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If You Lived In Riga, You Wouldn't Bother To Cut the Cord

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the comfy-leather-chairs-too dept.

Communications 195

lpress writes "If you lived in Riga, Latvia, you would not have to 'cut the cord' to see video entertainment at a reasonable cost. You would simply get a triple play subscription with 20 Mbps up and 5 Mbps down from service provider Balti-Com for $25.43 USD. Balti-Com had the lowest triple pay price in a New America Foundation report, The Cost of Connectivity, which compares prices charged by 885 ISPs in 22 cities worldwide. The report found that five of the cheapest 15 triple-play offerings were in Paris — the fruit of competition between ISPs. With the Telecommunication Act of 1966, the U.S. Congress hoped to foster similar competition, but failed. As study co-author Benjamin Lennett says, U.S. telephone and cable companies have arranged a 'negotiated truce' in which cable incumbents enjoy a de facto monopoly on high-speed broadband service, while Verizon and AT&T focus primarily on their wireless platforms."

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Happy Sunday from the Golden Girls! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730057)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Weigh with average income (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730063)

Of course I assume they have weighted the prices wrt average income.

Re:Weigh with average income (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730179)

If you mean, the prices have been adjusted to purchasing power parity, then no.

It's actually ~25USD or ~12LVL/mo in local currency.
http://www.balticom.lv/lv/home/dom_komplekt?districtId=50

imho, the reasons are: fierce competition&little to no collusion, little regulation and little legacy technology.

Re:Weigh with average income (4, Insightful)

Red Storm (4772) | about 2 years ago | (#40730349)

And to bring the comparison full circle, the Big Mac Index from January 2012 showed Latvia to be -30% parity. Meaning if you were to adjust the price to US Dollars it would cost an equivalent of about US$15-16 in the US.

The index can be found here:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/01/daily-chart-3

Re:Weigh with average income (2)

PineGreen (446635) | about 2 years ago | (#40730183)

No, you don't weight with average income. Do you weight sony television and apple laptop prices with average income? (they also pay on-the-ground workers like sellers in shops and truck drivers, which are more expensive in more developed world)

Re:Weigh with average income (1, Offtopic)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40730465)

You don't but you should. TVs cost like 20 dollars in India and China, because that's all the people can afford. Meanwhile in the EU or US they cost around $200, because we're "rich" in the worldwide income scale so the corporations charge us more.

BTW we do have cheaper options in the States:
- ignore the government-granted monopoly that is Comcast and get Dish: $15 or $25/month for their lowest CATV packages. Or antenna which is freeview.
- or add Hulu. $7/month for unlimited viewing.
- Wired phone service can be had as cheap as $4 a month (and then pay 10 cents per call).
- Another form of entertainment are books or magazines or radioshows, which are often published online for free. When nothing's on the boobtube, I read or listen instead.

- get DSL for internet. $15 a month for slow service or $30 for faster service.
- VirginMobile. $5 a month for cellphone service, or ~$20 a month for unlimited. $35 for unlimited data.

The problem I have observed with most Americans is that they don't know HOW to save money. They complain-and-moan about high prices, but then don't bother to shop around. They buy overpriced goods, lock themselves into 2-yr-contracts that are lousy deals, waste money eating-out everyday when it's cheaper to bring your own lunch, buy $1 snacks in the machine when the same thing at the store costs half as much, and so on.

Basically they are their own worst enemies. We work hard to earn money..... we should also work hard to save it rather than waste it.

Re:Weigh with average income (2)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about 2 years ago | (#40730579)

- get DSL for internet. $15 a month for slow service or $30 for faster service.

Not available at my address. Yes, I'm serious. I don't even live in the boonies. I live in a rather densely populated suburb of Philadelphia. There is no high speed provider here other than Comcast. Another ten miles further from Philly and they have FIOS and DSL.
Besides that, DSL (where it's actually available) is a good bit slower than my Comcast service. So you're essentially saying "Do with (significantly) less, and it'll cost you less!"

- VirginMobile. $5 a month for cellphone service, or ~$20 a month for unlimited. $35 for unlimited data.

Except you can only use the phones they offer, instead of the phone you want. And it's on Sprint's network, which is lousy.

If you're willing to put up with Sprint's network, you should use Ting anyway.

So again, "Do with (significantly) less, and it'll cost you less!"

The problem I have observed with most Americans is that they don't know HOW to save money.

They definitely know how to save money the way you're suggesting: "Do without". Many, in fact, do. For instance, since I ceased living with my parents way back in college, I've never paid a cent for any sort of television subscription. Some people just can't live without TV, however. I've also never had a land-line phone, since I've always had a cell. Always interesting dealing with people who demand your home phone number...

But the point is, people shouldn't have to do without to save money. These services are dirt-cheap to provide, get cheaper every year, and the prices where there is actual COMPETITION reflect that.

  They complain-and-moan about high prices, but then don't bother to shop around. They buy overpriced goods, lock themselves into 2-yr-contracts that are lousy deals, waste money eating-out everyday when it's cheaper to bring your own lunch, buy $1 snacks in the machine when the same thing at the store costs half as much, and so on.

Oops... (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about 2 years ago | (#40730587)

Meant to hit preview, not submit... Ignore that last bit of accidentally unquoted text...

Re:Weigh with average income (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40730715)

My DSL goes 6 Mbit/s and I think that's plenty fast. I can download movies or shows faster than I can watch them, so basically the speed is higher than I need.

TING would actually cost me more. Instead of the 5 dollars I currently pay through Virgin, I would pay $9. And the text/data plans are about the same price.

