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ISPs Fight To Keep Broadband Gaps Secret

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the where-their-bread-is-buttered dept.

Communications 170

Aaron writes "Broadband Reports notes how Maryland was working on a law that would force ISPs to show exactly where they offer service and at what speed. The goal was to help map coverage gaps, since FCC broadband data is worthless for this purpose. Cable and phone company lobbyists have scuttled the plan, convincing state leaders the plan would bring 'competitive harm,' 'stifle innovation,' and even close local coffee shops. Of course the real reason is they don't want the public to know what criteria they use to determine the financial viability of your neighborhood — as they cherry-pick only the most lucrative areas for next-generation services. The Center for Public Integrity is trying to obtain the unreleased raw FCC penetration data, but these companies are also fighting this tooth and nail."

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Easy web business opportunity (4, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444477)

Provide some "test your download speed here" app, collect zip code & ISP of person testing, map results. If one can garner enough mindshare, one could build this map without forcing the ISP's to disclose anything. Reverse engineering, in a manner of speaking.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444563)

Provide some "test your download speed here" app, collect zip code & ISP of person testing, map results. If one can garner enough mindshare, one could build this map without forcing the ISP's to disclose anything. Reverse engineering, in a manner of speaking.
I don't think that would be very accurate. Just because I run this app and it shows my down speed at 1.5mb/s that could just mean I am cheap and only want to pay for the low-end service.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444895)

I think that anything over 1meg download is considered 'broadband'. I would also think that your ip-number would be either a broad-band provider or not.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445617)

Where I went to HS, they still charge $50-70/mo for 256k access.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (0)

ijakings (982830) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445701)

Anything above 600 bit/s is technically broadband. As Broadband is sending multiple pieces of data at the same time to increase the rate of transfer, without nessecarily changing the rate of the data. Although in the modern world Broadband colloquially means where you split your phone line into 2 "channels" one for phone communication and one for data. Allowing you to do both at the same time. And this can be of wildly varying speeds. Anything from about 64kb/s to whatever speed your line can support. And as for your other point, IP Address wouldnt tell anyone that You were on broadband or not if its dynamic, as when you disconnect you lose that number and get assigned a new one when you reconnect. And anyway with a Static IP address the only way to find out what package they are on is to.... you guessed it, Go and ask the ISP.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

PaulMorel (962396) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444621)

That's exactly what I was thinking.

Yes, the system could easily be broken on a case by case basis, but if enough people ran it, general trends would start to emerge.

Some slashdotter should write an app to do this (maybe when I get home), and we could all run it... Slashdot could take on the telcos FTW!

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444623)

If they weren't a complete joke, that is. Three of the last four locations I've lived couldn't actually deliver what the speed test showed, two couldn't deliver at all.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444951)

Three of the last four locations I've lived couldn't actually deliver what the speed test showed

The speed test works by timing a download/upload from your machine, by default it can only report slower speeds than the link is cpable of (it can be thrown off by other downloads or simultaneous traffic). If one were clever, I guess you could "fool" the test (proxy the test file so its local, use QoS to prioritize speed test traffic), but that would be pretty out there.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445427)

Ah, maybe I explained myself poorly. I'm talking about the ISP sign-up tests, "How fast broadband can you get?" which is what you get when you enter an address/zip code. Those are the ones that are wildly misleading, actual speeds don't seem too far off from the advertised.

Yes, BUT... (1)

Rachel Lucid (964267) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444631)

This only covers the companies that already have penetration down to a partcular user, so it hides newer companies (especially since a lot of loyalty tends to accrue in this unless you're referring strictly to dialup-to-DSL conversion).

Re:Yes, BUT... (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444719)

As solving the problem for dialup-to-dsl would address probably 80% of the problem, yes, I would define that as a successful outcome.

Re:Determining Area (1)

davef139 (790691) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444759)

You cant really determine a set area dependant on a location speed test, The big they they seem to be after would be the gaps in broadband not exactly the connecting speed. I know of a few outer lying areas in my town where if you lived 50feet to the left or right you would be able to get service. I would find the best user submission would be done through rural and outer lying areas of a city.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444783)

I ran one of those and it said my speed was 174 kbps. This is outrageous! My housemates and I pay for a 6MB line.

Oh, by the way. Is it a problem that one housemate is seeding a bunch of stuff on BitTorrent and another is busy playing WoW? (Rhetorical question. Just pointing out a common problem with those online speed tests).

Re:Easy web business opportunity (4, Informative)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445049)

Broadband reports already does this. they already have huge number of users, and a way to put in your zip-code, so that you can be compared to others in the area. They could do a simple database scant that would do the research, as long as everyone opted for it. But then you still have the whole zip-code penetration issue. i don't understand how you could get any further, without a huge privacy issue with the users. Can you gurantee that no-one will hack your severer knowing thousands of addresses are on it?? Not to mention their ip number?

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445245)

Those regular bandwidth test sites aren't very accurate. They'll give bad readings if they are loaded down. Running a bittorrent client will give better results.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445723)

That depends on your connection. I have high-speed light, and most of the time on bittorrent I get pretty slow downloads, usually around 20 KB/s because my upload is capped at 15 KB/s. However when I download from HTTP, FTP, and others, I get about 120 KB/s. Please notice that I'm using Kilobytes per second because that is the units used when these program report their speeds.

Re:"Wha chew gots" versus "What's available" (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445513)

On the surface, this seems like a reasonable suggestion ... until you consider that any number of factors (like seeding BitTorrents or playing WoW) will skew the results.

Also, this method only provides a measure of what you're paying for. It can't provide any insight into what the service provider's network is capable of, or what packages/plans they're offering. If they're offering 3Mbps DSL, but you only contracted for 768k, your 768k "measurement" only indicates what you paid for. You can't extrapolate the rate-coverage details from the billing records.

The best you could do is make some inferences, with a healthy disclaimer about "nn-percent confidence level in the results." Credibility of the results would always be an issue.

Re:Easy web business opportunity (1)

netr00t (536256) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445733)

Getting everyone to perform this action would be the real feat. I keep in mind a few security risks when i associate my ip with a specific location, Even if it is a Zipcode only test which would be useless due to the lack of granularity. Zipcodes are too broad and may easily fall out of the range of a CO without notice therefore street addresses would have to be used and im not willing to give out my street address coupled with an IP. As for getting broadband in rural or gap areas, there is are solutions for you, either satellite or another form of wireless communication. Though satellite is latent prone, it is still high speed. With the Invention of 3G for cellular (comming to a tower near you!), I forsee these ground based companies to loose money in the future anyway, I love the idea of being able to take my highspeed on the road. And I saw no mention of the Power line Internet project which will also assist in covering areas as well with existing lines. I admit, Companies will withold this information from the public not for the sake of loosing business, because they already forsee that, but for the sake of taking the time to compile the data, gather the maps, will cost money, Money they are not willing to just hand over for no reason that doesnt benefit them. Businesses are in the business of making money, not wasting it. I would have to agree with the business on this standpoint. BTW, i live in a rural area and the only HSI avail to me is Cellular.

