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Letting The Market Choose Decent Broadband

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the thoughtful-or-hopeful dept.

The Almighty Buck 307

An Anonymous Coward pointed out this piece on the regulation (and more to the point deregulation) of broadband Internet service. The article takes the viewpoint that solutions possible by relying on "the human spirit of innovation and creativity" are a better antidote than most of the broadband reforms so far proposed by politicians on behalf of lobbying groups. The author takes a stance some people may consider unrealistically optimistic, but makes some good points about the effects of arbitary deregulation.

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307 comments

The real competition (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 12 years ago | (#2112096)

The real competition isn't between vendors on the same medium (because really one would naturally think that the people that own the wires going to your house would likely have the possibility of being the lowest priced), but rather between different technologies: i.e. here in Ontario, like in most places in the States, we have ADSL and Cable fighting for the consumer's business, both backed by very large companies (the cable conglomerate and the telephone conglomerate), and now there is two-way satellite and in some areas high speed radio access.

Wahoo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2118739)

I did it!!

Re:Wahoo (-1)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143558)

I claim this FP as mine. AC's can't fp. It's like winning the lottery and not telling the state your name and address. You can't have it both ways.

Re:Wahoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2123975)

You're a moron. AC's get it all the time. The only way you could change it is if you were CmdrTaco.

spork t raper

Re:Wahoo (-1)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157755)

You're a moron.

Good one. This coming from someone who is names after a spork. AC's get it all the time.

Oh, I'm sure the do [goatse.cx]. Just tell me one thing: do you get it from your dad, or does your mom put a strap-on on? The only way you could change it is if you were CmdrTaco.

You should have quit while you were a head. Tell me one thing. Do all you AC's share a brain? From the quality of your posts it seems so.

Re:Wahoo (-1)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | more than 12 years ago | (#2115133)

Blah, I fucked that one up. Again: (and I know I'll catch shit for not previewing)
You're a moron.

Good one. This coming from someone who is named after a spork.

AC's get it all the time.

Oh, I'm sure they do [goatse.cx]. Just tell me one thing: do you get it from your dad, or does your mom put a strap-on on?

The only way you could change it is if you were CmdrTaco.

You should have quit while you were ahead. Tell me one more thing. Do all you AC's share a brain? From the quality of your posts it seems so.

Re:Wahoo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2134458)

Oh you're so butch, posting comments on a >400K account, then flaming AC's.

Any prick can create a 'troll' account and post shite all day complaining about 'gay' AC's not posting logged-in.

AC's can't fp

Yes they can, and they do. Live with it - (posting AC to annoy CmdrTaco).

Shut up asshole (-1)

Mike Hock (249988) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131233)

You and your dickless lifestile suck ass!

Your mother should not have married her borther!!

You are a dick!

Re:Shut up asshole (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2122889)

Instead of wasting your pre-pubescent years posting mindless drivel on /., why don't you go to school and learn how to spell?

First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2118740)

Phat pipe post...

I got yer fat pipe right here, biatch! (-1)

Mike Hock (249988) | more than 12 years ago | (#2133021)

Come here, bend over, and take it like a man!

You are a Dick!

Re:I got yer fat pipe right here, biatch! (-1)

CmdrTaco on (468152) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143943)

Well aren't you cuntastic? Hey, Mike, you know how you clean your head with a hankerchief going in one ear and out the other? It's not helping.

(BTW: I have a picture of your sister's ass. My gawd, she's h0t!)

Would any of this actually solve the problem? (1)

mystery_bowler (472698) | more than 12 years ago | (#2119234)

There are some DSL companies out there that are making it besides the Baby Bells, but I'm not naive. I know the Bells are the only ones who control the lines and they are making life really difficult for DSL providers. But would forcing the Bells to open up access cure the problem of accessibility and "the hard sell", that is, the fact that many consumers don't see an advantage to broadband yet?

Geez, most average Joes would rather plunk down their money on a new HDTV for clearer R-rated movies than get a broadband line they won't use (even if it is because they don't know what to do with it).

I would like to see the Bells have their grip loosened on the lines, even if it does mean more government intervention. But I would actually see that intervention on behalf of the well being of the consumer, so it wouldn't be that bad. Even given that, though, I still don't think it's going to cure the core of the problem unless this kind of government action actually results in DSL prices dive-bombing to levels that appeal to the consumer in a monetary sense (i.e. less than the cost of AOL).

Deregulation hasn't helped so far... (5, Insightful)

shagoth (100818) | more than 12 years ago | (#2119873)

This piece pretty much ignores the fact that in most states DSL services were already pretty much unregulated which is what allowed the babybells to run roughshod over Covad, Northpoint and Rhythms. There is simply no consumer recourse for being hosed over by the telco on data services once you cross into the realm of the unregulated services. Sticking to T1s and ISDN at least holds things in the realm of tariffed and therefore state regulated services. This has to date been the only reason that these services haven't been totally consumed by the telcos as DSL has been.

The consumer has already spoken in the marketplace only to find their DSL providers driven into bankruptcy at least in part due to predatory practices by the telcos. Predatory monopolies are bad, mkay.

AIDS and the PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2142577)

I noticed that the new york times is reporting that in addition to the PC, AIDS is also celebrating it's 20'th birthday. There must be a link.

Re:Deregulation hasn't helped so far... (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143878)

The reason these DSL providers failed is they borrowed and spent a fortune to build out their networks. But the customers didn't show up. Then their revenue streams weren't enough to cover the interest payments on their debt.

If your interest payments are $200 million a year, that's a lot of DSL lines you have to sell. Not to mention you don't get all the revenue from the line. The reseller gets some, Verizon gets some and then finally Covad gets a little. Stupid management is what banrupted them. That's why Covad is issuing stock for debt, to keep the interest payments.

No matter. I work for a start-up telco and were picking up a lot of business from the failures. Ex-Rhythms customers should help us a lot.I bet our sales force is already picking a few up.

The secret is not to take on $5 billion of debt and build a nationwide network before you get a single customer. The company I work for is expanding little by little as we expand our customer base.

even regulated. (3, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144181)

Even if the service is regulated, the large companies still run roughshod over the smaller companies and the consumer.

How long does it take PacHell to setup DSL as opposed to another company, that must wait on PacHell? Or, @home blocking port 80 because some people are stupid enough to run Windows servers, but not unblocking.

Since the wires are already in place, the playing field is not level.

Re:even regulated. (0)

PHanT0 (148738) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138206)

Go beyond that level, and you can even get to the service side of things that suck... ie, @Home...

what will regulation do for that?, eh yeah... right!

Re:Deregulation hasn't helped so far... (3, Informative)

Root Down (208740) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157585)

The telcomms really missed out in the dial-up arena because they did not think that they would turn a profit. This allowed some of the current access giants (AOL, etc) to get established, for better or worse. Don't expect them to give up another opportunity like that so easily, since now the financial gains are all but assured. They own the fiber optic cable (most or all) that is possbily the next big means of non-wireless transmission, too.

Re:Deregulation hasn't helped so far... (2, Insightful)

anothernobody (204957) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157672)

It just shows that anything that perturbs the free market is going to cause problems. Having a telco Monopoly thats sucking even just a fixed 20 bucks from every phone pretty much gives them as much money as they need to have free reign elsewhere. Who does this remind you of?

Spare me from the magic market (2, Insightful)

CaptDeuce (84529) | more than 12 years ago | (#2123996)

From the Libertarian tract (which some may call the article):

The politicians are missing something in their proposals: faith in the human spirit of innovation and creativity. Where there is a demand the market tends to supply.

Tendency is all well and good ... except when you live in an area where the you wind up either ponying up a lot of money or do without. Our family was living in a rural area where the only residential high speed internet options were ISDN at $120/month or some sort of of dedicated line (the telco wasn't clear on this) at $400/month. One other option was one way cable modem; upstream used a modem. DSL service was not available.

Now we live in a major metro area. Not only is DSL available, we have ... well, did ... have a choice of DSL providers. We orginally signed up with Flashcom which was an ISP using NorthPoint networks. NorthPoint and Flashcom parted ways so we got transfered to Telocity (with a rate increase and change of email address). Then we all know what happened to NorthPoint. Our service was disconnected for about two months before Verizon (nee ATT&T/Bell Atlantic) became our network provider. Then Telocity was bought out by Direct TV which is now it seems going to be bought out by either Murdoc's News Corp or EchoStar.

