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Fixing US Broadband Would Cost $100 Billion

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the let's-get-started dept.

The Internet 484

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "According to a new report from EDUCASE (pdf), it would cost $100 billion to wire the US with fiber optics and keep our infrastructure from falling behind the rest of the world. Specifically, they recommend what has worked in many other countries — government investment and unbundling — which are often criticized by free market groups, even though those policies have resulted in faster, better connections for smaller total costs. Ars Technica mentions in their analysis of this report that the President will be releasing a report on US broadband today, too."

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484 comments

Um... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252302)

The PRESIDENT? You mean of the U.S.? Oy.

yet more money (4, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252310)

yet more money which the US could afford if they stopped wasting it on playing war games.

Nice agenda, was Re:yet more money (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252624)

Nice response.

Seriously, this would have cost 10% of that back in the '90s when we ALREADY PAID FOR THIS as part of the Telecom Act of 1994. The telcos simply have not delivered what they promised for receiving deregulation and all those tax breaks.

Or maybe this is where that imaginary $9B that Worldcom has went.

Re:yet more money (5, Insightful)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252656)

$100 Billion is an inconceivable sum.

It's also 10 Months in Iraq (and that's 10 months above and beyond the ongoing cost of maintaining the world's most powerful army, so doesn't include the costs the US would incur if all those soldiers/tanks/bombs were sat quietly at home).

Bargain. And remember, most of that money is flowing out of the US public purse, straight into the hands of... Bush's golfing buddies.

It's only the internet I suppose.

Re:yet more money (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252792)

$100 Billion is an inconceivable sum.

I sense a Dr Evil joke in there somewhere.

Re:yet more money (4, Funny)

realthing02 (1084767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252902)

I think "You keep using that word -- I do not think it means what you think it means." would be more appropriate. INCONCEIVABLE!

Re:yet more money (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252994)

I think "You keep using that word -- I do not think it means what you think it means." would be more appropriate. INCONCEIVABLE!
Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

Re:yet more money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252930)

And here I was thinking that word didn't mean what you thought it meant.

dur (1)

ninjakin (839756) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252336)

I dont know why they cant just print money on a worthless war, and not just print some money to pay for this.

Printing money devalues the dollar (5, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252986)

If you put more currency into circulation, the value of it decreases. As the value decreases, things purchased with it become more expensive (inflation). Printing cash to get us out of the hole would do nothing more than crash the economy (the world's, since so many other countrys' economies are inseparably tied in with the US Dollar).

Economics has a way of biting every "get of debt quickly" scheme in the ass.

bad idea (4, Interesting)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252340)

Okay first of all, if it's government run you know they're gonna spy on everyone everywhere with it. I won't be able to ping a website without it getting permanently logged. And secondly, if I recall, it'll take about the same $100 billion to fix our ridiculously outdated, inefficient, unreliable, unadapting power infrastructure too. I say we do that first. If my computer's got power at least I can play Oblivion but what can I do with no power and an internet connection?

Re:bad idea (5, Funny)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252484)

If my computer's got power at least I can play Oblivion but what can I do with no power and an internet connection?


Sex?

Re:bad idea (1)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252554)

Without looking at pr0n? How?

Re:bad idea (5, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252780)

Without looking at pr0n? How?

Wait, you mean, you don't have any on your cell phone's micro SD card? Like, you know, emergency porn?

Re:bad idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252960)

Here's a tip: maybe try it with a woman.

Scratch that.

Correction: maybe try it with a woman that's not your sister.

Re:bad idea (5, Funny)

discord5 (798235) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253106)

If my computer's got power at least I can play Oblivion but what can I do with no power and an internet connection?
Sex?

That's NOT the correct way to use fibre-optic cable!

Re:bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22253110)

Welcome to Slashdot. First post?

Re:bad idea (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252882)

$400 each? What are you lot paying per year for your broadband connections anyway? Over a few years, that's peanuts!

Re:bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22253008)

Okay first of all, if it's government run you know they're gonna spy on everyone everywhere with it.

As opposed to??

Thieves (0, Offtopic)

G-News.ch (793321) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252354)

EDUCAUSE still owes me an article that I ordered. They sure did take the money, but never sent the article. Very lame indeed!

