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Court of Appeals Rejects FCC's Cable Subscriber Cap

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the pack-'em-in dept.

Government 87

olsmeister writes "The US Court of Appeals Friday threw out the FCC's cap on the number of cable subscribers one operator can serve, saying the FCC was 'derelict' in not giving DBS its due as a legitimate competitor. 'We agree with Comcast that the 30% subscriber limit is arbitrary and capricious. We therefore grant the petition and vacate the Rule,' said the court, which concluded that there was ample evidence of an increasingly competitive communications marketplace and that cable did not have undue control on the programming pipeline. The FCC commissioner's statement (PDF) is available online."

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Oh boy (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29237651)

Think customer service is lousy now? Just wait until they add a few million more customers!

hahaha

Not around here (5, Insightful)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237657)

"an increasingly competitive communications marketplace"

Where I live, there's only one cable company to choose from. They must be counting DirecTV and the like as "competition", because I've only once in my entire life had the ability to choose from two cable companies. And that didn't last long either, because the one I picked (the smaller, better one) got bought out by the large, crappier one after about a year. And I personally don't count DirecTV as an adequate "replacement" for cable.

Re:Not around here (2, Interesting)

RajivSLK (398494) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237777)

And I personally don't count DirecTV as an adequate "replacement" for cable.

Just curious, why not? Up here in Canada I have satellite tv. I could have cable for the roughly the same cost but I choose not to because like satellite better (for various small reasons).

Re:Not around here (2, Informative)

Nakago4 (576970) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237857)

Not everyone has an unobstructed view to the south. What if you live on the north side of an apartment building? or have lots of trees in the way? or a tall building? Satellite is simply not an option for a large number of people.

Re:Not around here (-1, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237923)

Your mother obstructs my view of the south, you insensitive clod!

I don't need an unobstructed view of the south, you insensitive dingo!

Etc.

Re:Not around here (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 5 years ago | (#29248509)

Hey, leave the lady in flannel alone!

Re:Not around here (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29237989)

Not everyone has an unobstructed view to the south. What if you live on the north side of an apartment building? or have lots of trees in the way? or a tall building?

Satellite is simply not an option for a large number of people.

What about for those of us who live IN the South and have apartments facing the North? Are we in some sort of netherworld since we have clear views of the South, yet are perpetually facing our Yankee neighbors?

Re:Not around here (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240815)

If you are in the souther hemisphere then this is not an issue since the FCC is in the USA (northern hemisphere).

Re:Not around here (2, Interesting)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238363)

I count satellite as replacement for cable. When I got it, I could only get analog cable, for more than the cost of satellite, with fewer channels, and a stupid a/b switch. Digital cable was nearly double that. Larger companies and economies of scale means you pay more and get less? The only reason cable can compete is because the infrastructure is built into so many houses and apartments already.

Re:Not around here (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238689)

It's a replacement for cable TV. It is not a full replacement for everything cable provides these days. Want Internet service? Hope you like 500ms latency.

Re:Not around here (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238957)

Yeah well, cable doesn't help me with internet anyway. DSL does ok. And satellite+dsl was still cheaper than digital cable w/o internet. Don't necessarily want to drag ethernet cables across the floor and upstairs (yeah, yeah, wireless, I know).

Maybe the problem here is that all these services come bundled once you get cable, and you're stuck ever trying to get them separated. Ie, you want a cable modem, but satellite TV, then good luck. Or better yet, try to get cable tv from Comcast and cable internet from AT&T.

Re:Not around here (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29239165)

DSL does ok.

If you have the money to move closer to the DSLAM.

Re:Not around here (1)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29243353)

Our local cable company is TimeWarner. When we switched our tv to DishNetwork, I actually had no problem calling them up and telling them I wanted to cancel the cable TV and keep the Internet service. They sent someone out to put a filter on the line and that was that.

Comcast seems to be pretty crappy. TimeWarner is wonderful in comparison. I am glad TimeWarner took over in my area.

