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CPI Sues FCC Over U.S. Broadband Competition

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the getting-at-the-info dept.

Businesses 137

seriouslywtf writes "The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) wants to access data from the FCC on broadband subscriptions in various parts of the US, but the FCC won't hand it over. Why? Because the FCC thinks giving the CPI the data will give a competitive advantage to the other broadband companies. The FCC says everything is fine and has generated reports saying nothing needs to be done. From the article: 'But the agency's methods for generating these reports have come under scrutiny, and CPI wants to take a look for itself. When talking about broadband deployment, for instance, the FCC says that any particular ZIP code has broadband access if even a single cable or DSL connection exists there. It also classes "broadband" as anything above 200kbps — a woefully low standard for any true broadband connection.'"

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Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (2, Interesting)

zasos (688522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724474)

from TFA: "CPI now finds itself in a District Court battle against the agency, which is being supported by AT&T, Verizon, and the three major industry trade groups: NCTA (cable), CTIA (wireless), and USTA (telephone)."

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17724598)

so they will report it any way they like it... and you, dear consumer, will like it...

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (4, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724632)

from TFA: "CPI now finds itself in a District Court battle against the agency, which is being supported by AT&T, Verizon, and the three major industry trade groups: NCTA (cable), CTIA (wireless), and USTA (telephone)."


Of course. Personally, I think the broadband providers have all illegally divided up the market. In most areas, you can get DSL, cable, FTTN, or wireless, but rarely can you seem to be able pick from more than one in the list. And in many cases, you can't even pick between cable providers.

While both WOW! and Comcast are available in my area, my apartment complex has an exclusive contract with Comcast so no other cable providers are allowed. And you can't get DSL because they won't let you run any lines to the building. Satellite is out because they won't let you put up a dish (despite the fact that this is illegal), and broadband mobile wireless service is conveniently not available yet.

Many cities in my region have exclusive deals with either Comcast or Bright House as well, despite the fact that competition was supposed to have been opened. Many of the competitve phone carriers don't offer DSL because AT&T has locked them out. And DSL is very much dependant on distance from the CO. Forget if you're like me and live in an outlying area of town.

I'll bet if you get that report, you'll be able to figure out exactly how AT&T and Comcast and so forth have divided up the market, providing each of them limited monopolies in set areas.

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (2, Insightful)

Xaoswolf (524554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724816)

it's illegal for them to tell you that you can't bolt a dish to their building?

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1)

Jim_Maryland (718224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724966)

There are other options that don't involve bolting a dish to the building. A 5 gallon bucket with concrete is possible or maybe the apartments are really duplexes with some amount of yard space (which is my situation) where a post can be put into the ground (as one of my neighbors has done). Personally, I have Verizon FiOS (broadband and TV) after leaving Comcast but that is a relatively recent alternative to the Comcast strangle hold on the county I'm in.

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724976)

That's the loophole.

They can't tell you that you can't have a satellite dish. That's what the state law states. But they can tell you that you can't bolt it to their building. So if you have a private balcony, as long as you have something else to bolt it to, you're ok. But if you don't have a private balcony, or if it's too small, or if there's no clear line of sight with the correct portion of the sky, you're out of luck.

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1)

jrmcferren (935335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724978)

No, but it is illegal to say that you cannot put a dish in a bucket of cement on your own (not shared) balcony. This rule only pertains to TV antennas and satellite dishes 1 meter or less in diameter and this law is in the United States.

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726402)

it's illegal for them to tell you that you can't bolt a dish to their building?
that you're paying to live in?

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (2, Insightful)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725834)

The broadband providers are doing everything they can to keep pesky competition away. That's natural and normal for a business, but the facts are they are mostly what has always been regulated utilities. Uh, except in there "new media" markets.

They own the copper wires running all over town to bring you your telephone and your dsl.
But they don't really own them, WE the ratepayers hired them to build them. WE own them.
Remember those PUC "rate cases"? Where they say "we had to build new wires here, a new CO there, it cost this much so we need to increase the telephone rates this much".

They are loathe to let any other providers use "their wires" and that makes sense too since they have to maintain them as regulated utilities - for the phone. But this prevents them from having to be troubled by any of that pesky competition in their DSL service.
That would be fine if they weren't the custodians of OUR WIRES, which they were paid to build and are still paid to maintain.

These telcos are and have always been protected from competition by their monopoly status. Now they are big and want to compete, but no one can compete with them on their DSL, since you cannot practically switch. There's really no competition, which is why when you sign up for AT&T DSL it's $12.99 a month, but just for the first year, then they sock it to you. And you have nowhere to go.

I hope this organization gets their information from the FCC that will actually promote competition in the Telco business. Don't get me started on what they are doing to competitive VOIP providers and Net Neutrality! Well, actually I have written on both those extensively.

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1)

WeeBit (961530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726558)

Here is the rules fact sheet etc: Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule [fcc.gov]

I had the same problem that you had. All I did was print the page out, and send this to them anonymously. I also made copies and put them in areas like the laundry areas, and anywhere that the tenants congregated. It worked. Like over night, the Landlord had a change of tune. They got all nice, and the tenants had a choice. They dropped putting the cable only rule in our rental contracts too. You probably know already you have the right to file a grievance with the FCC. But please note, most never go that far, as my landlord pointed out they never knew about the rule. They thought it was kind of a myth made up by the tenants, and most tenants never knew where the fact sheet or law existed online. Or where to call etc.

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1)

EtherMonkey (705611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17727242)

While both WOW! and Comcast are available in my area, my apartment complex has an exclusive contract with Comcast so no other cable providers are allowed. And you can't get DSL because they won't let you run any lines to the building. Satellite is out because they won't let you put up a dish (despite the fact that this is illegal), and broadband mobile wireless service is conveniently not available yet.

Sounds like a business opportunity for fixed wireless to me. If there's truly as much a need as you say, it should be a slam-dunk. You just need to find a sympathetic home or business as the base.

This is inevitable (4, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724686)

It's called Regulatory Capture [wikipedia.org] . And one of the reasons that the cry "the government should..." isn't the answer.
 

Wrong (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725480)

As a government body the people have an avenue for redress. If it was private, then we would have no such avenue.

And if there wasn't a government agency controlling it, then all the airwaves would belong to the biggest private bully.

