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FCC Dodges Pointed Questions On US Broadband Plan

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the but-thank-you-for-asking dept.

Government 276

Ars covers a series of questions that US senators put to the FCC chairman following up on his appearance before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in April. The headline question was a blunt one asked by octogenarian Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI): "The National Broadband Plan (NBP) proposes a goal of having 100 million homes subscribed at 100Mbps by 2020, while the leading nations already have 100Mbps fiber-based services at costs of $30 to $40 per month and beginning rollout of 1Gbps residential services, which the FCC suggests is required only for a single anchor institution in each community by 2020. This appears to suggest that the US should accept a 10- to 12-year lag behind the leading nations. What is the FCC's rationale for a vision that appears to be firmly rooted in the second tier of countries?" In the FCC's formal response (PDF), Chairman Genachowski doesn't rise to the "second tier" bait, and in fact talks about "ensuring that America remains a broadband world leader," as if he believes we currently are. A blogger over at Balloon Juice is a little more forthright on the "What is the FCC's rationale" question: "The rationale is that this is the best they can do with a legislative branch in the pocket of telecom providers."

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To be fair (5, Insightful)

poet (8021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861580)

We (the U.S.) is a great deal larger and more spread out than *any* of those other countries. However, it is ridiculous that I can't easily get 100Mbs (compared to other countries) in cities like Portland or Seattle. I would expect to only be able to get 25Mbs where I live (and I can and do), as I am 45 from a major metro.

Re:To be fair (5, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861728)

Likewise it would be ridiculous if I lose my Free TV (via antenna) just because the FCC wants to sell-out to ATT, Verizon, and other megacorps. I can not take credit for these words, since they were written by someone else, but I agree with them wholeheartedly. SOURCE: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=18860552#post1886055 [avsforum.com]

- "The irony is that if the Bush FCC had dared to push something like this, it would have been attacked by progressives -- and rightly so -- because there's absolutely nothing progressive about this particular proposal. It takes away a free service that is currently enjoyed in at least 15 million households [i.e. 15% of the population], including many who aren't especially well off [poor].

"And it does so for the purpose of turning that spectrum over to some very, very big telecom companies to either warehouse [i.e. not use and sit idle] or offer expensive subscription services to a mostly well-heeled customer base of Blackberry and iPhone users. [Plus] the stations most likely to lose their spectrum are also those stations that are least likely to be part of any of the big media conglomerates.

"Which means that ownership diversity also takes a hit if this FCC Plan comes to pass. It's hard for me to find the words to express the level of disgust that I feel for this misbegotten proposal. But I'll certainly cheer when FCC Chair Genachowski goes away (may that happen soon!) -- he's even worse than Michael Powell was, and Powell was pretty awful. Meanwhile, I really miss Kevin Martin, who was something of a loose cannon, but at least he didn't seem to be so totally in the pocket of any particular industry."

2

In other words:
- it hurts the poor
- it hurts rural residents
- it add another expensive $1000-2000 annual bill
- it serves to further consolidate the industry away from private local station, and into the hands of megacorps
- stifles competition by monopolizing entertainment in even fewer hands (ATT, Verizon) than previously

Re:To be fair (4, Interesting)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861930)

Eliminating free OTA TV doesn't mean that free services will be eliminated entirely. It could be FCC policy that the new owners of the spectrum subsidize cable or satellite services to offer an entirely free very basic tier. I'd bet that very few of those free OTA TV watchers don't have access to cable or satellite (if they wanted it).

You have valid points that just need to be taken into consideration in the event of a complete broadcast TV removal. There's no need to waste valuable terrestrial spectrum when your points can be handled through other means, though.

-John

Re:To be fair (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861958)

And for some users it's not just worth it to step up technology so they may just consider the fact that it may be worth it to just skip the TV and broadband. Sure - hillbillies, but when it starts to feel like the media companies starts to milk you of money and that you need a new TV every two years then it's time to think about it.

At least ordinary radio isn't digitalized and laden with a subscription fee yet.

One may wonder if the Amish are the ones that have the best chance to survive a breakdown in society.

Re:To be fair (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862046)

>> And for some users it's not just worth it to step up
>> technology so they may just consider the fact that it
>> may be worth it to just skip the TV and broadband

I sincerely doubt people making this decision are giving any consideration to the technology involved. They're looking at cost only. And you're right. If the cost is too much, then it won't be worth it for them to "upgrade" to whatever.

I think there will always be access to free "broadcast" TV, regardless of however that broadcast is technically carried out. Well, in an ideal world, at least. Public good would win out over corporate and political greed.

stop laughing...

-John

Re:To be fair (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862392)

>>>They're looking at cost only.

And some aren't looking at all. This FCC Plan's primary goal is to extend wireless internet to rural communities and farmers. But you would need a billion cell towers to attain 99.9% coverage of this whole continent. Now THAT will cost.

Re:To be fair (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862364)

>>>At least ordinary radio isn't digitalized and laden with a subscription fee yet.

I concur on the Amish part. The economy collapses and they barely notice; they just keep on planting their food and enjoying life. Most of them are rich compared to most of us (they have half-a-million or more in cash or in the bank). As for Digital Radio no date has been set but I expect the FCC to shutoff analog radio by 2020 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio [wikipedia.org]

Re:To be fair (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862040)

>>>There's no need to waste valuable terrestrial spectrum

I consider handing over Free TV to iPhones and other gadgets to be wasteful. It's no fun watching HDTV on a tiny 3 inch screen, or even a 20 inch laptop. From my viewpoint such a move would be going from Superior to inferior service. (see move below)
.

>>>It could be FCC policy that the new owners of the spectrum subsidize cable or satellite services to offer an entirely free very basic tier.

I'd be okay with that but I bet in practice it won't match the ~40 free channels I get now. Most cable/satellite companies only offer the 6-7 local channels and nothing more. - But with my antenna I not only get those channels but also a Rerun channel (older shows like Star Trek, Dead Like Me, Xena, etc) plus a 24 hour Movie/Anime channel plus a RetroTV channel (60s/70s) plus an ESPN-like sports channel plus 24 hour News channel plus Foreign TV shows/movies channel plus Qubo for Kids plus Smile-of-a-Child channel plus 2 Spanish channels (great for telenovels and soccer) plus History/documentary channel plus.....

Well you get the point. I'd be downgrading from a great 40-channel Free TV service with lots of variety to the Comcast's Lifeline cable that barely has 6 stations.

