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FCC Considers Opening Up US Broadband Access

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the let-slip-the-dogs-of-the-market dept.

Communications 253

An anonymous reader writes On October 14, the FCC issued a call for public comments on a study (PDF) done by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society about whether the US should require the telephone and cable companies to open their networks to competitors so that independent ISPs could begin offering broadband, much in the way it was done back in the days of dialup access. The study found that open-access in virtually every other country 'is playing a central role in current planning exercises throughout the highest performing countries,' noting: 'While Congress adopted various open access provisions in the almost unanimously-approved Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC decided to abandon this mode of regulation for broadband in a series of decisions in 2001 and 2002. Open access has been largely treated as a closed issue in US policy debates ever since. We find that in countries where an engaged regulator enforced open access obligations, competitors that entered using these open access facilities provided an important catalyst for the development of robust competition which, in most cases, contributed to strong broadband performance across a range of metrics.'"

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Not sure (2, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767897)

so that independent ISPs could begin offering broadband, much in the way it was done back in the days of dialup access

I'm not sure that a charge-by-minute scenario for high-speed is really in my best interest.

Re:Not sure (4, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767977)

I'm also not sure a return to the time when the company that runs the physical layer has no reason to upgrade to allow more bandwidth is in our best interest.

Re:Not sure (3, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768125)

Are you sure they are upgrading bandwidth now, for _our_ best interests?

At least if there is competition the old monopoly will have to come up with some reason to choose them over the next guy.

Re:Not sure (1)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768509)

Are you sure a company ever does anything, for _our_ best interests?

There, FIFY. =)

Re:Not sure (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768707)

occasionally companies do know to do so. [techdirt.com] Very very occasionally, and spoken as opposed to actually being done, as dell is hardly a customer friendly company.

Re:Not sure (1)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768947)

Well duh. Companies aren't started to help people, they are started to earn money. If it's helping people you want, it's Non-Profits that you're after.

Personally, I would be very afraid of any company that supposedly exists to only help people. Ulterior Motives would probably exist then.

Re:Not sure (2, Interesting)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769039)

Believe it or not, it is possible for a company to earn money by providing useful goods or services to its customers instead of shafting them. It's just unfortunate that most large companies go the shaft-them route.

Re:Not sure (5, Interesting)

Forge (2456) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768705)

Americans simply don't understand how bad they have it. Right now, I pay $22 per month for 2MB DSL in Jamaica. I can get 16MB Cable for $30 but decided I need the extra bandwidth less than I need the $8. Either way, it's free modem and 3 month or shorter initial contract. This is in Jamaica, a "3rd World country".

Meanwhile I am shopping for internet in Southern NJ and haven't been able to find anything close to that price range. Sure I can get 30MB access for $65, but that's like buying a 40 seat bus to carry your family of 4. More than you need is great if you don't have to pay for the extra.

And for those who are wondering why an old Slashdoter would ever think he doesn't need more than 2MB. I work at an ISP, I have a pretty good idea about internet usage patterns and I know that my own pattern is such that I stop using the extra speed once I get past 768K. There was a time when I needed more. Not now.

Re:Not sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29769037)

Meanwhile I am shopping for internet in Southern NJ and haven't been able to find anything close to that price range. Sure I can get 30MB access for $65, but that's like buying a 40 seat bus to carry your family of 4. More than you need is great if you don't have to pay for the extra.

Have you not seen the 'cars' Americans are driving around?

and it will be called deregulation (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768273)

and my costs will go up remarkably.

Like my gas costs, where the old company that got forced to become just a carrier and could not sell gas to me suddenly is half my bill in summer. Now I have this nice maintenance and transport charge for the gas which is a flat fee +some if I go over some mystical limit that stresses the pipes I guess.

Meaning in summer half if not three fourths of my bill is paying the transport layer and very little goes to actual gas or the person who bills me. Yeah, I can't wait.

It sounds great, after all we get to beat on some company we don't have to face ourselves and demand their service or their property. Up until they stop upgrading it and we have to wait for the next "non regulated" service to come along until it gets "shared" and so and so on.

Re:and it will be called deregulation (1)

ElSupreme (1217088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768983)

+ like 5000

I paid ~20$ a month in fees (including my favorite 8$ convience fee), and about 0$ a month in gas for about 8 months of the year. As I live in Georgia, and I only had gas heat.

I was thinking about getting my gas disconnected and reconnected every winter, but I can't lock in a decent rate that way. And I pay ~75$ to disconnect (i.e. turn a valve, meter is electronic), and then 75$ to reconnect (turn the valve back on), and another 40$ account setup fee.

And there really weren't better options out there. Regulated monopoly replaced by, Regulated Monopoly (guy who owns the pipes), and UNREGULATED Ogliopoly. WIN FOR THE CONSUMER.

Re:Not sure (5, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768277)

The point of having a different company run the physical layer is that anyone can build a new line, and rent it out to any ISP at a fair rate. As it is, we have mutually exclusive lines, owned by only one or two companies in most towns. So they're happy to add more bandwidth, but they don't have to because you don't have the option of using someone else's cable. The value behind this is that it doesn't matter who runs the physical layer, anyone can build new lines and sell them to multiple providers. As it is, if you build a new line, you can only sell to the company that runs the physical layer (which is also the company that runs the upper layer.)

Re:Not sure (4, Insightful)

Bright Apollo (988736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768779)

mod +1 insightful and correct: infrastructure is defined as the basis for an economy and society. It is not in public interest to run more than one gas line, water supply line, or sewer line. It is impossible to run separate highways -- and outsourcing mgmt of same is proving as ridiculous as govt mgmt -- so why then do we allow the pretense of the last mile?

The problem is a historical outsourcing of this infrastructure component to a regulated monopoly (AT&T). NYC circa 1911 had hundreds of indie wires connecting buildings; granting a monopoly to AT&T with open-access covenants solved this and cleaned up the problem. Today, the problem is largely solved but the divorce of managing the infrastructure versus providing services on it did not take place. In other words, break up Verizon and SBC and every other last-mile provider, separating the physical transport from the value-added services.

