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FCC May Move to Cap Cable Company Size

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the maybe-we-could-get-decent-service-again dept.

Communications 73

explosivejared writes "The FCC is making plans to bring back the concept of a 'size limit' on cable operators. 'FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has enough support on the five-member commission to pass a measure that would bar cable companies from owning systems that have more than a 30-percent share of U.S. multichannel video subscribers ... the FCC could have a difficult time defending the 30-percent cap in court. The move comes six years after a federal appeals court threw out an identical FCC rule on the grounds that the agency did not have enough evidence to justify it."

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Personally, I blame the Jews (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21558639)

nt

Re:Personally, I blame the Jews (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21558657)

Amen, brother.

- Sergeant AA

I don't trust the FCC. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21558675)

What do they know that we don't know? Are they trying to shift the ban from % of local ownership to national ownership? Are they trying to get this move knocked down in the legal system to set precedent for something else?

No way George W. Bush's FCC is having a change of heart about big business ownership. So what's the scoop on this and other recent anti-cable proposals [wsj.com] ? And why are they trying to rush a vote on it?

Re:I don't trust the FCC. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21558713)

Cable companies like to support Hollywood and trial lawyers. Those two groups are almost exclusively Democratic donors. Additionally, cable companies offer Internet and phone services. With this rule in place, if one company turns down some wiretapping then he won't lose 50% of his wiretapping ability. And little companies are easier to bully or 'compensate'.

And since Clinton said... (1)

DaedalusHKX (660194) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558761)

"I feel like part of the family." This after a healthy vacation spent with the Bushes as company, I dare say Democraps and Republikrats are not exactly "enemies" any more than us here arguing on slashdot are enemies or even "opponents."

Token resistance and quiet compliance does not an opponent make.

Re:I don't trust the FCC. (4, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559557)

And little companies are easier to bully

I don't buy that. It was the smaller outfits (Qwest and T-Mobile) that declined to take part in the NSA Call Database, while AT&T and Verizon were only too happy to fork over everything.

In fact, I'd make the case that larger companies are easier to "bully", in that they probably have Government contracts and a vested interest in not pissing the Government off.

Re:I don't trust the FCC. (1)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559297)

What do they know that we don't know? Are they trying to shift the ban from % of local ownership to national ownership? Are they trying to get this move knocked down in the legal system to set precedent for something else?

No way George W. Bush's FCC is having a change of heart about big business ownership. So what's the scoop on this and other recent anti-cable proposals? And why are they trying to rush a vote on it?
Have you considered that this may actually be a big-business vs big-business battle, with the FCC being one of the weapons? The telecom industry appears to have some serious ties to the Bush administration, and I'm sure they'd love to "regulate" the cable companies until the cable companies can no longer compete against the telecoms in the phone/internet markets.

It's also possible that this is simply a result of some bureaucrats attempting to "expand their empire". Since the WSJ article mentions that the White House has *opposed* some of these proposals, this appears to be a more likely scenario.

Deathmatch: Kevin Martin and the Cable Industry (1)

Kuma-chang (1035190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559679)

What do they know that we don't know? Are they trying to shift the ban from % of local ownership to national ownership? Are they trying to get this move knocked down in the legal system to set precedent for something else? No way George W. Bush's FCC is having a change of heart about big business ownership. So what's the scoop on this and other recent anti-cable proposals? And why are they trying to rush a vote on it?

This is a spat between FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and the cable industry. It's been going on for years, but just blew up in a big way in the past month or so. No one appears to know how it started, the rumor is that the cable industry opposed Martin's nomination to replace Powell as the chairman, then after his confirmation Martin decided to push hard for ala carte cable in retaliation and things have gone downhill from there. The cable companies tried to keep a low profile with Martin until last month at which point they apparently decided there was nothing they could do to placate him and declared open war. The cable companies have gotten dozens of congressmen to write the FCC in the last couple weeks telling Martin to back off, and have effectively peeled off the support of the other Republican commissioners (note it's the Democrats joining Martin in this vote). I think the cable companies don't intend to back off until they run Martin out of office. By federal bureaucracy standards, it's high drama.

Advantage: Telcos (4, Interesting)

jmp_nyc (895404) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560033)

It's very simple. The FCC regulates two industries: Cable and Telco.

Back before the 1996 Telecom Act, the two never competed directly. Now, you've got cable companies offering phone service, telephone companies offering television service, and both offering Internet access. In some areas, the buildup of higher bandwidth infrastructure has forced cable companies to add channels in order to compete with new telco TV offerings.

Eventually, we'll likely move towards a model in which the cable and telephone companies simply sell bandwidth, and people will get most of their content through VOIP and IPTV. Until the real world implementation of the technology and the regulations catch up with the potential, the FCC is stuck regulating the services offered by these companies. As long as that's the case, added regulation on one industry means a competitive advantage for the others. If cablecos lose, telcos win.

In many communities, this can ultimately be good for consumers. Here in NYC, one cable company (Time Warner) has the monopoly on providing television access. Over the air reception is a non-starter because of all the tall buildings, and many people (myself included) have no southern line of sight for satellite. My cable company provides horrible service. As bad as the local telco is, their service is actually better than the cable company. When Verizon wires my building for FIOS (a project that's already underway), and eventually gets permission to carry TV signals here in NYC, I will actually have a choice of provider if I want to watch live TV. Time Warner has already started offering higher bandwidth Internet connections in anticipation of FIOS data rates. I look forward to seeing what else the competition will bring...
-JMP

Re:Advantage: Telcos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21561383)

Time Warner has already started offering higher bandwidth Internet connections in anticipation of FIOS data rates.

Sadly, those higher bandwidth connections require one to be subscribed to cable TV service to get them in some areas.

Re:I don't trust the FCC. (1)

gaforces (1082431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563213)

Payback for taking VOIP customers, the death of the cash cow (land line.)

Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Later (5, Insightful)

JRGhaddar (448765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558759)

What will happen in the next 5 years when IPTV becomes a reality to the masses?

This is where I believe we are headed:

All HDTV's will begin to have Ethernet Jacks, a NIC Card, and some embeded linux with a VTR and a HD.

You can Access IPTV/Local/Cable Channels from All over the world. VTR them. Watch YouTube and Other Net Video Channels, and be able to buy Movies for Watching like OnDemand. You can set your VTR from your office etc through your IPTV online account.

