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Broadband Data Improvement Act Clears Committee

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the 200kbps-is-not-a-very-broad-band dept.

The Internet 128

MBCook writes "Ars Technica is reporting that the Broadband Data Improvement Act has left committee with a unanimous vote. Among the changes proposed are requiring the definition of 'second generation broadband' (enough to carry HDTV) instead of the current definition of broadband as 200Kbps, and aggregating the data by ZIP+4 instead of just the full ZIP code. The act can now move to the full Senate."

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128 comments

God Smack Your Ass !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19925933)


God Smack Your Ass !!

any forced improvements = higher bills for us (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19925955)

You just know they will allot for increased fees if the government forces improvements. No way they are going to regulate price, just quality of service.

I'm paying $40 (after taxes) for 1.5mbps down and 50kbps up. Not good.

Re:any forced improvements = higher bills for us (4, Interesting)

sunking2 (521698) | about 7 years ago | (#19926227)

I disagree, this is a case where the market will adjust because of competition with the end result being overall faster connections for everyone for probably the same prices. This bill does nothing to force improvements or upgrades. What it does do is actually put a realistic definition on the word broadband. So you'll no longer get all those adverts in the mail from verizon dsl or comcast cable telling you how you can have high speed broadband for $19/mo when in reality it is a 750/128 connection. Although I'm still a little bit grey on whether this applies to the current broadband or this broadband 2 or whatever the word was.

In the cut throat isp business eventually one of the big players will push the envelope and actually offer a true broadband for a decent price, and everyone else will have to scramble to adjust, starting a price war.

Sure, initially people who want a faster connection will pay a bit more, but this is a case where the market will adjust for it pretty quick. Competition is just too fierce for it not to. And a price war between two 800lb gorillas (cable vs phone) can be nothing but good for consumers.

Re:any forced improvements = higher bills for us (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | about 7 years ago | (#19926567)

Yeah, yeah, competition drives prices down. Unfortunately, broadband markets tend towards duopoly (or worse) -- not free competition. A price war would be great, but telecom companies tend to prefer using FUD and lock-in to maintain their customer base.

Re:any forced improvements = higher bills for us (1)

FatSean (18753) | about 7 years ago | (#19926993)

In the cut throat isp business eventually one of the big players will push the envelope and actually offer a true broadband for a decent price, and everyone else will have to scramble to adjust, starting a price war.

Why do you think that? I'm more inclined to think that the ISPs will act as a cartel.

Re:any forced improvements = higher bills for us (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 7 years ago | (#19928109)

Why do you think that? I'm more inclined to think that the ISPs will act as a cartel.
Why would they? Yes, it is usually in the best interest of an ISP (or other corporate entity) to try and form some sort of a cartel, but when the market is genuinely open to competitors coming in for the purpose of sniping customers from an overly expensive provider, they do.

The problem though is that it needs to be both possible and feasible for competitors to come into the market, as well as some means of ensuring that the businesses doing business in the area can't wall themselves off from the rest of the market.

Sometimes this doesn't happen, one of the better examples is the incompetent energy market in Texas. There regulators foolishly decided to allow market forces to encourage companies to invest in the infrastructure to produce electricity as well as build the lines to carry electricity into and out of the state. Big problem, there was no incentive to maintain or build the capacity, because they could raise their prices as high as they wanted, to match the demand. So as a result Texans pay similar rates for electricity as New Englanders and Californians, but rather than getting cleaner, more expensive power, they get to pay gas prices for coal generated power. Both expensive and extremely dirty. Whereas southern California is getting cleaner, Areas like Dallas and Houston are getting worse and worse problems with smog.

This would not have happened if the regulators were willing to maintain control of the interstate transmission lines or require that the power companies develop them.

Re:any forced improvements = higher bills for us (1)

lenester (625236) | about 7 years ago | (#19929789)

I work for a small rural ISP. We get customers (and turn a profit) by undercutting AT&T on DSL which we resell for AT&T. We don't give a "special introductory rate," but our real rate is significantly lower, and I've found that consumers have no difficulty understanding this. We also charge the same to businesses as to residential customers (perhaps the biggest taboo of them all). Trust me, the competition model really does work so long as there are regulatory laws requiring competition to be permitted. Absent such laws, of course, AT&T wouldn't be letting us use their circuits.

24Mbps down/1Mbps up in Socialist France (2, Informative)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | about 7 years ago | (#19926381)

29.99 [adsl.free.fr] , ADSL2+, includes TV and free international calls (VoIP). Free modem and HDTV PVR set top box provided.

All that in socialist France. The only gov't improvement is in aggressively enforcing competition. You know, the real free market thing, not that corrupt semi-fascist oligarchy you have in the US.

Re:24Mbps down/1Mbps up in Socialist France (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926757)

All that in socialist France. The only gov't improvement is in aggressively enforcing competition. You know, the real free market thing, not that corrupt semi-fascist oligarchy you have in the US.
That's ok. Airbus is still Boeing's BITCH.

Re:24Mbps down/1Mbps up in Socialist France (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926781)

All that "free" stuff is being put in so your socialist government can program you faster.

Re:24Mbps down/1Mbps up in Socialist France (1)

RevHawk (855772) | about 7 years ago | (#19926807)

"Why is it the government and media wants us to hate France? Could it be that they're afraid? Afraid we might like the way the French do things?"

-Paraphrased from Michael Moore "Sicko"

This broadband/telecom mess is just another crack forming in the US that shows just how truly broken our system - economic, government, and otherwise - truly is. We in the US have always liked to claim we're the biggest, fastest, best, most modern etc - the reality, many of us are learning, is very very far from what we're told.

Re:24Mbps down/1Mbps up in Socialist France (1, Funny)

Ngarrang (1023425) | about 7 years ago | (#19927029)

If you have to resort quoting Michael Moore to support your view point, you have already lost the argument.

Re:24Mbps down/1Mbps up in Socialist France (0, Flamebait)

RevHawk (855772) | about 7 years ago | (#19928263)

Yes, because everything the man says is completely wrong. He, being human, fallible, biased is completely unable to come up with anything true or insightful. Because of course, you being a poster on /. are inclined to believe that you're somehow better or more perfect than anyone else. Simply because you disagree with him on whatever doesn't mean he can't make a point. It's your problem if you can't handle that. Not to mention, the guy had a VERY strong point when he said that. Rather than just attacking me for using the quote, why don't you actually do something intelligent and attack the quote itself if you have problems with it? Or...do you not have a point and therefore need to attack the man himself?

Re:24Mbps down/1Mbps up in Socialist France (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19929053)

Rather than just attacking me for using the quote, why don't you actually do something intelligent and attack the quote itself if you have problems with it?
Because, to an American rightist, ridicule is considered a cogent argument.

Re:24Mbps down/1Mbps up in Socialist France (1)

shoptroll (544006) | about 7 years ago | (#19928383)

"the reality, many of us are learning, is very very far from what we're told"

The iPhone is great proof of this. Ooh shiny. But it's not anywhere near 3G.

I think most of the tech people realized how far we were behind around 5 years ago. The internet has been a wonderful tool for this.

The problem for politicians is that the media is finally starting to put the pieces together and the climate in the country is very anti-Washington/politics these days. The media putting the pieces together means that Jim Bob sitting in his trailer park with his Mom is starting to realize that we're further behind. Not being the best is not American, therefore, problems and hilarity ensue.

Stupid (0, Troll)

Shaman (1148) | about 7 years ago | (#19926001)

Best of luck getting the content producers to provide you free content at HDTV speeds. And best of luck actually switching that many packets per second at the NOCs.

Re:Stupid (2, Interesting)

kkelly (69745) | about 7 years ago | (#19926077)

You are moving too fast, Politicians are not concerned with the details. They have been advised that broadband sucks. The details of making broadband suck less are left to the providers and they will pass that cost on to us........

Re:Stupid (1)

pla (258480) | about 7 years ago | (#19926123)

Best of luck getting the content producers to provide you free content at HDTV speeds.

They produce that content so people will boost their ad revenue.

If it takes "giving away" HD content - Yes, they most certainly will.



And best of luck actually switching that many packets per second at the NOCs.

You mean, like the rest of the 1st world (other than the US) has?

Yeah, totally untenable.

Re:Stupid (1)

Shaman (1148) | about 7 years ago | (#19926345)

It's ok, you don't know who you're talking to.

If it takes "giving away" HD content - Yes, they most certainly will.

