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Why Is Broadband More Expensive In the US Than Elsewhere?

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the pay-up dept.

The Internet 569

mrspoonsi writes "The BBC reports "Home broadband in the US costs far more than elsewhere. At high speeds, it costs nearly three times as much as in the UK and France, and more than five times as much as in South Korea. Why?...'Americans pay so much because they don't have a choice,' says Susan Crawford, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama on science, technology and innovation policy. We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight."

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Telco oligopoly (5, Insightful)

jhill000 (303048) | about a year ago | (#45262953)

The telco lobby writes the legislation.

Re:Telco oligopoly (4, Informative)

Creepy (93888) | about a year ago | (#45263057)

Gizmodo article [gizmodo.com] on it from earlier this year.

Re:Telco oligopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263405)

How come the invisible hand of the market doesn't spank the telcos for their impudence?

Not really news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45262957)

Humans exploit market where there is no oversight. What a revelation.

Re:Not really news... (5, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#45263051)

There is no oversight in clothing market and yet you can buy a shirt at Wallmart or Ross for $5 or shoes for $10. Why don't they charge $100 for a shirt and keep the difference? It is not government oversight that drives prices down but competition. Telcos are not a good case study of either free market or regulation as they are a special case in a lot of ways.

Re:Not really news... (1)

tolkienfan (892463) | about a year ago | (#45263137)

They are a special case in many of the same ways that internet suppliers are a special case...

Re:Not really news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263195)

The barriers to entry on clothing are minimal.

Re:Not really news... (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#45263293)

In a truly deregulated market, the cost of entry for one cable company would be the same as for another. In a heavily regulated market that we actually have (at the local level) the first company had a very much lower cost of entry due to special deal with the local government.

Re:Not really news... (4, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | about a year ago | (#45263311)

In a truly deregulated market, cable companies would split the markets to maximise profits.

FTFY.

Natural Monopoly (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#45263393)

No, In a truly unregulated market the barriers of entry would be higher for new entries into the cable market. It is one of the justifications used for regulating cable.

Look up the term “Natural Monopoly”. In any industry with high fixed costs and low marginal costs market structure will favor only one provider. If a challenger faces an incumbent, the incumbent will just drop prices until they drive out the challenger. They don’t need to pay for the high upfront capital costs – they have already done so.

And while it is a valid reason to regulate I am not saying the cable companies haven’t captured the regulators to entrench their position – they have.

Re:Not really news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263387)

You don't need right of way from the local government to install a shirt and you don't need to invest large amount of money on installing a shirt on a customer before getting regular payments from them in the long term.

Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (5, Insightful)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#45262967)

America is the home of capitalism, which means competition, which drives down prices and raises standards. The rest of the world is a socialist hellhole.

It's similar to what the North Koreans believe, with a touch of stockholm syndrome.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about a year ago | (#45263031)

Precisely this. The illusion of "choice" and "capitalism" is strong in the USA.

Then you get down to the nitty gritty.

In the town I live in, precious few grocery stores aren't the HEB brand. There is no real competition for them and they gouge.
In the neighborhood I life in, I can't get FiOS and the AT&T DSL options are a joke (they won't bother putting in capacity). So if you want anything but *shudder* dialup, your options are Warner, Warner, or... Warner. Zero competition, price gouging accordingly.

The communications market is so "deregulated" that monopolism takes over, with deliberate barriers to entry placed by noncompete agreements and dirty tactics. And yet so many people think anarcho-libertarian, "laissez faire" deregulation will somehow make their lives better in every aspect.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (5, Insightful)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | about a year ago | (#45263113)

The communications market is so "deregulated" that monopolism takes over, with deliberate barriers to entry placed by noncompete agreements and dirty tactics. And yet so many people think anarcho-libertarian, "laissez faire" deregulation will somehow make their lives better in every aspect.

That's not true at all. Try opening up a new cable company in your local town, or opening up a new power plant and running new wires to all the houses. Oh, that's right, you can't, because the government has decided that it would be inefficient to have more than one set of power lines, or water lines, or cable lines, or telephone lines, etc, going into a single home. So they allow one provider to service the whole town and be a government sanctioned monopoly. That's hardly "deregulation"... in fact, it's the epitome of the government regulating and controlling everything.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45263281)

Its more a matter of practicality than regulation.

Nobody would stand for yet another cable company trenching through every neighborhood laying new wire or fiber. Even if they wanted to, they couldn't afford it. The only way this gets done is when the neighborhood is built, and there is nothing to disrupt, and not sidewalks or driveways are laid yet. You can trench, pipe, and pedestal a hundred home subdivision in an afternoon and leave it to the home builder to cable each house to the pedestal. Comcast or Verizon will jump at the chance to do that because it means a lot of customers are locked in.

When you build a subdivision, you typically deed the streets, waterlines, sewers, to the city/county at the end of construction.
Its long past time to stop subcontracting the bandwidth job to the Telco/Cable companies and make the subdivision contractor put that in
and deed that to the city as well. Yes it raises home prices.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (-1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#45263299)

Capitalism just pushes prices down to where cmpetitive entry is not worth it. In the 1950s, our fine government jailed Alcoa executives for the monopolistic practice of keeping aluminum prices way, way too low.

By the way, Europe wouldn't have all this high-speed routing left to their own devices. It's easy for a politician to use tech someone else's many billions developed to satisfy the American market and then turn around and scream capitalism suxxorz!!1!11

See also them handing out cures for free, decrying the US as costing lives when they invent a fraction we do and the importance of invention is several magnitudes greater than making sure everybody has insurance, as far as measured saved lives go. But you need an analysis that includes slower tech development due to business-unfriendly environments.

Sadly, no one parades a million deaths a year worldwide because our tech is 2013-level instead of 2023-level this year, because Europe's rate of invention is lower than the US and has been for 50 years.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (2)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#45263303)

Telephone is a many-to-many service, using circuit switching to dramatically reduce the number of necessary wires. Why couldn't power lines, water lines, cable lines, and so on do the same using valves, relays, etc.?

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263313)

There are plenty of small start up energy companies in the Houston area that will sell you electricity over wires owned and maintained by a third party (CenterPoint). What Comcast/Verizon/etc have is a vertical monopoly.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (5, Insightful)

Mitchell314 (1576581) | about a year ago | (#45263317)

'Inefficiency' has little to do with why governments regulate and limit utilities. The biggest is safety; there used to be a time when there were many competitors for power supply and the combined distributions systems were incredibly dangerous. Not to mention a horrible pain to track and maintain for the companies and the technicians. There are also big issues with the legalities of easements, as well practical and technical problems. The market is very unlike common commodity markets.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (2)

Zenin (266666) | about a year ago | (#45263335)

Alternatives?