Net IPTV Companies will partner w/ HDTV manufacturers to make sure there IPTV Portal is what is the default portal on connecting to the net.

So to bring this back to today. Technology is changing the game so fast that monitoring a 30% rule seems mute because it's tough to measure now and once the HDTV gets on the net how the hell are they going to monitor all that without everybody getting upset. Consumers don't want to be watched by the governement and the internet is a global entity; which makes it difficult to get Viewer numbers on a company that may be overseas.

Re:Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Late (1)

ElBeano (570883) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558939)

The cable industry is already a dinosaur and a nasty regulatory evironment could only relegate them even more rapidly to obsolescence. They've become telecom providers, but are highly dependent on interconnection with companies who are their direct competitors for those services. I happen to think too that IPTV is likely the best hope going forward for competition against the dish based providers. This story makes it seem like the FCC is stuck in another decade. Do they even have a clue?

Re:Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Late (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21558951)

You mean 'moot', not 'mute'.

Mute: unable to speak.

Moot: irrelevant.

You mean 'their', not 'there'.

There: indication of location.

Their: third person plural possessive pronoun.

As for IPTV, delivery isn't a solved problem (yet). Even companies with a lot of experience in streaming, broadcast and other forms of electronic delivery have not solved the limitations on IP delivery in the teeth of companies which don't want to let people use their supposedly purchased bandwidth up to the max. Until that happens and broadband is truly common, this is so much guesswork.

Re:Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Late (1)

jimrob (1092327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559359)

What will happen in the next 5 years when IPTV becomes a reality to the masses?
What does this have to do with Iowa Public Television [iptv.org] ?

You're scaring me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21559831)

You're saying you WANT technologies that let the government spy on what TV shows I watch?
No way man. Keep TV unidirectional. No networking shit. There are reasons to avoid cable TV...

Re:Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Late (1)

tbg58 (942837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559869)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure Comcast et al will just sit back and let people grab HD content from other sources. They won't use packet shaping to protect their business model, er, revenue stream, er, no, um... Infrastructure. Yeah, that's it! Infrastructure. They're protecting the infrastructure and customer bandwidth.

Re:Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Late (1)

llamalad (12917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559993)

Ethernet jacks and a nic card?

Doubly redundant.

Re:Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Late (1)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560725)

IPTV is not going to happen in the next 5 years, not on a large scale anyway. Keep in mind that, while most Americans have access to broadband, it's of the most questionable quality and reliability. That 10Mbit line your neighbour Joe has, what kind of throughput would it REALLY give you if you pushed it? 4Mbit? Less? Up here, a 6Mbit line from Rogers frequently can pull less than 2.5Mbit in reality, and this fluctuates wildly depending on network congestion.

The last thing ISPs need is everyone pulling >4Mbit/s during primetime. That will shatter the piss poor network capacity that they currently have the gall to charge for.

We need more reliable broadband that guarantees more bandwidth, and for cheaper, before IPTV will become a reality. Joe user isn't going to understand anything about how his ISP sucks (it loads Google just fine!), and when his shiny HDTV stutters, he's going to blame the IPTV service, if not the TV itself.

Re:Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Late (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 6 years ago | (#21561729)

Technology is changing the game so fast that monitoring a 30% rule seems mute because it's tough to measure now

If I may pick a nit (as an anonymous poster has done)....

Perhaps it is mute [dict.org] because it doesn't make noise. On the other hand, it may be moot [dict.org] because, as you say, it's tough to measure now.

In any case, you are quite right that it will be interesting to see the effect of IPTV as it develops, though it's not likely to threaten the markets controlled by fear of the Death Star [slashdot.org] (which appears, in its domain, to offer far lesser service for a far greater price than Verizon does in its areas).

Re:Tough to Measure Now.... Almost Impossible Late (1)

kidcharles (908072) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563429)

monitoring a 30% rule seems mute
You meant to say "moot" not "mute." /grammarnazi

moot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21567443)

you dig?

This doesn't really address the problem (5, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558763)

The real problem is not that an individual cable TV provider has too large a market share. The problem is that there is no competition among providers because of regional, not national, monopoly status.

Re:This doesn't really address the problem (2, Interesting)

Coopjust (872796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558831)

You hit the nail on the head there. Most people have one or two choices: The local cable co., or DSL.

I'm lucky enough to have a surprisingly good cable company in my area, but it's cable internet or DSL- and I, like many people in my community, am just out of range of the CO for DSL. Satellite is too high latency, expensive, and slow, FiOS isn't here, and there's no other way to get the internet (other than dialup, which isn't an option with high bandwidth websites nowadays)

Re:This doesn't really address the problem (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558911)

It's a bit of both. If someone owns a significant number of TV viewers, they have a strong influence on what TV channels those viewers have access to. That can have a major impact upon free communications and diversity of media.

As you say though, from a consumer standpoint it's also bad to have just one cable operator in one area, and that isn't impacted at all by whether or not Time Warner or Comcast serves 10% of TV viewers or 90%.

Re:This doesn't really address the problem (2, Insightful)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558983)

Absolutely correct. The current system really discourages competition. I'd much rather see a policy that forbids exclusive local rights for cable companies. Then, instead of the 30% limit, let the companies get as large as they want, but regulate them if they get too large and some portion of their customers only have one choice for either cable, internet, or telephone access. This would encourage unregulated small startups to fill a market need, but if one company destroys all the competition they can't turn around and raise all the rates on their customers.

The problem is content companies and... (2, Interesting)

palladiate (1018086) | more than 6 years ago | (#21561431)

Blame content creators and telecom.

The FCC is trying to protect telecom's entrance into the content delivery business. Also, content creators like Viacom are pushing for breaking up cable, as this will provide them with more leverage on channel contracts.

Over the past couple of years, the FCC has pushed Time Warner to divest itself of it's channels, and threatened to cap Comcast from new markets. If the cable companies are capped in size, but still geographically monopolistic, the cable have less leverage to push against the broadcast flag, for the legality of DVR, remote DVR, and start over services. That's what the "concern" is over cable companies controlling what channels people watch. The big content companies are afraid of the concentrated buying power and the ability to say "No" to their shenanigans. If the big cable companies drop a major network, it will hurt the network. But if a smaller company drops it, the small cable company takes the hit.