Marketability? (3, Insightful)

foodnugget (663749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444503)

Shouldn't the ISPs roll out innovative service in areas where it is likely to catch on, and not areas where it is likely to be unused? I'm all for the ISPs having to commit to/document the speeds they're offering, however. Furthermore, can't you call an ISP and ask if they have service in a certain area at the moment?

Re:Marketability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444701)

Furthermore, can't you call an ISP and ask if they have service in a certain area at the moment?

The best you can do for most providers is to find a phone number and address in a certain area, and submit that to see if they have service there. If you're lucky, they won't already have DSL, in which case they won't tell you anything other than that DSL is there (how fast? can it get faster? sorry sir, can't tell you that). With only an address, most will refuse to tell you whether you can get service or what services you can get.

I got bitten by that once when DSL was new, I was looking to move off campus and get in on this hot new DSL internet thing, but the phone company couldn't tell me what apartments I could get service in. I ended up giving the addresses and numbers of the apartments offices, and it turned out that while the office could have gotten DSL, the apartment I ended up in was at the far end of the complex, as in "too far". They rolled out cable internet that year though, so it wasn't that bad.

Re:Marketability? (2, Insightful)

zoney_ie (740061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444839)

High-speed Internet connectivity should be regarded as a public service that should be provided to all in the interests of offering equal opportunity. Whether private companies or state organisations are used to provide is not the main concern, but where everything is wholly in the hands of private companies, there should be a means of laying a Universal Service Obligation on the main players or those with regional monopolies.

This nonsense of leaving everything up to the free market will only result in an increasingly dysfunctional state, even if some people do become very wealthy as a result. It is not like you need to resort to complete socialism just because of placing restrictions on the private sector, providing some public services, and mitigating the more problematic aspects of capitalism.

In short - nothing is going to change with regard to sections of the US population being bypassed when it comes to broadband provision, unless you have a significant movement in politics to take on board some of the concepts of Christian Democracy. I find it baffling that in a country with such a large Christian community that equal opportunity and social justice are so far down the list of priorities when it comes to politics. I guess that's what comes of having a two party state; little chance of different political influences other than the status quo.

Re:Marketability? (2, Insightful)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445359)

This nonsense of leaving everything up to the free market...

We never had a "free market". That does not exist. What we have is a series of protected monopolies. And we're not allowed to apply the rules of Christianity to our leaders. They only apply to the worker bees.

Re:Marketability? (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445827)

The only problem I have with government regulations guiding a sector is that it generally leads to that sector providing the minimal of service.

Take health care, for example. Whenever Medicare says they're going to provide this level of service, all of the insurance companies flock to that level of service. It used to be that patients spent the night in the hospital, where the nursing staff could ensure that they didn't eat/drink anything they weren't supposed to, etc. Now you had a hospital full of patients ready for surgery. If one patient wasn't ready for some reason, you just swapped schedules and took the guy that's supposed to go in 2 hours, cause he's already ready already.

Now everyone comes in just a short time before their operation. "Did you eat anything in the last 12 hours? --Well, I had a light breakfast. --Great, the anesthesia will kill you. Now we have to wait 6 hours. When's the next patient arrive? Oh, in 2 hours? Time to twiddle thumbs." No insurance company will pay for an overnight anymore because Medicare said it was a waste of money. If we say telecoms have to offer a minimum of 1Mb/s to everyone in the country, that's what we'll get--nothing over 1Mb/s.

But I digress. Clearly the telecoms industry sucks. Part of that might be because they are already so heavily regulated, part of it is because they almost all have local monopolies so don't really compete. I'm not sure what the solution is. Regulation looks like the answer, but I'm not sure there is an answer.

Re:Marketability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18445271)

Short answer: Yes, unless they are receiving or have received public money to offset the cost of providing broadband to all areas, then, No.

Re:Marketability? (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445605)

Controlling the flow of information is profitable.

money well spent (5, Informative)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444529)

Good thing we gave them $200 Billion http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20060131/2021240_ F.shtml [techdirt.com]

Re:money well spent (3, Interesting)

Paladin144 (676391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444733)

Excellent point. Talk about the scam of the century. Is there no one in Washington with the balls to stand up the cable companies?

I'm currently experiencing blinding, piercing rage at Comcast. First they "traded" Time-Warner for all of the subscribers in the Twin Cities (for some other city) and the next thing they did was jack up their prices for high-speed internet-only subscribers by 18 dollars a month. Unless I can talk them down I'm going to go with DSL -- no matter how shitty it is -- simply out of sheer spite (and the whole blinding, piercing rage thing).

These ISPs are out of control. They're abusing the system every single way they can think of (Network Neutrality might be a necessary evil), and no one seems to be able to stop them. I think city-run wireless might be our only defense because it makes the ISPs howl with pain at the very idea of competition. Can somebody tell me with a straight face that this is what capitalism is supposed to look like?

Re:money well spent (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444855)

First they "traded" Time-Warner for all of the subscribers in the Twin Cities (for some other city)

That would be Los Angeles, and a local VP of T-W had to commit corporate seppuku (aka "spend more time with his family") because of the way T-W mismanaged the Comcast acquisition.

Re:money well spent (1)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445603)

Can somebody tell me with a straight face that this is what capitalism is supposed to look like?

No, there should be competition. I should be able to start a company and start laying fiber if I want to. At this rate I wont have fiber coming in my house for 50 years. Hell why subsidize this industry just to have them abuse their monopoly. We could take that money and make a nation-wide fiber network. These companies are always complaining about how much their last round of upgrades cost. The big cost is digging stuff up, laying the lines. We could install 10 (or 100) times the fiber we need, just run more than one fiber at once, hook them up as needed. Do it once, do it right.

Funny thing... (4, Interesting)

AnswerIs42 (622520) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444555)

I had that figured out 4 years ago. I have been waiting 4+ years for some kind of broadband to get to my location.. and all I get from Verzon is "we are expanding to your area by the end of the year" .. for the last 4 years. While they keep improving the areas where they make most their money.