The reality is it's simply not practical to allow any random person to dig up the streets or put up new telephone poles willy-nilly to run new lines, especially considering the extreme risk both to existing lines (corporate property) and personal residences.

If my neighbor signs up with a shotty power, water, gas, or even Internet company...my home is at higher risk of fire or flooding.

It's not (simply) about inefficiencies. It's about safety, reliability, and accountability.

The fact is there are many businesses which, at least with current technology, are either natural monopolies (municipalities for example) or for which the "free market" incentives bad behavior rather than good (eg, healthcare). Forcing them into a "free market" for shear ideological reasons is simply foolish.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (5, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about a year ago | (#45263407)

In the UK, there is one set of electricity wires in the street, one set of gas pipes, and one set (or sometimes two sets) of telephone cables.

The owner of the electricity wires, the gas pipes, and except in Hull, one of the sets of telephone cables, is required to make them available to other suppliers at a regulated price. That means I can choose from many different people to supply my gas, electricity and telephone.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263345)

Let's accept your premise for a second, and ignore the fact that there really are logistical issues with having dozens of competitors run cable to every property in every city. Given our current election process, that particular type of government interference is inevitable, because once a company has enough of a market advantage to seek that sort of government sanctioned monopoly, they will, and current campaign finance practices guarantee they will be successful. If only the same people complaining about those government monopolies weren't the same ones fighting against any sort of campaign finance reform, also in the name of freedom, we might not find ourselves in the situation you're talking about.

Now, to go back to the original faulty premise, there really are problems with running lines from a bunch of different companies for each utility you use. The logistics of setting up easements for all of those things are entirely non-trivial. It isn't about running a wire from the edge of your property to your actual house, it is about all the streets those wires or pipes have to go under or over to get to you. The government had to throw its weight around to even get you the pipes and wires you have now, and certainly would have to again to get the right of way to allow you to get hooked up to your hypothetical competitor. If you want to live in pretend land where the government is involved in this process only to get in the way, you'll have to figure out how exactly incoming competitors are going to do much of anything without the power of imminent domain.

Anybody who speaks of government intervention or market forces as some sort of cure all is either a moron or a snake oil salesman. Markets handle a great many things well, but something with so obvious a natural monopoly as internet access isn't one of them. Less ideology and more practicality, please.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (1)

polar red (215081) | about a year ago | (#45263359)

. in fact, it's the epitome of the government regulating and controlling everything.

That's not what I call regulation. regulation serves to increase competition and protect the weakest actor on the market (in this case: the consumer, by far). The thing you think that is regulation, is in fact a tool of plutocracy.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (5, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#45263367)

"you can't, because the government has decided that it would be inefficient to have more than one set of power lines, or water lines, or cable lines, or telephone lines, etc, going into a single home."

This all actually fits together. The glue that makes it all stick (or rather, fall apart) is regulation under FCC Title II. At the risk of oversimplifying, it went something like this:

In the early telephone days, the U.S. saw that multiple competing, and usually incompatible, telephone systems wasn't working well. It decided to allow one highly regulated monopoly to build our countrywide telephone infrastucture. In exchange for allowing it to operate unchallenged, it had to live with certain regulations, as a common carrier under FCC Title II.

There are certain strict regulations that apply to Title II common carriers. Among the rules are, in no particular order: (1) the carriers cannot supply content, they can only carry content (telephone conversations, internet packets) created by others. (2) A common carrier cannot intercept communications, or allow communications to be intentionally intercepted, without a warrant. There are other rules, too, but those are the two important ones for the moment.

As a result of having a single, unified infrastructure, at the time the U.S. phone system was the envy of the world. This telephone monopoly was eventually broken up (the reasons are beyond the scope of this summary), but telcos still have to live by common carrier rules.

Then along came cable TV. Back when it started to become apparent that cable could also be a good medium for internet communication, the cable companies (which were already fat from cable TV profits) lobbied Congress to specifically pass a law saying Title II (common carrier) regulation would not apply to ISPs.

The result is what we see today: ISPs can legally intercept your communications in various ways, cable companies can supply content AS WELL AS carry communications (the possible negative consequences of this should be obvious), and they have had huge mergers and developed monopolies because they are not subject to the same sane regulation as the telcos were (are).

The point being this: in countries where the common communications backbones are required to allow sharing by competitors, internet service is faster and cheaper. That is true competition. What the cable companies in the U.S. are calling "competition" really isn't.

Free-market capitalism is not always the best answer, when it comes to common public services, utilities, etc. And it is becoming increasingly obvious that it hasn't worked for cable in the U.S. [But note: lobbying Congress is not "free market capitalism", either... so it's kind of a moot point in this particular instance.]

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263153)

Precisely this. The illusion of "choice" and "capitalism" is strong in the USA.

Then you get down to the nitty gritty.

In the town I live in, precious few grocery stores aren't the HEB brand. There is no real competition for them and they gouge.
In the neighborhood I life in, I can't get FiOS and the AT&T DSL options are a joke (they won't bother putting in capacity). So if you want anything but *shudder* dialup, your options are Warner, Warner, or... Warner. Zero competition, price gouging accordingly.

The communications market is so "deregulated" that monopolism takes over, with deliberate barriers to entry placed by noncompete agreements and dirty tactics. And yet so many people think anarcho-libertarian, "laissez faire" deregulation will somehow make their lives better in every aspect.

"Life" a verb now?

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (1, Informative)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#45263221)

Except that monopolies are almost always created by regulation.

In the town I live in, precious few grocery stores aren't the HEB brand. There is no real competition for them and they gouge.
 
Why is there no competition for them? Is there something stopping another chain from opening a store and charging slightly less and taking all their customer?
 
  In the neighborhood I life in, I can't get FiOS and the AT&T DSL options are a joke (they won't bother putting in capacity). So if you want anything but *shudder* dialup, your options are Warner, Warner, or... Warner.
 
Again, why are there no other choices of Cable providers? Typically, there is local regulation that makes it is a legal nightmare as well as a huge initial cost for a second company to come in. Everybody has access to poles, a company "only" has to run its own wires and presto, you have a second provider. The only problem with this is that running lines carries an enormous up front cost, which made sense to the first one to come in due to the deal with the local government (regulation again, which typically included monopoly access for a number of years as part of the deal) but it doesn't make financial sense for a new company.
 
