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Comcast Launching $9.95 Low Income Broadband Plan

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the paternal-instinct dept.

Networking 277

MojoKid writes "Comcast is launching 'Internet Essentials,' a new initiative offering discounted Internet access and home computers to families that meet low income requirements. The program was mandated as a requirement of Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal, earlier this year. In that way, it's very similar to AT&T's Naked DSL program, which AT&T was required to offer as a condition of its merger with BellSouth. Internet Essentials will be available wherever Comcast offers broadband, which means 39 states."

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277 comments

It's too slow to get First Post with (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37012950)

So I don't use it.

Why they are doing this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013364)

Once they've got most of America's poor hooked, they'll throttle the service or make it unusable in some way, and most of those people will end up switching to more expensive, conventional plans. If people can pay $10 a day for cigarettes, they'll find a way to pay $60 a month or more to Comcast for access to pornography.

Re:Why they are doing this (1)

I_Voter (987579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013504)

But the benefits of becoming more monopolistic will remain.

Cheap Internet $9.95. - Market monopoly priceless!

Botnet fodder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37012966)

Nuff said

Re:Botnet fodder (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013368)

Way to hate. Do you presume that poor people are also stupid people and/or that non-poor people are smarter? Both presumptions would be ridiculous. People in general are pretty stupid and it doesn't matter which income bracket they fall into. A frikken CEO of X-Company could just as easily be hosting a botnet... worse, he might have half a dozen computers where "The Poor family" might only have one. (Admittedly, there will be thousands if not millions of "Poor familes" to each CEO but that's just how the division of wealth goes these days. Do you think you are "middle class"? Think again...

I need more information (0)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37012982)

Is this Comcast's doing, or is this the FCC forcing Comcast to do this? It looks like this is a very good thing. So if Comcast was offering this deal to better their PR, it worked on me.

Re:I need more information (4, Informative)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013010)

It said right in the summary that this was mandated as a condition of the NBC Universal merger. I'm sure Comcast is more than happy to have people believe that this was their idea though.

Re:I need more information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013034)

Well, as long as it covers costs some profit is better than none. Poor families make up 1/4th of the country's demographics and the costs are already in anyway if fiber and other cables are already installed to the last mile.

Give them something even if the company only makes $4 a month vs $45 on everyone else.

If what I said above is true (I made up the pricing numbers) then it shows we need to have an old fashioned breakup as this is a monopoly.

Re:I need more information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013016)

Doesn't the word "mandated" mean forced?

Re:I need more information (1, Flamebait)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013162)

Precisely!!! I don't mind this if it's a business decision by Comcast to win market-share/mind-share. But if they're doing it simply due to some utopian whims of politicians who want to 'bring internet to low income households', screw them. If internet access is a right, food is a right, a car is a right, a home is a right, a job is a right and so on.

Re:I need more information (1, Flamebait)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013204)

" If internet access is a right, food is a right, a car is a right, a home is a right, a job is a right and so on."

The horrors!

Seriously, rights don't exist in and of themselves. They're just things that society has decided are important and should exist for everyone. In the revolutionary era, freedom of speech was all that we could afford to give to everyone. But as society has gotten richer, they've decided to expand the universe of things that everyone is supposed to have (FDR's "freedom from want", to give an example). This is a good thing! Now, it's possible that this particular way of trying to improve the living standards of the poor is going to have unintended consequences, but that's the argument you need to make.

That aside, Comcast is a monopoly in most of it's markets, and the capital costs are too high for that to realistically change. Regulators are necessary to keep them from purposely restricting investment and access and reaping monopoly profits.

Re:I need more information (1)

qxcv (2422318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013402)

True freedom of speech really doesn't exist anywhere in the world today. What is arguably more important in democracies is freedom of political persuasion, and freedom to hold one's own views. If one can express these views without harming any other person's ability to hold them (for example: inciting violence against those who hold opposing views would soon cause the system to crumble), then they should be perfectly able to express them in any way they see fit. Outside of this, I believe there are very few things people should have a "right" to.

The nauseating sense of self-entitlement in some "Internet access should be a basic human right" posts is so thick that I could almost cut through it with a knife.

Re:I need more information (5, Insightful)

espiesp (1251084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013268)

I think you're confused as to what a "right" is.

It doesn't mean it's given to you. It means you are given the opportunity to pursue it without undue harassment by the Gov. In a sense, things that are rights can also be a privilege if there is an associated cost. Really, all rights, natural and otherwise come at a cost. Even freedom is directly free, but in indirectly has a cost in that at some point you have to fight for it.