I am sure once more "City Folk" move out by where I live, broadband will come flying in and those poeple will only have waited maybe a year and think it is "Amazing how fast broadband came here!"

I'm on the other side of the donut. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444627)

You're sitting outside the broadband donut, but the same problem exists inside the donut hole. We're apparently never going to have our lines upgraded to support DSL, etc.

Apparently, our subdivision is too close to low-income areas. We were among the very last in town to get cable internet access, and we were literally right across the street from the cable company's center of operations. (I could have run ethernet through the storm drains and not been out of spec!)

Re:I'm on the other side of the donut. (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445503)

Same here. But what's worse is that Verizon and Comcast can't keep up with the demand because of the large number of college students, and yet still aren't rolling out faster speeds.

Re:Funny thing... (1)

Prophet of Nixon (842081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444745)

Cox Cable gave Gloucester, VA roughly the same treatment. They started promising cable internet when I was in high school, and didn't deliver until my last year of college (roughly a 6 year gap). Cox is alright comparitively though, the real bastard provider in VA is Adelphia out in the western bit.

Re:Funny thing... (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445107)

The local cable provider where I live is just now rolling out broadband in my neighborhood. I live in a downtown area (friggin 5 blocks from city hall!) and they are just now getting it going in 2007??? Not only are then about 5 years late, the pricing is going to be off the scale. Have had DSL here for years and while it was kinda slow early on, it's up to 3M/512K real max speeds now (6M/768K advertised) and relatively inexpensive in comparison to cable. Meanwhile the local telco is quietly rolling out fibre to the doorstep so really I don't know why they bothered at this point.

Re:Funny thing... (1)

jaguar5150 (822144) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445527)

At least they give you a time-frame, even if it is a false hope date. AT&T won't tell me a thing.

Re:Funny thing... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445705)

AT&T won't tell me a thing.

"Sorry, we canceled all of our upgrades and spent the money on buying up phone companies."

I'm sure the government will bail them out though. It would be terrible for the phone monopoly to have to cut their CEOs pay.

Large telecom vs. small telecom (5, Interesting)

nortcele (186941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445945)

My parents live a very rural part of Idaho. 22 miles from the nearest town (and by town, I mean one of 700 people. The next closest is 36 miles in the other direction. Albion telephone provides the phone service to the area. I figured he would never see broadband before 2010... and even then it would have to be in some wireless/satellite form. The good folks of Albion telephone spent some serious time putting on and taking off various things in the phone switching boxes in the path to the house. Long story short, they figured out how to get DSL broadband stretched several miles beyond the normal limit. And the cost? Same as if he had been in town. Where he used to be lucky to get a 26.4k connection, it's nearly 500k.

The small companies know how to treat small customers. They know you personally and care. To Verizon/Sprint/AT&T - you're just a number with a dollar sign behind.

Nidjits (1, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444673)

I wish that people wouldn't be such leftist nidjits (but I repeat myself). The way that technology becomes available is that it is first offered to the rich. The rich pay huge prices to get the latest and greatest technology, which of course signals how rich they are. For example, the Tesla Roadster. The company uses those high prices to pay back the R&D. Unfortunately (for them) they soon run out of rich people to sell to. They then accept lower profit margins (but higher sales) by selling to the middle class and then the poor, in turn.

If you interrupt this process by forcing them to sell at lower profit margins to a wider population earlier, they won't be able to pay for the R&D costs, so they won't bother creating new technologies.

Re:Nidjits (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444723)

Yes, because every other technological country that has significantly higher broadband coverage than we do(by a wide margin) can't innovate because of it.

Re:Nidjits (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444779)

Actually with service technology its more common now to offer tiered packages. The rich get the platinum version, the middle class get what they can afford and the peasants are told to stop complaining or what little they have will be taken from them.

Re:Nidjits (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444825)

That doesn't make much sense. We'll take your roadster for example. I don't know how much it actually costs, but let's say it's $500k. We'll say 1000 people can afford that. So, they make $500,000,000. Now, if they decided to sell it for $150k, which many more people could afford (in this imaginary world I've created) they could sell to 5000 people; So, $625,000,000. How exactly is it that higher prices with lower demand gives you more money to pay back the R&D?

What "new technologies" would that be? (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444845)

I wish that people wouldn't be such leftist nidjits (but I repeat myself).

And how is any of this "leftist"?

The way that technology becomes available is that it is first offered to the rich.

This may be news to you, but the technology is rather old. Look at other countries that have deployed better tech than this YEARS ago.

This is all about squeezing the maximum profit from the minimum investment ... and hiding the information so that the consumers CANNOT make informed choices.

Re:What "new technologies" would that be? (1, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444969)

How dare these companies target markets where they know they can make money!!

Re:What "new technologies" would that be? (4, Insightful)

larkost (79011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445165)

Well, there are two problems with this: the companies involved are granted special rights by governmental bodies to use public "right of ways" to create their network infrastructure. These special rights for effective (and sometimes legally enforced) monopolies. Now they are arguing that the public (that which grants the power to the government) has no right to know exactly how services that they provide on this special monopoly compare.

In other words: the consumer has no right to the information that would drive capitalistic market forces.

I think you missed the point. (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445219)

How dare these companies target markets where they know they can make money!!

I think the point might have eluded you.

No one is saying that broadband providers CANNOT send an ad to people who make over $100,000. That would be an example of targeting a specific market. That is why your attempt at flippancy missed.

What is actually happening is that someone making over $100,000 is trying to find where he can purchase a specific product. And that information is being denied to him. By the companies providing product. And those companies are also trying legal maneuvers to prevent him from finding the product via other channels.

That's very strange behaviour for a company. Usually companies WANT to sell their products.

That behaviour becomes understandable when you look at it from the perspective of trying to extract as much money as possible from the existing infrastructure.

We're supposed to believe in competition and bringing more/better/cheaper products to the consumer. That's not what is happening here.

Re:What "new technologies" would that be? (1)

Keith_Beef (166050) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445839)

What we have here is an asymmetry of information preventing consumers from making informed choice.

And therefore the "free market" that the government claims to support is being distorted.

Beef.

Score (2) *and* Flamebait? (1)

Prysorra (1040518) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444917)

The fight in the modding reflects the truth in the comment - the reality of wealth is uncomfortable.

Re:Nidjits (3, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444949)

Funny, thing, though. Those middle class and poor people are paying subsidies to bring connection (phone, power, other utilities) to outside "remote" areas, which, ironically includes many of the newer "rich people" home groups.

No one said anything about forcing them to alter their business plan. We just want to see what our tax dollars are helping to fund, especially since almost all carriers have a legalize monopoly over areas.