Just think of it this way: Verizon or some other company contracts with a muni or county to provide last-mile service. Taxes pay for the connectivity, the wires, the fiber, what have you. Verizon provides -- and only provides -- a central office space with connections to the local infrastructure. Your services are provided by people leasing space in the CO and interconnecting. Last mile is provided by your town or county. Services are provided by whoever can lease a spot on the floor and cover operating costs.

I mean, we don't run Main Street any differently, do we?

-BA

Often they won't sell you the best they can do. (2, Informative)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769035)

I've noticed many cases where the physical line owned by the local provider is capable of MUCH MORE bandwidth than they're willing to sell. They simply refuse to sell you the faster connection.

AT&T is a good example. With ADSL2 my current pair is rated at being able to go up to nearly 20 megabits down and 2 megabits up. Yet they will only sell me 6 megabits down and HALF a megabit up.

Allowing competition in this area would rock; it wouldn't be long before another provider offers the higher speeds on AT&T's own lines, and then AT&T would have to up their own offerings as well in order to not look like fools.

So I see this as going either way. More competition is usually a good thing in the end.

Re:Not sure (3, Insightful)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768325)

I'm also not sure a return to the time when the company that runs the physical layer has no reason to upgrade to allow more bandwidth is in our best interest.

'return to'? As far as I can tell, in most places the company running the physical layer already has no incentive to upgrade since he faces no competition. Generally speaking I'm all for a free market, but in cases where the entry costs are so high as to make new entry impractical free market capitalism breaks down, and the government needs to intervene. About the least intrusive way the government can intervene here is to make sure the entry costs to competitors are low, and it seems to be working pretty well everywhere they've tried it.

Re:Not sure (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768769)

but in cases where the entry costs are so high as to make new entry impractical free market capitalism breaks down, and the government needs to intervene.

Government intervention is the reason that free market capitalism has broken down. Nobody even gets to try to come up with the entry costs because there's no point -- not when Government has already granted an exclusive monopoly to another company.

Re:Not sure (3, Interesting)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768765)

Yet during the time when we did do that, they were upgrading, consumers were getting more options and more services, and costs were competitive. Since they closed out that requirement, we've receded back to the point where we're only able to get the service the telco chooses to offer, and they have absolutely no incentive to upgrade because there's no reason to.

Re:Not sure (3, Insightful)

ElSupreme (1217088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768997)

Not to mention that the single company running the physical layer is already GROSSLY OVERSELLING the existing bandwidth. How can they sell what they have already OVERSOLD.

Re:Not sure (1)

trevelyon (892253) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769021)

Wow, I am really amazed people think that giving the Telcos a monopoly has helped them roll out increased bandwidth. Hell, the government has even given them ENORMOUS tax breaks and subsidies to do just that and still they have not done it (they did still keep the money of course).

The problem is actually quite simple there will be a monopoly(or very small number of companies) controlling the cable plant since right of way is needed for this and we don't want everyone's yard dug up every time a new company wants to offer service. Since it is a monopoly it should be regulated and the companies providing this should NOT be allowed to compete at the higher levels of service (ISP, phone, etc). That way there is no conflict of interest and the one company merely takes care of the cable plant. Other companies then provide the higher level services (internet access, phone, etc). From my understanding this is the model Japan and many other countries that have much higher broadband penetration and speeds (often with lower costs) do and it seems to be working quite well for them.

Make no mistake the U.S. is continually sliding in broadband offerings compared to other countries which seems to sharply coincide with the adoption of a mostly unrestricted duopoly (cable or DSL). When I compare that to the progress Germany and many other European countries ( I lived there for 7 years ) the U.S. seemed to have stood still. And that is just talking about broadband, don't get me started on how bad the cellphone service is in North America compared to Europe. Funny, it seems to be all the same companies though.

Re:Not sure (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768085)

Huh? I've never seen a landline company charge by the minute, except for long distance. Back in the BBS day there were a dozen free BBSes here at least, and this is a small city.

Back then it was absolutely free. My first dialup ISP charged me $12 a month. I have no idea what you're talking about.

Re:Not sure (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768161)

AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve... all of them had per-minute (or per-hour) charges... I seem to remember AOL being $20 for the first 20 hours, plus an additional rate after that. Or something along those lines. It was a big deal when AOL first did the unlimited dialup plan.

Re:Not sure (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768247)

don't forget TYMNET &c, which also had per-minute charges. Oh, and Delphi. Compu$erve was perhaps last to fall into line, but too late to save their bacon! Greedy fuckers.

Re:Not sure (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768289)

Hmmm, I do remember when Compuserve went to "by the minute" charges back in the early 80s. That's when I told them to fuck off and started using BBSes.

Re:Not sure (1)

Orbijx (1208864) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768633)

I would normally make a "You must be young here" joke, but... :)

I explicitly remember the days when AOL was 20 hours for $20 or so.
I also remember a few BBSes that were long distance, so because you had to direct dial them to get in, if you didn't have long distance then (my family didn't), you certainly did pay by the minute for being dialed in.

Then AOL started offering unlimited internets, and the need for those dialing numbers to BBSes started dropping.

Of course, without a credit card, AOL was a non-option to a barely pubescent geek. Coupled with the flipping out that the family did, on seeing these long distance charges... I got hooked on a bicycle floppy 'modem', with an 'uplink' to the public library that offered a half hour of free internet per session (and less family yelling).

Feel free to calculate this for bandwidth:
Distance traveled in each direction: 1.9 miles
Mode of personal transport: bicycle
Time consumed per direction: 15 minutes
Mode of data transport: floppy disk, 10 units
Volume of data transport: 1.38 MB per unit, formatted as FAT32
Number of discs that could be filled, average, per session: 4
Number of sessions per trip: 2

I must be olde.