But the data cost on Ting? Outrageous! 3GB plus calls/texts == $80. Virgin charges just $35 and has no data limit.

Re:Weigh with average income (1, Offtopic)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about 2 years ago | (#40730929)

My DSL goes 6 Mbit/s and I think that's plenty fast. I can download movies or shows faster than I can watch them, so basically the speed is higher than I need.

Well, 6MBit/s would not be enough for our household, with three heavy internet users. It's not uncommon to have two simultaneous NetFlix streams, a large download going, and still have two of us playing online games.

TING would actually cost me more. Instead of the 5 dollars I currently pay through Virgin, I would pay $9. And the text/data plans are about the same price.

But the data cost on Ting? Outrageous! 3GB plus calls/texts == $80. Virgin charges just $35 and has no data limit.

Ting would be cheaper in my situation, with 5 phones, instead of paying $35/ea. Also, the big difference is if you use less than what you signed up for in a month, Ting refunds the difference. And that $35 "unlimited" Virgin Mobile plan is throttled after 2.5GB.

Re:Weigh with average income (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40731377)

Basically what we've established here is that your data requirements depend largely on how many people will be sharing the bandwidth. I live in a 1-room apartment by myself so 10 mbit is plenty for me, but if I had 3 or 4 roommates or a torrent server then I'd definitely want to bump it up to 40 or 50.

Re:Weigh with average income (4, Interesting)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#40731059)

The explanation for this is of course, not as nice as the article makes out:

As study co-author Benjamin Lennett says, U.S. telephone and cable companies have arranged a 'negotiated truce'...

This in fact called a Cartel. [wikipedia.org]

And in fact it is a private/public Cartel. Private because we really know it's there for price fixing and splitting up the market which is, ostensibly illegal. But we know they do it right in front of the legislators' noses, who don't do anything about it. In my opinion because that would threaten cushy 6 figure swan jobs offered by the culprits when their terms end, as well as free education at top schools for their kids/grandkids via "scholarships" and whatever other shell games are devised, etc. etc. etc. A true cooperation of "public" and private concerns.

Re:Weigh with average income (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730687)

What are you going on about?

I can't use DSL as I frequently work from home, remoting to my various office desktops. I also use Netflix to watch moviesI don't torrent anything, as Netflix is good enough for us for now. (Don't have TV, don't want Cable TV). So, no, I can't fucking go for DSL.

Even without any such restrictions, it's STUPID of you to suggest to use DSL. I want high speed internet like rest of the developed world, and there is nothing absurd in expecting such - we are not living in 1990 anymore for fuck sake.

Here, in NYC, the area I am in, I have only ONE choice - the dreaded TWC. Verizon FIOS - No. Comcast - No. Cablevision - No. Basically, no competition.

Free market my fucking brown ass.

Re:Weigh with average income (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40731445)

RCN serves New York, no?

Re:Weigh with average income (1)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#40731543)

I feel for you regarding the shitty service you get.
But you are wrong thinking DSL can't support the services you need.
Like I have a 'Light' (V)DSL contract offering 30/3 speed, I live 850 m. (1/2 mi.) from the exchange and the line would support 42/4.
As with all things DSL it depends on how far from the exchange you are and living even closer you can get a 50/5 contract.
Presently there is discussion to bundle lines, most if not all houses here have two phone lines coming in and that way you can double the speed!

It seems the country you live in does make a difference...

Re:Weigh with average income (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#40730791)

So in other words this boils down to, by getting less I can save more?

I can save money by getting rid of a car and buying a bike, I can save money by getting rid of the bike and walking. But the quality decreases a lot as well. A BMW and an old beat up Ford Pinto will both get you from point A to point B but in general it will be a lot more enjoyable driving the BMW than the Pinto.

The problem I have observed with most Americans is that they don't know HOW to save money.

That is because, quite simply, it makes no economic sense to save cash. Even using the hilariously manipulated official statistic of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, the US dollar has an inflation rate of 1.66%. Using the CPI as it was originally designed without the manipulation gives you a real inflation rate of ~5%. Now, a savings account will pay you, what? .35% interest if you're lucky? A 1 year CD rate will pay you about 1% or so. A 1 year treasury bond will pay about .2%. This means to an American if they keep cash or any other traditionally "safe" investments of cash they are taking a guaranteed loss. Which means that their only other options are to invest it in stocks, foreign bonds, real estate, or commodities such as gold or silver in order to even keep the same purchasing power they have today.

We work hard to earn money..... we should also work hard to save it rather than waste it.

Ok, so where do you put cash that will at least keep up with inflation without scaring the masses off?

The fact is, most Americans don't save because there is no financial incentive to save. Cash is a "hot potato" that needs to be spent and invested in -something- or else you take a guaranteed loss.

Re:Weigh with average income (4, Insightful)

lurker1997 (2005954) | about 2 years ago | (#40731215)

The fact is, most Americans don't save because there is no financial incentive to save. Cash is a "hot potato" that needs to be spent and invested in -something- or else you take a guaranteed loss.

I have heard this a lot, but thinking about it now, I think low interest has little bearing on the average person's saving / spending habits. For people who are already saving, it probably changes the instruments they use to preserve their wealth, but I don't think the average person/family is living paycheck to paycheck because they are worried that the purchasing power of their money will not endure if they hang on to it. People get themselves into a position where they end up giving most of their pay to service debt, and I think this is very rarely if ever done because they are being smart and not holding onto the "hot potato" that is cash.

If your argument was correct, I think you would see fewer companies sitting on piles of cash. I also believe Japan has/had one of the worlds highest saving rates while interest rates there have been zero for decades.

