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How ISPs Collude To Offer Poor Service

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the they-do-it-pretty-well-without-collusion-too dept.

Businesses 207

alexander_686 writes "Bloomberg is running a series of articles from Susan Crawford about the stagnation of internet access in the U.S., and why consumers in America pay more for slower service. Quoting: 'The two kinds of Internet-access carriers, wired and wireless, have found they can operate without competing with each other. The cable industry and AT&T-Verizon have divided up the world much as Comcast and Time Warner did; only instead of, "You take Philadelphia, I'll take Minneapolis," it's, "You take wired, I'll take wireless." At the end of 2011, the two industries even agreed to market each other’s services.' I am a free market type of guy. I do recognize the abuse that can come from natural monopolies that utilities tend to have, but I have never considered this type of collusion before. To fix the situation, Crawford recommends that the U.S. 'move to a utility model, based on the assumption that all Americans require fiber-optic Internet access at reasonable prices.'"

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Interesting theory (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42414887)

Crawford recommends that the U.S. 'move to a utility model, based on the assumption that all Americans require fiber-optic Internet access at reasonable prices.

This all sees well and good. Too bad it's not capable of happening, since the USA is run by corporations, and it'll be a cold day in hell before they shoot themselves in the foot.

If you want not retarded internet, your single only option is to move out off the continent.

Re:Interesting theory (2, Informative)

locopuyo (1433631) | about a year ago | (#42414931)

It could be worse. It could be like Australia where they have fast downloads but roflbad upload speeds.

Re:Interesting theory (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415097)

America definitely has this problem as well.

It costs $500+/mo to get about 3meg upload in far northern california.

Re:Interesting theory (1)

pkthunders (2777383) | about a year ago | (#42414951)

Luckily the government can control things like this if we cry hard enough. I mean they're the ones who can wiretap us against our will and wanted censor the internet too... Owait ~_~

Re:Interesting theory (1)

flyneye (84093) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416145)

You'll have to cry tears made of money, thats what Congressites and Senatoids eat( besides newborn babies) Further , you'll have to bleed more money than the ISPs that currently feed them for their own immortal porpoises.

Re:Interesting theory (2)

tgrigsby (164308) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416267)

excellent point. And the only solution is to fix the election process and take the money out of politics by limiting donations to individual donations only, of 1000 dollars or less. when elections are decided by the will of the people and not by corporate might the government will serve the people again.

Re:Interesting theory (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42414989)

If you want fiber-optic Internet access at much lower prices than we have today, you'll have to convince millions of others.

There are millions of people on 1.5Mbps or less DSL who see no need to pay even $1 more.
There are millions of people on dialup who don't need to stream anything at all.
There are millions of people who don't know what all the fuss over this Internet thing is about.

But you want those millions of people to buy you a pony!

Re:Interesting theory (3, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | about a year ago | (#42415103)

Absolutely. Step 1 is figuring out if the statement "all Americans require fiber-optic Internet access" is true. So far, it isn't by a long shot and the assumption that it is true is one of the big problems.

If Internet access is needed by everyone, then maybe a utility model would work - everyone pays and everyone gets service. However, if it isn't true then moving to that kind of model would impact a huge number of people in very negative ways, especially in the pocketbook.

Another aspect that should be considered is if the Internet is ready for everyone to need it. What would happen if the entire US had unlimited fiber access? Well, my guess is that spam would increase (ha!) and that scammers would get a lot richer. Most of the people that do not have access today wouldn't know what to do with it if they had it and would certainly believe that a Nigerian prince was holding millions of dollars for them, if they only send $125 to him today.

Does this sound like a good idea?

Re:Interesting theory (5, Insightful)

darkfeline (1890882) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415447)

Depends on what you mean by "require". Not everyone "needs" electricity, gas, telecommunication lines or water either. Hell, why don't we all go back to the days where everyone lives in cottages on a ranch with maybe a well and some farmland?

The point is, Internet access has an infrastructure dependency and provides a service which fits perfectly with the utility service model, so it makes no sense that we use a better model for gas and electricity and not for Internet. This is Economics 101, here, but the wikipedia page provides a good explanation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilities [wikipedia.org]

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415569)

Where I live, the Internet model is almost the same as the gas and electricity model.
The lines are provided by a regulated utility. Some people get Internet from the phone company, others from the cable company.
In fact, it's a little bit more open, because at least with dialup and DSL you have a choice of ISPs.

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415453)

If it came to a national vote, I think fiber optic internet access/ stopping ISP collusion would come in third behind cheaper wireless phone/data and cheaper cable TV.

Re:Interesting theory (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415689)

The Wii U has a huge day-one system update patch, weighing in at 5GB. I have FIOS (15mbits/s) and it took 30-45 mins to download. Steam and other digital distribution systems are becoming more popular and games easily weigh in at multi-gigabytes. Today I just got Assassin's Creed 3 as a gift and it is a 15gb download.

As services like these are more commonly used, more people will eventually figure out that they will need improved internet connectivity to better use these services.

