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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Says Switching ISPs Is Too Hard

timothy posted about a month ago | from the good-reason-to-use-webmail dept.

Government 145

Jason Koebler writes Did you hear about those Comcast service calls from hell that have been cropping up over the last couple months? So did FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who said today that switching internet service providers is too damn hard, in part because ISPs have grown used to having a monopoly on broadband services. "Once consumers choose a broadband provider, they face high switching costs that include early-termination fees and equipment rental fees," Wheeler said in a speech today. Wheeler didn't specifically say what the FCC will do (if anything) to change that, but said the answer is to help facilitate more true competition: "If those disincentives to competition weren't enough, the media is full of stories of consumers' struggles to get ISPs to allow them to drop service."

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Seriously? (1)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about a month ago | (#47827861)

Too damn hard? I don't even know how to begin to reply to that.

Re:Seriously? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47827947)

Too damn hard? I don't even know how to begin to reply to that.

My wife doesn't want to switch our ISP because her main e-mail address uses that at the domain name, and maybe a thousand friends, business contacts, and acquaintances have it as her contact info.

Yes, she could change to a gmail account, and after a while the people who need to contact her would change the address in their address books. Eventually. Most of them.

* (She's a freelancer. In general, when they fail to get in contact with a freelancer, customers usually just go to a different one rather than bother to spend the time to look up the new address.)

Re:Seriously? (5, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a month ago | (#47828031)

This is why if you're a freelancer, you should have your own domain.

Re:Seriously? (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a month ago | (#47828281)

Not just freelancers, but any business use whatsoever. It's amazing the number of businesses that use ISP email addresses or email addresses from some free service (hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc.) as their primary contact on business correspondence.

I would add in personal use as well, but it's hard to convince the generic home user of the benefits of owning their own domain name and email address. The best you can hope for with most of them is to use a dedicated email service like gmail rather than what their ISP gives them. No to mention, having your own domain name comes with its own set of problems. Paying to renew the domain name, as well as paying for a hosting service to handle your email isn't fee. Most home users are far more likely to forget to renew their domain name and have it snatched up by a domain squatter than to have a problem with GMail or a similar service.

Re:Seriously? (2)

taustin (171655) | about a month ago | (#47828669)

Most home users are far more likely to forget to renew their domain name and have it snatched up by a domain squatter than to have a problem with GMail or a similar service.

Are there registrars that do not send out reminders to the various contact address in the registration? And why would anyone deal with such a fly by night outfit? Or, to put it another way, it's not so much "forget to renew their domain name" as it is "ignore the reminders" or "put in bogus information in the first place, which is a violation of the terms of service."

I feel zero sympathy for these people. I've run my own mail server since 1995, and have no regrets.

Re:Seriously? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a month ago | (#47828731)

Paying to renew the domain name, as well as paying for a hosting service to handle your email isn't [free].

Yeah, it makes me sad that gmail isn't free for custom domains (I think it used to be, but I missed out on it).

Re:Seriously? (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about a month ago | (#47829315)

If you can get onto the testing group for Google's domains, you can set up an alias for any domain you have with them pointing to your Gmail account.

You don't need to move your domain over (1)

beanpoppa (1305757) | about a month ago | (#47829319)

For years, I had all email for my vanity domain forwarded to my gmail account, and gmail lets you send email out with the Reply-to header set as your vanity domain. It was only when I wanted some more advanced capabilities of Google Apps did I suck it up and start spending the $50/yr/user to fully port my domain over.

Re:You don't need to move your domain over (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about a month ago | (#47829561)

"For years, I had all email for my vanity domain forwarded to my gmail account"

That's how I do it

"and gmail lets you send email out with the Reply-to header set as your vanity domain"

Yeah, sort of. I set my defauly from address to be my "vanity". It still seems to default to my gmail address sometimes if I don't watch it. (I rarely think to look before hitting send). It sucks because it seems like as soon as someone receives something from my gmail address that's the only address they will send to. I want them to use the "vanity" one so that I can switch it any time I like! I guess people just like gmail addresses, maybe because they are more familiar.

Re:Seriously? (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about a month ago | (#47829517)

" The best you can hope for with most of them is to use a dedicated email service like gmail rather than what their ISP gives them"

Yes. That would be the sensable thing. Non business don't NEED domain names but it is pretty dumb to lock yourself into an isp by using the email.

"Paying to renew the domain name, as well as paying for a hosting service to handle your email isn't fee.[sic] "

No. Good things rarely are. But it IS pretty cheap if you shop around.

"Most home users are far more likely to forget to renew their domain name and have it snatched up by a domain squatter"

What?!?! There is a pretty large grace period before a domain is available to be bought by someone else. Yes, I have let my own lapse a couple of times. It's never come close to going back on the market though!! If you are actually using email you will notice within a day or two. Then maybe you will set a reminder on your phone calendar (or on paper if you are old).