Sorry for being captain obvious here (0)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252358)

but why bother when copper can do 10gbs?

forget upgrading to fiber - the ISP's just need to replace their hubs to accomidate new tech. Or I could be just flat wrong... who knows.

Re:Sorry for being captain obvious here (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252464)

what distance can copper do 10gbs? 100meters? dont' make me laugh.

Re:Sorry for being captain obvious here (5, Informative)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252508)

Copper is not as flexible, has shorter range, and more susceptible to noise than fiber. A copper infrastructure would require more repeaters, hubs and insulation around the entire network and it would be less reliable due to EM interference and require protection against lightning and such. Fiber has none of these problems and is advantageous in every way except (currently) cost. Plastic fiber hopes to solve this last problem.

Re:Sorry for being captain obvious here (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252614)

I dunno about the flexible bit. Bend fiber too much and the line goes snap. Cat5 I can practically tie into a knot and it'll still work.

Re:Sorry for being captain obvious here (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252682)

OTH, you can do the same thing with some of the plastic fibers. Of course, they are currently limited in speed, but you simply pick the right tool. If you are going underground, you will almost certainly do long straight lines, with just a few minor bends. That is a good place for fiber. OTH, in a house, it might makes sense to use plastic due to no need to 10Gbs and you might have a number of tight bends.

Re:Sorry for being captain obvious here (3, Informative)

statemachine (840641) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252728)

Fiber has none of these problems and is advantageous in every way except (currently) cost. Plastic fiber hopes to solve this last problem.

We've had plastic fiber for several years now. However, it is not the material itself that costs so much, it is the installation.

Re:Sorry for being captain obvious here (3, Insightful)

click2005 (921437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252926)

Also, fiber is likely to get cheaper as its used more, copper will go up in price as more of the world gets net connected and reserves fall.

From Wikipedia:

The Earth has an estimated 61 years of copper reserves remaining. Environmental analyst, Lester Brown, however, has suggested copper might run out within 25 years based on a reasonable extrapolation of 2% growth per year.

Re:Sorry for being captain obvious here (1)

Forseti (192792) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252990)

We've had plastic fiber for several years now. However, it is not the material itself that costs so much, it is the installation.
While every statement in your post is true, please note that, AFAIK, acrylic fibre is not currently used for long-haul runs, nor any single-mode applications. It's just not as efficient as glass fibre as far as attenuation goes.

Re:Sorry for being captain obvious here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252560)

10 gigabit hubs? Wouldn't the lack of broadcast domains cause spontaneous combustion?

Come on, this is BS... (1)

colin_faber (1083673) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252364)

With all the Dark fibre out there, this should be a lot less of a problem. In most cases the issue the last mile, and in many cases this last mile can easily be handled by other already deployed networks, i.e. cable, bell, wimax, etc.

Re:Come on, this is BS... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252830)

can easily be handled by other already deployed networks

Yeah! The hundred-year-old wiring in many of the east coast cities are perfectly adequate for the task of 100mbit transmission speeds!

What is it good for? (4, Insightful)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252392)

How much do we spend yearly on the pentagon again?

Re:What is it good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252838)

How about instead of giving out $145 billion economic stimulus package we put it into this? We can save $45 billion yet create more jobs and have something to show at the end of it, instead of Joe 6 Pack buying more Chinese goods (which is what the Bush/Dem House/Senate money giveaway will do)

Re:What is it good for? (2, Insightful)

realthing02 (1084767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253042)

What happens to all those people once the fiber is installed?

Just because you want fiber does not make it a better 'stimulus plan.' Besides, the bill has yet to pass Senate, so we could save a ton more... so optimistic, this one.

Re:What is it good for? (-1, Flamebait)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252934)

How much do we spend yearly on the pentagon again?
Yeah, I mean, who gives a shit about the troops--right? Fuck 'em all--right? They're all dumb kids that would've ended up in prison if a recruiter hadn't talked them into enlisting--right?

It's easy to ignore the human face of the United States military when you sling around the word "pentagon". Speaking in terms of buildings and bullets lets you forget the young men & woman serving.

Asshole.

Re:What is it good for? (3, Insightful)

spleen_blender (949762) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253044)

Your ignorance in your statement is incredible. You don't know who I am or what I've done in the military. I am not going to further justify your assumptions on that topic.