Re:Interesting theory (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415831)

So? You don't need the update to play single player

Play a few games, set it to download and go to sleep

Re:Interesting theory (2)

gutnor (872759) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416053)

You are looking at the problem the wrong way. Step 1 really is "Does the US needs all American to have fiber-optic access". That is a political decision that is first strategic as it may be crucial for US competitivity in the future. But also societal/cultural: should the US become a society that is more connected (get the work to you) or a society that is more mobile (go to the work).

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415129)

And all of those millions are a much smaller number of millions than the tens of millions who want it. Not to mention it wouldn't need to cost them anything anyway.

Re:Interesting theory (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415633)

Your local DMV no longer offers services X, Y, and Z, because they can be done online. Get internet.

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415847)

If you want fiber-optic Internet access at much lower prices than we have today, you'll have to convince millions of others.

There are millions of people on 1.5Mbps or less DSL who see no need to pay even $1 more.
There are millions of people on dialup who don't need to stream anything at all.
There are millions of people who don't know what all the fuss over this Internet thing is about.

But you want those millions of people to buy you a pony!

I don't quite follow. Competition in Finland has driven the prices of broadband down consistently over the last 10ish years. Basically what happened during the steps was that the ISP would give you the option to drop to a lower tier and pay a lower price or stay at the current price for a higher tier.

So there aren't millions of people on 1.5Mbps or less DSL who see no need to pay the same for a faster service or less for a identical service? This is what happened after the EU legislation regarding renting infrastructure for broadband.

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42416027)

A faster horse indeed.

Re:Interesting theory (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42416065)

As a dialup user, I still have a smartphone if I want to stream anything video.

The main problem with dialup these days isn't even the slower connection speed (I have seen as slow as 21600 bps) or the host-based softmodems (HSP or HSF modems). The main problems are: bloated oversized page graphical elements, websites using tons of JQuery and/or Yahoo API and/or Google API and/or Facebook API. Many of those sites use additional scripts just for user tracking and that's even before addressing the ad-serving scripts on the page. Watch that modem process and process sometimes for well over 10 minutes before the site finally loads--IF something doesn't time out and cause a Page Cannot Be Displayed error to be generated by the browser.

Turn off scripts, and see how fast the actual HTML-only content of the page actually loads over dialup. But, then the page is still mostly broken because buttons and even hyperlinks on some pages are dependent on client-side scripting.

In summary, it's shitty web design all over "Web 2.0" that designs every page as a dancing and singing application in a web browser instead of a mostly static page with a few optional active elements. I would welcome a throwback to the earliest days of web pages where they would still load over 14400 bps and used mostly HTML-only elements for the page, graphical content was minimal and any graphics used as small of a size as possible balancing quality with loading speed. Either that, or stop using my client-side bandwidth for page control processing, user tracking, and ad serving--do all that shit on the server-side and give me a quick-loading client-side page that will actually respond on click--not a few seconds later.

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42416097)

There are millions of people on 1.5Mbps or less DSL who see no need to pay even $1 more.

You're making his point for him. How many millions of people on 1.5Mbps or less would take 100Mbps for less? How many of those millions would find that they like streaming Youtube, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon to their new TVs and Blu-ray players?

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42416205)

No the point is that the millions of people on all those services are dramatically overpaying because of price collusion.

They are already overpaying for inferior service and I am overpaying even more for better but still inferior service.

Together, we are already paying more than enough to cover the costs of higher qualities of service, but because of monopolistic actions, we are instead giving huge profit margins to ISP's that cosmetic venders could only dream of.

Lets try something new.

Re:Interesting theory (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#42415125)

If you want not retarded internet, your single only option is to move out off the continent.

Or get your municipality to run their own fiber as a public utility.

I want common carrier broadband. AT&T doesn't offer it, nor does Comcast. So there's no issue of public entities competing with private business here.

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Obfuscant (592200) | about a year ago | (#42415307)

Or get your municipality to run their own fiber as a public utility.

Food is a much more essential good than fiber optic internet service, and yet I never hear anyone calling for the municipalities to nationalize (city-ize?) all the food stores in town.

I want common carrier broadband. AT&T doesn't offer it, nor does Comcast. So there's no issue of public entities competing with private business here.

Huh? If a city starts selling broadband services, you don't see that as competing with both Comcast and AT&T?

Would it make any real difference when the city cannot afford to install all the infrastructure to provide unlimited service that some of the people want, compared to Comcast or AT&T not installing it? Would you, as a user who demands no caps and no bandwidth limits, care whether it was the city saying "no" or Comcast saying "no"?

Re:Interesting theory (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415601)

Food is a much more essential good than fiber optic internet service, and yet I never hear anyone calling for the municipalities to nationalize (city-ize?) all the food stores in town.

The essential good angle is about the importance, which is one piece, but the real basis for utility treatment is the impracticality or undesirable consequences of mutliple competing sets of infrastructure, and is common with delivery networks of all types. For food (and lots of other goods) that's why you tend to have either publicly owned or privately-owned-but-publicly-licensed-and-tightly-regulated delivery networks (e.g., roads for food -- generally publicly-owned, but you see the same thing with power grid -- largely privately owned but as regulated utilities -- and many other things.)