Perhaps. 20 years from now, at earliest. The ad revenue today cannot pay for video at drastically lower frame rates and with low quality audio. The video sites have been scrambling to stay online with no imminent hope of profitability (for the video divisions, at least). You make a highly uninformed statement, here.

You mean, like the rest of the 1st world (other than the US) has?

And another highly uninformed statement. There are pockets of very high bandwidth in some places, however that high bandwidth is a) typically only usable within a network segment (size of which varies), while the rest of the Internet is no quicker than you expect it in North America and much of it is slower because of distant network adjacency. Also, many places where you can get "100Mbps Ethernet," you are getting a 100Mbps shared connection to an oversold (which is not the bad word you probably think it is) transit point. Oh, it says 100Mbps on the sales brochure but you're not downloading your Liveleaks any faster than a guy in Alabama on a wireless access point.

Internet bandwidth fanboys are some of the most delusional, annoying people...

Re:Stupid (1)

pla (258480) | about 7 years ago | (#19927437)

It's ok, you don't know who you're talking to.

Props to the low UID (and I probably would have withheld the sarcasm had I noticed), but I disagreed with your original statement, and still do.


Historically, content has grown to fill the pipes available to it. 300bps modems, we had text-only forums. 14.4kbps, image-light web-based content. 56k, image-heavy content. 1.5Mbps, YouTube. 12MBps, and we've just started seeing standard-def VOD.

I see no reason for that trend to continue - If we all have 100M to 1G FTTP links, we'll see realtime HD streaming content appear to make use of that. FIOS already demonstrates that, though in more of a dedicated provider push-format than on-demand service.


As for pockets of high-bandwidth, true, they do tend to occur mostly in cities; rural areas still get the short end of the stick, and probably always will, by comparison. But compare the US East coast to North-Western Europe, which has a similar population density, and we pay 4x as much for comparable services, and rarely even have the option of home-level connections over 12MBps.

Re:Stupid (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | about 7 years ago | (#19928765)

It's ok, you don't know who you're talking to.
Ok, I looked at your username, ID number, and user page, and I even tried fingering your email address. I still don't know who you are or your credentials/experience in commercial video content publishing (AFAICT, this is the norm on /.).

Re:Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19929801)

So the fact he has a lower UID means he is somehow more experienced? All that means is he has been wasting time on /. longer then most everyone else. That's it.

Re:Stupid (1)

cstdenis (1118589) | about 7 years ago | (#19929787)

Also, many places where you can get "100Mbps Ethernet," you are getting a 100Mbps shared connection to an oversold (which is not the bad word you probably think it is) transit point.
How is that any worse than broadband cable where you are sharing the 5 or 7Mbps they are advertising with your whole neighborhood? I'd rather 5% of 100Mbps than 5% of 7Mbps.

RTFA (4, Insightful)

Aeron65432 (805385) | about 7 years ago | (#19926141)

Note they aren't mandating 2nd-generation broadband that is a DEFINITION. And it's good they did that, because oftentimes I see advertisements for "broadband" internet that is just a few touches better than a 56k. That's why House Democrats called for a higher definition, right now, that definition includes any connection over 200Kbps, which Markey wants to boost more than 10 times. [arstechnica.com] I doubt anyone on /. would consider 200kbps as "broadband."

Re:RTFA (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 7 years ago | (#19926583)

Note they aren't mandating 2nd-generation broadband that is a DEFINITION. And it's good they did that, because oftentimes I see advertisements for "broadband" internet that is just a few touches better than a 56k.

It's not necessarily a good thing having a Government committee specify these things rather than leaving it to the public's common understanding of that term (which can evolve over time) and having BBB or advertising watchdogs consider each complaint on a case by case basis.

In New Zealand, the government mandated that broadband "must be at least 256kbps download and 128kbps upload". The local phone monopoly then interpreted it so that the "at least" only applied to the download speeds, and for a long time refused to offer upload speeds greater than 128kbps on the basis that the government had banned them from doing so. And because they own the lines, other ISPs can't offer anything different than what they're selling wholesale. Even now that their interpretation has been corrected, 128kbps uploads has become so entrenched that only the expensive high end options have anything better.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19928885)

It's not necessarily a good thing having a Government committee specify these things rather than leaving it to the public's common understanding of that term (which can evolve over time)

The problem is that it's NOT evolving over time, primarily because the ISPs blanket everyone with advertisements telling people how they have super blazing fast broadband, when in fact it's only super blazing fast compared to a modem, not compared to modern broadband services.

on the basis that the government had banned them from doing so.

Uhhuh, and had the government not defined broadband, wouldn't they have come up with some other form of childish misfeasance as a reason to not do a single bit more than the minimum amount of work required?

Re:RTFA OT: but worth knowing (1)

good soldier svejk (571730) | about 7 years ago | (#19926837)

Ed Markey is my rep. and he is really pissing me off lately. I tend to agree with him on the issues, but he doesn't give a damn about his constituents. In our district an organized crime figure has been buying up large houses and turning them into flop houses, exploiting some state loophole for "rehab" facilities. They are not properly regulated or registered, but for somereason, the municipalities are unable to shut them down. In my neighborhood the guy converted a beautiful $900,000 greek revival. Now the neighborhood is littered with used syringes and crawling sketchy characters with no roots in the area. The mayor and our state rep. have been battling him but have hit a brick wall. They went to Ed and he said the problem was local to our neighborhood, not district wide and he wouldn't help. This despite the fact that this guy owns several other such "sober houses" in the district and I read a newspaper article about one in the next city over. Ed is too busy clawing his way up the Democratic leadership ladder to take time to rescue his constituencey from an organized crime fueled slide into decrepitude. Unfortunately Ed knows he is invulnerable. He has too much money and is too entrenched, what are we gonna do, replace him? With what, a Republican? Good luck. Democracy in action.

Re:RTFA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926899)

Why not? If it's 200kbps that's running over broadband, it's broadband.

Oh, wait, let me guess, you're one of the many people who has managed to confuse broadband as meaning "fast" and not, well, broadband [wikipedia.org] .

Re:RTFA (1)

jon787 (512497) | about 7 years ago | (#19926955)

I consider anything that isn't baseband as broadband, but what do I know :P

Re:RTFA (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#19927149)

Mod parent +5, Informative!

People need to stop abusing terms like 'broadband.' I have news for all of you: Even 300 BPS modems are BROADBAND. That is, they are not 'baseband' (~'digital'), but broadband (~'analog'). 1000GB/s Ethernet is not broadband, it's baseband.

Let's use a term that makes sense, like 'high-speed Internet connection' or some such.

I believe your rant is wrong (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | about 7 years ago | (#19928581)

Direct analog signals are baseband. IE they are not modulated, or you could also say, by extension, that they are modulated at 0 Hz. Example: POTS (Plain Old Telephone) ISDN lines are baseband too.

DSL and Cable aren't baseband, OTOH. (Even analog cable TV isn't baseband -- it's modulated around a carrier frequency. That's why you can have several channels on one cable.) They're actually transmitted in several frequencies at a time, definitely qualifies for broadband.

10BaseT, 100BaseT and thinnet are baseband. No modulation either, direct signal. Probably same for 1000BaseT, except that it uses more wire.

Oh and leased copper lines (T1, etc...) are base band, too.

Re:RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19928643)

>Let's use a term that makes sense, like 'high-speed Internet connection' or some such.

I'd love to see something like "Highspeed Internet Transport" in use. Then laugh as one or more advertisers slap a "Super" on the front

Also, is there a definition... (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | about 7 years ago | (#19926231)

Is there a definition on the minimum upload required for a connection to be broadband? I hope so. Because 128kbps up is absolute bullshit.

Re:Stupid (1)

Control Group (105494) | about 7 years ago | (#19926307)

...I'm not sure I follow your logic.

Let's say that, suddenly, all home internet connections were magically transformed into Gbps pipes (I'm assuming that's enough for HDTV; I don't actually know that, but it's irrelevant to my point, anyway).

How would that force slashdot to stop providing free (or at least, ad-supported) content? Or, if we don't consider slashdot to be a content producer, how would that force the hojillion bloggers out there to stop providing free (and you get what you pay for) content?

I don't get the leap you're making between high speed home connections and suddenly expensive content.