If I were a company with business practices like you said, I'd be terrified of the data, too. If it were easily discernible that an area had lackluster coverage in a way provable to local and state governments, their monopolies will be threatened. If it is easy and clear for a new company to say, "We will provide affordable TV and Internet connections to these four poor areas of your city if you allow us to operate next to [Monopoly Cable Company]." What responsible city would deny that?

Re:Nidjits (2, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445011)

So the TVA and other Rural Electrification movements weren't necessary? I mean, eventually the cost to run power lines into Appalachia would have dropped dramatically and demand for electricity would have brought it to those poor people eventually, right?

Or to pick a Republican backed notion: The wealthy would have created the highway system for their own use, right? And eventually, it would have been affordable to ordinary folks.

To put it another way: Don't start your argument with ad hominem attacks.

Re:Nidjits (4, Insightful)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445101)

>The way that technology becomes available is that it is first offered to the rich.

Except, of course, the Telcos weasled a huge $200 billion out of the government so they could provide this service to everybody. There is a long standing public utility business model in the US. There is also a free-market capitalism business model. The guys want to have it both ways; switching back and forth depending on which gives them the most money today.

Re:Nidjits (5, Funny)

karmawarrior (311177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445313)

I wish that people wouldn't be such leftist nidjits...

Absolutely. One of the major problems in today's society is that it is almost impossible to have a debate about modern technology, including Internet access technologies such as DSL, cable, and WiMAX, without the heavy involvement of leftist groups such as the Shining Path guerrillas of Peru, the Red Army Faction terror group in Germany, and the infamous OSI so-called "freedom fighters" of the US. Widely known for recruiting young, naive, soldiers in universities, brainwashing them into beliefs such as the moral superiority of forced redistributions of wealth, the bourgeois imperialist bankrupsy of representative democracy, and the superiority of a socialist, common ownership, share and share alike, model for the development of computer software, these groups cause immense damage to progress, which ironicly they hold up by preventing the trickle down effect, the engine of all progress, from having any realistic possibility of success.

While left wing terror groups continue to make their extreme, anti-economic, demands, politicians merely appease them and their demands. Some countries, for example, have initiated welfare state programs, guaranteeing a minimum level of living, while others have promised equal access to health care regardless of income. The state of Massachussets has gone one step better and actually forced their already over-burdened citizens to use open document formats to exchange information in a blatant attempt to pacify the OOO, the infamous breakaway faction of the OSI. In all these cases, state involvement has merely crippled the trickle down effect and made it impossible for billionaires to buy DSL connections.

Such actions have prevented progress, and as such have actually helped the leftist groups by allowing them to exploit the lack of progress as some kind of fault of crapitalism.

This quagmire of progress both being prevented by leftist groups, and the resulting lack of it helping those same groups not disappear by itself. Resources need to be devoted, and unless people are prepared to actually act, not just talk about it on Slashdot, nothing will ever get done. Apathy is not an option.

You can help by getting off your rear and writing to your congressman [house.gov] or senator [senate.gov] . Tell them that leftist threats to progress is an issue that is important to you. Tell them that you appreciate the work being done by right-wing terror groups such as the Contras, Al-Qaida, the KKK, and the BSA but that unless something stronger is done to tackle leftism you will be forced to use less and less secure and intelligently designed alternatives. Explain the concerns you have about freedom, openness, and choice, and how the impedement of progress from leftist groups harms all three. Let them know that this is an issue that effects YOU directly, that YOU vote, and that your vote will be influenced, indeed dependent, on their policies on left wing terrorism.

You CAN make a difference. Don't treat voting as a right, treat it as a duty. Remember, it was thanks to ordinary people like YOU that we are now seeing such innovations as SMP in OpenBSD. Keep informed, keep your political representatives informed on how you feel. And, most importantly of all, vote.

Re:Nidjits (1)

ultraslacker (597588) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445649)

The way that technology becomes available is that it is first offered to the rich. The rich pay huge prices to get the latest and greatest technology, which of course signals how rich they are. For example, the Tesla Roadster. The company uses those high prices to pay back the R&D.

R&D costs, especially in technology, are largely socialized in the US, which leads the world in state supported research, of which the profitable results are handed over to private enterprise, for private profit.

Re:Nidjits (1)

Alex Zepeda (10955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445757)

So, okay. If the ISPs shouldn't build out in low profit areas, why are we all paying into a Universal Service Fund [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Nidjits (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445769)

Part of the problem with this is that the Internet has become so integrated into our society that it isn't simply some high-tech gadget for the rich. It's infrastructure.

Re:Nidjits (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445911)

Except for the little fact that the govt gave 200Bilion dollars in tax incentives to get broadband out there!! That would offset quite a few poor regions. On top of that telcos/cablecos are granted monopoly over the right-of-way ...even if you personally had the money, the local govt already granted monopoly to THEM to provide service for EVERYBODY.

I agree they'd WANT to provide service in more profitable regions first.. but that's not what the company CONTRACTED to do!

Free market? (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445925)

You mean...if you interrupt this process...by creating a free market, where companies must compete against each other...and information is available to the public about the costs and benefits of each companies' service, so that consumers may make informed decisions...

Make no mistake. American broadband is not a free market. The telcos like it that way.

Franchise Agreements? (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444731)

Has anybody here successfully negotiated a franchise agreement which specifies universal coverage, especially in more rural communities?

A friend pointed out to me that the companies running these networks only have so much money to invest, so to the extent that they're allowed to, they will *always* invest money in areas with higher returns over areas with lower returns, which means there's *never* going to be rural investment while they have other opportunities and no requirements. Phone service and electric service are everywhere because they have to be and that's good for society. This is one case where the guiding hand seems to be important.

I know innumerable folks around here who would happily pay the monthly bill, if only the [cable/phone] company would run a cable up the street. The streets aren't that long, the population isn't that sparse, and the net is short-term profitable -- only it's less profitable than running FiOS in urban centers.

Re:Franchise Agreements? (2, Informative)

thegameiam (671961) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444827)

FiOS isn't actually being run in urban centers: it's too hard to dig up city streets. Verizon is putting it mostly in the new-ish suburbs. At least, that's the way it is in DC...

Re:Franchise Agreements? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445031)

Fair point. Same goes for Southern NH. I hear Verizon really, really, really, wants to sell video service, so I expect the downtown areas of cities are coming, but the suburban areas are probably more profitable, at least initially, so that's where they invest their limited capital.

Re:Franchise Agreements? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445007)

Electric service is not everywhere. I have seen places where you had to pay by the foot to get an electric line run to your house from the main line that was 1000 feet (or more) away.