I personally think this is bad news bears all around. The infrastructure is already spread thin - at least judging by my internet speeds and costs. Last thing we need is a flux of new subscribers that are low-income (read: jobless or underemployed) who have all the time in the world to suck up my precious bandwidth.

If people want internet, they can work for it just like I have to. It's not a necessity to survive. Last thing these people need is another incentive not to succeed.

Right definition of 'rights' (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013322)

That was precisely my point. More simply, a right is something I have b'cos I didn't need to deprive someone else of something in order to get. I don't deprive others of air while breathing, I don't deprive others of speech rights while opining, et al. But if I did, it would no longer be a right. All the things I listed above - despite the fact that everybody needs them - are not rights, precisely b'cos of the zero-sum-game nature of these things. If they were, farmers would have to give food to anyone who wanted it w/o paying for it, businesses would have to give jobs, automakers would have to give cars, et al. Even if people need certain things to survive, that by itself doesn't automatically make them rights. Rights means something that's yours and morally cannot be taken away.

Re:Right definition of 'rights' (2)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013626)

If they were, farmers would have to give food to anyone who wanted it w/o paying for it,

They pretty much already do. Have you seen the prices that farmers get for grain, as opposed to the middleman marketing boards?
That box of cornflakes you pay $4.99 for has about 20 cents of corn for the farmer in it.

Re:I need more information (2, Informative)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013386)

It's not a necessity to survive.

No, it's not a necessity to survive, but in more and more cases it IS a requirement for kids in school of almost any age. Textbooks are disappearing in class, and the kids are expected to access an online version at home.

Re:I need more information (1)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013422)

It's probably notable that there are conditions on having childrens in age of going to school: I hope you don't suggest young teen and chilren go flipping burgers to pay for DSL because their lazy parents are human wrecks.

Good thing most people aren't like you (3, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013436)

Access to internet is as essential now as access to drinking water and electricity. Selfish bastards such as yourself can go back in your hole.

Re:I need more information (2, Insightful)

alendit (1454311) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013440)

Infrastructure spread thin? Your speeds and costs are direct result of the lack of competition in the US ISP market. Here, on the right side of the ocean nobody can even remember the time, when the internet was volume limited or when you had to pay for it more than 20-25 euro.

But hey, what do I know? I'm sure your problem is not the greedy corps trying screw you over, but the poor cloging your tubes...

PS. Purposely ignoring your definition of "rights", because it would only start a flame war.

Re:I need more information (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013650)

If people want roads, they can work for them. If people want courts, they can work for them. If people want civil defense, they can work for it. If people want measles immunizations, they can work for them. Last thing we need is a flux (sic) of new citizens that are low-income (read: jobless or underemployed) who have all the time in the world to suck up my precious infrastructures.

Re:I need more information (4, Informative)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013296)

you are aware that just because something is declared a right, it does not mean that people must be given it...it just means the people have the ability to freely exercise the right.

Re:I need more information (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013470)

Thank you. I was beginning to think the whole country forgot what it means to have a Right.

As far as the whole Comcast ordeal, I'm kind of sickened by this. It just means that they told Comcast they can charge people with money whatever they damn well please while the government can mandate who gets Internet for a reduced fee.

What they should be doing is lessening the restrictions on the ISPs in communities and handing over the ownership and upkeep of the fiber to those communities. Start treating fiber like they currently do water, with a twist. Let the ISPs connect to the municipal lines and let the citizens buy their bandwidth from multiple competing companies.

Re:I need more information (2)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013634)

Absolutely! The deal for buying NBC should have been to get Comcast to either get out of the ISP business and maintain the network for independent ISPs to compete with a lease rate that covers cost to maintain the lines at the bandwidth the ISP uses, or hand the ownership of the lines over the communities.

Re:I need more information (1)

beadfulthings (975812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013376)

I had a similar thought. Affordable broadband access is an excellent idea, but it doesn't do much good to a family whose electricity and gas service have been turned off.

Re:I need more information (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013052)

Read TFS. This was a condition of permitting them to acquire NBC Universal, so they are forced to do this.

You must have a child who qualifies for the free school lunch program and not have subscribed to Comcast within 90 days,. For a family of 3, that's under $25,000/year income.

Re:I need more information (0)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013098)

My friend would qualify but his kids are not in school yet, and his oldest won't be for 2 years. So he and is family have to wait 2 years, what BS....

Re:I need more information (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013646)

My friend would qualify but his kids are not in school yet, and his oldest won't be for 2 years. So he and is family have to wait 2 years, what BS....

And by then, the price will probably have been "normalized" to $24.95.