Re:Seriously? (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month ago | (#47828039)

Too damn hard? I don't even know how to begin to reply to that.

My wife doesn't want to switch our ISP because her main e-mail address uses that at the domain name, and maybe a thousand friends, business contacts, and acquaintances have it as her contact info.

Yes, she could change to a gmail account, and after a while the people who need to contact her would change the address in their address books. Eventually. Most of them.

* (She's a freelancer. In general, when they fail to get in contact with a freelancer, customers usually just go to a different one rather than bother to spend the time to look up the new address.)

I work for an ISP. That's intentional. In fact, it's the only reason ISPs sitll offer email. It's a nightmare to maintain and has no other benefit to the ISP other than to make customers "sticky"

Re:Seriously? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month ago | (#47828125)

I work for an ISP. That's intentional. In fact, it's the only reason ISPs sitll offer email. It's a nightmare to maintain and has no other benefit to the ISP other than to make customers "sticky"

Got to admit that this has kept me with Verizon for years... Not that I have an issue, but my Wife would have one...

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828187)

If you think that's bad--and I do, too--try switching banks. All those statements they never mailed to you are now gone forever, unless you want to pay exorbitant archive research fees. God forbid you get audited the year after changing banks.

Re:Seriously? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about a month ago | (#47828461)

If you think that's bad--and I do, too--try switching banks. All those statements they never mailed to you are now gone forever, unless you want to pay exorbitant archive research fees. God forbid you get audited the year after changing banks.

Access statements online before switching. Download, encrypt, and store. You can get up to 7 years of statements free. Some banks may not have them all available online, but you can request a copy of everything up to 7 years back (and they can't fucking charge you for it - if they try to charge you just bitch until they agree to graciously waive the charge as a one-time, good faith, guilt trip bullshit exception).

Then switch banks, and make sure you get a final statement showing your zero balance.

Re:Seriously? (1)

ron_ivi (607351) | about a month ago | (#47828233)

It's a nightmare to maintain

Really?

I'd have thought that was a solved problem long ago - and if it really is still painful, there are plenty of email hosting services that would love to sign up a major ISP to provide that service for you.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a month ago | (#47828481)

AT&T uses Yahoo for web mail, though you get an AT&T address. It would make more sense to have more generic email providers separate from ISPs, though quality ones without bad reps like Yahoo or Gmail.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828245)

Funny, SBC outsourced theirs to yahoo, I still use my @sbcglobal address as a spamtrap and SBC hasn't existed for a decade or so now. I wonder if the other companies that outsource their addresses are as sticky as they think.

Re:Seriously? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | about a month ago | (#47829059)

I work for an ISP. That's intentional. In fact, it's the only reason ISPs sitll offer email. It's a nightmare to maintain and has no other benefit to the ISP other than to make customers "sticky"

I guess I'm struggling to believe this bullshit when I can name exactly zero friends with an ISP-level email address. All of them converted to webmail services (or use their own domain they own) long ago.

In fact, I'd challenge you to find anyone who even knows their ISP offers email as a service, since the first (and last) time I heard of that service was on the day my broadband was installed.

That was 1998. Not a damn peep since then about ISP email. That's one hell of a "sticky" sales tactic.

I can name 2.6 million people (3, Insightful)

beanpoppa (1305757) | about a month ago | (#47829351)

2.58 million [consumerist.com] people are still paying AOL for their email address. It sounds like you have a very biased circle. Looking through my contact list, I see several family and friends with optimum, comcast, and verizon email addresses.

Re:I can name 2.6 million people (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829767)

I think it's a generation thing. No one in my generation has an @isp e-mail account(that I'm aware of). In fact, there seems to be a stigma to having such an address. If I had to deal with someone at @comcast I would probably try to avoid contacting them at all. If they're family, I'll direct them to my Facebook. If they're business(freelancer, contractor, etc) then they need to be more professional and get their own domain. Seriously, at this point in time, it's embarrassing. Last time I was on the market for a domain the e-mail was added on at no charge. If you wanted a heavier traffic e-mail you'd have to pay, but you got a barebones one for free, which I imagine would suit the needs of the kind of people who are still on their ISP account.

Hell, I have 9 different e-mails(4 of which I no longer use, but whatever...). Moving from one to the other as a 'main' account wouldn't be difficult. There are two primary lists: people who need to contact you, and businesses that need to contact you. Go to each business and change your registered e-mail to your new one. If you have trouble identifying the critical businesses(ie, the ones that send you bills and would put a collection out on your for delinquency), then it's as simple as waiting for a cycle of bills to come in. Then, send an e-mail to each person saying "Hey, I got a new e-mail. If you want to stay in touch, use the new one!".