Re:Weigh with average income (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#40731325)

Of course a lot of it has to do with culture and people's individual habits, but the people who try to start saving undoubtedly don't keep it up because yields are so very low.

The fact that companies are sitting on piles of cash doesn't contradict my argument but rather confirms it. Currently there is really nothing for anyone to buy with cash that has any future yields so they just have cash in case a major opportunity comes by (buying a competitor or promising start-up). If CDs and bonds had positive yields, you'd see companies flocking to buy them, but since they don't, its easier to keep the cash in fully liquid form and hope for an opportunity than it is for them to make a guaranteed loss by saving it.

Myself I don't even know what to put my extra cash into other than silver and gold which are unlikely to really make me money but should keep their value better than cash, bonds or CDs. I don't even see IRAs as good investments anymore considering European governments have already started to seize their citizen's retirement accounts and I really don't see tax rates dropping in the future. It doesn't make much sense to not pay a low tax now and pay a high tax in the future.

Re:Weigh with average income (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40731501)

I save quite a bit of cash, you have to if you want to buy a house.
I do lose something doing this, but far better than being a debt slave for a car or other major purchase.

Re:Weigh with average income (2)

StonyUK (173886) | about 2 years ago | (#40731517)

That is because, quite simply, it makes no economic sense to save cash. Even using the hilariously manipulated official statistic of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, the US dollar has an inflation rate of 1.66%. Using the CPI as it was originally designed without the manipulation gives you a real inflation rate of ~5%. Now, a savings account will pay you, what? .35% interest if you're lucky? A 1 year CD rate will pay you about 1% or so. A 1 year treasury bond will pay about .2%. This means to an American if they keep cash or any other traditionally "safe" investments of cash they are taking a guaranteed loss. Which means that their only other options are to invest it in stocks, foreign bonds, real estate, or commodities such as gold or silver in order to even keep the same purchasing power they have today.

You don't have save or invest - why not pay off your mortgage or car loan early instead?

Re:Weigh with average income (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730509)

The network equipments, material cost and energy cost do not fall magically either.

Re:Weigh with average income (4, Informative)

reverseengineer (580922) | about 2 years ago | (#40730217)

The prices are weighted by the World Bank's Purchasing Power Parity metrics "which adjust for differences in costs of living, price levels, and other factors that affect a consumer’s purchasing power."

Re:Weigh with average income (1)

noh8rz6 (2689737) | about 2 years ago | (#40730409)

In soviet latvia, television watches you! (no joke, true story).

Re:Weigh with average income (1)

noh8rz6 (2689737) | about 2 years ago | (#40730379)

latvia: gdp per capita = 11k. US: 50k. nuff said. wolfram alpha is awesome.

Re:Weigh with average income (5, Informative)

ACS Solver (1068112) | about 2 years ago | (#40730541)

I come from Latvia, lived in Riga until recently. It's true that it is one of the poorest countries in the EU, and income levels are low by the standards of more developed Western countries, but telecom is cheap there. 100 megabit connections are very common and I had one. About 40USD together with TV and a landline, and that's not the cheapest that was available, it's a particular service provider I like. The prices are consistently affordable even by local standards.

Availability and price of high-speed broadband in Riga is excellent, and Latvia is near the top of country rankings by Internet speed. This is not surprising for those who remember the situation in Riga just over a decade ago. Very limited availability of DSL/ISDN lines that give reasonable speeds, mostly 56k dialup instead, which was very expensive from the ISP bill plus the phone company charges. Real broadband came to the area later, but then it was good.

As a side-note, I have only on very, very rare occasions seen people with Macs in Latvia. Until iPods/iPhones I could go for months without seeing an Apple product, and that certainly has to do with pricing. The price difference between Macbooks and other laptops looks absolutely ridiculous in Latvia.

Typo folks (5, Informative)

webjedi (106085) | about 2 years ago | (#40730111)

That's the Telecom Law of 1996, not 1966

Re:Typo folks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730169)

Also, do they have the up and down speeds backwards?

Re:Typo folks (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 2 years ago | (#40730433)

I agree - getting the up and down backwards doesn't really add to the credibility of the article.

Re:Typo folks (1)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | about 2 years ago | (#40731063)

Another fine example of Timothy's "editing".

Hey... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730143)

Check out my kid. He walks about with the placenta still attached, which allows him to connect directly to the internet for cheap.

Re:Hey... (0)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 2 years ago | (#40730933)

You joke, but the way some of these fucked up parents act with their kids, doing everything for them, never letting them learn how to do things on their own, it just about amounts to having them walk around with the placenta still attached... on both ends. And I'll admit, even considering the number of truly gross and disgusting jokes that I know, this is as disgusting an analogy as I can possibly think of.

Triple Play? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730149)

Definition, pls.

Also, 20Mbit up and 5Mbit down? Is that backwards?

Re:Triple Play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730171)

Phone, Internet, TV

Re:Triple Play? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730173)

Triple Play == Putting all your eggs in one basket

Re:Triple Play? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730265)

Triple play is a all-in-one package with DSL, TV over DSL and VOIP.

In France we also have quadruple play : Triple play + cell phone for 1 h/60 SMS for 1 € more without contract.

As you can call all cells for free from your landline (and even abroad), it is really cheap (eg 37 €/month).

And for 16 €/month I get unlimided voice and SMS plus 3 Go of data.

Hurra for communist France, and thanks to Free (www.free.fr) for breaking the cartel of french telecoms.

