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Kentucky Telephone Companies Pushing For Option To End Basic Service

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the wired-signals-have-been-dephoned dept.

AT&T 157

An anonymous reader writes "There is a bill pending in the Kentucky State Senate that would eliminate almost all Public Service Commission oversight over local phone companies. Written by AT&T lobbyists, SB135 is being pushed by the phone companies as a 'modernization' of rules. It would keep the PSC from investigating phone service on its own and eliminate rules concerning price discrimination, price increases, required published rates, and performance objectives. It also will prevent any state agency from imposing net neutrality, and will enable phone companies to use the fact that there are cell phones to refuse to run a land line. The text of the bill is available online."

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Hilarious! (2)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080817)

Money talks. 'nuff said.

Re:Hilarious! (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080941)

But they really are sore losers.

FTFA

“This is one of the reasons we (wanted to buy) T-Mobile, so we could build out the wireless spectrum and offer higher speeds and higher quality coverage to all of Kentucky, including Harlan County," Rateike said.

Right. I'm sure that was on the first page of the Powerpoint shown to the FCC.

Re:Hilarious! (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083517)

âoeThis is one of the reasons we (wanted to buy) T-Mobile, so we could build out the wireless spectrum and offer higher speeds and higher quality coverage to all of Kentucky, including Harlan County," Rateike said.

Yeah, right. As if Harlan County (pop. 33,200, area 498 square miles) could possibly have a spectrum shortage.

Harlan County is served by Appalachian Wireless [appalachianwireless.com], an independent outfit. They're rather retro ("Coming soon: 4G Wireless!") It's a mountainous and sparsely populated area. There are towns like Teaberry, KY, (pop. about 400) with no cell sites anywhere nearby.

Sure (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080837)

I can see allowing them to do all that, as soon as they are no longer the only choice in town, oh and all the subsidies that the government paid for installing the lines need to be paid back as well.

Re:Sure (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080903)

Don't forget paying property owners rent for their cables now that they want to reject the strings attached to using public right of way.

Naturally, they'll need to negotiate that with each owner separately.

Re:Sure (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081087)

You're better off collectively bargaining for that. That's what the farmers in PA did for natural gas rights and made a ton more money than when they were individually settling.

Re:Sure (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081187)

That would be up to the individual property owners if they would like to bargain collectively, individually, or not at all (meaning come and get your wires before I declare them abandoned property).

This Could Be Made Fair (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080853)

This sounds like a fine idea. But since they're truly free of regulatory shackles, they should have no problem paying whatever market rate the city wishes to charge them to rent the space under the streets that their lines run through.

Re:This Could Be Made Fair (5, Insightful)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081185)

Agreed. If they want government aid and special treatment, we have every right to expect them to be regulated. If they want to make the shots, they need to pay for everything.

Re:This Could Be Made Fair (4, Insightful)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081521)

The better idea would be for the counties to use eminent domain to take over the lines and phone switches and rent them back to the telcos!

Actually, this is not a bad idea. The telco's could then rent out the services to competing providers meaning an end to the monopoly and a need for such price controls. The original telco's could use their settlements to buy additional switches to stay in business, leasing the lines back from the counties.

Monopolies are not free markets. One can create a free market by nationalizing the natural monopoly portion and then renting out access on a RAND basis to all potential competitors on a per-subscriber basis.

Re:This Could Be Made Fair (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39082117)

Yeah but I bet the good people of Kentucky would be too chicken to try that.

Re:This Could Be Made Fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39083919)

Yeah but I bet the good people of Kentucky would be too chicken to try that.

Kentucky people chicken? I know there's a KFC joke in there somewhere, just waiting for someone to write it!

Re:This Could Be Made Fair (2)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39082737)

I'm a fan of removing their common carrier status if they keep pushing things like this

This will pass almost for sure (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39080871)

This is very likely to pass. The Kentucky State Senate is just over 60% Republican.

Re:This will pass almost for sure (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080887)

Fine with me. Let them shoot their mostly rural population in the foot -- as long as the telcos give up the Universal Service Fund.