Re:Not around here (1)

hazydave (96747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29264969)

Actually, it's more than 500ms latency... more like 750ms+ by the time you're done with additional layers of routing/optimization software, on top of that trip from earth to space and back.

And when the locals of all sorts (Verizon, Comcast, etc) refuse you any sort of land-based connection, this is one of the few options (the other being cellular modem, which has its own set of problems and availability issues).

Re:Not around here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29238829)

Satellite also does not provide good internet (either dial-up upload with bad latency, or expensive and/or big dishes out front) and where I live, the best DSL I can get is 1.5M and when I tried that it was flapping every 10 minutes and had to go to 768K with 256K up, that's not even enough to have a phone call and view slashdot.

Re:Not around here (3, Informative)

soupcan58 (1057844) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237817)

I know in my area, it's Comcast or satellite for most of the area. We don't have Fios, AND we don't have Uverse in very many areas. There's just not much of a chance.

Re:Not around here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29237833)

They don't even offer satellite around here...

Re:Not around here (1)

MadnessASAP (1052274) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238225)

Where do you live? Friggin Mercury?

Re:Not around here (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238373)

I have the same problem in a suburb of Washington DC. Based on the availability, you'd think it was Mercury. Trees are a major problem re: DirecTV, and Fios isn't anywhere nearby (in spite of a Fios backbone crossing the road I can see from my community.)

Re:Not around here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29238699)

Really? Doesn't DirecTV offer the same channels in some form or fashion? I don't think its expressly stated what type of competition it has to be with the cable companies. Its not the type of company its the type of service that is being offered which is broadcasting a viewable television whether it be cable or satellite doesn't matter.

Heck now it can come over FIOS they all compete to sell you the service of watching TV, in laymen terms. All the same networks are with all the major companies. However, I'm unsure who really determines the packaging of the channels. It could be the cable/sat/FIOS or the broadcast networks themselves or a combination of both I do not work in the industry so I don't know. (nor have I read up on it yet). It would be interesting to know. It wouldn't be a huge surprise that the whole thing is setup as a big racketeering scheme at this point.

Re:Not around here (1)

hazydave (96747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265193)

Satellite TV offers all of the same real channels as cable, and it's probably lower cost than most cable services. It'll fade out in severe rain, but other than that it's very reliable.

What you miss, versus cable, are real interactive services (they can fake it a bit, or let you uplink via your internet connection... which you probably don't want to do, given that, when you have satellite TV, you probably have bandwidth-policed satellite internet as well). So you can't get real video on demand, the kind of stuff cable and FiOS offer these days. But Dish Network at least makes some pretty decent PVRs, which get around at least some of that.

In layman's terms, they all have essentially the same head end. At the head end, there will any number of satellite receivers, which pull the original feeds (ABC, Comedy Central, HBO, etc), perhaps add advertising inserts and possible bit rate conversions, then MUX them into transport streams, depending on data type (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, etc) and slot allocation numbers (eg, all channels in a transport stream have to fit within certain overall limitations, depending on the specific technologies).

Next, they all modulate the digital streams into analog slots, generally based on the old NTSC (or perhaps PAL in DVB countries) channel widths of 6MHz (8MHz for PAL). For cable, that's basically the thing that goes out. For satellite, there will be various smaller channel sets sent to different satellites. For FiOS, that whole cable TV channel set will be frequency-division multiplexed with other traffic over the fibre optic links (one laser color for TV, one or more for internet downlink, etc).

That's why, even with a FiOS installation in your house, you're probably running coax though the house to hook up your satellite boxes. The network interface box from the FiOS provider will include the transceivers, to get RF back from optical... your STB is basically just a modified cable TV box for FiOS... probably changed to use TCP/IP for the uplink, but otherwise similar.