Re:Interesting theory (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415727)

Huh? If a city starts selling broadband services, you don't see that as competing with both Comcast and AT&T?

Not at all. Comcast and AT&T are not common carriers. If that's what my city offers, how can they be competing with these private entities. They are two completely different products.

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415763)

food has competition

Re:Interesting theory (1)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415875)

Food is a much more essential good than fiber optic internet service, and yet I never hear anyone calling for the municipalities to nationalize (city-ize?) all the food stores in town.

Because for utility like services, the barrier to entry is extraordinarily high, dangerous, or otherwise seemed some sort of national threat.. Also for these reasons, competition is scarce. Again this warrants government intervention since there aren't any grocery store monopolies in any major urban center and I believe nearly all population centers greater than 10,000 has multiple chains and likely distributors servicing them. Yet in the 150,000 population city I live near, you have 1 option for wired internet with speeds greater than 1.5 Mbps. The second major competitor sold out when the city in question refused to let them lay their warehouse of fiber since that would upset the monopoly.

This all seems obvious. I don't supposed you hate any "guberment" programs in general and as such are unwilling to look at reality?

Re:Interesting theory (2)

LDAPMAN (930041) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416115)

Actually, in some parts of the country Walmart has eliminated the competition. There are many areas where they have an effective monopoly on grocery distribution. I'd say your analogy should actually be looked at in reverse and we take a good hard look at the impact of having a single distribution chain.

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415973)

Food is a much more essential good than fiber optic internet service, and yet I never hear anyone calling for the municipalities to nationalize (city-ize?) all the food stores in town.

If food delivery was suddenly to become a critical issue, you can bet that would happen. Until then, it's handled by the roads, and by the state and national governments, which are much more fortunate than prior generations where regular famines were an issue. In the US? While there are concerns about vulnerabilities to the food supply, there's no pressing interest on the municipal level.

Feel free to find some of the arguments about water between California and Arizona, or Georgia with Florida and Alabama.

Would it make any real difference when the city cannot afford to install all the infrastructure to provide unlimited service that some of the people want, compared to Comcast or AT&T not installing it? Would you, as a user who demands no caps and no bandwidth limits, care whether it was the city saying "no" or Comcast saying "no"?

I get to vote for my city government. And the electric company is run by the city. And they COULD afford to install the service I wanted, and you know what? Comcast and AT&T are still pouting over it.

Fuckers.

But I have FTTH, 100%, and they can go fuck a tin can for all I care.

Re:Interesting theory (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416081)

Food is a much more essential good than fiber optic internet service, and yet I never hear anyone calling for the municipalities to nationalize (city-ize?) all the food stores in town.

So much for learning history... Roads have been made public for food and army distribution. As those services are critical, eveybody already called for it a long time ago. Today nobody even thinks they can be left for the free market.

Re:Interesting theory (2)

mkraft (200694) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415699)

If you want not retarded internet, your single only option is to move out off the continent.

Or get your municipality to run their own fiber as a public utility.

I want common carrier broadband. AT&T doesn't offer it, nor does Comcast. So there's no issue of public entities competing with private business here.

Then your municipality would get sued by the Telco/CableCo for being anti-competitive (of all things):

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/08/09/12/2326251/telco-sues-municipality-for-laying-their-own-fiber [slashdot.org]
http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2008/09/telco-to-town-were-suing-you-because-we-care/ [arstechnica.com]

Re:Interesting theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42416123)

Yeah, good luck with that, you gotta remember there is a capitol hill full of asshats waiting to help corporations do whatever they damn well please, in spite of any well meaning righteous ideas anyone has.
But then you did vote for a Repubmocrat didn't you? So, you're to blame.

to the surprise of no one. (5, Informative)

retchdog (1319261) | about a year ago | (#42414929)

``I am a free market type of guy... but I have never considered this type of collusion before."

no shit. try doing some homework. here is a quote from that rampant communist, Adam Smith:

``People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary." — book I, ch. 10, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, published 1776.

Re:to the surprise of no one. (1)

Crescens (650873) | about a year ago | (#42415099)

And I'm stuck reading that quote in Leonard Nimoy's voice. Damn you Civ!

Dumb pipes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42414941)

They're not a service, they're a utility, and they should be regulated as one.

It's your fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42414959)

There are small ISPs almost everywhere that on average do a better job. It's your own damn fault for continuing to buy from the big guys unless that really, truly is the only choice.

Re:It's your fault (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#42415233)

The alternative, moving your whole family to a geographic area served by a good small ISP, is often far more expensive.

Completely unforeseen! (4, Insightful)

Qzukk (229616) | about a year ago | (#42414965)

but I have never considered this type of collusion before

What, you never possibly considered that collusion happens because nobody wants to stop the gravy train? AT&T and Verizon and everyone else there have got it good, their train will chug along with minimum investment and massive profits for as long as none of the people aboard says "Stop the train! I want to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure investments and charge less to compete with you head on!"

Re:Completely unforeseen! (4, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year ago | (#42415301)

The history of utilities until they became massive monopolists was that various jurisdictions granted them easements, right-of-way, and lots of other considerations in exchange for getting services built. The telcos were independent, and a long distance network consisted of AT&T, ITT, and others. Then came Judge Greene, a breakup of AT&T, GTE and ITT consolidations of the Baby Bells, and the sense that utilities were unbridled and focused on shareholder return based on serious assets.