Re:Triple Play? (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 years ago | (#40730487)

well it's a small rip off, I pay 36 € per month (38€, minus 2€ for disabling TV, plus 0€ for the one hour cell phone)

I should have taken the ISP (Alice) that does 20€ per month for triple play, then with 2€ per month for the cell phone with the first ISP we're speaking of, that would amount to 22€ not 36, which I quite feel on my minimum income. sadly, Alice didn't have the commercial offer up on its site at the time. this was back when Free, which actually owns Alice, was launching its new offer and box. After that the Alice deal appeared again! so it's not that bad but I've been ripped off 14€ per month for 1.5 year

Re:Triple Play? (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 2 years ago | (#40730521)

sorry. communist France?, are you on crack? you won't feel the same when you realise our brand new president, elected on a slogan of "Change!", just handed over the destiny of our country to Angela Merkel. We won't feel the consequences immediately but eventually, our fiscal and economic policy will be run by foreign, powerful and faceless interests (i.e. Goldman Sachs and friends, weapon industry, oil&gas etc.). We'll become a dictatorship, just like the US is.

Re:Triple Play? (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 2 years ago | (#40730617)

Calm down, dude, there is nothing to fear. Merkel doesn't do anything at all, she just sits there and talks sometimes. She isn't called "a talking pantsuit" for nothing.

socialist dictatorship (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730831)

You will be a dictatorship, a socialist one. Of course, like all socialist dictatorships, it will still be called a democracy. Hollande got elected on a populist platform of "making worker layoffs so expensive that it's not worth it" for companies to fire workers, and increasing taxes on the rich.

He is making good on that now by attempting to prevent soon-to-be-bankrupt Peugeot car company from closing a plant and firing 6500 workers before the announced law takes effect later this year. This, in a climate where car sales in Europe are down significantly with no visible path to recovery. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/fef127fa-ce90-11e1-bc0c-00144feabdc0.html

He has also proposed a confiscatory 75% tax rate on all earnings over 1 mil euros, which has resulted in many of these people selling off their assets and leaving France for Switzerland or UK before the law is passed. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9404209/Frances-proposed-tax-hikes-spark-exodus-of-wealthy.html

Re:Triple Play? (1)

Gobelet (892738) | about 2 years ago | (#40730943)

You might want to add for the US readership that those 60 minutes you have on your mobile plan are outgoing; incoming calls and texts are free. I just subcscribed to Bouygues' "Bbox Sensation Fibre": 37.90 EUR/month for a FTTLA bundle with TV, unlimited international & mobile phone, 30 (effective in my case) Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. I have catch-up TV, a media center with USB and SD inputs, DVR, modem, Wi-Fi router and video games all in one box. It's not the cheapest but I didn't have a landline (and no will to get one), and cable works beautifully where I live.

Re:Triple Play? (1, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about 2 years ago | (#40730303)

Triple play: phone, cable tv, internet access

And no, that's not backwards. Everyone in France is very creative and runs their own web server, streaming content they've made. This is only possible because of the laws protecting their creative industries.

Re:Triple Play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730569)

France annexed Latvia? After dealing all those years with the Soviets I think the Latvians can handle cheese eating surrender monkeys without breaking a sweat.

Re:Triple Play? (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | about 2 years ago | (#40730331)

Yes, those speeds are backwards. The chart in the article gives 20 down and 5 up. The rankings also set up an interesting debate about value and what customers consider an acceptable data rate. Is 20/5 at $25.47 (cost of living adjusted USD) a better deal than 50/50 at 32.74 or 100/50 at 34.47? And how do the television offerings really compare? There are quality of service factors beyond having the most channels

Re:Triple Play? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730453)

Internet, phone and TV
Yes, that's backwards and it's an upper limit. It varies by distance to the dslam

Re:Triple Play? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730785)

Definition, pls.

Menage a trois [wikipedia.org]

Re:Triple Play? (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 years ago | (#40731399)

No silly, they are doing everything they can to PROMOTE filesharing! With the asymmetry reversed like that, one seeder can service 3 leechers at 100% saturation! Imagine the swarm size attainable!

verizon (2)

Espectr0 (577637) | about 2 years ago | (#40730157)

while Verizon and AT&T focus primarily on their wireless platforms.

So they don't know who sells FiOS?

Re:verizon (1)

3count (1039602) | about 2 years ago | (#40730199)

I was about to post the same thing. Here in the Maryland, Comcast and Verizon are battling it out for Internet, Voice, and TV service. Comcast service (delivered and customer service) have improved many times over sine FiOS showed up. But Verizon has been offering fantastic rates guaranteed for 2 years with no contract so I finally switched in January. A little competition is a wonderful thing.

Re:verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730341)

except for the fact that FIOS is only available in very select areas. I have been waiting for them to roll fiber in my neighborhood since they started advertising it.

Re:verizon (1)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | about 2 years ago | (#40730357)

Yeah, but how long before they get to where they start doing what they do in the mobile market: start trying to lock you in to long-term contracts in order to stop you from switching.

I'm sure that's coming

Re:verizon (1)

geoskd (321194) | about 2 years ago | (#40730375)

while Verizon and AT&T focus primarily on their wireless platforms.

So they don't know who sells FiOS?

Apparently nobody sells FIOS. They allegedly cover the area where I live, but the price they quoted me is double what the Cable carrier charges, the bandwidth is less, and they want $750 to hook me up because I would have to pay for the stretch from my house to the nearest drop. On top of all that, they don't offer FIOS TV here which is thanks to that very same telecom act of 1996... Congress hasn't been able to do anything right since the 50's and 60's, and Verizon doesn't appear very capable either.