Re:To be fair (3, Interesting)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862428)

Yeah, that'd suck to go from 40 free things to 6-7 free things. I mean, you're entitled that the number of things that you're doing or paying absolutely nothing for shouldn't decrease. We should continue to waste spectrum so your number of free things doesn't change.

The basic (but not free) tier on Comcast has 100 channels @ $360/yr, btw.

I think that there's a public interest goal that's met with free TV and radio and that should be maintained. I don't think we need to use the vast amounts of spectrum to maintain it, though.

-John

Re:To be fair (0)

Dragoniz3r (992309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862370)

Yeah, but you're proposing that the FCC not auction off the spectrum... that's crazy talk! There's no money in that for the FCC!
Huh. Maybe the regulating agency shouldn't be getting paid by the people they're regulating.

Re:To be fair (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861768)

>>>100Mbs

BTW why do you need 100 Mbit/s? It only takes 5 Mbit/s to carry a MPEG4-encoded HDTV stream; I suppose if you have 3 people in the same house but watching different channels, then you'd need 15 Mbit/s minimum. So what's the 100 Mbit/s line for? (just curious)

Plus this broadband plan will be for *wireless* internet and not the answer to your problem. I've never seen a wireless connection that fast. You should be contacting the FCC and saying this plan is unacceptable.

- And final thought. The US really isn't that far behind when compared to other continent-spanning federations:
Russian Federation 8.3 Mbit/s
U.S. 7.0
E.U. 6.6
Canada 5.7
Australia 5.1
China 3.0
Brazil 2.1
Mexico 1.1 Mbit/s

And if you prefer to look on a state-by-state basis of the EU, US, and Canada then you get:
Sweden 13 Mbit/s
Delaware, Romania,Netherlands,Bulgaria 12
Washington,Rhode Island 11
Massachusetts 10
New Jersey,Virginia,New Hampshire,New York 9
British Columbia,Colorado,Connecticut,Arizona, Slovakia 8 Mbit/s

Re:To be fair (5, Insightful)

Mad Merlin (837387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861854)

BTW why do you need 100 Mbit/s?

What do you need a 3 GHz 6 core CPU for? What do you need 12G of RAM for? What do you need a 3T hard drive for? These are all equally pointless questions, because regardless of the fact that you can't think of anything that would use the faster hardware, there's always countless ideas that would become practical (and widely implemented) when faster hardware is deployed.

Re:To be fair (-1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862158)

Since you gave me a smartass response, I will hold-up a mirror and echo that right back at you:

>>>What do you need a 3 GHz 6 core CPU for?

I don't. I watch HDTV on a 3 gigahertz single core Pentium

>>>What do you need 12G of RAM for?

I don't. I only have half-a-gig.

>>>What do you need a 3T hard drive for?

I don't. It's only 0.3 terabytes. I notice you keep asking these questions (and presuming a lot of false things about me) (AKA strawmen argument), but you're not answering MY question. The original guy says he needs 100 Mbit/s, and that it's a travesty that it's not available to him (as if his life will end if he doesn't get it) (and ignoring the fact that most of the world's humans don't even have a Home much less internet). I simply wondered why he needs it. If he can't think of a reason then he doesn't "need" it.

He merely wants it and that's not the same thing. It's like how I want a Porsche but don't really need one. I don't expect the government to setup a program and start handing-out free Porches so I can cruise I95 at 200 mile an hour. Why? Because it's not needed. It only takes 5 Mbit/s to watch HDTV, and most Cable ISPs already provide that level of service, so his claim that what he "needs" is not available is a false one.

Oh and in case you're wondering: I have 0.7 Mbit/s and I'm perfectly happy with it. It isn't HD but I can still stream youtube, syfy.com, and other video.

Re:To be fair (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862462)

(sigh). I simply wondered why he needs it. If he can't think of a reason, then he doesn't "need" it. He merely wants it and that's not the same thing. It's like how I want a Porsche but don't really need one. I don't expect the government to setup a program and start handing-out free Porches so I can cruise I5 at 200 miles an hour. Why? Because it's not needed.

It's important that we as Americans separate need from want, else we'll soon end up like Greece (bankrupt and on the verge of collapse).

Re:To be fair (1)

blackC0pter (1013737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862562)

I completely agree. Imagine what the internet would be like if we were still stuck with dialup.... Any service requiring a decent amount of bandwidth just wasn't possible when bandwidth costs were through the roof. Youtube, hulu, online backup services, picture sharing, skype, cheap voip, etc. Providing a fast and cheap internet connection opens up the market for numerous other advances and technologies. This is identical to the introduction of our modern highway system. People probably wondered why you would want to drive thousands of miles to another city but it really opened up the market for trade (shipping), tourism, etc.

Create the infrastructure and then the businesses will follow.

Re:To be fair (5, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861978)

The US really isn't that far behind when compared to other continent-spanning federations:

Except, you're behind Russia, and you just showed that Romania is better equipped than New York. Considering the respective living standards, I can't say I agree with your conclusion.

Not to mention how misguided it is to correlate physical distances and connectivity. You're behind Russia. Who won the cold war, again?

Re:To be fair (0, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862432)

Who cares? I don't care if Russia pulls into the #1 spot. They are a democracy now, and I wish them all the best of luck. Besides you would expect them to have faster internet, when you consider how much new infrastructure that American and European companies have installed there.

Re:To be fair (1)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862156)

BTW why do you need 100 Mbit/s?

Why do we need all those highways. Other than rush hour they're mostly empty.

The first modem I used was a 300bps acoustic coupler. Who would need a 2400bps modem? That's just a waste of bandwidth. Who could possibly use all that?

Flash forward 20 years and I went from a 56k modem to 1M DSL. I must have been insane. What could I possibly do that could need that kind of capacity? If it weren't for that kind of growth there might never have been anything like YouTube, Facebook, Skype, etc.

The 100M line is not necessarily needed to satisfy the applications of today but it will inspire the applications of tomorrow.

Oh, and one more thing...

GET OFF MY LAWN!

Re:To be fair (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862486)

>>>Why do we need all those highways. Other than rush hour they're mostly empty.

(1) I can tell you've never driven during the day. Interstates are not full at 2 in the afternoon, but they're not empty either. Trucks are constantly running day and night.

(2) We don't need an 8-lane wide interstate running to everybody's garage. Neither do we need 100 Mbit/s line to everybody's home. The government is supposed to provide what people NEED as a minimum, not waste resources on 8-lane wide driveways (real or virtual).