Re:Not around here (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238791)

My choices for broadband ISPs are pretty much limited to Time Warner Cable, AT&T DSL, Earthlink (billed and provided entirely by AT&T or TWC, at their same prices), or one of a few other DSL providers (also basically just slightly rerouted versions of AT&T), or perhaps paying out of my rear end for high-latency wireless. In 1995 or 1996 or so, I had my choice of numerous ISPs offering a wide array of services and pricing plans, including a slew of local companies, some of which provided very useful and personal support. Some of those companies had pricing plans that started at a very reasonable $0/month, and many gave discounts to anyone willing to pay for more than a month in advance. My first real ISP was run by a local kid (15 years old maybe) who ran a very professional but cheap and profitable operation, which he eventually sold to a national company. There was real competition in the industry then, not just the cable or DSL, "take it or leave it" approach we see now. There are no more "startups." VOIP companies are middlemen.

Meanwhile, AT&T has reformed and is nearly the behemoth the original Ma Bell was. Verizon is also ridiculously huge and influential, not to mention anti-competitive. Regional monopolies are still monopolies, no? So having just yesterday looked at my local phone (yes I have one - need to fax occasionally and haven't found a cheap internet solution), DSL, cable, and cellular bills, I have to wonder, where is the communications marketplace "increasingly competitive?" I live in an outer ring suburb in a reasonably modern region, not really in "the city" or out in the sticks, and there is still no word on when either AT&T or TWC will offer fiber optic service here.

Re:Not around here (1)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 5 years ago | (#29243389)

The answer to your question is that this is a Federal Court. Sure, from a Federal standpoint, there's competition. From a local one, you're spot on that there is none.
 
It looks like the court looked around, and said, "There's Charter, Comcast, Time Warner....looks like competition to me!" Look a little closer, at one state, one town, and the reality is far different.

Re:Not around here (1)

hazydave (96747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29264927)

When you're in a locale, as I am, where the only choices are Dish Network or DirecTV, you realize very quickly that those are "competition". Well, ok, there's HughesNet for internet connections, as well.

One doesn't have to be all that competitive to be considered "competition"... I pay something like $120 a month for HugesNet, 1.5Mb/s down, 0.5Mb/s up, and a daily high-speed cap of 500MB (over that, and you get dial-up-or-so speeds for the next 24 hours). Anyone with access to basic DSL would laugh at this (much less state-of-the-art FiOS), but hey, it's faster (usually) than dial-up.

I think this should be a two-way thing... if the telecom companies want unlimited growth, they should have limits on additional acquisitions (to keep the competition alive), and they should have to hook up anyone in the general area (town, city, county, however this is broken down) for no additional charge. That's how the government and AT&T worked things out in the telephone era, and that's why pretty much everyone who wanted it got phone service.

Reminds me of the comcast bandwidth usage (4, Interesting)

gravos (912628) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237671)

Reminds me of the uproar over Comcast disconnecting users with excessive bandwidth usage, except here we went from clear, obvious limit to unclear, ill-specified limit.

Instead of a fixed limit of 30% now there will be an arbitrary install base beyond which comcast becomes liable to antitrust investigations.

Re:Reminds me of the comcast bandwidth usage (1)

Saysys (976276) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240759)

There are already laws and limitations regarding how much ownership constitutes an oligopoly or a 'virtual monopoly'. What we need is to realize that the only solution to the 'last mile' problem is public ownership of the last mile which is then opened up to competition.

Will this mean the end to cable's quasi-monopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29237689)

Since the 1980's the cable companies have had few places where operators' territories overlapped each other and have banded together in efforts like CableLabs. They are in fact a quasi-monopoly in the U.S. Will this end that monopoly?

Re:Will this mean the end to cable's quasi-monopol (2, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238701)

No, it means there will be THE cable company, kind of like Ma Bell was THE phone company. This is just setting TV up for a repeat of the Clearchannel effect.

Ambigious Emotions (5, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237729)

. . . concluded that there was ample evidence of an increasingly competitive communications marketplace and that cable did not have undue control on the programming pipeline.

I just crapped my pants, but I'm not sure if it was from laughter or fear.

Re:Ambigious Emotions (4, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237765)

If it was one giant log, fear.
If it was a bunch of smaller turds, laughter.

I am completely serious.

Re:Ambigious Emotions (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237779)

It's true in my area, and many other ares. I can get Comcast, Fios, two different satellite companies.
Sounds like ample competition to me.