The landlines were different than what is now the Internet. Most were analog copper cables that had muxed data channels. Fiber is only the last 20yrs.

So there is this mixed bag of monopolist thought as we've boiled down the US landline carriers to six, wireless carriers of significance to four, each with a territory in landlines. Some communities did their own fiber optic services, but they're rare. Communities became forbidden after their state legislators were sufficiently bribed to prevent community utility access. Co-ops went the same way, although there are still some around.

Collusion? The telcos shifted much away from the State PUCs to the Feds with the TCAct, so they'd only have to fight (I mean bribe) Washington and deal with the FCC.

And in reality: this is a huge freaking country, and trying to cover it with copper, fiber, or wireless still takes a lot of capital. How do you get capital? A business plan with a guaranteed return on investment. How do you get guarantees for revenue floors? Collusion? What a bright idea.

Utilities are unique and used to be cooperatives and had a ceiling on revenues, each price increase in front of a state or perhaps federal committee, breathing down their necks to keep prices reasonable. Government doesn't protect people much anymore, it protects the interests of business in the blind faith that says: in doing so, you're disciplining investment. Bullshit.
 

Re:Completely unforeseen! (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415697)

The telcos were independent, and a long distance network consisted of AT&T, ITT, and others.

AT&T WAS the phone company. Oh, there were a handful of tiny, independent telephone companies, but for the most part everybody in the U.S. had AT&T (you know Mama Bell). If it wasn't for Judge Greene, there would not have been any Baby Bells to consolidate. They would all still be AT&T.

Re:Completely unforeseen! (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415795)

Your sense of history varies from mine, but let's say for a moment, AT&T was it, and there was no ConTel, no ITT, no GTE, and so forth. Yes, Judge Greene broke up AT&T, and then the landgrab was on.

Today, AT&T is a reverse merge of Southwestern Bell primarily, which had acquired Ameritech, Southern Bell, and so forth. Verizon took on GTE/ConTel, Nynex, and others. But there are landline and longlines assets, datacomm infrastructure (yes, real OC12-OC192+) that are intermixed.

I said nothing about cable, which is another travesty, but from a different direction.

Re:Completely unforeseen! (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415901)

AT&T, before Judge Greene, was the biggest company in the world by any measure (revenue, assets, market cap). They had become a monopoly through the actions of the federal government. When AT&T was broken up, everybody thought the big money was in long distance.

Re:Completely unforeseen! (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415979)

We can agree on the size of AT&T and its monopoly in numerous areas. They were gargantuan. They became a monopoly through the actions of their board of directors, and what the directors did. The government gave tacit approval in most cases, to their actions.

MCI, Sprint, WorldComm, many other Tariff 12 Carriers started to thrive. When the data business blossomed, and cellphones looked to rule the day, many different actions happened. The breakup of AT&T lead to many other countries taking everything from token to incredible action to break up their PTTs. Then things changed again.

But AT&T prevented other companies from using their lines, their services, and so forth. Today, there's a sense of ownership by the telcos-- that they OWN the rights of ways, OWN the easements, OWN the frequencies, and so forth, as capex assets. They share whenever it makes economic sense, and not one femtosecond before that.

Re:Completely unforeseen! (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416139)

Today, there's a sense of ownership by the telcos

AT&T had that sense of ownership before the breakup. Today's telcos inherited that sense of ownership from the original AT&T, it is not a post-breakup phenomena. At one point before the breakup of AT&T, you were not allowed to connect a non-AT&T device to your telephone line. AT&T owned your phone. The first step that led to the breakup of AT&T was a lawsuit because AT&T would not allow you to connect your own modem to their phone lines.

Re:Completely unforeseen! (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416243)

AT&T in 1980 is not in most reasonable ways, the AT&T today. It tries to act that way, but it's Southwestern Bell with lipstick, covered in testosterone patches.

AT&T often rented your phone to you; you didn't even own it, as you mention. That's when Western Electric got its first competition, sometimes by GTE, ITT, and others. I lived through that entire era, battling what was AT&T through the breakup and ostensible reformation. I watched the squirrely tariffs, the State PUCs, the FCC, and all of the companies involved fighting. Prices went down, choices went up.

Today, not so much. The K Street Lobbyists are in control. They are more powerful than the Congress and the President of the United States, because they have wicked amounts of $$$$$$$$$.

Re: Completely unforeseen! (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415395)

Between my wife and I we had all the iPhones on AT&T since the 3G which barely hit 1mbps in 2009. Here we are three years later and our iPhone 5's can download at 20mbps on a normal day in midtown manhattan.

Verizon is the same. Sprint has always sucked but that is their problem.

The only people who haven't seen an improvement are the ones who live in places where the cows outnumber the people

Re: Completely unforeseen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415669)

Still not 21st century speeds.

Make them operate like utilities. (5, Insightful)

Roger Wilcox (776904) | about a year ago | (#42414997)

The situation as it stands is unacceptable. The telcos have proved that they cannot operate broadband service fairly without regulation. Therefore: something akin to common carrier laws should be in effect for all broadband service providers.