I work at a local cable co. Right now, we record every channel, and can pipe any show straight to your box on demand from the past week. It's a remote DVR we keep at the head end, and our employees can test it out. But we can't roll it out to our subscribers, because no network will give us the rights to do so. Comcast tried to do this without negotiating rights, but they got slapped with a lawsuit. We've been totally unable to negotiate the rights to it. We're even losing the fight over the broadcast flag. We used to universally ignore the flag, but some networks are pushing us to use it. FiOS has no problem flagging content, and AT&T has said they will push for it. We get that thrown in our face, constantly, during negotiations. We don't have the buying power to face off against a monopoly. ESPN, MTV, these are monopolies.

Telecoms want smaller competitors (they are far larger than Time Warner or Comcast). Content companies want easier negotiations. What we need is local competition and more consumer friendly broadcast laws. The FCC just wants to push smaller cable companies.

Re:This doesn't really address the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21561501)

Two kinds of competition- it does nothing for the end consumer, who still probably only has one choice for bringing content into the home.

But it does help competition for cable channel operators. Like with Comcast and the NFL network. If they're the only game in town, channel owners lose. If there are at least 4 (which the 30% rule seems to require) then cable channel operators have multiple customers.

Re:This doesn't really address the problem (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563847)

Good point. All this move will buy us is the forced splitting of Comcast, for example, into 'Baby Comcats'. No doubt this will be in exchange for relief from other regulations. "Look! We're all itty, bitty cable companies now. These regulations are driving us out of business." Then, when that's all fixed to their liking, the FCC withdraws the market share reg. After all, one big company is more efficient than a bunch of little ones, duplicating functions and will produce savings for the customer.

Just like the telephone companies are doing.

Why not allow one big company and mandate open access (wholesale bandwidth) to CLECs, ISPs, etc. on their system? Allow a natural monopoly where it makes the most sense (avoid duplicating last mile investments) but unbundle the last mile from services? This would have the added effect of increasing demand for the wholesale last mile service (more service providers) and improve the ROI on building improvements out.

Re:This doesn't really address the problem (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | more than 6 years ago | (#21566071)

Can we mod this one up above a 5 please?

Who cares how BIG they get -- ownership and control can be through holding companies. The real issue is that there are cable monopolies at all. Without another source for your cable, you pay the price you are told. The only real competition is Satellite.

And I'd love to have no Local phone company while I get on the Internet and just have a cell phone with unlimited calling -- that would save me about $80 bucks a month over my local monopoly baby bell phone company.

Re:This doesn't really address the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21568973)

Regional monopolies are a problem, but they're only a total problem if they're also a big enough chunk of the national market too.

If a company has a local monopoly but only 10% of the national market, and said company starts to SUCK... the company isn't insulated from the effects of their suckitude, because neighboring companies will nibble away at their borders. But if said company had more like, say, 80% of the national market, no one really has enough money to start building a competing infrastructure to expand into their territory.

I'd say 30% is a higher than ideal cap too, since it could easily lead to a cartel of three members. But it may be the only possible starting point of regulation, since the current companies are already pretty big. (Starting out with a limit that's a lot lower than the size of already existing companies would be a hard sell).

Evidence (0)

conureman (748753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558769)

"In an era of increased and intensifying competition among telephone, satellite and cable companies, the case for a cap is even weaker than when the courts rejected it six years ago". Sounds like a lawyer wrote this script. Isn't it nice to see how increased competition and the free market can increase consumer choice and bring down prices. Yes folks, the evidence is in.

Its about time... (1, Funny)

g0dsp33d (849253) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558805)

to submit your campaign donations for the senators on the FCC oversight committee.

Why not allow foreign ownership? (4, Interesting)

MosesJones (55544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558847)

Now what would be really radical would be to allow more global competition for the US marketplace. One of the biggest issues at the moment is that there are a small number of companies who know their only competition comes from inside the US and there is no way that anyone outside could aggressively target the market. As much as Rupert Murdoch isn't my favourite person in the world it has to be admitted that he, as an Australian who sold his nationality for commercial gain, has shaken up the broadcast side and distribution sides of the market. Why not allow more people in from outside to see what they could do and to wake up what should be the world's most competitive market but which unfortunately is probably one of its least.

The problem isn't 30% or whatever the problem is lack of choice and competition.

Re:Why not allow foreign ownership? (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559247)

...Yes! Especially from Japan/Korea. Those places seem to have far better TV, internet, anything media-related, in fact, than America does.

Re:Why not allow foreign ownership? (1)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559791)

You realize franchises are awarded at the local level, right? That's why RCN could never get into Philadelphia [bizjournals.com] , even though RCN offered them 250 million reasons to say "Yes."

Hypocritical (3, Interesting)

Toasty16 (586358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558897)

The FCC gives SBC a free pass to stifle competition by recreating the AT&T conglomerate that was broken up in 1984 but they have a problem with cable company size?
And allowing local/regional phone and cable monopolies rather than leveling the playing field for 3rd parties to rent coax and phone lines from incumbents hurts the consumer more than any other decision the FCC makes.
Not to mention that the FCC has done nothing significant in the most egregious abuse of access, that of AT&T (formerly SBC) allowing the NSA to essentially wiretap the entire internet backbone...

Hey, They're just doing what they're paid for... (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560169)

Hey, they're just doing what they're paid for... By the phone companies.
I'm sure if you look up how much the Bells ..er..SBC is "contributing to someone's campaign" it much more than the Cable companies.

When stupid decisions are made, follow the money.

Re:Hypocritical (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560433)

You nailed it. Kevin Martin is in bed with the Telcos (AT&T and Verizon) but they oppose the cable companies. It's not a good situation.

Re:Hypocritical (1)

johnny boy (129702) | more than 6 years ago | (#21561697)

You raise a good point. The aggregation might have been allowed just so that the NSA would have an easy wiretap access point.

The freakin' FCC (-1, Offtopic)

xyph0r (1153429) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558945)

They'll make you take a tinkle when you wanna take a piss.

Common carrier? end vertical expansion! (3, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558949)

Like jail, I think that breakups and size limits are very counterproductive but occasionally necessary for "bad" market actors. The problem is cablecos have never been given proper discipline and indeed allowed to illegally expand their monopoly vertically (selling content).


While monopoly of "the last mile" might not be easily fixeable, the vertical expansion easily is and has been done in a number of cases. End the cableco's ability to sell any content beyond basic OTA. "premium" and PPV channels are sold by subsciption by unrelated others (in competition) and the content merely carried (billed, gated) on cable (at a regulated cost).