The problem is how to incentivize companies to come into markets "owned" by an existing provider: 1) simplify legal process of getting necessary permits 2) Offer incentives like those offered to the initial company - something you should take up with your local government. 3) If the current provider is really "gouging" the customers, it should be no problem for the newcomer to offer a better deal and still be profitable

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (2)

dpidcoe (2606549) | about a year ago | (#45263331)

3) If the current provider is really "gouging" the customers, it should be no problem for the newcomer to offer a better deal and still be profitable

Maybe more of a problem than you think. If they've been gouging, that means they're rolling in money compared to you. When you show up with a new low price, they can easily undercut you (even to the point of taking losses for a few years) and your selling point dries up overnight.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (0)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45263337)

Except that monopolies are almost always created by regulation.

That pretty much sums it up, although I'd also say that monopolies are also largely prevented by regulation as well. In the case of regulated utilities such as cable, the lack of competition is the central reason for high prices.

It would be interesting to see the cable ISP industry parsed up like they did the long distance telephone companies many years ago. It was a mess for a while, but eventually prices plummeted and service improved.

I think cable companies should be limited to management of the infrastructure, while services are regularly open to competitive ISPs & television service company competitive bids, or better yet, multiple providers simultaneously. It would be messy for a while.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (5, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#45263379)

Why is there no competition for them? Is there something stopping another chain from opening a store and charging slightly less and taking all their customer?

Yes, the cost of setting up a new store. That's a significant cost, and if you did do that, they'd drop their prices. I've seen where stores have waited until a competitor bought land near them, then they dropped their prices significantly. The land was sold by the competitor because it was no longer profitable. Then the prices went back up. The monopoly bought the land, making money from their competitor, then developed into something that could never compete with them (offices, rather than retail), then sold it to a property management company, ensuring nobody could get an equivelent piece of land at a reasonable price for miles around them

There are many ways for monopolies to abuse the marketplace without directly manipulating it.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (3, Insightful)

James Sarvey (3348883) | about a year ago | (#45263265)

I'm mostly in favor of laissez faire policies, but there are some industries where it just doesn't make sense. Communications is one of those. There's only so much EM spectrum to sell, and only so much space for copper wire, fiber, etc. There's an argument to be made that it's a natural monopoly, and in some ways we treat it that way; whichever company buys a bit of spectrum from the FCC has a monopoly on it, and in many places cable companies have contracts with local governments that grant them a monopoly in the area in exchange for money or promises of better services. But we only have policies like that in place where it benefits the telecoms, not consumers. They assume all the perks of a government-sponsored monopoly with none of the responsibility. If we're going to grant these companies exclusive rights -- and frankly it makes sense to -- they need to be regulated. If you want exclusive rights to be the cable provider in the area, you have to provide consistently good service at a reasonable price.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263267)

There's no such thing as gouging in a deregulated market. Those grocery stores charge only what the market will bare. If you want cheaper prices and more options, move to a city. (Yes, even in a disaster zone there's no such thing as gouging. If you wanted that gallon of water you should've bought it before the storm came, putting demand through the roof and blocking supply from reaching shelves.)

As for cable companies, etc... yes, there is definitely a problem, no doubt. But don't get your economics mixed up, because the lobbyists and right-wing economists will enjoy nothing better than turning your poor grocery store analogy into a strawman.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (3, Informative)

Thomas Miconi (85282) | about a year ago | (#45263199)

Well, it's complicated.

Take the example of France. Broadband internet and digital TV go largely through DSL. And yes, it's pretty damn cheap. When I was there, three years ago, I was paying 30 Euros / month for broadband internet + unlimited phone calls + television with a bazillion channels (did you know that there are two channels broadcasting in frigging Aramaic?)

Now one reason why France has cheap, abundant DSL is because of massive infrastructure built by former government monopolies. But at the beginning, even though they had this infrastructure, internet was still pretty damn expensive. The few telcos that were operating the networks obviously had a very gentle concept of competition.

Then this guy [wikipedia.org] came along, leased an existing network and offered much better service at much lower cost. Everybody had to align.

So it's not just about competition or government - it's both together. Also, there's competition and "competition". Competition only works if you have some outsider willing to move in and break the "gentlemen's agreements". Apparently T-mobile is kind of doing this in America with mobile phone contracts, but broadband internet is still firmly within the grip of the cable oligopoly.

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263227)

Typical anti-capitalist diatribe.

The problem is not capitalism, because we never had a free market in internet service. Instead, we used taxpayer money to set up the big telco's with regional monopolies, on the understanding that they would make internet access ubiquitous. Then after we looked the other way when they didn't deliver on their promises, we deregulated them. The problem is that we had already set up a system where competition would never be possible. Ever.

Likely a regulated system OR a truly free market would have done better. But we cherry-picked the worst parts of both. Is it any wonder the costs are so high?

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (4, Insightful)

Zenin (266666) | about a year ago | (#45263237)

America is the home of capitalism, which means competition,

Horrendously wrong.

Capitalism is a game in which the goal is simply to make the most money (with the least effort). The "free market" (aka competition) is just one of many possible strategies to make the most money. Competing in the free market however, is without question the most expensive, the riskiest, and the least rewarding possible strategy available to most business...which is precisely why practically every business on earth bends over backwards to avoid the free market at all costs.

Going into "new markets", forming monopolies, getting regulations passed to raise the barriers to entry, avoiding "mature markets", etc are all entirely about avoiding the free market and thus avoiding competition.

This is the biggest mental issue free market advocates face: The ironic reality that if you want an actual free market...you must drag people into it kicking and screaming (most effectively through tight regulation...).

Re:Probably Obama. Or the Tea Party. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263261)

This is the biggest mental issue free market advocates face: The ironic reality that if you want an actual free market...you must drag people into it kicking and screaming

And cause a massive amount of damage to your economy and your citizens.

All so you can get to the complete lie which is a free market anyway.

The Tea Party should be considered economic terrorists. Because their goal will cause so much pain and hardship to the rest of society as to leave marks which will be felt for years by everyone else.

It's a strategy of destroy your whole economy so you can rebuild it in the image of your ideology, and no guarantee it would actually work.