We've been DSL customers for less than one year. Without lifting a finger we've bcome subject to the whims of five different coporations. Excuse me if I'm less than thrilled with the power of the market.

The best way to foster this type of innovation is to get the government out and let the free market work its magic.

Sorry, but I don't believe in magic. It's difficult to tell before hand whether regulation will help or hinder in any given situation. I have no reason to believe that the author's crystal ball is better than my raisin bran reading.

Weakening the property rights of existing networks and requiring them to share their systems with competitors will quash innovation.

Unsupported assertion. It may or may not. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, business craves monoply.

Broadband != DSL (1)

Nelson (1275) | more than 12 years ago | (#2125803)

DSL is just one of many available broadband technologies. There is microwave, sprint broadband, cable, satellite and others.


Most of the posts sounds like sour grapes to me, dinky little companies go up against titans like PacBell and Qwest, they over extend themselves and they rely upon those titans and then they get plowed over when those titans wake up and start to actually compete. What do you want or expect? Are they supposed to disallow phone companies from the DSL market? Covad, Northpoint and Rhythms are where they are for a very good reason, they weren't bringing anything to the table, they were simply middlemen. Now if they were cutting deals with cable companies and microwave providers and phone companies and they were building their own infrastructure they might have a chance. The analog is wireless, how come those wireless companies can compete? Because they aren't relying upon their competitor's infrastructure. This has nothing to do with regulation or not, I'm a covad customer and very happy with their service but it's really qwest's service that Covad undercharges for. In 6 months, I'll probably have to start dealing with qwest more. I'm a happy customer but I rely on my DSL lines for business and Covad hasn't provided me with an escape route or done a lot to sure up their position.


I don't see how you can bitch about the resources a big company has. When you go up against giants they have more stuff, can last longer and will win unless you are on top of your game like nothing else and you bring value to the table. These DSL companies haven't been doing either. If they were good they would have got their hands in to different parts of broadband.


Don't give me shit about TOS either, that's a different matter all together. Lousy TOS doesn't mean you can't get broadband or cheap broadband. It's the area that these DSL providers should have really pushed the envelope to compete against the RBOCs who have strict rules, it's what shows that there is room to compete and do things better provided they protect themselves and secured infrastructure.

Re:Broadband != DSL (2)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 12 years ago | (#2154137)

"What do you want or expect? Are they supposed to disallow phone companies from the DSL market?"

Yes. They have a monopoly on the phone lines, and thus can give themselves a 'better deal' on renting/ using them. That gives them an advantage that is not tied to the better quality that is the heart of the touted free market. And yes, when it comes down to it, it is hurting me, the consumer. And no, I do not want that. That should seem self evident to me.
-CrackElf

Deregulation won't work until (5, Insightful)

JoeShmoe (90109) | more than 12 years ago | (#2128811)

...ISPs stop bundling services that people don't want don't need to offset higher costs.

If I want a webhost, then I can contract for the best webhosting provider. My ISP shouldn't matter. Right now I have four, count them four, webspaces that I am basically being taxed for by my various ISPs, but would never dare use because I have zero faith in their reliability. I'm paying for news servers that have speed-limited connections and don't carry any binaries groups. I'm paying for seven e-mail accounts that i have to throw away if I ever change ISPs, get filled with spam on a regular basis, and are POP3 only.

Why is my $40/50 going towards crap like this? I don't want any of it. I understand that the ISP is a cutthroat business but to me it still constitutes illegal bundling of services.

I want a basic IP dialtone. I think it should be provided as infrastructure by local government. It makes no sense to have four providers of high speed internet service running four lines to every neighborhood when for the same piece the city could run fiber and then lease it to any ISP that wanted to offer service. I am willing to see my taxes go towards that.

As far as webhosting/e-mail/etc I will run those myself. For anything I lack the experience to run, I'll sign up on my own. Everything is a la carte, that is the best way to foster competition and a healthy selection of services in a market where everyone pays based on their actual use of shared resources.

- JoeShmoe

Re:Deregulation won't work until (3, Insightful)

TheSync (5291) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131583)

I want a basic IP dialtone. I think it should be provided as infrastructure by local government.

I'm sorry, this is the most ignorant concept I can imagine. If you would like to see what government-sponsored Internet looks like, talk to Europeans whose PTTs finally were de-nationalized.

Moreover, I can assure you that your local government will not carry alt.binaries.pictures.erotica...infact, they will probably only provide you with "filtered" Internet that meets the "moral requirements of government." And when your Internet goes down, they will proceed at "government speed" to fix the problem, the kind of speed that comes from workers whose jobs are 100% safe no matter what they do, and they have no stock options.

Why is my $40/50 going towards crap like this?

Because you cost these companies $40/50 a month. The ones that don't charge you that will go out of business. "Extras" are thrown in to try to justify the price. But trust me, many many ISPs around the country are close to going under, and trying desperately to find new revenue avenues.

Internet-as-commodity is already bringing about a consolidation in the ISP market. The few mom & pops left will always have to charge more than the national/international players.

That said, while dialup IP prices are steady, you get a heck of a lot of Internet for your buck over broadband. Cable modem users I know are seeing real 1 Mbps download rates for under $100 per month. DSL users I know are getting 500kbps downloads for $30-$50 per month.

Decent Broadband? (1)

4n0nym0u$ C0w4rd (471100) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131598)

Now thats an oxymoron if I've ever heard one. I used to have Roadrunner (AOL/Timewarner cable ISP) and sure while it was working I loved it, but for the first three months (incidently all free) I ended up without an internet connection about 2-3 times a week....sometimes for over 2 days. The tech-support sucked (then again, whose ever experienced decent tech-support for a problem that a chimp couldn't figure out?). For some reason after my free trial period it began to work properly (what a coincidence)......eventually I got sick of the "service" when I was without an internet connection for more than a week (the only response from tech-support being "We don't know whats wrong, no we won't just replace the cable modem....it can't be faulty even though we've tried everything else 3 times, no we won't give you a free month, yes we are still charging you, if you don't like it go back to 56k"). Then I started to look into maybe getting DSL, but of course it wasn't available in my area (well technically it was available in my area...just not at my address). What do I use now? A 56k modem on the second worst ISP ever (MSN, only AOL is worse, damn 4 year subscription computer deals). Which brings me to some sort of point (if you can call it one)......all services suck, whether it's high prices, unreliability, or the speed of a Sloth, everyone gets shafted somehow, the whole industry needs a swift painful kick in the ass.

BTW, does anyone know if AOL/Timewarner give half-price service if you use your own cable modem (I remember seeing on their site that part of the monthly fee was the cable modem rental, but when I asked them about it I was given the "duh, I don't know" and told to E-mail so and so (who never e-mailed me back), recently I went back to their site and couldn't find any mention of the cable-modem rental being part of the fee)? I could definately save myself some time, money, and trouble if I install the damn thing myself and just pay them for service.

Do It Yourself Cable (1)

envisionary (238020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2141687)

From what I could gather from Road Runner's Site in my area [rr.com] this is the quote I pulled.

Will I be able to install the cable modem and software myself? This level of service is not currently available. However, in the near future we will be initiating a "do it yourself" program, which will allow those subscribers who are technically inclined to install their own modem and software.

However, in the past when I was debating cable vs. dsl I am very positive that I saw that you could get a significant savings if you self installed. I managed to get this info by further digging [rr.com]. Before you purchase and install a cable modem yourself, be sure to contact Time Warner Cable Customer Care to ensure that the cable modem is compatible with Road Runner systems. Click here for information about retail installation. Which will essentially tell you that you just need a DOCSIS compliant model. An example of this is the Motorola Surfboard modem - this is an external model - and in most cases is the one that RR uses themselves.

Unfortunately, after recently making a phone call about getting cable [my DSL provider is going up the creek (this is the 2nd time now)] I found that they no longer offer discounts on the monthly charge for those who provide their own modems.