Re:Not sure (1)

Dudeman_Jones (1589225) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768515)

wrong context. but consider back during the Ma Bell era when phone service was stupidly expensive for everyone and you had no choice in the matter at all. a bill by actual usage plan probably made sense to alot of americans financially.

First post? (1)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767907)

You love me! You really love me!

We've tried this before (-1, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767915)

Remember when AT&T was forced to open its network up to Italians? That was when we started to get all kinds of nefarious Italian telemarketing which is the cause of 62% of all suicides and nearly a third of rapes. I say keep the Italians in Mexico where they belong and restrict the Internet to Americans and our allies in the Free world.

Absolutely (5, Insightful)

SeeSp0tRun (1270464) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767921)

It is bad enough that we pay astronomical amounts just for internet access. This will be a great opportunity for competition, and an overall better product.

The government has say in certain things like trash collection for efficiency. Internet access has become such a commodity in the modern world that allowing competition can only broaden our capabilities. Oh, and knock some off my bill every month!
One question: who do the new warrants go to for interceptions? The provider or the infrastructure provider?

Re:Absolutely (0, Troll)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768101)

It is bad enough that we pay astronomical amounts just for internet access.

$20-$25 a month is "astronomical"? Even at minimum wage, that's not even half a days pay. If you consider that to be so horrible, I can only assume that you don't have a cell phone, cable, purchase dvd's / cd's, go to the movies, etc. Entry level broadband (like 80-90 KB/s downloads) costs less than a tank of gas and about as much as the typical dvd. Hell, if you go out to eat for lunch each day during a 5 day work week, you probably spend more money than you would for internet.

Re:Absolutely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29768219)

astronomical as in $10 per Mbit without local loop charge for 50 Mbit that is $500 per month

Re:Absolutely (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768383)

If you don't like the pricing in the country (due to lack of supply, which is a result of the low population resulting in a lack of demand), then move to a city. No one is stopping you.

Re:Absolutely (2, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768525)

humm i live in the city in fact its the states capital - and in fact its one of 3 cities that are known for R&D - and around here for net service for a Synchronous connection - all said and done is ~ 75$ per month per Mbit..

Re:Absolutely (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768937)

And what city might this be?

Re:Absolutely (4, Insightful)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768605)

What city do you live in? I live in Marina Del Rey, on the west side of Los Angeles. I have 2 options for broadband access: DSL and TimeWarner cable. TimeWarner charges $39.99/mo for "up to 10mb" internet by itself (http://order.timewarnercable.com/OfferList.aspx). I have switched over to BelAirInternet DSL services, because they offer me 5x5 DSL for $45/mo, which was the best price around for DSL. Verizon, at my old place in Venice, CA (2 miles from where I live now) could only offer me 768k DSL on their shoddy 20-year-old copper, but were totally willing to charge me $50/mo for that. I have had the same pricing experiences in Cincinnati, Ohio. So please, show me what city you're getting better pricing in.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Evil Shabazz (937088) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768619)

And no - getting better pricing on internet services by being bundled in with telephone or cable television service does NOT count toward better pricing. I have a cell phone, and don't want cable television.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768925)

I live in Marina Del Rey, on the west side of Los Angeles. I have 2 options for broadband access: DSL and TimeWarner cable. TimeWarner charges $39.99/mo

Yea, everything is more expensive out there in CA - but you get paid more to compensate for it.

I have had the same pricing experiences in Cincinnati, Ohio. So please, show me what city you're getting better pricing in.

Ironically enough, I live in Cincinnati (well, did, I moved to south Dayton recently, but that's like a whopping 10 miles away and the prices are the same). Time Warner has 4 tiers ranging from 768 kbps for $20 / month to 15 Mbps for $57 / month.

Re:Absolutely (5, Informative)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768547)

Where do you get prices like that? Where I live I have a choice of either paying $50/mo, or paying $50/mo.

Re:Absolutely (0, Redundant)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768991)

Yes, and where do you live? If you live in a place like LA or NYC (which have higher cost of living and as a result pay way more), then even at $50 / month you're still paying WAY less of your income for internet than people living in the rest of the country paying $25 / month.

Re:Absolutely (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768607)

It is astronomical. For 25 bucks you don't get much. I suspect with competition the price will be about the same, but the bandwidth you get for that price will go up. In fact, I would wager that 50 Mbps would start to be come common for 20 bucks a month pretty
  darn quick.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768957)

I suspect with competition the price will be about the same, but the bandwidth you get for that price will go up. In fact, I would wager that 50 Mbps would start to be come common for 20 bucks a month pretty.

You do realize that the providers already there will charge the new companies to use their pipes, right? Best case scenario is you get the same bandwidth for maybe a couple bucks less a month.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Orbijx (1208864) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768965)

The day entry level broadband costs less than a tank of gas, I'll take ten of 'em!
Right now, my broadband costs me about thirty-six tanks of gas.


(Of course, $1.75 US usually overflows my gas tank... :))

Re:Absolutely (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768473)

What do they need the warrant for?

Re:Absolutely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29768581)

Astronomical? Here in Norway it costs $96 a month for adsl2+.

Re:Absolutely (1)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768721)

Make the tubes a commodity with a reliable profit margin and then allow everything else to build on top of that as long as they can pay for the bandwidth they use. It is just common sense and YES it means we have to move more toward a model where you pay for what you use. But really, is that SO scary? Seriously, how much porn do you need to download. How many movies do you need to download? If the answer is "a lot" then yeah you should pay more. So what.

At least if we can separate the physical layer from the more abstract layers there won't be incentives at the physical layer to throttle select services in favor of other services. The best thing that could happen would be to commoditize the delivery of bits.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768825)

The government has say in certain things like trash collection for efficiency.

You think government picking up the trash makes it more efficient? What planet do you live on?

My home town has a mixture of communities with public and private trash pick-up. Follow the two garbage trucks around and you'll soon learn the difference between the two. The public trucks require three men and plod along at a leisurely pace. The driver sits in the cab the whole time and does nothing but drive. The private trucks work with two men, the driver gets out and helps and they manage to move at a much quicker pace.