Re:Ambigious Emotions (2, Insightful)

GasparGMSwordsman (753396) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238119)

1) We are talking about cable not internet service in this case.

2) Satellite availability depends on being able to have a satellite. If you rent, which more than half of the U.S. population does, you probably don't have this option.

In my area (Portland Oregon). I have one option for cable, comcast. Why is there not another cable provider in my area? Because comcast has bought them all...

What the FCC policy should be is that a service provider can not buy out another service provider if it means that the new company will have more than 30% of the market...

Re:Ambigious Emotions (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29238339)

Usually it is because the local municipality signed an agreement to give them a monopoly. Similar to how the same municipalities force you to use the garbage company THEY selected and won't let you choose an alternate one. Cable is the same way in many places. Certainly it is where I live and I have seen enough posts on other cable stories to know it is the same in a lot of other locales as well.

Re:Ambigious Emotions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240825)

for cable that is legal, but if they do that for satellite that is illegal.

Re:Ambigious Emotions (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238789)

I've rented 4 apparetments in 3 states in the past 8 years. Every one specifically allowed "Pizza box" sized satalite receivers in the lease.

Re:Ambigious Emotions (1)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29243399)

I've rented 4 apparetments in 3 states in the past 8 years. Every one specifically allowed "Pizza box" sized satalite receivers in the lease.

The problem isn't that they don't allow it (they usually have to), the problem is that many apartments do not have an unobstructed view of the southern sky. I know at least two people at work that have this problem.

Satellite is great if you own or rent a house and can get a clear view of the southern sky (not usually a problem on a house).

Read the Headline Again (2, Funny)

HiggsBison (678319) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238275)

I just crapped my pants, but I'm not sure if it was from laughter or fear.

The headline says "...Rejects FCC's Cable Subscriber Cap".

It's "Subscriber Cap", not "Subscriber Crap".

(Yeesh!)

Re:Ambigious Emotions (1)

Chrutil (732561) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238371)

Hahaha - I can't believe your got a +5 Informative for telling everybody you just crapped you pants.

Re:Ambigious Emotions (1)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | more than 5 years ago | (#29239375)

If you're uncertain, maybe it was both?

Seriously though, the only time cable hasn't had "undue control on the programming pipeline" in my area was when it only offered about eight channels, and the rabbit ear option picked up five. We're thirty years past that point, though. I suppose satellite TV is cheap enough now, but it's not ubiquitous enough to say cable has lost that control, IMO.

Stupid Appeals court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29237791)

The Appeals court was focusing on competition in TV space only. Obviously there is a lot of competition there.

The real problem with cable is not tv, but internet. I'm not looking forward to TWC being bought out by Comcast. I like TWC internet just fine in NYC. Comcast internet service... I hate with a passion.

Somebody got paid off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29237807)

One very likely explanation is that Comcast paid off the judges or researchers for the court of appeals. Ah well, the american court system is open to the highest bidders and the vanilla consumer isn't that.

Increasing competition? (5, Insightful)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237829)

Then why do the courts not force cable companies to share their lines with competitors? (Maybe that decision was exclusive to internet?)

We dumped Comcast years ago because they would raise their rates arbitrarily and with no limit. And yet the courts have this delusion that their is competition - then why are they allowed to do this? Sure....

Re:Increasing competition? (1)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29243435)

The courts should be requiring the municipalities to install the last mile cable, not the cable companies. The courts shouldn't be forcing any company to share the infrastructure they've built. Notice that you have no choice over what water, electric, or gas company you use. I know I wouldn't like it if some court said "You have to let brand X use the infrastructure that you spent millions of dollars building".