I'm sorry if that sounds mean, but people really need to get their own address that's not tied to an ISP. It's like telling people how to get to your house by giving them step-by-step directions like "And then you'll pass a church with some stained glass that's mostly green and blue with a large steeple, and you'll turn right on the fourth light". It worked in the Before Time, but we have better tools available now. I mean, paying for a simple e-mail account? That just sounds barbaric.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828073)

Why did your wife do things that way? It's a problem of her own creation. For these types of situations, my attitude is that she will have to cover the incremental cost of keeping her existing ISP as a cost of doing business and hopefully it's a lesson well learned. Not sure who her existing ISP is, but did she ever consider that they may go out of business or be bought out at some point? She may still be forced off of her existing e-mail account at some point, whether she wants to or not. She should start planning for this possibility.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828251)

>my attitude is that she will have to cover the incremental cost of keeping her existing ISP as a cost of doing business
Its *your* incremental costs of having a wife. :-)

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829147)

Why did your wife do things that way? It's a problem of her own creation. For these types of situations, my attitude is that she will have to cover the incremental cost of keeping her existing ISP as a cost of doing business and hopefully it's a lesson well learned. Not sure who her existing ISP is, but did she ever consider that they may go out of business or be bought out at some point? She may still be forced off of her existing e-mail account at some point, whether she wants to or not. She should start planning for this possibility.

Women? Planning ahead? Learning their lesson?

Since we're speaking along these lines, I might as well tell you about this damn purple unicorn that keeps shitting all over my keyboard.

There's a reason we continue to hear "the wife" as the excuse people stay with their abusive ISPs for years.

I never said it was a good reason, I just said it's the reason.

And clearly you've never been married.

Re: Seriously? (0)

Joe Johnson (3773821) | about a month ago | (#47828287)

You actually posted this? Sorry, but you're wife is an idiot for conducting business based on an ISP email. What if you had to move for some reason and that ISP didn't even have a service offering in your new location. Just plain stupid.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a month ago | (#47828459)

That's the big issue I think. My mother does not want to switch from her dial up because (other than cost) it means a new email address.

I snagged a "free for life" address in the 90s, though it soon became a pay service. Though it's only about $40 a year to have email forwarded to my real ISP. I really should have set up my own domain a long time ago but when I was thinking about that it was relatively expensive to set up and not like today.

Re:Seriously? (4, Informative)

David_Hart (1184661) | about a month ago | (#47828579)

Too damn hard? I don't even know how to begin to reply to that.

My wife doesn't want to switch our ISP because her main e-mail address uses that at the domain name, and maybe a thousand friends, business contacts, and acquaintances have it as her contact info.

Yes, she could change to a gmail account, and after a while the people who need to contact her would change the address in their address books. Eventually. Most of them.

* (She's a freelancer. In general, when they fail to get in contact with a freelancer, customers usually just go to a different one rather than bother to spend the time to look up the new address.)

Easy to fix...
- Set up a new domain and email address for her.
- Configure the old email to forward to the new one.
- Keep the old email for a year or two.
- Have her send out new business cards and an email change notice to all clients, add a vCard .vcf attachment to make it easy to add to contacts
- Use the new email address to send all replies and to remind customers to update their contact lists if they send to the old address.

Eventually all active clients will have the new email address. It takes time, but it does work....

Re:Seriously? (1)

johnlcallaway (165670) | about a month ago | (#47828789)

* Install one of the many email programs on your local machine and start using it instead of your providers software or web page.
* Add a rule to automatically reply to names in your address list that your email address has changed and what the new one is.
* Start moving over any business emails that you get.
* After a month or two, every time you get an email, click on 'unsubscribe', go to their web site and change your profile, or make sure they got an auto-reply.

I did this a couple of years ago for my Cox cable account, and have almost no emails that go to it anymore. I could switch carriers tomorrow if there was one I wanted to switch to.

Re:Seriously? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829255)

"Configure the old email to forward to the new one."

Tried that. Somehow the old ISP would always find a clever way to break the forward, resulting in lost email. They would change or rest the forwarding function without notice.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829411)

Well Drop them then! oh wait...

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829477)

As a temporary solution you can use an email program to pull in messages from both inboxes (old ISP and new domain based email address).

Automatically flag all messages from the old ISP (so you can include a bit about updating the email they use on their end). Set up the reply address for both boxes to be your new address.

After 6 months - 1 year send the hold outs fridge magnets with your new email address.

Re:Seriously? (3, Insightful)

taustin (171655) | about a month ago | (#47828631)

That is the price of having made a bad decision early on. The longer she waits, the more severe the pain will be when she finally does switch.

Re:Seriously? (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a month ago | (#47828673)

This is why you never ever use the email address provided by an ISP. Not only is it a blatant lock-in tactic, but these days the email service they provide is inferior in every way to the free offerings out there.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829433)

these days the email service they provide is inferior in every way to the free offerings out there.

I.. what??

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying they are superior to the free services. I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that any one service can be considered "superior" to another. It's nothing more than a storage box, holding the received email until Outlook/Thunderbird/whatever downloads it. What is there that can be improved upon?