Re:Stupid (1)

Shaman (1148) | about 7 years ago | (#19926395)

The content that is expensive is video. If customers have huge Internet connections that are capable of HDTV, they will want to use them. With the current layout and cost of Internet transit (and for the foreseeable future for that matter), delivering free HDTV content is a non-starter.

Personally, I'd be surprised if delivering paid HDTV content anytime soon is a profit well.

Re:Stupid (1)

Control Group (105494) | about 7 years ago | (#19928933)

So you're essentially saying that if you build it, they won't necessarily come. I won't argue with you; HDTV content is expensive to produce and distribute. Whether consumers want to download it on their big fat pipes isn't really material, though. The pipe is useful whether or not there's HDTV being sent down it; the fact that it would be more useful if there was HDTV content being sent down it doesn't change that fact.

I won't argue, though, that it would just be more of the same, but faster, rather than some sort of HDTV over TCP/IP revoultion.

Re:Stupid (1)

ghyd (981064) | about 7 years ago | (#19926431)

I just wonder why what cheese eating surrender monkeys do (as free HDTV content via ADSL, though limited to this day to sport events or concerts) in the USA is "not possible".

Re:Stupid (1)

Shaman (1148) | about 7 years ago | (#19926519)

"Free HDTV" sourced off a server directly in their own network is different than getting it off the Internet.

Re:Stupid (1)

frenemy (1085185) | about 7 years ago | (#19928853)

The current deployment model for these higher-rate lines actually has the bulk of that bandwidth being used for IPTV provided by the ISP itself.

Par for the course. (3, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 7 years ago | (#19926027)

Free Press policy director Ben Scott said, "For too long, policymakers have been forced to operate in the dark, relying on misleading and sometimes inaccurate information about the U.S. broadband market. By providing detailed information about the deployment, availability and use of broadband services in this country, the Broadband Data Improvement Act promises to bring us one step closer to our shared goal of universal, affordable broadband."

Isn't this par for the course in almost all fields, not just broadband market? In almost every thing the Congress does there is an interest group that funds studies, think tanks, policy white papers all designed to muddy the waters. Everywhere, ODF adoption, credit report freeze, bankruptcy reform, S-Chip, ID vs Evolution ... There is this huge industry whose sole purpose is to force the lawmakers and the public to act in the dark and providing inaccurate and misleading information. Why single out broadband alone?

Re:Par for the course. (1)

sskinnider (1069312) | about 7 years ago | (#19926131)

In almost every thing the Congress does there is an interest group that funds studies, think tanks, policy white papers all designed to muddy the waters.
Should read: In every thing the Congress does there is an interest group that funds studies, think tanks, policy white papers all designed to muddy the waters.

Well... (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 7 years ago | (#19926145)

"Why single out broadband alone?"

Well, you have to start somewhere. I doubt this will get anywhere, but if it does, maybe other sectors will be encouraged to do the Right Thing. Again, not likely...

Re:Par for the course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19927117)

You sound like you blame the "private" sector for all this, when ultimately, government holds the key. Only government holds the special right to employ coercion (law) as a means. If an otherwise private group somehow acquires a piece of that pie -- in other words, if government accepts a bribe to tilt the law in favor of special interests -- then in the end, government made the decision, not the private group.

Really, let's call a spade a spade here. Bribery attempts aren't exactly commendable, but remember who created this situation in the first place where you need to exploit the coercive power of the law to get ahead -- ultimately government is to blame.

Monopolies (1, Flamebait)

krod4 (516423) | about 7 years ago | (#19926035)

This will never happen. The US is ridden with monopolies which hinder a proper rollout of broadband. In any city in Europe (my city with 50.000 citizens eg) you can choose between 10-20 broadband carriers, via wlan, phonecarriers or tvcable. As long as you have no choice in carriers you end up with poor quality, slow broadband.

Re:Monopolies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926353)

if you're going to include wlan as a provider my guess is that just about everyone in the us has a choice of 3-4 providers in their area.

ZIP+4 (3, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about 7 years ago | (#19926143)

Now we'll finally know if crucial ZIP+4 zones like my regional IRS tax return mail basket are getting suitable broadband hookups.

Re:ZIP+4 (4, Informative)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | about 7 years ago | (#19926775)

ZIP+4 is one of the best changes in the bill. My ZIP code (20180) "has" cable, but it's only available in the town 3 miles away from me. Geographically, 95% of my ZIP code (and probably 60-70% population-wise) have no broadband, yet we're listed as having access to broadband. This bill is designed to stop the cable/phone Companies from telling the government and media that they've fulfilled their promise to bring "broadband to the masses" by redefining broadband to 2 Mb/s of theoretical speed (not even actual speed) and making them show penetration with better granularity.

Re:ZIP+4 (1)

equivocal (655448) | about 7 years ago | (#19929563)

Like everyone in town, my +4 just indicates my PO Box. I like that granularity.

Best part is if they really stick to the 2Mbs threshhold then not even satellite can qualify as "broadband". Maybe then the true picture will emerge of how pathetic US broadband availability is.

Who Needs Votes? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926153)

I'm THE dictator [whitehouse.org] .

Fear-mongeringly yours,
W.

Enough to carry HDTV... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926157)

How many Libraries of Congress per second is that?

It depends on your definition of HD (1)

Skapare (16644) | about 7 years ago | (#19928779)

It depends on your definition of HD. If you speak of what can go over the air (720p60 or 1080i30), you probably need about what is used over the air, 18 to 20 mbps (after figuring in protocol overheads and such). If you want really good HD (1080p60) that cable and satellite could choose to offer if they wanted to use the extra bandwidth, then double that to 36-40. But if you minimize the definition of HD, as the broadband providers are likely to ask for, at say 720p24, then we're talking about a measly 7.2 to 8 mbps, or possibly less if they demonstrate hypercompressed (and ugly) video. That's all with MPEG-2 (what over the air digital will be using in ATSC). But broadband could use MPEG-4 which does better (better quality in less bandwidth) if you believe the proponents.

IMHO a specific number needs to be established. I'd go with "basic broadband" at 18 mbps down and 3 mbps up, "premium broadband" at 48 mbps down and 8 mbps up, and "ultimate broadband" at 120 mbps down and 20 mbps up. Note that copper pair may not be able to handle this. Fiber is the way to go.

This is a monopoly provision bill (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#19926169)

This bill was written solely to upset the current relatively free market of broadband. Because the government will set "standards" of speed, this leaves smaller providers -- who may still be able to provide acceptable speeds -- out of the market. If you won't be able to give the minimum, get out of the market.

Here's why I am against Net Neutrality -- instead of providing for a truly "neutral" pipe, regulations like these will be written by the strongest elements in a market, designed to kill the smaller competitors. It is unfortunate if geeks and techies support these kinds of bills, especially without reading them fully. There is no Constitutional power allocated to the Senate to REQUIRE levels of service. The interstate commerce clause was written so that the Federal government can restrain the individual States from harming commerce -- the word "regulate" in the Constitution did not mean what we think it means today.

Very, very unfortunate.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926417)

"very, very unfortunate"

Yeah, it's much better to operate in the dark, with no information.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | about 7 years ago | (#19926435)

This bill was written solely to upset the current relatively free market of broadband.

Where do you live where you have more than two choices of providers? I'm sure in NYC or San Francisco it's a 'relatively free market,' but not where I live. I can choose between Verizon (BOO!) or Comcast (boo). Where's my free market? Where are my smaller providers? Hell, Verizon's not even planning on rolling FiOS out to me for another two years, even though I live in a densely populated area with housing values near those of my parent's suburban neighborhood.

Anyone who thinks broadband is a competitive market is kidding themselves. And anyone who thinks a bill that changes the "200kbps is broadband" is a Good Thing

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#19926579)

I can choose between Verizon (BOO!) or Comcast (boo). Where's my free market? Where are my smaller providers? Hell, Verizon's not even planning on rolling FiOS out to me for another two years, even though I live in a densely populated area with housing values near those of my parent's suburban neighborhood.

No one is stopping anyone else from competing. Oh, waitaminute, someone is stopping them -- check with your local village/city, county and State laws. They might be preventing your community from getting more than 2 providers. They likely are.

The town over from mine (Libertyville, IL) is a small village. They have 7-8 broadband providers as of today. 3 provide reasonable WiFi, 2 provide local DSL, 1 providers national DSL, and 1 provides cable (maybe two). The village has limited laws restricting new competition. Service is good, pricing is good, speed is good -- you pay for what you need.