Re:I need more information (2)

Igarden2 (916096) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013148)

This is sad. Where I used to teach there was absolutely NO verification of income for the free lunch program. In fact, it was expressly forbidden to even question the qualification of any application, no matter how obviously egregious the situation. There were strong incentives for the school to qualify as many students as possible, linked to additional federal funding going directly to the school. Somehow I doubt this will be any better supervised.

Re:I need more information (4, Informative)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013068)

This six month old story on Ars mentioned more details on the program and 2 of the other major concessions they had to make to get the merger approved. Hiring Meredith Attwell Baker away from the FCC was probably a big help also.

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/01/low-cost-broadband-key-to-comcastnbcu-merger-deal.ars [arstechnica.com]

Re:I need more information (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013078)

This six month old story on Ars mentioned more details on the program and 2 of the other major concessions they had to make to get the merger approved. Hiring Meredith Attwell Baker away from the FCC was probably a big help also.

Hiring her was the 4th concession.

Re:I need more information (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013352)

"Looks like" is right. Problem is they are only required to offer it in areas where broadband is made available. They have already cherry-picked the market in specific, profitable areas. They don't service non-profitable areas which would be precisely the areas that this requirement would target. That said, "some" families will be able to better afford the services they have now but I didn't read in there that they could change their service plans if they already had one. And "making less than $25k"? Seriously? Okay, they are already on WIC, foodstamps and other assistance, so why not having access to broadband too.

I just don't see how this will help as much as people are hoping. Now if they were required to lay out infrastructure into the areas which have a higher population of these "less profitables" then that would be doing something to help.

What bandwidth? IPv6 supported? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37012990)

What sort of bandwidth will Comcast offer for all 'Internet Essential' customers? Will they be farsighted enough to put them on IPv6, so that they don't have problems later?

Re:What bandwidth? IPv6 supported? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013032)

It's probably identical to a normal service but with every metric divided by two or some other factor. Why would they put this service on a different architecture when they could simply alter some database records for these customers?

Re:What bandwidth? IPv6 supported? (2)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013066)

The long term goal would be to move most, if not all, customers to the new protocol (not architecture). Since these would be new customers, they can start them on this, so that they don't need to upgrade later. Other existing customers can be moved to IPv6 whenever they are ready.

Re:What bandwidth? IPv6 supported? (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013206)

Well, as IPv4 addresses become scarce, having a load of customers on IPv6 with NAT64 to access v4 sites may be cheaper. Rolling this out for the people too poor to switch to an alternative service first makes sense from a business standpoint.

Re:What bandwidth? IPv6 supported? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013284)

True. Also, given that Comcast has/is already used/using dual-stack lite (i.e. IPv4 over IPv6 connections) to provide both types of access, they can rapidly proliferate IPv6 this way, and spur more enterprises to make the switch to IPv6 more rapidly.

Re:What bandwidth? IPv6 supported? (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013444)

As far as I know there are only some parts of the Comcast footprint that are currently using IPv6 right now so I think that most will be on IPv4 for the time being.

Re:What bandwidth? IPv6 supported? (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013434)

Comcast is in the process of rolling out IPv6 to all areas of the company so I can't see why this would be any different. Bandwidth will be minimal at 1.5 mb per second download and 384 kb per second upload. This program is designed to bring internet to homes that otherwise would not be able to afford the regular rate of 44.95. There are some conditions that apply for this service. Your child must be getting a subsidized school lunch and you are not elligible if you have paid for comcast internet at any other price in the last 3 months. It's not a bad idea but I can't even think of what it must be like to surf at that speed. It reminds me of dial up.

Re:What bandwidth? IPv6 supported? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013530)

You sir are a fatuous prick.

"I can't even think of what it must be like to surf at that speed. It reminds me of dial up."

Are you seriously fucking kidding me? It sounds like you need to be forcibly returned to using dialup for a year or so, as you clearly don't remember what it was like. You may in fact be too young to have ever used it, judging by your displayed immaturity.

From the website (5, Informative)

Arterion (941661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013022)

Looks like it's a 1.5/384 connection.

http://www.internetessentials.com/faq/index.html [internetessentials.com]

Re:From the website (5, Interesting)

Arterion (941661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013072)

At the expense of replying to my own post:

I'm a little upset this is only for people with children in school. If you're just poor, you're out of luck. I am specifically thinking of seniors, but also the unemployed and perhaps homes with children who are either too young for school, or children in college. For the unemployed, they could use it to try and find work. With gas prices being what they are, $9.95 is much cheaper than driving/bussing to the unemployment office or library to use a computer, and cheaper than subscribing to a local newspaper. They could also gain job skills if they wanted to use it to find free training materials online.