Re:Seriously? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a month ago | (#47829645)

For example, ISP services usually don't offer IMAP, SMTP, AND web interface access, while many free services do. The storage on the ISP-hosted mail is also usually pathetic by modern standards - and if you're someone like me who accesses their mail exclusively through the web interface, that's important.

Re:Seriously? (2)

koan (80826) | about a month ago | (#47829431)

Yeah your wife should have gotten a gmail, (or other) anyone that uses ISP emails is foolish.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828195)

I just closed my account with Comcast since I'm moving to a different town controlled by a different monopoly.

I didn't call them up. I simply unplugged all of the boxes, brought them to the local branch office, put them on the counter, and asked to close my account. That was the end of it. The girl at the counter knew there was no talking me into keeping them.

Switching == Moving (2)

danaris (525051) | about a month ago | (#47828221)

Yes, seriously.

For a great many people, "switching ISPs" basically means moving. Because if you're lucky, you've got an option of DSL or cable, with DSL being effectively useless for anything but simple web browsing and email.

This is why we need true net neutrality—which means separating the medium from the message. Force the people who own the lines to at least lease them to anyone who asks, basically at cost...or, even better, break up the companies that own the lines so that that's all they do, and all the other services are part of a separate company.

Dan Aris

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829469)

Um, what part of not having the internet being hard do you not understand?

Switching is too hard? (5, Insightful)

dontbemad (2683011) | about a month ago | (#47827879)

How can you call it switching when there is no one else to switch to in most places?

Re:Switching is too hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47827931)

that does increase the difficulty level, doesn't it?

Re:Switching is too hard? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828029)

You can always move.

Re:Switching is too hard? (2)

taustin (171655) | about a month ago | (#47828697)

Two moves back, I chose where to move based on who had better DSL. Last move, I stayed in the same city.

Re:Switching is too hard? (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | about a month ago | (#47828055)

Other than DSL, no other choice around here either.

Re:Switching is too hard? (1)

peragrin (659227) | about a month ago | (#47829199)

I have choice DSL or crapcast. However the copper lines are so old that you can't actually run DSL over them. You can barely use regular phone lines.

So I don't have choice.

Re:Switching is too hard? (-1, Offtopic)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month ago | (#47828115)

Based on your last post, you live in Atlanta.
There are TEN PAGES of ISPs in your area:
http://www.yelp.com/search?cfl... [yelp.com]

Give me a break.

This nonsense about ISP monopolies has to end. There are areas where there is only 1 ISP, that's true. But they're all rural and there's only 1 ISP because it's very expensive to serve the area. There's no competition because there's no one that wants to compete. It's not profitable. Anywhere were the population density is high enough to make internet service popular there are at least TWO options... the local Cable and Telecom companies. If your towns large enough like Atlanta, there's likely dozens of options.

Re:Switching is too hard? (1)

JeffOwl (2858633) | about a month ago | (#47828207)

I live in a metro area with lot sizes measured in 1000s of square feet and I only have one option. Go a quarter mile in any of three directions and they have at least two. Turns out this was a deal struck between the developer and the provider.

Re:Switching is too hard? (4, Insightful)

dontbemad (2683011) | about a month ago | (#47828305)

Because if the problem doesn't immediately pertain to me, it must not be a problem, right? Also, are you familiar with the concept of "the illusion of choice"?

Based on your post, you are either a shill or delusional if you think that our concern with the general state of ISP monopolies in this country is "nonsense" that "has to end".

Re:Switching is too hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828955)

Because if the problem doesn't immediately pertain to me, it must not be a problem, right?

It's still a problem, but as the post you are responding to proved, it simply isn't as widespread as many make it out to be.

Also, are you familiar with the concept of "the illusion of choice"?

Just because you don't like some of the choices doesn't mean they don't exist.

Re:Switching is too hard? (2)

Jawnn (445279) | about a month ago | (#47828611)

Sarcasm is so hard to convey in text. Oh, wait. You were serious? Then you're an idiot. I've lived in metro and suburban areas for the last 20+ years. The vast majority of that time, I had one choice for broadband to my home. One. Yes, I could get DSL instead of Comcast, and I did just that for several years, until the carrier oversold the backhaul so badly the entire neighborhood stopped working. They were quite clear, "Piss off. Upgrades cost more than your business is worth." That, my friend, does not count as a choice.

Re:Switching is too hard? (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a month ago | (#47829149)

Nice bullshit moron. Did you read it, it consists of Charter, Verizon, Comcast and various cellular services which or owned by telecoms. For example Clearwire which is owned by Sprint. FYI cellular is not an internet service provider.

Re:Switching is too hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829181)

Denver says hello.

Comcast or CenturyLink. Many places do not have access to CentruyLink, so Comcast is the only option.

Yes, I know it's just the little rural town of Denver, but I'd expect more options. Feel free to link me to yelp that shows 10 pages of Comcast, Verizon, and ATT stores around here to show otherwise. A majority of those links are not consumer level service and Verizon/ATT are listed, but do not offer service in Denver.