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415023)

I think cars ought to be operated like utilities. You know, flat screen TVs too. Everyone needs food, too. Food ought to be a utility.

All of this should be regulated and provided by government.

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415069)

Food ought to be a utility

With all the subsidizing going on, it pretty much is.

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415107)

Interestingly enough it is, so you failed to make your irrational point.

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415171)

Regulation != provided by
Everything you list is regulated.

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (2)

jodido (1052890) | about a year ago | (#42415297)

Right--anyone can't afford food, let 'em starve. In the richest country ever.

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (1)

Jenerick (717200) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415829)

All of this should be regulated and provided by government.

All aboard the Slippery Slope Express!

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (4, Interesting)

valley (240947) | about a year ago | (#42415089)

But as Corporate America now rules Congress, the chance of regulations in favor of the consumer is close to zero.

Eminent domain (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#42415197)

Municipalities should take over the physical wires and allow each customer to choose which ISP to connect them to.

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415483)

Let me guess, you posted via homing pigeon? Couldn't have been via the Internet because of how slow it is. My 1.5 plan is barely enough to steam Netflix in two rooms while my wife, daughter and I all surf the web. It takes nearly 7 seconds for a video to start and I'm not sure it's quite HD quality, I can only count 4 nose hairs in the actor currently on screen. It's worse than a third world country!

Re:Make them operate like utilities. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415999)

Lame troll is lame.

Antitrust (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415003)

Can't we just enforce the antitrust laws? Where are the DoJ and FTC?

Re:Antitrust (3, Informative)

U8MyData (1281010) | about a year ago | (#42415281)

On the payroll...

Re:Antitrust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415805)

Antitrust litigation is now avoided, since domestic monopolies are seen as the only way to compete globally. The next logical step should be for America to fully exploit their large (and growing) prision population with private contractors (prisons) that can keep wages below minimum wage legally.

If it's underground, it's a utility (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415043)

Fill in the blank.

Water is underground. It's a utility.
Gas is underground. It's a utility.
Electricity is (sometimes) underground. It's a utility.
Fiber optic wiring is underground. It's a ______.

Unfortunately, cable TV/internet is underground, and it's a crappy monopoly.

We'll Get There (5, Insightful)

nicobigsby (1418849) | about a year ago | (#42415079)

Competition will solve this problem. It may take a little while but Google's beta test of their ISP service seems to be going well and has the telcos running scared (even reportedly going door to door in KC checking on customer satisfaction). Google is making a move here and I can't believe they intend to come to some sort of gentlemen's agreement with the telcos considering one of the motivations for Google entering the market was to thwart extortion attempts by the major ISPs where they were attempting to force Google to pay them a fee in order for them to deliver Google's content at the higher speeds, when we already pay them for the service of delivering Google's content to us. This move by Google smacks of the style of the old industrialists, like Rockefeller building oil pipelines to circumvent back door deals made by the railroads to charge him more money for shipping oil. This industry is still young, but if Google proves it can be profitable to lay new fiber and thereby dispels the idea that we have to use the existing infrastructure of the telcos, we will see even more new players enter the market. Already many cities are partnering with local companies and universities to offer residents high quality local ISPs for less money. I think it's too early in this industry to jump on the whole "we need the government to fix this for us" train... in the end I can't see that being a great answer anyway... especially when you consider that all conventional utilities have to do is provide consistent power/water supply to their customers, and there is a lower quality of service ceiling than in the ISP game.

Re:We'll Get There (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415275)

Separate the fiber/cable business from the ISP business by law and have heavy fines and jailtime involved for collusion between the two. That way the fiber/cable company is solely in the business of being the physical layer that moves bits to and from houses. Stuff like what IP address you get and whether your mails are marked as spam is then up to the ISP which rents access to the line to your house from the fiber/cable company. The fiber/cable stuff would be heavily regulated because it is a natural monoply. The ISP wouldn't need much regulation at all, except possibly minimal common-sense stuff like net neutrality, since anyone can make a new ISP and rent access at the same basis as any established ISP - there would be no natural monopoly.

Re:We'll Get There (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415295)

So many self-proclaimed free market capitalists simply don't "get" capitalism. Most such types have never even studied economics in any depth, and are embarrassingly ignorant of Adam Smith.

The facts I am about to state are often dismissed out-of-hand by people who do not know how to think like sociopaths, and hence can't think up what kinds of underhanded things one can do to maintain total control of a market. There are many, and history has repeated this story many times.

1) A controlled market is the exact opposite of a free market, regardless of whether the controller is a government, a single monopoly, or a cartel of ostensible competitors. None of the benefits of free market capitalism are manifested in a controlled market.

2) Once control is established over a market (most commonly: those who defeated most of their competitors then buy and/or enter into cartel arrangements with the rest), the controllers establish barriers-to-entry which are effective in preventing any new competitors from getting a foothold, even if the competitors have a superior product (buy-out is the most obvious, but there is also: lock up all potential suppliers and/or customers in long-term exclusivity contracts, temporarily undercut prices to operate at a loss until the competition starves, bankrupt the competitor with frivolous lawsuits, repeatedly hire all of the competitor's talent away with better salaries, saturate all available advertisement space, hire thugs to damage the competitor in any number of ways, force the passage of corrupt laws, and on and on).