As for seniors, I think there have been plenty of studies that show a wide array of activities -- almost all of them available via the internet -- can help keep their minds agile, and stave off senility. It might not be much, but it could reduce some burden on Medicare, as seniors could live on their own longer rather than living in a nursing home, or injure themselves less.

I think the potential economic benefit of internet for the poor is more than enough to justify whatever subsidies or tax breaks Comcast is getting for doing it.

Re:From the website (5, Interesting)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013104)

I agree with everything you said, and would add that affordable internet access is a necessity in the US today. Most employers will just assume you have it, and to access the internal shift scheduling system you'll need home internet access. It's just as bad, if not worse, than not having a phone. If an employer found out you had no home internet access they'd probably skip over you just as often as if they found out you had no phone number or home address; you're just not worth the hassle. Obviously this isn't true for all jobs, but definitely for some.

The US model is fundamentally broken because it used public money to finance private infrastructure. The lines themselves should be public, which the government leases to private business to provide internet service, and if a new company wants to start up, they get the same chance to compete as the big guys. Until we have something close to that we're not going to have fairness or equity in the distribution of this essential utility. Private enterprise alone is not going to take care of the poor and their needs, despite the fact that there are some basic needs common to everyone, regardless of their income. It's just not profitable to provide poor people with internet.

Not giving those people the hand up they need hurts everyone in the long run, it's a shame that the mindset of conservatism seems to be not to do what is ultimately most fiscally responsible, but what perpetuates their notion of capitalist karmic justice. You can't help the poor, because they deserve to be punished. They deserve to be punished, or at least allowed to suffer, so they will improve themselves. You don't get to examine if they have the means for self improvement or not, that's beyond the scope of the notion of justice that conservatism holds. If you didn't deserve to be treated like that, you wouldn't be poor.

Doing too much for people is also bad, but we are soooo far away from that in the US that we can afford to go full tilt toward The Welfare State without risking going over the ledge of left-wing extremism and taking TOO much care of people. We've lost our center in the US. Conservatives see us drifting farther to the left, when in reality we are pegged to the right and the momentum is still in that direction.

Re:From the website (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013212)

The lines themselves should be public, which the government leases to private business to provide internet service

Why does the government have to be involved at all? Why not let individuals own the last-mile infrastructure. When you buy a house, you also buy the connection from the cabinet to your house. Take it a step further, and also buy a share in a cooperative that owns the connection between the cabinet and the exchange. Transit providers then compete to offer service to the neighbourhood.

Re:From the website (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013272)

Why not let individuals own the last-mile infrastructure.

Then the problem of pulling cable over a non-subscriber's land to reach a subscriber returns.

Re:From the website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013328)

The government is a cooperative.

But the biggest reason is rights of way. It's complicated when you have many many properties involved, and so it's quite common for it to just be the government doing it, or at least, the person's authorized by the government.

Which in my case IS a co-op, but for others may be different.

Re:From the website (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013334)

A simple solution is to let businesses own and operate the last mile, but implement some regulations that require these business to sell raw bandwidth for reasonable prices to any other business wishing to provide a service.

That's how it's done in a lot of Europe, and it works pretty well.

Re:From the website (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013264)

$9.95 is much cheaper than driving/bussing to the unemployment office or library to use a computer

I was under the impression that dial-up was still available at such a price.

Re:From the website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013316)

You've obviously forgotten just how bad dialup is. Add to that the fact that websites are now designed with broadband in mind and you'll find that dialup is pretty much unusable these days.

Re:From the website (1)

damnbunni (1215350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013324)

Only if you also have a landline phone. In a lot of areas, subsidized phones are cellular, not landline; and even if a person isn't getting a subsidized phone, if money's tight they're likely to only have a cell because they're much more useful in an emergency.

Re:From the website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013468)

Actually, for an emergency you do not need a service plan on a cell phone. All cell phones will dial 911 without being activated.

Re:From the website (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013566)

Not all emergencies require a call to 911.

Re:From the website (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013614)

Can't even use gmail on dialup more than half the time, it times out. Dialup is a non-starter today, and suggesting it is disingenuous at best.

Re:From the website (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013490)

Oh please not the seniors. I hate to be discriminatory but those with a sharp learning curve need some training before they call me. I'm patient and nice but all calls are timed and they blow me out of the water with those long calls. Since I'm in a position of talking to a wide variety of customers every day it really drives home just how poor basic computer education is for the older people who may be one or two generations behind me.

Just nationalize it already! (5, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013040)

Look, if they're going to offer subsidized internet access to low-income households, I think the real move should be to nationalize it altogether. If Comcast and/or the FCC can acknowledge that it is a public right to have affordable internet access for everyone, then it is high time the profit motive were removed from the equation. Oh, wait, you guys completely fucked that up with the national health care plan... carry on with your nihilistic ledger-padding then!