The Magic Of The Free Market (5, Informative)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558963)

This rule is completely unnecessary. We don't need the FCC. Everyone knows that the magic of the free market can provide all our telephony needs, just as it provides all our healthcare, education, electricity, roads, water and national defenses.

All this big bad government regulation simply inhibits the market from reaching its optimal state; which is not a monopoly, despite what some pinko econmmunits and their "facts" would have you believe. The true patriot has faith in the Invisible Hand, Profit be Upon It.

Re:The Magic Of The Free Market (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559105)

Using the magic of XML:

<sarcastic>
This rule is completely unnecessary. We don't need the FCC. Everyone knows that the magic of the free market can provide all our telephony needs, just as it provides all our healthcare, education, electricity, roads, water and national defenses.
</sarcastic>

<not-sarcastic>
All this big bad government regulation simply inhibits the market from reaching its optimal state; <unrealistic> which is not a monopoly</unrealistic> , despite what some pinko <unpronouncable> econmmunits</unpronouncable> and their "facts" would have you believe. The true patriot has faith in the Invisible Hand, Profit be Upon It.
</not-sarcastic>

Now, that's much better.

Two Words: (1)

Mode_Locrian (1130249) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559573)

Straw Man.

Re:The Magic Of The Free Market (2, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559795)

Hmmm ... Only one mod, "Insightful". This is a good example of why we should encourage people to always include a smiley in posts that are written as humor. Especially the one that on their surface can be read as any of the conventional semi-religious economic dogmas. People who believe in those dogmas do get mod points, and they tend not to notice subtle humor.

Is it really a big deal? (0, Offtopic)

RSA7474 (1163263) | more than 6 years ago | (#21558981)

If you don't want Facebook to have your information, don't enter it in! Don't use Facebook! Most information you put online can become attainable if the right people want to get access to it.

Who cares if Facebook makes several databases of people's shopping habits, favorite movies, favorite bands, etc.. it is not like they are going to look at you, as an individual user and publish your information, they use all the information as a whole, statistically, to obtain information about trends, people's wants and demands. This only welcomes opportunities for major franchises to produce better products that meet the demand of the public!

There is really no other way to get such statistics in such a vast honest way (honest as in the user is telling the truth). Yes, Facebook is going to make millions selling this information, but they do provide the service, that YOU decide to join. I do not agree with any illegal activity Facebook is involved with, and at this point they have made privacy such a big concern and then apply an addition like Beacon, it goes against what they have been all about.

foisted by yOUR own petard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21558989)

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/12/03/us.debt.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

yikes almighty. time to get real yet? see you there?

Re:foisted by yOUR own petard (0, Offtopic)

Kagura (843695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559091)

Wow! Good article! It is rather offtopic, but wow... for somebody like me who has only a light education in economics, it's easily digestable yet not dumbed down. I really appreciated reading this article.

Someone needs to regulate Kevin Martin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21559275)

Kevin Martin has been in bed with the traditional telcos for years. He's constantly try push laws that benefit the telcos by hurting the cable companies. In today's market, there is no reason to limit the size of a cable operator. In almost every area, there is always a choice for service providers. For video service, satellite is always an alternative; for telephone, traditional telcos are always an alternative; high speed data is probably the hardest business to find a competitor for, but DSL is usually available (if it's not, there's a reason the telcos aren't investing in the equipment to provide in these areas; be glad cable has). The telcos are lobbying for all this regulation because of telephony service not video or data. In the increasingly competitive video market, cable operators are signing up telephony customers at a record pace. By getting a customer off Verizon's or AT&T's phone service and into a bundle, customers are approximately 80% less likely to switch to the telco's video service when it becomes available. Right now, the telcos rely on their telephony customers to finance their expansion into video. Stealing these customers slows down the expansion of FIOS and UVerse; the main goal of cable providers until 2009 when they can get rid of analog channels and move to DOCSIS 3.0. So as long as Kevin Martin is sleeping with Verizon and other telcos, the FCC will continue to push for regulations such as the market cap and a la carte that will criple Cables ability to compete in an increasingly competitive market. Now that the telcos are providing telephony/data/video shouldn't regulations imposed on cable also be imposed on the telcos.

More regulation = worse service, higher prices (1, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559313)

Time and again we have people who moan about monopolistic tendencies of large corporations. They offer negative opinions of the so-called free market. Unfortunately for the consumer, the FCC and local municipalities have assured us of never having a truly free market in cable (and cable-provided services).

We need to stomp on the FCC and allow them to truly deregulate (which they've never really done) at the national level. The FCC should have no mandate over cable, or any non-wireless communications provider. It all boils down to property rights, and the ability for competitive companies to utilize public and private property to run their networks.

I know of so many people who are concerned that deregulation (national and local) of cable and comm providers would end up giving us millions of wires overhead on the telephone poles. This is untrue. It would primarily open up the market of physical cabling middlemen who would run their cables and provide access to others. For years, we had the so-called "dry pair" which the phone companies provided. Then DSL came, and the phone companies lobbied Congress and the State government for control of the network. Instead of opening competition up to more companies to offer dry pairs (or newer technology) leased to others, the various regulating bodies shut down competition more and more.

I'm not afraid of having billions of wires all over the place, since the cost to run the network cabling is prohibitive to many businesses -- but still possible to raise through stock IPOs, bond issues, and other market economy money drives. If one company has the only cables, prices will be high, but so will the opportunity to compete: more companies will consider entering that market if they can see a long term profit.

We also need to allow the market to work for remote installations. I know of a few people who live in the boonies and complain about the lack of communications providers: this is part of the "cost" of living far from an urban area, and a cost that people should live with if they want the privacy, and security, of exurban living. There should be no subsidization of remote towns, or anyone. There are tradeoffs, and profits, for life's decisions, and that cost should be evident and transparent, not hidding and paid for by others who didn't make that decision.

Thankfully, we're seeing more solutions slowly popping up. WiFi networks, maybe WiMax networks, and other competitive products should hopefully push the cabled providers to lowering their prices, which may end up having the effect of creating a deregulated market before government will move to unrestrict that competition.