On the install issue- this is what I came up with:
  • Installation if Road Runner does not supply NIC or USB adaptor $79.95
  • Installation if Road Runner supplies NIC or USB adaptor $99.95
It seems as though they no longer give a discount even for your own self install [ie- I plug the modem into a RG-58 coax jack] This used to drop the install to like 29.95. The one plus I did find was However, even prior to termination of cable service, we allow our customers to remove, replace, rearrange, repair or maintain any cable wiring located within the interior space of the customer's dwelling unit so long as such actions do not interfere with our ability to meet FCC technical standards or to provide services to you or your neighbors at time warner's site.

DSL in Kanada by Telcos is great! (1)

Solaris_Nexes (415148) | more than 12 years ago | (#2132313)

I use MTS Internet for my DSL services.

One thing I have noticed is that they are stable.

I've been constantly reading about ThisDSL Co. and ThatDSL Co., being bought out, or going out of business in the states at a fairly regular pace. Granted, the major Telcos (Stentor) in Canada more or less have the monopoly on DSL services, but then again, were paying about $40.00/month CDN, with no fears of going offline. Network has been stable, service efficient, customer service satisfactory.

For myself, going with a telco for service is the best buy there is, keep cable in the market to keep costs low/competition high. Must be a different world on the other side of the 49th... NexesBBS MajorMUD Realm: http://nexesbbs.dynip.com

broadband - baby bells - microsoft (4, Insightful)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 12 years ago | (#2132723)

"The best way to foster this type of innovation is to get the government out and let the free market work its magic."

Well look at what happened in the OS market with microsoft ... the free market and its magic. Now we have an OS that costs more than a new hard drive. I happen to get my dsl here in the states from a baby bell (bellsouth), because they make it 'easy' for you to get it from them, and hard to get it from their competitors. The result - cheap service, horrible support (i refuse to legitimize it by using the word technical, because they are about as technical as my grandmother, who is afraid of email), lots of gratuitous outages, no static ip, and lots of technical errors (I am going to change over, which, again, bs makes overly complex and difficult). My point is that when a single powerful entity that is funded from another source (in this case telephone revenue) where they have a stranglehold on the transportation medium, the free market fails. The service does not get better through competition.
-CrackElf

Re:broadband - baby bells - microsoft (2)

TheSync (5291) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131979)

Well look at what happened in the OS market with microsoft

Yes, I can run MacOS, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, BeOS, and about a thousand other OS's.

Currently, I can only get DSL, and it is a toss-up between Covad (who will probably go under soon), or Verizon.

Keep in mind GOVERNMENT REGULATION GOT US TO WHERE WE ARE TODAY WITH BROADBAND. Specifically, the granting of local monopoly telecommunication franchises. Our government created little Microsofts back in the 30's. Thanks guys!

Re:broadband - baby bells - microsoft (2)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131589)

Sir, your caps key is stuck. Err. If I recall correctly, the Government had to break up ma bell. Then they forced 'competition' by requiring that other services (be started ... allow to be started ? IANAL, and I do not recall the exact language anyway). If that had not happened, it would still be one big bell with no competition. And, not only would they still have a distinct advantage in the dsl market, but they would be able to present a united front.

Currently I can only get dsl through either bellsouth or someone who rents from bellsouth. Those that rent from bellsouth are at a disadvantage, and thus are more likely to go under, and thus fewer people subscribe to it, and thus bellsouth has the advantage (that does not even get into the whole marketing to everyone that get gets a phone thing, again using their monopoly in one area to bolster another, thereby bypassing the whole competition thing that is supposed to make service better for the consumer.) Bellsouth also puts an artificial wait time to allow other dsl providers to install on their lines.

How can you claim that the situation will get better by itself? The only people that I have met in person who seriously propose that are employees of Bellsouth.

-CrackElf

DSL Fight in Cali (2, Funny)

envisionary (238020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2132743)

I was doing my daily tech reading at work today and came across this tech article [go.com] about the fight over the "last mile" in California.

In a synopsis, this article basically describes the fight that the ILEC's are facing against the Baby Bell's everywhere. To the point where this group of ISP's has filed a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission on July 26 that charges SBC's Pacific Bell with favoring its own broadband service over competitors' services and trying to make ISPs sign an unfair contract that limits their rights to phone lines they lease.

And if this doesn't solve the problem - to pursue further court litigation.

Deregulation = Crazy. Just look at California! (1)

High Elf Pyrion (515033) | more than 12 years ago | (#2133544)

Seriously. Letting the market choose "decent" broadband won't work simply out of the fact that once the government leaves the big corporations alone, they're not going to do anything but screw us over. Deregulation caused the power crisis in California, so logically, if the broadband market is deregulated, it's going to get so brutal in the market that the Mom-and-Pop DSL providers won't stand a chance.

As usual... (1)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | more than 12 years ago | (#2133934)

"the human spirit of innovation and creativity"

...I guess they with this mean that people should be allowed to take other peoples work without paying.

Thats what usually is called innovation and creativity here on slashdot.

There needs to be a free market first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2138407)

Can someone please tell my why us Brits can't get proper broadband from more than one supplier (BT) yet?

Cause' Brits and their inbred monarchy suck ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2133864)

YOU don't deserve it!

You are welcome!

Something to be said in the spirit (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138685)

...relying on "the human spirit of innovation and creativity"

I suppose this is how we wound up with VHS, Windows and the bubonic plague... but don't let that hold anything up.

Let the Market Decide? (1)

Aaron M. Renn (539) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138979)

If you want to leave it to the market, why not also leave it up to the market to determine the correct level and rate of broadband deployment? Overinvestment in capital can be a bad thing as the decline of many of the fiber optic companies will attest. If broadband is really a "good thing" for consumers and business, then the market will find a way to make it happen. Being "behind Canada" or any other such reason is not a sufficient reason to set up a public policy in favor of increasing the rate of broadband rollout. Just as with analog high definition television, it could be that those who move first actually end up moving wrong and that a slower pace of deployment could actually end up being better and more efficient. How much money has been destroyed and how much consumer pain caused through the rollout of DSL by companies with poor business plans?

Sounds like.... (1)

moniker_21 (414164) | more than 12 years ago | (#2139411)

"the human spirit of innovation and creativity"

Just like we let Microsoft innovate? It's all they talk about, and look where that got us. I hate to say it, but I think I trust the government more then big business. At least with the government you can hold a person responsible for their actions. When it comes to big business, it's just a faceless corporation that can take a hit (such as a fine) and keep on chugging.

Re:Sounds like.... (0)

pertman (321944) | more than 12 years ago | (#2133865)

Absolutly wrong! You can sue a corporation. TRY sueing the GOVERNMENT!!! 6 of one, Half-a-dozen of the other.

too little/much deregulation (1)

jpostel (114922) | more than 12 years ago | (#2141049)

the bells and cable companies are both monopolies in separate markets. now that a new market (broadband) overlaps with their domains, they start pointing fingers at each other. i don't have a solution to the problem here. the government treated them too well for too long. i honestly think that the wire owners might need to be split from the service providers in both industries in order to benefit the consumer. it will end up being similar to the electric power industry. but we saw what a mess that was in Cali. i have to admit that as long as i can get 1.5Mbps from someone for $50/month, i will be a happy man.

It's your Bush (-1, Troll)

boboroshi (239125) | more than 12 years ago | (#2141464)

I didn't vote for the ba****d.

As long as George W is in office, you will see government say that "Business knows what is best for the American consumer".

please.

If that were the case, we'd all have 99 year loans and be buying all the worthless crap we could never need, but they've convinced us we do need. It'd be a twisted version of Demolition Man.

I want to see more government regulation. That's what regulation does. Protects citizens. Free market does NOT protect citizens. And it doesn't make for more competition in the sense of options. It makes for one big monopoly.

Re:It's your Bush (1)

NTSwerver (92128) | more than 12 years ago | (#2110595)


It really can be *your* bush.

Go here [pocketpresident.com] and get your very own W, then put him in your pocket or attach some srings and pull them.

