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FCC Commish - US Playing 'Russian Roulette' with Broadband

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the with-more-than-one-bullet dept.

The Internet 290

LarryBoy writes "In a speech given at the YearlyKos Convention in Chicago, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps lambasted US broadband policy, saying that the US is 'playing "Russian roulette with broadband and Internet and more traditional media."' Copps also took issue with an op-ed piece ('Broadband Baloney') by fellow commissioner Robert McDowell last week. 'In his speech, Copps didn't mention McDowell by name, but he did claim that broadband in the US is "so poor that every citizen in the country ought to be outraged." Back when then OECD said that we were number four in the world, he said, no one objected to its methodology. Copps also had fighting words for those who blame the US broadband problems on our less-dense population; Canada, Norway, and Sweden are ranked above us, but all are less dense than the US. Besides, this argument implies that broadband is absolutely super within American urban areas. Copps noted, though, that his own broadband connection in Washington, DC was "nothing compared to Seoul."'"

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Quit Capping the Upstream (4, Insightful)

RunFatBoy.net (960072) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107135)

>In his speech, Copps didn't mention McDowell by name, but he did claim that
>broadband in the US is "so poor that every citizen in the country ought to be outraged."

I don't know if the average citizen would even realize if their downstream bandwidth were boosted significantly. If my mother can download her web page in 3 seconds instead of 5, I am not sure she really cares.

The real battle seems to be with the upstream. Face it, sending photos sucks. If I have to do any sort of large .ear deployment over my work's VPN, it sucks even more.

And to worsen things, I don't believe this is an infrastructure issue. These are obviously artificial caps levied against all users (both the legitimate and abusing customers). Maybe they could throttle the upstream for those with prolonged heightened levels of usage?

Jim
http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net] - A workout plan for beginners.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (2, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107223)

Some of that is technological. If you are on a cable modem then any upstream bandwidth has to be basically carved out of the downstream bandwidth. Providers tweak their upstream caps as low as possible to free up as many timeslices as possible for download content. You may argue with this (I know I do), but it's the way the technology works. If you wanted more upstream bandwidth, you'd have to take a hit to your downstream bandwidth (which is the number the cable company actually advertises when trying to get you to buy their service).

I'm pretty sure my FiOS connection is the same (more lambda for downstream than upstream), but I don't know exactly how it is set up. Either way, with 5mb up, I don't have much room to complain, at least not like the local cablemodem users who are still stuck at 128k/256k up.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (5, Insightful)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107409)

So?

If I get 11Mb/s total (I do, 10Mb/s down and 1Mb/s up), let me adjust the caps myself. If I want 5.5/5.5, or 9/2, let me have it. If I want 1/10, it's the same difference to the local cable loop.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107489)

I would love to have that ability. I hope my ISP decides to offer that soon, the closest we have here is that some ISP's have started to offer 21/3 instead of 24/1.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107987)

Why are you assuming that upstream and downstream bandwidth are a) related, and b) a tradeoff between one another? AFAIK, in a cable plant, downstream bandwidth is relatively plentiful, while upstream bandwidth is a rather precious resource, because of the way the channels are allocated.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108015)

Oh, and I believe upstream is also limited because of the transmit collision backoff algorithm they use (modified ALOHA or somesuch, I believe, though I could be mistaken).

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108049)

let me adjust the caps myself. If I want 5.5/5.5, or 9/2, let me have it. If I want 1/10, it's the same difference to the local cable loop.
They don't want you running a webserver off your residential internet connection.

They'd also rather have you download 80 GB a month than upload 80 GB per month.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108095)

Why would they care whether I download it or upload it? Just so I don't do both.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (2, Insightful)

N7DR (536428) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108153)

If I want 1/10, it's the same difference to the local cable loop.

I'm afraid that that's not even remotely true. The upstream bandwidth available on almost all US cable plant is a tiny fraction of the downstream bandwidth available. The system only became (theoretically) symmetrical with DOCSIS 2.0. But all the deployments I know of in the US are still at DOCSIS 1.1. Even if they have a fully DOCSIS-2.0-compliant network (which is no one I know of in the US, but there may be some) I believe that no US cable operator has actually turned on the 2.0 features.

There is some hope that deployment of DOCSIS 3.0 will be faster and more widespread than deployment of DOCSIS 2.0 has been, but I wouldn't recommend holding your breath.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (3, Insightful)

obsolete1349 (969869) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107305)

Look, I could give a shit how "fast" my upstream and downstream speeds are. I want latency reduced as much as possible. My current ISP is Qwest. They are they only game in town. I can't ping outside the network for under 70ms. I've called and complained. I've even moved to a new residency and I still have high ping. I agree with the summary. America's broadband is utter shit.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20108023)

I used to work for a local ISP that had to lease lines through Qwest for DSL. Qwest basically aggregated all the DSL traffic into a pipe and sent it our way.

Many of our customers complained about the high latency average of around 72ms just from the DSL modem to the Qwest aggregation point.

So we started doing some poking and found out they were using Stinger DSLAMs. We got a copy of the DSLAM configuration manual and found out that the whole problem was *1 simple command* on the DSLAM and it would have dropped the latency by 60ms!! (30 there, 30 back)

We petitioned Qwest to do it for us, but they refused.. In short they really didn't care because it wasn't "their majority of customers" that was requesting it.

Long story short, Qwest sucks; always has, always will.

Better yet...stop overselling bandwidth! (4, Insightful)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107319)

It's not so much the caps that are the problem it's the fact that your broadband provider is selling 10x (or more) the bandwidth they have available working on the presumption that you will not actually use your full bandwidth most of the time.

This was all good and well when email (not spam) and simple web pages were the Internet norm, but with dynamic pages, streaming video, audio, other content, and unparalleled levels of email we need to stop over-selling the actual bandwidth available. If what we have isn't good enough to service the customers -- upgrade the infrastructure to something that can handled 30MiB/s down and 15MiBs up (or whatever)

Also, stop calling them "unlimited" plans with the simple truth is every provider limits your bandwidth usage either by threats or through packet shaping.