This is, and will always be, a regulated industry (5, Interesting)

Kuma-chang (1035190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559921)

Parent is one of the most naively ignorant comments I've seen on the communications business. To wit:

Time and again we have people who moan about monopolistic tendencies of large corporations. They offer negative opinions of the so-called free market. Unfortunately for the consumer, the FCC and local municipalities have assured us of never having a truly free market in cable (and cable-provided services).

You can't get the local municipalities out of the cable business for the simple reason that the cable companies cannot possibly buy via the free market the property rights necessary to string up a network. It's a classic holdout problem. Every property owner (including the municipality itself) that sits in a strategic position will have the leverage and incentive to hold out from selling access until they can extract all of the cable company's profits. Without the political process to facilitate the necessary access to public and private property, it just doesn't happen. It's the same for the landline phone business. And wireless has its own reasons for requiring regulation. The simple fact is that this has always been a regulated business, and it always will be. It's the unavoidable nature of the business.

I know of so many people who are concerned that deregulation (national and local) of cable and comm providers would end up giving us millions of wires overhead on the telephone poles. This is untrue.

Your conclusion is correct, even if your reasoning is inane. There would not be millions of wires because that would be unbelievably economically inefficient. The market wouldn't support it. Even ignoring the property rights issues discussed above, last mile networks are extremely expensive and completely redundant. Combine with property rights complications and you have a market that will have very few entrants. Regulated or unregulated, there will be little competition for the physical last mile network. That's just going to have to be an uncompetitive market. The question is how far do you want this non-competitive market to extend? Should we allow lack of competition in last mile networks to turn into lack of competition in ISP's by getting rid of unbundling and open access to the local loop? Should we it to turn into lack of competition for services over the Internet like VoIP and IPTV by not enforcing net neutrality? The telecom companies want to push these noncompetitive advantages as far as possible into markets that are actually competitive. The only thing to stop them and preserve actual market competition is regulation.

Thankfully, we're seeing more solutions slowly popping up. WiFi networks, maybe WiMax networks, and other competitive products should hopefully push the cabled providers to lowering their prices, which may end up having the effect of creating a deregulated market before government will move to unrestrict that competition.

Funny that you should phrase it as if the emergence of wireless competition would spite the FCC. Platform competition has been the primary aim of the FCC. That's why they shut down unbundling and access to the local loop. Unfortunately I don't think it will play out very well. I remain unconvinced that wireless access networks (as opposed to WiFi, which is not really an access network at all) will be able to compete with wired access networks for speed. WiMax is likely to deliver 2-4 Mbps. Cable and DSL could do 10 times that (and do in other countries, although not often in the US), and fiber, forget about it. Wireless is just not in the same class, and as people more and more start to depend on broadband to get video content, that's going to make a big difference. And while we've all spent a decade waiting for broadband over powerlines, it just doesn't appear that it is going to be commercially viable. So we could be looking at a long term duopoly for residential broadband Internet service between the cable and phone companies. The market will not save us.

Re:This is, and will always be, a regulated indust (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560713)

You can't get the local municipalities out of the cable business for the simple reason that the cable companies cannot possibly buy via the free market the property rights necessary to string up a network. It's a classic holdout problem. Every property owner (including the municipality itself) that sits in a strategic position will have the leverage and incentive to hold out from selling access until they can extract all of the cable company's profits. Without the political process to facilitate the necessary access to public and private property, it just doesn't happen. It's the same for the landline phone business. And wireless has its own reasons for requiring regulation. The simple fact is that this has always been a regulated business, and it always will be. It's the unavoidable nature of the business.

That's a ridiculous supposition. You're making the assumption that "business transaction" means "a business selling to a consumer" when in fact a "business transaction" means two suppliers of products or services exchanging for each other's products or services. In most "business transactions" it is one entity with cash and one entity with product or service, but this is not always the case. In the case of needing a right-of-way, this is exactly why we should see middlemen who take the risk to acquire right-of-way status (through payment or provision of service) and lease it out to others.

When it comes to private property, there is absolutely no reason why a cable-connect middleman can NOT go to each person and tender an agreement to utilitize their property for cabling. Part of the agreement would be the transfer of rights in the process of selling or leasing that property to others. It's done now with cell phone towers quite successfully on private land. I know of three building owners who get a nice chunk of change in exchange for placement of a cell tower on their property.

If someone does not want to sell, that's an issue, but not a big one. There is always a price. Also, there is a negotiable option for each person to utilize the service of the provider at a reduced rate based on a reduced price for agreeing to provide the right-of-way. Because right-of-way is two dimensional, you can navigate around those who wish not to give you the rights, so you have numerous angles of attack to provide service to particular areas. Overall, I believe you'd see MOST people would be happy to exchange right-of-way for a discount of services provided through that particular middle-man's cable run. Some middle-men may just run their own pipe, allowing for multiple competitive conduits within the same small access pipe.

What if everyone or a majority of landowners say "no" to renting/selling right of way access? That's easy to resolve, too: they don't get any access to any communications services provided. If you're the one person in the way of thousands, guess what the communications providers will say is the reason for no service in your area? They'll point to the hold-out. This is an excellent market solution, since it puts the burden of explanation on the person holding out. It's also a net gain for the pipe middlemen, since they have no reason to be concerned about a profit where their product is not wanted at any cost.

Right now, you're practically forced to accept powerlines and conduits through your backyard, since many of those backyards are "naturally" owned by the municipality. This infringes on your property rights, though. Look at the nice fees your cable company charges you for the rights that your town gets for allowing monopoly access. Those fees could be yours to keep, and even earn, depending on your location. Someone who is the "sole pathway" to a town may end up making a nice penny if they improbably own all the land surrounding a town. That's a market provision, and anyone is able to negotiate buying a piece of that land just to provide cheaper access for the pipe middlemen.

Your conclusion is correct, even if your reasoning is inane. There would not be millions of wires because that would be unbelievably economically inefficient. The market wouldn't support it. Even ignoring the property rights issues discussed above, last mile networks are extremely expensive and completely redundant. Combine with property rights complications and you have a market that will have very few entrants. Regulated or unregulated, there will be little competition for the physical last mile network. That's just going to have to be an uncompetitive market. The question is how far do you want this non-competitive market to extend? Should we allow lack of competition in last mile networks to turn into lack of competition in ISP's by getting rid of unbundling and open access to the local loop? Should we it to turn into lack of competition for services over the Internet like VoIP and IPTV by not enforcing net neutrality? The telecom companies want to push these noncompetitive advantages as far as possible into markets that are actually competitive. The only thing to stop them and preserve actual market competition is regulation.