Then there's the difference in pay. The public guys start out at $18/hr with benefits that would make most private sector employees envious. Now I don't want to knock the value of my friendly local sanitation engineers, but unless you are the garbage man from Dilbert you probably aren't worth $18/hr for driving a truck around and picking up garbage.

More efficient? Really?

Monopoly vs. Balkanization (-1, Troll)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767933)

Choose one.

"Balkanization"? B.S. (5, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768037)

I remember when you could get DSL from various competitive providers over the same bare copper wires, which the Bells were required to share access to. ("Remembering" this isn't hard, since it only requires going back to 2000 or so, before the Bush administration gutted the rules and gave Verizon its monopoly back.) It wasn't exactly "balkanization," nor is that an honest description of the situation in many other countries where line-sharing rules exist.

Frankly, that sounds like telco FUD. There's no advantage, to the customer, of having only one choice of ISP per wire coming into their house. The only one who benefits from this are the cable and telcos, because it effectively means that in order to compete with them, you need to independently solve the last-mile problem. It makes the startup costs of being an ISP immense, thus eliminating competition.

Back when the line-sharing rules were abolished, the telco apologists said that ending line-sharing would result in more physical last-mile options. Instead of just cable coax and Bell copper, we'd have IP over water mains, gas lines, sewer pipes, wireless mesh networks, etc. Of course, it's now 2009, we've had no mandatory line-sharing for the better part of 10 years, and none of those alternatives have materialized. Because, as it turns out, running the last mile is really, really hard. And we can look at other countries, ones who didn't happily take the collective dick of the phone companies in their mouth, and see that shared infrastructure seems to work better, on the whole.

It's not a choice between monopoly and balkanization, it's a choice between having four or five companies try -- and most of them fail -- to provide paltry broadband service to your house, duplicating effort with each other all the way, versus having one or two good, high-speed links to your house and then having those same four or five companies compete to provide transit over that shared infrastructure.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29768183)

Holy shit! After all the billions the cable and Telcos have spent in upgrades, you're going to tell them now they have to share? That's borderline criminal.

If you wanted a shared last mile, you should have had the government build it and open it up.

I don't understand how, after a company invests all that money in infrastructure, you can tell them now they must share with all the people who sat back on the sidelines and waited.

If I was the cable company or Telco, I'd threaten to shut the whole operation down if this went through.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29768261)

Because in many cases, the government provided "assistance" to these companies when they were building the lines. That gives them a right to demand that the lines they helped pay for be opened up for competition. Not only that, but these companies are "natural monopolies" which, like it or not, means the government has the authority to take steps that reduce the power of these companies.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (3, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768403)

'Many cases?' All Cases. In the form of right-of-way access and eminent domain rights.

Most have also taken money, and limited-area monopoly rights, saying they would upgrade and develop their lines in return. (Most have failed to do so, to any significant degree.) But all have had government assistance, just to exist.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (4, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768405)

Billions in upgrades??? Wow, I want to live where you live!.. I can't even get DSL, and I live 3 miles outside of a town. the phone company somehow managed to stretch 40,000 feet of copper between my house and their CO. And even though I live in a neighborhood of a hundred homes or so, they don't want to setup a "CO-Extender" box for our neighborhood, so we could have internet.

Did I mention that there is no cable either? (it comes within a half mile or so...) but nobody at the cable company will even return our calls. (Of course, charter is in bankruptcy).

So my choice for internet is Satellite, which several people have, but is expensive and slow, 3G cards from the cell phone companies, however, none of them provide more than about 128k\s where we live, since its low signal strength, and they have usage caps. Kind of frustrating when there is literally terrabits/s of data flowing over the fibers that run along the interstate, a mile from my house.. grrrr.. Now, if other companies were able to use that infrastructure, maybe thew would put in a small DSLAM to serve my neighborhood, or extend Charters fiber connection that last half mile to my neighborhood, or hell, at least use it as an endpoint, and put up Wi-Max.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768883)

So why don't you do something about it instead of waiting for the Government to come and save you? Have a bunch of people in your neighborhood go in together on a business connection at a location that can get cable and pipe it over to your neighborhood with wireless. Or do the same thing right in your own neighborhood with a couple of bonded T-1s. If there are enough people in your neighborhood that want good internet you ought to be able to pull this off. If there aren't then why are you surprised that nobody wants to invest the money to service your location?

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768415)

The thing your forgetting it that the Telco's signed a deal with the government to have monopolies and have their rates regulated by the government. Their rates are set by the states so essentially they are running a CPFF contract with the state to handle these services, you didn't hear about the telocos struggling in this economy did you. This is how they get out of paying all the property owners for use of their property to run telephone lines, and how they can hack apart trees on your property sometimes with out you consent and leave a pile of wood in you yard for you to take care of, yes those fuckers topped a pine tree in my yard and it wasn't even a threat to the lines so yes I'm bitter. And if the telocos don't like it that fine I'm sure it will cost more to remove the infrastructure so I'd be glad to buy it off of them at a steep discount.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (0, Troll)

qortra (591818) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768255)

I'm all for openness and competition, but allow me to play the devil's advocate here.

Suppose that some guy says that he'll pay you decent money if you install a huge slip 'n' slide over to his place. So, you pay $15,000 for a 2 mile slip 'n' slide, another $100,000 to get the dang thing buried, and finally $25,000 greasing the political wheels. Now, $140,000 later, the government steps in and says that anybody can use your slip 'n' slide as long as they pay you a fee. You are vaguely upset about this, but you're still making money from the infrastructure, so it's OK. However, the government then tells you that you can only charge $5 a month for the use of your infrastructure. Suddenly, your infrastructure costs cannot be reasonably recovered. The end result: you're pissed, broke, and not very likely to spend money upgrading your infrastructure ever again.

The point is that when the government exercises its power in this manner, this kind of crap happens all the time. Generally we don't feel bad about it because the companies who own the infrastructure tend to themselves be assholes. Also, we tend not to feel bad because some of these companies have themselves squandered government money. However, that doesn't make it right.