Re:Just nationalize it already! (1)

Arterion (941661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013076)

The internet situation is still better than the health care situation, though. Internet prices have fallen or remained the same while service levels increased.

Health care has gotten more expensive while service levels have fallen.

I actually think handing the reigns of the health care system over to Comcast might be an improvement... and that's sad to say.

Re:Just nationalize it already! (4, Insightful)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013224)

Eh. Every country that has better broadband than us does it via extensive government intervention. Our internet is more expensive and slower, by a considerable margin, than most other countries in the OECD, even when you just look at dense cities. The best internet in the country is in Utah, where government has just rolled out their own fiber. Markets are great, but they don't really work with utilities. Monopolies, network externalities, economies of scale, etc.

I do think people under appreciate that (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013292)

Many Slashdot geeks like to act like Internet access hasn't changed in a decade but that is not at all true. You get a lot more for your money. I think about my own history on the net:

I first got a connection in 1996. It was dialup, 28.8k max. That was a little deceptive though as the ISP had only a 28.8 frame relay out, so if more than one person was using it, you got less throughput. It cost $15/month, but also needed a phoneline, which ran about $25/month so around $40/month total, about $55 in today's dollars. That would be $1900 of today's dollars per megabit. That later was upgraded to a bigger connection out, and then to 56k.

My first DSL line was a consumer 256k line in 2000. A bit flaky, but sweet broadband. It ran me about $70/month, which is about $87/month today. That is $339/mbit.

I then moved up to professional/business class lines since I want to have servers. I got a 640k DSL line with 5 static IPs in 2001. That was expensive, about $200/month since it was business grade ($240/month today). That is $375/mbit so actually not that much more for speed, despite being a higher class line.

When I moved to a house on 2003 I got a different business class DSL line from a different provider. It was 4mbit/768k with 8 static IPs and cost about $160/month ($200 now). That is only $50/mbit. It was later upgraded to 6mbit down, though my line couldn't really handle that.

Some time ago I switched to business class cable and I've gone through a few upgrades with them, currently I have 50/5mbit service with 5 static IPs which runs me $155/month. That's $3/mbit. I've had that for about a year now.

So the progression is:

1996: $1900/mbit
2000: $339/mbit
2001: $375/mbit (change to business class)
2003: $50/mbit
2011: $3/mbit

That's not a bad increase in speed for money. In 15 years the price has dropped to 0.15% of what it used to be. Also consider that I went from a connection that had to dial in, and had fairly frequent problems to one that is always on and goes down very rarely (probably 99.9% uptime or better).

I'm not saying everything is perfect or that we don't want to see more for less, but let's keep it in perspective here.

Also with increases, we pass more barriers and further increases matter less. 28.8k was slow for everything, even surfing text pages. However 15-20mbps is enough that you can stream HD video no problem and everything loads more or less instantly (you wait more on DNS lookup and the like). Past that it only really helps for faster software downloads. We'll have new uses for more bandwidth, no question, but it is mattering less and less.

I noticed big changes in what I could do when I moved up from things like 640k to 4mbps. I noticed minor improvements going from 10-20mbps (which I did a couple years ago). I noticed nothing really other than faster Steam downloads going from 20mbps to 50mbps.

So while I look forward to the day when I have gigabit to my house (real gigabit, not "a connection that technically runs at gig but you never see but maybe 5% of it" as is common in Japan) I am not chomping at the bit waiting. I also keep a realistic perspective of just how much faster things have gotten and how fast it is happened.

Re:I do think people under appreciate that (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013428)

Still rather expensive per mbit, here (Denmark, Europe) I pay $50 for 60/60mbit (uncapped) connection with 3 fixed IPs.

A 200/200mbit connection is $191.

Re:I do think people under appreciate that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013492)

Are you kidding? That's expensive to you or are you just joking around? 60mbit up and down for $50 is cheap as hell. I pay about $50 for 20mbit down/1mb up in the states. Australia is even worse off than we are.

That's fine (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013498)

But the point is over all how you are getting lots more for less. I'm not saying the US Internet is the best in the world, I am saying it is not bad and has improved a ton in 15 years.

Also a few other things to consider:

1) Do you really get your promised rate, to all over the place? Something I've seen quite a few times, most particularly with Japanese ISPs but elsewhere too, is that they build a big WAN type of environment where there's a fast connection to the premises and to their stuff, but not to much backhaul. So great connection to them, good connection to some peers, not so great to other countries.