I don't know about this... (2)

quartz (64169) | more than 12 years ago | (#2141467)

When I got DSL, I had 2 choices. One of them was Telocity, which I ended up with because:
  • DHCP + fixed IP
  • Linux friendly (including Linux installation guidelines for their kit in the manual)
  • Geek friendly - they explicitly allow you to run servers of any kind, as long as you're not doing anything "commercial"
  • Very reasonable downtime (it's only been down once in 4 months)
  • The one time I needed support, I spent less than a minute on hold, and it took them less than 5 minutes to solve my problem.
My OTHER choice was Verizon. Guess which one I chose. :-)

I don't know how successful Telocity has been. All I know is they got bought out by Directv and now they're known as Directv Internet. I haven't noticed any difference in service yet, but given that Directv is considerably bigger than the former Telocity, it's probably going to start getting worse after they complete the assimilation. Bottom line is, as far as I can see Telocity was a competitive company, offering way better service than any other DSL provider in the area, but the market didn't help them much. Maybe the market *was* the reason they decided to sell out. Maybe deregulation can only help the big sharks...

Typical Bell propaganda (5, Insightful)

isdnip (49656) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142578)

I'm amazed that /. wastes its front page space pointing to junk like this. It's just some undergraduate practicing his P.R. flak skills by rewriting some tired Bell company propaganda, washed liberally with conservative ideology.

But where's the free market when the Bells (and ohter ILECs) were granted their monopolies, which prevented anybody else, until 1996, from putting in competing facilities at all?

But where's the free market for "innovation" when the "wireless" options cited by the college kid author are, indeed, virtually nonexistent, under a government spectrum policy (remember, the airwaves are REGULATED) that is now aimed at maximizing license auction revenues? That results in high cost-per-bit cellular clones and ever-more-concentrated commercial broadcast groups. Wireless unlicensed options are very limited, by design. Satellite is limited by both spectrum availablity and the speed of light -- "innovation" isn't going to change the value of c.

Where's the free market when an incumbent monopolist is allowed to use their monopoly power (the stuff John D Rockefeller was notorious for) to crush any competition? Where's the free market when the Bell companies use every trick in the book to prevent living up to their legal obligations?

There are, of course, two different views of "free market". One is that the government shouldn't interfere with monopolies. The other is that the government has to limit monopoly power in order to let market forces work. Clearly the undergrad author is in the former camp, the "let's bend over and let the monopolies rule us" camp.

Re:Typical Bell propaganda (3, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 12 years ago | (#2147361)

But where's the free market for "innovation" when the "wireless" options cited by the college kid author are, indeed, virtually nonexistent, under a government spectrum policy (remember, the airwaves are REGULATED) that is now aimed at maximizing license auction revenues?

There are plenty of unlicensed and trivial-to-get license bandiwdth available for wireless broadband. The tough part is building the network. Look at Metricom Ricochet, which just went under, for instance, whose last-mile was Part 15 unlicensed 900 MHz and delivered better-than-ISDN to mobile receivers.

With regards to satellite, you can get broadband Internet service from geostationary satellites today. For much of the US, this is your only solution.

In the near future, we can expect stratospheric airships or solar-powered aircraft to provide a satellite-like service to major cities without the ping-time issues of geostationary.

Of course, I share the feeling that the FCC should make it illegal for any locality to grant monopoly telecom franchises, including phone/cable/fiber-to-home.

Rural residents should pay the true cost of their rural lifestyle, while those of us who choose to live in high-density areas should benefit from a range of services provided by a competitive market.

State-controlled Lines (2)

EvlG (24576) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143093)

It seems to me that telephone service (and thus internet service that runs over the telephone network) ought to be regarded as a public utility. It is clearly necessary for living in America, and something like 97% or more households have a phone.

So why doesn't the state just force the bells to sell them the lines, and then lease management responsiblity for the lines back to the bells? It would be a zero-sum transaction, but having the state own the lines would force them to play by fair rules. As long as the bells control the lines, they can play all sorts of games to keep others off. If the state controls them, and leases management back to the bells, suddenly the state can effectively police the lines to ensure everyone has a chance.

Why hasn't something like this been done already?

Blind hand is too slow, going with cable... (3, Insightful)

JWhitlock (201845) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143182)

Ah, the ol' blind hand of capitalism. "Remove regulation - the consumer will decide the marketplace!" This arguement only works when the consumer has a choice - otherwise, the fittest (baby bells) will just take over, then sit on their haunches and limp along (Sorry - no DSL for you. Don't call us, we'll call you. In the meantime, were you thinking of moving?)

I tried to get DSL, from the local baby bell even, for months. They never came out and told me "you are just too far from the CO". It was always, "we need to send a technician out, to see if there are any problems with your line. You'll need to be at home, in case you need to unplug phones." Finally, I had to go to DSL Reports [dslreports.com] to get the real scoop - I was borderline, and probably wouldn't like it if I got it.

So, I decided to try cable. The NEXT DAY they were at my house installing it, ignoring their own contract to install it in an inside wall, going through the attic. This was a snow day too, that many decided was too bad to go into work. I've had two outages since then, and I'm a very happy customer. That's Cox Cable of Tulsa, BTW.

I can see what they are doing, though. The Bell is dragging it's feet, while Cox is agressivly upgrading it's equipment, partially with Cable Modem subscriber's money. Soon, they will be the only game in town, and then, if they can do it, they'll offer phone over cable for a similar rate. If it was cheaper, I may have to go that way, or take the plunge, drop my land line altogether, and get a cell phone.

And that's why I'm a suppporter of deregulation - not because I think the slow-as-molassas Bell will suddenly pull themselves into the 21st Century, but because the evil merging cable companies should get a shot at the telephone market in a few years. Now THAT would be some true competition.

Pandering Politicians... (1)

toupsie (88295) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143837)

Well my congressman, Representative Jerold Nadler (D-NY 8th District -- i.e., Jabba the Hut), is now pandering to DSL users. On his latest franked constituent/campaign newsletter from his office the back page contained a form to cut out and grip about your DSL service. He is trying to gather up as many sheep as possible to bleat for more government regulation in our life. No thank you Rep. Nadler!

I am personally for the market deciding as long as that market is not manipulated by politicians or huge multinational monopolistic corporations. The Free Market is like an ecosystem, the strong animals will thrive and the weak ones will die. The job of the consumer is to know which animal to bet on. Buyer beware!

Re:Pandering Politicians... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 12 years ago | (#2111768)

I live in Queens and personally think Nadler is an idiot. Like most democrats he thinks the government should micromanage every part of life.

Failure can't be allowed since it's not fair for some people to succeed while others fail.

Re:Pandering Politicians... (4, Insightful)

partingshot (156813) | more than 12 years ago | (#2137523)


  • I am personally for the market deciding as long as that market is not manipulated by politicians or huge multinational monopolistic corporations

Then Later...
  • The Free Market is like an ecosystem, the strong animals will thrive and the weak ones will die

And thats when the strong animals become huge multinational monopolistic corporations...

Re:Pandering Politicians... (1)

gotih (167327) | more than 12 years ago | (#2116238)

so true, the free market is survival of the fittest. Fitness for a corporation means having the ability to survive dry spells (low earnings) through securing lines of credit with a bank. Or undercutting competetors at a loss to drive them out of business at which point you can raise your prices to regain lost profits. these are key strategies for any big business or market leader and have been used by the bells [nytimes.com] (ny times link) to great effect on competing DSL providers. and when competetors lobbies government to intervene in an unequal marketplace the government declares 'market rule.'

there is currently a de facto monopoly on DSL in many areas and as much as i hate to see more laws i think some sort of regulation (though i'm open to suggestions) may be necessary.

Re:Pandering Politicians... (1)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138788)

The alternative being the Government using MY money to prop up a "weak" animal so I can feel good about there not being a monopoly. No thanks.

The author of the article says he supports the free market, but then says he supports the federal government giving billions of dollars to companies who agree to provide access in rural areas. That's the kind of horseshit that liberals always temper "deregulation" with, and that's why we only every get half-regulation. In a free market, if it isn't profitable big companies won't do it. That is why we have government enitities that do things like build roads, deliver mail, etc. Proving this point the author points out that in Canada DSL has a much higher penetration than in the US, but he ignores the fact that the Canadian government mandated that everyone be able to get DSL.

Government Intervention != Free Market

If you are really in favor of a free market then you must accept that sometimes that will lead to monopolies, and sometimes it will lead to a service that you want not being provided to you. In some markets there is room for lots of companies, in some there isn't.

Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2110998)

has a much smaller population (1/10th USA), which is concentrated in cities. Therefore, when the larger cities (Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver) get broadband, a higher percentage of Canadians have access to it. The gubmint had nothing to do with it, and I suggest you look at Telus' markets out West. Telus is a private company.