Re:This will pass almost for sure (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#39082123)

No, it's not fine with you, even if you don't live in Kentucky. Once something like this passes in one state, it is much, much easier to get it passed in others.

Most rural population is most expensive (0)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080915)

You want to live back in the hills, sure, just get used to driving into town to make a phone call.

Re:Most rural population is most expensive (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080995)

If connecting GMRS and MURS stations to the phone system were legal, this would be an easier problem to solve. People in rural areas could set up wireless services for themselves, essentially creating their own cooperative cell phone networks.

Not that the telcos want to change those regulations.

Re:Most rural population is most expensive (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081329)

I really don't understand why people aren't taking this into their own hands. Why limit yourself to wireless or nothing at all? Lay fiber. It really is not hard. Rural communities must have people who know how to move dirt. Commercially that's the most expensive part. I'm sure you'll find a bunch of geeks who would love to learn by doing the rest, except the dirt moving bit. Phone service is trivial once you have steady and fast internet access. That's what VoIP is for.

Written by lobbyists. (4, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080999)

Anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

Re:Written by lobbyists. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081969)

No, I mean isn't that how all bills are written today? You wouldn't want to pull legislators away from important campaign fundraising efforts, would you?

As opposed to who? (2)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39084505)

(Before I get started, I would like to acknowledge that this bill is indeed a steaming pile of horse$hit. Now, back to my regularly scheduled criticism of knee-jerk Slashdot populism.)

It is not at all uncommon for bills to be written by those with an interest in the matter. What's the alternative?

Let's say Congressman X gets a bug up his butt about righting some wrong... we'll use warrantless wiretapping as an example. He needs to write a bill, and one that will not be as full of holes as Swiss cheese. The best person to write such a bill is a lawyer. Now, Mr. X isn't a lawyer and has not used his staff budget to hire an expensive civil liberties lawyer on retainer. Where does he go?

Well, a logical solution is the EFF or ACLU, but those are a bunch of lobbyists too. Who, exactly, is supposed to write this legislation in a way that it can be fairly certain it'll actually work?

Just because a bill is written by a lobbyist does not mean it's defective by design. Just because a bill is written by a company with a financial interest in the bill does not mean it's inherently defective. The congressman is more than welcome to reject or modify the bill, or pay a (smaller) amount of money to a lawyer to review it. Yes, many congressman are unduly influenced by things like campaign contributions, but that is a separate question from where bills come from.

"Not uncommon" != "OK" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084589)

I mean, its not uncommon for dictators to abuse their power and privilege. It's not uncommon for people to break the law. But we don't say it's OK.

Except you, when it comes to corporate rights...

Re:As opposed to who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084801)

Wait, if we don't vote them in because they can write the bills, what the hell IS it their job to do?! I can't imagine that we're REALLY needing them because of their understanding of the issues.

Privatizing (5, Insightful)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081049)

If you need any evidence why privatizing government services is a bad idea this is it.

Re:Privatizing (2)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081215)

In a truely free market, they would be required to pay for all their infrastructure and not get any special treatment from the government.

Re:Privatizing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081789)

Unfortunately, such things do not exist, thus, we must make do with a mixture of all things.

Re:Privatizing (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083163)

But we don't have a free market and that's all the government's fault.

I've known an Internet Libertarian or two who basically argued from the premise that all ills were either directly caused by the gov't, or indirectly caused by the government doing something else foolish or malicious, then presented things (I shan't call them facts) to bolster that opinion.

It's very tiring to argue with them.

Open up their network for competition. (5, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081079)

Right now it's illegal for anyone to run phone cable in ATT or verizon's territory. they have government backed monopolies of these areas. Sure, they are forced to share bandwidth with other providers but those providers have no control over the cable or the prices charged for using it.

Open it up so that other companies are allowed to run cable. They might now run cable... no one will be forcing them to do it. But they'll have the option and maybe if ATT acts badly that will give a rival company an incentive to step in and offer a superior service at a lower price.

All these old grandfathered monopolies need to die. Throw holy water in their eyes, jam a fist full of garlic in their mouths, and drive a wooden stake through their hearts.