It's intellectually dishonest bullshit, and it always has been.

all those executives got to have their BIG bonuses (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about a year ago | (#45262969)

âoeIf he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it 'cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he's poor in hisself, there ain't no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an' maybe he's disappointed that nothin' he can do 'll make him feel rich.â
â John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

What the market will bear. (2)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#45262975)

People will pay whatever is charged up to the point that the market will bear. It's not that far off from an unregulated utility at this point. Television content delivery has similarly pulled their prices up through the roof, because people will pay it.

I haven't paid for either service (at least intentionally) since 2009. Under the right circumstances I might be persuaded to get the broadband again, but not cable or satellite television.

Re:What the market will bear. (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about a year ago | (#45263005)

People will pay whatever is charged up to the point that the market will bear.

+Everything, informative.

Re:What the market will bear. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#45263089)

I wish it were just cynicism rather than actual informative observation.

Re:What the market will bear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263131)

Yes. Notice that salaries are often better in the US, and don't forget that the US is geographically huge. Both UK and France are about the size of Texas.

Re:What the market will bear. (1)

Skiron (735617) | about a year ago | (#45263253)

Also in the UK (as we are a relatively small Country) a lot of services run underground, so once laid they don't have so much maintenance costs.

Re:What the market will bear. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263187)

But let's not forget that the government regulators are in most cases industry shills (i.e. FCC boss Tom Wheeler was a cable company lobbyist) and when their term in government is over they are richly rewarded for advancing the corporate interests. Cable TV was just recently allowed to encrypt all channels, even basic and now they have persuaded a lawmaker to introduce a bill to kill cablecard which is the end of 3rd party DVR's like TIVO.

Americans really need to demand that the revolving door between industry and govt regulators close.

http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Cable-Industry-Tries-to-Kill-the-CableCARD-for-Good-125440

Re:What the market will bear. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45263037)

People will pay whatever is charged up to the point that the market will bear.

... at which point purchase will become compulsory via government mandate.

Re:What the market will bear. (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#45263117)

That certainly seems to be the trend.

Re:What the market will bear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263205)

And if the market decides that extreme actions need to be brought to bear such as the assination of the CEO of verizon or some other cable company would that be a just reward. If people decide to gouge their fellow human beings, what right do the those doing the gouging not have to be rewarded with a shorter life.

We would be going back to the days when railroad robbers were publically applauded because the public thought the rail industry was soo corrupt. Isn't the ultimate end of laizefaire economics and unconstrained capitalism just anarchy. Where you have rival gangs and cartels battling it out to make the most money without any concern for the public good. I mean if capitalism is supposedly good for business because it breeds competition (ignoring the fact that business does not want competition and want monopoly and regulation to the extent that it prevents competition from entering the marketplace) shouldn't anarchy and gang war be good for humanity because it allows the best and strongest people to rise to the top. People seem to draw a distinction between legal monopolistic usery, and killing someone because they have a nicer pair of shoes than you do. I do not see this difference. To me a payday lender and some faggot selling crack on the streets are both the same. They are both parasites and should be eliminated. If a kid (the elite financial controllers of the world ) kicks a dog (the public) in the head enought times. The kid should not be supised if the dog tries to bite him.

The greatest politician ever was Teddy Roosevelt. He was a man's man and realized the capitalism could raise such behemouths that the idea of a fair market was a joke. He worked with extreme prejudice to break up these monopolies. Today our politicans are making too much money off these guys to care.

Re:What the market will bear. (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#45263219)

People will pay whatever is charged up to the point that the market will bear. It's not that far off from an unregulated utility at this point. Television content delivery has similarly pulled their prices up through the roof, because people will pay it.

I haven't paid for either service (at least intentionally) since 2009. Under the right circumstances I might be persuaded to get the broadband again, but not cable or satellite television.

I pay for satellite service here for TV because there is no cable company locally. I live in a town of about 3000, 40 miles from anywhere. Likewise, only ONE internet provider here, and the lines are slow as hell and expensive. Why? Because there is no competition.

Re:What the market will bear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263275)

People wont pay what they can if there is true competition on the market. When every home have an option of 3 or more ISP to deliver you will have competition. I got 6 ISP's offering service on my fiber connected apartment. I can opt in for a xDSL connection from a few more, if 3/4G is my wish I got 4 operators to choose from.

The lowest price for 100/100 fiber is $45 - highest $60.

Almost the complete Greater Stockholm area is covered with dark fiber provided by several local utility companies but they don't sell Internet access.

Re:What the market will bear. (1)

ewibble (1655195) | about a year ago | (#45263369)

Suppliers will lower their prices until the can no longer to afford to be in business, they will innovate to reduce costs. That of course relies on competition. That is why you need competition. Otherwise yes they will charge as much as they can. They will produce it inefficiently as well because there is no driver to reduce costs, in fact high costs can be used to justify a high price.

That is why when you hear a pricing scheme that goes along the lines well product A replaces B so lets about the same price as B, even though product A is much cheaper to produce. You know you don't have much competition since it does not take into account production costs. In an environment with healthy competition competitors would simply come in and undercut you.

It works the same way for only one consumer. If you only have one consumer and many produces then the consumer can basically set the price to any point until the produce is no longer making enough profit to survive.

Re:What the market will bear. (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about a year ago | (#45263385)

People will pay whatever is charged up to the point that the market will bear.

This is true, but competition more often makes a product available to the market at a price that is much lower than what the market will bear. I'd be willing to pay $5 some days for a chocolate glazed donut, but thank goodness I can get them for 99 cents!

Don't forget cities that outlaw competition (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45262993)

I live in downtown Bellevue, WA next door to a Microsoft building and within three blocks of two others. Comcast has been at capacity on the block for over six years so they have not offered new service for most of the past decade. CenturyLink offers 2Mbps DSL. It's so slow because of the universal SLiCs that are used in the area due to oversubscription. The city does not allow anyone else to sell on the block. You ever wonder why Microsoft people aren't very pro-Internet? It's because for most of them their Internet access is very slow.

Re:Don't forget cities that outlaw competition (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#45263333)

Bellevue probably made the same deal with comcast et al as did every other city. You put in the wires
and you can have a monopoly for X years.

I'm betting X years isn't up, but its so close to being up that Comcast sees no money in doing the last hundred feet for
new apartments or pulling more fiber.

Deregulated = Monopolies? (5, Insightful)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about a year ago | (#45263009)

1. Where I live we do have choice between carriers, and it is not even a big city. 2. When I was in a densely populated area, Northern VA, we had choice too. Deregulation to allow competition causes monopolies? No, does not compute. Regulation creates barriers to entry that leans to monopolies or few providers, those who can get the government to protect their territory with police power. ATT was a national monopoly only until the feds allowed competition. Your local utility is only a monopoly as long as your local government makes them one, same with your cable provider, etc.