I guess the market can't support thousands of competing cell phone products, or thousands of competing jeans brands, or thousands of competing soft drinks, too? That's ridiculous: part of business is risk inherent with attempting to gain market share. Some businesses may put up billions to acquire near-universal rights one at a time, and they'll do gangbusters because they'll cover point-to-point access for all. Others may risk a lot, but lose, having to sell their access rights at a discount to the next guy who tries.

As to unbundling and open access, yes. By opening the market to competitive, this should become a non-issue. That company that spends billions on near-universal coverage should have full control over their service level provision. If they try to take advantage of their customers, others should be free to attempt to compete: if it is financially viable. As a company gets bigger with more financial capacity, it does not naturally become harder to compete with but easier. Almost all my businesses are kept small in order to stay efficient, and we're significantly more competitive than anyone bigger than us for this reason. The same is true for communications companies.

Funny that you should phrase it as if the emergence of wireless competition would spite the FCC. Platform competition has been the primary aim of the FCC. That's why they shut down unbundling and access to the local loop. Unfortunately I don't think it will play out very well. I remain unconvinced that wireless access networks (as opposed to WiFi, which is not really an access network at all) will be able to compete with wired access networks for speed. WiMax is likely to deliver 2-4 Mbps. Cable and DSL could do 10 times that (and do in other countries, although not often in the US), and fiber, forget about it. Wireless is just not in the same class, and as people more and more start to depend on broadband to get video content, that's going to make a big difference. And while we've all spent a decade waiting for broadband over powerlines, it just doesn't appear that it is going to be commercially viable. So we could be looking at a long term duopoly for residential broadband Internet service between the cable and phone companies. The market will not save us.

For many people, speed is not important. Yes, I have a high speed cable modem at one of my offices, but we're becoming more and more reliant on wireless technologies that are low speed, high latency. On the road, I currently use both T-Mobile's EDGE network, and AT&T's 3G network, and I'm more than happy with the solution. Is it slow? For sure. I also deal with files that are in the hundreds of megabytes in size (I own a church printing [vipministry.com] co-op), but I've never had a problem uploading at even EDGE speeds. It takes time, but being able to do it from anywhere is a benefit. I also use numerous other systems to connect, and I find the trade-off of speed versus availability makes my life easier.

I've transitioned some of my larger clients to utilizing on-the-go wireless, and we have a 90% rating in terms of their happiness with the current systems. As more competition enters the market, the prices will drop and the speeds will go up. I'm shocked regularly at how fast my AT&T 3G connection is (I use a USB device on a WiFi router so I get WiFi on the go), and in the past 5 months I've had only one area without service to either provider. Not bad, considering I travel every week.

I find it really interesting how many people have negative responses to a more market-driven economy, considering we haven't had one in communications. With other products (cell phones, jeans, ice cream brands, toilet paper), the market-driven economy provides the currency-providers (i.e., the consumers) with so much choice in terms of quality, price and speed that it's a wonder that people are afraid of a more market-driven economy for communications, energy and security.

It's just not that easy (1)

Kuma-chang (1035190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21561409)

When it comes to private property, there is absolutely no reason why a cable-connect middleman can NOT go to each person and tender an agreement to utilitize their property for cabling. Part of the agreement would be the transfer of rights in the process of selling or leasing that property to others. It's done now with cell phone towers quite successfully on private land. I know of three building owners who get a nice chunk of change in exchange for placement of a cell tower on their property. If someone does not want to sell, that's an issue, but not a big one. There is always a price.

This is a gross oversimplification. The reality is that overbuilding is allowed in many places in the US. It's not like regulators don't want competition in the cable market, they'd love it. But in practice it almost never happens. That's because it's just not that easy. In order to roll out a network you need to get a whole bunch of property owners to agree at the same time. If one of them holds out, well, depending where he is located you might be able to route around it at increased cost. If several hold out, you may have to scrap that loop. So whoever is going to be that last person who kills the project has the cable company by the balls for the full commercial value of the proposed network. The implication is that for a given property owner, if they let you string your network, they'll benefit from increased competition to the tune of maybe $5-10/mo. But if they can hold out and be the last piece of the puzzle for the network, they can extract tens of thousands of dollars from the cable company. Everyone has an incentive to be the holdout and get the big payday. It's a nightmare of transaction costs. This is what eminent domain exists for.

I guess the market can't support thousands of competing cell phone products, or thousands of competing jeans brands, or thousands of competing soft drinks, too?

But you're talking about businesses that sell fungible products. Selling cable service is nothing like selling jeans. It is not inefficient to have 1000 jeans manufacturers. The all pump supply onto the market, and the supply matches up with demand. If people demand more, they produce more, if people demand less, they produce less. But with last mile telecom networks, every network needs to reach all the consumers in its area, and does so at immense cost, but each consumer generally utilizes only one network. They have to pay out to reach every consumer in their region whether the consumer buys their product or not. Each existing network in the region cuts down proportionally on how many of the homes they will reach they can expect to subscribe. With a very low number of last mile networks you quickly reach the point where that proportion is no longer sufficient to fund construction of the network. This is nothing like selling jeans at all.

For many people, speed is not important.

For business customers who use the network for email and basic Internet, that is probably true. But my guess is that within 5 years residential consumers will demand 20+ Mbps, and given the state of technology and spectrum licensing today, the likelihood of wireless being able to deliver that is nil.

Re:It's just not that easy (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 6 years ago | (#21562381)

This is a gross oversimplification. The reality is that overbuilding is allowed in many places in the US. It's not like regulators don't want competition in the cable market, they'd love it. But in practice it almost never happens. That's because it's just not that easy. In order to roll out a network you need to get a whole bunch of property owners to agree at the same time. If one of them holds out, well, depending where he is located you might be able to route around it at increased cost. If several hold out, you may have to scrap that loop. So whoever is going to be that last person who kills the project has the cable company by the balls for the full commercial value of the proposed network. The implication is that for a given property owner, if they let you string your network, they'll benefit from increased competition to the tune of maybe $5-10/mo. But if they can hold out and be the last piece of the puzzle for the network, they can extract tens of thousands of dollars from the cable company. Everyone has an incentive to be the holdout and get the big payday. It's a nightmare of transaction costs. This is what eminent domain exists for.