The real question is whether we need to enforce competition this way. Right now, there is already competition in some areas among several infrastructure owners (cable, fiber, telephone line, cellular towers, perhaps even power line). Add to this the emergence of wide area wireless infrastructure (non-cellular), and there might soon be a large plurality of broadband providers with their own infrastructure competing for your business. So, why mandate the sharing of infrastructure when there's already enough infrastructure to go around?

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768451)

Sorry what?

State-funding was used for the lines.
Companies have failed to deliver results that match up to the rest of the west, let alone the far east. In addition to that they use legal challenges to drive any competing government or private schemes out of the market.

Force 'em to share the lines at a reasonable cost, it's the only way you'll get innovation back into the US broadband market.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (0, Troll)

qortra (591818) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768655)

State-funding was used for the lines.

Certainly, for some lines, some state money was used. I said as much in my response.

However, is this the case for all infrastructure? For instance, how about AT&T U-verse - did they accept state funding, and if so, how much of their costs was subsidized? Can you provide evidence for you claim?

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768935)

Force 'em to share the lines at a reasonable cost

Who gets to decent what's "reasonable"? And why should I believe that the experience will be any different than my previous experiences with CLECs? I've worked with CLECs in many different communities for connections ranging from personal to small business to enterprise. The only thing they seem to be good at is pointing the finger at the ILEC when they have service issues.

Me: "My connection is still down, I'd like to check on the status of my trouble ticket."
Them: "Yeah, we are working on fixing that, but we are waiting for Verizon and don't have an ETA yet."
Me: "How is it Verizon's fault when I can run a traceroute that makes it to your core network before dying?"
Them: "I'm sorry sir, I can't give you any more information until Verizon gets back to us."
Me: "The Verizon tech left here four hours ago and said the circuit was fine."
Them: "Sir, I can't give you any information until Verizon gets back to us."

YMMV but I've never had a positive experience with a CLEC.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769025)

here in the UK the last mile is resold in two ways. Firstly just by repackaging/reselling BT's products with different pricing structures/caps/valueadd/whatever, and secondly by selling access to the exchanges so that other companies can fit their own equipment there.

This latter works fantastically well and is the source of the best consumer-grade connections you can get. I pay £17.50 for cap-less 24MBit. In practice I actually get 21MBit, which is fine my me!

Forcing our old monopoly to open up was the only way the UK could move forward. Sounds to me like the US could do with some of that.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768267)

"before the Bush administration gutted the rules and gave Verizon its monopoly back.before the Bush administration gutted the rules and gave Verizon its monopoly back."

I was waiting for that one. The FCC stopped enforcing those rules because the ILEC's had "opened" their lines in theory, but then had used every trick in the book to drive their competitors out of business. A ton of independent DSL operators sprung up in the late 90's, but they all disappeared. Why? Because the ILEC's were allowed to charge the DSL operators whatever they wanted for access, and then used dirty tricks to make the service crappy. By 2001-2002, they had almost all gone out of business. The ILEC's maintained their monopoly, legally, all under the watch of the previous FCC.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29768411)

More to the point, no alternative last mile except wireless has been established. Anywhere. Even in countries with line sharing rules.

Your choices, anywhere in Canada and the US are:
1. ADSL 1-15Mbps
2. Cable 1-30Mbps
3. FiOS (specific large cities condominiums)
4. Wireless (WiMax, 802.11a/b/g, GSM/EDGE/HSPDA/UMTS)
Of which option 3 and 4 don't exist in rural areas, and option 1 and 2 might be the same damned thing.

With TV over ADSL and Phone over Cable, we're getting to a point where the ultmate endpoint is just an ethernet connection. However you can't get the TV from your phone company if your TCP/IP connection is from your cable, though you might be able to get your IP Phone from your phone company over the cable. Then again you can watch the TV content directly from the websites who produce it.... if you are in the same country/zone/region/whatever.

Ultimately it needs to be fixed this way:
Party A provides a raw Ethernet pipe, does not care what goes over it. They're the last mile.
Party B's provides value added services, IP Phone, Live Television, Pre-recorded television.

That would then incite competition for quality and price for those value added services instead of the current triple-play-or-nothing that current ISP's offer.

And I don't see any reason why Party A has to also offer "Internet access" as a requirement for those VAS. If the ISP as Party A, also offers a VAS Internet service, it has to be unbundled from that raw ethernet connection. If Party A offers all the VAS, they need to be offerable independently of each other. If "internet service" is required for those to work, then it shouldn't require Party A's internet VAS. If the subscriber doesn't want general internet access, they can get just the route to the VAS required with no routable IP.

Pay for the physical line, let VAS sellers do the rest. If someone wants "just internet" then they should be able to get it without and damned bundles. If the copper and the cable are the only two choices, then it should be possible to bond those or multiple sources to form larger pipes by which the "general internet service" is provided.

Which also leaves open one more question.

Why the bloody hell do websites restrict their watching to only their home country? It would make a lot more sense to be able to watch anytime anywhere, negating the need for any "TV" service at all.

Re:"Balkanization"? B.S. (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768475)

Because, as it turns out, running the last mile is really, really hard.

It's only hard because it's heavily regulated on the local level. My county specifically designed their franchise laws to allow multiple operators. Because of this, we currently are serviced by two cable companies with their own infrastructure, and Verizon with Fios.

Re:Monopoly vs. Balkanization (1)

pdabbadabba (720526) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769067)

Balkanization please!

Canada (5, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767935)

This is a practice Canada currently uses. And we are ditching it. Estimates are that prices will almost double and dozens of companies will go broke as a bell monopoly forms and dominates the ISP market in Canada. Its like doomsday.

I think it is safe to say that if the US implements it you will see lots of competition and halving of prices if this is implemented in the US. The idea that all countries don't do this is ridiculous. And the only people it hurts are entrenched corrupt monopolists.