-=Geoskd

Re:verizon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730389)

Verizon stopped expanding their FiOS network more than 2 years ago. It reaches only 12 million households (less than 10%). Verizon also just recently announced it will stop selling standalone DSL packages and will raise the price of FiOS. That's hardly competition.

Re:verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40731147)

But you can now get family sharing plans via 4G... 10x faster that 3G! :)

Broadband is a low margin offering now (at competitive pricing). Outside of region, VZ has partnered with the Cogent's of the world to provide DSL local loop back to a UUNET hub.

The competition should be provided by another broadband carrier (e.g., cable). What I'd love to see is the mandate to open access to the plant and provide common wholesale pricing to all wishing to drop in CPE at a DSLAM type location. Or the same pricing for all to access the copper/fiber plant.

Re:verizon (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40730459)

My understanding is this 'truce' is not because companies like each other, they would all stab each other in the back if they could. It happened because in many municipalities, one cable operator came in, and negotiated with the local government to get an exclusive deal.

So even though congress allowed competition, in many places the cities have disallowed it.

My question is, why do we have such lousy internet in the Silicon Valley region? I thought all my internet problems would be over when I moved here.

Re:verizon (1)

bastion_xx (233612) | about 2 years ago | (#40731101)

FiOS (Verizon) or uVerse (AT&T) are wireline products. If you look at wireline growth in the 2-4% year over year versus wireless in 20%+ range, there isn't a big incentive for the telco's to invest in wireline upgrades. Look at FiOS - there are no new markets or expansions that Verizon wishes to do. Why? Because the capital invested in a wireline plant doesn't have nearly the same return on capital invested that upgrading a market to LTE does.

Granted wireless is saturated on the voice call component, but data is still a growing market. Ever wonder why the new share plans give you unlimited minutes and SMS? That's a gimmie compared to the hope you'll consume data (and pay for it).

The new cabal is the broadband providers such as Comcast/Charter/Cox looking to enhance and augment the Ethernet data markets while the telcos focus on wireless. Hence the recent purchase by Verizon for frequencies while promoting the cable consortium. I still think you'll see any carrier with wireless sell off their wireline business as focus on "mobility".

Re:verizon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40731419)

Actually, I'd have thought there's some incentive for Wireless carriers to spread into the wired so they can offer, through their pico or femto cells service to locations they may not have properly covered and extend from there.

I'd think their future is to extend to many houses and use houses to further provide service, so they get you to pay for housing and providing their service, which I think is part of the goal of both ATT and Verizon to extend in such way.

The problem comes with free phone services such as Google voice, that may take a bite from some phone providers. I'd have hoped Comcast provided telephony services for free over their network, and that would have taken care of both Verizon and ATT, but since they get greedy, and want money for that service (even though people is already paying for their broadband), then I'll guess they'll see Verizon and ATT moving faster into their arena. (also, Comcast clearly has no wireless infrastructure, not sure if they are counting on something there).

in germany we have a different triple play (4, Insightful)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#40730187)

that includes mobile phone service (since 20 channels of TV are public anyway) where we get some good deals.

For 24.99€/mo with no contract (can cancel immediately), we get 16/1 service (including a WLAN router), standard telephone (anywhere in Germany free to a land line) and the O2 mobile phones for free (we choose to pay an extra 5€/mo for 500 minutes to the EU/US long-distance because I call the US quite often), and 4 SIM cards with numbers and .15€/min and .15€/SMS.

If you agree to a 24-month contract the price is only 14.99€/mo

:D

Bucharest (2)

war4peace (1628283) | about 2 years ago | (#40730681)

In Bucharest, I already have 100mbps Internet (optic fiber) and 70 TV channels for less than 20 bucks. I could get phone as well for 5 dollars more but I am not interested. Bonus: free 3G USB dongle with unlimited data transfer.
Beat this, Riga!

Re:Bucharest (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#40730773)

but to be fair, you should compare the average salary of Frankfurt to that of Bucharest :P

Re:Bucharest (2)

Erpo (237853) | about 2 years ago | (#40731123)

Thank you both for sharing. As someone who pays $150/month in the US for no-frills TV, telephone and 10/1 Internet with a 50GB/month transfer cap, it's eye-opening to read about conditions in other parts of the world. Also, I'm sorry about how the United States has been behaving towards other countries for the past decade or so.

Re:Bucharest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40731535)

I live in Helsinki, and I pay 8.90 euros per month for 100/10M Internet connection (and it really works at those speeds). It's not very special deal, and I could cancel it at any moment. If I cared, I could get more bearable speeds at quite affordable prices, but I've found 0.2% of my salary a reasonably level to pay for this kind of a connection.

US pricing of both wired and wireless broadband is a prime example of what happens when competition does *not* work. Sure, there are beneficiaries, but consumers are not those.

Bulgaria (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730191)

We can go lower.

vivacom 4PLAY - $23,625

http://www.vivacom.bg/bg/residential/prices_and_services/paketni_uslugi/vivacom_4_play
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=bg&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vivacom.bg%2Fbg%2Fresidential%2Fprices_and_services%2Fpaketni_uslugi%2Fvivacom_4_play

Edit the Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730215)

Think you mean:

20 down / 5 up
Triple play (not triple pay)
and Telecommunications Act of 1996 (not 1966)

Ma Bell breakup did not go far enough. (2)

mrsam (12205) | about 2 years ago | (#40730223)

I always said that the original break-up of the legacy Ma Bell did not go far enough. It was broken up into local and long distance entities, with local telcos providing local telephone service, and AT&T long distance providing long distance service.