Personally, I believe in a FAIRLY regulated marketplace, becaues the Big Lie that Libertarians and Conservtives use to prop up their laissez-faire ideals is of a 'free market' that does NOT exists and has NEVER existed ANYWHERE at any time.

Re:Pandering Politicians... (1)

partingshot (156813) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138693)


  • The alternative being the Government using MY money to prop up a "weak" animal so I can feel good about there not being a monopoly. No thanks.

But eventually the big strong animal becomes fat and lazy.
None of the lean and mean animals can do anything about it because the fat and lazy animal can afford powerful lobbyists that keep the animal fat and lazy...

using your tax money.

Re:Pandering Politicians... (1)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 12 years ago | (#2154279)

But eventually the big strong animal becomes fat and lazy.

Then it is a target for the formerly weaker animals.

None of the lean and mean animals can do anything about it because the fat and lazy animal can afford powerful lobbyists that keep the animal fat and lazy... using your tax money

If the market is really deregulated tehn buying all the polititians in Washington won't do a thing for them sore of regulating th market again. This is exactly why as long as we have government subsidies, preferences, low interst loans, etc. we will not have the benfits of a free market.

Re:Pandering Politicians... (1)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144547)

"If you are really in favor of a free market then you must accept that sometimes that will lead to monopolies, and sometimes it will lead to a service that you want not being provided to you. In some markets there is room for lots of companies, in some there isn't. "

If you ask me, this is a good argument against the free market. People should keep in mind that a "free market" should be a means to an end, and not the end itself. If a free market brings prosperity and economic growth to a majority of people, then by all means it's a good thing. However, if a free market screws over 99% of the people in favor of a powerful few, then it's not a good thing.

-J5K

Re:Pandering Politicians... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2164938)

Spoken like a true Marxist.

Re:Pandering Politicians... (5, Insightful)

Private Essayist (230922) | more than 12 years ago | (#2139104)

"I am personally for the market deciding as long as that market is not manipulated by politicians or huge multinational monopolistic corporations."

And since the DSL marketplace is precisely the sort of marketplace that is manipulated by politicians and hurge multinational monopolistic corporations, what say you now?

The free market is great for the telcos -- they get to violate the law and screw the consumer, paying piddling fines along the way, until all their competition is crushed and we are forced back into their arms. Yup, just the way I like my free market to operate!

My solution? Not sure. How about fines with bite for a start so that when telcos break the law in their thuggish manner they get discouraged from doing it a second time by the fine?

But Bells DON'T want to offer the service (3, Insightful)

gelfling (6534) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157398)

DSL like its ISDN ancestor are simply bullshit smokescreens that Bells pretend to offer so that they can claim unfair advantage of OTHERS in order to get rate protection. Don't you get it? Bells have no serious intention of offering broadband because they make too much money from low bandwidth analog phone lines. If they dick around for a 10 years or so putting up some fake DSL then they can claim that the reason it's all so hosed is because of the evil CLECs, ILX's and cable companies getting some bogus unfair advantage. Ergo the Bells, since they are the corporate underwriters of many Congresspersons, get to pressure their legislative suppliers with better rates and terms.

Re:But Bells DON'T want to offer the service (1)

jrsimmons (469818) | more than 12 years ago | (#2116448)

Somehow I have trouble seeing the Bells as so naive. Do you really think that they believe they can keep broadband from becoming a reality? I don't think so. Rather, it seems much more likely that the current slow move towards broadband is a strategy to keep competitors away. Would you spend millions, or billions even, on infrastructure if you thought there was a good change the government would then force you to open it to your competitors? Instead, why not allow them to try it on their own (which doesn't seem to be working very well) and do what you can to hinder them? If one of these startups actually survived to the point of challenging a baby bell, I have no doubt we would see remarkable improvements in service from them. Till then, though, who can blame them for dragging their feet? If they drag long enough, they just might outlast everyone (hey, that's what a monopoly is all about, right?) and then they can make as much as they want on broadband.

Monopolies in General (3, Insightful)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157489)

Once a company becomes a monopoly, they use their power to wipe out the playing field. They do this by failing to provide services to small competitors, or by giving away free products that competitors are charging money for. They know this is anti-competitive when the perform these actions. They know that the end result could be litigation and end in regulation. But the decisions are made, knowing full well that regulation would come only after a couple years in the courts. In the mean time, the monopoly is flourishing, the execs are making a fortune by patting themselves on the backs with bonuses, and if it comes down to being dragged into court and it looks as though the money may stop rolling in, the execs resign. The people that made the decisions got rich, and they're going to keep the money, so what do they care?

The only way to stop this kind of behavior is to provide a fast way of monopolistic evaluation and possible regulation. If the execs knew that they wouldn't have time to screw everybody over for their own personal benefit, then they most likely wouldn't. Personally, I'd like to see regulation over any behavior involving a monopoly. A government official that works onsite, that can immediately ask the question "Why's it taking so long to respond to your competitors request", would be a good thing.

Of course, that's just my opinion, I could be right.

On site regulation (2)

flatrock (79357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2140701)

I've worked as a contractor for the government before. There were a considerable number of civil servants who's job it was to to oversee us and to make sure we were doing our jobs well. They were nice people, who tried to do their jobs well, but they rarely had much of an idea what was going on. They weren't very technical people. If you require highly technical people, then someone will sue because they felt they were competent enough, and that they were being discriminated against. Their jobs ended up being to try and guess if they could believe us when we told them we were doing a good job. They would investigate complaints, but it's it's easy to provide doubt that you did something wrong, even if you did. No one likes someone going around pointing fingers, and there people have to work with you wether they like it or not.
In the end you have ineffectual oversight, that costs a lot of money. The costs of that oversight are passed on to consumers either through a direct tax on the service, or some other tax. In the end consumers get less for more.
Needless to say I got out of government contracting. The politics were frustrating, and there was just too little of an incentive to do a good job. There were some people who continued to do exelent work in that environment, but it was burning me out, so I left.

Deregulation Snares (1)

HeelBiter (261307) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157505)

This brief article (http://www.econ.wayne.edu/~agoodman/2010/week9/CA BLE.HTM) from the NY Times comments briefly on the out-of-control inflation in cable services thanks to deregulatory actions dating back to 1996. It seems the government expected satellite and telecoms to be a bit more competitive with cable (though this article pertains mainly to cable television, I believe the same to hold true with broadband as well).

Parallels with British Telecom (1)

3141 (468289) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157517)

Although the article is a little vague, I have to agree with the author's main points. In Britain, where I live, British Telecom has a pretty strong grip on the market (despite its incredibly large debt). This has resulted in an very slow and patchy roll-out of DSL services, and if your area is DSL ready, you're going to have to fork out a lot for it. Last time I checked it was about forty pounds (fifty-five dollars or so) per month.

While there is SOME competition, as BT hold so much of the infrastructure, most rival companies seem to be renting it off BT and selling it on. This is clearly not too good for the consumer. I dearly want DSL, but like so many in this country, my 56k modem is an example of what the consumer ends up with when privatising a public service goes as badly as it has done here.

Re:Parallels with British Telecom (2, Interesting)

NTSwerver (92128) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144180)

British Telecom has a pretty strong grip on the market

Actually, they have the monopoly on the infrastructure (local loop). OFTEL have been limp-wristedly attempting to unbundle the local loop for what seems like eons, but other telcos are still unable to access BT's exchanges.

This has resulted in an very slow and patchy roll-out of DSL

True, however, there are much more attractive looking services available/soon to become available. For example, NTL/Telewest's £25 ($35US) / month cable modem offering [broadband-cable.co.uk] looks pretty good. Later this year, when the local loop is finally unbundled, you can expect to see prices dropping as the telcos start to compete for our custom.

I've been waiting for affordable broadband internet in the UK since 1997. Four years later it's just starting to become available.

Sounds like British Telecom's business model (3, Informative)

Dr_Cheeks (110261) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157637)

We've got exactly the same thing happening here in the U.K. British Telecom has been told by our telecomms regulator (OFTEL) to open up the local loop to competitors, but it's dragging it's heels. And since OFTEL doesn't exactly have a huge amount of power, the situation isn't changing too quickly.