Telephone they would run if it was available in the community because that is a requirement.

Electric service is a lot more like cable. You have to pay to get connected.

Re:Franchise Agreements? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445429)

Electric service is not everywhere. I have seen places where you had to pay by the foot to get an electric line run to your house from the main line that was 1000 feet (or more) away.

That's true but there's a requirement that they hook you up if you ask and are willing to pay for it. They also have regulators making sure that the cost per foot isn't astronomical. I've seen cable companies quote customers up to 3X market rates (from an independent subcontractor used by said companies) for making such connections. That kind of thing should be done at cost - they *are* going to be making a profit on the service after the customer pays for his line.

It took an Act of Congress [wikipedia.org] to get electricity out to farmers, and I think we're better off as a society for it. It'll probably take something like that to get them high-speed Internet.

Re:Franchise Agreements? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445889)

I do have to wonder if we would have seen more local and rural power generation if not for that particular piece of meddling. And by the same token, I've seen internet scarcity produce co-ops... most all of which were eventually bought out by larger ISPs. :P

You say that like it's a bad thing... (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444809)

Of course the real reason is they don't want the public to know what criteria they use to determine the financial viability of your neighborhood -- as they cherry-pick only the most lucrative areas for next-generation services


Welcome to capitalism. Every corporation does that. That's why you don't see a "The Sharper Image" in the middle of Compton. You sell your product in markets that are going to buy it.

Believe it or not, companies are out to make money. That means not providing residential fiber to nowheresville, UT.

Re:You say that like it's a bad thing... (4, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445951)

You'd be right if it were not for the fact that they got a ton of taxpayer money [techdirt.com] to assist in rolling out broadband 'everywhere'. Not to mention that in many cases (as with cable) they are granted 'franchises' (read: effective monopoly) in certain regions by local governments.

It's a scam, plain and simple. If they were financing it all themselves in a totally free market then I'd agree that it's just capitalism at work.

Market demographics (1)

jusDfaqs (997794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444811)

Can you tell me a business that doesn't place a target on certain demographics, can't see GAP putting
a store in the middle of an Amish community. Why on earth would an ISP spend capital to offer the latest
and greatest tech based services to a community where they have 100 ADSL/Cable clients versus the area
that has 10,000?

Re:Market demographics (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444925)

Then they shouldn't try so damned hard to stop municipalities from providing public service broadband systems!

Re:Market demographics (2, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445225)

If this were the case than Manhattan and Beverly Hills and San Francisco would have 100Mb symmetrical fiber connections like the ones that are available in similar places in Japan, South Korea, and Sweden.

Let me provide another example. I live near one of the most expensive colleges in the country, and I'm surrounded by students living off campus. Even though I'm in a small city, you'd expect that I'd have some decent broadband choice, even if I had to pay through the nose. It's a fairly lucrative market: College students with parents rich enough to give their kids brand new luxury cars. You'd think Comcast and Verizon, or some other company, would have come through with fiber ages ago.

However, I have two choices: Comcast's expensive service with decent download speeds but atrocious upload speeds, or Verizon's service with poor download speeds and similar upload speeds.

The evidence simply doesn't support your contention that broadband providers are spreading true broadband, like the stuff that's in other countries, to places as fast as they can. They're dragging their feet and using the outdated telecommunications laws to their advantage. They're even getting state and federal governments to write new laws to support them, like the one last year in PA that made it illegal for a community to provide broadband if Verizon or Comcast are going to provide it within the next year.

What's needed is a push from consumers to understand what would truly be available if we opened up the market and got the government truly dedicated to providing next-generation communications to the people.

P.S. I live in "Amish country" and we don't just have a Gap store, but a Gap outlet, along with dozens of other factory outlets.

Not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18444851)

I live in a blue collar neighborhood in Anne Arundel County, MD. I just had FIOS installed about a month ago.
When I am at home I can surf the web with Verizon's 15/2MBps service. And yes, speed tests show it is true.

The neighborhood is decent, but not where I would have thought Verizon to 'target' for higher level of service if that was their plan. I think it came down to the cost of the old copper phone and DSL network costing money to run. Sure the upgrade to fiber isn't cheap, but it should save them in the long-run when everyone is operating off of fiber. Add on top of that the money that Verizon can now make by selling TV service and I doubt they are intentionally keeping it away from anywhere.
I suspect my neighborhood was just easy to install to (near a CO or whatever).

Hopefully, some of the cost savings will come back to the customer over time and as Verizon gets their backbone infrastructure upgraded to support it the bandwidth to your house should skyrocket.

The Harsh Truth (4, Insightful)

nuintari (47926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444913)

Glad to see the world is still convinced that universal broadband is a) cheap, and b) a right. Got news for you, it is neither, and this bill is such a complete and utter waste of time. Want to know why you can't get broadband? Because you live in the middle of nowhere! Here is how it works.

DSL only goes so far along the copper wire from the DSLAM in the phone company central office. If you are past 11-12000 feet, you can kiss ADSL goodbye, past 18000 ft, you can forget about SDSL. If you live further than that, no amount of, "we are expanding into your area" is going to happen. Unless the LEC builds a new CO, closer to you, and has all of your copper terminate there instead of the old place, then, you might be able to get DSL. But for the most part, if you can't get DSL now, you can't get DSL ever.

Cable costs thousands of dollars to grant access to an entire street, whether it has houses on it, or not. Generally, cable companies, in this area at least, have always been willing to build out for any customer with the cash in hand. If it is rural, they want you to help cover the installation cost. Buckeye Cable in NW ohio generally says, "if it is not a densely populated area for us, we need $10,000 up front to guarantee a return on our investment." Heaven forbid they make money, heaven forbid they not build out for one customer, at huge expense to themselves, so they can earn 69.95/month for basic cable and inet service off of one, maybe two customers.

If you live in the middle of nowhere, either find a solid WISP, fork over the cash for expensive telecom, or quit your bitching. It is not the faceless phone company's fault that you can't get the same internet as someone in the burbs can. No amount of putting all this data on a map is going to change any of this.

Re:The Harsh Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18445295)

So why, living in the heart of downtown Seattle, is broadband insanely expensive for me? I'm hard-pressed to find anything below $60 / month, ignoring the "introductory" rates.

The only reasonably priced options around require bundled services, such as {DSL + basic phone} or {Cable Modem + basic cable}. Qwest gives a better rate if you're willing to commit to a two year contract, but there is a reason apartment leases tend to be for 6 months around here; people move all the time.