The problem is that the ILECs ended up owning both the physical plant, and the voice/data service. The breakup should've had its bar pushed even farther down the line. Specifically down to the last mile, and not an inch above that. The local telephone companies should've left with owning nothing but the last mile, and all they would do is charge tariffed rates for maintaining the physical plant. They should not have allowed to provide voice or data services as well. The ILECs should own only the physical plant, and any company should be allowed to install their equipment in the CO, and provide voice or data service to any wired customer, charging whatever the competition will bear, with ILECs getting paid a tariffed rate (the higher the capacity of the last mile, the more they could charge) for maintaining the physical plant, and nothing more.

Re:Ma Bell breakup did not go far enough. (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 2 years ago | (#40730277)

It was broken up from one large monopoly, to a bunch of local monopolies. Even your cable company has a local monopoly. Go check it out. As long as they can keep the local government renewing their local monopoly, they don't really compete, they just pretend to, and not very well at that.

Re:Ma Bell breakup did not go far enough. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730793)

Thankfully not where I live. The locally owned electric company put its own fiber in. Comcast and AT&T tried to sue them to stop it, but failed.

Now we can get Gigabit fiber service if we want. Comcast is now forced to try to compete. So far they've failed.

40 dollars for 20 mbps in Hyderabad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730241)

Here in hyderabad, I have an optic fiber drop to my house with 20 mbps speed for Rs.2000, that is, less than 40 dollars a month.

LITERALLY DEFACTO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730259)

It isn't a de facto monopoly that US telecommunications enjoy. For many particular services it is more accurate to simply call it monopoly. Specifically, they have state franchise utility monopolies. This means that others with similar services may also operate, but each is protected from competition within certain geographical borders(chosen usually at the municipal political level). Other businesses are violently restricted from offering similar services(usually by way of giving the physical infrastructure exclusively or preferentially to the monopolist). So while one area of a city is given to comcast, another to qwest and so on, none of them have to compete with an unhampered market where the rest of society can replace them by investors seeing an opportunity to invest and entrepreneurs seeing an opportunity to fill a void for consumers and consumers trading with more productive providers. Those actions from the rest of society are violently opposed by the state. Thus they don't have a de facto monopoly at all. They can restrict output and raise prices without fear of replacement. Society is not allowed to compete with them. They have a monopoly.

source(which goes into detail about several aspects of telecommunications monopoly): http://mises.org/daily/5266/

It's just too expensive in the west. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730269)

In Sofia we don't cut the cord either. 50Mbit down for 30 USD with television.

in italy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730415)

There are some triple-play but i don't know the costs. It would be interesting to integrate the data.

One difficulty we have in italy is that almost all utility lines (telco, power, water and gas) are under the roads or sidewalks. So to connect houses you have to asks for permissions, close roads, dig, put the cables and cover everything then re-do the road pavement...

There are some areas of Roma, milan turin that are covered by fiber but work stopped years ago....

Translation please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730437)

What does "cut the cord" mean? I don't live in Riga so I need to figure out whether or not I should bother to do it.

Re:Translation please (1)

Raenex (947668) | about 2 years ago | (#40731083)

What does "cut the cord" mean?

In this case, it's unclear without careful reading and used poorly. Dictionary reference [thefreedictionary.com] for normal usage:

1. "cut the (umbilical) cord to stop needing someone else to look after you and start acting independently"

2. "to end support of someone or something, esp. financial support"

So what "cord" is the author referring to? Based on the article, it seems to be his subscription to television services:

"I cut the cord to save money. I live in Los Angeles and pay Time Warner $84.94 (plus $6.56 tax and fees) for telephone service and Internet connectivity at "up to" 20 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload speed. Adding digital TV to round out the triple play would cost me an additional $58.99 per month -- just about what I paid for my Roku box."

Simple logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730457)

In the US, the major corporations want you to pay more, so you pay more. In other countries, the government rules over all of the people (including the corporations). In the US, corporations rule over the government, and that trickles down to the people (its not trickle down economics, its trickle down policy). The corporation tells the government what it wants. I'm always quite disgusted when republican politicians coddle law breaking corporations and their agents exactly like a subordinate would treat a boss. On the other hand, since the corporations are paying their election expenses, they *are* the boss.

Triple play is awesome! (2)

cockroach2 (117475) | about 2 years ago | (#40730467)

Because, you know, all your eggs, one basket, single point of failure etc.

I for one would love to lose my phone, cell and TV connection too whenever my ISP has one of their "little technical difficulties".

"Negotiated Truce"??? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#40730471)

There's another name for that: market rigging. And it's illegal.

Re:"Negotiated Truce"??? (4, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 years ago | (#40730615)

It's only illegal if you get caught!

Doing illegal things as a corporation works kind of like raising in poker. In poker, if you raise you have two ways to win. You could have the strongest hand, of course. That one's pretty easy. But you could have a weaker hand than your opponent and he might still fold because he's not confident he can beat you.

It's a little different as a corporation, but if you do something illegal you could just get away with it and make a ton of money. Or you could get caught and fined. From what I've seen, the fines are always less (sometimes FAR less) than the illegal profit you made. Something to keep in mind when, as a CEO, you're faced with a choice between contaminating an entire town with asbestos and making ONE BILLION DOLLARS...

Re:"Negotiated Truce"??? (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#40731297)

"It's a little different as a corporation, but if you do something illegal you could just get away with it and make a ton of money. Or you could get caught and fined. "

And that's the problem with our laws today: the entire current "punitive damages" arrangement.

The first problem is, when corporations are fined by government or regulatory agencies, the money doesn't go to the people who were actually defrauded. When a corporation is caught doing something like that, they should be forced to make every effort to discover who was actually damaged, and recompense them, BEFORE any "fines" are even considered.