Re:Deregulated = Monopolies? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#45263055)

Where I live, we have precisely 2 choices: AT&T, or Mediacon.

Every once in a while, I see ads for some local startup offering decent speeds at fair prices, but it doesn't seem like they last more than 2-3 months before getting swallowed up by one of the aforementioned Big Fish.

Re:Deregulated = Monopolies? (5, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#45263085)

Your local utility is only a monopoly as long as your local government makes them one

The problem in the USA is that pressure groups, whether industrial or commercial have no counterbalance. The wrong sort of regulation stunts growth and competition. However zero regulation turns a free market into survival of the fittest with that survivor killing off the rest. Neither situation is good and a regulator who is able to stop consolidation and monopolies would act in the interests of the consumers.

That's what happens in most countries and it's what keeps a competitive market operating. The USA has allowed its corporations to become too influential and too powerful.

Re:Deregulated = Monopolies? (0)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#45263257)

However zero regulation turns a free market into survival of the fittest with that survivor killing off the rest

Only in socialist fantasy land.

In the real world, there's always a smaller, smarter, hungrier competitor, so the most politically-connected company gets the regulators to write rules that keep them out of the market.

Re:Deregulated = Monopolies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263349)

I always wonder where people think these non-capitalist ideas came from? Surely, if you go far enough back in time, there was no regulation because there was no code of laws at all. In the limit of human history, we had a subsistence lifestyle that was "capitalist" by default, albeit without much in the way of capital infrastructure.

So if the "real world" consists always of this perfect competition that annihilates all attempts at monopolization, where the hell did the first regulation come from that broke down this perfect, pristine system?

I'll give my answer to the question: it came from a land monopoly that eventually evolved into the things we call countries, and that particular monopoly is called the government.

Re:Deregulated = Monopolies? (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45263383)

Only in socialist fantasy land.

In the real world, there's always a smaller, smarter, hungrier competitor, so the most politically-connected company gets the regulators to write rules that keep them out of the market.

Horseshit.

In the real world there's always more large corporations willing to try to get the regulators to set up special deals for them.

In the real world, if you didn't have regulation, you would still be having babies die of being poisoned by melamine laced formula from China.

As long as there's an advantage to be had and profit to be made, there's always going to be things companies will do to maximize their profits which directly harms other people. If there's no regulation, there's no consequences.

The market as so often gets pitched to us is incapable of solving these problems.

Without regulation, Enron and other fraudulent things would happen all the time and your economy would be even more of a Ponzi scheme than it is now. Without regulation, your environment would be so polluted as to be unlivable. It really would be survival of the least scrupulous and with the most money, and everyone else would be fucked.

Maybe in your capitalist fantasy land all of these would be self correcting problems. The problem is it would take decades, kill loads of people, and destroy most of your society along the way. And it likely still wouldn't do half of what people claim it would.

Pure laissez faire capitalism is as much of a unicorn as the socialist workers paradise is. The problem nobody seems to like to acknowledge is pure capitalism will fuck you just as deeply as pure socialism -- only in entirely different ways.

Neither system can actually exist in the extreme forms people like to advocate. Taken to their extremes, they're both full of shit.

Re:Deregulated = Monopolies? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263177)

Regulation creates barriers to entry that leans to monopolies or few providers, t

Bullshit. quote examples.
I'll quote europe as a counter-example. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_competition_law

Re:Deregulated = Monopolies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263243)

Regulations don't create monopolies. People create monopolies. Regulations are just a tool. In the hands of sane, well-trained people, regulations are safe and useful. In the hands of evil morons, regulations can kill.

The trusts that were busted during the Theodore Roosevelt administration? Those were not created by regulation. The preceding era was probably as close to unregulated capitalism as we ever got. People called "robber barons" grew businesses and consolidated until they formed monopolies.

AT&T? People argued that a regulated monopoly was better than competition in that market. They simply used regulations as a tool to do that. It may have been the right thing at the time. Times changed. People changed. Regulations changed.

Now that that bogeyman is put to rest, Oh wait.. Halloween is coming. The bogeyman shall surely rise again...

Re:Deregulated = Monopolies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263391)

1. Where I live we do have choice between carriers, and it is not even a big city.
2. When I was in a densely populated area, Northern VA, we had choice too.

The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

Ease of Access (0)

flogger (524072) | about a year ago | (#45263023)

When all of the internet is being filtered through five or six main providers, it is easier for the NSA to funnel all of the information into its data analysis machines. Can you image the headaches the NSA would have if all the little mom and pop companies (if they were still around to do internet), would not provide for a free backdoor to the operations...

So now there are just a few providers. They get to charge whatever they want and the government will let the monopoly continue so the executives and share holders can smile all the way to and from the bank.

Fuck 'em. I'm done paying for interne@#$@#!43,

Re:Ease of Access (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | about a year ago | (#45263245)

When all of the internet is being filtered through five or six main providers, it is easier for the NSA to funnel all of the information into its data analysis machines. Can you image the headaches the NSA would have if all the little mom and pop companies (if they were still around to do internet), would not provide for a free backdoor to the operations...

Not really. All they have to do is put their taps on the backbone servers. Since everything is routed through them, they see everything.

It is always cheaper... (2, Insightful)

F34nor (321515) | about a year ago | (#45263025)

to buy a congressman than to build a better business. To all those you think America is a free market, go fuck you ignorant self then read up on Mussolini's definition of fascism.

No real choice (3, Insightful)

stewsters (1406737) | about a year ago | (#45263027)

Much like healthcare, most Americans don't have a real choice. I would pay less and get better healthcare and faster internet service if I could.

Why is this? I would guess that it's probably due to monopolies taking advantage of regulations to make competition stay away. Also probably in part to people wanting to watch specific sports and shows, and only being able to get them though one of the major cable/satellite networks. Shows like that are going to be hard for a startup internet company to replicate. Things like piracy, netflix, and itunes alleviates some of these problems, but a lot of people still prefer to get their games live.