Re:Better yet...stop overselling bandwidth! (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107639)

If you don't want oversold bandwidth, pull out your checkbook. The ISP I work for would be happy to sell you a 30 megabits/sec link, but it'll probably cost you around $60000/month. If you want us to "upgrade the infrastructure" to handle selling 30 megabits/sec to thousands of customers, somebody's going to have to pay that bill as well (just off the top of my head, I'd say it'll probably at least triple the cost).

We oversell DSL, but we monitor the links to make sure we have sufficient capacity for all but the most extreme peaks (the typical average bits/customer for our DSL is only around 35-40 kilobits/sec, a small fraction of each customer's available bandwidth). This is the way pretty much all modern communication networks work; land-line and cell phone networks cannot handle everybody picking up the phone and making a call at once.

Re:Better yet...stop overselling bandwidth! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107913)

I have to ask. You say that bandwidth. 30 Mbit/s is $60K a month. Why? Is it because you decide that it costs that much or is it because your upstream provider charges that much. If it's the latter, which assume it is, why do they decide that it costs that much? Does it really take $60K per month to hook up a fiber line or whatever to a switch. I understand that their are maintenance costs and people cost money, and equipment costs money. But I do not believe that it costs that much. Ultimately we are talking low voltage wiring or fiber optics. Light traveling over a medium. I think the costs are artificial and that is ultimately the problem. The main ISP's/telcos were given plenty to upgrade their infrastructure in the past and they did 0. Now we have a need (perceived) for this bandwidth and they are saying it isn't there. Well I say why not? Where exactly did my tax money go?

Re:Better yet...stop overselling bandwidth! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20108147)

30Mbit/s is going to be either a T3 or OC-3 line, neither of which are cheap in of themselves. So you have telco fees for the line itself and then you have access fee(monthly ISP fee). The equipment on either end of the line isn't cheap either. And everyone involved wants to make a profit.

The technology involved is expensive because its priced toward enterprises not the mass market.

Stringing fiber to home is a very expensive thing to do and the telco&cable companies aren't interested in spending the cash on it because A) they'll probably have to share access to it and B) they're already making a profit off the current ass raping scheme and there isn't any competition/reason to upgrade.

Your tax money went into the telco's pocket.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107377)


If my mother can download her web page in 3 seconds instead of 5, I am not sure she really cares.

High bandwidth isn't for loading a web page faster, it's for something that actually uses high-bandwidth like streaming video.

Also, with a high-bandwidth video connection and IP-multicasting, you could have practical internet TV stations with a million listeners.

The internet is a hell of a lot more than just a series of websites, but without the truly fast connections most people will never get to see that. To a large degree I feel like the basic functionality of the internet hasn't changed since 1995 or so when browsers became commonplace. Sure, websites have gotten MUCH better and actually provide content, but for the most part the content is still relatively low bandwidth text, and still pictures. (we all know there's people that download video, but it's about at the level that trading pictures/text was before HTTP was invented, mostly for techno-nerds).

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107479)

(we all know there's people that download video, but it's about at the level that trading pictures/text was before HTTP was invented, mostly for techno-nerds).

Yes, everyone on YouTube is a techno-nerd.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (3, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107601)

I guess when I'm talking video, I'm not talking about a low-quality, 2 minute clip shot by a 13 year old, replicating the mentos+coke video. Youtube is an interesting experiment, but at least it's current incarnation is little more than a fad.

I'm actually talking about a high quality video feed produced by professionals that would play on my IP-TV capable television.

Right now that doesn't exist, and the closest we come to that is people downloading TV shows with bittorent (who are the afformentioned techno-nerds).

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107593)

we all know there's people that download video, but it's about at the level that trading pictures/text was before HTTP was invented, mostly for techno-nerds
Everyone watches video on YouTube, MySpace, CNN, etc. these days. What the hell are you talking about?

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (4, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107787)


What the hell are you talking about?

I'm talking about the internet not being a web-browser. The content you're talking about is poor quality short clips, intended to supplement a web page. The content I'm talking about is a well produced high quality television broadcast that'll compete with cable and satellite producers, but also have the nearly infinite amount of choices. Right now if you want to distribute content like the cable stations produce, you need a ton of money to buy time on a satellite. An internet TV revolution would eliminate that need and open up an entirely different means of content distribution.

I'm talking about the internet taking over the television and going into the family room, not the computer room. That's starting to happen a little with consoles, but nowhere to the degree I'm referring to.

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (4, Funny)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108141)

The internet is a hell of a lot more than just a series of websites

Absolutely. It's a series of tubes!

Re:Quit Capping the Upstream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107977)

I don't know if the average citizen would even realize if their downstream bandwidth were boosted significantly.

Are you nuts? I have to check the run length of youtube URLs I send to my mom to see if they'll take her over an hour to download or not. I have to explain to my dad (he's an ad director) that he needs to resample his video reel samples down to 320x200 if he wants clients to bother waiting to see the first five minutes.

Bandwidth in the U.S. sucks beyond compare, and the reason is the stupid, greedy last-mile providers who haven't lived up to their promises and who lobby and litigate to block any kind of local infrastructure development when a city has had enough and wants to install its own fiber.

Meh (-1, Flamebait)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107143)

7Mb/sec download, 1Mb/sec upload, fine by me (rural Alabama... most, but not all, of the US has it better I'm sure). Seriously, there is good enough to get the job done, and then there is digital penis envy. I'm not saying don't innovate, but what's the point of pissing and moaning when 90% can get higher speeds than they need for the time being?

Because it's Bushes fault! (-1, Troll)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107189)

Didn't you read the summary. This is a bunch of nutjobs complaining that life isn't FAIR.