Re:To be fair (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862518)

Oh, and one more thing...

>>>GET OFF MY LAWN!

You first. You're the one(s) who are supporting the FCC Plan to kill-off channels 25 and up for antenna television. We have occupied this "lawn" since the 1950s and don't want to give it up. We enjoy getting free entertainment, news, foreign programming, tornado warnings, and so on. We've already agreed to give channels 52 to 83 for cellphone & internet expansion. We've shared. We've done our part. No more.

Re:To be fair (1)

swilver (617741) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862296)

Perhaps you should add the monthly fees too, then you'll see the big difference

Which stream are you talking about? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862302)

DVD has a capacity of 10 mbits. Blu-Ray has around 50 or 60.

And that's just a single video stream. Now imagine a household with more than one person wanting to use it...

Now, granted, everything probably will be compressed to hell, because at this point, it's no longer your ISP that's the bottleneck, it's theirs. There's also a lowest-common denominator factor -- content will be made to serve those at 1 mbit, not those at 100.

Still, asking why you need that is a bit like asking why you need any technological upgrade. You don't, yet, but if it's there, someone will find a use for it.

Re:Which stream are you talking about? (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862596)

>>>DVD has a capacity of 10 mbits. Blu-Ray has around 50 or 60.

(1) That's the maximum. The average is only half the numbers your listed. (2) HDTV only needs 9 Mbit/s for MPEG2 and 4.5 Mbit/s for MPEG4, so you only "need" 5 megabit/s minimum to steam a MPEG4 HD video. Times however many people live in the house.
.

>>>why you need any technological upgrade

I consider killing off HDTV and handing-over that EM space to iGadgets to watch TV on a tiny 3 inch screen to be a technological Downgrade, not an upgrade.

Re:To be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862340)

Got any comparison figures that include the costs per month? Compared to those 30/40 USD/month the high speed connections seem to come at high prices:
http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r24289091-Extreme-105 [dslreports.com]

Re:To be fair (2, Informative)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862372)

***...New Hampshire... 9 Mbit/s***

In your dreams ... Maybe in parts of Concord and the Southern tier cities that are part of the Boston metro area. In rural New Hampshire? Not a chance. US broadband figures remain -- as they have been for two decades, a work of fiction. Even the FCC admits in its better moments that their broadband penetration data has essentially no connection with reality. "Stunningly meaningless" is the term they used a couple of years ago.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080319/164249588.shtml [techdirt.com]

Re:To be fair (2, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862496)

>>>100Mbs

BTW why do you need 100 Mbit/s?

porn of course.

Live action porn, with the upcoming sex robot attachment.

What else pushes industries, but porn?

No, we are not (4, Informative)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861782)

Approximately 70% of the American population lives in 1% of it's landmass, which I believe is about 100 metro areas. We are not a rural nation, and haven't been for some time. (Here's an article [time.com] that says 80% of the population lives within metro areas.)

Norway and Sweden have similar population clusters and sparse country areas, and they have near universal broadband coverage, both wired and wireless. The difference is that they spend more money on investing in infrastructure and less on maintaining an overseas empire and a police state.

As far as average population density, America has 83 people per square mile, Norway has 32 per square mile, and Sweden has 53 per square mile.

It's a failure of vision, investment, and will. It has nothing to do with population density.

Re:No, we are not (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861856)

Average density isn't a useful measure. If you've been out west where things are significantly less dense than on back east, you'd see what I mean. Around here, you might only be 20 miles from another town, but that 20 miles could very easily be through a mountain and often is. And a lot of these communities got to be where they are due to mining. Consequently, you're stuck running wires between them.

Re:No, we are not (4, Informative)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861886)

If I remember my grade school geography right, the Scandinavian Peninsula isn't exactly flatland...

Re:No, we are not (1)

S.O.B. (136083) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861948)

I get tired of people who pull out one aspect of a coherent statement and think they're clever when they argue that that one aspect, taken out of context, is flawed. How about evaluating the statement as a whole rather than cherry picking your arguments?

Re:No, we are not (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861960)

San Francisco is a clearly defined, densely urbanized area. Yet 100 Mb/s Internet isn't generally available in San Francisco at such modest rates.

Re:No, we are not (1)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862080)

Do those mountain towns have phones in them? Do they have infrastructure? Yes and Yes! Next excuse.

Teleco's don't build the infrastructure because then rural customs all of a sudden have a lot of power like switching to Vonage. Why give them something new when they have an existing cash cow the governments already helped them pay for via subsidies, non-compete agreements, and 0 interest financing?

Re:No, we are not (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862254)

Exactly, that's why copponex starts with describing 70-80% of the US population is living in or near a metropolitan area.

ROI (4, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862458)

The difference is that American society has been led to believe that the only form of investment that's worth anything is one with a high ROI. Infrastructure simply doesn't work that way.

Let's say you have a country with one million people, mostly concentrated in a capital city. Let's say the richest 10% of that country mostly live in the capital, and 70% of the population does as well. There is little incentive for a corporation to spend the same amount of money connecting 70% of the population on connecting the other 30%. The ROI is too low.

Furthermore, they have little incentive to provide a reasonable price to everyone, instead of a high price to the richest 10% who can afford it, and a middle price to the top two quintiles of income, and just forget about the rest. If this were just some luxury product, this is all to be expected, and not exactly harmful to the economy at large. Have a look at any South American country that was forced to follow these stupid rules: a two tier economy, with the top doing extremely well, and 90% wallowing in poverty with little access to infrastructure to help them get out.

When it comes to infrastructure, privatization is the quickest way to destroy an advancing economy. What if lobbyists decided in the 30s that electrification was a luxury? Or decided that a national road system was a luxury? Without widespread and reliable infrastructure, you simply have no foundation for a good economy. If I want to open a business, the first thing I'm going to look for is the place that has the best infrastructure for it: ports, railroads, reliable electric grid, and of course, a population that can actually do the work.

In 30 years, if the libertarian pretenders have their way, America will have a lopsided two tier economy, degraded infrastructure, and perhaps less public debt. But not one of the corporations is going to give a shit about the debt. They're going to take one look at our uneducated population, poor internet connectivity, unreliable coal-fired electric grid, and oil-dependent transportation network, and ask if we're willing to work for Ugandan wages, because the Chinese middle class is looking for a new textile manufacturing base.

Re:No, we are not (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862240)

>>>Norway and Sweden... spend more money on investing in infrastructure and less on maintaining an overseas empire and a police state.