However, on the topic of the money, if we did not go on imperialistic rampages throughout the world, we could spend much less on defense and have just as competent a force for when military action is required.

Asshole. :)

Re:What is it good for? (3, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253104)


Well speaking as someone outside the US, wouldn't it show greater concern for your troops to not send them out to get shot at?

Re:What is it good for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22253144)

We spend way more on bombs and bullets then on the people...any people at all, in or out of uniform.
You must have really wanted to find someone to go off on because cutting military spending has nothing to do with not treating our soldiers the way they deserve to be treated.
You, sir, are the asshole for even thinking that he was implying that all soldiers are "dumb kids" when all he was suggesting is that maybe the United States could spend a little less on $10,000/each bombs and spend a little more on things that actually matter, like infrastructure.

Re:What is it good for? (5, Insightful)

TheWizardTim (599546) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252950)

The most important part of the statement is taken from "1984" by George Orwell.

If you have $100 Billion to spend, and you build tanks, bombs and combat jets, you are helping the economy, but only a small amount. Once you use a bomb, it will not add value to the economy. When you build a combat jet, it will not add (much) to the future economy. A bullet shot, is worthless.

If you use that money to build a road, then people will use that road to go to school, work, and shopping. If you use that $100 Billion to build a network, people will read news, buy products, start businesses, and other net related acts. If you use that $100 Billion to build schools and pay for teachers, you get students the get better jobs, pay more taxes, add more to the economy.

I am not saying we should not fund our military. But saying that spending money on war helps the economy, well it does, but in the long run. By using that money to better the countries roads, power lines, water supply, hospitals, whatever, you will get a return on your investment.

If you borrow money to make a bullet, your money is lost forever. If you borrow money to build a road, then you will get your worth.

Re:What is it good for? (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253006)

How much do we spend yearly on the pentagon again?

The Death and Taxes Poster [thebudgetgraph.com] breaks up all government budget outlays greater than $200 million. The link provided is a Flash Movie (so you can zoom in) but it takes a super-long time to become clear enough to actually read (at least for me).

You might find "The Total Budget" section with the Penny in the bottom-right corner to be helpful.

Re:What is it good for? (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253082)

And how much do we spend on salaries for polticians (and their lawyers-n-lobbists) that are supposed to practice diplomacy to prevent wars?

FYI, you know, we are going to hit 1 billion dollars for marketing (cough: campaigning) for the presidential candidates this election...

Re:What is it good for? (3, Informative)

Samgilljoy (1147203) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253140)

How much do we spend yearly on the pentagon again?

Well, as to what is officially acknowledged by the DoD Budget Office... I can't say I understand the differences between Direct Budget Plan, Budget Authority, and Outlays exactly, since the chart includes this year, and they must all be estimates of something then, but I'll give you the lowest numbers, which are marked Outlays.

FY 2006 : 499.277 Billion (what a bargain, a whole empire for only 499 instead of the usual 500)

FY 2007 : 516.508 Billion

FY 2008 : 459.754 Billion

You were probably asking a rhetorical question, but in case someone wanted to know, I looked it up.

Unit Conversion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252408)

How much is that in days of Iraq war?

Preview of President's report (3, Funny)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252418)

A preview of the report to come from the President today:

Tax breaks for the ISPs, particularly the telcos.

A hands off business approach, let them do with the money (and the consumers, a.k.a. taxpayers) whatever they want.

Re:Preview of President's report (4, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252644)

> Tax breaks for the ISPs, particularly the telcos.

Tax breaks for any industry sucks. So I oppose these.

> A hands off business approach, let them do with the money (and the consumers, a.k.a. taxpayers)
> whatever they want.

This would be exactly right if not for one glaring problem. The government can't take a hands off approach to government created and controlled monopolies. In the US today, competition is defined as two government chartered monopolies fighting each other through a maze of government regulation. In one corner, weighting in at eight hundred pounds, is the Phone Company! A truly formidable government monopoly almost a hundred years old. And in the other corner, weighing in at six hundred pounds, is the new scrappy government monopoly, the Cable Company!