Re:Meh (1)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107195)

I'm not saying don't innovate, but what's the point of pissing and moaning when 90% can get higher speeds than they need for the time being?

....Maybe 'cause some would think that artificial, arbitrary service caps for no good reason [other than corporate profit] is not what we should have...?

Re:Meh (2, Insightful)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107207)

Yep, and 640K ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:Meh (2, Insightful)

Hench3 (946011) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107233)

Yeah, trouble is, not everyone is able to get those speeds. Getting those speeds in Houston suburbs would be a Godsend - literally no one here gets anywhere near that.

Re:Meh (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107289)

Mine's about half that (3/.4), and I live in a city. I can't even get better, because it's not available in my area.

I'd have to say our broadband in this country does suck, by and large. If it was only a problem in rural areas, then it might be understandable, but in many rural areas (sounds like yours is one) the networks are run by co-ops, and the damn speeds go UP as opposed to the big national companies who are whining about how damn difficult it is.

Re:Meh (4, Informative)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107323)

Your connection is not the norm. I'm in suburban St. Louis, MO, and I have a "choice" between The Phone Company (AT&T) and The Cable Company (Charter), neither of which is required to care about anything either by law or by market forces.

AT&T offers the following plans, generally:
- Mediocre DSL: 6M/768k, $60/mo.
- Crap DSL: 3M/768k, $40/mo.
- Crappier DSL: 1.5M/384k, $30/mo.
- Why-Bother? DSL: 512k/128k, $20/mo.

Charter offers similar plans, like so:
- Mediocre Cable: 6M/512k, $60/mo. plus cable TV
- Crap Cable: 3M/128k, $40/mo. plus cable TV
- Useless Cable: 1M/128k, $20/mo. plus cable TV
- They-call-this-broadband? Cable: 512k/64k, $20/mo. but no cable TV requirement

Personally, I'm on a grandfathered DSL plan, at 1.5M/768k for $25/mo. I don't call AT&T for service, because if I do, I will get my plan changed to something current and end up paying more for less. Yes, it beats dialup. No, it's not good. I drool at the thought of having even 1/10th of what is "normal" in Korea.

Meh-A force is a force, of course, of course. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107771)

"Your connection is not the norm. I'm in suburban St. Louis, MO, and I have a "choice" between The Phone Company (AT&T) and The Cable Company (Charter), neither of which is required to care about anything either by law or by market forces."

Really? When did "doing without" stop being a market force? Have you tried throwing money at them to see if that "market force" works?

Re:Meh (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107329)

Uhh, no. Try Urban Minnesota and the average speed is 4mbit down 384Kbit up...

Re:Meh (1)

FooDaddy (1138013) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107401)

...why gripe? Well, aside from competing with other nations in studies like these(about which honestly I'm fairly indifferent), then how about the problem (from a customer's pov) that ISP's in the states are more apt to compete to provide less for the dollar(checked only by competition, where available and which is not in effect where I live) rather than to compete to see how far they can extend technology and performance, stretching their dollar against overhead and a target profit margin. ..or maybe it just feels that way. My case in point about the problem with lack of competition is that I'm paying more for the same service(same provider) than I was in an area where there was competition. Again, this is a problem consumer's pov and is coming from a consumer who does not see how the cost of purchasing broadband service in my area is going to be lowered because no one else is coming in to compete. -mr. foo

San Jose, CA 3M/512K (1)

aegl (1041528) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107413)

In the self proclaimed "Capitol of Silicon Valley" my allegedly 3Mbit download DSL link maxes out at 2.4Mbit ... so I see little point in paying them more for an alleged 6Mbit connection.

Re:Meh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107417)

Ah, the "I have fast internet therefore everyone has fast internet" argument. No idea which orifice you pulled that 90% number out of, but given the large suburban population of our country, your situation doesn't map onto the rest of the population.

You got lucky. Don't move near a city.

Re:Meh (4, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107545)

Seriously, there is good enough to get the job done, and then there is digital penis envy.


Of course you're going to think yours is big enough if you don't know how to use it...

Faster broadband, both upstream and down (especially up) would have an enormous societal impact. Think of all the travel that could be avoided (jet fuel not burned) if video conferencing didn't suck. Think of all the commuting that wouldn't have to be done if VPN access were equivalent to sitting on the corporate LAN. Some of us with fiber-optic connections are already seeing the benefits. $0.99 Amazon movie rentals that only take 12 minutes to download, for example. You can literally start watching in seconds. The whole thing is done transferring in less time than it would have taken to drive to Blockbuster and back... Remote desktops are actually usable for non-graphical apps, and even for some CAD applications...

Faster internet access really would provide better quality of life for many people.

Re:Meh (1)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107551)

If the issue were technical capabilities or real market demand, I would agree with you.

Other country's infrastructure proves the issue is not technical. The speed of service
in other countries implies to me that the issue is not real market demand.

I think the issue is monopoly/cartel behaviour from the telcos, and I don't think it is
good. (on Digital Penis envy, how and why others chose the products and services they
chose is their own business. Or should we disallow Hummers and Cadillacs, et al, because
they are simple conspicuous consumption?)

Re:Meh (2, Funny)

Jimithing DMB (29796) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107555)

I fully agree with this. I'm getting 15/1 or something ridiculous like that here in Hampton Roads, VA from Cox. Not to mention that Cox has introduced something they call "PowerBoost" whereby when extra bandwidth is not being utilized you get a huge jump in downstream rate for a few seconds. So basically if I download the latest Leopard dmg from Apple or a new Fedora ISO or whatever it will get these little boosts where I'm downloading damn near 1 megabyte/second for a little while and then it drops back off to the more usual 500-600 kilobytes/second. Man, I feel *so* oppressed.

They actually improved the speeds about a year ago for no additional charge, just part of their infrastructure upgrades. Now, let me think, do I want to stick with Cox where the service keeps improving and I get like zero outages or do I want to have some government-run bureaucracy forcibly providing me internet service?

