want the govt to have direct control over my packets. The duality that we live in (in slashdot world) is amazing. We hate big govt when it comes to certain issues, and yet when it comes to beating big ISP's into the ground we have no problem with a larger govt. For me it is a matter of principle anything that makes the gov't larger than it needs to be is bad. You can choose to not buy the ISP's services. I'll let you figure out what a need is.

Re:Slashdot arguing for bigger goverment? (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758499)

I would say I was amazed that you're a complete and total moron, but I'm simply not.

We already know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Government already has complete access to all telecommunications. We already know that privatization makes no difference at all. We have laws that provide immunity to these companies for breaking the law.

You are a complete idiot. Congratulations on reaching such perfection.

Greenlights rates (3, Informative)

SpzToid (869795) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758215)

So this is what they are offering, at a profit right? (No govt. subsidies putting TWC out of business in the area, right?)

http://www.greenlightnc.com/home/internet/internetonly/ [greenlightnc.com]

$59.95 for 20 mbps UP AND DOWN? 2UP? And they do this profitably right? Then is it possible everyone else is getting screwed over by their ISP Monopolies/Duopolies?

"The 20Mbps speed includes both uploads and downloads and is the fastest residential speed available anywhere in North Carolina."

Go Greenlight go! I wonder what the real estate is like in the area served.

Re:Greenlights rates (1)

mikael (484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758379)

If you go to Time Warner Cable website [yourtwc.com] , enter the area code and order just Cable and High Speed Online, the total price is around $102.85 month (Digital Cable + Road Runner Turbo @ upto 15 Mpbs download / 2Mbps upload).

Now, despite being begged to introduce Cable service in this area, Time Warner refused. Now they are being undercut by someone offering a better service for half the price. No wonder they are steaming.

Link to City of Wilson Public Affairs Manager Blog (1)

rlinkbass (757499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758399)

In case this wasn't already posted: http://savencbb.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]
Brian Bowman, Public Affairs Manager for the City of Wilson, NC is keeping everyone up to date with the city's point of view.

Contact NC State officials!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758403)

If you really feel passionate about this, and you live in North Carolina, please contact your state representatives here (look them up by county):

http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/members/memberList.pl?sChamber=House [state.nc.us]
http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/members/memberList.pl?sChamber=Senate [state.nc.us] ...and let them know how you feel. Here is something -like- what you could say:

(Representative or Senator) XXXXXX,

I'm a voter in XXXXXXX county, and I am deeply troubled by a bill introduced in the house to stop the Internet service being offered in the City of Wilson. Internet service providers have failed to offer adequate services to Wilson for years, and now want to restrict the choice of citizens in the name of a "level playing field".

I ask you to please vote against this bill, and encourage your colleagues to do the same. As a professional who depends fast, reliable, and inexpensive internet to compete, this matter is very important to me.

Thank you, regards,

XXXXXXX

The bills in question are H1252 and S1004.

http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2009&BillID=H1252 [state.nc.us]

http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2009&BillID=S1004 [state.nc.us]

Especially critical are the sponsors of the bill (i.e. the people you should vote against in the next election):

House
Primary: Harrell; Jones; Avila; Tillis;
Co: Bell; Cole; Crawford; Current; Dollar; Earle; Guice; Gulley; Hilton; Holliman; Johnson; Justus; Lucas; Neumann; Sager; Steen;

Senate
Primary: David W. Hoyle;
Co: Debbie A. Clary;

Ahh - ye goode olde American Double Standard (1)

meist3r (1061628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758463)

When free market capitalism lets you kick competition out of business -you support it.
When free market capitalism lets competition kick you out of business -you fight it.

It all makes so much sense.

So I live I'm a subscriber to Greenlight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27758503)

I live part of the year in Wilson, NC. My family is a subscriber to this service, and it is one of the best services we've ever had. It has worked wonders for our community and the economy around it. Our schools have a much faster connection etc.

It is unsettling that someone would ever consider taking this away from us.

By the way, the bandwidth for this is not bought from any of the competing companies, rather the bandwidth is purchased directly from Level3.

I wish more cities would do this. (1)

webdragon (788788) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758537)

Currently in the city i live in we have 3 choices for broadband, cable, DSL and wireless. the problem being none of them offer decent service for under $80 a month and in a majority of the area wireless and DSL are not even a option.

Utilities! (1)

errittus (13200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758541)

FTFA: "Local governments buy gas and diesel fuel for their vehicle fleets, so "What's to prevent them from competing with gas stations and convenience stores? They have landscaping departments for parks and such, so what would keep them from offering landscaping services?" "

Internet, phone, and cable services are also under the eye of the PUC, and are viewed as utilities.

Something silimar was discussed quite some time ago in Lafayette, LA

http://www.lusfiber.org/ [lusfiber.org]

can't compete? (1)

rev_sanchez (691443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758551)

"Time Warner and Embarq can't compete"

I could be wrong but I read that the city running Greenlight asked Time Warner Cable if they would offer better, higher speed service to the city and when they didn't the city started their own ISP. It seems like they aren't interested in competing.

/. is not a blog (1)

conspirator57 (1123519) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758669)

but the good people covering this issue in NC believe it is. FTFA:

The matter is getting national attention in tech media and on blogs such as Slashdot.com.

North Carolinians, write or call NC Congress. (5, Informative)

randomaxe (673239) | more than 5 years ago | (#27758675)

Most of us are outraged about this, but few of us can do anything about it. If you live in North Carolina, I urge you to contact your state congresspeople and let them know just how you, as a voter, feel about this.

The bills in question are NC Senate bill 1004 and NC House bill 1242. You can find contact information for your state congresspeople here:

http://www.votesmart.org/index.htm [votesmart.org]

And remember, even if you're a NC resident who doesn't live in Wilson, this is a *state-level* issue, and your opinion counts. Not only that, but if these bills pass, it means no cheap internet for you, either. Be heard now, while it matters.
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