Don't they also have tons of oil? So that makes them much richer countries than the US with its 13,200,000,000,000 dollar debt (approximately $130,000 debt per american home). They can afford to ripup old phones lines and laydown shiny-new fiber. We can't.

Oh and you can't blame all that on the military. The debt grew by ~1.5 trillion since Bush stepped down. The military only spent about 10% of it, so even if you eliminated the military entirely, the debt would still be +1.3 trillion higher than when Bush left office.

Re:No, we are not (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862514)

yes you can blame the debt on Bush. he passed the laws that took the upper limits off of the debt that clinton had set. Bush took our national debt and added 30% more to it. the 1.5 trillion is small compared to the numbers Bush added.

Not to mention Bush lied to everyone to get us into iraq. We didn't go there to free the iraqi's, we went for weapons that were never found. Well that's not completely true they did find some weapons. They were labeled Made in the USA and were sold by George Bush and Ronald Reagan to Saddam 20 years earlier.

Of course no republican will ever admit that.

Ahh yes... (3, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862568)

Do you really think America has only been spending money on the military since 2008? You know, it's really tough to argue with people whose memories only last an election cycle.

Do you know what happens when you lower taxes for the wealthy at the same time you start two foreign wars? The economics of this are so basic that it's ridiculous to have to explain further. As McCain would say, before his opinions were no longer allowed by his new campaign managers: "The tax cut is not appropriate until we find out the cost of the war and the cost of reconstruction,"

Here's fifty years of military waste, presented in video form:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJVUQIwb-iM [youtube.com]

Re:No, we are not (3, Insightful)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862718)

Norway has tons of oil. Sweden? We've got some wood, and iron...
You most certainly can afford to lay down fiber, but it's obviously not something you prioritize, just like you can afford to cover your entire populations healthcare needs if it was something your politicians decided was necessary.
I've got 100Mbps fiber in my apartment. My parents house will get fiber this fall, the former state monopoly (which owns pretty much all the phone infrastructure because of an idiotic decision to sell the infrastructure when the company was privatized) is putting fibers in the existing underground tubes for phone lines. (most phone lines were dug into the ground decades ago, along with electricity)

Re:No, we are not (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862750)

The USA also has tons of oil, look at how much BP has spilled into the gulf.

Re:No, we are not (1)

MatthiasF (1853064) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862242)

Everyone who responds to the density debate seems to have glossed over it without much thought, and Copponex here seems to have done just that.

Instead of focusing on averages, let's take a look at how many metropolitan MARKETS are in each nation. To do this, let's look at only HALF of the country's population. Why half? Because if I did 70% or 80%, the numbers would be so unfair to the US that most of those against the density argument would cry foul. So, I'll water down the debate.

Here's a chart, listing country by total population, number of metropolitan areas to make up 50% of population and sorted by Broadband penetration rates (OECD).

Netherlands - 16.6 Million - 6 - 38%
Denmark - 5.5 Million - 2 - 37%
Norway - 4.8 Million - 4 - 35%
Switzerland - 7.8 Million - 6 - 34%
Iceland - 0.3 Million - 1 - 33%
Sweden - 9.3 Million - 7 - 32%
Luxembourg - 0.5 Million - 3 - 31%
France - 65.4 Million - 19 - 30%
United Kingdom - 62 Million - 23 - 30%
Belgium - 10.8 Million - 4 - 28%
United States - 309 Million - 58 - 27%

The number of markets seems to correlate with lower penetration, according to OECD numbers. Even more interesting is what happens when you look at the amount of area represented by this 50%. A quick comparison between the US and Sweden, show's more perspective.

Half of Sweden's population lives on 10.08% of the country's land (according to OECD) while it's 13.91% in the USA. Doesn't seem like much when looking at the percentages, but that 3.82% difference is actually 375,378 square kilometers (9,826,675 * 0.0382) of US soil. Sweden is only 449,964 square kilometers, so the Swedish 50% network is only 48,596 square kilometers.

That makes the difference nearly 8 Swedens represented (375,378/48,596=7.72) and the entire USA network is equal to 28 Swedens.

Now, there are 7 metropolitans for Sweden's 50%, which means the average metropolitan size is around 7000 square kms (48596/7=6942). USA has 58 metropolitans for it's 50%, which means the average metropolitan size is around 24,000 square kms (1366890/58=23567).

Comparing countries with average city sizes less than a third smaller (6942/23567=0.2945) is incredibly unfair. Building a physical network across areas three times the size AND still on par with the rest makes the USA the leader in my opinion.

Source of most statistics: http://www.oecd.org/document/54/0,3343,en_2649_34225_38690102_1_1_1_1,00.html [oecd.org]

Re:No, we are not (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862616)

The US actually has 210 designated market areas (DMAs).

A country like Sweden has what? 5? 10? I think these numbers alone show why wiring-up Sweden is easier than wiring up the continent-sized US (or EU for that matter).

Re:To be fair (5, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861786)

Even Seattle, with it's suburban neighborhoods of separated houses is going to have trouble matching Tokyo high-rise apartments, where you can get 1Gb networks in some places.

The reason slashdot readers have so much trouble with this (and start making up conspiracy theories like the one in the summary) is because the FCC has a different goal than the average slashdot reader. The average slashdot reader wants an OC192 line straight to his house. The FCC wants to give everyone broadband. So if you have 1mb download speeds, you're basically a success case for the FCC, even if you're not happy about it. The FCC is going to try to reach the people still on dial-up (I don't know who that is).

As you can see from this chart, [internetworldstats.com] the US has more broadband users than any other country in the world. It has a higher percentage of broadband users than even Japan. So as far as the FCC is concerned, their goals are being reached. Your personal goal (and frankly, my personal goal) of getting an OC192 line is not a priority to them. Sorry.

Re:To be fair (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862226)

Except for the difference in specification of what is broadband.

Re:To be fair (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862286)

>>>The FCC is going to try to reach the people still on dial-up (I don't know who that is).

I do. A friend of mine is stuck on dialup (about 45k digital connection). He has both cable and phonelines which could easily be upgraded to Broadband internet (just install a DOCSIS or DSLAM box for ~$100). But they don't. IMHO the Congress needs to mandate that the local phone company must provide that simple upgrade, the same way in the 1930s they mandated the phone company must hook every home to a phone line. The money can come out of the monthly USF we all pay.