Don't blame ME, or restrict ME, with a federal unconstitutional law because YOU voted for people who restricted local competition. That's your fault, not mine. In fact, the U.S. government was created in order to prevent local States and governments from restricting trade, maybe you should sue your village on Constitutional grounds?

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 7 years ago | (#19926869)

No one is stopping anyone else from competing. Oh, waitaminute, someone is stopping them -- check with your local village/city, county and State laws. They might be preventing your community from getting more than 2 providers. They likely are.
And yet you oppose this bill for its supposedly anti-competitive effect. This bill expressly forbids states and municipalities from limiting broadband providers, which addresses that concern.

RTFBill (or even an executive summary) before you try to make comments on it.

As an aside, more generally, will you ever accept the concept that sometimes government regulation is necvessary to guarantee a free market? Or do you use the perverted meaning of "free market" where free == free from government influence?

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

lessermilton (863868) | about 7 years ago | (#19927341)

Oh, waitaminute, someone is stopping them -- check with your local village/city, county and State laws. They might be preventing your community from getting more than 2 providers. They likely are.
I guarantee it. In Arkansas, Conway has a contract with Conwaycorp to bring... well I don't know what it is, but it's sure not high quality internet/cable/blah blah. Maumelle has a contract with Cox Cable. Therefore it's illegal for any other companies to try and bring cable/phone/whatever into those places. You can get satellite because you're not actually pulling wires, which is really what it's about, AFAIK - land rights. I actually agree that this kinda thing isn't a good idea. I used to be of the opinion that regulations like these were a good idea, but it was actually a statement by Ron Paul on Attack of the Show that influenced my change. And then a slight article in Entrepeneur. Senator Paul voted against net neutrality and extending anti-tax provisions on the basis that voting for them is admitting that the USGOV has rights to tax those things, which he believes they don't. He prefers to let the market decide - allowing people to vote with their wallets. If a business is craptacular? No one will buy from them. If the consumers have no options because of corrupt, ignorant, or otherwise incomplete representation, then they can't vote with their wallets. If someone in Conway wants a cable provider from someone other than Conwaycorp, they have to move. That's their only option. And if it's important enough, the market will decide. For instance, an article in the most recent Entrepeneur magazine was talking about how "green" is the next big thing. But the USDA doesn't go after people who improperly label things as "Organic" - for instance, sure, I may have grown this cotton myself, not used pesticides, and did all this good stuff... but if I shipped it from China to Texas - should I really be considered organic? Well some people decided they wanted to do something about it, and now there's a company that will be providing extra certification - under stringent guidelines - that verify a product is organic. This has several benefits. 1)If you trust the USDA, you can buy whatever products they allow to be listed organic with a clear consience. 2)If you don't trust the USDA, you can check out the requirements of this other company and decide if you trust them. 3)It creates more jobs - this new company (I can't remember the name, the article's at home, can't be bothered to search online) has to have employees. I suppose you might be able to argue - but who's watching the watchers? Well, if they're trustworthy, then they should be transparent, and the consumers should be able to watch the watchers. That's why trust the USGOV as far as I can throw the collective lot of them. Maybe less. The process often isn't transparent, nor am I allowed to vote with my wallet. Personally, I think we should be presented with a bill for services the GOV would like to offer, and we get to pick and choose. Please check each service you'd like to pay for: [ ]Military - $1000/yr [ ]Roadways - $500/yr [ ]Social Security - One appendage and $5000/yr [ ]Local Libraries - $20/yr [ ]Local law enforcement - $1000/yr [ ]Espionage - $10,000/yr [ ]Fat dumpy white guys who don't know what they're doing, and pretend they represent your interests - $500,000/mo [ ]War on Terror - $1 Billion/5 years [ ]War on Drugs - $40 Billion/yr [ ]War on the War on Drugs - $1 Billion Dollars in your pocket/50 acres of land/year [ ]War on War - $Gajillion Somethings. I think that would be perfectly reasonable. I for one, don't want to pay for the War on Drugs(TM) or the War on Terror(TM). If someone would like to terrorize me or my family, I will have no problem putting a .45 round through their face. Well, I probably would have some psychological damage, but $1/rd is a lot cheaper than wherever the heck my money is going when it gets to Uncle Sam's coffers. It's better when you get to vote with your wallet. That's free market, anti-monopoly.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19928939)

The town over from mine (Libertyville, IL) is a small village.
That's funny. Well, I've never lived in Libertyville, but Buffalo Grove (~43000 people) only has Comcast and AT&T, and a lot of it doesn't even have AT&T.

Don't blame ME, or restrict ME, with a federal unconstitutional law because YOU voted for people who restricted local competition.
The law says you can't call it broadband unless it meets that minimum speed. You can still sell it, just not under the term "broadband." Maybe you ought to read laws/proposals before you oppose them, but you don't have a great track record there.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 7 years ago | (#19926483)

This bill was written solely to upset the current relatively free market of broadband.


We do not have anything remotely resembling a free market for any communications services in the U.S. I can't imagine where you got that idea...

Because the government will set "standards" of speed, this leaves smaller providers -- who may still be able to provide acceptable speeds -- out of the market. If you won't be able to give the minimum, get out of the market.


I doubt anyone is going to cry about inadequate service providers being forced to stop describing their service as "broadband" or even going belly up. Not that there is much danger of that probably...
For goodness' sake, this is 2007 -- 2Mbps minimum in order to call it "broadband" is perfectly reasonable...

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#19926647)

I doubt anyone is going to cry about inadequate service providers being forced to stop describing their service as "broadband" or even going belly up. Not that there is much danger of that probably... For goodness' sake, this is 2007 -- 2Mbps minimum in order to call it "broadband" is perfectly reasonable...

I disagree. When I first had "broadband" it was a 128k/128k IDSL connection. Guess what? It was excellent -- my latency was very low, and the speed was respectable for everything we needed to do at the time. That was broadband for me, because it blew away my 56k (really 32k) modem connection. For me, broadband is about low latency, for you, broadband is about leech priviledges for a torrent, maybe. I don't need 2mbps connections, my standard throughput for my office network (12 users) rarely breaks 300kbps. We want low latency, and we don't care about speed. This is why we have a T1, with most of it provisioned for VoIP, and little of it for the net. On the rare occasion that we download something huge, we probably use a lot more of that bandwidth, but I can't think of the last time I had to download something over 20MB. If I do, I buy a CD or DVD of it online, and ship it next day. No waiting for a download, and nothing is that necessary that I need it today.

Broadband should remain undefined, and let the consumer judge if what they bought is what they need. If you need more than a shared connection gives you, pay the piper and get a professional level of service.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Skye16 (685048) | about 7 years ago | (#19926843)

Look, you're lucky enough that you have choices. Good for you. The overwhelming majority of the US does not. We're not going to all try to fix things on a local level when the majority has a problem all over the US. If this means you get screwed, then so be it; it's for the greater good.

Don't like it? Well... argue about it, by all means. But your words are falling on deaf ears, at best. I'm sorry this upsets you, but overall, frankly, I don't give a fuck.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 7 years ago | (#19926885)

Just streaming content takes bandwidth -- sorry but one needn't be a "leech" for it to be an issue.
Really it sort of looks to me like you may be astroturfing for a telco, but maybe you're just an older, very lightweight internet user.
I use the internet for much of my work -- downloading and uploading large documents and having to view multimedia presentations in various formats. Why should I have to buy and pay for a service before discovering whether or not it is suitable? That's the way it has been of course, which is why I paid early termination fees on two accounts before signing with speakeasy.
In what world could you call that sort of experience a good thing?

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#19927395)

I use the internet for much of my work -- downloading and uploading large documents and having to view multimedia presentations in various formats. Why should I have to buy and pay for a service before discovering whether or not it is suitable?

I've been a Speakeasy customer since they opened -- they were one of the first IDSL providers in Illinois.

That being said, you use the Internet for WORK. If you're not willing to pay the price for the service your work needs, don't rely on what the broadband providers are selling "for home use." Often times, work-provisioned broadband can be a higher tier of service, with higher upload speeds, but also higher pricing. I don't see many people using broadband for work paying the piper and buying the right tier for what they need.