Give ME a break.

Re:Switching is too hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829555)

""ISPs have grown used to having a monopoly on broadband services""

and who the fuck let them get this way???

the fcc (and ftc and justice and congress).. and who did you work for (wheeler) before your cushy thanks-for-all-the-'contributions' position at the fcc? o ya, the cable and wireless industries..

you're right, wheeler, but fuck off anyway, just cuz. your motives are still not in the right place.. and i dont wanna see how much more fucked up you can make things.

Switching is too hard? (1)

NitroWolf (72977) | about a month ago | (#47829823)

Logged in to say this, but see you already got to it. This monopoly crap is what needs to be fixed. Right now, I would gladly take a difficult (and expensive) to terminate service over the choice I have now: Take Comcast or take nothing reasonable (satellite? Riiight...)

We need someone to bust up these monopolies and let other companies in to compete. This "we are locking in this neighborhood" crap has got to stop and I think it's the biggest hurdle to any sort of competitive broadband in this country (compared to other countries).

It's the Net Neutrality, Tom (5, Informative)

destinyland (578448) | about a month ago | (#47827907)

I wonder if this is just a cynical attempt to appear "tough on monopolies" -- right before Tom Wheeler guts Net Neutrality forever.

Reminder: next Wednesday is a "Day of Action" to publicize the need to maintain Net Neutrality.

http://www.theverge.com/2014/9... [theverge.com]

Re:It's the Net Neutrality, Tom (2)

tomhath (637240) | about a month ago | (#47828819)

Think about what is going to happen in about two months. Why would the administration that hasn't done much of anything for the past five years be talking tough on consumer related issues now? Hint: First Tuesday in November.

News at 11: (1)

click2005 (921437) | about a month ago | (#47827915)

Dingo states the obvious

And he missed the really egregious costs (4, Funny)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about a month ago | (#47827939)

Selling your house or breaking your lease, truck rental and fuel to haul all your shit halfway across the continent, being unemployed for however long it takes to find a job within commuting distance of your new home, etc.

Re:And he missed the really egregious costs (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828271)

Uhm... whom are you expecting to cover all of the above?

The FCC chairman has no business talking about your personal logistical problems. You're pretty much expected to cope with that stuff all by yourself.

Re:And he missed the really egregious costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828725)

That whoosh was so hard it blew your toupee off.

Re:And he missed the really egregious costs (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | about a month ago | (#47828877)

Nothing goes over your head, eh Drax?

Have to jump through a lot of hoops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47827945)

Comcast doesn't actually advertise this, but they will actually ship you the boxes you need to send them back their equipment if you fill out a form after canceling your service. Saved me a lot of time waiting at one of their branch offices.

Re:Have to jump through a lot of hoops (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a month ago | (#47828035)

I've canceled service with them twice in various moves. Even though I requested they send me a box, I never received it.

Re:Have to jump through a lot of hoops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828081)

That's why I've always shipped my equipment back to them baked into the center of a large Rice Crispy Treat. It's like digging for buried treasure then. Share the fun.

Here's an idea, Tom (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a month ago | (#47827957)

How about the FCC does this: If you are an ISP and have taken billions of federal dollars to build out infrastructure, you actually have to do it and offer service to people?

Re:Here's an idea, Tom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828099)

It is common fallacy here on /. that the government wrote large checks to ISP's to build infrastructure that they then pocketed. Please don't perpetuate it.

Re:Here's an idea, Tom (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828413)

The program you state does not exist is called "LifeLine" by the FCC.

And it is being expanded (started with phone services for the poor) to bundled broadband services and other broadband initiatives backed by the FCC.

http://www.fcc.gov/lifeline

Re:Here's an idea, Tom (3, Informative)

dbc (135354) | about a month ago | (#47828423)

Oh??? So, when the rural broadband act when through, and a rural telco plowed fiber across the meadow in front of my mountain cabin, and paid me for the right-of-way, those were fictitious dollars? So, I'll grant you this... the telco didn't pocket the dollars, they paid a lot of money to plow fiber through hard rock and the Cat operators and I pocketed the dollars. The Telco is pocketing dollars monthly from the communication tower tenants that the fiber serves.

There *were* federal dollars to be captured for doing internet build-out. And dollars were captured. I personally cashed one of the checks. At least in my case, I can say it improved service. I'm not sure the benefits were evenly distributed, though.

Re:Here's an idea, Tom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828717)

Wrote a check? No, had explicit agreements? Yes: http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070810_002683.html

Re:Here's an idea, Tom (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829453)

Report: Verizon Claimed Public Utility Status To Get Government Perks [slashdot.org]

Oh, so when Verizon took in $1.4 billion dollars of government money to build infrastructure, and then didn't follow through with their end of the bargain, that was just a "common fallacy" and never actually happened?

Sure, buddy. You can believe whatever you like.