And even better is this guy's absolute drivel that big companies like Time Warner and Verizon are going to take away our freedoms so we ought to just trust the government to run our internet for us to make sure democracy has a chance.

This dude is clearly a whiner along with all of the other whiners over at Kos. They don't feel they're getting their fair share so it's all about making everything government run and stealing money from your neighbors to pay for your health insurance and your internet service and your everything else in some grand communist plan. To hell with that.

Now, of course, if some rural community wants to band together to provide internet service, or if a state not being served well in general would like to do it then I have no problem with that. A co-op isn't necessarily a bad idea and in fact is the epitome of people taking care of themselves and their neighbors. But this leftist's bunk about needing to foster competition and needing to evaluate what other countries are doing is just crap. It is thinly veiled attempt at giving more power to the federal government which already very clearly has way more power than it can handle.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107619)

Digital piracy seems to be the only use for larger bandwidth anyway. As YouTube proves, what's available is already perfectly adequate for streaming video. People rarely upload, and anyone who's uploaded content to YouTube or other photosharing sites knows that while it may take a while it's a one-time cost. Once it's over, the content is there, and who cares about how long it took to send?

I agree completely, there's absolutely nothing wrong with US broadband. Sure, some people might like to have a larger epeen by getting a higher download number, but almost everyone finds current high speed offerings to be perfectly adequate. I've never heard anyone complain about the speeds offered, outside of generic epeen waving contests. ("Well, I've got 12.41923mbps and you only have 10.41941mbps!")

The only reason people want higher upload speeds is to allow for more digital piracy. Current home internet services are more than adequate if you intend to limit your online time to legal activities. If you are one of the very few people who really is trying to share "your content" online, there are plenty of hosting providers who can offer plenty of space and bandwidth for $10/month - there's no need to host it from your house. (And plenty of reasons to host it with a company that will actively take responsibility to keep their servers patched.)

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20108131)

Maybe I want higher upload speeds so that I can operate my business out of my house instead of paying ~1/2K per month for cabinet and bandwidth at a co-lo.

Re:Meh (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107681)

No, most of the US doesnt have it better.

We have close, unless you use it then you get a nasty phone call telling you to stop.

Re:Meh (1)

snoig (535665) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107753)

If I could get 7 down and 1 up for all my users, things would be fine. The problem is that I have 20 users in this building and 3 remote offices. If I could get service with reasonable upload speeds around here it would make our network much more usable. VPN would work great for our remote offices, I could host my own web and mail servers, video conferencing would eliminate some trips.

The problem is that cable companies still think of the internet like they think about TV. That it's for consuming media only and that nobody needs fast upload speeds.

The real problem ... (1, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107271)

is the granting of local monopolies. Until that is stopped, or the communities change the monopoly to a SMALL one (i.e. from your house to a block-level box or CO via fiber), this will continue (in fact, get worse). The current policies are disasters. And as to the news corps., they should never have been allowed to buy multiples. That has turned America's news system into a total joke. Now, nearly all are simple mouth pieces of the republican party (and will probably turn shrill when the dems win).

Re:The real problem ... (0, Troll)

StringBlade (557322) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107355)

Now, nearly all are simple mouth pieces of the republican party (and will probably turn shrill when the dems win).

At least we still have reality on our side...since it's well know that it has a liberal bias.

Re:The real problem ... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107821)

"At least we still have reality on our side...since it's well know that it has a liberal bias." If you consider a comedian a reliable way to determine the nature of reality. Personally, I prefer learning about reality from reality, not from someone who makes his living appealing to the bias of "liberals".

Re:The real problem ... (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107441)

Monopolies aren't bad as such, the Swedish infrastructure was built by a state owned monopoly and is probably the reason almost all of Sweden can get access to 10-24 mbit down 1 mbit up bandwidth. However the rule is that the owner of the infrastructure has to allow everyone else access for a modest fee.

The fiber network is a lot less spread though since it's not really financially viable to drag fiber out into the wilderness.

Re:The real problem ... (1)

sourcehi (1138035) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108067)

I agree. I live in Puna Hawaii and can't even get broadband. No cable, dsl, or satelite. But can go to Saigon and get free WiFi that is much much better than any service I can get here. The manopolies on this island won't try to service the population.

Blah (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107277)

If I didn't get broadband for free (bene of so who works at comcast) I'd buy the cheapest dialup I could find. Wha! You can't afford broadband. If you can't afford $10 a month, I suggest forgetting about it or a shotgun mouthwash.

Density? (4, Funny)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107279)

Canada, Norway, and Sweden are ranked above us, but all are less dense than the US.

I agree that their aren't many folks as dense as us at the moment, but which are more dense? Norwegians or Swedes?

Re:Density? (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107539)

Please don't open that can of worms.. really , please. I've lived in both Sweden and Norway, and to put it this way, the French have great love, appreciation and respect for the British as compared to Norwegian sentiments about Swedes... you have no idea what you get yourself into...

Re:Density? (1)

rumblin'rabbit (711865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107725)

That was going to be my joke.

But seriously folks, about 80% of Canadians live in urban areas, as opposed to about 75% for the U.S. Apparently we huddle together for warmth.

I am guessing that the rate of urbanization matters more than population density in regards to ease of broadband access.

I disagree. (0)

weak* (1137369) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107299)

I'd say the US is playing curling with broadband. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling [wikipedia.org]

Or, that's about as interesting as I find the opinion of anyone who works for the FCC...

Re:I disagree. (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107745)

Yes, but there's concern that someone will replace a broadband curling-stone with a bomb...

bells wasted their gov't money, CEO's just stole i (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107317)

I recall reading about how 10's of billions in tax breaks to the bells or whatever media companies was never used for the intended purpose of building a super fast american infrastructure. I guess we'll have to wait for google to do it.. and they can put the bells out of business.