Then, and only then, should punitive damages be levied. And they should be large enough that the corporation LOSES money when it is all done. Anything else isn't really "punitive" at all.

Someone from Latvia here. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730477)

Average salary in Latvia is about ~620 $ per month (~7440 $ per year). If you're an entrepreneur - someone working for you with salary 620 $ per month costs you about 1050 $ per month (all taxes that you have to pay for the employee included) (12600 $ per year).

One of the largest and most expensive local telcos offers 100 Mbit / sec FTTH + TV solution for 40$ per month. Or 50$ per month for 200 Mbit/sec goodness + HD channels for your TiVo-style-over-the-internet-TV that comes with this package.

On a spammy and off-topic sidenote - best of the breed software engineers would cost you no more than 5000 $ per month (or 60 000 $ per year; all possible taxes included). Something you'd pay 200 000 $ for in US I suppose.. So if you want to get in touch with local freelancers (I'm a software engineer myself), drop me a line at spiritus [dot] emortus [at] gmail.com.

Hurrah! Race to the bottom! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730501)

Should we really be celebrating cost-cutting rather than lauding the quality of services?

What happens when one of Balti-Com's customers suffers a prolonged period of ADSL degredation? That's when you really discover what you're paying for. I doubt that their tech support is sufficiently funded to investigate, say, interference on the line from Christmas lights.

The LIBOR bank lending rate has been mocked recently but it does have a sensible approach to removing outliers that can be applied to ISPs: chop-off the upper and lower cost quartiles and take the median of the remainder. Then you should be able to find a reasonable balance.

Negotiated truce (1)

nine-times (778537) | about 2 years ago | (#40730545)

I wouldn't claim to know, since I have no inside knowledge, but I had assumed there was some kind of behind-the-scenes agreement among ISPs. Verizon has seemed to give up on rolling out FIOS. There's essentially no competition in NYC right now between ISPs. Once you know what your needs are, there is usually only one vendor who can provide that level of service.

Since they're monopolies, these companies should be regulated at least as strictly as the companies providing electricity. In my opinion, they should be regulated even more strictly.

Smaller networks = lower price (0)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 2 years ago | (#40730595)

news at 11

Re:Smaller networks = lower price (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#40730673)

I'm sorry, I didn't realize Paris was small, my mistake.

Re:Smaller networks = lower price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730731)

Paris (the actual city district of Paris, 75) *IS* small. It's not even completely FTTH'd, after all these billions wasted in commercials telling how great the ISP are and how fun it's going to be when eventually they bother to light up all these fancy great horizontal fibers they've laid.

What this report misses entirely is that 95% of the whole country can have the same DSL offers for the same price (modulo issues with distance from the DSLAM, which can be a problem just anywhere: my in-laws live in a village east of Coulommiers (77) (yes, small town), and being 300m away from the DSLAM, enjoy 24/1 DSL for the price I (a mere 8 minutes ride away from St-Lazare, one of Paris' biggest railway stations) pay for half the speed.

http://francois04.free.fr/ for instance, has unofficial but usually quite accurate stats about one of the ISPs. The first chart after the link is nationwide. 60M people, perhaps half households (how many DSL lines per household do you need ?).

Re:Smaller networks = lower price (1)

acidfast7 (551610) | about 2 years ago | (#40730811)

i would consider Paris 75/92/93/94 at a minimum (and a fair chunk of 91/95/78), but you're point is still valid (even in that context).

It's obviously collusion (4, Insightful)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 2 years ago | (#40730725)

It's so obviously collusion. In my neck of the woods, no two cable companies compete. You can get one if you live HERE and the other if you live THERE. This is not capitalism and they should be forced through legislation to compete.

It's called "regulation" .. aka law and order for corporations. Sure, criminals don't like law and order.. so what's new in that? They'd much rather be left alone to play freely in a green field of their id's desires.

From financial deregulation, deregulation in other industries and a general lack of oversight and enforcement we have gotten the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl , the S&L melt down, the Long Term Capital Management melt down, the 2008 crash and global warming. The cumulative bill to the rest of us so some tiny minority can profit obscenely runs into the trillions, a bill the rest of us have to pay.. This is also known as a Grover Norquist Tax, the tax the rest of us pay for deregulatory policies and the destruction they cause. .

Well, I've been taxed enough. I'm sick of paying the bill for dereguation and I WANT MY MONEY BACK from the small set of libertarian and conservative personalities and lawmakers that took it away and gave it to the coke snorting class.

Collusion doesn't work (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 2 years ago | (#40730861)

What you don't seem to understand is exactly -how- these companies got big in the first place. It wasn't the free market, it was through governments giving companies money to "modernize" the US.

Because established companies got a head start (because they had the equipment to run an ISP and the money to bribe Congress) it made the barrier for breaking into the ISP market quite high because wiring is expensive and your competition already has it thanks to the government.

Because of a lack of competition, the already large companies got larger both through legitimate means (providing a good service) and illegitimate means (by taking government money). This increased the barrier to breaking into the market even more.

It was through regulation that this happened. In a fully free market these things don't happen. All the things you've mentioned that "deregulation" caused, didn't happen because of deregulation! All that happened was the regulations were changed. The financial sector was never "deregulated", some of the regulations were simply changed and changed poorly.

True deregulation would have meant no government involvement, which isn't what happened.

typo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730753)

20 Mbps *down* and 5 *up*

A "negotiated truce"... Sounds like politician (0)

Rooked_One (591287) | about 2 years ago | (#40730755)

speak for a monopoly.