Add to that rumours and allegations of stuff like BT giving it's own (not particularly big) ISP the lion's share of DSL connections while the two biggest ISPs in the country get a pathetic fraction of the broadband lines (AOL and Freeserve), and I guess a lot of people are going to be waiting a long time for broadband on this side of the Atlantic too. And seeing as I live in a fairly rural area (as rural as anywhere in the West Yorkshire conurbation gets anyway), I guess I'm not going to see any high speeds at a reasonable price for my home machine for several months yet.

Re:Sounds like British Telecom's business model (2)

clare-ents (153285) | more than 12 years ago | (#2130273)

As a UKian with ADSL [whoohoo!] because I work for a small business ISP I'm well aware of the problems.

We can't match BT's Openworld service on price for home connections because only we'd break even before we've actually included any of our costs. It is cheaper for us to send customers who we want to have ADSL to Openworld - BT's reseller than it is to sell them the service ourselves.

The business connections make a profit [512k - 2Mbit with ethernet] but the home connection is pure loss. That's why we don't sell it, we only buy those connections for staff members.

Oh, we also get the same allocation of DSL lines as Freeserve. That's comedy since we only have 40 customers.

All about money.. (1)

Erasei (315737) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157671)

From what I can see, regulation could only directly affect prices. While they might try to order the bells to provide a more reliable service, I don't really think it would happen. If the bells are trying to kill out all other competition so they can jack prices in the future, that is a "Bad Thing", but I don't think that government regulation will help what plagues DSL most, reliability.

Wishful thinking (4, Insightful)

baptiste (256004) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157673)

The bottom line is, most DSL and cable providers are monopolies. The telcos want total control over the DSL market just like they have control over the telephone market. Makes them more money.

But, in the end, I don't see any other way - regulation won't work. The unionized telco workers with mgmt blessing delay DSL orders for CLECs into oblivion - hell, even if you get DSL FORM the telco it can take weeks and tons of hassles - it shouldn't be this complex. No regulation will change this. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to ever see serious DSL competition - same thing applies to cable modems. The only reason cable modems blew ahead of DSL is the cable companies planned their deployment and save for network bottlenecks which got worked out, they've executed. The telcos are still driving blind.

As much as I hate monopolies (*cough*Micro$oft*cough*), in this case I doubt there are other feasible options. Competing techs (Satellite, wireless, etc) are to immature and cost too much.

Thie ONLY saving grace is cross technology competition. The only thing keeping cable modem prices down is DSL - If DLS disappears, all you cable modem user can rest assured your rates will go up FASTER than your normal cable bill - count on it. But with DSL out there, its a threat.

DSL is to cable modems what satellite is to cable TV - it provides enough competition to keep the cable prices somewhat lower. Without Satellite TV competition, cable prices would be much higher because they are still a monopoly. Its amazing to think that combined, Echostar and DirectTV would be on par with AT&T in terms of the # of customers for 'cable' service. Like #2 nationwide.

So he's right, regulation probably won't work, but if we do give the telcos free reign over DSL, they better not screw it up or we'll all be stuck with RoadRUnner paying whatever AOL wants to charge!

Personally, I love my DSL connection - offered by a Mom & Pop phone company. Prompt service, installs happen quicklyt, upgrades are a phone call away - love it. :)

Re:Wishful thinking (2)

flatrock (79357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2122122)

The unionized telco workers with mgmt blessing delay DSL orders for CLECs into oblivion - hell, even if you get DSL FORM the telco it can take weeks and tons of hassles - it shouldn't be this complex.

In my experience, the workers weren't delaying the process. The phone company just didn't hire and train enough of them in areas where they weren't offering DSL yet, but competing CLECs were. Getting telephone service working for people is much more important than installing DSL, so those calls got put off over and over again. Howevr, they are hiring and training more technicians, in areas where they are beginning to provide DSL.

Thie ONLY saving grace is cross technology competition. The only thing keeping cable modem prices down is DSL - If DLS disappears, all you cable modem user can rest assured your rates will go up FASTER than your normal cable bill - count on it. But with DSL out there, its a threat.

I'm sure there's some truth to this, but there's a lot of places you just can't get DSL. It's limited by line quality and the distance to the CO. So there really isn't any competition to cable modems in a large percentage of their market. The price is most likely limited to what they think customers are willing to pay, not the price of the competition. Cable modems just became available in my area, and I'm signing up for the most basic cable (mainly broadcast stations) and internet access. The total monthly price is about the same as what I'm currently paying for my 144k IDSL line, which is my only other choice. The cable company also lets me self install the software, and are even selling me good quality cable TV cable at $0.10 a foot, so I can run outlets where I need them. Did I mention that they have an on time gaurentee for their service calls. They miss a serivce call, they give you a credit on your bill. I think the amount was about $20. I'd rather they pay me cash if they make me wait around and don't show up, but it's still incredibly better than dealing with the phone company.

Re:Wishful thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2130660)

too long to read... sorry

Only thing keep DSL $ down is Cable too. (3, Interesting)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 12 years ago | (#2144536)

It works both ways.

The local paper ran an article showing that BellSouth changed their charge for a dsl line to ISPs to $33.00. This was done so as to "standardize our rate plan" or some other hogwash.

This means that my $49.00 a month DSL is most likely never to go down, as my ISP makes $16.00 over the cost of leasing the DSL line from BellSouth. If anything I fully expect my DSL to cost nearly $60 a month within 2 years.

Until their is a 2-way BB solution that does not require telco cooperation we are going to get jacked.

As far as cable goes, hey, more power to them, while they are available in my local area I can only hope it keeps BellSouth and my ISP from upping my rates.

Re:Only thing keep DSL $ down is Cable too. (3, Insightful)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138208)

If anything I fully expect my DSL to cost nearly $60 a month within 2 years.

So what?

Is it really that horrible a thought that we might all have to pay 1/16th of the cost of a T1 for T1 speeds?

Everybody wants legislators to impose restrictions on the behavior of other people that they wouldn't tolerate if imposed on themselves.

If it cost you $2 in materials and time to bake a pie, and you held a pie sale, would you tolerate the government requiring you to charge no more than $2.25 for the pie?

It's not like broadband is a right or a necessity; it's a luxury, and one that's expensive to provide. But we're all demanding better service and lower prices. High speed, good service, low price; pick at most two, folks, you can't have all three.

Re:Only thing keep DSL $ down is Cable too. (2)

jhoffoss (73895) | more than 12 years ago | (#2133543)

uh, I think T1 speeds are a bit faster than 256 Kbit, which is usually the standard guaranteed transfer speed of DSL. In my area, 256Kb is ~$40, 768Kb is ~$80.

If a T1 gets all of 768Kb/s transfer speeds, then yes, DSL is great. The comment above has a valid complaint about paying $60 a month though, especially if he's paying $40-45 for the same thing today. Inflation is one thing, but a 20% increase (which is what we're speculating) over 2 years is a huge jump when you consider there will not (presumably) be any difference in service speed/reliability over what we get now.

Re:Only thing keep DSL $ down is Cable too. (2)

baptiste (256004) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138956)

Is it really that horrible a thought that we might all have to pay 1/16th of the cost of a T1 for T1 speeds?

That is assuming that the cost of a T1 (> $1000/month) is fair market value - remember, T1s are regulated and tarriffed meaning they generally are more expensive and competitors can't easily provide them. So in this case its apples to oranges.

The idea here is not to regulate cheap prices. Its to avoid being gouged by a monopoly - the whole basis for anti-trust laws. If one company has complete or almost complete control over a market, the price of their product or service is not likely set by market forces/competition.

And of course monoploies rarely behave themselves. The most obvious example, tools the telco sgave the CLEC to pre qualify people for service (ie are you close enough, is yoru CO wired, etc, etc) Often, the CLEC got rejections from this sytsem only to have the telco send a DSL postcard to the users a week later offering them the telco DSL. Talk about shady!

Re:Only thing keep DSL $ down is Cable too. (2)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131980)

That is assuming that the cost of a T1 (> $1000/month) is fair market value - remember, T1s are regulated and tarriffed meaning they generally are more expensive and competitors can't easily provide them. So in this case its apples to oranges.


No, it's not; because those oranges are the costs that provider has to pay to get YOU your bandwidth out to the Internet.