I own and maintain a variety of companies that rely on the Internet, but broadband is mostly a non-issue. Even for large files, as long as I get the bandwidth I am due, I'm happy. I would never relegate my business to a shared internet connection -- I prefer paying for a T1. You can get T1 speeds for under $6000 a year now. If you work and need high speed networking, 2-5% of your gross sales is NOTHING for the net. I can't understand why someone who needs to upload and download large files would keep themselves at a consumer level, when there are thousands of professional broadband suppliers available to run a T1 today. If you can't afford the T1 yourself, share it with a neighbor or three. Most terms and conditions on T1 usage allow you to do this -- cable and DSL generally do not. I am running a T1 to my home in August, and I'm giving 4 of my neighbors access for $60/month each (WiFi). It won't cost me that much to have guaranteed bandwidth, low latency, and the ability to connect to my office phone network. That's professional service at a professional price.

In what world could you call that sort of experience a good thing?

There are dozens of websites that allow you to check out an ISP before you have a line pulled. There is no excuse for getting two services then canceling them. If you're uncertain about a broadband provider, call the COMMERCIAL SALES office of that provider -- even Comcast and AT&T has a commercial services division. Explain your needs, and GET THEM TO GUARANTEE you 60 days to try it with no cancellation fee. The T1 I am pulling has a 45 day exit clause if they don't meet my needs. I will pay maybe $100 to try it out. No big deal.

If it's for your home, that's a different story. That's governed under a variety of ridiculous local, county and State laws that generally keep competition out of the market. Run your own T1 to your home. Set up a few cantennas and a few decent WiFi routers. Resell service to your neighbors for $20 a month. You'll be profitable.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 7 years ago | (#19929101)

There is no excuse for getting two services then canceling them.


Actually, I didn't think I needed an excuse -- I was just going by the claims made by the sales literature (now I know better). This is why we need government definitions for goods and services, even with it companies obfuscate the releveant issues and even flat-out lie in their quest for our money, and too often there is little recourse.

But I can see we are not likely to agree on this as we are probably at opposite ends of the political spectrum. I do believe government has a responsibility to police business as well as people for everone's protection.

There is NO free market in the US (5, Informative)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | about 7 years ago | (#19926497)

"This bill was written solely to upset the current relatively free market of broadband. "

Because we have an aggressively pro-competition regulating agency in France, you have a dozen way to get broadband in most cities. And you basically can't get anything below ADSL2+ those days.

At the moment I pay 29 euros a month for 24/1Mbps, HDTV service, and free international phone (analog and voip). They also provide [adsl.free.fr] me with a free router, Wifi AP, HDTV PVR set top box and analog telephone adaptor.

No cap on data, no filtering whatsoever, no shaping. Quality of service is good, and has been improving steadily. You have the occasional day long outage (two last years, none this year so far), but other than that downloading speeds are stable and pretty much max out my line 24/7.

And the reason for this is that ARCEPT [art-telecom.fr] has been given a lot of power to enforce competition in the broadcast market. None of those services are subsidised. They haven't been so successful with cellphone, OTOH. But they're working on it.

Sometimes the gov't can improve things (3, Funny)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 7 years ago | (#19929859)

You are a socialist. I hate that you get a better deal than me.

Even though we were born of your enlightenment, we hate you. Frenchy.

Besides, we don't even like the Statue of Liberty.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 7 years ago | (#19926737)

This bill was written solely to upset the current relatively free market of broadband
What? Where do you get that idea from? Or is this more unfounded anti-regulatory claptrap?

Because the government will set "standards" of speed, this leaves smaller providers -- who may still be able to provide acceptable speeds -- out of the market.
Hogwash. Smaller providers can still be in the market, but if they don't meet the threshold for second generation broadband, they can't call themselves broadband. This is true of large providers as well. This leads to better information for consumers.

Another major part of the legislation is to enable better data collection, again providing better information to participants. Better information makes a market *more* free -- the free market model requires perfect access to information among participants.

This law aids the free market. It does not force out smaller players. If you want to say that they'll be uncompetitive because of slower speeds, and will go out of business because the market will not buy from them, that's an effect of the free market with better information.

It is unfortunate if geeks and techies support these kinds of bills, especially without reading them fully.
Did you read it fully? You seem to have a pretty awful misunderstanding of the bill. You make a lot of assumptions (monopoly provision).

Here's why I am against Net Neutrality -- instead of providing for a truly "neutral" pipe, regulations like these will be written by the strongest elements in a market, designed to kill the smaller competitors.
That's funny. Anyone who has read the bill understands that Net Neutrality isn't guaranteed by this bill (although some steps are made in that direction). So your problem with Net Neutrality is that instead of being enacted, something else (that benefits the carriers) is enacted instead? Your mistrust is misplaced.

Please explain, in detail, what parts of this bill will kill smaller competitors, and why. You make a big leap in logic, and I'm curious as to what provisions of this bill you think will squeeze out smaller competition -- particularly in contrast to the current broadband environment.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#19926881)

What? Where do you get that idea from? Or is this more unfounded anti-regulatory claptrap?

I read the bill. Did you?

Hogwash. Smaller providers can still be in the market, but if they don't meet the threshold for second generation broadband, they can't call themselves broadband. This is true of large providers as well. This leads to better information for consumers.

In a free market, there are no consumers or producers. There are two parties who negotiate a deal both hoping to get the most for themselves by giving up the least to the other party. One party may have products or services, and the other party may have cash, but this is a non-issue. Both parties could be bartering, or both parties could be trading cash (say, foreign currency conversion). In either case, it is in each party's best interest to NOT tell the other party what is the maximum they could provide. Free information is irrelevant unless the market provides that information somehow.

Another major part of the legislation is to enable better data collection, again providing better information to participants. Better information makes a market *more* free -- the free market model requires perfect access to information among participants.This law aids the free market. It does not force out smaller players. If you want to say that they'll be uncompetitive because of slower speeds, and will go out of business because the market will not buy from them, that's an effect of the free market with better information.

Speed is irrelevant to the market. I don't need speed, I need low latency. Some people need 99.999% uptime. Some people need the ability to serve data on certain ports. Some people need great customer service. Broadband should only be defined by the provider of the service, and the user of the service. The definition of broadband differs to different people.

Did you read it fully? You seem to have a pretty awful misunderstanding of the bill. You make a lot of assumptions (monopoly provision).

Of course I did. Did you? The bill has some amazing loopholes to help big industry:

17 (b) EXCEPTION.--The Commission shall exempt an
18 entity from the reporting requirements of subsection
19 (a)(3) if the Commission determines that a compliance by
20 that entity with the requirements is cost prohibitive, as
21 defined by the Commission.


So certain parties can be exempt if the cost is too high. I wonder who those parties would be?

4 (2) COMPETITIVE BASIS.--Any grant under
5 subsection (b) shall be awarded on a competitive
6 basis.


So the government will be giving out grants to expand broadband. On a competitive basis? Like Haliburton competitive basis? I'm sure that'll help the little guy. Who's going to pay for these grants?

13 (A) with members representing a cross sec14
tion of the community, including representatives
15 of business, telecommunications labor organiza16
tions, K-12 education, health care, libraries,
17 higher education, community-based organiza18
tions, local government, tourism, parks and
19 recreation, and agriculture; and


So now they want to include labor unions, unionized educators, and the whole gamut of subsidized parties into the mix. That's a free market, right? NOT.

Please explain, in detail, what parts of this bill will kill smaller competitors, and why. You make a big leap in logic, and I'm curious as to what provisions of this bill you think will squeeze out smaller competition -- particularly in contrast to the current broadband environment.

There's no need -- a simple review of the bill will show you that it is too vague, and it is definitely written by the larger mercantilist powers in the telecom market. They'll reap the benefits, and new competitors will not be able to withstand the new bureaucracies involved. It is typical of the Federal government's bills in the past decades.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

quanticle (843097) | about 7 years ago | (#19927695)

Broadband should only be defined by the provider of the service, and the user of the service. The definition of broadband differs to different people.

That's like saying that serving contaminated food is okay because the definition of food differs between people.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 7 years ago | (#19927745)

In a free market, there are no consumers or producers. There are two parties who negotiate a deal both hoping to get the most for themselves by giving up the least to the other party.
Sorry, should have said "purchasers and sellers". The terminology makes no difference to my point, though.

Free information is irrelevant unless the market provides that information somehow.
Your understanbding of economic theory falls short again. The free market model doesn't work without near-perfect information -- even your ballyhood Austrian School understands that.