2) Do your taxes fund that at all? While taxpayer funded Internet is certainly beneficial for those with less money, the cost can't be ignored.

3) How are your housing costs? I pay $650/month (that includes taxes) for a 30 year mortgage on a 165 square meter place. I'm going to hazard a guess that your living arrangement is a bit more expensive.

Just things to keep in mind when comparing things. US and Denmark Internet appears to be in the same general range of low single digits per mbit. Denmark is cheaper, but it isn't as though the US is an order of magnitude more expensive or anything.

I'd love to see faster and cheaper Internet in the US, but I'm not that worried about it. Internet here is fast enough, it is easy to get a reasonably priced connection that can do HD video streaming, fast web surfing and all that ($60/25mbits here, some places are a bit less or more speed). More is nice but not a big deal. Also I've seen the progression going strong, and I have no reason to believe it won't continue.

I'm not concerned about not having the fastest, cheapest Internet in the world. So long as I can get Internet that does what it needs to do for a reasonable price I'm ok with that.

Compare dial-up to dial-up: apples to apples (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013442)

If you actually compare dial-up to current dial-up [aol.com] where you can still get it. [att.com] bandwidth hasn't gone down that much with that class of service. AS a matter of fact, it's still at 1999 prices.

But let's go back to broadband, shall we?

We were and are paying more than any other industrialized country on Earth for inferior service. AND that's not including these ridiculous pricing plans that broadband providers impose on us to obfuscate just how much they're screwing us.

We're being ripped-off.

Re:Just nationalize it already! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013294)

>public right to have affordable internet access for everyone

Which amendment was that one? Probably the same one that grants a "right' to have a cell phone, I guess.
  https://www.safelinkwireless.com/Safelink/home/ [safelinkwireless.com]
 
Neither one is a bloody "right".

Re:Just nationalize it already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013420)

By your use of the term "bloody", I don't think you're qualified to speak to what is a "right" and what is not.

Re:Just nationalize it already! (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013538)

Look, if they're going to offer subsidized internet access to low-income households, I think the real move should be to nationalize it altogether.

That'll never happen as we're not socialist enough. If all ISP's were required to be a utility that would at least require approval from a public utility commission to raise rates etc and you would have another means of resolving your service issues.

Lack of competition (2)

Manip (656104) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013074)

If the US had real competition you would have providers offering $10 broadband as standard without any income requirements. The rest of the Western world (ex. Canada) seem to be able to manage it. How long is the US going to let themselves be held hostage by the big two providers?

Re:Lack of competition (3, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013112)

For as long as it's profitable (mistreating customers is ALWAYS profitable when you have a monopoly on a good or service that is essential, and Internet access is)...or the people all out rebel.

I don't see the latter happening in the US, sadly.

Re:Lack of competition (1)

AmazinglySmooth (1668735) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013452)

Because people can't take care of themselves, right? I am so tired about hearing how bad capitalism is. If you don't want to pay, don't. I agree that there should be competition, but infrastructure is expensive. If you don't think so, then convince some VC's that you can do it better.

Re:Lack of competition (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013532)

Infrastructure is expensive, which is why it was publicly financed in much of the country. It was then turned over to private enterprise. That's not how capitalism is supposed to function. Public risk and private profit will not create a system that is beneficial to all, or even most.

I'd like to pay a reasonable price for broadband, I'd also like everyone else to have access to it at a reasonable price because I am capable of seeing how enriching the entire society benefits me in the long run.

Re:Lack of competition (3, Informative)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013198)

I do hope you meant "excluding" Canada, not "example: Canada". In Canada, the absolute cheapest broadband I've seen is a 3meg/256kbit cable connection for $27.95/mo, and that'll still cost you $50 for the installation, and more for the modem purchase. If you already have other services, you can get cheaper (a 512/512 DSL for $24.95, for example... band rate for dry loop makes that one cost more than the cable option above). There's even a cellular provider who will provide you with HSPA for $20/mo if you already have cellular service with them... but that's the caveat: if you already have cellular service with them. That's a minimum $25/mo on top of that (or $20 if you can pay for the whole year in advance). To be fair, that particular provider will sell you unlimited local calling, and no bandwidth limit on the cellular connection for that price, but it's still nowhere near the pricing mentionned in TFA.

As far as I know, there's nobody who will sell you just a broadband Internet connection for anything approaching $10/mo in this country. If somebody can prove me wrong, I would be very interested to hear about it, but Internet is almost as much of a rip-off in Canada as the US.

Re:Lack of competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013240)

don't you know americans think canada is a utopia where people crap rainbows, where healthcare is served by jesus, and violence only happens during a hockey game?