3) The only way to keep a capitalistic economy strong is to force the issue of competition when it stops happening spontaneously. Once there is a clear winner or group of winners, they MUST either be broken up into smaller companies (ideal), or hit with a lot of government regulation (for natural monopoly situations).

Remember: rich people do not abide threats to their wealth, and hence will not abide competing businesses once they are powerful enough to stomp them out.

Re:We'll Get There (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415551)

Competition will solve this problem

At one time there was competition in the US, not anymore. The US is where Canada was back in 99 through 2008. Back oh 10-12 years ago, I was in total awe of the US broadband speeds(I live in Canada) compared to what my parents could get in Florida, or my best friend was getting in Indianapolis/Franklin(15/1@$33/mo with no cap on cable). Jump a head 9 years when I'm at a state where I can winter travel and work, to avoid to cold and what can I get in Florida at my winter place? 6/1 cable @$55/mo, no DSL service options there, no FIOS options there. Right now I'm getting 25/1@$42/mo with a 300GB cap in Canada.

When the rules changed about letting other ISPs rent out from the head-ends and DSLAMs, the competition went away. The prices skyrocketed, and the QoS fell through the floor.

Re:We'll Get There (1)

nicobigsby (1418849) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415715)

Did you read the rest of my post? Competition is happening. Competitors are cropping up all over the place, one of which is one of the most powerful companies in technology.

Re:We'll Get There (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416017)

I sure did. I also remember the "competition" being killed in the last decade by incumbents crushing them out of the marketplace. It doesn't matter that it's one of the most powerful technology companies or not, especially if they're locked in with peerage agreements and continue to do their best to push them out.

NEVER HAPPEN (2)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415083)

"move to a utility model, based on the assumption that all Americans require fiber-optic Internet access at reasonable prices"

Sure, this is common sense.
Sure, this could be a major national economic stimulus.
But - politicians are required to enact such a move and
                they know who is buttering their bread and
                they know it's not you.

Re:NEVER HAPPEN (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | about a year ago | (#42415259)

"they know who is buttering their bread"

Yeah, but once in a while they should think of 'We, The People' who provide them the bread to be buttered in the first place.

US != World (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415119)

The cable industry and AT&T-Verizon have divided up the world much as Comcast and Time Warner did

There is more to the world than US. I've never heard of Verizon, Comast or time warner

Re:US != World (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415963)

There is more to the world than US. I've never heard of Verizon, Comast or time warner

First time to slashdot?

Allowing Competition Access Would Work Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415141)

Wireless/Wired are already utilities in almost every locality they operate because the poles they put the wires and antenna on are managed by local city/county utility departments. They are managed today, as defacto utilities. Making it official wouldn't help though, their lobbies are far reaching.

There's plenty of providers that want to be in the game of providing the connection. They're prevented because of Telecommunications regulation (or lobbying driven regulation that benefits those already in place).

Perhaps instead of making them official utilities we should take a look at current regulations (many created by the Telco/Cableco's for their purchased representatives to sign) and remove the aspects that block competition. For wired, making the last mile OpenAccess to any company that wants to provide the connection is enough. For Wireless I couldn't say there's just too much regulatory and technology clutter (WiFi or Cell to make a phone or data call) to sort through but I suspect that allowing competitors in would be a first step.

Right (0)

U8MyData (1281010) | about a year ago | (#42415157)

This will happen as likely as the Democrats actually passing a formal balanced budget. I wish American business was as much about the customer as it is about the bottom line. You know, you can do both.

Re:Right (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year ago | (#42415321)

You're funny. The last string of balanced budgets was under Clinton.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CBO_-_Revenues_and_Outlays_as_percent_GDP.png [wikipedia.org]

Google Fiber (5, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | about a year ago | (#42415237)

Isn't this why Google created Google Fiber?

The primary purpose of Google Fiber is to give the industry a kick in the arse.

Re:Google Fiber (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#42415287)

The primary purpose of Google Fiber is to allow them to drill even deeper into your personal life and private information so they can "sell you" to advertisers.

Re:Google Fiber (2)

nickittynickname (2753061) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415415)

I would happily give that up than work with my two options, Comcast and ATT. I'm sure the competition drills deep into my personal life anyways.

Re:Google Fiber (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42415495)

Yes and no.

The ability to mine it for information is a plus to them, but their primary motivation was to FORCE the local providers to get off their bum ass and do their jobs.

I honestly hope google spreads and actually becomes a major player that the local providers have to compete against on a national scale so they have to upgrade and give us decent service instead of this 1 meg up 45kb/s down they want to give us now in some areas.

Google is offering what the other guys should have ALREADY been offering but refused to do so and for that, I thank them. Do I like the fact they are mining my information online when/if I use them? I am not particularly thrilled about it but it is their entire core industry and they do not hide that fact now what they do with it so I honestly have no issues with it with how they are currently doing it and just follow the rule of "Never put online what you don't want the world to know" and for the other stuff, encryption is your friend.