Broadband should only be defined by the provider of the service, and the user of the service. The definition of broadband differs to different people.
Which is a problem. Why not use a term like "low-latency" to describe low latency, then? Using one term to describe a multitude of things is inefficient, are you saying that people cannot come up with other terms to describe what they want to buy or sell? Furthermore, since regulatory action is based in part by penetration data, it is important that government data be more accurate. The current loose definition of broadband is failing the market wrt regulation. Now, if the industry were completely unregulated, maybe your point would stand -- but the fact of the matter is that it is regulated.

So now they want to include labor unions, unionized educators, and the whole gamut of subsidized parties into the mix. That's a free market, right? NOT.
Are you still equating a lack of government regulation with a free market? The two are not nearly the same, and this fundamental error destroys your arguments again and again. Labor unions are not anethema to a market free from regulation (which is what you're focused on). Ditto for educators unions. Do you believe that the government should not allow people to band together to make selling and purchasing decisions? How does that jibe with your definition of a free market as one free from regulation? Never mind the problematic definition of free market that you use. As for gvernmental agencies (which is what I assume you are referring to as "subsidized" parties -- no party is free from subsidy. The big companies -- subsidized. The small businesses -- subsidized. The question is the relative amount of subsidy. Note that often subsidies are provided in a manner that counters external costs born by the public. A truly efficient free market has to account for these costs and benefits.

As to your "pro big-business" examples -- these loopholes apply just as much to small business. There's always a question of later enforcement (hence I agree with your vagueness complaint) -- but small business stands to benefit just as much as large ones; if anything, the playing field is more level under this bill than in the current setup since municipalities and states cannot forbid entrance to market.

There's no need...
You make claims you can't defend, and say that it's obvious in order to justify those claims? Please. Instead of making the same old tired "regulation is always bad!" claims, why don't you actually point out how, specifically, smaller providers will be prohibited from the market by this bill. Your Halliburton red herring is meaningless. Seems to me that this bill specifically makes regulatory compliance easier for smaller entrants (which is why the exmeption is there). Besides which, you are missing the fact that the biggest barrier to entry is not regulatory compliance, it's the cost of infrastructure that is limiting. Without access to infrastructure, small competitors are done for (which is one reason why Net Neutrality is so important).

I could go on and on, but the fundamental flaw with your logic is your faulty assumption of what a free market is. The ideal free market is *not* a market free from regulation, though it appears that the Mises Institute that you so love and cherish does its best to confuse the two. The ideal free market requires that all costs are accounted for, whether born by the participants in an exchange or born by the public at large. It also requires low barriers to entry (again, the limiting barrier here is not regulatory compliance, no matter how often you want to trot out that tired old horse), and complete knowledge of the market by both parties in an exchange. Somewhere along the line you've allowed yourself to become confused as to the difference between an ideal free market and the "free market ideal" as espoused by Mises Institute and others.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 7 years ago | (#19927459)

No, he didnt read it. I'm willing to bet this is another cut and paste from some conservative think-tank or presidential candidate. Its called astroturfing.

It works becaue right now, being a conservative contrarian defending the status quo is pretty hip. See the millions who voted for Bush and now get their politics from South park and Ron Paul.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 7 years ago | (#19927851)

I've had many long discussions with dada21. He's got an incomplete understanding of economics, he's substituted the crap put out by the Mises Intstitute re: the "free market ideal" with what an ideal free market is.

Also, I'm not sure it's really astroturfing, which would require him being paid to build fake grassroots support -- typically there is a level of deception involved, usually a company paying the astroturfer to misrepresent an issue. I think he really believes his hogwash and honestly thinks he's spreading the good word.

He's been trying to spread his BS for a lot longer than Ron Paul has been in the news.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Control Group (105494) | about 7 years ago | (#19926865)

This bill was written solely to upset the current relatively free market of broadband.

A little more "relatively," and a little less "free," in my experience. In my current location (Madison, WI - not a major metropolitan area, but not the sticks, either), I have two choices for broadband: cable or DSL. If I go with cable, I go with Charter. If I go with DSL, I go with AT&T. "Tha's it an' tha's all," as they say. I fail to see how anything can squeeze "smaller providers" out of the system more than not being in the system at all.

Beyond which, let's not maintain too idealized a picture of these "smaller providers." Mt. Horeb is a small town about 20 minutes outside of Madison. There's a phone company - a literal mom-and-pop operation (or at least, husband and wife; I don't know that they have children) - that does business in Mt. Horeb. They've managed to arrange with the city that, if you want landline phone service or DSL, they are the only choice. Period.

"Competition" in today's American broadband market generally means "if you don't like it, you can move."

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

dada21 (163177) | about 7 years ago | (#19926979)

Tha's it an' tha's all," as they say. I fail to see how anything can squeeze "smaller providers" out of the system more than not being in the system at all.

That's the fault of Madison residents for allowing their local government to protect the interests of two parties. It sounds to me like you should pull a few T1 lines into Madison, rent some commercial closets, and start up a decent WiFi provider like http://jimmywireless.com/ [jimmywireless.com] by me. They do a great job for a great rate. They even provide free WiFi service for those who can't afford top tier WiFi from them. There is no excuse for the lack of competition, except that Madison likely restricts many providers out of the market.

They've managed to arrange with the city that, if you want landline phone service or DSL, they are the only choice. Period.

So you want a Federal law that taxes me so that you can have broadband? Is that fair? Is broadband a "life necessity"? I see no reason to set standards at the Federal level when it is obvious that the local market of citizens is at fault. Find 50 people to invest $1000 each, and start up a WiFi provider. The costs are NOT that high. If you have a town of 10,000 people, you can recoup your initial investment in less than 3 years, faster than almost any other teleecom business. This is a local problem, not a national concern.

"Competition" in today's American broadband market generally means "if you don't like it, you can move."

Or you can start your own business. If there's a demand, make a supply.

I would rather have to think about moving from Mt. Horeb to Madison than wonder why I live in a country that taxes one man to pay for the entertainment of another. We don't have a strip club in my town, maybe we need a Federal law that taxes you so I can go look at single moms dancing nude? We also don't have a casino near me, maybe we should tax you so that someone can overcome the huge market costs to open one?

It makes no sense to me. Local issues should be kept locally. If the citizens allowed for their village to enact mercantilist protection laws to remove competition, that's their fault. Run for office on a "competitiveness in broadband" ticket in your community. Change the bad laws.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Pendersempai (625351) | about 7 years ago | (#19926921)

Because the government will set "standards" of speed, this leaves smaller providers -- who may still be able to provide acceptable speeds -- out of the market. If you won't be able to give the minimum, get out of the market.
Not at all. More accurately, if you can't provide acceptable speeds, you're not allowed to pretend that you can. To my understanding, small providers can still provide smaller access for the same prices; they just can't pretend that it's "broadband." Do you shed tears because small farmers can't sell Grade B meat and pretend it's Grade A? Because small mom-and-pop jewelry shops can't sell cubic zirconium and claim that it's diamond? Because small electronics shops can't sell you an old-generation TV and call it an HDTV? Of course not. They're all free to compete, but they have to do it honestly. It's good that Congress wants to update the requirements of certain terminology so it continues to match the way people use it.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19928469)

> Do you shed tears because small farmers can't sell Grade B meat
> and pretend it's Grade A?

In your example, this bill would prevent the small farmer from
calling his Grade B meat MEAT, even though it absolutely,
technically and scientifically is MEAT, just less desirable.

A small telco providing 128kbps ADSL is providing BROADBAND
just as much as as a 2mbps megatelco. Technically and
absolutely it is BROADBAND if it is not BASEBAND. The bitrate
is irrelevant.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | about 7 years ago | (#19929499)

A small telco providing 128kbps ADSL is providing BROADBAND just as much as as a 2mbps megatelco. Technically and absolutely it is BROADBAND if it is not BASEBAND. The bitrate is irrelevant.


Actually, definition for a term like "broadband" is never going to be engraved in stone for all time, it's a relative term. Times change, software bloats, etc. In 2007 128kbps just doesn't cut it for most of us (hell, 1.5Mbps doesn't cut it anymore), and the fact you do not feel that way is fine. You are entitled to your opinion. But as you yourself revealed you do not live on 128kbps anymore, you have a T1 now. Also there is absolutely nothing anywhere in that bill which would fuel monopoly concerns.

So not trying to be evil here, but just how seriously do you imagine we should take that opinion?

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 7 years ago | (#19926997)

This bill was written solely to upset the current relatively free market of broadband.