Here you're forgetting that part of entering new markets is sometimes a burden for thousands of small businesses rather than a few large ones. We're talking about acquiring land rights to run a pipe or a wire. In some cases, the burden for acquisition doesn't have to be on an international conglomerate. A local business investor can do just fine, especially in smaller towns or areas. The business investors has a better chance of acquiring the land rights (through direct involvement with property owners), and once they've acquired the rights, they can then lease them to other companies, or even outright sell those rights to another larger middleman. It could even be tens of thousands of individuals acquiring the rights in various areas. Currently, we have the towns using force (eminent domain) and padding their own pockets, but it is not necessary to use eminent domain for things that people need and want.

We want phone service and Internet service. If that's the case, we should pay the costs the market bears on us to find the best provider at the best cost and best level of service that meets our needs. This may vary from area to area, and even block to block, depending on the needs of the people there. You may find that a part of a city block wants T3-level service, whereas another area may be happy with dialup-level service. The municipalities "force it on everyone through eminent domain" aspect really doesn't give people much choice in service/cost.

But you're talking about businesses that sell fungible products. Selling cable service is nothing like selling jeans. It is not inefficient to have 1000 jeans manufacturers. The all pump supply onto the market, and the supply matches up with demand. If people demand more, they produce more, if people demand less, they produce less. But with last mile telecom networks, every network needs to reach all the consumers in its area, and does so at immense cost, but each consumer generally utilizes only one network. They have to pay out to reach every consumer in their region whether the consumer buys their product or not. Each existing network in the region cuts down proportionally on how many of the homes they will reach they can expect to subscribe. With a very low number of last mile networks you quickly reach the point where that proportion is no longer sufficient to fund construction of the network. This is nothing like selling jeans at all.

There is no difference, whatsoever. If there is a demand for a product, that demand is based on getting a certain quality of service/product at a certain price. If the area is against selling wiring rights to others, the cost of the product goes up and the service level goes down. Money suppliers (i.e. consumers) will quickly learn that their resistance to selling land-rights means higher costs due to less competition in the area. Maybe the one guy with reasonable wireless will charge $300 a month because he has no competition. The wired provider sees this as an advantage -- they can now go out and charge $200 in your resistant area (paying people now an enormous price for the landrights), and compete with the slow wireless guy. Yet they may only charge $10 a month to your neighbor's block because your neighbors just wanted service cheap and easy, so they may charge $1 a month for the landrights, or a flat $100 lifetime. Because each individual has the option to block everyone else, the burden of resistance falls on specific individuals rather than specific municipalities and regulations/restrictions.

Providing communications is absolutely like providing jeans. In both cases are the means of distribution controlled by the State (i.e., highways, safety regulations, tariffs and taxes), and in both cases it is those regulations that restrict the quality and quantity of services or products. If government would get out, and the let the market provide at a true cost rather than a subsidized cost, we'd see other costs of living DROP because we're not subsidizing the bureaucracy that handles the administration of the regulations and restrictions. Yes, communications costs may go up, but property taxes and sales taxes may fall in response to getting rid of the various government bodies involved in the monopolist-provisioned market segment.

You can cover your eyes and shout LALALALA... (1)

Kuma-chang (1035190) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563631)

...all you want, but it's not going to make free market utopianism a reality.

A local business investor can do just fine, especially in smaller towns or areas. The business investors has a better chance of acquiring the land rights (through direct involvement with property owners), and once they've acquired the rights, they can then lease them to other companies, or even outright sell those rights to another larger middleman. It could even be tens of thousands of individuals acquiring the rights in various areas.

But as I said, cable overbuilding is legal is many parts of the US. It's encouraged even. But it rarely ever happens. So, if you want to argue about why the market has failed to deliver competing last-mile cable, that's fine. But to blithely sit there and throw out explanations as to how the market will deliver networks when, in fact, it clearly hasn't is just silly. Reality beckons.

Providing communications is absolutely like providing jeans.

Providing communications is just like providing jeans if every jeans manufacturer who entered a region had to pay $200 cash to every jeans buyer in the region before any stores would stock their merchandise. But they don't, so it isn't. At all.

Outside the world of free market utopianism, not all markets are identical. Sometimes the only way to force competition is through regulation. And anyone who favors free markets over real competition has become so immersed in free market dogma that they've forgotten why markets are beneficial in the first place.

Re:You can cover your eyes and shout LALALALA... (1)

jayp00001 (267507) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565073)

Outside the world of free market utopianism, not all markets are identical. Sometimes the only way to force competition is through regulation. And anyone who favors free markets over real competition has become so immersed in free market dogma that they've forgotten why markets are beneficial in the first place.


As a real life example take a look at verizon running out of new england as fast as possible after deploying fiber to all the urban areas. Since there is no regulation if you live in a rural area and the sale to farpoint goes thru you'll get either 256k DSL or comcast (if you have comcast available). Verizon is perfectly willing to sell the areas they own and no-one wants to pick it up due to the last mile costs. In addition part of the revenue picked up by deploying fiber is the ability to sell TV service. Since every town negotiates its own service comcast has been able to monopolize the cable service in that town so that noone else can offer it, also making fiber deployment unattractive.

Re:It's just not that easy (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565981)

You don't see some of the obvious things that people do. I lived in a subdivision where the builder had three holdouts that wouldn't sell. They had to carve the plans up around them because they assumed they would get lots more than market value if they could hold the builder up. The builder went around them. Slowly and at great cost.

The problem with networks is that one or two holdouts can certainly push their way through. Local businesses? Ha. If I had the opportunity to shut a project down until I got my $500,000 for the rights to run a cable through, I'd do it in a second. And I wouldn't sign over some blanket rights that could be resold or re-leased to other, less friendly businesses. I'd make darn sure that nobody moved through my land without paying again and again. So would my neighbors because once someone a couple of towns over got rich that way it would be all over the news.

You are misjudging the scale of payments probably 1000-fold.

And do not forget there are people that do not want - at any price - electrical (or more accurately in their terminology electronical) wires of any kind run through, under, nearby or even close to their property. These electronical wires seem to emanate mysterious rays that make people sick. They read all about it in the Weekly World News or something like that. They will never, ever agree to these electronical wires that make them sick.