Re:The Harsh Truth (1)

chuckymonkey (1059244) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445345)

What about all these rural areas that run fiber to a central box within a mile of the houses that it is linked to? Pretty common where I grew up. I'm sure that some smart person out there can figure out how to get copper carried data to play nice with fiber carried data.

Re:The Harsh Truth (5, Insightful)

The_Rook (136658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445397)

agreed, but the real problem is when communities, frustrated at cable and telco's unwillingness or inability to bring in broadband (justified or not), decide to create their own community broadband networks and are blocked by the very telco's that don't want to spend the mony themselves. the ilecs have copped an atitude that they will provide broadband, if they decide it's worth the investment, and no one else will.

Re:The Harsh Truth (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445401)

Glad to see the world is still convinced that universal broadband is a) cheap, and b) a right. Got news for you, it is neither, and this bill is such a complete and utter waste of time. Want to know why you can't get broadband? Because you live in the middle of nowhere! Here is how it works.

Then why is the bill a waste of time? If we can identify the people in the midddle of nowhere with no other options, then someone can see if they can economically serve them. It can only help the consumers and only help business opportunities. It won't help the people that want to hold their customers hostage for abusive fees, but I'm not really intersted in making sure to protect old companies' profits when they have proven they are unwilling to provide service.

Re:The Harsh Truth (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445495)

It is not the faceless phone company's fault that you can't get the same internet as someone in the burbs can. No amount of putting all this data on a map is going to change any of this.

Here's the problem with your argument: This is in response to companies claiming to have access in places in which they do not. They publish these color-coded "coverage" maps that say they have coverage all over a particular county, for example. But as anyone knows, there are holes in that coverage. Is it unreasonable to force the providers to announce where they don't have coverage, if they can reasonably know where they do or do not have coverage?

It's [relatively] easy to figure out places you don't have coverage when you deal with GPS or TDOA-tracked phones. If a phone is reachable in two places, but not the place in between, there is a possible hole there. If it happens regularly enough, then it's a real hole. Big deal. That covers wireless. For street coverage, the provider has a map of where the cable is laid. For DSL, you can just measure feet of wire from the CO to find out where they will willingly sell you service. But let me just go back to something ignorant you said in your comment, higher up;

DSL only goes so far along the copper wire from the DSLAM in the phone company central office. If you are past 11-12000 feet, you can kiss ADSL goodbye, past 18000 ft, you can forget about SDSL.

That is a bunch of shit. First of all, I don't know the current limit, but last I checked (~3 years ago) SBC sold DSL to 14,000 feet. Second of all, back when they were pacific bell they sold to 17,000 feet. I used to live in a house in Santa Cruz at about 17,500 feet that they gave service to anyway, and we were able to consistently reach our peak speeds downstream.

The reason they don't sell to the maximum range is that the FCC started fining the shit out of telcos that provided spotty DSL access, and they don't want to do trial provisioning and shit like that. So unless you're very close they simply refuse to sell you a product that may very well work flawlessly.

In any case, in the case of the telcos, we helped pay for that copper and we have a right to know what services we can get where. In the case of the cable company AND the telcos, our government has granted them a monopoly on the right of way, enabling their business model. The least they can do is tell us where we are able to pay for the benefits of this monopoly. (Even if there's two cable companies overlapping, they tend to have their own right-of-way, and only so many cable companies can be there...)

The Harsher Reality (5, Insightful)

bradsenff (1047338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445583)

Wow. Have a slice of bitter pie.

I've spent more than a decade running ISP services for residential customers. Both big metro and extremely rural areas.

These maps would be a *boon* to the ISP's who want customers, and are willing to invest for them. We had nothing but problems trying to figure out where we COULD find customers, because the rural telco was actually doing well running lines. But they were extremely poor with giving out that information. Heck, I would have taken the information just to know where they put their DSLAMS so I could target OTHER areas they weren't.

Bottom line, rural does not mean "more than 20 miles between humans" - there are areas that have the density to support expansion. The problem is, it is tough to justify.

THAT is the real reason you don't see it going rural. It is indeed a situation of "Hmm I can pay $10k to drop a DSLAM and equipment to service a potential of $20k a month, --OR-- I can drop that SAME equipment, in an area that will support $75k/mo".

The equipment is under-powered and will need to be upgraded, but in every case that situation is a potential I was told: "Well hell my boy, we would LOVE to have that problem"... and when they DID have that problem it took a while to actually fix it.. profits ruled the roost.

As far as I am concerned, compel them to publicly post the information. Without it, there will be nobody providing service in those areas. There is no reason the public has to suffer and wait until they are "ready" (ready in this context means: "we have exploited all of the higher margin areas, time to start scraping the sides & bottom of the barrel")

-bs

Re:The Harsh Truth (4, Insightful)

Deagol (323173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445743)

Heaven forbid they make money, heaven forbid they not build out for one customer, at huge expense to themselves, so they can earn 69.95/month for basic cable and inet service off of one, maybe two customers.

Isn't that what all those federal funds tacked onto each phone bill supposed to support? Getting telcom infrastructure out to those of us in the sticks? If the telecom market were totally "free", I'd agree with you. However, there are so many subsidies and weird spaghetti bowl of forces at work by the governments and the companies themselves, I don't feel that any governmental nudge to force these giant companies to serve outlying areas is out of line.

Oddly enough, there's a small regional telco out here in Utah that services the areas Qwest (formerly US West) has decided to ignore. I have a decent DSL connection on the outskirts of a town of about 200 residents, located ~35 miles from the nearest "real" city. I can't complain. The extra $25/month on my phone bill was a steal when compared to the satellite options was expecting I'd need to utilize when I moved out here.

Re:The Harsh Truth (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445805)

If you live in the middle of nowhere

Nowhere by whose standards? The phone company is refusing to tell us where "nowhere" is. How am I supposed to make informed purchasing decisions in this case, since I wouldn't want to accidentally end up "nowhere" and not find out about it until after I have moved there.

There is no reason for these maps to remain secret. Unfair competitive advantage? God forbid someone competes with them for services they don't even provide. Maybe they're just afraid that a company will come along and figure out how to wire up a street for less than $10,000. If they can provide "nowhere" customers with service that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, just think what will happen to the "somewhere" customers when they discover they're overpaying for their service.