Re:A "negotiated truce"... Sounds like politician (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40731557)

It's either a group of pseudo-natural monopolies or a national cartel, but not a monopoly per se.

competition was the key (2)

karuna (187401) | about 2 years ago | (#40730765)

Latvia is a poor EU country but that's not the main reason why broadband prices are relatively low. It is all because of competition. Latvia had poor phone infrastructure and after the Soviet era the government decided to give a monopoly to Lattelecom and as a result the prices for local call were unreasonably high. Internet, however, remained unregulated. The opportunity was immediately seized by small entrepreneurs who bought one high speed link from the Telecom and connected local apartments in the complex with local ethernet cables. The service was shitty and the speed varied but the required investment was minimal, just a bunch of routers, some cables and connections with housing owners to receive permission to pull cables to apartments. The specifics of Riga was that there are very little of suburban housing and most people live in apartment complexes.

The low cost of entrance created quite a competition and kept prices low. Gradually many such micro-ISPs were merged or bought by bigger companies and quality gradually improved. The possibility of competition never disappeared and eventually it forced all major ISPs lower prices.

Numbers for cable in Berlin are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730769)

Their numbers fail to include the basic fee to have a functioning cable tv outlet in your appartment (~$20/month).
With that outlet you can watch about 30 analog channels and the digital channels of ARD and ZDF.
Only homeowners notice that fee because it is usually a non-optional part of your rent whereas the fees for telephone, internet and encrypted digital channels are paid directly to the cable company.

Hey Google (0)

symbolset (646467) | about 2 years ago | (#40730799)

Hurry up with that gigabit fiber, please.

'negotiated truce'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730801)

Where I come from, that's called price fixing.

Comparing like with like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730901)

I'd like to see a study that compares the *actual* speed customers of these ISPs get, not their claimed maximums. A 100 Mbps local connection isn't much use if the upstream bandwidth from your apartment building or neighborhood is crap. Also, what about download caps?

Also, how many TV channels are in these triple play bundles? I'm paying Comcast $130 / month for 22 Mbps Internet, phone and cable TV service that includes 700+ channels. And the phone service provides unlimited calls at no extra cost to the entire US - do Latvians get to call anyone in Europe for no extra charge?

I recently visited relatives in Malaysia, where there are a number of 4G providers (P1, Yes, umobile, etc) offering what seems like great prices by US standards. However, their real-world speeds are poor, coverage is spotty, monthly download quotas are 10% of what Comcast offers, and connection dropouts are common. I'm sure that on paper getting a 20 Mbps 4G connection for US$30 / month looks like a great deal, but in reality there is no comparison to US ISPs.

Re:Comparing like with like (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 2 years ago | (#40731085)

I'd like to see a study that compares the *actual* speed customers of these ISPs get, not their claimed maximums. A 100 Mbps local connection isn't much use if the upstream bandwidth from your apartment building or neighborhood is crap.

True

Also, what about download caps?

You dont have download caps in most of Europe

Also, how many TV channels are in these triple play bundles? I'm paying Comcast $130 / month for 22 Mbps Internet, phone and cable TV service that includes 700+ channels.

How many do you actually watch and want to be included in the plan?

And the phone service provides unlimited calls at no extra cost to the entire US - do Latvians get to call anyone in Europe for no extra charge?

Nope, but Euro is a recent development, so it will take sometime before people freely migrate to anywhere in the Euro, with no restrictions (which is when these calls become useful). Currently no one would find it useful. When it becomes useful, I am pretty sure the market would accommodate it

I recently visited relatives in Malaysia, where there are a number of 4G providers (P1, Yes, umobile, etc) offering what seems like great prices by US standards. However, their real-world speeds are poor, coverage is spotty, monthly download quotas are 10% of what Comcast offers, and connection dropouts are common. I'm sure that on paper getting a 20 Mbps 4G connection for US$30 / month looks like a great deal, but in reality there is no comparison to US ISPs.

Wait till you check out AT&T's 4G service, dropouts, and that their quota is 1% of comcast.

In ex-Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40730949)

ISPs and Cable providers serve YOU!

Pfft. That's too much! (3, Interesting)

degradas (453730) | about 2 years ago | (#40731021)

I live in Vilnius, Lithuania (neighboring Latvia, for those who can't be bothered to look at the map) and pay 22 USD/month for 100 Mbps FTTH, no download caps. For additional 15 USD or so I can get cable TV with HD channels from the same provider.

But who the hell needs cable when torrents download at 70 Mbps or so? :)

Verizon and Comcast Cozy ... (2)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | about 2 years ago | (#40731137)

U.S. telephone and cable companies have arranged a 'negotiated truce' in which cable incumbents enjoy a de facto monopoly on high-speed broadband service, while Verizon and AT&T focus primarily on their wireless platforms.

Mainstream media is starting to pick up on this same very notion, with Verizon's latest quarterly report covered by the Boston Globe here [boston.com] which basically highlights the fact that Comcast and Verizon are getting cozy rather than competing. "Verizon Wireless struck a deal to market cable broadband from Comcast and Time Warner Cable in its stores, a move consumer advocates see as a capitulation by Verizon that will leave many areas with just one viable choice for home broadband: cable."

We as taxpaying Americans supporting these monopolies lose out on both fronts while this trend continues ....

Truly Ironic (1)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#40731301)

Where I live, the same company (Shentel) monopolizes cable and phone service. Can I get cable internet? No, I'm stuck their crappy ADSL service because they refuse to offer broadband cable to DSL-capable customers at any price. I'd happily pay for improved service, but no dice. Stupid.

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