If they competed without these rules they'd never even consider this sort of nonsense. Their competitors would eat them alive... probably with fave beans

Re:Open up their network for competition. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081333)

Running cable multiple times is just ridiculous. You want every company to repeat what the previous company did, really? Sure, let's duplicate every bit of infrastructure multiple times for the sake of competition, what a great idea.

The government should build and manage the infrastructure and rent it out to companies to provide services on top of. That way, the cost of entering the market is lowered and lean and mean can beat fat and lazy.

Re:Open up their network for competition. (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081921)

Redundant infrastructure would definately pull the teeth on the netneutrality issue, and would effectively drown the "bandwidth hogs!" Issue too.

Single runs might be easier for civil planners to manage, but they get constipated the way water and sewerlines do when too many people use them, and once the area is developed, good luck getting the trenchers and backehoes in to replace/upgrade the pipe.

Allowing multiple companies to lay lines would solve a whole lot of problems.

Re: Running cable multiple times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084203)

That's how it works in the countries where Internet access is fast and cheap.

Re:Open up their network for competition. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084615)

I agree in principle, but in this case there is a good enough reason to "duplicate" infrastructure, because the existing infrastructure is antique. A new fiber network would certainly be useful beyond merely creating competition.

Re:Open up their network for competition. (5, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081371)

Right now it's illegal for anyone to run phone cable in ATT or verizon's territory. they have government backed monopolies of these areas. Sure, they are forced to share bandwidth with other providers but those providers have no control over the cable or the prices charged for using it.

This is correct. The idea is that it is wasteful for multiple companies to run multiple cables which do the same thing. Maximum efficiency (albeit not reliability) is achieved when there's just one company and one set of cables. So a company is selected and granted a monopoly for laying down and providing service over these cables.

In exchange, they cede the right to set their own prices. All price increases have to be reviewed and OKed by a government-run Public Utilities Commission or Public Service Commission.

Getting rid of the PUC or PSC without revoking the phone company's cable service monopoly makes no sense whatsoever.

Re:Open up their network for competition. (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083619)

Getting rid of the PUC or PSC without revoking the phone company's cable service monopoly makes no sense whatsoever.

Absolutely; but it's no use simply getting rid of the legal monopoly. You have to actually force them to give back the cables. If someone already has the cables in the ground then there is no way for a competitor to practically come in because the costs of new build are always much higher than the costs of merely extending and improving the old network wherever needed to stop the competitor.

Re:Open up their network for competition. (5, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081407)

Their competitors would eat them alive

That's the problem: They wouldn't. Because it works like this: No prospective competitor has enough money to build a nationwide network all at once. The only way to do it is to roll out in one city, then use the profits from operating the network in that city to roll out in the next city, rinse and repeat.

The problem comes that whichever city you choose to start with, the incumbents in that city will drop their margins to zero only in that city on the day before you start offering service there. The only way to get customers to use the new network is to match the price cuts and operate with no margins, so the fixed costs (which the incumbents have already paid off and the new competitors haven't) thereby make the new competitor unprofitable and leave no profits to use to expand any further. And because prospective competitors know that will happen (as it has happened in the few instances where new competitors have tried to enter the market in the past, or there has been a municipal fiber roll out), no one is willing to invest in building a competing network.

The fact that there is sometimes both a telephone and cable company that offer internet service in the same area is just a historical accident, because by the time they were actually in competition with each other they were both already big enough that they couldn't drive the other out of business with price competition without severe damage to their own business, so instead they just both operate on the unspoken agreement that neither will be the first to do anything aggressively competitive. But if a small new competitor ever started a build out, have no doubt that they would lower their prices until the competitor got the message that continuing to build a network will be made unprofitable for them.

Realistically, if you want a serious competitor to the incumbents, it needs to be municipal. You pay for the network with tax dollars (or a bond issue) on the assumption that you may not ever make back the money, and if you do, great. And if not, no harm done, you've paid for fiber and now you've got it.

Re:Open up their network for competition. (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083255)

The problem comes that whichever city you choose to start with, the incumbents in that city will drop their margins to zero only in that city on the day before you start offering service there.