Re:Here's an idea, Tom (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a month ago | (#47829165)

Tell that to New Jersey residents that just got boned by Verizon.

Equipment rental fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47827965)

So don't rent any of their equipment. When I first signed up for DSL circa 2006 (yes, I was on dial-up that recently), they gave me the option of buying a modem for like $70, or renting it for some monthly fee. I bought it, of course--saving many many dollars over the years.

Very hard to do when no other choices (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a month ago | (#47827967)

Live in the country, another 500 feet away from teh big grey box and I couldn't even get my 1.5mb DSL. As is, I can get 3mb but can't use it because of too much signal loss.

I could switch back to dialup... I'd have to dig out an old computer to act as a dialup box and gateway for my LAN. I could switch to Dish, but the latency will suck for playing games.

Final option would be to go "dry line" and just buy DSL, but that isn't really changing my service - it just changes who I write a check to each month.

So yeah, if you live in an area with what amounts to a monopoly it is very hard to change.

Bring out your shills! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47827969)

But the ISP shills (alen and charliemopps) said the lack of choice is because of that bully Netflix. If they'd stop abusing the poor ISPs then we'd be drowning in choice!

A nothing statement that means nothing. (5, Insightful)

Arkiel (741871) | about a month ago | (#47827995)

So Wheeler googled "ISP outrage", clicked the "News" tab, and had an intern write a feel-good do-nothing speech about the Comcast outrage?

If it were anyone we could at least momentarily pretend that this was an opening salvo in some course of action that would increase incentives to switch by doing something to promote competition to act against the disincentives Comcast forces on the consumer.

No, no, this is all about draining the political pressure that news story like the Comcast outrage foment. Its about constituents having the illusion of progress and/or representatives being able to tell their constituents that Chairman Wheeler, notable industry shill, is on the case.

Isn't that cute (4, Insightful)

MrLint (519792) | about a month ago | (#47828005)

FCC guy seems to think there is enough competition in enough of the US to make switching a thing that might actually happen.

Re:Isn't that cute (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month ago | (#47828215)

Just an election year ploy from a partisan appointee.

Put this Wheeler guy on ignore, unless you figure he's out slumming for more campaign cash and your are an ISP who hasn't ponied up yet for this round.

I don't know anyone that can switch! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828017)

Switching requires two different providers. Most people can only get DSL over a phone line because cable companies do not cover most of the country. Where I live in Seattle, Comcast only provides service to about 1/3 of the neighborhood despite it being less than a mile from the center of downtown. In order for it to be difficult to switch, you must have the ability to switch. That is the logic problem with Wheeler's statement that makes it just dumb. It's either that or a bold-face lie because he is trying to push the lie that we have a choice. So, is he stupid or a liar?

Re:I don't know anyone that can switch! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month ago | (#47828313)

Hey, I know what you are thinking, there isn't any other options.. But that may not be exactly true. Where I live, even if you remove the two wire based options for ISPs, there are multiple wireless ISP's which cover my area. Now I live just outside a top 10 city in the USA, but I can tell you that wireless options exist well out into areas that would take hours to commute from. The problem is exactly what Wheeler says, it's EXPENSIVE to get the equipment necessary to hook up to these services... ( Not that I think he has any good options to fix the problem. )

Of course, I haven't a clue if these options exist in the Pacific North West.

Re:I don't know anyone that can switch! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a month ago | (#47829091)

Hey, I know what you are thinking, there isn't any other options.. But that may not be exactly true. Where I live, even if you remove the two wire based options for ISPs, there are multiple wireless ISP's which cover my area.

Oh yes, that's true! I, for example, have a whopping three options at my house (near downtown Atlanta):

  1. AT&T DSL (which doesn't work; my phone lines are too old)
  2. Clear Wi-Max (which doesn't work; my house is halfway between two towers
  3. Comcast cable (which is fast and reliable, but evil and has terrible customer service)

I'm using Comcast, under protest, as my last resort.

Re:I don't know anyone that can switch! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month ago | (#47829153)

There are ALWAYS options... Problem is that many times such options are too expensive. http://www.hughesnet.com/ [hughesnet.com] Wi-Max doesn't work? Hmmm, you must live in a valley. To bad my friend.

Re:I don't know anyone that can switch! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828551)

I've noticed a few people around here complaining about availability of Internet service in Seattle. Had one [slashdot.org] the other day claiming Republicans were at fault for Seattle's problems — 'greenwow' figures Republicans somehow control everything in a town where Greens have an even chance to beat them in elections.

Are there any rational people around that can offer a theory about why Seattle is such an Internet desert? I know the US is generally not the finest example of Internet ubiquity, but I've had personal experience with obtaining service in a variety of places in the US and it hasn't been as bad as these Seattle folks claim for at least 10 years now.

So WTF is up with Seattle?