The US has the mostest freeast market's in the wor (1)

Kerstyun (832278) | about a year ago | (#45263047)

ld. Freerast market's are moar efficianter. Moaer efficianter equals cost less because competitian. If it's cheapor in somewhayre else it's on account of somewhear else is FULL OF COMMUNAST'S.

in mexico is more expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263049)

we pay like 80usd for 10mbps, and we get a piss poor service

That's overly simplistic - population density key (0)

Crazy Taco (1083423) | about a year ago | (#45263063)

It's always a bad idea to compare the US to Europe or Asia. These kinds of comparisons always end up being overly simplistic. The US is a VERY decentralized nation in terms of population, and we have a far lower population density than they do. Compare Houston to Tokyo, for example... Tokyo is tightly packed and Houston is sprawling everyone. It's much easier to bring cheap, high speed broadband to a bunch of tiny, densely packed apartments than it is to bring it to every country lane. Asian and European cities are much more like LANs, and US cities are like WANs, to put it another way. If you want LAN speeds in the much less densely populated US, it is going to be very costly.

Re:That's overly simplistic - population density k (3, Insightful)

melonman (608440) | about a year ago | (#45263121)

The picture you paint of Europe is a little simplistic too. France has a few large cities, but the tenth-biggest one has less than half a million inhabitants. It has tens of thousands of villages with 1000 or less inhabitants. And you get a choice of cheap ADSL provider in most of those small villages.

Re:That's overly simplistic - population density k (1)

heypete (60671) | about a year ago | (#45263389)

Switzerland, where I reside, is similar in many ways (though at a somewhat smaller scale): the Zurich metro area has about 1.1 million people. Geneva and Basel metro areas are each around 500,000 people. The Bern metro area is about 350,000 people and yet the small suburb where I live (pop ~30,000 people) has a relatively large amount of competition: Swisscom (20 Mbps max) and Sunrise (30 Mbps max) each have DSL offerings, UPC Cablecom offers fiber-to-the-node with a EuroDOCSIS 3.0 coax last mile (currently the top plan is 150 Mbps max but this can increase in the future up to 400 Mbps), the electric company is running fiber to every property (it's at most homes now, with 90% availability in 5 years and 100% availability by 2020) and there's a variety of private companies that offer service over the municipal fiber. There's also several 3G and 4G mobile phone providers who offer service with varying speeds (up to 42 Mbps) and bandwidth caps with essentially total coverage.

In short: even with a relatively low-density city composed mostly of private homes and low-rise (under 4 floors) apartment buildings it's economically viable to have many competing firms providing high-speed connectivity. There's really no excuse why US cities like Houston, Phoenix, etc. shouldn't have a good amount of competition in regards to connectivity.

If anything, I'd posit that super dense cities like NYC and the like would be more difficult to run high-speed connections particularly due to the huge amount of legacy lines and equipment (e.g. gobs of twisted copper pairs in cable ducts where a modern fiber line would use much less space but replacing the copper would be disruptive and expensive) and the inability to just plop down equipment as needed due to limited aboveground space. In a lower-density city there's probably more room in cable ducts, places to put above or below-ground equipment boxes, less legacy cruft, etc. that should make it easier to build out high-speed networks and provide competition to customers. Ideally, things could be simplified by having a municipal fiber network that's owned and managed by the city (or, if they must, a contractor) but has service provided by competing private companies over that fiber.

Re:That's overly simplistic - population density k (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263159)

If you're looking at the US as a whole, your argument is sound. Yet why don't we see these extremely fast, cheap options in places like NYC?

Re:That's overly simplistic - population density k (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#45263329)

Is ANYTHING in NYC cheap? Just about everything runs at huge mark up in NYC for some reason or another. Internet access is no exception.

Outside of urban areas, the infrastructure costs for internet access is much higher, but INSIDE urban areas, the costs of labor, taxes, licenses, access fees all drive up the prices.

They downsize to take more.. (2)

Travis Repine (2861521) | about a year ago | (#45263067)

If competition is down, they make more on profit margin. They may benefit, but the consumer suffers the most since we have no choice but to choose a provider in one or two different companies, and many often times in especially rural areas it's just one provider for cable/internet. If we had more companies that sold cable and Internet, we wouldn't be seeing the problem of ridiculous prices for these services...

Hmmm .... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#45263075)

We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight.

So, the conclusion is de-regulation is bad for consumers, but good for businesses.

Gee, I'm shocked. De-regulation basically is carte blanche to screw over your customers and not be accountable to anybody.

The whole mentality of "it's good as long someone is making profit" will be the death of us.

The 'free market' is a lie, and it always has been. Consumers don't have perfect information, and corporations will lie cheat and steal to improve their bottom line.

That de-regulation would ever improve anything for consumers has always been a big lie.

Re:Hmmm .... (3, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year ago | (#45263315)

Day 1: Deregulation is evil!!!
Day 2: Deregulation is wonderful!!

In this story, all deregulation is evil and capitalism is an illusion. In the Tesla story, deregulating car dealerships [slashdot.org] is great and everyone loves it. In states where people can choose their own power provider, deregulation is great. When we deregulated phone sales, everyone was happy. (For those who don't know: In the 1970s you had to buy phones from the phone company. they were all big, ugly, and expensive. No answering machines were allowed, etc.)

Can we just stop the blanket "all deregulation sucks" posts? Removing bad regulations is good. Updating old regulations to reflect modern technology is good. But not all regulations are bad. It just isn't black and white.

P.S. What deregulation of high-speed internet access were you even talking about? How can you say it was good or bad without even knowing what is being discussed?

Monopolies suit the surveillance state (3, Interesting)

pieterh (196118) | about a year ago | (#45263083)

Once Upon a Time in America

Cheap communications has changed our society more than any other of our inventions and it has removed more tyrants from power than any weapon. Let’s take another step into the history books, back to May 1st, in 1844. Alfred Vail, working with Samuel Morse, was setting up the first telegraph line, and on that day sent the world’s first ever electronic message down the 24 miles of cable that were working, from Annapolis Junction to Washington D.C., to report the results of the Whig Party presidential nominations (Henry Clay won that nomination, and lost the subsequent election).

Just a decade later in 1855, the New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company and the New York & Western Union Telegraph Company merged to create Western Union. One assumes new-york-and-mississippi-valley-and-western-union-printing-telegraph-company.com was already taken by domain name squatters.

By 1900, Western Union operated a million miles of telegraph lines, and by 1945 it had an effective monopoly over the US market. As the New Yorker wrote [newyorker.com] , monopolies make spying easier. It is an easy and obvious trade: the government allows, by inaction or by intervention, a powerful telecommunications company to become dominant in a market through mergers and acquisitions. In return that company provides the government with surveillance.