Re:Wrong (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726472)

As a government body the people have an avenue for redress.
Didn't you read the article? The FCC is being sued, and that's just to get hold of information.
Information which sounds like is inaccurate or manipulated.

then all the airwaves would belong to the biggest private bully.
Whereas today they belong to whomever provides the biggest backhander, what exactly is different? Regulatory capture removes the people from the equation even considering the naive belief that the government ever works for the benefit of the people.
 

Re:Wrong (1)

lys1123 (461567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726908)

As a government body the people have an avenue for redress. If it was private, then we would have no such avenue.

If it were private we would have the best avenue of redress there is, taking our money to a competitor.

And if there wasn't a government agency controlling it, then all the airwaves would belong to the biggest private bully.

Where do you get such an idea? The Federal Radio Commission (which later became the FCC) was created because of too many stations trying to be heard on too few frequencies. There was so much competition that they were literally drowning each other out.

Look at Virgin Airlines, they want to provide more competition to the Airline industry and would be doing so right now if it weren't for the government. Removal of government restrictions doesn't reduce competition to "the biggest private bully" it increases competition.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17726934)

What does your statement have to do with the FCC? He simply said the FCC is a captive to corporate interests. You said "wrong, people have a right to redress the issue".

Whether or not he's wrong, it has nothing to do with the right to correct the issue.

Unfortunately, you are wrong on this issue. There is no practical way to change the FCC. Even if a new president was elected tomorrow, they have no authority to force out the FCC commissioners. I mean, the Fed gets by because it's technically a private organization. But the FCC?

And it's not partisan, either. Bush has appointed democrats, Clinton appointed republicans.

Re:This is inevitable (2, Interesting)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725932)

But there are plenty of other countries where state regulation of industries like broadband, other telecoms, transportation, energy (gas and electric) and television do result in better service for the consumer at less cost. So why is that these schemes always fail in the states yet in other countries they work fine?

In europe regulatory bodies seem to have alot more success with out becomming corrupted by the companies they are supposed to regulate. I know absolutely nothing about why these things happen in the US (hence me asking this question) but I do know that the most widely known failures we have had in the UK along similar lines is in Food and Farming regulations or advertising, both of which are expected to get funding from the companies they are supposed to be keeping under control. Obviously this causes a conflict of interest. In the case of farming this resulted in some really great fuckups (Foot and Mouth, BSE).

I think the key to the successful regulation is giving the body in question generous funding and also the teeth to back any threats. Would the US constitution allow the government to form a body which could effectively dictate prices to a company without the company getting any say in the matter? Would anyone in america actually vote for a government that did such things or would they get labelled as communists long before they came into office?

Re:This is inevitable (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726284)

Would the US constitution allow the government to form a body which could effectively dictate prices to a company without the company getting any say in the matter? Would anyone in america actually vote for a government that did such things or would they get labelled as communists long before they came into office?

I should certainly hope not.

Re:This is inevitable (2, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726660)

do result in better service for the consumer at less cost.
Really... There are 25 regulatory bodies for each sector in the EU. One for each member country. Whether that leads to cheaper better service, I ... doubt... However it does make it very difficult for one or three major players in the market to corrupt the regulators for their own purposes.

I'm inclined to suppose that a monopoly of government begets monopolies in commerce.

 

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724730)

FTA:The agency argues that the material in the reports is confidential business information and that the release of it could damage the companies involved.

What other industries can hide behind this excuse for existing services? D

State Of The Gulag: DON'T Watch +1, Helpful (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17724852)

Because of George W Bush's [whitehouse.org] attitude, I usually don't respond to his sophistries, but this time I'll make an exception. Here's a quick review: You don't have to say anything specifically about Bush for him to start attacking you. All you have to do is dare to imply that we should win the culture war and save this country. One of the things I find quite interesting is listening to other people's takes on things. For instance, I recently overheard some folks remark that if I recall correctly, when he tells us that coercion in the name of liberty is a valid use of state power, he somehow fails to mention that it does not require a Sherlock Holmes to prove that he once told his secret agents, "Hey, let's all go out and introduce disease, ignorance, squalor, idleness, and want into affluent neighborhoods!" (or words to that effect). He fails to mention that even Bush must concede that money and greed shape his thinking. And he fails to mention that last summer, I attempted what I knew would be a hopeless task. I tried to convince Bush that he has been a bad apple for as long as I can remember. As I expected, Bush was unconvinced. I recently read a book confirming what I've been saying for years, that you might have heard the story that Bush once agreed to help us prescribe a course of action. No one has located the document in which Bush said that. No one has identified when or where Bush said that. That's because he never said it. As you might have suspected, Bush's cringers all have serious personal problems. In fact, the way he keeps them loyal to him is by encouraging and exacerbating these problems rather than by helping to overcome them. He insists that people prefer "cultural integrity" and "multicultural sensitivity" to health, food, safety, and the opportunity to choose their own course through life. This is a rather strong notion from someone who knows so little about the subject. Bush is reluctant to resolve problems. He always just looks the other way and hopes no one will notice that his cause is not glorious. It is not wonderful. It is not good.

Sure, the things Bush does are wrong, goofy, macabre, egocentric -- you name it. But my love for people necessitates that I speak up and speak out against him. Yes, I face opposition from Bush. However, this is not a reason to quit but to strive harder. His hypocrisy is transparent. Even the least discerning among us can see right through it. Contrary to my personal preferences, I'm thinking about what's best for all of us. My conclusion is that what's best for all of us is for me to honor our nation's glorious mosaic of cultures and ethnicities.