What needs to happen is a new breakup, but done right. Recognize where the monopoly actually exists and can't really be fixed. The last mile. Break that part of both the phone and cable company off and leave them government chartered monopolies. Utility companies who own and operate the physical plant from the end user, through the government granted right of ways to the central office/plant. But forbidden to offer ANY actual service over it, instead forced to sell access to all at non-discriminatory prices.

As for the thrust of this slashdot post, whinging for a government run Internet.... no fscking way! If you utopians think a government run Internet would be net neutral think again. A network run by the same assholes who gave us the DMCA in the first place is going to let 'yall sit around all day running bittorrent and happily building out ever more fiber for ya to do it on? Riiight.

Re:Preview of President's report (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252802)

I understand where you're coming from, but had to laugh:

>As for the thrust of this slashdot post, whinging for a government run Internet.... >no fscking way! If you utopians think a government run Internet would be net neutral >think again. A network run by the same assholes who gave us the DMCA [snip] ... ...and the Internet? They started it, and daggumit if they're not going to finish it!

Re:Preview of President's report (4, Insightful)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252652)

But the rest of us continue to pay taxes (and will probably pay more to make up for the lost in tax revenue)? It's constantly amazing how many people can actually argue with a straight face that the poor corporations should pay less taxes "because it's easier to make a profit" and that they, generously, will pass those profits onto you the employee. As if a corporation running business is actually more important than having employees working and consumers spending. Trickle-down economics is a load of crap our rent-a-legislators and their buddy rich folks use to convince the masses that, somehow, taxing the rich less than the middle class is actually beneficial.

Middle class spending (i.e. not being taxed to death) is what drives business and the economy. I will agree that taxing a corporate entity may not be the best solution as really, you should be taxing the shareholders. If this discourages all the traders on Wall Street they can go find other jobs just like everyone else and still pay taxes. Hell, it might leave only the prudent investors who aren't just looking to make a quick buck overnight but actually invest in businesses in the long haul behind. Then maybe we won't have this volatile gotta-raise-the-bottom-line mentality that corporate CEO's use to gain short-term profits but sacrifice any long-term business growth.

Re:Preview of President's report (4, Interesting)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252724)

The real solution is to tax wealth rather than income, so that investment becomes the best strategy for tax avoidance.
It also just happens to be fairer: you get taxed in proportion to what the government is keeping the poor people from taking away.

Re:Preview of President's report (1)

solafide (845228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252732)

You know, this is off-topic, but I'm tired of hearing about people claiming the employees never see the benefits of tax breaks. Even if they don't get paid more and the product doesn't get cheaper, the employees can BUY STOCK in their company and reap the benefits of greater profits from less taxes. Why does anyone not own any stock in the company they work for??

Re:Preview of President's report (2, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252858)

Why does anyone not own any stock in the company they work for??

Probably because they can see first hand how their company is run, and it's usually not pretty.

Correct me if I'm wrong (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252428)

. . . but didn't we already pay $200 billion to get 45Mb/s fiber starting in the late 90s? I seem to remember how the telecomes complained that they didn't have the money to do it. And Congress passed the Telecom Act of 1996 to allow them to charge fees to help fund an infrastructure upgrade. Ten years later we barely have fiber and that fiber is dramatically slower and more expensive than promised. And you have to pay for it to be installed.

MCI WorldCom CxOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252648)

But, but, but.... all the giant telecom corporate CxO's needed to squander all that money for themselves instead of using it to build infrastructure for the future. Didn't you know that?

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong (5, Informative)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252752)

but didn't we already pay $200 billion to get 45Mb/s fiber starting in the late 90s?

Yes, it was the biggest rip-off in history. The telecoms took the money, didn't produce anything useful, and were never held to account.

Didn't they already get this money (2, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252430)

Maybe I'm wrong, but didn't the cable companies, et al. already receive many billions of dollars from the government that they have seemed to squander away on their CEOs and crappy advertisements?

About time (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252446)

We have lagged behind the rest of the world in terms of (private home) bandwidth and cost for a WHILE. Granted, many other areas of the world are more densely populated and thus are easier and cheaper to wire up, but still...it's kind of embarrassing how far behind we are when it comes to the tubes that reach our homes.

Re:About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252694)

Let build so we can become on the top of the world in terms of ubiquitous network service.