Re:I don't know anyone that can switch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829741)

Seattle has the "director's rules" that prevents providers from upgrading unless enough of a percentage of the area agrees to allow the upgrade. Notice I said agree rather than disagree. If, for example, you have two houses in the area empty due to foreclosures (which is more common than not around here!) then Comcast and CenturyLink simply cannot upgrade because there isn't a large enough of a percentage of people that agree to it. That's why much of Seattle is still stuck on dial-up. Personally, I use copper.net. It's slow and painful, but it's so much better than nothing. I had Internet access more than forty times faster in Georgia over fifteen years ago. Much of Seattle is still stuck in 1995.

Comcast (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about a month ago | (#47828085)

I've had Comcast cable since it was Cablevision (then MediaOne, then AT&T), and it has been pretty much trouble free, except when they try to reconfigure their network. I find their internet acceptable but would never rely on their telephone service(friends in town have had month-long outages when amplifiers on their trunk line fail and there's no one competent to troubleshoot the problem) .

Alright! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47828185)

Here's our daily dose of bullsh*t from the FCC.

The real problem for most (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47828259)

Email.

Yes, Email. They used the Email address they got from their provider for ... well, everything. Mostly because it's the only Email address they ever had. Now their Amazon, their Facebook, their Twitter, their Steam, and a billion other accounts are all tied to that one email address. Most of these could be redirected. But what if you forget one? How are you going to convince a company that doesn't give half a shit about you in the first place that you're not someone trying to gain access to an account that isn't yours?

You can easily and legally forward your physical mail. But there ain't no law that forces providers to offer that service. And why the hell should they, after all it ties you to them!

Christ on a crutch (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47828473)

This weasely SOB says it's too hard to switch ISPs, when it's his own damn fault it's so hard. It's always going to be hard to switch when there are only two choices.

And he could make it a lot easier to switch if he'd just take the industry's dick out of his mouth for a second and stop the attacks on Net Neutrality. Maybe get with the Justice Department and talk about how to break up Comcast and AT&T.

I can't stand Wheeler. He's a symptom of the Obama administrations absolute failure. That he got appointed chairman of the FCC is just a joke. Guy's a former cable industry executive for chrissake. He's the last person who should be in charge of the FCC.

Switching is easy if you do it right (3, Informative)

businessnerd (1009815) | about a month ago | (#47828519)

Assuming you have an option to switch ISPs (and I realize that many of you don't), it's actually pretty easy to do, even with leaving Comcast. This is really just an order of operations issue. Most people will decide they want to switch, call up their incumbent ISP to cancel their service, and then order their new service. Seems logical, but for best results, flip it around. Once you have decided to switch to the other guy, call the other guy first. The other guy will then set up your account, come to your house and do all of the installation, port your phone number over (if applicable) and then once you have verified that the service is working to your satisfaction, you call up the incumbent and tell them to cancel. This is how I switched from Comcast to Verizon a few years ago. Granted, I still dealt with an extremely defensive (anti)cancellation person on the phone, but it was a much more straightforward conversation. It went something like this...

Me: Hi. I switched to Verizon, cancel my service
Comcast: Why do you want to cancel?
Me: Your service doesn't work, I've had a tech out here 3 times and they didn't fix the issue. Fios has already been ordered and installed and it is working, which is something I could never have said for you.
Comcast: defensive statement...yada yada..Verizon installed a new wire to your house, that's why it's fixed
Me: Yeah, maybe you should have tried that on one of your 3 service calls, but you didn't. Anyway. I 'm not going to argue with you. I'm already receiving Verizon services, Comacast services have been physically disconnected. Cancel my account.
Comcast: Fine. Done.

And that was it. Hell I could have kept it even briefer if I had been prepared for such a defensive attitude, but even still, since you have physically disconnected their service and are already paying for their competitor, you know they have a snowball's chance in hell of getting you to agree to sending another tech over to re-connect Comcast and then go and cancel Verizon.

Now if you are not planning on switching, but want to pay less, or want better service, I use their anti-cancellation policy against them. The first level CSRs have limited power to do anything like offer discounts, upgrade service for free, etc. They can do some, but that is child's play compared to your cancellation people. What you do is if you don't work something out with the first level, tell them you want to cancel. You don't have to actually mean it, you just have to make them think you mean it. Even if there are no good alternatives ("I'll switch to satellite and DSL. I don't really need all of your bandwidth" or "My 4G hotspot works fine for me"). Sounds ridiculous, but you need to commit to the role. They will then transfer you to the cancellation people. Their job on paper is to shut off your service and close your account, but as we have seen in the news recently, their actual job is to do anything they can to prevent you doing that. If you get here, you are golden. Walk right into their trap: "Why do you want to cancel?" "I'm sorry to hear that, you must be very frustrated. What if I were to offer you x y z? Would that change your mind?" Checkmate.

Re:Switching is easy if you do it right (1)

Solandri (704621) | about a month ago | (#47829527)

Me: Hi. I switched to Verizon, cancel my service
Comcast: Why do you want to cancel?