Which is why it probably won't happen.

Re:Canada (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767967)

Why would bell have a monopoly? Didn't anyone else lay cable for internet? Or did Canada give Bell a monopoly on physical lines?

Re:Canada (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768079)

Bell's network was laid using federal money. The network was handed over to Bell in exchange for an agreement that forced Bell to re-sell bandwidth because the network was built with taxpayer dollars. The population density is much lower in Canada so nation-wide infrastructure projects often have to be backed by the federal government to be a worthwhile investment.

Re:Canada (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768291)

Except that now the big companies are buying all the smaller companies. Telebec, for example, is now part of Bell Aliant [bellaliant.ca] .

So the monopoly is coming back, except this time the CRTC seems to be turning a blind eye.

Re:Canada (1)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768047)

Canada has relatively lax regulations as compared to most European countries and it has been a huge damper on innovation and competition. Bandwidth is required to be sold wholesale to smaller providers but wholesale costs are allowed to be much higher than in Europe, and yes, the CRTC is considering lifting what meager regulations we have. It may well be a disaster for broadband prices and speeds and we already have some of the worst in the developed world

It's important to recognize that in Canada the networks were largely built using federal money and then handed over to the telecom giants. This is why regulations should exist; because the government has already interfered with competition, creating a partial monopoly. The US is a bit different since the providers built the networks using little taxpayer money. Nonetheless, more competition would clearly benefit the consumer

It's an interesting problem, I tend to be a libertarian (having just read Atlas Shrugged, it's tough not to lean further to the right than I have in the past) but I'm also an avid broadband user. I generally dislike government regulation, but the nature of the information infrastructure makes it difficult for competition to occur in an unregulated environment.

Re:Canada (1)

lytfyre (1518695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768889)

One of the really interesting Canadian examples is Sasktel.

They're a crown corporation (government owned company) that provides phone and broadband service.

I was getting good service, a fast connection, and no bogus "unlimited-unless-you-actually-try-and-use-it" HDTV over IP, and they don't do traffic shaping, screwing with bittorent, or any of the other usual crap. All for less than I'm now paying in downtown Toronto.

Oh, and Saskatchewan has an exceedingly low population density. The only two cities are only about 200k each, and the total population of the province is only just over a million.

Re:Canada (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768243)

A wholesale business was never enforced on the non-telcos. In some places, it's a choice of Rogers or DSL. If your lines aren't good enough, then tough, you don't have a choice and have to pick one of the crappest ISPs.

Re:Canada (1)

trevelyon (892253) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768807)

I just moved to Canada (GTA) and was amazed to find that the Telcos and the cable operators manage to screw the customers even more than in the U.S. The only relief has been using independent ISPs that are allowed shared access to Bell infrastructure. And with those the biggest hurdle has been Bell. For example neither Bell nor Rogers (cable company) provided static IP service to residences when I moved in last year. They did provide static IPs to a business but you needed to be in a building zoned commercial to get it (no home office). Canada will slide back another few years in Internet deployment if they stop the shared access. I really hope this does not go through.

I guess there's no tag for (4, Funny)

vekrander (1400525) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767939)

a-compelling-study-on-a-slow-moving-possible-future-outbreak-of-common-sense

Re:I guess there's no tag for (1)

Serenissima (1210562) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768057)

I'm going to go with 'goodluckwiththat'. As long as Telecoms have lobbyists who contribute huge amounts of money to the campaigns of politicians who greatly desire money, I'm not holding my breath that laws like this will easily pass.

Wow (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767947)

I've got to say that--for all the many, many other ways the Obama administration has disappointed me and failed to delivery--the recent changes at the FCC and it's new more pro-consumer bent has truly pleasantly surprised me. Between pro-consumer moves like this, their slap down [latimes.com] of Apple/AT&T, and their support [latimes.com] of net neutrality, they're taking a remarkably progressive (and sorely needed) approach to communications issues. It's too bad the telecommunications giants will probably just bring in their many whores in Congress to pass laws to override the FCC in the end.

Re:Wow (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29768653)

This is a great idea, implemented badly. So badly that I suspect we would be better off doing nothing. This is, unfortunately, the problem I have with a lot of Obama's agenda, which is incredibly frustrating.

The correct solution, in my mind, is for the government to become the infrastructure owner for, at the very least, the last mile. The government needs to build an adequate pipe to every single house and run them all back to regional colos owned and operated by the government. In cases where there already are adequate pipes, the government can buy them from their current owners. "Buy" in the literal sense, meaning a transfer of legal ownership of the physical wires. Not the usual government sense, which typically means to buy access, or contract out, or whatever.

Once this is all done, ISPs pay a monthly rate for subscribers they have which works out to cover the government's costs of building, maintaining, and upgrading the infrastructure. They also pay a monthly rate to lease space in the government's colo facilities which, again, covers the costs of the colo. These costs are averaged out over the entire country, so ISPs pay the exact same rates in New York City as they do in some no-name village in the Alaska Interior. This helps to ensure that Internet access is affordable regardless of the location. It also should make the program self-sufficient, which is crucial. It would likely make the program profitable after ten years or so as well, so we'd need to make an effort to keep the government from "borrowing" the surplus before it can be re-invested in infrastructure improvements.

The government would have a mandate to ensure 100% coverage. Obviously some areas would get it later than others; the initial focus should probably be on big cities so the program gets some revenue going almost right out of the gate. That would make later growth faster and more stable, and additionally it would give some crucial information as to what actual costs and revenues are going to be like.

Once this is all set up, ISPs are free to do whatever they want. This is crucial: they are essentially unregulated. They can charge whatever they want. They can be net-neutral, or they can be net-biased. They can offer 1Mb/s, 20Mb/s, or 100Mb/s. Regardless of their business plan (or lack thereof), they pay the exact same rate to the government as everyone else. Comcast wants to offer 5Mb/s, filtered, shaped, overcommitted Internet access for $75/mo? Fine. I'll get a couple of my friends together and we'll set up our own ISP and charge ourselves cost. The cost of entry is so low that it'll actually be practical to do this, which obviously means that smaller ISPs will have a chance at competing again.