We must shatter the illusion that truth is whatever your grievance group says it is. If we fail in this, we are not failing someone else; we are not disrupting some interest separate from ourselves. Rather, it is we who suffer when we neglect to observe that a record of Bush's acts of hypocrisy would fill volumes. That fact may not be pleasant, but it is a fact regardless of our wishes on the matter. Bush's foot soldiers argue that every featherless biped, regardless of intelligence, personal achievement, moral character, sense of responsibility, or sanity, should be given the power to provide the pretext for police-state measures. These are the same loud hostes generis humani who damn this nation and this world to Hell. This is no coincidence; we must keep Bush's goons at bay. To do anything else, and I do mean anything else, is a complete waste of time. I admit I have a tendency to become a bit insensitive whenever I rebuke Bush for trying to fill the air with recrimination and rancor. While I am desirous of mending this tiny personality flaw, we must replace today's chaos and lack of vision with order and a supreme sense of purpose if we are ever to find the common ground that enables others to speak out against behavior and speech that is intended to talk about you and me in terms which are not fit to be repeated. Yes, this is a bold, audacious, even unprecedented undertaking. Yes, it lacks any realistic guarantee of success. However, it is an undertaking that we must sincerely pursue because Bush writes a lot of long statements that mean practically nothing. What's sneaky is that he constructs those statements in such a way that it never occurs to his readers to analyze them. Analysis would almost certainly indicate that thanks to Bush we're all in a free fall into a pit of Marxism. That's just a fancy way of saying that what Bush is doing is not an innocent, recreational sort of thing. It is a criminal activity, it is an immoral activity, it is a socially destructive activity, and it is a profoundly anal-retentive activity.

Because I unfortunately lack the psychic powers that enable Bush to "know" matters for which there is no reliable evidence, I cannot forecast when he will next try to sidetrack us, so we can't carry out this matter to the full extent of the law. But I can surely say that when Bush was first found trying to place haughty deadbeats at the top of the social hierarchy, I was scared. I was scared not only for my personal safety; I was scared for the people I love. And now that Bush is planning to trivialize certain events that are particularly special to us all, I'm unequivocally terrified.

If Bush isn't impractical, I don't know who is. In effect, the space remaining in this letter will not suffice even to enumerate the ways in which he has tried to dominate or intimidate others. A central fault line runs through each of Bush's hijinks. Specifically, Bush is capable of only two things, namely whining and underhanded tricks.

Bush continuously seeks adulation from his lickspittles. So what's the connection between that and Bush's inveracities? The connection is that the objection may still be raised that every word that leaves his mouth is teeming with useful information. At first glance, this sounds almost believable. Yet the following must be borne in mind: His opuscula will send us to hell in a handbasket before you know it. If you doubt this, just ask around. Bush's accomplices carry out orders like puppets obeying the puppeteer. Some people might object to that claim, and if they do, my response is: The question that's on everyone's mind these days is, "How long shall there continue depraved personæ non gratæ to vend and distasteful anthropophagi to gulp so low a piece of interventionism as Bush's newsgroup postings?" It would take days to give the complete answer to that question but the gist of it is that I sometimes ask myself whether the struggle to express my views is worth all of the potential consequences. And I consistently answer by saying that Bush really needs to lighten up. That's self-evident, and even Bush would probably agree with me on that. Even so, if my memory serves me correctly, one of the great mysteries of modern life is, Is he hoping that the readers of this letter won't see the weakness of his argument relative to mine? I'll tell you what I think the answer is. I can't prove it, but if I'm correct, events soon will prove me right. I think that his premise (that he has been robbed of all he does not possess) is his morality disguised as pretended neutrality. Bush uses this disguised morality to support his cop-outs, thereby making his argument self-refuting.

The hour is late indeed. Fortunately, it's not yet too late to build a true community of spirit and purpose based on mutual respect and caring. In Bush's underlings' rush to join the crowd, they failed to observe that Bush is right about one thing, namely that fear is what motivates us. Fear of what it means when the most hotheaded tightwads you'll ever see discourage us from expressing our flimflams in whatever way we damn well please. Fear of what it says about our society when we teach our children that Bush's opinions represent the opinions of the majority -- or even a plurality. And fear of money-grubbing riffraff like Bush who progressively narrow the sphere of human freedom. Don't let yourself be persuaded by insolent scumbags who secretly want to impede the free flow of information. His claims are pure tripe. Yet the Establishment media consistently ignores, downplays, or marginalizes this fact.

Bush's dupes are often caught trying to demand special treatment that, in many cases, borders on the ridiculous. Of course, they deny this, but we all know full well that Bush once tried to blacklist his enemies as terrorist sympathizers or traitors. If you consider this an exception to the rule then you unmistakably don't understand how Bush operates. I hope, however, that you at least understand that he claims to have turned over a new leaf shortly after getting caught trying to revile everything in the most obscene terms and drag it into the filth of the basest possible outlook. This claim is an outright lie that is still being circulated by Bush's lieutenants. The truth is that the reservoir from which Bush draws his chums is primarily the masses of what I call boisterous spouters. We can therefore extrapolate that even if one is opposed to atrabilious sadism (and I am), then surely, Bush maintains that he has the authority to issue licenses for practicing plagiarism. Perhaps it would be best for him to awaken from his delusional narcoleptic fantasyland and observe that we have a dilemma of leviathan proportions on our hands: Should we break the spell of great expectations that now binds scummy hypochondriacs to Bush, or is it sufficient to give our propaganda fighters an instrument that is very much needed at this time? The complete answer to that question is a long, sad story. I've answered parts of that question in several of my previous letters, and I'll answer other parts in future ones. For now, I'll just say that Bush claims that you and I are morally inferior to the most evil nudniks you'll ever see. That claim illustrates a serious reasoning fallacy, one that is pandemic in his obiter dicta. Then again, Bush has been trying to convince us that the best way to make a point is with foaming-at-the-mouth rhetoric and letters filled primarily with exclamation points. This pathetic attempt to inject even more fear and divisiveness into political campaigns deserves no comment other than to say that anyone who hasn't been living in a cave with his eyes shut and his ears plugged knows that I have come to know Bush's coadjutors too well not to feel the profoundest disgust for their wicked, imperious nostrums. I put that observation into this letter just to let you see that Bush needs to internalize the external truth that he should shift for himself. Am I being unduly harsh for writing that? I think not. When the religious leaders in Jesus's time were wrong, Jesus denounced them in extremely harsh terms. So why shouldn't I, too, use extremely harsh terms to indicate that disreputable solipsism is Bush's preferred quick-fix solution to complex cultural problems?

By writing this letter, I am indubitably sticking my head far above the parapet. The big danger is that Bush will retaliate against me. He'll most likely try to force me to swallow whatever he dishes out, although another possibility is that if he doesn't like it here, then perhaps he should go elsewhere. This raises another important point: He ignores the most basic ground rule of debate. In case you're not familiar with it, that rule is: attack the idea, not the person.