Why? (1)

Meor (711208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252448)

Explain again why 95% of people need fiber to their home. 5% of internet users use 50% of the bandwidth. Even if that's not correct, why are we talking about wiring fiber to people's homes when there are thousands of starving children in the US? Get out of your ivory towers.

Quite right (1)

Quadraginta (902985) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252786)

Jeez, yeah. I mean, I should fork over another $500 a year in taxes so that Gramma Moses living 12 miles from the nearest paved road in South Dakota can have fiber laid up to the very door of her log cabin, and download recipes for grilled bear in 0.15 seconds instead of the 1.5 seconds her $10/month dial-up requires? Feh.

Dumbest and most pointless idea since Hillarycare.

Re:Quite right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22253108)

wow you are a dumbass huh? You probably don't know that we already paid for this in the 90's and now the telcos are going to fleece us again(must be payback for the ability to ILLEGALLY wiretap all american telephone and data connections).

But, be that as it may. Fiber-level access should be as ubiquitous as telephone. Everyone should have it. This would allow all data and media over one line, instead of telephone, cable, dsl, tv, etc. Broadband levels and pricing in Amerikkka are the worst in the developed world. Why?

Because we are a fascist corporatist dictatorship fed propaganda through the media to sit on our asses eating mickeyd's, driving our suv's and basically being the FUCKING PIGS OF THE WORLD.

Dick, you already paid for this, you should be mad about that!

Re:Why? (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252828)

Explain again why 95% of people need fiber to their home. 5% of internet users use 50% of the bandwidth

That will change once people start wanting HD TV over Internet.

why are we talking about wiring fiber to people's homes when there are thousands of starving children in the US?

Because keeping up on spending, even on luxury goods, means that the other few million children have parents with jobs, and therefore aren't starving. Even if you had the money to do it, simply giving handouts en mass would just drive up inflation, and all those people would be exactly where they started within a year.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22253102)

> when there are thousands of starving children in the US?

Since the most common health problem for poor children in the USA is obesity, I think that the correct response is to demeand that you name 10 or more of these starving children, and give their addresses.

Sad situation (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252456)

That'd be, what, about six months in Iraq? We had no problem with borrowing that from the Chinese; why not fix up the infrastructure here?

I'm thinking, though, that 'broadband' in the US is rather slower than in other countries--wasn't there a study that said the US has the slowest broadband in the developed world? I mean, sure, it's significantly faster than dialup--but for some reason, dialup still sells; 'broadband' connections are still unreliable in speed and connectivity (how many times do you have to reset a cable/dsl modem in a week, anyway?); a lack of choice--because of the de facto regional monopolies--has completely removed all desire to innovate or compete, leading to a situation that decays over time.

How long will it be until the US is relegated to a third-world ghetto because nobody can get information in and out in a timely manner?

Iraq (3, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252474)

Yes, it's appropriate.

Re:Iraq (1)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252706)

If this NY Times article [nytimes.com] is to be believed, $100Bn is what we spend in six months in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As much as it would be neat to spend $100Bn on broadband, I'm sure there's better uses for the money. Again, according to that article, that would be enough to more than double funds for cancer research for the next decade.

Re:Iraq (1)

blackjackshellac (849713) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252978)

They have spent close to 1 trillion dollars on that pet project of Bush/Cheney, at the behest of the oil industry.

You could have a lot of broadband, cancer research, military r&d spending and find and kill Osama Bin Laden for 1 trillion dollars. Of course, that's not what they want, and they'd never have killed bin Laden because of Bush's ties to the family and the saudi royals.

Fool Me Once (5, Informative)

HunterZ (20035) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252502)

From the discussion at Ars Technica:

Originally posted by aix:
WTF!!! :mad:

We already paid 200 billion for fiber optic to the home, but never received it. Just search for "200 billion dollar broadband scandal". But here's a clip:

Starting in the early 1990's, the Clinton-Gore Administration had aggressive plans to create the "National Infrastructure Initiative" to rewire ALL of America with fiber optic wiring, replacing the 100 year old copper wire. The Bell companies - SBC, Verizon, BellSouth and Qwest, claimed that they would step up to the plate and rewire homes, schools, libraries, government agencies, businesses and hospitals, etc. if they received financial incentives.