Unfortunately, this will never happen. As you mentioned, the telecom giants will put a stop to it. I can hate them for it, but I can't blame them: Comcast, for example, would lose 5% of its subscribers literally overnight. And probably another 10-20% that year. It would ruin them. They deserve to be ruined, but I can't blame them for not wanting it to happen any more than I can blame an admitted murderer-rapist for trying to get himself released from prison on a technicality.

slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29767963)

contributed to strong broadband performance across a range of metrics.'
slashdot [asasd.info]

Cell phones? (5, Interesting)

Mekkah (1651935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29767999)

Can they do this with cell phone networks too? Not only to stop the Verizon "Can you hear me now", but I imagine that would focus on better phones rather than commercials about a fscking map.

Just wonderin'

I wonder if it'll work as well as before... (5, Insightful)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768113)

Funny story. When I first got DSL, back in 1999 or 2000, I (a) really wanted to stick with my cool existing dialup ISP, and (b) really wanted a static IP. My landline provider, Verizon, was happy to sell me DSL for $49/mo, but with dynamic IP and none of the awesomeness my current ISP provided (static IP, shell access to the email/Web host, etc, etc). Fortunately, thanks to the laws then in place, my ISP was able to offer DSL access over my Verizon line -- still giving me static IP, and letting me keep my existing accounts, all at the same $49/mo.

UNfortunately, Verizon back-charged my ISP something like $32.50/mo. for DSL access, so my ISP was suddenly getting $17.50/mo from me for an always-on DSL line's worth of traffic, where before they'd been getting $25/mo for a most-of-the-time-on dial-up connection's worth of traffic. They got to keep a faithful customer, so yay, but they lost revenue and increased expenses. I'm not sure how many others followed in my footsteps, or how much of a difference it made to the company, but they finally folded up and stole away in the wake of an ice-storm in 2002.

So, open access sounds like a great thing for consumers -- assuming the entrenched monopolists/duopolists can't find a way to make it economically untenable, while still complying with the letter of the law. Of course, the only way that could happen is if the telcos and cablecos could somehow exert influence over the content of said law. Good thing that never happens.

Not quite (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768673)

", but they lost revenue and increased expenses."

no, they got more revenue because you paid them 24 buck more per month(49 - 25). There expense went up, so there profits decreased.

Wait... (5, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768117)

Wait... Are they trying to say ... that competition is ... good? What a novel idea! Why didn't someone think of that sooner!

sigh...

So, let me get this straight... (5, Interesting)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768173)

Open access already is required by law, but the FCC isn't enforcing it. Why? Well, getting past the "It's all Bush's fault" crowd, the law was so poorly written that it was practically unenforceable. The ILECs "opened" their lines to competitors, and then used paperwork, "reasonable" delays, and low level sabotage to ensure that their competitors didn't keep the clients they could get.

The problem isn't the FCC; the problem is a Congress that writes laws consist of

1) broad but vague edicts that are left to the Executive branch to complete ("Stimulus" Plan), and
2) "Disease of the Week" laws that are extremely narrow in response to whatever is in the news right now (banning ANY lead in childrens' items, no matter the exposure risk).

Re:So, let me get this straight... (1)

jdubchak (1121059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768915)

The problem isn't the FCC; the problem is a Congress that writes laws...

That's your first mistake: you assume that Congress wrote the law and the entrenched monopolist/duopolist lobby didn't.

Sham (1)

_LORAX_ (4790) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768209)

Open access is just a short term solution at best, a sham at worst; as long as the media conglomerates own and operate the "last mile" infrastructure they will always have a competitive advantage in delivering services. Open access works best in those other counties because the delivery system is often owned by the govt or a non-profit, not someone who is competing with others to provide service.

Re:Sham (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768697)

depends on the open access.

Sometimes you have to regulate the market... (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768281)

... to make it more effective.

Don't the telcos in the US wholesale their DSL business to third parties already? Yes, I realise that DSL isn't the only way to connect to the net.

time, space & circumstance catching up with so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29768333)

we could try treating both our young & old folks, as well as our neighbors, better. that might delay our demise? rays of hope 'theater' does not appear to be covering it?

Competition? Come On (2, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768351)

OK, who are you going to believe: Harvard, Adam Smith, and a bunch of empirical evidence, or the oligopolists who have monopoly rents to defend? Competition never did anything good for anyone who was in charge of an existing monopoly. Competition may be one of the fundamental tenets of free market capitalism, and may be a principle requirement for maximization of both GDP and a society's ability to satisfy wants, but it simply does not guarantee those who have attained wealth and power that they will be able to continue their acquisition of it without trying very hard.

Ask yourself what is really important here: The principles of economics which are supposed to be the bedrock of our superpower status, or the rights of a few CEOs to do a poor job and charge whatever they want?

A return to the way things were (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768387)

Let me remind everyone of how things were back in the golden age of the internet.

You had dozens of ISPs to choose from. In a major city, perhaps hundreds. You could instruct your computer to connect to any one of those ISPs, regardless of who was your local telephone company. If you didn't like your ISP, then you could switch to another one that same day. No installers, no custom modems rented from the phone company or ISP. Just a standard device.

Back then, we never worried about network neutrality, or traffic filtering, or censorship. There were no sites like ESPN that could only be accessed by certain ISPs. Internet was really really really cheap ($9.99) and "unlimited" really was unlimited.

The reason things changed is because when we used dial-up over telephones, phone companies were legally required to be neutral carriers. When we switched to broadband that was no longer the case. Basically, the phone companies found a legal loophole that killed competition. It has taken congress and the FCC 10 years to understand this. Hopefully they won't get lobbied by the new oligarchy and kill this proposal to fix things.

Re:A return to the way things were (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768749)

that was not the golden age. That was the begininging, just like almost every other market.