My biggest issue with google is not standing up to the US government on requests enough. As far as I am concerned, the government shouldn't be able to ask for information without a warrant period unless in emergency life or death situations and even then, that would be a 90 second phone call to get a warrant.

Re:Google Fiber (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416189)

I completely agree.

And all the more reason to use SSL encryption for every transaction, every webpage on the internet.

Re: Google Fiber (2)

grcumb (781340) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415591)

True enough, but the means by which they achieve this goal is by creating an environment in which internet access is a commodity. As long as your internet is rationed, so too is their access to your data. So the question becomes: 'Is better internet worth this price, and, more to the point, is it preferable to what I have today?'

Re:Google Fiber (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415643)

The primary purpose of Google Fiber is to allow them to drill even deeper into your personal life and private information so they can "sell you" to advertisers.

Since its a paid service where the consumer is the service, I think that there is at least some reason to consider that (in addition to pushing the incumbent players in the market in a direction which improves accessibility and usefulness of Google's existing services) its a move to diversify their revenue stream so as not to rely solely on advertising, rather than primarily about improving access to information to be used to sell advertising.

1Gpbs (1)

jasonvan (846103) | about a year ago | (#42415271)

FTA: "A smarter goal would be to give most Americans access to reasonably priced 1 Gb symmetric fiber-to-the-home networks."
So when I read the FCC said speeds of 4/1Mbps was a minimum at first this seemed like a big number to me. Like in the line with luxury internet is what I mean to say. I considered it for a bit, and I conceded by 2020 that is fairly reasonable as popular as streaming video is becoming. Then this 1Gbps number gets thrown out there (or at least implied) as a "necessity". Now I'd love to get 1Gbps. That would be one of the happiest moments of my life. However, I'm fairly happy with my 10Mbps/768Kbps. Thinking of that being considered 100 times slower that what should be considered as vital as electricity is, just throws the credibility of the entire article right out the window. I might assume most Americans don't even have gigabit switches or gigabit NICs and I don't think I'd be wrong. In 2020 that will probably no longer the case. My logic here is that if something like a web server or an AD server can operate without saturating a 100Mbps link in a medium sized business, it's fairly up the wall to say everyone NEEDS 1Gbps in 7 years. Just my two cents.

Thanks to... (1)

Whatsmynickname (557867) | about a year ago | (#42415293)

..all your elected Congressmen and Senators elected by informed, focused voters who stay on top of issues like this. They all make sure these corporations will not get away with this...

Hmm... Not my experience! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42415317)

My wired/wireless internet as of right now...

Home: Frontier FiOS - http://www.speedtest.net/result/2400548661.png
T-Mobile (at home): -113 dBm (no signal bars) - http://www.speedtest.net/android/327814150.png

When I'm out an about, I regularly get about 10 Mb/s up and down on T-Mobile, 15-17 Mb/s when I have full signal bars.

My recommendation, stop going with Comcast/AT&T for everything. Sometimes going with the 10,000 lbs. guerrilla isn't the right answer! :-)

Leak (1)

JWW (79176) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415349)

Google needs to "leak" a presentation about their fiber project in KC with a slide that says.

Project Completion

- When Time Warner has no more customers in The KC area.

Cringely was prescient on the subject.. (1)

sstamps (39313) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415549)

The current situation has a long history in a multi-billion-dollar ripoff of the taxpayers and customers of these companies. Cringeley wrote an amazingly prescient article on the hows and whys we have what we have today (I believe it was even featured here a few years ago when it was published):

The $200 Billion Rip-Off: Our broadband future was stolen. [pbs.org]

This all is nothing new, it was planned in the 90s, and we have pretty much the implementation of that plan today.

Does it piss you off? It pisses me off for sure. How do we go about fixing it?

1) Stop supporting the companies that screw us and found/support companies which do it right.
2) Get your friends/family/neighbors/community to vote out the bribed politicians that either enabled it, or turned a blind eye to it, and vote in politicians who are not bribed and will actually fix it.
3) Be willing to suffer for a while for a better future. The companies who perpetrate these scams set it up such that people will accept the suboptimal crap they are peddling because they won't take the inconvenience of being without said crap for a short enough time to send the message that the situation will change, or else.

But no, human nature (and American culture itself) dictates that nothing will change; the telcos have already won.

Capitalism in America? (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415607)

You must be new here.

They could take a leaf out of the UK's method... (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415707)

Pass a law requiring incumbent ISP's (if they run a monopoly in the region) to provide competitors with access to their copper/fibre network at wholesale cost.
Also tag on an addition that each incoming ISP has to give the ISP they are buying from the same ability to buy bandwidth at cost from them as well. Stopping a single big player taking over multiple markets and force others out by sheer financial weight.