So you have the strike-it-rich folks and the EMF-phobic folks. You also have plain geography. If you could wire block-by-block it would be one thing. The problem is that you can't and nobody is going to want to. So you end up with one EMF-phobe blocking access for a subdivision of 250 homes. Do you send out flyers to the homeowners telling them why they can't have cheaper service? Do you want to pick up the tab for the 24-hour guard service to keep people from burning the EMF-phobe's house down?

It isn't anywhere near as simple as you would like it to be, sorry to say. The problem today is also the margins are pretty thin and nobody is going to want to spend lots with a 10% annual return on the investment. This is mostly why today nobody is building out anything that has to do with a physical plant. Costs too much and the returns are too thin to get investors excited. The cable build-out occured when they could promise (and deliver) 50% annual returns. 5 years = 250% return on your investment. That got people to put money in. Those days are over.

What about satelite? (2, Insightful)

acoustix (123925) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559547)

Why are they focusing on cable companies? What about DSS services? Seems to me that this move will hurt cables ability to compete with larger nationwide satelite services like DirectTV and Dish.

Nick

You Anti-Regulation People Just Don't Get It. (1)

TTURabble (1164837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21559569)

I am all for the government staying out of my business, but you guys have to realize that regulation is not always a bad thing. Say for example, we get rid of all FCC and Telco Regulation. I can guarantee that the very next day all of the Cable/Satt/Tele companies would merge into "Hyperconglomeration" just like before the telco breakup in the 80s. There will not be any competition because the big players will push everyone else out of the market. Why would they sell bandwidth to their competitors at wholesale prices when they don't have to? The true fix is to fix the "last mile" problem, we need to ditch corporate ownership of the pipes. Have the municipality or county or state own the pipes, then they can sell the access to any company that wants to offer service. The government can also sell repair and upkeep contracts to companies to keep the pipes running and up-to-date. Its win-win because everyone who wants a share of the broadband pie gets it, the consumer gets true competition, and the government gets revenue from selling access/upkeep contracts.

Re:You Anti-Regulation People Just Don't Get It. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21563791)

Most anti-regulation people seem to have serious problems with authority and always regard any limit on their activities intolerable. They don't get (and aren't interested in) the big picture because they are too wrapped up in their own egos. The thing is, with a coming generation that's been brought up under theories of encouraging self-esteem regardless of achievement (leading to excessive expectations of entitlement), it's only going to get better before it gets worse.

There's a feature in one of the papers here featuring students in local colleges and universities. Some of them expect to have starting salaries in the 80K-100K range with just a 2 or 3 year associate degree.

Re:You Anti-Regulation People Just Don't Get It. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565617)

Why would they sell bandwidth to their competitors at wholesale prices when they don't have to?

The problem today is "wholesale prices" are dictated by a years-old decree that is today below cost. So the telecom folks are left with two choices: enable their competitors to undercut their prices while paying less than cost for the lines or block everybody and say it isn't available at all.

They can't charge "wholesale prices" because the tariffs were fixed in 1996 or so. There is no motivation at the state level to raise prices - anybody's prices - so there is no action to change these rates. Making rules like "wholesale market rates" would have seemed so reasonable, but that didn't fulfull the desire to stick it to the telecom companies and "encourage" competition.

Today we have a situation in Illinois where a CLEC can lease a T1 circuit for less than an analog phone line. Then they can turn around and offer multiple analog phone lines at half the cost of the ILEC and the ILEC has to do maintenance and support on the circuit. It makes no sense whatsoever but it does virtually guarantee that the ILEC isn't going to be around to support customers in the future.

This doesn't mean they get broken up and the competitors take over. This means the copper infrastructure folds up in favor of wireless or something completely different. Yes, that is the possibility. No, FIOS isn't coming to Northern Illinois anytime soon, either - it is SBC (now called AT&T) territory, not Verizon.

How useful this will be (2, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560121)

So I end up with Comcast East and Comcast West. How much better will my life really be?

Just even the playing field (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560217)

Equal rules for satellite, telco, cable. It's obvious who has Kevin Martin in their pocket.

Cut the cable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21560283)

After recently discovering the glory of OTA (over the air) high-def coupled with a Tivo HD, I'm on the verge of canceling my cable service and saving myself ~$35 a month on expanded basic service. Almost all the stuff my wife, the kids and I watch is on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox, or CW - all of which can be gotten OTA. With that $35 extra a month, we can bump up our Netflix subscription, and maybe even buy some stuff from Amazon Unbox which gets downloaded directly to the Tivo (haven't tried it yet).

Re:Cut the cable (1)

papasui (567265) | more than 6 years ago | (#21560543)

That's nice but that doesn't address the topic.

wtf. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21560765)

Ok... so this will inhibit a cable operator from getting ground. Literally.

and since cable operators have been offering the best competition since the phone company.. this will definitely allow phone companies to increase prices. and then hence reduce research into better/faster/stronger services....

government was better competition between companies. well. putting a limit on how far an individual type of company can go, just allows the other type to go further.. not exactly the smarted bunch of brains.

but i can only guess that AT&T are behind this somehow...

I agree and disagree (2, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#21561547)

I agree that cable operators should not grow and merge into a powerful monopoly. I think it is unfair to consumers and reduces competition. But I disagree that the FCC has the authority to regulate a business, even if they have done so in the past. If any battles between the FCC and corporations are ruled on by a constructionalist judge, it is unlikely the FCC would succeed. Since the FCC has little constitutional authority and a constructionalist would likely only view the department as a manager of broadcast spectrum and regulation of radio emitting and receiving devices. And such judges take a dim view of government entities overreaching their authority.

Bet is worthless (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 6 years ago | (#21563401)

Get rid of it.

It has no social value at all.

It's basically owned by Payola by commercial interests. It's one giant infomercial to the record companies.

um... (2, Informative)

shentino (1139071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21564865)

...Isn't this the FTC's job anyway?

Image massage (1)

yusing (216625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21565147)

Kevin is only looking to improve his image after pimping the removal of restrictions on newspapers owning radio stations and vice versa.

FCC - right hand knows not what the left hand does (1)

WindShadow (977308) | more than 6 years ago | (#21574255)

In this story the FCC is moving to cap the size of cable companies, while in this one [slashdot.org] the FCC is moving to allow ownership of multiple media outlets in a single market.

Are they confused, or are they theying to confuse the public?
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  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>