That's a textbook example of mercerizing a monopoly. The anti-trust action would obliterate them.

Re:Open up their network for competition. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39083629)

Only if it were filed, but history has shown that most times, they won't unless they manage to offend the wrong people (which typically can be avoided with a nice chunk of cash).

Re:Open up their network for competition. (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39084333)

I think historically it was even worse than this for telephones actually - there was no legal requirement for the incumbent to allow local calls between them and the new upstart in the same city at all, so they didn't, and what use is a phone line that can't actually be used to phone anyone you know living in the same town or any local companies?

Re:Open up their network for competition. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39082457)

Open it up so that other companies are allowed to run cable. They might now run cable... no one will be forcing them to do it.

I suspect many people are Libertarian because they don't understand history, or they don't believe it. Phone companies weren't always regulated and they didn't lay cable. Cable is expensive. It only makes sense to cable dense urban centers, but rural America had no phone service. The answer was to tell them, "hey, if you spend the money laying cable we'll guarantee that you are the only provider in the area." It was the only way to induce phone companies to invest in cabling less profitable areas. Think of it as sort of like a patent for prescription drugs.

About time. (5, Interesting)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081135)

This is the fate of the US phone system. Once there are fewer than a basic minimum number of subscribers it will become extremely unprofitable to even maintain the wires that have connected the country for 80+ years. You can assume that the wires will not be maintained out of charity.

Best be getting a cell phone is what that means. Oh, your rural area is underserved by cell towers? Too bad, that. Better move to the city where service is better.

Did you not think flight from landline service would have consequences? It sure does, and it is really going to suck for some people. Aren't you glad you dropped your land line ages ago?

There is no way the government can somehow force the telephone companies to maintain service at a huge loss. They aren't going to do it. And that means the end of the universal nature of the US phone system. This is a direct outgrowth of people dropping land line (regulated) service for an unregulated cell phone service.

Re:About time. (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081651)

Only problem with your argument is that rural areas ARE well-served. I can't recall the last time my phone registered "no signal", even in the most desolate of places. I know two people who are on SS disability and both have a cell phone. Hell, who DOESN'T have a cell phone nowadays?

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081755)

I used to live in Kentucky, only a couple of years ago. I didn't have cell service in many parts of the state, even along interstate corridors. The same is true of parts of North Carolina, and I suspect it's true of many rural areas. I don't think you appreciate just how vast and empty parts of the US are: it's not feasible to run cell service everywhere.

That said, I don't think the answer is to require telephone service to all subscribers regardless of remoteness from urban centers; there needs to be a certain minimum--say, guaranteed landline service, if requested, within fifty miles of any population center greater than 10K people--but not an absolute universal service for everyone in every shack buried in every valley or on top of every desolate ridge in Appalachia. There needs to be a trade-off, though: all monopolies need to be revoked, and it needs to be licit for entrepreneurs out in the hills to run their own cable or fiber or copper line or whatever they want to service their communities or friends and connect it at a convenient point to an IP (if VOIP and data) network or POTS as required.

Re:About time. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39082837)

I call hogwash

yes there were many undeserved areas, but whenever we were flying down farm roads my bellsouth (at the time) phone never lost all of its signal

pcs, cricket, tmobile, yes, but what do you expect from a second rate company, and there is a fuckton of hillbilly companies that service Kentucky that work fine as well.

but to disagree with the op, the telephone network is used for more than voice, just cause the traffic changes does not mean instant death

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39083479)

pssh, there are dead zones in the middle of Chicago. No signal or anything. It's fine traveling through kentucky, you expect it. But walking through a city of millions and realizing that those few blocks that you're walking have 0 signal? freaky.

Re:About time. (2)

CrAlt (3208) | more than 2 years ago | (#39082339)

I think it depends alot of the topography of the area. New England is nothing but hills and valleys. There are lots of little dead zones all over my state of Connecticut. Go north up to northern VT/NH away from the interstate and you could go a long ways with zero signal.

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39082569)

Yep, I can pick you two totally dead spots within 5 miles of my house in the crazy rural state of Maryland. Service is good, but it's not good enough to support the death of land lines.