I've lived in canada it cracks me up when americans in california try to tell me how wonderful it is there yet never been north of napa valley

Re:Lack of competition (1)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013430)

I think you're full of shit, which is probably why you decided to post AC while trolling. When examined from a social welfare point of view, Canada is miles ahead of the US. I doubt you're a Canadian citizen, despite having lived in Canada, and I suspect most or all of your rage at their system of government is because it works, and works well, and your personal ideology says that shouldn't be possible. So instead of learning from them, you hate their system because that's easier than giving up your ideology.

For that matter (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013416)

Perhaps some other countries should be looked at. I'm not sure what he counts as "western" but the UK ought to qualify. I see a deal there for up to 50mbps for $60/month for cable Internet. Requires a 12 month contract. My local cable company offers 50mbps for $90/month with no contract ($60/month gets you 25mbps). In Spain I see 10mbit ADSL and phone service for about $60/month with a 12 month contract. That's in line with what you'd pay either the cable of phone company for similar service here. Italy seems to be almost entirely ADSL, not much fibre and no real cable. Rates are around $50/month for 12mbit.

I don't think the situation is nearly as rosy in the rest of the world as some geek types seem to want to think. There are places it is good, there are places it is not as good.

I'd love to see faster Internet in the US because, well, I'm a geek but I also am not going to claim people are getting screwed by 25mbps for $60. 25mbps is plenty fast for everything, including HD streaming, and $60 is not out of line.

Re:For that matter (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013466)

I have Virgin cable, 50mbit/5mbit, but bundled with a budget cable TV package and a phone line (65+ channels, free weekend/evening calls) and it costs me $82/month.

It's been rock solid too - almost no downtime in the 2 years I've had it and no throttling or caps (although there was talk of them introducing throttling at peak times on all traffic, dropping my connection to 37.5mbit at those times, and in exchange for this they increased the upstream from 1mbit to 5mbit, but I think they have quietly dropped the throttling while leaving the upstream the same - I can't say I've ever noticed it happening regardless of when I use the net, so they are either doing it very transparently or they changed their mind about doing it to the 50mbit customers).

If anyone in the UK is considering cable internet and you can get Virgin in your area then I would highly recommend it (and no, I don't work for them or stand to gain anything from people taking it up).

Re:For that matter (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013516)

You probably don't notice the throttling because your connection is so fast as to make little to no difference. I also have a 50mbit connection and it really is overkill. For 99% of things, I notice no difference over the 20mbit connection I had before. Both load webpages instantly (I wait for DNS or slow ass ad servers more than pages to load), I can stream HD video and surf no problems, and so on. The only difference I notice is my games on Steam download obscenely fast instead of very fast.

So when they clamp your connection a bit, you are still in the extremely fast range, and thus it doesn't bother you at all.

Re:For that matter (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013652)

What I meant by that is I have data for it, and there aren't any times of day where the data shows that the connection doesn't max out at 50mbit, either due to a file download, or 3 people watching iPlayer at the same time while someone else downloads etc.

We seem to get 50mbit/5mbit at all times of day.

Re:Lack of competition (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013560)

If he'd meant to say "example: Canada" he'd have used e.g., wouldn't he?

Twit.

Re:Lack of competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013644)

There are two?

Communism! (2)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013192)

I love the comment on the article from a guy who complains that other customers will have to pay for these accesses for the poors.
God forbid these people have access to internet and be able to raise better educated kids to contribute to society!

Voluntary contributions vs gov mandates (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013226)

It's one thing if people voluntarily choose to pay for other people's internet access, based on their income levels. But given a lot of reasons, not least being the state of the economy, I don't fault them for not choosing to do so. But government doing this is simply using its power for social engineering, rather then acting within its constitutionally defined limits. Which to too many Americans is fanaticism.

Stop worshipping the Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013540)

Oh boo-hoo, like most alleged conservatives your worship of the sacred Constitution is probably one of convenience anyway, not actual diligence. Believe it or not, the Constitution is not a sacred unchanging mandate from heaven. It is the work of men and meant to serve the needs of those who live within its authority.

In some aspects it has served well, in others it has not.

If you merely wish to say you feel that the duties and authority of government should be clearly articulated, that would be one thing, but I sincerely doubt that's the case. If it were, then you would be open to the idea of holding a convention to discuss the parameters for a modern day, where we can discuss things on their own merits, and not with some people relying on what was written centuries ago as if it were the last and absolute word. Pardon my doubts, but if you do support the true principles of the US Constitution, which was written by people who chose to take the reigns of power in their own hands, you will let us do the same thing today, and not force us to be beholden to our long-dead ancestors.