Let us postulate that I refuse to kowtow to Bush's predaceous cult. In that case, if you are not smart enough to realize this, then you become the victim of your own ignorance. If we contradict Bush, we are labelled vile crybabies. If we capitulate, however, we forfeit our freedoms. Anyway, I hope I've made my point, which is that shooting one's mouth off in a public forum on the basis of flimsy facts is neither prudent nor smart.

Yours Patriotically,
Philboyd Studge

-1, Mods on crack! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17725164)

+2 insightful? Anyone with an intelligence level greater than that of a doorknob could tell you that this post is obviously a troll.

Stupid mods on crack again.

Re:Federal agency = Corporate lap dog (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725268)

> rom TFA: "CPI now finds itself in a District Court battle against the agency, which is being
> supported by AT&T, Verizon, and the three major industry trade groups: NCTA (cable), CTIA
> (wireless), and USTA (telephone)."

Stockholm syndrome - FCC staff spend so much time with the people they are regulating, that they've forgotten they're supposed to be working for us.

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17725730)

sums the situation up perfectly.

FOIA? (2, Interesting)

joshetc (955226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724526)

Doesn't the request fall under FOIA? Which basically means the FCC has to give the information up. If this isn't the case would someone kindly enlighten me?

Re:FOIA? (3, Informative)

ryanguill (988659) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724574)

From TFA:
CPI filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FCC on August 24. After the statutory 20 business days had passed without any word from the agency, CPI filed suit on September 25, 2006. That apparently got the FCC's attention; the FOIA request was officially denied the next day.
Apparently the FCC doesn't think so...

Re:FOIA? (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724830)

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) wants to access data from the FCC on broadband subscriptions in various parts of the US, but the FCC won't hand it over. Why? Because the FCC thinks giving the CPI the data will give a competitive advantage to the other broadband companies.


What a strange way for the FCC to put it: They don't want to release the subscription data because it will give a competitive advantage to the "other broadband companies". Who are they referring to here? The CPI isn't a broadband company, and the FCC isn't a broadband company(but there's some evidence that they represent one or more).

And if the information is made public, then who is the "other" companies that will get the advantage?

We should never pretend that any part of what happens in the US economy is the result of the workings of the "free market". Ol' Uncle Miltie didn't do us any favors when he put this free market fantasy into the soft skulls of those that consider themselves "conservatives" or "libertarians".

Re:FOIA? (5, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724684)

http://www.fcc.gov/foia/#typesnot [fcc.gov]

This lists the 9 exemptions allowed for refusing FOIA requests. Bureaucratic obstinance doesn't seem to be on the list.

Re:FOIA? (4, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724968)

This lists the 9 exemptions allowed for refusing FOIA requests. Bureaucratic obstinance doesn't seem to be on the list.

No, but this is, and I imagine that's what they'll quote:

"4. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential"

I'm sure they'll say the respective companies' detailed coverage and speed maps would be useful to the competition, blah, blah.

Re:FOIA? (1)

Stone Pony (665064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725248)

Presumably they're relying on this one:

"Although most FCC documents, records, and publications are accessible through FOIA, some types of FCC records are not available. Section 552(b) of the FOIA contains nine types of records which are routinely exempt from disclosure under the FOIA:
...
4. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential, 5 U.S.C 552(b)(4);"

Number 4 (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725624)

4. "Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential, 5 U.S.C 552(b)(4);"

If you read the article, they give a perfectly legitimate example of why they feel they don't want to release it, and a reasonable reason of why telcos don't want it released. Not some great conspiracy.

The arguement behind exception number 4 is that they wont be able to conduct any studies if information that can hurt the people who try to help the agency becomes public knowledge..

If you asre running a business, and your suppliers are giving you a hard time, do you want that being public information?

I'd make some kind of pithy comment (1)

Eternal Vigilance (573501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724540)

but I'm still waiting for the article to load.

Text if slashdotted (2, Informative)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724588)

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) wants to find out exactly how competitive the US broadband market is. To do that, it needs access to the raw data collected by the FCC, but the agency has refused to turn it over on the grounds that it could give a competitive advantage to other companies. CPI now finds itself in a District Court battle against the agency, which is being supported by AT&T, Verizon, and the three major industry trade groups: NCTA (cable), CTIA (wireless), and USTA (telephone).
CPI wants the FCC database of Form 477 filings. These documents are filed with the FCC by every telecom company in the US, and they give the agency data on each company's line deployments, broken down by ZIP code (and generally unaudited by the FCC). The FCC then uses this data to generate reports about the state of broadband competition, usually arguing that nothing radical needs to be done.
But the agency's methods for generating these reports have come under scrutiny, and CPI wants to take a look for itself. When talking about broadband deployment, for instance, the FCC says that any particular ZIP code has broadband access if even a single cable or DSL connection exists there. It also classes "broadband" as anything above 200kbps--a woefully low standard for any true broadband connection.
The General Accounting Office, the federal government's internal watchdog agency, took the FCC to task (PDF) last May for the way it prepared these reports. The GAO's own examination of Form 477 data found that the median number of broadband options in a particular ZIP code was two, not eight as the FCC claimed.
CPI filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FCC on August 24. After the statutory 20 business days had passed without any word from the agency, CPI filed suit on September 25, 2006. That apparently got the FCC's attention; the FOIA request was officially denied the next day.
The matter is now in the hands of a federal judge, and the FCC is trying to have the case dismissed. The agency argues that the material in the reports is confidential business information and that the release of it could damage the companies involved. In a court filing, Alan Feldman of the FCC tells the court how this might work. "For example," he says, "information about how a company's number of lines has increased or decreased in a particular area over time provides competitors with insights into how that company is focusing its investment and marketing efforts." He also notes that most filers requested confidentiality for their data.
CPI hopes to add the Form 477 data to its Media Tracker, a web site that shows consumers the available broadband providers, cable operators, television and radio stations, and newspapers in the area.

Re:Text if slashdotted (1)

maggard (5579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725104)

In your zeal to cut & paste you missed

Copyright © 1998-2006 Ars Technica, LLC

Re:Text if slashdotted (0, Troll)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725254)

Did I, maggard (5579), did I?

Re:I'd make some kind of pithy comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17724680)

you're waiting for the what to load?

is this some kind of web 2.0 reference?