Re:About time. (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39082783)

I can't recall the last time my phone registered "no signal", even in the most desolate of places.

I can. I was in northern Arizona, about halfway between Nowhere and Noplace - nothing but desert and mountains for a hundred miles in any direction.

On the other hand, the farm my father grew up on, which is way back in the hills of MS, has decent cell service, last time I drove out to the old place.

Re:About time. (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083183)

Some areas, especially thinly-populated hilly areas and especially out West, really are not well-served.

Can I guess that you live east of the Mississippi in relatively flat terrain?

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39083385)

Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint do not work at my house in suburban Los Angeles even though I'm not behind a hill or mountain or any other obstruction. It's just simply a small hole that they don't feel like filling because it's not worth the expense. The reason land lines served everybody was because they were required to, not because there was some profit motive involved.

Re:About time. (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39084585)

Lots of places with even modest mountains have regions of no signal. Rural Georgia comes to mind as does Hawaii. My brother lives in Morganton, GA and I can't get cell service at his house.

Re:About time. (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083063)

This is the fate of the US phone system. Once there are fewer than a basic minimum number of subscribers it will become extremely unprofitable to even maintain the wires that have connected the country for 80+ years.

If only something else existed that uses wires. Some sort of network.

Re:About time. (2)

Chrontius (654879) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083603)

You know who lives out in the sticks at one person per hundred square miles?

The people that grow our food.

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084657)

Regulate cell phone service similarly: problem solved.

Fair & Balanced Amendment? (2)

quarkscat (697644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081141)

No doubt there will be a "fair & balanced" amendment added to this Kentucky legislation that would force the local telephone companies to surrender all rights to their no-longer-serviced basic phone service "right-of-way" granted by the state. No? WTF! That's shocking news ...

Re:Fair & Balanced Amendment? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081573)

The Kentucky State Senate is mostly Republican. They have a different definition of "Fair and Balanced" than the dictionary definition and they will vote accordingly.

They are right, stop running out-dated technology. (2)

Above (100351) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081157)

Requiring them to carry the expense of installing copper twisted pairs and the equipment to operate it is outdated thinking. It's low bandwidth, short distance, and generally a waste of time and money for everyone involved.

Rather, they should be required to install fiber to the home, technology that should have a 30-50 year lifespan, can bring high speed data to rural america, and operates for much longer distances reducing their equipment cost.

Re:They are right, stop running out-dated technolo (1)

ewieling (90662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39084121)

The incumbent phone companies like Verizon are putting in fiber as fast as they can. They have to share the copper, but they do not have to share their fiber.

Kentuckians, bend over (2)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081213)

Your phone company wants to service you, but you aren't going to like it!

Re:Kentuckians, bend over (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081619)

Don't worry. The Kentucky State Senate is currently 60.5% Republicans. They will make sure you get "serviced" by your phone company, forcibly if necessary.

Re:Kentuckians, bend over (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081787)

This is what confuses me. Doesn't AT&T realize how many of its customers in Kentucky are armed?

Re:Kentuckians, bend over (2)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083071)

This is what confuses me. Doesn't AT&T realize how many of its customers in Kentucky are armed?

They also have a fairly low person/backhoe ratio. Wonder how AT&T likes repairing fiber cuts? How about two fiber cuts with 100 feet of fiber missing between them?

Finally (0, Troll)

BitHive (578094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081491)

I have long suspected that phone service would be almost free if the government didn't force me to subsidize low-income subscribers.

Re:Finally (2)

cffrost (885375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083967)

I have long suspected that phone service would be almost free if the government didn't force me to subsidize low-income subscribers.

Unfortunately, you live in a society.

Kentucky is doomed (4, Insightful)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081513)

Given that Kentucky sends to the Senate TWO of the WORST IDIOTS, it would appear likely that Kentucky will probably just end up screwing itself ... if the same kind of people are also in their legislature.

Business, especially big business, simply cannot be trusted and needs government supervision. Fox. Hen house.