This is the real problem and it's the reason why you're phone and cable companies are determined by what city you live in, at least in California. The only real competition is satellite.

limiting (2, Insightful)

gmermnstinsmermwords (1627107) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237831)

It's good not to limit how many people can connect to the fastest last mile infrastructure avaliable to them. As long as cable is required to push %30 of data pertaining to developing newer last mile infrastructures. God's will- it cannot be undone!

seems like activist judging by conservatives (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237843)

Congress clearly empowered---in fact required---the FCC to set subscriber caps on cable operators in the Cable Act (1992). The court striking down these limits appears to be engaging in legislative policy analysis that is Congress's purview, not the D.C. Circuit's. It may be true that non-cable competition, such as from DirecTV, means that horizontal ownership limits within the cable industry itself are no longer as necessary to maintain overall competition as they were in 1992. But that's a decision for Congress, not the D.C. Circuit, to make.

I mean the court pretty brazenly admits as much. From the decision:

Satellite and fiber optic video providers have entered the market and grown in market share since the Congress passed the 1992 Act, and particularly in recent years. Cable operators, therefore, no longer have the bottleneck power over programming that concerned the Congress in 1992.

What they appear to have failed to explain is how the fact that circumstances have changed since Congress passed the 1992 Act, so that the factors that "concerned the Congress in 1992" arguably no longer apply, ought to make any difference as far as the court's job is concerned. Regardless of whether the factors that concerned the Congress in 1992 still apply, the Act remains in force until repealed or amended, and the D.C. Circuit is not empowered to repeal or amend it. Ignoring the text of the statute and substituting this sort of policy analysis --- "we're pretty sure Congress intended to do something with this act that no longer applies, so we're going to assume Congress would've wanted it amended, and we'll just go ahead and amend it right now" --- is lawless judicial activism at its worst.

Re:seems like activist judging by conservatives (3, Informative)

chazzf (188092) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238117)

Well, no. If you look at the text of the law itself (USSC 47 533 (f)) (http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode47/usc_sec_47_00000533----000-.html), the FCC was given the power to "ensure that no cable operator or group of cable operators can unfairly impede, either because of the size of any individual operator or because of joint actions by a group of operators of sufficient size, the flow of video programming from the video programmer to the consumer", among other provisions. The court's position is that the 30% rule, which the FCC first adopted in 1993, no longer complies with the meaning of the Act because the marketplace has changed. The court cites, among other things, the growth of both dish services and the entrance of telephone companies into the television market. The court was also dubious of the methodology the FCC used to devise and defend the 30% rule. These are valid questions for a court to consider and completely within its remit.

Re:seems like activist judging by conservatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29238251)

!conservatives

Re:seems like activist judging by conservatives (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238309)

I can see people taking issue with some parts of my post (perhaps this could be defended as non-activist), but it'd be hard to argue that Reagan administration member and Reagan judicial appointee Douglas Ginsburg isn't "a conservative".

Re:seems like activist judging by conservatives (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29238639)

Congress clearly empowered---in fact required---the FCC to set subscriber caps on cable operators in the Cable Act (1992). The court striking down these limits appears to be engaging in legislative policy analysis that is Congress's purview, not the D.C. Circuit's.

So what's the big deal?

That's what courts do nowadays. Since the days of FDR for sure, courts no longer just interpret the law, they attempt to make law.

If you want courts to uphold and interpret the law, we more judges like Alito & Roberts, and less like Sotomayor.*

To all you liberals out there who think the Constitution is a "living" document....a conservative court would not have ruled this way.**

And I'd be more than willing to bet that most slashdotters here oppose this ruling, yet have conniption fits whenever someone advocates a conservative court.

-john

* and lets not forget that judges appointed by Republicans are not always conservative

** with the obvious IANAL stipulation based on my layman's reading of the summaries of the ruling

Re:seems like activist judging by conservatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29239251)

There is no way in hell that you can justify such a stupid rule. It's bad law, and it doesn't create market competition.

Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237873)

Since when does a dialup modem hung off the side of a satellite dish constitute "competition"? Seriously, I want to go up to this judge and ask "Are you from the past?" This is like saying that a Ford Festiva competes with a [insert sports car guys drool over here]!

* Yes, my knowledge of cars is limited... I drive a purple Saturn. That is as much as I know about the car. But Slashdot loves car analogies, so work with me here.