Re:To be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862508)

I live on a farm in Iowa right now and the only highspeed option we have is satellite which has terrible lag and makes gaming impossible and websites slow to respond. It is also really expensive compared to cable and has a cap on transfers which is really annoying if you actually want to use the speed to watch Hulu or YouTube. The town I live near ran fiber optic almost 10 years ago to most of the homes but speeds are still only about 5mb and it's very expensive.

Re:To be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861912)

Man i get disgusted every time I hear this assertion -- you're only making the same excuse that the telecoms make. Yes this is a huge country in terms of land mass, but that doesn't mean that the telecoms should be allowed to sit back & rake in huge profits while providing service that is a few to several years old. If they didn't own congress, they'd be eaten up by the competition that would be willing to provide cutting edge service on a wide scale. And guess what? that competition would still make HUGE profits, and they might even --get ready for this radical concept-- provide actual customer service, not the current "customer service" which would be better dubbed "customer shat-upon".

Yup, ton of square miles in this country, so many that the dream of rolling out coast-to-coast infrastructure for cutting edge technology ~140 years ago was never realized. That would've been sweet if they could have put down railroad tracks across the continent... errr, wait, they actually did do that. Oh, right, now I remember: back then, they actually looked at such huge undertakings as a *challenge* that could be accomplished! Damn near same monopolies exist today that did way back then, so if they really wanted to roll out mass-infrastructure projects today, they could. Sure, they'd have to spend huge sums as well as work their way through a complex web of government regulations and blah blah blah, but for fucking fuck's sake they'd still make a shit ton, no, fuck ton of boatloads of profits -- they always do. /rant

Re:To be fair (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862480)

We (the U.S.) is a great deal larger and more spread out than *any* of those other countries. However, it is ridiculous that I can't easily get 100Mbs (compared to other countries) in cities like Portland or Seattle. I would expect to only be able to get 25Mbs where I live (and I can and do), as I am 45 from a major metro.

hey, I live in basicly downtown seattle, and I would love 25mbs where I live.

eat my shorts slashdot !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861584)

Eat my shorts slashdot !! 1Gbps speed !!

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861752)

At my bandwidth, it would be more of a nibble. So, I'll nibble your shorts.

Ummm... (5, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861594)

No other country that is at the top of the broadband list has 100 million homes.

http://top10.com/broadband/blog/2010/02/top_10_broadband_countries/ [top10.com]
http://money.cnn.com/2009/10/01/news/economy/broadband_internet_connection/index.htm [cnn.com]

It's much easier to throw alot of broadband out when your populations are centralized, or the country is small.

Re:Ummm... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861642)

Even so, areas of the US with high population density should have better broadband. They don't. That suggests that there is a more fundamental problem.

Re:Ummm... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861698)

Old infrastructure. Telcos. Government.

Re:Ummm... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861896)

In other words, People...

Re:Ummm... (1)

muindaur (925372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861770)

I would say there is also a corporate greed problem in the U.S. if you look at the difference between the pay levels of employees to executives up.

They also like having making the most profits they can for investors; then if it will cost them a great deal to upgrade infrastructure that not many people will go for, if it means my cost will go even higher for 24Mbs(at $55 a month,) then I wouldn't want it.

I was looking at Boston rent and in the city $2,000 a month is cheap with the Boston area at around $1000 a month. In my state rent is lower in the country (~$600 a month for a 1 bedroom.) That means if they improve the infrastructure they will be asking customers in a high cost of living area already to pay even more money during a recession that's not getting better so people are tightening their wallets even more. I didn't even include the cost of heat, water, and electricity because I don't know what that would do to a Bostonian budget.

So they way I see it there is no reason to add more capacity unless they need to add more subscribers because 24Mbs is more than enough for most users. Hell, I might even drop it down to 16Mbs because World of Warcraft will still run fine with it, and so will the videos I do watch.

That makes the fundamental problem not enough people actually want more bandwidth because of cost or just not needing it, and the point of any business is to make money so they won't invest unless they have enough demand.

Re:Ummm... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861828)

>>>Even so, areas of the US with high population density should have better broadband. They don't

An urban legend that keeps getting propagated across slashdot. It's no more real than the "Betamax wouldn't allow porn and that's why it died" urban legend (holds up Playboy on batemax). Let's look at the actual average rates and compare them to our neighbors Europe and Canada:

Sweden 13 Mbit/s
DE, Romania,Netherlands,Bulgaria 12
WA, RI 11
MA 10
NJ,VA,NH,NY 9
British Columbia,CO,CT,AZ, Slovakia 8 Mbit/s

Notice that out of these top 20 US, EU, and Canadian states over half of them are from the US. The only Canadian province that appears is British Columbia. And the EU states are mostly former communist states. Western states like France, germany, italy, or united kingdom don't even appear. Overall I'd say I debunked the urban legend as not sustained by the facts.

Re:Ummm... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861936)

Betamax died because it couldn't record the two hour long "NBC Saturday Night at the Movies". The lack of high speed internet is purely political.

Re:Ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862168)

What is better? Here in Chicago we can get 100Mb/sec broadband if you want it.

Re:Ummm... (5, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861872)

Here's my broadband plan (note broadband means any service greater than telephone narrowband signals) (i.e. >>4000 hertz)

- Take a page out of the FDR years which mandated telephone companies must wire all homes with telephone lines
- Update the law so it says telephone companies must provide DSL (or FiOS or equivalent service) to all homes by 1/1/2012
- Use the already-existing Universal Service Fund (USF) to cover the costs

Done. Since 99.9% of homes have telephone wires running into them, there's no digging required. No manual labor. More disruption. Simply install a ~$100 DSLAM in each neighborhood. Within a year's time, virtually everyone would have access to 1000 kbit/s or more service. That's 20+ times faster than what they had before (28k or 56k).

Over time those DSL would be phased-out and upgraded to fiber, but as of 2012 the US Congress could claim, "Not one single american citizen is still stuck on dialup."

Re:Ummm... (1)

ciggieposeur (715798) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862194)

And where is the requirement for the monthly DSL cost to remain the same as voice only? Without that, you're forcing customers who use dialup to double their monthly bill.

Re:Ummm... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862476)

They don't have to sign up, the telco just has to make it available to them.

Re:Ummm... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862654)

>>>you're forcing

No you're not.

First the customers don't have to upgrade to DSL if they think it's too costly. They are welcome to stay on Dialup if they wish. The key is that now they would have a government-mandated CHOICE where they did not have one before. I have a friend who would gladly pay $30 a month to get DSL like I have, but he doesn't have to. Nobody is "forcing" him. He could stay with the $15 dialup he has now. (In fact I have both - DSL for speed and Dialup for backup.)