Remember, he doesn't just have to pay to provision you; he has to pay to have enough capacity out to the Internet so that you won't get 1,000ms pings and 1KB/s transfer rates, or you'll go somewhere else.

And he's not paying DSL rates for that bandwidth to the rest of the 'net; he's paying tarriffed telco DSx rates.

Re:Only thing keep DSL $ down is Cable too. (3, Insightful)

jmauro (32523) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142029)

Is it really that horrible a thought that we might all have to pay 1/16th of the cost of a T1 for T1 speeds?

It is when there is no justified reason for doing so other than to prevent T1 sales from being destroyed by a cheaper alternative. DSL prices don't have to be so high, they're only high because the telephones are a local monopoly and don't want the more profitable T1 sales to be hurt.

Re:Only thing keep DSL $ down is Cable too. (2)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 12 years ago | (#2142228)

You're forgetting that you're using bandwidth not just over your DSL connection, but over the far more expensive connection out to the rest of the Internet.

DSL prices are too low to make a profit. They're loss-leaders right now, and the only people who can afford to charge $40 or $50 a month for it are those who can absorb the losses for now in the hopes of building a brand identity that they can sustain later when they charge a profitable price.

But, in any event, since when is "because I want to charge this much for my product" not a "justified" reason for pricing? It's their circuit, their hardware, their bandwidth; what right do you have to it? None.

If I have a used car with a blue book value of $2,000, and you want to purchase it, and I refuse to sell it for less than $3,000, have I done something wrong? No; it's my damn property, and you're free to not buy it.

You're free to not buy DSL. If it's too expensive, don't buy it. Nobody's putting a gun to your head.

There isn't much money out there (2, Insightful)

swordboy (472941) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157680)

Right now, it costs an arm and a leg for the broadband ISPs to get that last mile in. I say, let em finish eating the cost and *then* deregulate. This helps prevent more Covads from going under.

When I ordered AT&T cable internet, they sent a tech to my house for the *entire* day since I did not have cable to the house at all in the first place. I'm sure that AT&T still has not recovered the cost of this with their $40/month service. I'm not sure that things are much better for DSL. The Ameritechs out there can eat the cost for now as they have other bread and butter to play with.

SLow like crap (1)

Sepultufart (468385) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157694)

I recall there was an article on how broadband is overcrowded and slowing down to a crawl... http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/WEBONLY/publicfeature /jun01/cmode.html Who cares if they regulate it, unregulate it... We'll be all back to 53K Modems anyway! They can hang themselves with the cable for all I care ! That's also probably why the shares are going down.

broadband "reforms" really end of lab period. (1, Interesting)

philipm (106664) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157701)

Actually its funny that this article about "reforms" came up. When you do get to broadband you will find that the earth has already been scorched. Slashdot, like most major media refuses to run stories on how the major broadband ISPs are blocking random ports at random times. In particular lately there have been tons of stories on code red, but nothing about BY FAR its biggest fallout. AT & T has blocked incoming port 80, completely refusing to justify and widely advertise its action.

Those of use that remember, are starting to have painful flashbacks to the times when you had very little choice in phone services. The breakup really did nothing to improve that. It merely replaced regional monopolies with slightly smaller monopolies, while at the same time providing political cover to say something was actually done.

As usual, slashdot, prints random tidbits that some monkey stumbled on, but the only real editor we have is the emotionally unstable John Katz, who helps no-one.

What this article is really talking about is the fact that the REAL plan is to first co-opt broadband to remove interactivity from it, and only then to actually let the public have it. They let a few lab-rat areas have it. Once they figured out how the public will screw them, they have to close off the holes and THEN screw the customer.

Re:broadband "reforms" really end of lab period. (-1)

l33t j03 (222209) | more than 12 years ago | (#2133866)

Slashdot runs things that fit with the political ideology of the Slashdot crowd. When an article shows up that allows them to use phrases like "the human spirit of innovation and creativity", they post it. If not, no post. The content of the article doesn't really matter, all they want to to create an emotional reaction so they can get some page impressions.

While we're on the subject of "the human spirit of innovation and creativity", lets take a look at whether those qualities will bring about the wonderful love fest of bandwidth that Slashbots think it will:

Exactly how is innovation and creativity going to topple Verizon or AT&T? What you people want is for someone to provide a lot of bandwidth that has absolutely no restrictions on use, so you can run web sites or FTP servers or IRC chat rooms or whatever. You also demand 24/7 reliability, good tech support, DoS protection, Open source servers, and low latency. All of that and maybe you'd like to spend about $20 per month with the possible alternative of having the government legislate it all into a 'right' so the wealthy can subsidize it for you.
The funny thing is that you actually think that "the human spirit of innovation and creativity" is going to deliver that. As if those are the qualities that are needed to survive in the business world. As if some guy who uses his "human spirit of innovation and creativity" isn't just going to sell out to Verizon, or get crushed by them in a marketplace dominated by people who base their decisions about which ISP to use on TV commercials or what they saw on the side of a NASCAR car. Face it, no matter how much you whine on a weblog your TOS will always be the same, you'll always have to pay a lot for boradband access, and you'll always send your money to a company you hate.

i dont give a $hit... (-1, Offtopic)

Atrophis (103390) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157720)

i really dont care what happens in DSL land any more, im tired of trying to keep up... however, if i were to loose my pipe, i'll be pissed!

Verizon (4, Informative)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157733)

"Broadband's share of the Internet market in Canada is twice as high as in America."

Obviously you can't compare to Canada, because they don't have the evil Verizon killing off the competition.

Verizon's favorite four-letter word [everything2.com]

Canada (3, Interesting)

freeweed (309734) | more than 12 years ago | (#2119230)

Actually, typically what you see in Canada is a multi-monopoly system, legacy of the days when damn-near everything was a Crown Corporation (government owned and run). The phone system just privitized in the last few years here, for example. Net result? No one bothers competing (and in many cases legally still CAN'T), and you have no options.

Long distance rates took years longer to drop than they should have, local service is getting progressively more expensive, and cable (as in TV) just generally stinks. Broadband connections however... you'd have to pay me about 4x what I'm making here to move to the US.

While this goes against everything I believe in, I'll still say it again and again and again: sometimes, LESS choice can mean BETTER service. Of course, this assumes that your #1 priority is your bandwidth. Like me :)

Re:Canada (3, Insightful)

topham (32406) | more than 12 years ago | (#2139467)

difference is, while Canadian companies want to make money, they don't quite seem to have the same level of GREED american companies have. The Canadian companies like to atleast offer a service when they empty your wallet. While the american companies suggest you be thankfull while they empty it.

By the way, there is no money is residential phone service. Hence, no competition, but there is some competition for business phone service (local and long distance).

Re:Canada (3, Insightful)

isdnip (49656) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143535)

Well, no, your history is wrong. Perhaps you're so young that you're confusing Canada with Cuba?

Canadian telephone service wasn't a Crown Corporation (like, say, British Telecom's forebears). Bell Canada was once affiliated with AT&T, though spun off some decades ago. Several western provinces owned their own telcos. And some mom'n'pop independents still exist in parts of ON and QC.

Broadband's easier in Canada in part because there's less sprawl. It's a big country but there's a clear city/country break. ADSL doesn't work more than around 15,000 wire feet from the DSLAM (in the CO). Canada's population is largely clustered in cities and towns; large-lot-zoned suburbs (which create long loops) don't rule as they do in much of the USA. So average loop lengths are under control, and you can reach half of the country's population within reasonable range of a hundred COs or so.

Monopolies don't help. Unregulated monopolies really don't help!

Re:Verizon (3, Informative)

Hee Hee Hee (310695) | more than 12 years ago | (#2139909)

In the "Verizon" four letter word link [everything2.com] you cited:

Take all of the wires in the street, and all of the telco switch facilities and give them back to the people. Make the whole infrastructure of monopoly regulated telcos belong to the people who have paid for them. They are too valuable a resource to allow to remain in the hands of a few unscrupulous companies any longer. These companies were paid a GUARANTEED profit for decades. They actually made more money because they over-built their systems. Since we already paid for it, it is righfully ours.