And? (0, Flamebait)

glrotate (300695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107331)

Leftwing pinko whines because everything isn't free.

News at 11.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107473)

Aww you dufus, why must everything be about lefwing/rightwing with you conservative nutbags. You don't even have enough pride in your own country to be embarrassed that some commie in some 3rd world country has it better than you. All your interested in belittling your own countrymen, what an unpatriotic sleazebag you are.

There's an easy solution (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107353)

Just open up all of the lines between the telco's central office and the home. By that I mean don't have them under the same local monopoly. Allow independent businesses to operate them. If you generate a competitive revenue stream here, there will be a lot of businesses who depend on offering you the best broadband access possible.

After all, these were paid for by U.S. tax dollars. We deserve better. Right now, the third-world nations are on-track to surpass (and in some cases, have surpassed) the U.S..

If that doesn't bother you, consider what the effects of better broadband and offshoring will do to the U.S. economy.

There really is no other option if the U.S. is going to remain competitive in today's world.

Re:There's an easy solution (1)

jmyers (208878) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107543)

This may reduce availability in rural areas. Why would anyone run cables out to bumfuck where there is maybe 1 customer in 5 miles. With the monopoly you can force their hand and say they are granted the monopoly but they most service the rural customer.

Re:There's an easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107891)

Yes, the current broadband service out to the rural parts of America is notably stellar under the current system, isn't it? /sarcasm.

Sorry, but real life experience for the past 30 years blows that theory right out of the water.

I for one... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107369)

...do not welcome our Russian Roulette playing bandwidth overlords.

Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopolies (4, Informative)

gethoht (757871) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107411)

Ok folks, comparing the density of sweden or norway is not like comparing the density of the US. First of all, the US is a shit-ton larger than those countries. I understand the argument, but I don't think they're really incorporating the total size of the US. When you take the lack of density and spread it out over an area that is many multiple times larger than norway AND sweden combined, I think you can better understand the technical problems and costs involved with such an endeavor.

That being said, I do believe that the ridiculous telco/cable monopolies that have been governmentally supported for so long now has an effect as well. It's a combination of alot of factors, just like most other things in life.

Re:Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopoli (1)

gethoht (757871) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107485)

Also... the Canada argument.

Canada might be ranked "higher", and be a big flipping country, but 75% of canada lives within 90 miles of the US border.

Re:Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopoli (3, Informative)

abigor (540274) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107677)

Actually, even Canada's rural areas far from the border get good broadband. Your argument doesn't hold. It's really only the truly remote, hard to reach places that are still on dial-up or slow dsl.

Re:Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopoli (1)

Regolith (322916) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108151)

...but 75% of canada lives within 90 miles of the US border.
They're just trying to take advantage of the residual heat created by all of the hotheads and windbags to the south during the winter.

Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107541)

We have backbones all over the god damned country, and we *should* have telcos and cable companies by the god damned thousand, ready to take their little monopolistic slice of the country and wire it out the ass for broadband.

Instead, we have a few huge, massive countries whining about how everything is too expensive to deploy, despite the fact that other countries that are traditionally less well off seem to have no problem doing just that.

Re:Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopoli (2, Informative)

crazybasenji (1130955) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107549)

Copps argument is that, in certain respects, the entire area of the United States should not be considered. No one should expect Topeka to have the same type of service, but one think that Manhattan should be better than Seoul.

Re:Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopoli (4, Insightful)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107565)

The point is that if Sweden and Norway can get high speed internet into the wilderness then the US should at least be able to get high speed internet into their cities.

The fact that the country is larger shouldn't make it more difficult as such. Making a large network is just connecting two smaller ones no?

Re:Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopoli (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107735)

Australia doesn't seem to have a problem giving broadband to it's red center. I'm pretty sure that puts to shave any large, barren areas of the US (I.E. Nevada)

Re:Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopoli (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107795)

Explain Canada being above you with that logic. I could get 2mb each way DSL in a town of 1500 in north eastern ontario 8 years ago. This is 100 miles from the nearest city (a whopping 50k population itself).

Re:Density *could* be factor, mostly just monopoli (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107809)

...that works to our advantage. We have a LOT of open space, which makes it damn easy to run fiber. When the line needs to go through someone's house, it tends to cost more money...

Godwin's (4, Insightful)

El Cabri (13930) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107457)

There should be some equivalent to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_Law [wikipedia.org] for arguing that the US is a less densely populated country when faced with the fact that such and such service or infrastructure in the US is inferior to its counterparts in other industrialized countries.

Re:Godwin's (2, Insightful)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107663)

So claim it! It can be "El Cabri's Law," or something to that effect. :)

Re:Godwin's (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107717)

On the other hand, the notion that dividing total population by total land area gives a meaningful value for "density" as it relates to providing services or infrastructure is at least as broken.

One of these recent squabbles had someone insisting that Japan isn't densely populated. Well, it's not, -- if you assume that those people are evenly distributed across all the islands, including Hokkaido and a bunch of isolated volcanic rocks.

About time. (2, Insightful)

Morky (577776) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107477)

It's about fucking time someone with the clout of the head of the FCC got vigorously vocal about this. Much better that Powell's focus on tit-flashing.

Re:About time. (1)

gethoht (757871) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107527)

I agree...

It is nice to see someone who could *potentially* make a difference get riled up over this issue.

Let's just hope some change comes out of it

Incorrect Priority Alignment (4, Insightful)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107517)

As far as I can tell, the one and only reason that we lag behind in broadband is this: the current situation favors entrenched monopolies squeezing every last drop of revenue out of existing (government-subsidized) infrastructure while slowly rolling out higher bandwidth solutions in select areas.

If you want to fix this, I suggest the following it: take all of the cables away from the existing telcos and make one nationwide heavily regulated company that would just maintain the lines and sell bandwidth to whoever could afford it. That would go a long way towards leveling the playing field.