Second there's no reason to think DSL will be that much higher, especially with the Universal Service Fund helping to subsidize the DSLAM installations.

Northeast megalopolis (1)

Atmchicago (555403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861884)

OK, then let's just look at the Northeast megalopolis [wikipedia.org] , which has roughly 50 million people on 2% of the US territory. You'll still find that broadband rates and penetration are not competitive.

Re:Northeast megalopolis (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862314)

I live on one of the "arms" of the NE Megalopolis. I pay just $15 a month. for broadband internet. That's almost as cheap as dialup. How is that not competitive?

Re:Ummm... (1)

nameer (706715) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862178)

Further, these rankings are often based on the OECD data, which is seriously flawed as a ranking mechanism. From Phoenix Center Policy Paper Number 29: The Broadband Performance Index: A Policy-Relevant Method of Comparing Broadband Adoption Among Countries [phoenix-center.org] (emphasis mine)

A thought experiment can highlight the problems with the OECD's approach. In Table 2, we use OECD data (and some other sources) to show what the OECD broadband rankings would look like in a "Broadband Nirvana"--a situation in which every household and business establishment across the OECD has a broadband connection. One would initially think that in a Broadband Nirvana, every OECD country would be tied for first place, but the per capita method of ranking that the OECD utilizes does not show that result. In fact, in the scenario in which every home in business in the United States and every other OECD country had a broadband connection, the OECD would rank the United States 20th --five spots lower than the United States ranked in December 2006. Moreover, the United States would be further from the top position than it is today (16 percentage points back rather than 11 points back in 2006).

Re:Ummm... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862726)

>>>in the scenario in which every home in business in the United States and every other OECD country had a broadband connection, the OECD would rank the United States 20th
>>>

In other words the OECD lies to make the US look bad. I suspect the same would be true for their healthcare report, where even if Obama's single-payer plan for free healthcare for all had passed, the US would still rank poorly.

It's so disappointing. (5, Insightful)

ZanySpyDude (1215564) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861596)

I dislike immensely a system that prohibits someone from speaking openly about a nations problems to it's very legislators.

Balloon Juice Blogger (5, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861602)

"The rationale is that this is the best they can do with a legislative branch in the pocket of telecom providers."

*snicker*

Too bad US Senators are unlikely to read such words themselves. It would be fun to see their reactions at being lambasted for being the corrupt morons they are. I doubt they would change their ways over such accusations, but watching them get all puffy faced and dramatic in their excuses/responses to such outright disrespect would be funnier than most of the crap I can find on TV nowadays.

Apples and Oranges (3, Insightful)

MaggieL (10193) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861606)

"Ranking" broadband penetration by comparing countries like Singapore and Finland with the US containing states like Alaska, Kansas and Nevada) is just plain silly. The economics of providing network coverage are insanely sensitive to population density and land area.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861666)

Kansas: 12.7 KM^2
Nevada: 9 KM^2
Finland: 16 KM^2
Sweden: 20 KM^2

So cute, Kansas and Nevada are slightly less dense then the high tech countries. But if that argument had any sort of weight, how do you explain:

USA: 32 KM^2
New York: 157 KM^2
Pennsylvania: 105 KM^2
California: 90 KM^2
Texas: 30 KM^2

If population density was so decisive, why doesn't states with up to 10 times the density manage to compete?

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862722)

Population density is only a good estimate of the typical distance between people if the density is homogenous. How are the people distributed in Kansas compared to Finland? If you're a telecom company, you want the number of subscribers per foot of earth dug to be as big as possible. Fiber doesn't cost anywhere near as much as easements.

Further, it's not fair to compare max available broadband in one country to typical available broadband in another country.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861668)

I get good internet in Anchorage AK, and that city has half the population of the state. Actually, internet in Juneau, Anchorage, Fairbanks is pretty good and those areas make up about 70% of the state.

Same goes for Nevada, the bulk of the population are in Reno and Las Vegas, both have very good connectivity. Kansas has most of it's population to the east and theres alot of broadband there.

Better examples of states that suck for broadband would be the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, West Virgina or Hawaii. Non-centralized populations, vast distances or disruptive geography.

http://gigaom.com/2008/05/27/report-state-of-broadband-according-to-akamai/ [gigaom.com]

Live map
http://www.akamai.com/stateoftheinternet/ [akamai.com]

Re:Apples and Oranges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861740)

Well the supposed #1 country in the world is supposed to have biggest economy in the world. Maybe instead of making fucking war everywhere in the world for trillions upon trillions a year, you could have landed a man on Mars already and wired it for braodband. Make no excuses, Australia is as big and they have 10mbit/s connection in the desert in the middle of nowhere.

USA ROCKS! (3, Funny)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861638)

>as if he believes we currently are.

Whut? The USA is the best, most freest country in the world. We're #1 at everything without even trying! USA! USA! Anyone who doesn't think so is a damn dirty hippy fag druggie terrorist communist and can get the hell out!

Thank you Jesus! Amen.

Re:USA ROCKS! (1)

PinkyGigglebrain (730753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861890)

The scary part is there are people who would say that and not be joking ...

You are joking right?


Right?

Re:USA ROCKS! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862756)

A country that fines people almost $1000 for not "voluntarily" buying hopsital insurance is not a "best" country. Nor it is free.

What's next? Fines for people that buy normal cars instead of Priuses/hybrids? Fines for people who don't bu life insurance? Fines for people who don't buy a new computer once every year? Once the precedent is set then the idea of fining people can be extended to other facets of life.

Re:USA ROCKS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862058)

America, Fuck Yeah!

Time to Split Wire and ISPs? (1)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861676)

Seems like the US has a large monopoly problem over there. While you could argue that because it is two big companies that doesn't make it a monopoly, I would argue that because both of them are completely useless it is as good as having one. I think on all services - telephone, cell, and broadband the US government needs to make it illegal to both own the underlying networks and to provide retail services to end consumes.

Namely that ISPs have to sell off all of their fiber to someone else and buy it back on an equal footing with their competitors. This would allow both new small ISPs to compete with bigger companies, and allow bigger companies to focus on what their business is instead of having a split focus.

Additionally it would also encourage new firms that only exist to lay down new networks of communications - like a privately owned cell tower that they then sell on the raw bandwidth. This entire plan would be a huge boom to the US communications industry and while the big two would whine endlessly, with their stake in the existing networks and consumer space they would make out very well.