A cool idea! I'm all for keeping government out of our lives, but, there are times when it's necessary. We own most of the roads, most of the water and sewage distribution and treatment facilities in the U.S., why not information distribution? Look at the Interstate highway System [tfhrc.gov]. That was a long-term project designed to enhance our infrastructure. This sounds pretty close, if not identical, to the digital information distribution troubles we're having now. A far-sighted approach to wider bandwidth distribution to the masses might be something that the government needs to get in on.

The Interstate Highway System? (1)

invenustus (56481) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138302)

Would that be the same interstate highway system that forced the safer and more efficient railroad industry to pay for its own economic destruction?

When you use government force to fund something, you're inevitably hurting something else that would otherwise compete with it. I want a TRULY free market governing my broadband, not a different set of reregulations every year that grant monopolies to campaign contributors.

Re:Verizon (1)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157440)

I'll agree with that. Verizon delayed running a trunk to the local cable company for several months. Most likely so they can decide whether they wanted to bother deploying DSL before the cable modems arive.

Broadband woes... (3, Funny)

angst7 (62954) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157742)

Regulation, deragulation, whatever... All I know is my DSL was unreliable, and my cable service while faster, is bogged down with Code Red infected Windows boxes.

I think I'm going to start the first Aldus Lamp internet. Perhaps with a redundant semiphore backbone.

Yeah... I'll be rich :)

The bells are in business (3, Interesting)

Enry (630) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157757)

As Cringley said a few months ago, the bells got the advantage of offering long distance in their region if they opened up their lines for broadband. Given the drop in long distance prices, the bells have no incentive to open their lines to competition.

Having a fully open market would be a nice idea, but that's just it - an idea. The Bells have no incentive to open their lines, thus all the DSL companies fall flat on their face (with a bit of help from the Bells) and the Bells can then offer their DSL service. The Bells own the wires, the Bells ran the wires, the Bells can do whatever they want with them. If you want anything different, you either have to buy service from the Bells, which is happening now and obviously failing, or regulate the Bells and force them to open their lines.

I'm within 3 miles of one oh the high-tech centers of the universe - rt 128 in boston. I am about 3 miles (officially, 18k feet) from the CO, thus DSL will not be available. Verizon probably won't be building a new CO to get me DSL service. I'm stuck with the "name of the month" cable service that used to be MediaOne, then AT&T, now AT&T Broadband, soon to be ??. Remind me how deregulation will change my situation...

Re:The bells are in business (1)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 12 years ago | (#2138687)

For the most part the people screaming about de-regulation have no idea what they are talking about.

Imaging if the ILECs who own all of the copper running down the street and into everyone's house could charge the CLEC's any rate they wanted for them to use that copper. Essentially you let the LEC's set their competetors prices. The only CLEC's left would be the ones who can provide their own access (read: cable companies and wireless providers). Sprint is attempting to do this with ION, and AT&T is doing this with "Digital Phone Service" but both of these services are only available in limited areas.

Now take it a step further, the LEC's aren't required to allow access to the cable plant, or the CO. If you want to be an IXC and service the LEC's customers you have to pay UNREGULATED rent in the LEC's wire centers. Bye bye competative long distance.

You can see how with complete deregulation it would be trivial for the LEC's to put all of their competition out of buisiness and just keep raising prices. Well at some point in the price raising it will be feasable for a competitor to enter the market again because by raising prices to consumers, the LEC has raised the profit potential for the competitor.

For an example of this type of market behavior look at the energy crisis in CA. They deregulated power, and worsend the situation by not allowing new power plants to be built. Essentially they gave the already existing monopoly free reign. Consequently prices skyrocket. If the government enforces price caps it will never be profitable for competition, they need to let energy prices keep climbing (sorry Silicon Valley) until someone else can afford to break the existing monopoly and restore competion.

This is probably what will happen with DSL. You will notice in most areas that as companies go out of business DSL prices will go up. Once they reach a certain level it will once again be profitable for these companies to get back in the game and the cycle will repeat. Until a competitor enters the arena that can tolerate the down cycle there will be no true competition.

Ma Bell built the network (1)

asmithmd1 (239950) | more than 12 years ago | (#2143644)

Ma Bell struck the original agreement with the government in the 30's They gave access to everyhouse in the country, but they were the only one's who were allowed to do it; no "cherry picking" of dense concentrations of businesses by competitors. So those profitable segments subsidised the unprofitable ones. We had universal, expensive coverage; anyone remember how expensive long distance phone calls were in the late 60's early 70's? The question is do we want a regulated monopoly were everyone everywhere can get high speed connections, or is it free choice and pay for what you use? I live less than a mile from a major city CO so I don't want to subsidize high speed access to your lakefront mansion

I personally believe (3, Interesting)

linuxpng (314861) | more than 12 years ago | (#2157782)

that the government should get more involved with the cable industry. Where I live you can only get cable access for $60 with out another cable subscription. I think the market needs a little competition to drive that price down. That's where the government actually forces time warner to open it's cable networks to other ISPs. DSL is non-existent here for whatever reason, so AOL/Timewarner has a monopoly on this market. Personally, I think it stinks.

Wouldn't that result in DSL like problems (2)

flatrock (79357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2131163)

Right now DSL providers are havig serious problems with the phone companies. The phone compaines have been told by law that they have to open up their networks. This has discouraged the phone companies from spending the money to upgrade their networks. They also haven't been hired and trained enough people to install all the lines that are required for DSL in many areas. The result is that DSL providers like Covad can't get the resources they need to get customers set up on DSL. My experience was that it took 5 months of the phone company making excuses and telling me outright lies to get my line installed. Covad was our a few days later to set things up, and in the last 8 months I've experienced about 1 hour where I couldn't use my connection when I tried. Another friend of mine was told by Covad that they couldn't give him DSL because there was too much line tap on the line (about 1000 ft of unused wire that was left to make it easier to hook up future customers. COvad couldn't remove the line tap themselves, and Ameritech wanted a prohibitive amount to do it. Not to mention that in other cases they considered it a non-esential service, so it would likely take many months for them to get around to it. The solution to his problem? Ameritech started offering DSL in his area. They were happy to remove the line tap as part of the install, no extra charge.
Government stepping in and opening up these companies networks doesn't seem to work. Regulations can be bent. Loopholes can be found. The competition will never be on equal footing with the owners of the network. The penalties the govenment regulators apply are never enough of a deterrant to discourage uncompetitive or simply incompetent behavior. The utilities are in no real danger of losing their monopoly, and the people making the decisions will never go to jail. As an example. Ameritech in Ohio has done a miserable job of fixing problems with their phone system in recent years. There's a huge backlog of service calls. Their technicians regularly miss severall appointments in a row while the customers sit at home waiting for someone to show up to fix their phone. Even if you give them a cell phone number to call, they won't let you know that they are running behind and won't make it. The government has found several times that they are not providing an acceptable level of service, and that they aren't even showing significan improvement. The result was a couple settlements in which I received on two occasions a phone card with a small number of minuites on it. Of course the phone card can only be used for Ameritech services like Ameritech pay phones.

The government steping into a regulated market and "fixing" it with a bunch of new regulations rarely works. The California energy market "deregulation" is a prime example of this. Just because some politician lables it deregulations, doesn't mean that there's going to be less government regulations involved. It's just a buzzword they often like to use when they decide to regulate the market in a new way. Remember, truth in advertising laws don't apply to politicians.

One possible solution (4, Interesting)

Masem (1171) | more than 12 years ago | (#2162556)

Since most of the problems come from the fact that that baby bells own the last mile and get their advantages from this, the solution is rather obvious:

Make it such that the companies that own the COs and the last mile, and parents/subsideraries thereof, cannot offer the consumer any services and are only there to lease the use of their lines to phone, data, or other potental companies. I'd further extend it to cable lines where that is appropriate.

This would require the bells to split off a company to manage those last miles, and they would never be able to merge it back in the future. But this would also prevent a company like Covad (if they had the cash) to buy the last mile out and reverse the tables in order to screw the telcos. Including the cable lines and any future 'electronic transfer lines' that may come about in the future would also possibly open the door for more competition in the cable industry.

Of course, this isn't an overnight thing, and there must be some initial regulation as such that the cost of the 'extra' company beyond the telcos does not impact the fees that consumers already pay. I'm sure the baby bells would whine as well, since that last mile is their current money maker. But this would force a level playing field in that anyone wanting to offer consumer services would not have to worry about ownership of the last mile.

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