The New Yorker explains how Western Union used its monopoly to serve those in power:

What we now call electronic privacy first became an issue in the eighteen-seventies, after Western Union, the earliest and, in some ways, the most terrifying of the communications monopolies, achieved dominion over the telegraph system. Western Union was accused of intercepting and reading its customers’ telegraphs for both political and financial purposes (what’s now considered insider trading).

Western Union was a known ally of the Republican Party, but the Democrats of the day had no choice but to use its wires, which put them at a disadvantage; for example, Republicans won the contested election of 1876 thanks in part to an intercepted telegraph. The extent of Western Union’s actions might never be entirely known, since in response to a congressional inquiry the company destroyed most of its relevant records.

It is quite visible how cost gravity drove communications down from an experiment for the wealthy to a mass market product so cheap even Western Union couldn’t make profits from it. By 1980 its telegraph business was dying, and the old Western Union business was finally closed in 2006 [wikipedia.org] , after 151 years of operation. The name was, as we know, reused for a financial services company which today enjoys a government-sanctioned monopoly.

Curiously, Western Union’s long telegraph monopoly seems to have had only a small impact on the size of communications networks. If cost gravity was operating fully, at 29% a year, and telegraph costs were in free-fall, there would have been 37M miles of telegraph by 1900. Instead, assuming Western Union had half the market, there were 2M miles. That is a factor of 16 over 55 years, which is not much, and a part of that can be accounted for by quality improvements.

I’m also not sure what to do with the random figure of 113 million kilometers [integer-research.com] of fiber optic cable produced in 2010. A cable is a bundle of fibers, and the traffic rates are rather higher than Western Union’s old stock. Has cost gravity been working?

One smoking gun pointing to a century and half of cost gravity being hijacked by telecoms monopolies back through AT&T and Western Union is the cost of the modern equivalent of a telegraph, the text message. Let’s say the cost is one cent per message today. The purchasing price of $1 was 30 times greater in 1850 than it is today. If we apply cost gravity backwards, doubling that cost every two years, it would have cost over two million trillion dollars in 1850, allowing for that 30 times fall in the dollar.

Clearly cost gravity stops working when monopolists run the table. Not only do we pay taxes to be spied on, we are also grossly overcharged for using the tapped lines.

Don't have a choice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263095)

...'Americans pay so much because they don't have a choice,' says Susan Crawford...

Wrong! It's because of excessive taxes and regulations.

Population density? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263123)

Population density of the above-listed nations as a multiple of the US:

UK: 7.5x more density
France: 3.4x more density
South Korea: 14.5x more density

So maybe it's more expensive because a lot of expensive technology has to be implemented and spread across wider areas to service the people in a country where the people are vastly more spread out?

Deregulation?! BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263129)

My city has kindly allowed me to have TWO providers I can choose from for internet - my phone company or my cable company and both are granted a monopoly by... my city... which then tells me I have competition so the prices will be lower.

The same city that, for some reason, has no power to force the cable company to offer ala carte channels. Or to regulate the phone company from charging me nearly $10 a month to have an unlisted number in the phone book. (Really? It costs $120/year to NOT print my phone number?!)

And lest we forget, dear children, when we lived in the oh so golden age of "regulated industries" that this kind ex-Obama official wants us to return too, that The Phone Company didn't lay fiber because nobody needed data unless they were willing to pay the cost to LAY THE CABLE... that Long Distance Phone Calls were a LUXURY because of the awesomeness awesome resources required to do such a thing.

So give me a freakin' break - The real reason we pay more for bandwidth here in the US is because the United States Federal Government lays hidden charges inside the phone bill as required costs. The laws of which explicitly state that the phone company may not itemize those charges because those might be misconstrued as a tax.

Pay to use would solve everything (3, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#45263133)

Yes, yes - it's a "natural monopoly", we get it, you studied economics in college.

This whole thing could be fixed by changing the model from "pay to access" to "pay to use".

The US considers the infrastructure a fixed resource - fixed radio bandwidth allocated to certain players, fixed easements given to certain players, and so on. When you have a fixed resource, you have high access fees and discouraged use: multi-year contracts, high monthly bills, data caps, throttled access, poor/no connectivity with no guarantee, and so on.

In a "pay to use" model, the government would mandate a fixed maximum charge per gigabyte of usage. Companies with a fixed resource could increase profits only by encouraging more usage: deploy newer and faster technology, connecting more people, encouraging high data-transfer activities (netflix, et al.), and so on.

Such a change wouldn't even affect the existing players: take the total cost of internet access and divide by total internet usage to come up with a fee per-gigabyte that would give the same income next year as they get with the current system.

The difference being, now they have an incentive for service, instead of an incentive for rent-seeking.

Spying costs (2)

MrDoh! (71235) | about a year ago | (#45263147)

All that extra hardware to spy on US citizens, that cost has to be passed on to consumers. Probably why it's hard to get fast speeds too, you have to wait till the gov upgrades their backend to handle the extra workload of everyone on faster links; when they get their new spy gear in, you get another 5mb.

Gotta Love the sidebars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263155)

The 32-year-old editor of a design magazine pays $37 a month to Comcast for a cable broadband package. She doesn't have a TV or a landline phone.

"It's fine in the majority of the apartment but if I'm on my bed, I have to hold my laptop three feet away towards the open doorway of the bedroom because the signal is so weak.

"It's a pain when you're in a 2am coma and trying to watch The West Wing and you don't really want to move. But if you're in the living room in the vicinity of the router then the speed is fine. I don't think it's good value because I pay the same for unlimited data on my phone and I expect more from a service at home on my laptop."

What does crappy wifi have to do with cable broadband packages??

Deregulated monopoly (4, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#45263167)

The big problem is that we deregulated the cable and phone companies, but we didn't remove their monopoly agreements and we didn't enforce any regulations barring them from entering into non-compete agreements. So you end up with a situation like where I live, where Cox Cable isn't subject to regulation regarding rates, services and quality, etc. but at the same time no competing cable company's allowed in (because Cox still has an agreement with the city making them the only cable company allowed to run cable on the public right-of-way), the city attorney routinely enforces that agreement (taking legal action when one of the two cable companies in the area tries to provide service in an area assigned to the other, even when that other company isn't actually providing service in the affected area), and there's an agreement between Cox and Time-Warner (the other company in the area) not to offer service where the other's already providing it. End result: all the downsides of a monopoly combined with all the downsides of completely-unregulated services. They can do whatever they want with rates, there's no legal basis for challenging them, and there's no competitor you can switch to. To fix the problem we have to remove this pseudo-deregulation: either they're fully deregulated and not allowed to bar competition from entering the area, or they've got a monopoly on service and are subject to regulation as a public utility.