Kushnick's "$200 Billion Broadband Scandal" says the government was promised 86 million households with fiber wiring delivering bi-directional 45 Mbps speeds, capable of handling 500 channels by 2006. He calls it a fraud case, with deft omission in the annals of the FCC, that cost households at least $2000 a piece but got nothing in return.


I think there were subsidies to the telcos as well as tax breaks and incentives .... and what do have to show for it ??

BUPKISS! Freaking nothing, zilch, nada, zip, zero, goose egg, F%&KING damn 20th place :mad: :confused:

And yes I'm going to point out it was the dems who were in the seat when this happened. Only to show that both parties are really different sides of the same coin.

Originally posted by :
I'll ignore the billions spent, and the billions we still have to spend in Iraq...

I'll ignore the other major issues that maybe this country needs to spend 100 Billion on first...

And now, baring all of that...
*WHAT THE FUCK*
Any of you know this story?
http://www.teletruth.org/ [teletruth.org]http://www.teletruth.org
http://www.teletruth.org/PennBroadbandfraud.html [teletruth.org]http://www.teletruth.org/PennBroadbandfraud.html
http://www.newnetworks.com/broadbandscandals.htm [newnetworks.com]http://www.newnetworks.com/broadbandscandals.htm

In short, Verizon, ATT, SBC and the other big TeleComs were supposed to do this, FOR US, in the last 10-15 years.

They got major tax breaks and government handouts to do this.
So where is it?

 

16th in the World in Broadband

This is one of the largest scandals in American history.

        * By 2006, 86 million households should have been rewired with a fiber optic wire, capable of 45 Mbps, in both directions. -- read the promises.
        * The public subsidies for infrastructure were pocketed. The phone companies collected over $200 billion in higher phone rates and tax perks, about $2000 per household. ....
and more from --> http://www.newnetworks.com/broadbandscandals.htm [newnetworks.com]http://www.newnetworks.com/broadbandscandals.htm

Reports like this piss me off, cause the first thing I think of, knowing the history of How we're already supposed to have fiber to the home, is who paid for the report? and what is it really asking for?
Hear hear! I can't believe noone brought this up sooner, or even in the article. There's pretty much no hope at this point for the US to have a globally competitive broadband Internet infrastructure.

Best way is to minimize the monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252532)

These guys are suggesting the old apporach that we had; that is allow competitors to access the monopolies lines. Instead, a company/local gov should be allowed to create the monopoly of the green box to the house. That should be the ONLY monopoly. And it should ONLY be allowed to do just that.

Wires are so last century (1)

Erich (151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252570)

We can get ultra-fast point-to-point connections using directional wireless. What's all this about "wires"? That seems like such an outdated concept.

Maybe it's because it's harder to get a government-funded monopoly if you push forward in directional high-speed wireless for backbone links?

OK, sure, there are reliability problems with wireless, but in most of the USA you could set up a huge network using relays on existing cell towers. Shoot, cell towers already use directional high-data-rate wireless links to communicate with each other. And there are reliability problems with fiber, too... it's harder to drive a backhoe through a wireless link...

Total Costs Must Account for Opportunity Costs (4, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252572)

which are often criticized by free market groups, even though those policies have resulted in faster, better connections for smaller total costs.
The same criticisms were leveled at the United States when the Soviet Union was, for a time, "ahead" in the space race, but when one considers the difference between the market and central planning (i.e. government control) it is easy to see how things can, in some instances be done more quickly by the command and control method rather than the market. It is sometimes easier to get things done when you can tell people what to do and force them to do it while disallowing any dissent or alternatives. However, one must be more careful about the total costs of central planning command and control vs the market approach. The Soviets had many firsts in the space race, but in return other parts of the economy suffered tremendously and people went without a lot of things, some of them necessities, so that additional resources could be poured into the government run space program. In the same fashion one must consider the opportunity costs [wikipedia.org] of government spending and control. If the government increases taxes or debt to build out the system quickly then that spending takes away from immediate or future alternative investments of those funds by the private sector. Generally speaking, the more often the government does this the more funds are diverted and the opportunity costs spiral ever higher as we give up increasing amounts of alternative goods and services in exchange for what may turn out to be a fast (hopefully, but even that is not guaranteed when one factors in innate government inefficiencies) but ultimately very costly rollout of better high speed networks, or faster progress in the space program, or whatever else the national attention is focused on at that moment. Beware when advocates of government spending proclaim lower total costs. They are frequently neglecting the opportunity costs in their analysis of the costs.