So, I just gotta ask -- does the cable industry pay you by the word, or do you get some sort of flat rate for your shilling?

You sound like one of those horrific industry ads that they're running every ten minutes on Comcast; the one with the not-really-a-doctor-but-I'm-wearing-a-white-coat guy mumbling about how cable internet fixed the healthcare system, or the one with the old woman who seems to be confusing high-speed internet and the Second Coming of Jesus.

There's no competition in broadband. For most people, it's the cable company, or the phone company -- and often it's one or the other. And that's assuming they have either one available. Both industries have been massaging the numbers for years, using ZIP-code based statistics to try and show competition and availability where it doesn't exist.

To wit, under the current scheme, if one house at one end of a ZIP code area can get cable internet, and another house at the opposite end of town can get DSL, then that ZIP code has both services available -- even though potentially nobody in the area has any choice for service.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 7 years ago | (#19927419)

First off, regulations like these are seen all over Europe and they have better broadband choices.

Secondly, there's no shrotage of free market zealots who have no problem with companies selling broadband for full price and delivering 160-300kbps. Thats not broadband, thats crap. If anything this is consumer protection. A dsl line this slow should not be called broadband. They can name it "slowband."

The bullshit subsidiaries that Congress hands out is the core of this problem. Local bells and cable companies have no incentive to improve service when the government hands them territories, makes unbelievably cronyistic deals, FCC hands them frequencies, and hands them money. This bill is a small fix for the broken system you are defending.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill-Cool Yer Jets (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 7 years ago | (#19927561)

smaller providers -- who may still be able to provide acceptable speeds -- out of the market. If you won't be able to give the minimum, get out of the market.

Cool your jets!

I don't know of any smaller provider(s) who run their own cable/wire to your household. They piggyback on the big monopoly telcos and cable providers. As such, they have the same available line speed options available as the monopoly providers. If they can't meet new minimum broadband requirements using the same delivery infrastructure, then there's a serious question if they should be in the market at all.

Your post just sounds like an anti-Republican rant.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

AgentPaper (968688) | about 7 years ago | (#19927733)

This bill was written solely to upset the current relatively free market of broadband. Because the government will set "standards" of speed, this leaves smaller providers -- who may still be able to provide acceptable speeds -- out of the market. If you won't be able to give the minimum, get out of the market.
Since when is the broadband market free at all?

Any new ISP that wants to enter a given market area first has to have an infrastructure over which to provide service. If our Local ISP Co. tries to build its own, either the big players' political flacks delay and/or deny it the permits to do so, or they get the permits but the cost of the equipment exceeds the projected revenue; either way Local ISP Co. goes out of business. If Local ISP Co. buys infrastructure access and bandwidth from some Big Broadband Corp. that already serves that market, Local ISP Co. gets stepped on directly (smear advertising, messing with Local ISP Co.'s bandwidth, etc) until it goes out of business or gets bought up by Big Broadband Corp. In most communities, that process results in 0-3 broadband providers, all of whom use one of two pricing models: 1) tiered service that's no better than 56K dialup at the bottom and so-so at the top, or 2) very expensive flat-rate service that's decent as long as your local circuit isn't being throttled down.

Second, free markets are powerful things, but a free market only works if the consumer is smart enough to recognize the difference between a good and a bad product, and has the ability to buy from someone else if a given company's products or prices don't meet with what the consumer wants or thinks is fair. That system is relatively effective for tangible goods, because most people can physically recognize the difference between something that's worth their money - i.e. a well-made or high-quality product - and something that's not, and for most products, there are a lot of companies the customer can choose to buy from. With broadband, and with much of consumer-level computing in general, the consumer doesn't know a thing about the product or service beyond what the advertising copy says. Most of us have experienced or heard of people who believe that their 56K dialup service that actually achieves 28.8 on a good day is "broadband" because you start it with a little rocket icon on the desktop. Further, if the product or service doesn't do what it claims, the consumer has no recourse. If someone decides that Big Broadband Corp. or AllMedia Inc.'s service sucks, there is no Local ISP Co. for him to give his business to (see above).

Here's why I am against Net Neutrality -- instead of providing for a truly "neutral" pipe, regulations like these will be written by the strongest elements in a market, designed to kill the smaller competitors.
Exactly - the current bill doesn't provide for net neutrality at all, and neither will any bill proposed in challenge to it, thanks to the political lobbies of the major telecommunication players. The only recourse is for a government agency to step in, but whatever agency does so (the Senate, the FCC, the FTC, whoever) has a Hobson's choice. All of the regulatory options available - requiring a certain number of carriers per market, or requiring a certain level of service - work against competition for the reasons you mentioned, and doing nothing invariably results in monopoly or duopoly. As unpalatable as government regulation can be, in this case and in several other historical examples (see also: Pure Food and Drug Act, Sherman Act, telephone deregulation/Bell breakup), it has been the only option to ensure that the consumer has some protection from corporate malfeasance. Until a majority of the Congress grows a spine and stands up to the lobbyists, it's the least evil of a number of very evil choices.

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 years ago | (#19927923)

Because the government will set "standards" of speed, this leaves smaller providers -- who may still be able to provide acceptable speeds -- out of the market.

Not even remotely true. It really only prevents companies from advertising that they are selling a "broadband" service if it's below that speed.

instead of providing for a truly "neutral" pipe, regulations like these will be written by the strongest elements in a market, designed to kill the smaller competitors.

Without net neutrality, companies can just block (or rather seriously "de-prioritize") packets from any of the smaller companies they choose, without any govermental oversight at all.

This is just more pseudo-libertarian astroturfing from dada21...

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

Sandbags (964742) | about 7 years ago | (#19928267)

In my vast experience, working in multiple markets for a company that sells electronically vaulted backup data and a target customer of SMB market size, I typically find the smaller, localized ISPs are offering BETTER speeds at lower prices than the big guys (to remain competitive mostly I guess). Rarely do i find a small town ISP that can't provide at least 2Mbit down and 512Kbit up to all their customers. It's not an issue of line quality as cable and DSL are capable of per-connections speeds far in excess of that mark with technology that is both cheap and readily available.

Sometimes the issue is the ISP itself only having a moderate connection to the national backbone or a larger parent telco that manages their connection. Buying high speed bandwidth for these cases costs less per user the faster you go. If the ISP can't afford to go from 1 OC3 to 2 or more to accommodate that speed, or switch to 1Gbit fiber, then they are not providing an adequate customer service to their community, and deserve to be overtaken by a larger competitor.

ISPs, even small ones are massively profitable if they're correctly managed. Extreme speed connections that these ISPs buy cost about 10K per month (at wholesale prices, and even less if they contract for more than one to the backbone). At 2Mbit per user, that's 500 connections, or $20 per month per active user. Cable services are shared bandwidth systems, and they account for the condition that not all users will be at 100% capacity all the time. Normally, they run at 150-200% load or more, accounting for 750-1000 connected users per gigabit fiber line, cutting that cost further to about $10-15 per month. Even small ISPs should be able to provide 2Mbit service lines to customers for $29.99 per month, and over a 1 year contract term, profit about $50 per customer, each year after should yield another $250 per user. Most are still charging $44.95 or more for this connection.

On top of this, small ISPs usually provide higher speed alternatives at far below market rate of their competitors. Advanced options like having a static IP is often a $10 option from a local ISP. The ISP I have here is offering me 10Mbit down, 2Mbit up, static IP, 5 e-mails, ghost e-mail accounts for spam filtering, 1GB online storage, and they monitor my in-home security system too, and that's all for $99 per month. A basic 5 down 1 up connection (with static) is $39.95. Time Warner Cable wants $139.99 for 4 down 512 up with a static, and none of the other features are included. This is in Rural Columbia SC, more than 10 miles from city center

Sure, I come across small towns all the time (like Myrtle Beach) where even pathetic connections like 512 down 128 up cost $49.99 per month. This law will not effect the local ISP because they have a legally protected monopoly and there not only isn't any competition, but they're not required by law to share their poles, so there won't be competition until the FCC regulates there to be, or until enough people complain. With this law, we can document a minimum speed as "high speed" internet, and the local monopoly will either have to offer faster service or stop calling it "high speed" internet. Whole zip codes will no longer be considered "broadband available" under this law for easter SC unless the ISPs get on with the game.