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (4, Funny)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237977)

This is like saying that a Ford Festiva competes with a [insert sports car guys drool over here]!

Megan Fox?

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238221)

Megan Fox?

Last I checked, Megan Fox was not a car. That said, that scene [fanpop.com] in transformers... not as fabulous as Audrey but still zomfg jasdfl;jf2!@!!!!!. (fangirl-to-geek translation: "I'd hit it")

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29246115)

idk about the difference; most guys would ride her pretty fast and crash.

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (1)

chazzf (188092) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238137)

Whereas I'd ask where you live that you somehow have cable but not DSL + dish.

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (2, Insightful)

prshaw (712950) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238383)

I live in St Louis and can say that I have DSL and a dish, but cannot get cable. They won't run a wire down my road.

Up until about 3 years ago I couldn't even get DSL, I paid for a dedicated dialup.

So there are still places in some largish cities without a full set of options.

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238739)

Uh, many places. DSL has serious distance limitations. I'm ~28k feet from the CO which means DSL is 144Kbps max, not exactly a competitor to my 10/1Mbps cable.

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (1)

GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238447)

You work for Bresnan Communications don't you.

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238833)

Since when does a dialup modem hung off the side of a satellite dish constitute "competition"?

Irrelevant. This rule applies to cable TV services, not to cable Internet services.

Re:Court of Appeals is fracking retarded. (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#29239191)

Since when does a dialup modem hung off the side of a satellite dish constitute "competition"?

Irrelevant. This rule applies to cable TV services, not to cable Internet services.

In most towns, you can't get cable Internet service from company A if the town has selected company B as the exclusive provider of cable TV.

It is OK now, but watch out for the future (3, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237943)

Today with phone companies cable companies and DBS offering TV there is adequate competition. But in the future, with Verizon investing so much of money in getting fiber to premises, essentially others wont be able to compete in the future. We are looking at de facto monopoly. Given that TV and internet are converging into one, this would prove to be a big issue in the future.

Verizon fiber (1)

danknight (570145) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238535)

not exactly on topic but the fios ride may be over in favor of 4g, trials are getting underway, results of which will determine if fios will be expanded much further. there is a rumor of a 4g wireless set top box that will be a self install similar to what they do with dsl and fios stb adds

Re:Verizon fiber (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29240593)

HHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

Yeah, give me a call when wireless outstrips FIBER for latency. And trust me, bandwidth won't matter to consumers (to a degree) as much as getting that first image on the screen.

P.S. I worked with a company who ran trials on 4g. Even with the best configurations I thought it seemed like a worse wireless G network. Wider range, certainly, but not great

Re:Verizon fiber (1)

apoc.famine (621563) | more than 5 years ago | (#29244149)

4G will still be susceptible to interference from all sorts of things, from weather to foliage, metal, other transmissions, etc. While there are plenty of places it makes sense, there are also plenty of places where it doesn't.
 
Most cities already have a wire system, from power to phone to cable. Adding another cable to it isn't that much of a big deal, and you are immune to interference. Of course, "good enough" [slashdot.org] might mean we see 4G instead of fiber, since lost packets and slow speeds aren't really noticeable to someone sending an email, browsing facebook, and downloading off iTunes, and those folks seem to be a majority on the web now.

Re:Verizon fiber (1)

hazydave (96747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265531)

Residential 4G will most likely be done via rooftop antennas, in rural areas anyway. 700MHz isn't that bad through foliage, it's also pretty reasonable for long range. Of course, the longer wavelength also will benefit from rooftop use... at 1 mile range, the fresnel zone radius is 43ft.

4G for residential internet is not going to be competitive with wired solutions... you would need too many cells in a city, and at higher frequencies (less range, more bandwidth and smaller fresnel radius), and you're still competing against entrenched wired solutions that are just better, if you can be wired.

As an evolution to today's 3G wireless, it's just "bigger, better, faster, more", so that's of immediate use, but still not a threat to wired connections. But for the 80% or more of the country that's considered not worth the ISP's efforts to wire things, 4G might be a decent option.