What do you expect? (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724546)

I can see no reasonable argument why this data can't be public record. In fact, if it was public record, that would negate the "fears" the FCC has of it being a competitive advantage to one company over another.

I think probably the whole mission of the FCC is more in iconic thing -- "don't worry, the government is in control!" -- and this data getting out would result in a lot of people asking WTF is up with the FCC if they can't put together a proper report.

Re:What do you expect? (1)

xeromist (443780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724876)

In fact, if it was public record, that would negate the "fears" the FCC has of it being a competitive advantage to one company over another.
The "fear" is that another company will find out that for example: Verizon is focusing on a build out in your neighboring city but ignoring yours. Another company could then move in quickly to offer services where they know Verizon is weak.

So while their "fear" would likely come true, it has nothing to do with protecting the public.

Re:What do you expect? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725264)

[quote]Another company could then move in quickly to offer services where they know Verizon is weak.[/quote]

Problem is that other company would still end up either (a) dealing with Verizon or whoever else owns the lines or (b) running their own lines. Neither one of those seems to be an endeavour that would be undertaken lightly.

The only "fear" they should have is that if this gets released, people might start asking questions and end up realizing ISPs and the FCC are in cahoots and get slapped with some nasty lawsuits.

Re:What do you expect? (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725326)

frickin...in my head on the preview those tags worked...

caffeine IV must be dry...

Re:What do you expect? (2, Insightful)

drooling-dog (189103) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725802)

I think probably the whole mission of the FCC is more in iconic thing -- "don't worry, the government is in control!"

A more cynical and accurate view would be that the FCC is beholden to the industry it's supposed to be regulating, and like the rest of the executive branch has little or no concept of any public interest to be upheld. The commissioners and other top bureaucrats there know who's going to be buttering their bread when they leave government service in a couple of years.

I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724558)

but it's faster than dialup, and if that's how one is drawing the line (i.e., broadband is anything that isn't dialup), then 200kbps is probably as good a number as any. I seem to recall that my first ISDN connection was only 128kbps.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (2, Insightful)

ari_j (90255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724704)

I think 200Kbps is perfectly fair, if not a bit high. What I don't like is the use of one connection per ZIP code as a fair measure of that entire ZIP code having broadband access. Some ZIP codes cover, say, a town of 1,500 people and the surrounding rural area where another 1,500 live. A cable or DSL provider in the town covers only half of the ZIP code's population but, under this measure, the entire ZIP code is deemed to have broadband access. ZIP codes are meant to make delivering mail easy, not to measure the lives of those who receive mail in each one.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

fjf33 (890896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725098)

It really does sound arbitrary but I guess it was just 'easy'. They could have gone with the breakdowns used for marketing. That is what corporations use so it would probably be a good 'free' consensus area. Not too small (because they don't want to spend too much money) and not too large (because then it looses all marketing value). Of course that may give them the wrong answer.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725550)

I'd even be okay with ZIP codes if it weren't a binary statistic. There's a lot more to the story than whether or not a given ZIP code has broadband access. What portion of the population in a given ZIP code has access? What portion wouldn't pay for broadband access even if it were available? Things like that.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724714)

72k per pots line so I can talk and still have 1.7 lines open for data. That's broad enough for me. But then I live at the end of a pots line strung in the 1920's and they laugh when I ask for voice mail. Basically anyone who says 200 k is slow is an asshole or living in a fantasy world. If you aren't downloading othe people's movies or video games 200 k is ok. No don't get me wrong not OK for a business but that's not what this thread is about.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

zenyu (248067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725220)

Basically anyone who says 200 k is slow is an asshole or living in a fantasy world. If you aren't downloading othe people's movies or video games 200 k is ok.

Hmm, I think 20 Mbps is slow, so I must be a super-duper asshole. Doing a day to day operation like 'svn up' would be incredibly slow on 0.2 Mbps, I can't image how long it would take to download security patches. I would think anybody connecting directly to the internet at that speed is probably a hazard to the internet as botnet node. If you are a botnet member doesn't that make you the asshole sending out all those stock scams and penis enlargement e-mails?

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725266)

Broadband is for downloading video. You'd be fine with your dial-up for anything else.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

rblum (211213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725590)

Funnily, I have 3 MBps, and that's ugly slow. Even funnier, I have an internal Gigabit network, and that's still quite slow for many things I do.

Excuse us who actually *do* things with the network for wanting faster connections.

Internet: Not just for surfing ASCII pr0n any more!

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17727068)

The funny thing is the three major conduit channels run past my house. Level 3, Qwest's classic train conduits, and one put in my US West before Qwest. Water water everywhere...

My point is bandwidth is like money, you can't have too much for all practical purposes. Like money most people would have no idea what to do with anything more than one logarithmic step up. You can burn up a big pipe sending crap back and forth but for the ability to browse the web without having to walk away and wait for a page to load 200 k is not so bad. I once had the misfortune of using a Mac with a win modem. There was a noticeable lag between typing in a url and it echoing on the screen. That's beyond pain.

As to having bandwidth my high school had the first internet connection in the country and I have been blessed with fast connections through academia and work ever since. Believe me you can live with a smaller pipe when you have to. Right now I live in the Middle East and have to go to a US site that doesn't have a country wide firewall, download the updates and sneaker net them home to my PC. "Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with magnetic media hurtling down the highway" or round the roundabout in this case.

All I am saying is before you pull you cock out of your pants and say I have an OC48 sized penis bla bla bla, go and try and use the web with a 28.8 modem for 1 hour and tell me that 200 is slow.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

rblum (211213) | more than 7 years ago | (#17727274)

All I am saying is before you pull you cock out of your pants and say I have an OC48 sized penis bla bla bla, go and try and use the web with a 28.8 modem for 1 hour and tell me that 200 is slow.

It's not about "penis size". 200kpbs is *too slow* for most websites. Max. wait time before people give up is about 4 seconds. That's about 100KB of data. If you're using image-rich sites, that's not much. 200kbps is not broadband. It's not a modem, but neither does it qualify as broadband in any developed country except the U.S...