Re:The Harsh Truth (1)

KiltedKnight (171132) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445807)

DSL only goes so far along the copper wire from the DSLAM in the phone company central office. If you are past 11-12000 feet, you can kiss ADSL goodbye, past 18000 ft, you can forget about SDSL. If you live further than that, no amount of, "we are expanding into your area" is going to happen. Unless the LEC builds a new CO, closer to you, and has all of your copper terminate there instead of the old place, then, you might be able to get DSL. But for the most part, if you can't get DSL now, you can't get DSL ever.
This is not entirely true. Many neighborhoods got stuck with FITL (Fiber In The Loop) because of Verizon. What this means is that they actually have fiber optic lines running from the CO to the lightspeed box in your neighborhood. The major problem with this is that if you put the DSLAM in the CO, the best anyone in a FITL neighborhood can get is IDSL/ISDN, unless they get a T-1 or higher. There is an alternative called IFITL (Integrated Fiber In The Loop), which would push the DSLAM out to the lightspeed boxes, effectively shortening the size of your CLEC loop. Verizon, and the other mega baby bells, don't want to do this because it would mean opening up their lines to competition. In comes FiOS. That requires a whole new wiring setup from the CO out to your house. A loophole in the law allows Verizon to maintain complete access control to the FiOS lines because it is a brand new line from the CO to your house. Oh, and nobody other than Verizon (or your local mega baby bell), the local power company, and the local cable company are allowed to put lines up on your local telephone poles or in your underground conduits.

All this goes to show is that as long as the same company that provides the services is the one that maintains the lines, you will forever be at the mercy of your mega baby bell. Resolve the conflict of interest, and you'll see a better broadband penetration.

Wouldn't it be nice? (0, Troll)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444921)

If broadband providers were able to openly and fairly compete on quality of service alone? If everyone had equal access to multiple providers at high speeds without any reference to where they were physically located or how affluent their neighbors were?

Wouldn't it be nice if the services were completely open and yet blocked spam, viruses, and malware? With just a little bit of intelligence so that ports were blocked for bad things and open for good things?

Wouldn't it be nice if this service cost no more than it actually cost to provide the service, perhaps with a minimal profit for the provider but not too much?

How about if the Canadian government (always better than the US at social programs) came in and provided broadband internet service to everyone in the US?

Yup, it would be nice. Take another toke and dream on.

Occassional Honesty (1)

diagonti (456119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18444947)

The cable company told my father that they'd sell him a cable modem if he could arrange to pay the cost to run the cable up the road he lives on. Even splitting the cost over all the houses on the road, it was still not reasonable. Of course, this also explained why the cable company hadn't run it itself.

The joys of living in rural areas.

Re:Occassional Honesty (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445119)

Why should they get immediate ROI on their cable pull? No other industry gets productive assets for free. They should have spread out the cost of the new cable pull over 15 years or whatever its useful life is, and just added it to their bill.

woh (5, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445025)

the unreleased raw FCC penetration data

I just snagged a torrent of Unreleased Raw Penetration Data 7. It was amazing.

cherry-pick only the most lucrative areas (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445051)

Yes, well, those are the ones with enough money to pay for the hardware to support new services. Rolling out, say, a fiber optic line costs money. If enough people in the neighborhood to pay for the fiber aren't going to sign up for it, then there's no sense in running it.

Unless you want to charge for access based on how many people sign up for it.

Re:cherry-pick only the most lucrative areas (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445437)

And under your criteria, places without a certain level of income-density aren't going to EVER get true broadband. And so you'll have people with high incomes leaving those areas for places where the services dominate, and lead to an underclass.

Capitalism is AWESOME.

Just Another Pipe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18445211)

We have water, sewer, gas, electricity coming into our houses.

Internet is just another pipe.

Verizon and Comcast make themselves out to be technological wizards, but they are no different from the water and sewer. Give it a break. Stop playing with rates and speeds and just hook everyone up.

I don't want to hear about the technology challenges. Any fool can set out boxes and string wires between them. Problems with lightning, etc. have been solved. Running water and sewer is much more technologically challenging, getting the pressure right, ensuring capacity, etc. The Internet doesn't have to worry about gravity.

Interesting problem. (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445381)

I'm all for ISPs restricting themselves to wherever they like -- provided they don't obstruct others providing Internet access in those regions they aren't so bothered with. (The number of fights over metropolitan networks - cabled or wireless - is astonishing.) If the ISP wants to limit itself, then it should have zero rights outside of the area it has limited itself to. Pure and simple.

Secondly, ISPs have no business restricting what can be published about what is provided. Actually, it would be good if we could see not only the performance of the network provided but also how the downstream performance compares with the upstream pipes. (Are they at capacity? Are they oversubscribed, and if so, by how much? What do customers really get for their money? What services or benefits do the ISP get that are NOT passed on to consumers?)

This information can't possibly put them at risk. What puts ISPs at risk is incompetency so great that if anyone actually knew the details, the ISP's customers and possibly shareholders would launch an all-out rebellion. Secrecy for an established service - as opposed to one that is new and vulnerable to the unreasonable and unreasoning excesses of the market - exists only to hide the skeletons in the closet and brush the mountains of dirt under the carpet. It has no legitimate basis.

Now, that's very different from publishing internal documents on why certain decisions were made or other internal matters. Those things probably should stay confidential within the corporation. I think it would be a mistake to confuse information that is of genuine value in making a sensible decision with information that is only useful in slamming others for making what they believe to be sensible decisions.

(Having said that, if a newspaper's investigative reporter digs up such information as part of an investigation into fraud, abuse of consumers, or something similar, then that should be entirely fair game. Companies that use reasonable protections in an seriously unreasonable way - concealing anti-competitive actions, price-gouging, illegal wiretaps, unreasonable denial of service, etc. - then the company's interests should be secondary to the needs and rights of consumers and authorities alike.)

You'll notice I specifically mentioned what the ISP gets versus what the customers get - not just bandwidth but any service or benefit. If the ISP is passing on the costs of their upstream line(s) to their consumers, but the sum total of what the customers get is significantly worse than the sum total of what the ISP gets - whether that is protocols, service guarantees, bandwidth, latency, capabilities, fault-tolerance, or whatever - then the customer should have the right to know that what they are getting is substandard. The customer should not have the automatic right to know why - that should be a private matter for the ISP, unless the ISP decides otherwise. But customers cannot compare two options if they have no metrics by which to make such a comparison, which means there is no real market, no real customers - consumers, yes, but not customers, there are only smoke and mirrors.

Re:Interesting problem. (1)

bradsenff (1047338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445695)

s/ISP/Telco/g

It isn't the ISP that is the problem. The Telco's dictate where the ISP can even begin to offer service.

Yes, there is a disparity between the ISP's upstream SLAs and contracts vs. the residential user. So what? The residential user is at risk with a multi-thousand-dollar-multi-year contract(s) with the telecom and bandwidth providers.