Population Density Costs (0)

jerralb (44562) | about a year ago | (#45263179)

Cost/person in each country is the simpleton's approach to making the broadband-is-overpriced-in-america argument. Population density should also be factored in. Americans, in relation to the countries listed, are much more spread out which warrants a higher cost for infrastructure.

Infrastructure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263181)

There you go.

USA is home of Mercantilism, not Capitalism (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about a year ago | (#45263211)

There's your tax-subsidized patent-owned-by-public answer.

Capitalism drives down costs.

Mercantalism, which Adam Smith, the father of Capitalism railed against, provides large players with greater rewards for inefficiencies propped up by people who claim to be Capitalists, but depend on the lack of competition to win them billions.

Again? (1)

prisoner-of-enigma (535770) | about a year ago | (#45263247)

This old chestnut again? When are people going to stop comparing the US -- a vast geographic area with large areas of low population density -- with Europe? Or Korea for that matter? It costs more because larger areas need coverage compared to European counterparts. It costs more because rural areas get artificially-low costs because they're subsidized by urban areas with artificially-high costs.

No It's not. (2)

upuv (1201447) | about a year ago | (#45263259)

US broadband is more expensive than a few countries.

Also the available speeds vary widely as well. The US has a decent speed overall. Given that a significant amount of content is available in the US. The real world speed in the US is significantly better than other locations around the world. See: http://www.netindex.com/ [netindex.com]

Lets also factor in region locking of content. The US generally does not suffer from the issue. Other regions around the world are simple blocked from content due to the region they are in. Again the US is at a significant advantage here.

There are a lot of other countries that are a hell of a lot more expensive than the US. Case in point a first world country Australia.

Overall the Internet experience in my humble opinion in the US is vastly superior to most other locations around the planet.

Now lets also factor in penetration of broadband and average household income. The US fairs very well indeed when you start to think about these factors. However the US is still behind some notables. Korea for some time still be the bench mark that other countries try to achieve on all fronts. Other countries are embarking on plans to significantly improve speed, bandwidth, and costs.

This article should have been about. If the US doesn't do anything to upgrade it's aging internet infrastructure it will soon be one the the most expensive and poorest performing broadband countries in the world.

Woohoo! (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a year ago | (#45263273)

Another transatlantic pissing contest yay!

Because "freedom" and "capitalism" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263291)

Which is the same probable cause as for all other American problems.

Internet should be free, everywhere. So should education, food, water, housing.

Even with competition there are no bargains (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263309)

I have my choice of Verizon FiOS and Comcast and there's no attempt to undercut the other.

The only marketing is the continuous barrage of junk mail trying to sell me their 3-in-1 – phone, internet, TV – service; of which I only need internet.

Would it be any different if RCN had rolled out, as they contracted with the town to do? (They defaulted on the contract, but there were no penalty clauses, so the town declined to force them to execute as there seemed to be little point in doing so.) Anyway, it seems unlikely that there'd be any more competition, just one more piece of junk mail every month trying to sell me another 3-in-one package.

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263325)

It's to pay for the massive NSA inquiry, we pay, they spy. Novel concept...

interesting, but so what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263343)

and we pay far less for other things. welcome to "it's not the same place!"

i mean... duh?

but hey, circle jerk about this like being able to download your modern family torrents quickly is the most important thing.

In related news.... (1)

NotFamous (827147) | about a year ago | (#45263357)

Duh!!

The two most common explanations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263361)

The two most common explanations are:

1) The US is more corrupt and less free-market than those other countries, so we have greater barriers to competition.

2) The US' population is less geographically dense than those other countries, so we have more wire per person. Even if you don't live in a farm house in he middle of nowhere, it's thought that your bills subsidize the people who do live in such places.

Not just internet (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year ago | (#45263363)

Since the 90s most of the deregulation that has occurred has not benefited the public interest or the consumer, but instead benefited the shareholder by decreasing competition through mergers and acquisitions. Even in the recent financial collapse, we found out that there were certain businesses that were too big to fail and had to be bailed out by the government. By definition, any business that is so big that it's failure would be catastrophic to the economy and needs bailed out by the government means that there also isn't enough competition in that market.

So, sure, high speed internet costs more in the US than anywhere else, but so do most other things. After all, capitalism is for the benefit of the capitalist, not the public. That's why, previously, there were all of those regulations -- to protect the public. People forget that all of those regulations were put in place to protect against the robber barons. Well, they haven't gone away.

Local loop length (1)

TheSync (5291) | about a year ago | (#45263365)

I will remind folks that the US has much longer telephone local loop length than other countries.

Part of this is due to more rural and spread out suburbs, earlier deployment of telephone than other countries, but part of that may be also be due to CO consolidation during the firming up of ESS.

Yes! Get the administration involved. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about a year ago | (#45263403)

That way, just like the letter I just got from my health insurance company, I can enjoy "more choice" and see my rates triple. ObamaCare is enough. I don't want ObamaISP, too.

I know I know, I will be first against the wall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45263415)

"The BBC reports "Home broadband in the US costs far more than elsewhere. At high speeds, it costs nearly three times as much as in the UK and France, and more than five times as much as in South Korea. Why?...'Americans pay so much because they don't have a choice,' says Susan Crawford, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama on science, technology and innovation policy. We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight."

SHOCK!! OTHER COUNTRIES DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY AND THEREFORE HAVE DIFFERENT BENEFITS AND DIFFERENT DISADVANTAGES!!! OMG!

You know there is no such thing as a perfect system. It's a matter of choosing which imperfections you wish to live with.

Somewhere in Manchester someone could open up Dotslash.co.uk and read the following post:

"CBS reports "Taxation and the percentage of taxation that goes to bureaucrats in the UK and France costs far more than elsewhere. At high rates of entrenched control, just making a living costs nearly three times as much as in the USA. Why?...'Europeans pay so much because they don't have a choice,' says Susan Crawford, a former special assistant to President Angela Sarkozy on science, technology and innovation policy. We began regulating the hell out of high-speed internet access and low speed access and every other kind of access decades ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation of power and taxation in the hands of London career politicians, so left to their own devices, governments that supply regulations will charge high prices to the citizens, because they face neither competition nor oversight."

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