Re:Kentucky is doomed (1)

xeno314 (661565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083417)

Eh, I'll agree with you on our U.S. Senators, and concede most of the state offices as well. That said, the state Senate is controlled by Republicans, but the House and Governor's office are Democrats, so there's plenty of opportunity for this to get thrown into gridlock hell....

nothing to see (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081523)

I work for a telco, and we have territory in TN. I even used to work for ATT (yes they suck to work for) I used to work PSC complaints. They're a joke. 90% of them are filed by the mentaly ill who claim their phones are being tapped. We really do send someone out to show them the NID and ped to show there is no electronic device installed while they chat on theie cordless phone. The complaints that remain are almost entirely related to buisness's that decided to go cheap on their building site and are angry the phone company wont run a t1 over a mountain, across a river and under several freeways to get.to their building site they got fpr $200/acre. Yes the psc doles out fines... but those are based on # of customers affected * minuites out of service > (some number) then small fine. and guess who decides how many people were affected and for how long... the psc is useless

Get a HAM license (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081647)

I live in a rural part of Alberta and I've been told the phone company really wants to get us all on VoIP over the existing WiMax network that runs here. That way they don't have to run wire out to new farm homes. In fact there are several miles of phone wire laying in the ditches around here that the company refuses to bury. I think they hope that if it gets cut by mowers and farm machines enough times that we'll beg for VoIP over wireless. The wireless WiMax system is pretty reliable, but not totally. It goes down in storms, for example. So if we were ever forced to this system, I think I'll be extremely grateful to have my HAM license and HAM station here for emergencies.

Sounds like rural Kentuckians really need to line up and get licenses and at least basic VHF radios. They're going to need them.

Deregulation or rural phone service: pick 1 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081721)

A debate on this would be fun to watch. The set of Rand Paul supporters should be in favor of the proposed bill on libertarian grounds, while the set of people who live in rural areas (and can foresee the inevitable price spike and service cuts that would follow adoption of the bill) would make for lively opposite sides. The fun part will be watching those in the intersection of these sets wrestle with the idea. Unfortunately, the bill's sponsor has forseen the service cuts. From TFA: "The bill's sponsor, Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, said he doesn't want households to lose any existing phone service. Hornback said he will change the language in his bill to make that clear". Of course, Senator Hornback's wants don't count - only what's in the bill counts. If the bill passes, the fun part will be watching the phone companies weasel their way out of providing service while sticking to the letter of the law.

The real scandal (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39081829)

Written by AT&T lobbyists, SB135 is being pushed by the phone companies as a 'modernization' of rules.

Hold the phone, Alexander Graham, what the fuck are "AT&T lobbyists" doing writing laws? Am I the only one whose gore rises whenever our legislators vote on laws that are written by the companies the government is supposed to regulate?

The US gov't is tasked with regulating business just as surely and as constitutionally as it is tasked with protecting national security. So where are the congressional hearings about why industry lobbyists are writing laws?

Right here on Slashdot, we've got a user, and early adopter, who is a New Hampshire legislator. A member of the lower house of the N.H. congress, and he's a big fan of ALEC, which is an acronym that stands for "19 billionaires who lobby for their own rich asses" or something like that. It probably actually stands for "American Legislation Exchange Committee for Family Prosperity and Progress into the Victorious Future", but if I go to their website to get the actual meaning of the acronym I'm liable to throw another 24" LED monitor ($179 at Tiger Direct) against the fucking wall and my wife swore she wasn't going to help me clean it up if I did that again.

Anyway, this ALEC, this lobbying group for these 19 rich guys (yes, it really is 19) is responsible for writing almost all the major legislation passed by every Republican-controlled state congress in the US. That's right, these guys send out boilerplate to GOP run state legislatures who plug in the name of their state where it says "Your State Name Here" on the PDF file that ALEC so helpfully sends them attached to an email with the subject line, "FWD:Pass this bill, you slimy little fuck or we'll put $5million into a primary challenge against you next election and you'll never see another envelope from us".