So competition and the ability to provide better/ value for money services in other area outside their usual network means less stagnation and fewer "single entity monopolies" in the country and the users win ^_^

It's been tried (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415899)

Until 1984, national telecommunications was a regulated utility, with the government controlling prices. A long distance call was $2.87 per minute. In 1984, it was deregulated and natural competition quickly brought the rate to $0.10 per minute - a 97% reduction. Tight government regulation of internet service as a utility is a great idea, if you want to pay $12 / GB. I can understand how this might have been debatable in 1812, but in 2012 we've already tried both ways over and over again. Competition beats government fiat every time. Maybe you haven't noticed the existing competive system has brought us from 14 kbps to 14Mbps, a THOUSAND times as fast as a few years ago?

Re:It's been tried (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42416089)

Do you even have competition at all? From what I hear you folks who have the misfortune to live in most areas of the United States your choices for Internet access are cable, DSL, and wireless, and all of them are equally bad. The whole point of the article is that ISPs have colluded so that proper competition is not possible.

Correction - 50% price reduction from deregulation (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416127)

That $2.87 rate is in today's money, in other words inflation adjusted. The correct rate decrease immediately after seregulatuon was about 50%. Of course competition also brought us VOIP. With Vonage, for example, long distance is 0 cents per minute, a 100% reduction from government regulated rates.

Re:It's been tried (1)

sstamps (39313) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416137)

Until 1984, national telecommunications was a regulated utility, with the government controlling prices. A long distance call was $2.87 per minute. In 1984, it was deregulated and natural competition quickly brought the rate to $0.10 per minute - a 97% reduction.

Tight government regulation of internet service as a utility is a great idea, if you want to pay $12 / GB. I can understand how this might have been debatable in 1812, but in 2012 we've already tried both ways over and over again. Competition beats government fiat every time.

Gotta love revisionist historians...

The cost of long distance pre-1980s was due to the existence/enforcement of a monopoly, not due to regulation, but due to the incorrect assignment of the telephone network as a NATURAL monopoly, which it never was.

In 1982-4, the monopoly was broken over the collective knee of the People, and natural competitive market forces kicked in, just as they should have been allowed for the previous 70-odd years. Regulation wasn't done away with until the 1996 Telecommunications Act which, by that time, had seen the price decreases you allude to. SINCE 1996, very little has changed, except that the broken-up Baby Bells have now been re-merged into a few massive monopolistic players which are ripping off customers and taxpayers all over again.

Maybe you haven't noticed the existing competive system has brought us from 14 kbps to 14Mbps, a THOUSAND times as fast as a few years ago?

Dude, I don't know what planet you live on, but I have 3Mbps ADSL, which is the fastest I can get in this area without running my own damn lines (WHICH, btw, I am prevented from doing by local ordinances which, you guessed it, protect the fuckin' monopolies again). In 2000, I had 2Mbps cable. So, I've gotten a whopping 50% increase in speed in the last TWELVE years. Before that, I had 1.5Mbps ADSL for a few years. It's been over TWENTY YEARS since I had to depend on 14.4k dialup. "A few years" my arse.

The existing "competitive system" isn't about competition at all. It is about monopolism, fraud, and greed, which is pretty much the gory, but oh-so-real history of American Capitalism itself.

Regulation is a necessary evil, as is keeping a tight rein on monopolistic practices. Sadly, our government generally is bribed into ineffective regulation and to ignore the monopolism. Thus, we get screwed until the end of the next gyre in "history repeats itself" completes. In the meantime, we have ineffective and incompetent solutions, allowing other countries to gain huge technological advances over us.

Re:It's been tried (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416255)

It seems neither system is ideal.

Government monopoly means everyone gets access, but the quality is rubbish.
Private monopoly means people in high population densities get semi-reasonable access, everyone else can go fuck themselves. Even if everyone else wants the government to intervene they can't because the private monopoly has bought the government.

Not going to happen (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about a year and a half ago | (#42415961)

Not going to happen, and if it does it will happen in a way that will REINFORCE the monopolies of the current big players. Just look at how the wireless spectrum auction went down a few years back. Even Google, throwing around billions of dollars couldn't get a part of the spectrum designated for public use. Thankfully they were at least able to get open apps and devices pushed through, but the big players even fought that tooth and nail.

collusion (1)

shentino (1139071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416033)

Lack of demand my ass

When a city tries to start its own municipal internet and the incumbent telecom sues their asses off, gets an injunction, and then drags out the court case while they build their own internet right under the city's nose, it's not lack of demand, it's blatant anticompetitive rent seeking.

investment (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416069)

a national fiber network would be a huge infrastructure investment with lasting benefit, like the highway system.

Call the number to disconnect service (1)

DrHappyAngry (1373205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416215)

I've found with Century Link, if you choose the option to disconnect service, they'll connect you to someone who can actually get you good speeds and at a good price. Kind of sad it has to come to that, but now I've got 40/20mbps DSL with a static IP without having to pay for a business account. They're only charging me $35 bucks a month, though it'll go up to $75 after 6 months. Still better than anybody else in town by far. Oh, did I mention no monthly bandwidth cap? I can't say this will be the same everywhere, since it might not be possible at that location, but they'll hook you up with a far better deal than their sales or tech departments. This should last me until the city's gigabit fiber project comes to my neighborhood in Seattle.

Fool (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#42416247)

As usual, someone that lives in a large city has no concept of what it's like to live outside their metropolis. His plan might work in New York, but in Iowa, not so much.

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