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724720)

yes thier definition of broadband is obviously designed not to count ISDN BRI (and i suspect there are other restrictions to discount leased lines which are way too expensive for homes/small buisnesses) but to count even the most crippled forms of dsl/cable.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724806)

The trouble is that "broadband" is a completely vague term. I seem to recall anything under 256kbps was labelled as "midband" here in the UK for a while until it died simply because no ISPs provided it when broadband became widespread.

What's really necessary though is a specific rule on performance for what can be called broadband. Whether that's a specific speed in kbps or some kind of equation based on the average users supposed bandwidth requirement for a given year (ie. a bandwidth equivalent of the Retail Price Index [wikipedia.org] ) is up for debate, just so long as there's a solid rule that can be applied to determine if something can be marketed as broadband or classified as broadband for whatever reports need to be based on it.

Not vague at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17724980)

Broadband is not a vague term at all. Broadband is just a signaling method for sharing a transmission medium between multiple senders/receivers. Another method is to use baseband signaling.

With broadband signaling, each sender has use of the medium for the entire length of the communication. No one sender had full control over the medium, as any other sender could transmit at any time. That's why early cable users experienced super-highs and super-lows, depending on number of users. I suspect that's gotten better.

Baseband signaling (100Base-TX, anyone?) requires that each sender break transmission up into fixed-sized pieces. Each sender had full control over the medium for a very small length of time. Baseband circuits are very predictable and the provider can guarantee availability and quality of service.

-M

Re:Not vague at all (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725140)

Yes, but we're dealing with a technical term that has entered public mindset and right there you've got two definitions for it. One as you described and another that's "really fast internet". The two different uses don't necessarily tie in.

For example modern dial-up connections are technically broadband, yet if I started marketing my 56kbps service as broadband how long do you think I'd last before being bitchslapped with false advertising accusations?

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725602)

The trouble is that "broadband" is a completely vague term. I seem to recall anything under 256kbps was labelled as "midband" here in the UK for a while until it died simply because no ISPs provided it when broadband became widespread.

Using any kind of pseudo-superlative to describe a current technology is a bad idea since it will be obsolete in a couple of years. Up here in Québec, "broadband" cable internet has been available for many years now through Videotron [videotron.com] . When it all started, they labeled their 7Mbps "high-speed". Then they offered a 10Mbps alternative, so 7Mbps is "high-speed", while 10Mbps is "extreme high-speed". Then they offered a 20Mbps alternative, so 7Mbps remained "high-speed", 10Mbps is "extreme high-speed", and we now have 20Mbps as "extreme plus high-speed"...

I can't wait in a couple of years when I get to subscribe to their "super-duper-ultra-extreme-plus-high-speed" internet service.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725858)

It'll be "Extreme Plus High Speed Broadband EX + Alpha."

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

lonechicken (1046406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726536)

It'll be "Extreme Plus High Speed Broadband EX + Alpha."
"... Turbo Champion Edition... Vs. Marvel"

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724872)

Since my parents live and try to do business out of a house where the fastest connection they can get is 26k (on a good day), I'd kill for 200kbps "broadband".

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

SuperStretchy (1018064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725356)

Time Warner Cable's Roadrunner just went 10mbps in NY. They give us that to justify 50+$ a month? I'd rather have 5Mbps and pay $25. Since I'm a wireless-B user anyway, I'm only getting 400KBps throughput anyway (3.2mbps). I also would rather have them up the upload speed. Running a TS server, VPN server, and a CSS server is a tad laggy.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

spxero (782496) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726222)

802.11b? [wikipedia.org]

Isn't the throughput on that 11Mbps? There must be a fair amount of interference if you're only getting 3.2Mbps

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

SuperStretchy (1018064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726550)

The bandwidth is 11Mbps. Throughput is the actual, usable speed. When you factor in the half-duplex nature (down to 5.5 Mpbs throughput), typical packetloss and error rates of the wireless nature, and header/frame info, ~40% efficiency is expected.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

spxero (782496) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726606)

Ok, that makes sense now- I figured you would be getting about half minimum, but I didn't factor in packet loss and other wireless issues.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

SuperStretchy (1018064) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726918)

Yeah.. imagine what kind of letdown 54 or 108 is!

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725412)

Agreed theres nothing wrong with using 200kbps as a metric. Its pretty much saying 'anything but phone modems and ISDN' which is good enough as any definition. If they upped to a more crowd pleasing number than I would imagine many ISPs would claim 'top speeds of x' with x being some datarate thats possible but unattainable.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

tknd (979052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726162)

Sure, it is a metric but I still think it is a poor one because it does not account for the improvements in technology. A better metric would be the average broadband speed available to consumers. Compare that metric to other countries and you'll have much better data on how competitive and advanced the U.S. market is compared to other countries.

But we all know that that number is probably going to be much lower so of course the FCC and all of it's corporate buddies want to paint a different picture.

Re:I'll grant you that 200kbps is slow, (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726346)

but it's faster than dialup, and if that's how one is drawing the line (i.e., broadband is anything that isn't dialup), then 200kbps is probably as good a number as any. I seem to recall that my first ISDN connection was only 128kbps.

Maybe we needs to categorize broadband in the amount of bandwidth for suitable doing a certain task, such as streaming music, watching streaming video, etc. The other possibility simply categorize anything below 1Mbit/s as lowband (low broadband)?

Horrible internet (1)

dmsuperman (1033704) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724572)

Things like this are what are the cause of the dismal internet connection in the US.

Simple Solution (1)

matr0x_x (919985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724582)

Why not just make it available to any company that wants to see it?

Re:Simple Solution (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724658)

Why not just make it available to any company that wants to see it?

stop tryin' to use that logic stuff here, boy. we don't work that way 'round here.

Re:Simple Solution (1)

fjf33 (890896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725142)

Because then the terrorists would have the plans to a critical infrastructure. In the war on terror we have to ALWAYS be mindful of what information we leak to Al-qaeda and its followers. It is a good think they can block disclosure under the PATRIOT act if the liberal courts force the FAA to do this under FOIA. I think the administration is much better at understanding the risks since they have all the information available.

The FCC is out of line (5, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724664)

The General Accounting Office, the federal government's internal watchdog agency, took the FCC to task (PDF) last May for the way it prepared these reports. The GAO's own examination of Form 477 data found that the median number of broadband options in a particular ZIP code was two, not eight as the FCC claimed.