Anyway, this New Hampshire legislator, Seth Cohn, who thinks ALEC is just the tits tells me ALEC is just a friendly organization who advises legislators and gives them "good, clean code" to work with, as if ALEC was the teabagger equivalent of O'Reilly Publishing or the Open Source Initiative or something. Of course, these ALEC-written laws include laws to make sure blacks and poor people and students can't vote, and prisons get privatized and certain energy conglomerates get fat tax subsidies and schools change their science curriculum to teach the "controversy" that is global warming, but to this Slashdot user/New Hampshire congressperson, it's just "good code".

Lobbyists writing our laws. What could possibly go wrong?

Wait, wait, I've got something here...OK, this is something that dirty hippie, Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1816, and I'll leave you with this:

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.

That's almost 200 years ago, from one of the dudes that invented this country. He already knew where it was going and he warned us. So when I read about "AT&T lobbyists" writing SB135, it makes me want to go out and occupy something like maybe some lobbyist's fat ass with my shoe.

Re:The real scandal (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083085)

Hold the phone, Alexander Graham, what the fuck are "AT&T lobbyists" doing writing laws? .

You know.. YOU can write a law if you want to. You have to convince a law maker to back it, and introduce it. (err maybe you can lobby a law maker) The law still needs to be passed by the law makers before it is made into a law.

Re:The real scandal (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083155)

err maybe you can lobby a law maker

I don't have that kind of money.

According to recent news stories, the ante is $100,000 just to get in the door of these SuperPACs. Have you noticed how the GOP primary race has become a contest between billionaires? Each candidate has their own billionaire as a patron. Santorum has the Fries guy, Gingrich has the Las Vegas casino owner. Romney has Hank Paulson and Goldman Sachs. Seriously, there has been news story after news story about how this or that billionaire is keeping this or that candidate "in the race".

How did we ever have elections without billionaires?

Re:The real scandal (1)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39084449)

Not only that, you have the notorious Koch brothers funding all four Republican candidates.

Re:The real scandal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084683)

One minor tweak to your roster: Glenn Greenwald just wrote about how *MUCH* Frank Vandersloot / Melaleuca [salon.com](a pyramid reseller akin to amway) would hate to be mentioned here. Vandersloot and his employees also have developed a slick process for tweaking the judiciary: funding opposition campaigns to local/state judges if they ever have to stand for a confidence vote.

Teddy Roosevelt Disapproves (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081833)

We today live in an age of rampant deregulation in many large industries, and many people and politicians believe that corporations will act responsibly without regulation. But let me bring you back to a prior age, the Gilded age and the Progressive era. In post industrial revolution america there was a serious lack of workplace and corporate regulations, the most famous of these was the meatpacking industry. In "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclaire, the meat packing industry was uncovered as to its disgusting an unethical business practices, the gory details of which you can read in the well written novel.

In a round about way, many people believe that deregulation is good, and this bill is an excellent example of deregulation, and may in fact be beneficial, but history has taught us that businesses will not act responsibly, a prime example being Northern Securities, a railroad trust operating in the northern Midwest, which was busted apart by Roosevelt in 1904. The railroads in the midwest had been engaging in price discrimination for years, which had been seriously hurting midwestern farmers, and were detrimental to the nations economy, benefiting only the elite few.

I fear only that deregulation in the celular industry will benefit only the corporations and will hurt end consumers. I also fear that many influential individuals have not adequately learned many of the valuable lessons that history has taught us, especially from this deregulated time in American history.

I will admit that some of my fears amy be unfounded, there are still many protective regulations, and many of the monopolies that allowed for price discrimination that was seen cannot exist any more.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt Disapproves (1)

temcat (873475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083801)

Why exactly is price discrimination bad? After all, it's based on the same nice principle as progressive and even flat percent rate taxation: we take more from you for the same thing just because we can. But market price discrimination is better, because you can in theory (and often do in practice) find another provider of goods and services. No such thing with the government.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt Disapproves (1)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 2 years ago | (#39084487)

Because when you couple price discrimination with monopoly, there IS no other provider of that particular good or service. Railroads at the time were monopolies. Ditto phone service, electric, etc. If it were up to the providers, there would be no alternatives to what they provide, at the price they provide it at.

This is one of the (many) reasons monopolies are to be frowned upon.

Now do you get it?