SLA's aren't even worth a crap usually. "Great, you'll give me a discount of x% for every hour or day your service is down. When 100% of my users pay 0% of their bill, how do I afford to pay x%?"

The ISP's usually have ZERO problem announcing where they provide service. It is the telecom that won't give details.

(ie the ones with the vested interest in causing problems with the industry of 3rd party bandwidth providers).

-bs

Completitive Harm - woot! (4, Funny)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445423)

The goal was to help map coverage gaps, since FCC broadband data is worthless for this purpose. Cable and phone company lobbyists have scuttled the plan, convincing state leaders the plan would bring 'competitive harm,'

hehehe. "You see, senator, perfect information is a fundamental underpinning of efficient capitalism. That is because perfect information supports perfect competition. That perfect competition, while great for the consumer, would harm us. That is, it would bring competitive harm, to us, the people who buy you boats."

Comcast "opposed" to "cherrypicking" (1)

OddThinking (1078509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445435)

What galls me is that, in Tennessee, AT&T/Bellsouth is wanting to roll out IPTV http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AI D=2007702180369 [tennessean.com] . To do so, they need to be able to "cherrypick" (i.e. provide IPTV service where they provide internet service.) Of course, Comcast is trying to convince the public that they are above favoring wealthy areas by airing commercials trying to get individuals to try to call their congressmen (and congresswomen) to try to block AT&T/Bellsouth from getting a franchise license.

So Comcast (and Charter Cable) want to be able to cherrypick where they provide internet service (and upgrade it/provide new services), but want to legally prevent AT&T from doing the same by providing a new service: IPTV.

It wouldn't bother me so much if corporations weren't such hypocrites. So much for being good corporate citizens.

you mean, like capitalism? (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445477)

I like how the article author uses the phrase "cherry pick the most lucrative areas" as if that is a bad thing. I might have used the phrase "compete in the most viable markets".

Ashamed (1)

allscan (1030606) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445619)

I have to say I'm ashamed to be from and live in the state of Maryland. I would have loved to see this bill pass, where I am (MD/DE line) I am lucky to have cable. Unfortunately it's only been around for 2 - 2.5 years, what sucks is just over the state line in Delaware, Verizon is rolling out FIOS.

Methods to assay bandwidth are difficult (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445685)

First, you have a pipe going to an end node; it has a top-end, given protocols, in each direction, else it's symmetrical.

Then you have a neighborhood. Each home/business can be serviced by BoPL, FTTP, cable data, DSL, satellite (think HughesNet), or even simply tip-and-ring. Go ahead and assay *that*. Take each provider, then assay what their actual aggregate non-cached throughput is (or does cache count?), then assay the community, region, political subdivisions, etc.

This isn't easy. A few have proposed taxonomies to describe what it all means, but so far, with the US DOC and the NTIA shrinking in budget and size, it's unlikely to be able to be accurately assessed-- even if there wasn't pressure from ISPs and others to prevent this.

The devil of the details, even if it can be accurately described, then could easily become the basis to make inarticulate marketing observations about the 'competition'. Best the bold face lies we have now that now one believes, rather than the subtely ambiguous yet still inaccurate ones that might ensue.

Yes, please! (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445729)

I've never really run into problems until we've started to look at buying a house. Both the missus and I want to live "out in the country", ie, not in a subdivision, with some land for ourselves. We want some room to stretch. But as we're looking at places, house after house has a small satellite dish, and one place I called the cable company about they said they didn't go out that far. DSLReports has some mapping info, but it's far from complete and useful.

How is it 2006 and we still have widespread tech gaps in mid-Michigan? I mean, we're not in *that much* BFE. We're 20-30 minutes from major towns. If cable's not here yet, how long will it be before Fiber and the like? Of course DSL doesn't work out here, either. After broadband in college, and apartments I've lived in, I'm supposed to go back to dialup???

Please understand how hard it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18445735)

We really should be more understanding of the hardship this would cause ISPs...

i.e. Verizon CEO Pay Valued at $20.2M in '06
http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070319/verizon_executive_c ompensation.html?.v=3 [yahoo.com]

The keen will notice from the article that Verizon's shares rose 24 percent during 2006.
The keener will can google that Verizon's shares FELL 26 percent during 2005 wherein the CEO made around $19M. ...it is a small wonder as to why I cannot get better than 768kbps/384kbps (down/up) with my Verizon ADSL in Southern California.

Ahh, but I can b**ch all day about 10 year old ADSL technology. This article highlights that I should be grateful for my measly kbps.

The FCC isn't asking for much, but if they really gave a damn (read: had any power) then what would be necessary is a minimum broadband requirement and a commitment for funding from the gov't for blanket coverage at a standard rate.

I am living in Japan at the moment, and the Japanese gov't currently has a "100% fiber coverage" policy in place that requires that any customer that desires to have fiber-to-home service pays $0 before the fiber enters their property. You can have 100mbps symmetric fiber anywhere in Japan for about $150 (installation and terminating the raw fiber into the equipment) and $60 a month there after.

I'm sorry, I don't understand (1)

Loco3KGT (141999) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445825)

Are we supposed to be mad that broadband providers don't install their services in areas where they're not likely to sell?

Seems to me that *not* setting up shop in those areas is the smart move.

Time to open it up. (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445923)

I am so fed up with high speed internet!

I am ready for a choice! For those that think that 2 high speed internet providers == choice, check this out. I had 2 providers of high speed (Southwestern Bell (SBC) and Comcast)

SBC Bought AT&T (Now AT&T.)
Time Warner bought Comcast. (At least in my area)

AT&T and Time Warner are partners!

So my two choices are AT&T (DSL) or Time Warner (Cable) and they are in bed with each other. Look it up...

I hope they get them to open the records. Let the light of day in and let us see just where they are and how they have struck "Deals" to divvy up the markets!

Duh (1)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445927)

Why wouldn't they cherry pick lucrative areas?

Would you rather try and sell something to a few people that you know won't buy it, or to a lot of people that probably will?

This is bullshit. (4, Insightful)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 7 years ago | (#18445989)

The FCC is a tax funded entity. With the exception of data that would compromise national security, they should be obligated to make all data publically available.

Too bad if the data makes the cable companies look bad. It's their fault for making (obstensibly) smart business decisions, now they'll have to defend their decisions.

It would be nice if just once they'd come out and say "Look, that block is a ghetto full of poor people who're on welfare, do you really think we're going to get a return on investment by wiring the whole place? At best we'll end up with tons of people who'll get service and never pay their bills!"

It's not fair and possibly it might not be right, but in a market driven economy, you live by the blade, but die by the bullet.
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