Re:Verizon fiber (1)

hazydave (96747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29265449)

Well, LTE (eg, the 4G protocol embraced by everyone but Sprint, who are using WiMax) will offer what sounds pretty good: peak download rates of 326.4 Mb/s and upload rates of 86.4 Mb/s for every 20 MHz of spectrum. But then you have to take into account, that's spread across a potential of 800 active data clients (200 active clients per 5MHz)... and that not every cell is going to have 20MHz channels to play with. Many will stick to 5MHz channels, which means 81.6Mb/s down, 21.6Mb/s up, spread across as many as 200 users.

With that said, some of the companies are thinking "residential last mile", not simply improved cellphone. Verizon's widely publicized purchase of the C-Block of the 700MHz band covers 22MHz, so that's likely to offer pretty decent internet connections if the don't oversubscribe. They could offer voice, too, but not TV, so that's never going to be a replacement in Verizon's mind for FiOS, only an option (boosted, perhaps, by the rural internet initiative in the Stimulus Bill) where FiOS isn't available (eg, they don't feel like running it).

Basic FiOS is already offering symmetric 20Mb/s up/down, with 50Mb/s downlink available, and 100Mb/s in trials here (already rolled out in other countries). The only real bottleneck in most situations is the routing back at the head end... not your link to that head end, which is always capable of delivering the stated speeds.

So LTE, when available, if reliable, reasonably priced, and treated like other residential services (eg, few to no limits) sounds like a great replacement for my satellite internet. But, unless you're in a pretty empty area, it won't hold a candle to today's FiOS, much less tomorrow's. That, on top of a big stack of "ifs".

what about (3, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237949)

when cable broadband oversells their service and they have more customers than their system can handle? i guess they can do that all they want now?

well look at the bright side of this economic recession = less people can afford broadband internet so there is more broadband to go around.

Some links (3, Informative)

chazzf (188092) | more than 5 years ago | (#29237973)

Full text of the case, Comcast Corporation v. FCC, available here: http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/common/opinions/200908/08-1114-1203454.pdf [uscourts.gov] . The case was heard by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Douglas Ginsburg wrote the opinion, joined by Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Randolph.

Re:Some links (1, Troll)

UdoKeir (239957) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238213)

Looks like it was a panel of Republican appointees. Hardly surprising they come out on the side of the corporations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_H._Ginsburg [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brett_Kavanaugh [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Raymond_Randolph [wikipedia.org]

I'm lagging as I type this. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29238281)

I so want to get out of comcast. Is really slow for browsing, gaming, netflix etc. The cherry on top is that they now they enforce their own "non existent web address" page, and if you would like to opt out you have to provide them your mac address. Sounds wonderful.

Re:I'm lagging as I type this. (1)

not_anne (203907) | more than 5 years ago | (#29239407)

You mean the modem macid they already have? As I understand it, all they're doing is putting your macid on a list so your browser isn't redirected.

Re:I'm lagging as I type this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29239907)

if you would like to opt out you have to provide them your mac address

While I understand your other issues, this one confuses me. By what other form of information would you like them to opt you out? Your negative thoughts toward them? Comcast already has the MAC of your cable modem, and it's already associated with your name, address, and so forth.

Re:I'm lagging as I type this. (1)

L0rdJedi (65690) | more than 5 years ago | (#29244563)

Ya know, you could just, oh, I don't know, redirect it in your hosts file to 127.0.0.1. That worked just fine for me when I had their service.

Geezus, the things slashdotters will complain about.

Re:I'm lagging as I type this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29245241)

So move. If it matters so much maybe it should be one of your primary metrics for choosing a residence.

Real competition from FiOS (4, Insightful)

punker (320575) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238387)

I think rules like this from the FCC are the least of comcast's worries. After a year of crappy quality service from Comcast, I switched to FiOS from Verizon (it wasn't available where I live when I first signed up for Comcast). For the same price, I now get dramatically better internet service (5/2 Mbps down/up). What I was really surprised by was how much better the television service is. The channels are much clearer, and I get a ton of good channels in the base package. The guide works much better as well.
                If AT&T's uverse is on the same level, then I would expect the cable companies are facing real competition from the traditional telcos.