Most importantly this would turn the US from an international joke into a leader. It would show that capitalism can boost investment into a countries networks and all with a single tiny law that hurt primarily two big companies in the short term.

Re:Time to Split Wire and ISPs? (1)

SJ2000 (1128057) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861704)

While you could argue that because it is two big companies that doesn't make it a monopoly...

Oligopoly [wikipedia.org]

Re:Time to Split Wire and ISPs? (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861932)

Yes but that would require congress to do something and they have no reason to betray the people giving them enormous bags of money on a regular basis, especially since they can just gerrymander elections into doing what they want.

Other than for video, why? (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861720)

Other than to distribute TV, what's all that bandwidth for?

Most slow-loading pages today are server-side problems. Usually some ad server is holding up page loads.

Re:Other than for video, why? (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861756)

Well, HD video streaming does take a ton of bandwidth. Though what I really enjoy with my 100mbs connection is how I can pull down a 10gb game from steam in under an hour or 100mb patches in a minute, though even if you can't think of any bandwidth intensive tasks you want to do I'm sure that some enterprising business will find something for you to spend all that bandwidth on :p

The Television Is DEAD: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861758)

Video on computer has won.

Paul Graham has an interesting essay [paulgraham.com] on TV versus the computer for video.

The networks are queued to get the benefits of their lobbyists. Google MIGHT not get all the market share they think they can get.

Yours In Akademgorodok,
Kilgore Trout

Re:Other than for video, why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861822)

I agree, yet these stories keep coming up. It's like there's a big push for a big socialized* internet plan across the nation.

* not to be confused with municipal last mile fiber optic cable to each house/apartment/etc.

For cloud computing and future expansion (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861974)

Think ahead, please.

Look at how popular handheld wireless devices have become, despite the lack of the bandwidth to support them properly. There's lots that can be done with more bandwidth widely available -- and if it's already available in many places, they'll already be doing it before it's being done in the US.

Re:Other than for video, why? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862650)

I live 10 miles outside of Madison, WI, and the best I can get is 600k/s wireless (I could go to 1MB, but thats almost $100/month!). Ad Servers are not my problem. The problem is that ATT doesn't want to upgrade the central office in my town, and won't even tell us how many neighbors have to sign up to get a DSLAM added to a remote site near our 75 houses in our neighborhood. Charter comes within a half mile of us, but they won't tell us what it would take to come out to our neighborhood either.

$200 Billion Rip-Off: Our broadband future stolen (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32861810)

This is Cringely's take on broadband and the government (from August 2007)

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070810_002683.html

"The National Information Infrastructure as codified in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 existed on two levels -- federal and state.
As a federal law, the Act specified certain data services that were to be made available to schools, libraries, hospitals, and public safety agencies
and paid for through special surcharges and some tax credits."

"Over the decade from 1994-2004 the major telephone companies profited from higher phone rates paid by all of us, accelerated depreciation
on their networks, and direct tax credits an average of $2,000 per subscriber for which the companies delivered precisely nothing in terms of
service to customers. That's $200 billion with nothing to be shown for it."

"It is on the state level where one can find the greatest excesses of the Telecommunications Act. All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia
contracted with their local telecommunication utilities for the build-out of fiber and hybrid fiber-coax networks intended to bring bidirectional digital video
service to millions of homes by the year 2000. The Telecom Act set the mandate but, as it works with phone companies, the details were left to the states.
Fifty-one plans were laid and 51 plans failed."

"There are no good guys in this story. Misguided and incompetent regulation combined with utilities that found ways to game the system resulted in what
had been the best communication system in the world becoming just so-so, though very profitable. We as consumers were consistently sold ideas that
were impractical only to have those be replaced later by less-ambitious technologies that, in turn, were still under-delivered. Congress set mandates then
provided little or no oversight. The FCC was (and probably still is) managed for the benefit of the companies and their lobbyists, not for you and me. And the
upshot is that I could move to Japan and pay $14 per month for 100-megabit-per-second Internet service but I can't do that here and will probably never be able to."

Re:$200 Billion Rip-Off: Our broadband future stol (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861980)

Mod up please. Informative.

The US is not "too big" (5, Insightful)

fullback (968784) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861830)

The "US is too big" argument is specious. How did Americans ever get telephones, gas and water if the country is too big? Why don't high-density cities have 1st-world Internet speeds?

Look, I've lived in Japan through all iterations of Internet connectivity, from x.x modems, through ISDN, Adsl and fiber. I don't live in a city, I live an hour drive from a major city, but I've had 100Mbps fiber for eight or nine years now. It's so long ago, I can't remember, but it costs me about the same as a couple of pizzas per month.

I actually have 1Gbps wired, but I don't need that capacity yet. I have HDTV through my connection and the infrastructure is so solid, I have never had an outage in 15 years - not one. I lived in a rural area 8 years ago and still had 40Mbps Adsl.

There are few technological or geographical hurdles affecting your Internet connectivity in the US. You have only market hurdles. The biting reality is that local monopolies are stifling the market, as they are intended to do. If you really want state-of-the-art connectivity, you have to embrace a free market. Recall local and state politicians who vote for monopolies, or defeat them in elections by voting in people who will repeal monopoly legislation made in collusion with the provider.

Re:The US is not "too big" (5, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861898)

We own a farm that is a 4 hour drive from a major city. At the farm house, they didn't get phone service until the early 1950's and they had a party line until 1990. Electricity came in the 40's, but water is provide by a well and sanitation by a septic tank. Gas has been and is still provided by a propane tank and is filled by trunk once a year (we don't spend much time there after my grand mother died, but still keep the place up as a place to go when we want to get away from the city for a few days or need to do farm business).

Telecom services eventually do make it out to the rural areas, but it takes time. And by time I'm talking years and sometimes decades. Even cell reception with Verizon can be spotty in places because there is something like 0.4 people per square mile. Rural in Japan is not the same thing as Rural in Kansas or Nebraska or Montana.

Re:The US is not "too big" (2, Insightful)

fullback (968784) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862066)

"Rural in Japan is not the same thing as Rural in Kansas or Nebraska or Montana."

Yes, I agree. I would probably refer to your family farm as "isolated" and not "rural." ;-) Either way, it is near the extreme end of the density chart, and that may be why you don't live there full time.

Re:The US is not "too big" (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862388)

However interesting your story is, people in situations like yours hardly make a dent in the average for the whole USofA.