Re:Teddy Roosevelt Disapproves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084493)

Price discrimination is bad when the actor doing the discrimination is granted a government backed monopoly. In this there are no other competitors by law.

Jeez.

Re:Teddy Roosevelt Disapproves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084705)

Price discrimination is bad when the actor doing the discrimination is granted a government backed monopoly.

So at worst it's no better than taxes.

In this there are no other competitors by law.

If I don't like the amount of tax I'm paying, which competing government can I switch to? (Without moving to a different area - that works for private monopolies as well, so it doesn't demonstrate that one's better than the other.)

Jeez.

Quite.

As an Australian (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39082359)

Good luck with your telco tubes :)
I just hope your local gov was smart enough to insert a "open for any telco business" in.
Get some friendly, smart people in from Canadian, South Africa, German, Russian, Australian ect. to run some cheap optical with a smile for any county, city or zone that asks for some competition and options.
If you want to be the only telco you get special legal protections. Demand to be free of gov oversight, your state is now free to shop around too.

Update instead of Abolish (2)

twistofsin (718250) | more than 2 years ago | (#39082881)

Don't end the requirement, update it.

Fiber for everyone. Google thinks they can do it don't they?

And how poor is Kentucky? I live in an older neighborhood with large lots, but everyone is either old or poor right now. 40mb uncapped DSL all around me, but I've still got only the worst 1.5mb available on my block. My cable company has a better network, and unfortunately they have a bandwidth cap and 50c/GB charge for overages.

I have to give it to my cable company though, they provide (mostly) reliable telephone, 50mb cable internet, and cheap cable tv for a low price.

But really what I want to know is this: if twisted pair isn't good anymore, why not change the requirement to something that's more economically viable?

Just convert them over (2)

AoXoMoXoA (20861) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083019)

They used the same argumnent about the phase out of analog TV. It is going to leave the elderly and poor behind...i dont think that happend. They found a way to get a big government subsidy to give out free converter boxes.

What ATT will do is get the government to finance a massive vDSL deployment in these areas and plop an ATA out there on a little battery (they get to keep their phone number and their phone) oh...and we will also give you a video and internet feed. Technology for everyone...ATT bankrolls an upgrade and then reduces their operating cost and increases their revenues. The PSC is supposed to keep that in check but there are a bunch of former ATT/BellSouth exec's sitting on the commission so it is what it is...

if at&t wants out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39083223)

because it's so damn unprofitable for them.. they should just sell..

or better yet, break up the rural areas into smaller companies servicing a few counties each and give them away (that's right, GIVE, as in no-charge, gratis.. seeing how sbc-turned-at&t and its various acquisitions over the years have benefited greatly from generations of being a monopoly) -- turning them into customer-owned cooperatives instead.

in our rural areas, we have telephone co-ops and they do rather well.. in fact, they have built out dsl service just about *everywhere* stretching from town to town even when it's 20-30 miles between them... sure, prices are a little higher than adjacent at&t-controlled markets, but the co-ops do just fine... and even return some of their profits back to their members in the form of annual dividends (the rest goes back into the co-op, not some executive's pocket). how do they do it? they answer to the members (who are the customers) NOT just shareholders of public stock (who care only about profits not how they're made)... they are driven more by service standards and service availability than by profits. what a concept.

____

additionally, i think that since wireless has surpassed wireline in number of lines served, wireless should be regulated (including regulatory approval and oversight of rate increases, contract terms, fees, service standards, etc) JUST LIKE wireline service has been.

i also don't think wireline service is obsolete. i think there is a market for a physical connection to every residential unit and business in the country and will be for at least another generation or two. it is still the easiest, most efficient, and most secure way to deliver communication services (voice, high-bandwidth data, video, etc) to fixed locations.

We should seize infrastructure via Eminent Domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39084807)

We should seize infrastructure via Eminent Domain and turn it into co-ops.

Companies should be able to own web sites but not the wire, fiber or frequencies everyone needs to use.

The government siezes people's houses, land and property 'for the common good' on a regular basis.

We should do the same to all natural monopolies and obstructionist patent and copyright hoarders.

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