It's easy to be unlimited when everyone is using 1200-56K baud modem to hit the back bone.
And of course nearly all content sucked.

My friend, THIS is the golden age of the internet.

Re:A return to the way things were (3, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769003)

Perhaps. Although many consider the golden age to be prior to the eternal september [wikipedia.org] :-)

Re:A return to the way things were (1)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | more than 4 years ago | (#29769063)

So what you are saying is even though the backbone providers got government subsidies to increase the backbone bandwidth they failed to do so and now they cannot provide sufficient bandwidth even though they charge me double what I was paying in the modem days.

Call it unlimited, charge me twice the amount and whine I am using too much. How do I get a piece of this action? Sounds like something Uncle Bruno whould like.

Yes! PLEASE (4, Interesting)

eples (239989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768391)

Verizon installed a fiber node this past year in my neighborhood, yet I cannot get FiOS because "it's not done".
To make matters worse, I cannot use my preferred ISP (Speakeasy) because of the infrastructure hurdle mentioned above.


In my mind, this is anti-competitive behavior by a monopoly (Verizon, obviously) to prevent me from choosing a different ISP. I really wish I could because Verizon's service and reliability is absolutely horrible.

One point of irony in all of this is that when the Verizon tech tested the copper line, the automated voice is still "Welcome to Bell Atlantic", the PREVIOUS established monopoly. (and it was James Earl Jones' voice no less.)


As Nobel Laureate Dr. Paul Krugman noted today in his column, competition is always a good thing [nytimes.com] .

Re:Yes! PLEASE (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768809)

What area are you in? I have Verizon and have never been happier with an ISP.
I have had them for years and have need to make 1 phone call for a problem when the first set up DSL. An issue that turned out to be a neighborhood problem they fixed in an hour.

The only other problem I had is when they laid fiber they broke my sprinklers. Something they fixed very quickly.

In fact, when I had DSL they had a 14.99 a month special, one they extended to me even though my current contract was 24.99. The applied it automatically and sent me a note to contact them if I didn't like the change.

For the record, I download a lot of content and have never been told to cut back.

We don't need the FCC for WIRES, dammit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29768459)

There is no compelling reason to create an interstate authority to deal with something as physically local as wires between your house and a network switch a mile away. There were some good reasons for creating the FCC, and none of those reasons apply here.

As for opening access, that decision can be left to whatever government authority has given special favors (e.g. monopoly) to the phone/cableTV company. Maybe that really is US Congress sometimes. I honestly don't know. But I also know my local phone company is mostly regulated by the state, and my local cable TV company has a very special deal with the city government. Why can't those entities set terms that advance the interests of the people, in exchange for the monopoly powers?

We don't need Washington for this, and it's ok if your city/state ends up disagreeing on policy decisions with my city/state. Maybe our communities' needs really are different.

Local governments sure as hell represent the people effected by their decision a lot more, than the FCC ever can. That's not anti-Washington tea-bagger cynicism; that's the cold hard mathematics of taking the reciprocal of the number of constituents that a government serves. It's a basic fundamental idea in democracy, and the reason we have any state, county, and city governments.

MIND BLOW! (3, Insightful)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768477)

So wait, what you're saying is that lines which were built with huge amounts of public money, by companies with a publicly mandated monopoly should be... open? to the public?

This is gonna blow my mind to chunks to the milky way.

What we (the people) should do is tell comcast and ted turner to go suck a fat one, take back the lines that we paid for, and turn them over to co-ops who actually want to give us better service at a lower price.

Look to Scandinavia: Competition is _very_ good! (5, Informative)

Terje Mathisen (128806) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768491)

Norway, Finland, Sweden & Denmark are all among the top nations in the world, for both cell phone & broadband coverage, and among the lowest prices in the world for cell phone use.

A key part of bringing this about here in Norway has been that the physical access layer ("last mile copper"/gsm cells) has to be available to competitors, with government-controlled rates.

I.e. when I got ADSL about 8 years ago, I got it from NextGenTel, a competitor to Telenor who owns my regular phone circuit.

On the GSM side we have two physical operators (Telenor and Netcom), both my kids get their cell phone service from one of many virtual operators (Tele2) which uses the Netcom infrastructure. Their monthly bills are usually so low that the operator will wait 3 months between each bill to reduce billing overhead. (I'm paying less than $10/month for each of them.)

Tele2 btw used to be based on the Telenor network, they got an even better deal (i.e. probably lower than government-mandated rates) from Netcom so overnight they simply moved everything across. My kids had to reset their phones to reconnect to the new set of towers, everything else just worked.

Terje

As Long as (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768715)

I don't think its a good idea as long as no government money "Our Money" has been used by theses tel cos IE comcast att the ones keeping the lines. If they have received any government money then i say the lines are everyones and any business can use them as long as they also pay for line upkeep

Confusing network layers? Posters are confusing me (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29768903)

I must be missing something here.

Those who "provide broadband" are the physical infrastructure providers (allowing for minimal software layers regarding static/dynamic IP addressing, mundane access control, etc.); this is not the same as what many deem "ISP"s to wit email service, web hosting, etc. It's the difference between who paves & maintains the road to your mailbox vs. who picks up your trash. Back in the "golden age of the internet [where] you had dozens of ISPs to choose from" it was the phone company that provided the physical infrastructure connecting you to a bridge to the backbone; today you have a choice of phone, cable, DSL, 3G, 4G, WiMax, satellite, etc. providing that "last mile" type service bridging you to the Internet backbones. Don't confuse "golden age ISPs" data bridging service with their coincidental email/hosting/etc. services which you can now get from anywhere on the planet.

So ... I'm confused about what the FCC is considering opening up access to what by who. Anyone can, with big money, get into the very expensive "last mile" service (or into the backbone service). Comcast gives me that "last mile" service (and I have options for AT&T DSL, Clear WiMax, Verizon 3G, etc.); pray tell who else is supposed to gain access to Comcast's wiring to my home for what purpose? My web/email hosting is on Hostway who knows where.

What am I missing here?

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