Sure, you could de-regulate: end geographical monopolies and grant any company wanting to run cables access to the public rights-of-way. However, this would needlessly duplicate infrastructure, and companies would use inter-networking contracts to limit competition. The biggest impediment to offering new services in a telecomm market is to connect to existing networks. Incumbent networks have a huge advantage because they already connect many, many customers. If you create a startup telco, your customers expect to be able to talk to people on the other network. The incumbents can simply price you out of the market by making it expensive for your customers to talk to theirs.

Re:Incorrect Priority Alignment (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107645)

If you want to fix this, I suggest the following it: take all of the cables away from the existing telcos and make one nationwide heavily regulated company that would just maintain the lines and sell bandwidth to whoever could afford it. That would go a long way towards leveling the playing field.

And somehow a single government controlled monopoly will be better than numerous independent monopolies?

We have watched as the monopolies have leveraged their power, money and influence over plenty of other government entities (financially mostly) and what makes you think that they won't do the same thing here? In fact, this will be even worse IMHO. Only one person to pay off to make sure you shut out the little guy.

Re:Incorrect Priority Alignment (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107943)

And somehow a single government controlled monopoly will be better than numerous independent monopolies?

Yes. Because the mandate for a governmental body is to, above all else, benefit *the people*, as opposed to the pockets of the shareholders.

We have watched as the monopolies have leveraged their power, money and influence over plenty of other government entities (financially mostly) and what makes you think that they won't do the same thing here?

Uhh, that's what rules and the legal system exist to solve. If the wire-leasing entity is required, by law, to be neutral, and there's evidence of impropriety, then the victims sue. Problem = solved.

Of course, this is all based on the assumption that you have a fair, functioning democracy that would create such an entity and set up it's mandate appropriately. Unfortunately, institutionalized bribary (aka, lobbying) in the US system makes this all but impossible (see the US Copyright Board for an example).

Yes, I just contradicted myself in my own post. :)

Re:Incorrect Priority Alignment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20108033)

And somehow a single government controlled monopoly will be better than numerous independent monopolies?

Sure, it just has to be set up in the form of a non-profit organization. Profits would have to be invested in research, development, and infrastructure improvements. Strong oversight (in the form of SOX-style auditing) could be put into place. Indeed, the company charter (or legislative equivalent) can specifically preclude abuses other organizations can get away with.

Instead of creating a monopoly, the government could create a new marketplace for buying and selling bandwidth.

Monopolistic Conflict of Interest (5, Insightful)

KiltedKnight (171132) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107781)

When the people who maintain the wires are also allowed to sell the broadband services over them but are required to "open up the lines" to competing services, you basically have a conflict of interest. There are exactly three entities that can put lines up on your local phone poles or in the conduits: local power company, local mega-baby bell, and local cable contract holder. That's it. Nobody else. Otherwise, if you have above-ground lines, you'd look up and see wire after wire after wire after wire.

Enter the loophole in the law that states that if they build a brand new line from the central office to your house, they can control its content. Guess who can't put in new lines? Right... the "competing services" who are supposed to be able to access the lines that already exist. Therefore, you have a conflict of interest in that the line maintainers are the only ones capable of putting up new infrastructure... thus guaranteeing a monopoly of service. Now, while it may make business sense to wire up the areas that can and will be heavily subscribing first (it's called "return on investment"), you'll find that some other areas that have gotten it only did because they're in between the source and target area, so they just went and wired up that section too.

That said, I cannot get FiOS in my neighborhood. Neighborhoods around me are getting wired for it and receiving it. We aren't... and believe me, it's not because we're a poor neighborhood (probably has more to do with our being an older subdivision that still has above-ground lines). I've called Verizon a few times and the response I always get when I ask for a date is, "We can't give you a date because that would commit us." Duh! That's the point of my asking for a date or time frame! Verizon first sticks it to us with FITL, so we can't get any form of DSL other than IDSL/ISDN, unless you go with a T-1 or other dedicated line like that... then they stick it to us by not wiring up the neighborhood... and they further stick it to us by being the only telco that can do so, and limit the service to themselves. I'm sure there are other companies that could be wiring up neighborhoods too, and would love a shot at doing it... if they were legally allowed to do so.

Basically, like you said... the ones who maintain the lines should not be allowed to sell the services. Give the line maintainers one responsibility: infrastructure maintenance and upgrades. Everyone else, including Verizon, would have to "buy" their time and space on the lines.

Fat pipes, thin servers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107575)

Ummm, why should I be outraged that I can't reload slashdot faster than I already do?

slow broadband in the Bay Area (3, Interesting)

asabjorn (903413) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107581)

From my experience I agree fully with Copps that the state of broadband services atleast here in the San Francisco Bay Area is abysmal. When I lived in Norway I shared a 2 mb/s DSL line with 38 students and that connection was about 10 times faster at peak times than my private Comcast "5 mb/s" connection in the middle of the night. As stuedents in scandinavia tend to do a lot of P2P filesharing I expected this to be the other way around when I moved here. The things that annoys me the most is high latency, slow speeds and my FTP/SSH speeds. Judging by how my download speeds decline over time I believe Comcast is shaping traffic and btw it sometimes takes much longer than it should to get my search results from google. There are probably countless reasons for why the broadband is so much faster in Norway than in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the most noticeable difference is that the broadband competition thrives in Norway (ADSL, SDSL, VDSL, Cable, Radio Broadband, Fiber Optic, 3G Broadband etc. (and I am just listing technologies here, not providers) ) I effectively (and practiacally) only have two choices here (Comcast Cable and ADSL from AT&T + peers). In the so-called internet mecca of the world nobody offers me VDSL or fiber-optic broadband! That is not good enough. Where do you think the next google will come from? and that

Re:slow broadband in the Bay Area (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107747)

The slow speed could also be from Comcast oversubscribing the neighborhood you are in. Cable broadband speed is inversely proportional to the number of users connected to the line. I am hoping for the rollout of Very High Speed DSL myslef which at least would be a little better. But I'm not holding my breath.