Re:Real competition from FiOS (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 5 years ago | (#29239183)

5/2? I think they should switch to vibrating internets if light moves so slowly in your neighborhood.

Re:Real competition from FiOS (2, Informative)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#29239561)

5Mbps down?
Wow!
In India i get 16Mbps down, and 4.4Mbps Up with a 100GB per month traffic limit at $100/- per month.
Oh and that includes IP TV, a free TiVO so i can record, rewind and watch shows i missed.

Re:Real competition from FiOS (2, Informative)

marnues (906739) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240001)

Depending on the quality of thr IP TV, that's not necessarily a good deal around here. $100 a month should get you a hell of an internet access. However, I think the GP is confused about their speeds as the lowest FiOS speed is 15/5 for $55/month.

Re:Real competition from FiOS (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240917)

Oh... OK.
I guess i understood it wrong.
My Apologies.

Re:Real competition from FiOS (2, Informative)

soundguy (415780) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240957)

My business-class FIOS in Seattle is 20/20 with a static IP. I run servers on it. No caps. No limits. About $130 a month. That's like $6.50 a megabit. I can't even get Cogent for that in a carrier-neutral facility unless I commit to a gigabit for 2-3 years. The hardware at the house seems to be clocked for 256mbps and everyone I've talked to says the fiber they use for drops is theoretically good for a gigabit. (no idea what's out there on the road lead though)

I currently have analog Comcast cable, but they're forcing the digital transition next month. Just did some shopping and in the long run FIOS is cheaper and has more than twice as many channels, so I'll be telling Comcast to go piss up a rope in a week or so.

New York City... (2, Informative)

djrok212 (801670) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238729)

New York City is a pretty big market by most counts, however in most of the city Time Warner is your ONLY choice for cable service. On top of that, most apartment buildings don't allow for the installation of satellite dishes, so Direct TV and Dish Networks are both out as options.

why this is bad. (2, Insightful)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#29238959)

The cable industry thinks this is a victory. It is for them, it's a huge loss for consumers.

Cable companies aren't forced to enhance their infrastructure to handle the extra subscribers, so consumers get lower quality service.

The subscriber cap was meant to preserve the quality of service for consumers. Now there is no recourse.

Re:why this is bad. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240011)

Well yes, that would be true in an area where there's only one broadband provider. But it doesn't make much sense when you live in a city that has Cable, FIOS, and DSL options to choose from.

Re:why this is bad. (3, Informative)

caladine (1290184) | more than 5 years ago | (#29240233)

You'd be surprised how many areas only have one broadband provider. DSL isn't an option at my house (can only get ISDN speeds here), and Verizon/AT&T only laugh at me when I ask when service might be available through them. Comcast has a monopoly here, and service only gets more expensive and less reliable. At my father's house, he has a huge list of choices. Good DSL, a cable company that actually has to compete, and AT&T uverse. Actual competition, and it shows. Not only does he get more services for his money, it's more reliable, and he's spending $50+ less per month that I do (no, he's not even paying a promotional price right now).

Re:why this is bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241243)

Ok, so things are supposed to suck for people who live in an area with only one broadband provider?

How is that a good thing?

How about demonopolizing infrastructure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29241685)

How about demonopolizing the infrastructure.

The guys who owns the physical lines to the apartments or buildings has to be separate from the content providers.

As a car analogy;
You would only have one road to your place.
But that road can have equal fees for anybody who wants to use them.
Be they taxi-drivers, bus-drivers or whatnot.

They all pay the same for the same service and the customer gets to choose which provider they want.
Just not the road.

Hoorah! Less government control is BEST! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29260897)

Hoorah! Less government control is BEST!

Impeach all democrats - they are marxists!

Deport all illegal aliens - they are criminals as soon as they cross the border! No amnesty for criminals!

Remove the czars and presidential advisors - they are marxists!

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