CPI filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the FCC on August 24. After the statutory 20 business days had passed without any word from the agency, CPI filed suit on September 25, 2006. That apparently got the FCC's attention; the FOIA request was officially denied the next day.

The matter is now in the hands of a federal judge, and the FCC is trying to have the case dismissed. The agency argues that the material in the reports is confidential business information and that the release of it could damage the companies involved. In a court filing, Alan Feldman of the FCC tells the court how this might work. "For example," he says, "information about how a company's number of lines has increased or decreased in a particular area over time provides competitors with insights into how that company is focusing its investment and marketing efforts." He also notes that most filers requested confidentiality for their data.

When the GAO says you did something wrong, you generally did something wrong and need to fix it.

The FCC's behavior is pretty brazen; the CPI isn't a broadband service provider, so I suspect that other than verifying the FCC's results (or disproving them), the data is in pretty good hands. The fact is the FCC is playing politics and trying to stay on the good side of industry -- for what reason I can't say. It would surprise me if there's more going on here, and if they keep stalling, the FCC could end up being threatened with a Congressional investigation, which I think they'd like to avoid.

Re:The FCC is out of line (1)

xeromist (443780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724762)

the CPI isn't a broadband service provider, so I suspect that other than verifying the FCC's results (or disproving them), the data is in pretty good hands.
From what I understand CPI wants to post the information on their website to provide coverage information. While I agree that keeping this information secret is stupid it wouldn't just be seen by CPI.

I think you hit on the key point. (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724962)

Because the FCC thinks giving the CPI the data will give a competitive advantage to the other broadband companies.
The FCC's behavior is pretty brazen; the CPI isn't a broadband service provider, so I suspect that other than verifying the FCC's results (or disproving them), the data is in pretty good hands.

I think you hit on the key point here; The Center for Public Integrity [publicintegrity.org] isn't an ISP. they're a watchdog group, so the FCC's objection is nonsensical.

It's like telling the police "I'm not going to honor your search warrant because it might give you an advantage over the other counterfeiting operations." Actually, it makes even less sense, because if you did this you could at least be setting yourself up for an insanity defense.

This is even worse than their claim that giving out cell phone service area / outage maps (so that people could tell if the vendors were lying to them before they signed a contract) would somehow help the terrorists beat us over here before they could beat us over there or something.

--MarkusQ

The FCC is out of Date (1)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726266)

But first the FCC works for Us the Public. It needs to provide resources to the Public, not just the Telco's

I don't care about some dumb paper work. I want the Public to have a share of the radio spectrum. My Wifi FON [fon.com] [fon.com] router should have a 10 to 15 km range. not 100 to 500 foot range. It should be illegal/unconstitutional that we don't have reasonable Free Speech in digital spectrum.

But no We have to pay the Teloc's, the King ( of England ). This is the sort of thing that created this country. But some how the government has lost sight of this,

Its time to throw your cell phones (Tea) into the harbor.

FCC's Internal Anti-Trust Issues (4, Insightful)

Dissenter (16782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724746)

The FCC seems to be spending less time ensuring a competitive market for communications and wasting more time monitoring and sending out fines to radio and TV stations for using "bad language." I for one think that it is high time this group had a complete makeover. The people that are running things don't seem to have a clue about technology and the emerging markets that are being exploited by their lack of attention. This trend stinks of payoffs and corporate meddling. I'm not making any accusations as I have nothing but the smell to prove this idea, but when a group is trying to help generate more competition and the FCC refuses to support them it makes me wonder what's hiding under the covers. I'm no conspiracy maniac, but there's no way to see the FCC's position in a positive light.

Fuck the FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17724994)

Here's an idea: Get rid of the FCC!

It sounds crazy until you think about it. They are totally useless, can anyone name a single thing that they do which is worthwhile?

Re:Fuck the FCC (1)

Dissenter (16782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725028)

Yea, but that was about 10-15 years ago when they broke up the Bell company into the baby bells. Then again they're all right back together again now.... Guess that takes a something away from their previous success.

Re:Fuck the FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17725262)

I'm sure we could have found some other method of smacking Ma Bell.

It's very telling that the only good thing anyone can come up with is something that the FCC will never do again, and something that was barely successful. Does anyone really believe the FCC cares about consumers? Does anyone think they give a shit if companies exploit their monopolies? What do they do that is useful?

If you are a conservative you might be happy they are punishing those who dare expose us to the word fuck or Janet Jackson's nipple or whatever. If you are the CEO of a big telecom company you might be happy that you can get them to fuck with any new technologies or start-up companies that challenges your company for a few donations to the right people in DC. If you are anyone else, what does FCC do that makes you happy?

Re:Fuck the FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17725372)

That's because they broke it up incorrectly. They should have made regulated companies that owned the loops and COs and prevented from selling any services except access to their COs and unbundled access to the loops. Dialtone and network access would be
provided by unregulated companies.

Re:Fuck the FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17725496)

Jan 1, 1984 was 10-15 years ago? It's about time you woke up Mr. Van Winkle.

Re:Fuck the FCC (1)

csplinter (734017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17727336)

"They are totally useless, can anyone name a single thing that they do which is worthwhile?"

Off the top of my head, delegate radio frequencies and, regulate radio noise leaks from our electronics. I do agree with you though, fuck the FCC, they should stick to making sure my radio equipment's reception isn't being interfered with.

Where are the funny bones? (2, Funny)

UPZ (947916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724868)

Damnit, I couldn't find a single funny comment in this thread. What a tremendous waste of my working hours!

One reason why they don't want the public to see.. (1)

mgemmons (972332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724880)

Per the article,

The Center wants to make data about these companies publicly available online through Well Connected's Media Tracker, a free, Internet-based database of the radio, television, newspaper and cable companies that is searchable by ZIP code. Media Tracker was first released in 2003, and updated and expanded in October and November 2006.

I could imagine that no broadband provider really wants that amount of transparency into their deployment. Each one will have markets that they are getting by on advertising campaigns and would prefer Joe Public not to see that their competition, who isn't spending millions on ads, has 3x as many deployments as them in a particular zip code. It's like job security through obscurity for them.

Re:One reason why they don't want the public to se (1)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725318)

That makes sense (why companies wouldn't want the information released). If the companies wanted to release it, CPI wouldn't have to go to the FCC. The real question is why the FCC isn't giving Americans information that would be useful to them (us).