The situation is pretty bad.

The US is no longer First World, but Second World (-1, Flamebait)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107585)

We are behind in health care (all First World nations have national health care programs that cover all citizens), in broadband (the speeds we have are those that other First World nations had ten years ago), and in many levels including how long we live.

Heck, just look at our crumbling infrastructure - bridges, airports, roads, rail (talk about a JOKE), etc.

Why should we be surprised that we have second world level in broadband?

Meanwhile the ultra-wealthy, as in Mexico and other Second World nations, are becoming more wealthy as our middle class is destroyed.

Re:The US is no longer First World, but Second Wor (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107789)

"We are behind in health care (all First World nations have national health care programs that cover all citizens)"

If it were true that we had second world healthcare, I don't think all those foreigners would come here to see our expensive specialists; we have the best specialists in the world. There isn't just "one" metric to judge healthcare on. (I generally agree that we should have universal coverage, but that has nothing to do with 'first-world' and 'second-world')

Re:The US is no longer First World, but Second Wor (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107929)

When Americans live 10 years LESS than Canadians, you know something is wrong.

But, hey, just ask the Europeans, who live 5-8 years longer than we Americans do.

Same goes for broadband - South Korea has ten times faster broadband EVERYWHERE. Canadians laugh at our internet.

Re:The US is no longer First World, but Second Wor (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108053)

Canadians laugh at our internet.

We do. We really really do.

Actually, it's also incredibly annoying. I work in a Canadian office, in concert with an office in Princeton, New Jersey. You know, famous University town, fairly close to New York City. And their broadband connection is *pitiful*. Makes any kind of remote work on their gear painful, to say the least, and it only gets worse when we need to transfer large amounts of data (such as ISOs) between the two offices.

Re:The US is no longer First World, but Second Wor (0)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107799)

If Mexico is so wealthy why are they all coming here to get jobs at less than minimum wage?

Re:The US is no longer First World, but Second Wor (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107903)

Those are not their ultra-rich, but the other 99 percent of them.

Think about it, Bill Gates is the 2nd richest man in the world, according to Forbes. The richest person lives in Mexico.

Emigration issues (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108149)

Okay then. So why aren't more Americans emigrating to other countries to get jobs at or below those countries' minimum wage?
Why don't more Americans emigrate to Mexico? You were saying Mexico was improving over USA.
I did see a news report on ABC or NBC that noted that a record number of Americans had emigrated to Canada--which would fit your theory. But the anchor closed with a note that even more Canadians had immigrated here, which wouldn't, since Canada is still First World however you count it.
The end-note may just be propaganda (no number for the Canada-to-America traffic), but it raises questions....

Re:The US is no longer First World, but Second Wor (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107801)

Listen to the jerk beg for socialized medicine. The completely inept federal government should provide everyone health care, right? The same federal government that runs the pyramid schemes of social security and medicare, which will bankrupt us if not reformed in the coming decades. You want that government to give every single person a health care entitlement. Federalize a huge chunk of the economy. Why don't we all just become employees of the federal government? You say in a soft voice, please government, come and rape me for crying out loud! I need free Internets and health care.

Go sneak into Europe (by claiming you're a Muslim doctor) and enjoy your Socialist paradise, you pinko piece of dog crap.

Re:The US is no longer First World, but Second Wor (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107979)

Please define your terms.
To me, "Second World" means "communist or former communist." I can see USA's dropping from First World (advanced Western) to Third World (developing) much easier than its dropping from First to Second.

Re:The US is no longer First World, but Second Wor (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108083)

To me, "Second World" means "communist or former communist."

Interestingly, Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] agrees with you (for whatever that's worth). This I did not know. Apparently this is why "developed" and "developing" are preferred terms, these days.

Outraged indeed (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107617)

My office in Japan, located in a bedtown area about 100 miles from then center of Tokyo, has 2x100mbps symmetrical fibers. The company paid the equivalent of about $150 in installation costs, and the monthly fee is around $55 for each fiber.

For the same monthly cost back home in Southern California I can only get (at best) 10mbps/512kbps down/up on cable; granted my neighbors aren't using too much of the pipe.

So how is such a difference possible in Japan?

1. All utility cables are all mounted above ground on poles in Japan, greatly reducing installation costs. (Same in Seoul,Korea last time I was there).

2. The gov't has a "fiber to the curb" initiative; so basically the installation is either subsidized or forced (political coercion?) to be the responsibility of the provider.

I must mention to all the satisfied customers who find their 7mbps/1mbps "broadband" sufficient that there IS a difference. When the internet (at least domestically) becomes as fast as a company or home network at 100mbps. It's night and day.

I won't mention how antiquated DSL technology in the US is...

OECD numbers flawed (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20107627)

Exhibit A for the alarmists are statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The OECD says the U.S. has dropped from 12th in the world in broadband subscribers per 100 residents to 15th.

The OECD's methodology is seriously flawed, however. According to an analysis by the Phoenix Center, if all OECD countries including the U.S. enjoyed 100% broadband penetration -- with all homes and businesses being connected -- our rank would fall to 20th. The U.S. would be deemed a relative failure because the OECD methodology measures broadband connections per capita, putting countries with larger household sizes at a statistical disadvantage.

The OECD also overlooks that the U.S. is the largest broadband market in the world, with over 65 million subscribers -- more than twice the number of America's closest competitor. We got there because of our superior household adoption rates. According to several recent surveys, the average percentage of U.S. households taking broadband is about 42%; the EU average is 23%.

Furthermore, the OECD does not weigh a country's geographic size relative to its population density, which matters because more consumers may live farther from the pipes. Only one country above the U.S. on the OECD list (Canada) stretches from one end of a continent to another like we do. Only one country above us on this list is at least 75% rural, like the U.S. In fact, 13 of the 14 countries that the OECD ranks higher are significantly smaller than the U.S.