Ummm... (1, Interesting)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252580)

I'm confused here. Won't the market demand better service when it is needed? Sure $100 billion sounds like a lot, but when it's taken in smaller increments by the free market it's honestly nothing.

Yes the US is probably lagging behind some other countries, we are much more spread out and thus it requires more $$ for the same service, but I don't see a reason for the government to step in and "fix" something that isn't broken and is improving by itself already.

It seems the only reason this is proposed is so we can be "number 1" again. Kind of ridiculous honestly.

Re:Ummm... (5, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252772)

The market can't demand anything that isn't offered. In this case, there is essentially no compitition in most of the USA for internet providers. The way the market would demand something is by having people switch to faster providers, showing they are willing to spend the money for speed. In which case companies would then try to make their networks faster, to attract more customers.

But in the US, there is no one to switch to. So the market can't demand anything.

'Unbundling' as they call it in the article is always painted as anti-capitolistic, and as ending market forces. In fact, it is the opposite: It would allow market forces to work again, by giving people a choice of networks.

Doesn't make sense (2, Funny)

Nysem (1226462) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252588)

We can spend who knows how much money on a pointless and widely unpopular war over in Iraq...but we can't get better tube materials for our internets?

Re:Doesn't make sense (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252954)

We can spend who knows how much money on a pointless and widely unpopular war over in Iraq...but we can't get better tube materials for our internets?

lol. That's what I love about us computer nerds, our priorities. Like, you just realised that something was wrong because so much money was spent on war during the 5 years it lasted and little can be spent on Internet's infrastructure, when black babies have been dying with no healthcare for the whole time.

Iraq...? (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252590)

So like one month in Iraq? Of course... I guess it doesn't sound so expensive when you put it that way, huh?

Re:Iraq...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22252980)

An Iraq is the new unit of wasteful government spending. It's kinda similar to how a Library of Congress unit measures a very large amount of information.

Socialized Internet Access?!!! (3, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252602)

Americans for the most part are perfectly willing to suffer for the "free markets" rationale.

-Mobile phones (multiple, incompatible networks)
-Health care
-Data infrastructure

In other areas, we are quite happy to nationalize,
Railway services
Interstate highways. "free" too.
Social Security (just try being the elected grinch that cuts that program)
and most recently, education with no child left behind.

Depending on your politics, some of these issues cannot be discussed with any civility whatsoever.
 

Let the NSA pay for it! (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252604)

It will help with their plan to wire all of our houses with HiDef telescreens.

(Crap, I've got to stop giving them ideas.)

That sounds about right... (4, Informative)

Toasty16 (586358) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252640)

Seeing as the telecoms gained about $200 billion in increased fees and tax breaks since AT&T's breakup in 1984. That money was supposed to be used to upgrade the entire nation's infrastructure from copper wiring to fiber optics, but was instead used to pad the pockets of executives and shareholders. Find out more here [newnetworks.com].

Of course they don't like it (2, Insightful)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252794)

Specifically, they recommend what has worked in many other countries -- government investment and unbundling -- which are often criticized by free market groups, even though those policies have resulted in faster, better connections for smaller total costs.

Of course the "free market" groups don't like it. They hate the idea of consumers getting more for less, because the lower cost is coming at the expense of corporate profits. That's because most of those "free market" people don't really want a free market at all. They hate government regulation when it keeps them from doing what they want, but they love it when it keeps new competitors from getting into the market. That's why they're so keen on local monopolies- the antithesis of free markets.

"Fixing" seems to be a bit of a misnomer... (1)

rakuen (1230808) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252796)

...mostly because that implies it was working at some point. Clearly it never has, because the telecos have been touting 1Mb connections as the wave of the future for at least 5 years.

Good example of classic argument (1)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252814)

Broadband is a good example of a classic argument: should we let private industry meet the demand for an essential public service?

Private industry, in theory, is supposed to be more efficient and more innovative. The problem is, the data just doesn't support this for most essential public services because the monolithic nature of these industries lend themselves to monopolies, oligopolies, cartels and market failure. Looking at data from all over the world and not just from the US, it is pretty clear that if a society is serious about getting essential services to every citizen, the government - for all its inefficiencies and foibles - is a better bet.