Yeah. Unfortunately that doesn't work if you're part of the huge chunk of the population whose only choices for Internet are a single cable company (hopefully not Comcast), 1.5 or 3.0 Mbps DSL, or wireless.

The idea of municipal governments granting cable monopolies was founded on good intentions. By holding out the carrot of a monopoly, they got the cable companies to agree to concessions like providing service to remote and poor areas which otherwise would've been tagged as uneconomical and ignored. But at this point I think we can all agree that the drawbacks of these monopolies far, far outweigh the benefits. They either need to be banned outright, or treated like the other government-granted monopolies - utilities whose rates and service are carefully monitored by a public utilities commission.

Switching is easy if you do it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829843)

I'm not sure if "Comacast" was intentional or a typo, but I'm stealing that.

well look at that, no one read the important bit (2)

geekoid (135745) | about a month ago | (#47828645)

and it was left ut of the summary.
"At 25 Mbps, there is simply no competitive choice for most Americans. Stop and let that sink inthree-quarters of American homes have no competitive choice for the essential infrastructure for 21st century economics and democracy. Included in that is almost 20 percent who have no service at all!

Things only get worse as you move to 50 Mbps where 82 percent of consumers lack a choice."

So he recognizes a problem, wants people to have access to faster broadband, want's congress to do something, but most of you people just spew hate

Re:well look at that, no one read the important bi (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about a month ago | (#47829597)

I wouldn't consider 25Mbps essential. 5Mbps at a decent price would satisfy most users. Even that is almost impossible to come by anywhere in the US.

Relevant in 2025 (1)

RedEars (1622495) | about a month ago | (#47829023)

This will be relevant to much of the country maybe by 2025... or never if Mr. FCC is the one driving change. There is no other option. It's wired cable connection through 1 company for reliable, high speed service. The "second" options are either snail pace DSL (if it's even comparable with dial up) or a mobile hotspot device through a wireless carrier. The wireless device actually makes more sense but both are pitifully slow and unreliable.

It's difficult but not in the way you kids think (1)

cHiphead (17854) | about a month ago | (#47829035)

I miss being able to plug a modem into any phone line and have internet access. Cable and DSL just destroyed that freedom of mobility (and we all accepted it, in exchange for Mbps bandwidth instead of Kbps bandwidth). Wifi kinda brought it back but its all locked down in Terms and Conditions away from any rights conveyed as a result of the lines being covered by common carrier rules.

Re:It's difficult but not in the way you kids thin (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about a month ago | (#47829211)

LOL uh no zippy, if broadband was classified as common carriage FCC would be able to regulate and we'd have competition. As such it is not. I'm not sure WTF you mean by WiFi. WiFi is nothing more than an access point. It's not the pipe that connects you to the internet, like fiber or cable. So where WiFi is available somebody is using an ISP to connect you to the internet either via cable or fiber. If you are talking cellular like 4G, that's not wifi, and vastly worse.

Comcast? Hard to deal with? No way. (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a month ago | (#47829037)

Had a relative die and called. Canceling went smoothly right up to the "Please put him on the line to verify the cancellation..."

As I have said before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829239)

The answer is for broadband Internet to be a non-profit public utility, billed to the customer at actual cost, caped at $39.95 a month for 50MB upload and download speed with no data caps.

More competition? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47829307)

Then perhaps the FCC will go up against the monopolies trying to stop municipalities from building their own broadband systems.

piffle (2)

koan (80826) | about a month ago | (#47829423)

This guy is an ass, he lies, he spouts propaganda, he is a shill for the very people destroying the Internet.

My feelings on the matter is there is no FCC, it doesn't exist as anything but a title, they are toothless, and they want it that way.

Separate ISPs from telecom companies (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a month ago | (#47829445)

This is yet another example of why your local telecom (or cable) company should not be an ISP. Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc. should provide you with wires that connect you to your ISP of choice. Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, etc. should not even offer public email accounts.

Really? Try switching business ISPs (1)

djblair (464047) | about a month ago | (#47829763)

It's not hard to switch home ISP's; sorry, it just isn't. Try changing service providers for a midsize business. It takes me, on average, ninety days to get an Ethernet circuit delivered to one of my customers. This is regular, business-grade fiber Ethernet from major players like AT&T and Cogent. It's a non-stop uphill battle to establish services. This is because the engineer wants something the outside plant people don't like, the provisioning team never requested the address space, the splice case is in a manhole under three feet of snow and the field techs won't dig (for real), the install tech wasn't dispatched with the right equipment, or whatever... It never goes smoothly, and the circuits are rarely delivered on time. It is a hair-pulling nightmare to switch service providers, and that's aside from all of the internal network stuff that needs to be done. A savings of $300-400 per month on a $2,500/mo circuit is hardly worth it given the lead time and hassle. Switching from DSL to cable at your house is too hard because you're stuck dealing with terms you agreed to? Sorry, look elsewhere for pity.

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