Monopolies? (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861908)

It's interesting that you would cite local monopolies as the problem. What I expected to see in this thread was, "The feds should do more to build a national broadband infrastructure," with the usual assumption that the US federal government is and should be all-powerful and in charge of controlling the economy.

There might be a valid argument that the Commerce Clause bans state and local governments from imposing regulations that prevent interstate competition, and that such regulations should be struck down. I'm not hopeful about that though, because the same argument applied to health care competition, and Congress' response was a 2000+ page bill it didn't read, meant to create competition only through a massive, centrally-controlled new bureaucracy backed by unprecedented forced-purchase rules.

If Congress moved to "fix" our Net connections the same way, everyone would be ordered to buy broadband or else, and do it through a government-organized collection of ISPs. Michael Moore would be telling everyone that Net access is a fundamental human right and that Cuba does it better. We'd be citing existing regulations as proof of the failure of capitalism, and calling for the government to just take over the whole Net industry.

Denial is our national culture (3, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861874)

Thanks to a marketing mentality, our response to any realisation that we're not doing well is to "declare it ain't so" and toss out distractions until the challenger gives up in exasperation. Any studies to the contrary have enough mud slung at them that the common person won't trust either side and will allow their national pride or other predispositions to decide what they think is real.

We're not good at looking problems in the face, no matter what their nature.

Leasing Infrastructure (5, Interesting)

nhavar (115351) | more than 4 years ago | (#32861964)

Why can't we do this in a logical organized manner.

1. The government builds out infrastructure
2. The telecoms lease infrastructure
3. Individuals buy service from the telecoms at a regulated rate
4. The regulated rate has enough buffer to subsidize service to those under the poverty line
5. The lease rate has enough buffer to pay for the original build out, maintenance, plus further innovation
6. Innovation money is funneled back into colleges for research into next gen technologies

The build out could be done with contractors through the telecoms, or contracted on a state by state basis giving states control of where and when to build but the federal government own the spec of how to build out so that it remains consistent and interoperable from a interstate trade perspective (i.e. some broadband may be shared over boarders like in the case of St. Louis). The telecoms still get to profit from the infrastructure albeit at a reduced profit due to regulation and people below poverty get the opportunity to take part via subsidy, library, schools, etc.,. You could even due partial regulation where it's regulated up until some minimum standard and anything over that is considered "gold plan" allowing the telecoms to charge higher rates for higher usage.

Re:Leasing Infrastructure (4, Insightful)

Nyder (754090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862586)

Why can't we do this in a logical organized manner.

1. The government builds out infrastructure
2. The telecoms lease infrastructure
3. Individuals buy service from the telecoms at a regulated rate
4. The regulated rate has enough buffer to subsidize service to those under the poverty line
5. The lease rate has enough buffer to pay for the original build out, maintenance, plus further innovation
6. Innovation money is funneled back into colleges for research into next gen technologies

The build out could be done with contractors through the telecoms, or contracted on a state by state basis giving states control of where and when to build but the federal government own the spec of how to build out so that it remains consistent and interoperable from a interstate trade perspective (i.e. some broadband may be shared over boarders like in the case of St. Louis). The telecoms still get to profit from the infrastructure albeit at a reduced profit due to regulation and people below poverty get the opportunity to take part via subsidy, library, schools, etc.,. You could even due partial regulation where it's regulated up until some minimum standard and anything over that is considered "gold plan" allowing the telecoms to charge higher rates for higher usage.

How about this. broadband, tv, phone, electricity, water is all taken care of by the government. no private companies trying to make a profit from them. It's part of our rights as american citizens.

Yes, we would still have to pay for them, as taxes, or whatever. But no middle man trying to profit off people.

Of course, the biggest problems are corporations. We have to limit their power first.

US as a broadband world leader (5, Informative)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862006)

Claiming US is a broadband world leader is complete and utter bull and quite well shows the ignorance of the speaker. Even Finland isn't at the top but still we have a broadband coverage of about 90% of the whole country, including rural areas, and the downtimes in broadband services are rare and don't last long.

There was discussion about this on OSNews a while back and I think it was South Korea where a 100mbit/s broadband connection costs like 10 euro/month, and it covers the whole country. THAT'S more like a broadband world leader tbh.

Free market. (0)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32862096)

Unless there is collusion between service providers causing the price to remain artificially high, there is nothing inherently wrong with the fact that internet is more expensive in the United States under free market conditions. As it happens, the price is higher than it should be because of grant money given to a few big companies by government. Because of the government-sponsored coercive monopolies, they don't spend their money on improving infrastructure. What a surprise; government is the problem again.

Of course, the other option is to socialize internet service, putting in wholly in the government's hands, like so many other countries which are able to offer cheap internet service. That's fine for other countries, but you could view this is un-American depending on whether you view internet service as a utility or a luxury. Regardless, there is nothing wrong with high prices for un-socialized internet service (the price will be whatever the market will bear), but there is something wrong with the current situation where the government is just interfering in the market.

the US already lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862430)

I only have broadband because I'm willing to pay USD$350/mo for a T1. Yes, a blazing 1.5Mbit/s.

How "rural" am I? About 20K feet (as the wire travels) from the nearest switch. Telcom has no plans to install DSL; the local cable provider "does not service my area", and the various wireless options "suck" (to use a technical term). I would gladly switch to a cheap 3Mbit/s service with "only" 95% uptime; the savings would buy me a decent used car every year.

Don't try to tell me the US is "leading", or that it will "catch up". Game over, we lost.

Redistribute Wealth More (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32862630)

Because people who live in cities where utilities are available should have to subsidize running high speed lines out to every house in the middle of nowhere. If someone is living 50+ miles from a town why should I have to subsidize that high cost? Shouldn't they weight the costs? If we are going to put money into this why not do it more efficiently by garunteeing lesser services (e.g. the 4mb) to rural areas via wireless or w/e means is cheaper... it is not realistic to acquire throughways to run underground cables in many places... the terran makes it unreasonable in many places. The article makes it seem like we should be required to run internet to someone who decides to live on a mountain in the middle of nowhere Alaska... and we should garuntee him a high speed line with constant service and run people out to the arctic wilderness to maintain his line. We can't reasonable garuntee everyone 1GB/sec or w/e crazy standard you want, we have a budget deficit about $12 trillion and a debt this year alone of $1.5 trillion (thanks Obama!)... it is more reasonable to think that we can provide some minimal service to rural areas while providing an infrustructure that private interests can utilize... and it comes at a much cheaper cost then your "Right to Internet" mentality would yield.

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