And if we compare many of our states individually with some countries that are allegedly beating us in the broadband race, we are actually winning. Forty-three American states have a higher household broadband adoption rate than all but five EU countries. Even large rural western states such as Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and both Dakotas exhibit much stronger household broadband adoption rates than France or Britain. Even if we use the OECD's flawed methodology, New Jersey has a higher penetration rate than fourth-ranked Korea. Alaska is more broadband-saturated than France.

The OECD conclusions really unravel when we look at wireless services, especially Wi-Fi. One-third of the world's Wi-Fi hot spots are in the U.S., but Wi-Fi is not included in the OECD study unless it is used in a so-called "fixed wireless" setting. I can't recall ever seeing any fixed wireless users cemented into a coffee shop, airport or college campus. Most American Wi-Fi users do so with personal portable devices. It is difficult to determine how many wireless broadband users are online at any given moment, since they may not qualify as "subscribers" to anyone's service.

In short, the OECD data do not include all of the ways Americans can make high-speed connections to the Internet, therefore omitting millions of American broadband users. Europe, with its more regulatory approach, may actually end up being the laggard because of latent weaknesses in its broadband market. It lacks adequate competition among alternative broadband platforms to spur the faster speeds that consumers and an ever-expanding Internet will require.

Europe also suffers from a dearth of robust competition from cable modem and fiber. Cable penetration is only about 21% of households. In the U.S., cable is available to 94% of all households. Also, the U.S. is home to the world's fastest fiber-to-home market, with a 99% annual growth rate in subscribers compared with a relatively anemic 13% growth rate in Europe.

In fact, the European Competitive Telecommunications Association reported last fall that Europe is experiencing a significant slowdown in the annual growth rate of broadband subscriptions, falling to 14% from 23% annual growth. Growth stalled in a number of countries, including Denmark and Belgium (4% in each country). And France -- a relative star -- exhibited just 10% growth. Yet all of these nations are "ahead" of us on the much-talked-about OECD chart.

Here in the U.S., the country that is allegedly "falling behind," broadband adoption is accelerating. Government studies confirm that America's broadband growth rate has jumped from 32% per year to 52%. With new numbers expected shortly, we anticipate a continued positive trend. Criticisms of our definition of "broadband" being too lax are already irrelevant as over 50 million subscribers are in the 1.5 to 3.0 megabits-per-second "fast lane."

ISPs aren't the REAL problem (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107689)

The real problem is the big telcos that own the majority of the "backbone" network and the majority of the copper and fiber in this country.

Bandwidth is *expensive* and transport fees are *ludicrous*. ISPs are getting screwed by the telcos, and those costs get passed on to the end-user. Now, don't get me wrong, the big cable providers are sleazy, too, but they are at the mercy of the telcos, who obviously HATE the cable companies and want them to go away.

It's just a big mess, and I think the only real solution is to nationalize most of the copper/fiber networks in this country. It's too important to our economy.

How much broadband for 15 bucks? (1)

milwcoder (1132835) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107739)

How much bandwidth can I get for $15 per month in those foreign markets? I'm getting 100-300 kB/s down and 20 kB/s up. I'm not complaining because this is sufficient for 95% of my internet usage. From a clueless customer perspective, I'm getting a great deal for my $15 worth of broadband.

Someone's cranky! (0)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107749)

Summary: Someone important couldn't download his pr0n fast enough and is complaining.

Well, it's about damn time.

Dumbed down broadband a barrier to innovation (0)

grandpa-geek (981017) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107833)

The broadband offered to the US public is seriously dumbed down. You see advertisements trumpeting "blazingly fast" broadband with speeds under 10 Mbps. Those are legacy speeds. It is horse-and-buggy technology compared to jet planes and rockets in other countries.

REAL broadband starts at an appreciable fraction of a gigabit (such as 250 Mbps), bidirectional, to the end-user, at reasonable prices. At speeds like those, any subscriber can become a content originator. Families and small businesses would be able to have full motion video teleconferences. Every Little League baseball game and kids' musical recital could be on world-wide TV. Remote medical diagnosis and surgery could become commonplace, with the best experts remotely available wherever they are needed. It is almost impossible to imagine some of the advances that would become feasible.

From the viewpoint of innovation this is like the difference between animal power and engine power. If one horsepower is a fundamental limit, innovators will be thinking of ways to efficiently hook up two horses. However, if you have engines, innovators will be thinking of things you can do with engines, which are much more powerful than what you can do with horses.

US innovators won't be thinking about what you can do with the kind of broadband that innovators in other countries have. Mr. Capps is more right than he probably even realizes.

Funny thing on NPR today ... (2, Interesting)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#20107889)

A couple hours ago, NPR had an article about the practice of US government agencies intercepting communications between people in various other countries. Part of the explanation was that communications (both Internet and phone) in a lot of the rest of the world go via the US because in so many countries, the connections to/from the US and internal US connections are so much faster than the internal comm systems within the country, and the comm stuff generally picks the fastest available routes.

During the article, I kept wondering why we Americans can't use that high-speed comm gear.

One obvious theory is that the high-speed stuff was installed explicitly for espionage purposes, with no intention of letting mere citizens use it. Is this too cynical? How else can you explain all the "dark" fibre that has been installed, at great expense, and then (supposedly) not used? What other theories, in addition to sheer stupidity, can explain it?

Is it tinfoil hat time here? Is it true that, whatever your country, your local government and commercial comm traffic is mostly being relayed through American routers, for the purpose of intercepting and analyzing the content? Maybe you should ask your local ISP and phone suppliers about their routing ...

companies companies companies = a dirty word (2, Insightful)

justdrew (706141) | more than 7 years ago | (#20108113)

I'm so god damned sick of our "business leadership" in this country. Ignorant greed driven one-track motherfuckers who all need to be lined up against the wall.
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