Re:Communism! (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013238)

A conservative is somebody who stays up at night because somewhere, some poor person might be getting something they don't deserve.

Re:Communism! (1, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013400)

And a liberal is someone who stays up at night because someone has more than they do. Take you pick greed or greed and envy.

Re:Communism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013574)

Have you distilled your bodily fluids today?

Re:Communism! (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013594)

Interesting, I do pretty well. Better than most of my peers and for some reason I lean towards liberal. Then again having been to a couple of wars will really give you a little compassion for people that don't have anything. I'm even all boostrappy and whatnot, came from very poor roots and made myself fairly successful. I don't really envy anyone and I'm not particularly greedy as the really poor people I help out can tell you. Granted I'm not going to make myself go broke or anything. So liberal with neither greed nor envy. Purely anecdotal and all though.

Re:Communism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013250)

The moral message you are sending is wrong. Any message that sets a precedent for freeloading is a bad one.
Kids need to know right from wrong before they learn calculus.

Re:Communism! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013344)

The moral message you are sending is wrong. Any message that sets a precedent for freeloading is a bad one.
Kids need to know right from wrong before they learn calculus.

Then would you please stop breathing that air you didn't pay for?

Re:Communism! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013306)

Considering how much money Comcast makes and how little they invest back in infrastructure, I can't see how someone could make the rational argument that this is somehow a subsidy. Of course Comcast could choose this opportunity to raise rates for the hell of it. But since when do they need an excuse for this?

Re:Communism! (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013480)

It is still a very odd idea, especially to mandate this as a condition of an acquisition. It's like saying: "you can have your capitalist monopoly and gouge the customer, if we can have our socialist Internet for the disadvantaged, paid out of your profits". If there's not enough competition, they should not allow the acquisition. If Internet access fees are too high for low income families, the government could decide to subsidise it out of their own coffers, which means all taxpaying voters pay for it, not just the Comcast subscribers.

Familial Bias (3, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013290)

Read the details: it's ONLY offered to families with young children. If you're single and down on your luck, you're still down on your luck; if you're an older couple with teenaged kids fallen on hard times, tough luck for you, too.

Ageism strikes again. Think of the children!

Re:Familial Bias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013586)

Read the details: it's ONLY offered to families with young children. If you're single and down on your luck, you're still down on your luck; if you're an older couple with teenaged kids fallen on hard times, tough luck for you, too.

Ageism strikes again. Think of the children!

Better than nothing at all. It sucks that it leaves the single and senior out, but if a commercial provider gives two options:

a) give cheap access only to low income families with children,

XOR
b) don't give it at all because for whatever reasons (practical or greedy, probably the later) because they don't plan to give it cheap access to all low income people

What do you pick? Complaining about the unfair pickings does have a moral value. Picking b over a out of spite, does not.

You take what you can get and work on it. And you lobby towards more affordable access to all as you travel down the road.

Internet 4th edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013330)

Will Comcast follow this with 'Heroes of the fallen internets' and 'Heroes of the forgotten internets' later on?

Is Intenet Essentials their attempt to win over older Internets 3.x users?

Discrimination! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37013356)

This is just plain wrong. Comcast offers a product, and wants to charge one group of people one fee for this product and another group of people a different fee for this product. It's wrong and should be illegal.

Interesting social experiment (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013398)

It would be interesting to see what the "poor" use the Internet for in a years time. Who here thinks the majority of the time will be spent filling out job applications or Khan Academy? I'm pretty sure YouTube, porn sites, and community flash mob organizing will be the major activities.

Re:Interesting social experiment (1)

AmazinglySmooth (1668735) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013450)

Porn will be throttled back so you have to buy it on PPV from the cable company soon, so don't worry too much. Until then, I agree that the primary use of the internet is to find something to do besides TV and sex.

Re:Interesting social experiment (2)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013456)

I'm pretty sure this is exactly the same for well-off riding mercedes, with an eye kept on their stock while they fap to porn of course.

Re:Interesting social experiment (1)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013672)

If they are paying the bill I don't care. When my bill goes up to subsidize somebody else I do care.

Japan Broadband Rates (1)

Lord Balto (973273) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013526)

This is hilarious. Having been watching J-Bloggers on YouTube for a while now, it's clear that broadband access in Japan runs about $12 a month (maybe a bit higher now because of the exchange rate) for EVERYBODY.

What's the price? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37013576)

What is it worth for "the poor" to be connected on the same system?

Who wants to bet the "low-cost" computers Comcast gives out have cameras that can be turned on remotely?

I'm sorry, I'm paranoid. I stopped trusting anything a telecom does some years ago.

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