If ISPs don't start complying, I expect increasing federal pressure. We're WAY behind the world in broadband penetration. With this law changed, we're going to drop 5-10 places on the list overnight. Some areas of the country are too difficult or expensive to wire, but most other places, like Myrtle beach, and going to be a sore spot for congressmen, and they will "make" them comply one way or the other. Those who refuse will be deregulated forcibly and go out of business. It's their choice, to fight this, their choice to comply. Compliance is not expensive. It will effect the bottom line. Those who really, truly, can't afford it, are mismanaged ISPs, and would likely be out of business in a few years anyway... Especially once WiMax gets out there, or if Motorola keeps putting up 10Mbit microwave laser towers and cable and phone companies keep running fiber like mad.

FYI: Fiber lines cost LESS than traditional phone and cable lines. They'll be bringing fiber to all of us eventually as the old phone network is dismantled and upgraded. If your ISP doesn't do it, either the phone company or cable company will within the next 5 years or so (less for downtown areas).

Re:This is a monopoly provision bill (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 years ago | (#19928897)

I wouldn't mind it and I work for a smaller provider. We serve remote areas served by satellite only. We sell DSL at well under 2Mbps. When you are paying $16,000 for a T1, bandwidth is expensive (and no, we aren't using that particular service, but the official state-approved regulated cost of a T1 for these remote areas through AT&T is $16,000). What we just had to spend money on was CALEA compliance. All "broadband" connections must be tapable. If 2Mbps is "broadband" then we can drop almost all of our CALEA crap. Our customers won't care what the definition is. The only people that will care are the people that like to see the US high on the "broadband available" lists and see that Alaska used to have one of the highest penetrations rates and will instantly drop to a lower spot. But when it costs some providers $16,000 (and yes, I looked at a bill once where someone was paying the full rate) for a sub-broadband T1, I'm guessing that not many places in rural Alaska will have broadband, even with 1000 to 1 oversubscription. Well, I guess they could, since ADSL2+ is cheap. 1000 people with 26Mbps to the ISP, and shared 1.5Mbps to the outside world. That'd fit the official definition of "broadband" as far as I can tell, even if no one ever actually gets more than 128k or so on a regular basis.

"An America without broadband..." (2, Interesting)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | about 7 years ago | (#19926221)

Internet News [internetnews.com] has more details and analysis of the act, including comments from Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who voted for the bill but expressed reservations:

"I worry that the provisions addressing broadband speeds and smaller geographic areas in this bill could inadvertently paint a picture of an America without broadband that is not accurate," he said in a statement... I am not sure that Congress, rather than the FCC, should be getting into this level of detail, particularly given technological changes, such as compression technologies that could make these standards a moving target."

I'm not sure I agree with him that the "America with broadband" picture is inaccurate. By most other modern countries' standards, we are far behind.

Re:"An America without broadband..." (3, Funny)

fractalVisionz (989785) | about 7 years ago | (#19926399)

Oh God, Ted Stevens talking about compression... When will he learn that compression doesn't provide faster internet services...

Re:"An America without broadband..." (1)

Rolgar (556636) | about 7 years ago | (#19928455)

I bet a 'compression is a series of trash compactors' analogy is forthcoming soon.

Re:"An America without broadband..." (1)

Shaman (1148) | about 7 years ago | (#19926455)

People keep saying this. It's not usually true, and do not understand why. Having a large Internet connection doesn't mean everything comes to you at higher speeds. I have a gigabit connection right to my desktop at work and speeds vary from 20KBps to 10MB/s and I might have both download windows side by side. Never seen anything higher than that unless I was looking for a specific network path that I knew could deliver it.

If you don't know something, it's best not to misinform others.

ADSL2+ here (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | about 7 years ago | (#19926537)

It's rated for 24Mbps. I usually get around 1-2 Mbyte/s on a single download TCP stream. I can basically max out the bandwidth with multiple simultaneous downloads anytime.

And I pay 29 euro a month.

Re:"An America without broadband..." (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | about 7 years ago | (#19926495)

Ted Stevens lost the ability to intelligently comment on the Internet when he called it a series of tubes. And I'm sure that, compared to Alaska, the rest of the US looks like the year 3000.

Honestly, what qualifications does this guy have other than "I've taken lots of money from AT&T and Verizon?"

Re:"An America without broadband..." (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 years ago | (#19929109)

And I'm sure that, compared to Alaska, the rest of the US looks like the year 3000.

Alaska has one of the largest broadband penetration rates in the US.

Re:"An America without broadband..." (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926817)

What Stevens isn't getting (or is purposefully avoiding saying) is that a greater broadband connection, plus compression technologies, would allow for even more use within that broadband channel. That allows for further development of new uses and technologies.

To put it in words he would understand:
"If you give everyone a bigger tube, and then someone comes along and tells you how to pack your internets into a smaller email, then you can email even more internets without clogging your tube! Everyone wins!"

Made it to the senate. (2, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | about 7 years ago | (#19926407)

..where it was promptly shot down by senators who listened to the lobbyists who went on and on about how it would bankrupt their companies, when in reality, they would just pass the cost directly to the consumer.

"Oh, BTW, we're increaseing your rates by $100 a month, starting three months ago. Congress is forcing us to do this, we'll call it the broadband tax."

Good news for plumbers (1)

TodMinuit (1026042) | about 7 years ago | (#19926505)

They're going to be laying down a lot of new tubes.

Re:Good news for plumbers-BOLD REPLY (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 7 years ago | (#19927611)

I wonder if I use bold in my signature, people will notice my posts.

THEY WILL, AND HATE YOU FOR IT!

Look my employer will just have to pay for it (0, Offtopic)

gelfling (6534) | about 7 years ago | (#19926677)

It's too late to buy or rent office space for the millions of people they 'homesourced' and who now rely on broadband for their jobs and for their employers profits. If they charge me twice as much for half the service then my employer will just have to pick up the slack. The only alternative is to go out and rent or build millions of feet of office space.

moD down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19926821)

knows that elver hot on the heels of megs of ram runs am protesting Of reality. Keep notwithstanding, never heeded prospects are

My Own Kingdom (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 7 years ago | (#19927503)

aggregating the data by ZIP+4 instead of just the full ZIP code.

If they aggregate by Zip+4, then I'm my own little broadband kingdom of one household. This means the original idea that as long as one household in the measured area has broadband, the whole area is considered to have broadband, becomes a binary truism.

Many mistakes... (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 7 years ago | (#19927581)

For years, geeks have criticized the way that the agency collects broadband information, focusing especially on the fact that the bar for "broadband" is set laughably low (200Kbps)

Really? I'd think "geeks" like myself would criticize the fact that "broadband" is a term that describes how the signal is carried, and has nothing at all to do with speed in any way, shape or form.

Turns out my baseband Ethernet connection has been "broadband" for all these years. All those books, and all my teachers, have been lying to me for many years...

For one thing, the agency is directed to come up with a new metric for "second generation broadband," defined as being the minimum speed needed to stream full-motion, high-definition video.

Great! With lossy compression, there is practically no minimum bitrate at any resolution, and quality (aty any bitrate) depends significantly upon the content of the video in question.

I could say my 200Kbps connection can stream HDTV, and you have no grounds to argue with me.

And that's without even mentioning the vast quality/bitrate differences between codecs, and the fact that "HD" is rather loosely defined as well.

Re:Many mistakes... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 7 years ago | (#19929299)

Turns out my baseband Ethernet connection has been "broadband" for all these years. All those books, and all my teachers, have been lying to me for many years...

And you are an idiot. There are multiple definitions in the dictionary for most words. Amazingly, a word can have more than one definition. Sometimes, the meaning even changes from the original meaning. The "problem" was that cable delivery and DSL delivery are broadband, but a large portion of FTTH at higher speeds than the others would be baseband. What was done was to take a summary of the technologies and create a legal definition that was a compilation. Yes, the legal definition conflicts with the technical definition. However, if you are in court or congress, you are the one that is wrong. Yes, your baseband connection is broadband.

Great! With lossy compression, there is practically no minimum bitrate at any resolution, and quality (aty any bitrate) depends significantly upon the content of the video in question.

Again, being the village idiot. The presumption is "broadcast quality." It is explicitly stated as such in any law I've seen regarding it, so it has become an unstated requirement. But feel free to take the technical (but wrong) definitions and run with them. It's better to think you are right and better than everyone else than actually have conversations with others with the correct usages of the words. And yes, I'm asserting that once law defines a word, that becomes a correct usage of it, even if in violation of the technical definition of the word.
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