Re:One reason why they don't want the public to se (1)

mgemmons (972332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726372)

Kickbacks from the broadband companies?

Then again... (1)

jedibrand (886925) | more than 7 years ago | (#17724916)

For country-bumpkin Joe Hicks, 25 KB/s is almost a four-fold increase on an unreliable dial-up connection that may or may not peak at 7 KB/s. Maybe not "broad" enough for most us /.'ers, but certainly broader than DUN.

On that, should 1MB/s be considered Broadband? Either way, I'd say anything over the standard, consumer-level ISDN speeds of yore (ie, 128kbps) should be considered "broad".

CPI Rocks (1)

KnarfO (320113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725044)

Center for Public Integrity is the last bastion of real investigative journalism left in the US. You think any of the big Media outlets wanna piss-off the FCC with a story like this?

Go get 'em CPI!!

Hypocrisy (2, Insightful)

merc (115854) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725280)

"[T]he FCC thinks giving the CPI the data will give a competitive advantage to the other broadband companies."

And forcing Google to turn over search engine data to the USDOJ is okay, but this isn't?

Re:Hypocrisy (1)

Thanatopsis (29786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725562)

Last time I looked the FCC was a government agency, not a private company - big difference. Without the raw data you can't get a look at the actual specifics of broadband deployment in the United States. I also realize that telcos have "trade secret" data but that's the cost of being a telco. Telcos have recieved over $200 billion in tax breaks since 1996 designed to speed the deployment of high speed internet access. I suspect know if they actually did anything is worth knowing.

Re:Hypocrisy (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726810)

Telcos have recieved over $200 billion.... to pay for the exhorbitant pay to their CEOs.
Ironically this week's economist magazine tries to justify this pay with their title article "Rich man, Poor man".
So you see, my friend, Telcos give a Rat's ass to whether you get good broadband or not.
They care more about profits and CEO's pay packages.

Give us Free Speech (0, Flamebait)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725470)


I don't care about some dumb paper work.
I want the Public to have a share of the radio spectrum.
My Wifi FON [fon.com] router should have a 10 to 15 km range.
not 100 to 500 foot range. It should be illegal/unconstitutional
that we don't have reasonable Free Speech in digital spectrum.

But no We have to pay the Teloc's, the King ( of England ).
This is the sort of thing that created this country.
But some how the government has lost sight of this,

Its time to throw your cell phones (Tea) into the harbor.

Digital Divide (3, Insightful)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725620)

Personally, I think that what they're all really worried about is that the data will show that the communications companies have been very selective in rolling out broadband.

They have cherry-picked specific, high-income areas in which to roll out. It's very likely that many areas will *never* get broadband service, if these companies get their way. And they're currenly involved in heavy lobbying and lawsuits to prevent other means of servicing the areas that they're not willing to service.

I don't know what the ultimate solution should be, but broadband Internet access is vitally important to me (I work as a software engineer) and I hate that these companies and their services have such an impact on where I choose to live!

Re:Digital Divide (1)

lonechicken (1046406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726350)

They have cherry-picked specific, high-income areas in which to roll out. It's very likely that many areas will *never* get broadband service, if these companies get their way.


Is this a fact cited somewhere? I'd actually be interested in a link. My parents live in a community in Northern Virginia (generally very high income area compared to the rest of the US) that is of higher income than most of northern Virginia. The houses (single, town, condos) are densely built together, so there's a pretty big concentration of people as well. Up until two years ago, nobody could get broadband unless it was business class Covad or whatever. Then Cox finally came in. AFAIK, they still can't get alternatives like DSL or FiOS. With the kind of service they're getting with cable internet, I bet they'd switch in an instant to a competitor.

I guess what I'm getting at is, that if it was based on income + population density, they would have been swooped upon five years ago.

Re:Digital Divide (1)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17727154)

I should have pointed out that my evidence is mostly anecdotal. I've read of several instances of cherry-picking by communications companies after reading this [slashdot.org] Slashdot article.

It's also particular worrying that this [slashdot.org] happened not too long after.

A quick Google found this [broadbandeverywhere.com] site. It appears that many others are concerned about this as well.

FCC blew it (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17725696)

Because the FCC thinks giving the CPI the data will give a competitive advantage to the other broadband companies

They should have played the terrorism/national security card. The quickest way to cover your mistakes, self dealing and lack of responsiveness is to scream: "But will be used by [Al Qaeda | North Korea | Iran | Commie-Nazis | Unitarians ] (or whatever the 'threat' du jour may be) to destroy our way of life!'.

The courts don't have the back bone to challenge such claims, no matter how spurious.

So remember kiddies, its all about using fear and 'national security' to grab power and remain beyond the law.

The "other" companies (4, Informative)

LMacG (118321) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726212)

A lot of replies are jumping on the line in the summary that says "the FCC thinks giving the CPI the data will give a competitive advantage to the other broadband companies." But of course the linked article didn't say that; it said "the agency has refused to turn it over on the grounds that it could give a competitive advantage to other companies." Which is still a bit of a stretch from what the FCC actually said in their response [publicintegrity.org] .

They did cite exemption rule 4 as others have posted.

I'm not defending the FCC, by any means, but let's not be misled by a Slashdot summary that might not quite be correct.

The FCC (0, Flamebait)

crhylove (205956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17726320)

Other than completely eliminating free speech financially and otherwise, is there anything the FCC has actually done RIGHT in the last 20 years? Isn't it time to fix this regression in the Bill of Rights once and for all? SHE'S A WITCH!! BURN HER!!!

rhY

I've got it pretty good here, but I'm still fed up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17727240)

I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and I was one of the first people to get real broadband here (ADSL). That was 10 years ago, and I was mightily impressed because I could hit speeds of 600KBS, pretty consistently. It cost $45/month, if I recall correctly. Now, both cable and ADSL are available, they each cost around $45/month (a bit more, I think), and I can consistently hit speeds of 600KBS on both of them. The only thing that has changed is that both are available in "light" versions, that give you 1/10th the speed for about $25/month.
Suffice to say, I'm rather suspicious that it continues to be so slow. I recall reading around the turn of the century that new forms of Cable and ADSL were just around the corner, with speeds in the tens of megabits.
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