We often talk as if private corproations or nationalized industries are the only options, but there is a third option: the nonprofit sector. Unfortunately, it seldom gets discussed. It's too bad too, as there are some interesting advantages. A private, commercial nonprofit could compete in the open market and retain the efficiencies mandated by self-suffiency (or it would just die - this kind of nonprofit isn't supported by donations but by its own revenue). But without an overarching mission to maximize profit, it's actual mission would just be it's stated mission, and so, for example, people out on farms who are less profitable customers might be more likely to get services rolled out to them.

Why should be buy it TWICE!?! (4, Informative)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252834)

If you pay a phone bill, you've been paying for internet infrastructure for years. You've been paying for this for years.

Instead of double dipping and asking for more money to upgrade/create internet infrastructure why don't they start spending the money they already collect IN THE RIGHT PLACE?

FEDERAL UNIVERSAL SERV FUND
http://www.fcc.gov/wcb/universal_service/welcome.html [fcc.gov]
The goals of Universal Service, as mandated by the 1996 Act, are to
promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable, and
affordable rates; increase access to advanced telecommunications
services throughout the Nation; advance the availability of such
services to all consumers, including those in low income, rural,
insular, and high cost areas at rates that are reasonably comparable to
those charged in urban areas. In addition, the 1996 Act states that all
providers of telecommunications services should contribute to Federal
universal service in some equitable and nondiscriminatory manner; there
should be specific, predictable, and sufficient Federal and State
mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service; all schools,
classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should, generally, have
access to advanced telecommunications services; and finally, that the
Federal-State Joint Board and the Commission should determine those
other principles that, consistent with the 1996 Act, are necessary to
protect the public interest.

FEDERAL UNIVERSAL SERV FUND PRIVATE LINE
http://www.shore.net/support/usf.html [shore.net]
The Universal Connectivity Charge is 9.25% of state-to-state and
international long distance charges, and on Internet circuits. (ATM,
Frame Relay, Private Line, Internet Access and SDSL)
[NOTE: This may be the local number portability surcharge - ED]

E911 SURCHARGE
http://www.legis.state.ia.us/GA/79GA/Legislation/HF/00200/HF00279/Current.html [state.ia.us]
The surcharge shall
    3 21 be collected as part of the access line service provider's
    3 22 periodic billing to a subscriber. In compensation for the
    3 23 costs of billing and collection, the provider may retain one
    3 24 percent of the gross surcharges collected. If the
    3 25 compensation is insufficient to fully recover a provider's
    3 26 costs for billing and collection of the surcharge, the
    3 27 deficiency shall be included in the provider's costs for
    3 28 ratemaking purposes to the extent it is reasonable and just
    3 29 under section 476.6. The surcharge shall be remitted to the
    3 30 E911 service operating authority county auditor or the
    3 31 auditor's designee of the county in which the subscriber
    3 32 resides for deposit into the E911 service fund quarterly by
    3 33 the provider. A provider is not liable for an uncollected
    3 34 surcharge for which the provider has billed a subscriber but
    3 35 not been paid. The surcharge shall appear as a single line
    4 1 item on a subscriber's periodic billing entitled, "E911
    4 2 emergency telephone service surcharge". The E911 service
    4 3 surcharge is not subject to sales or use tax.

SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE TAX
http://www.state.ia.us/tax/educate/78511.html [state.ia.us]
IOWA SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE LOCAL OPTION TAX
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

FEDERAL TAX
This should be the federal excise tax

STATE/LOCAL TAX

FEDERAL ACCESS CHARGE
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/accesschrg.html [fcc.gov]

Qwest identifies this as: "Federal Access Charge is a per line fee
authorized by the FCC to cover the cost of providing access to the
telephone network."

What a maroon. (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252872)

They're proposing to spend billions of dollars to run wire/fibre all over the place? Haven't they heard, everyone is going wireless [slashdot.org]!

Obligatory (1)

blueish yellow (838971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22252874)

That $100 billion figure is about the cost of one year of the war in Iraq. And that doesn't even include the indirect costs (opportunity cost, lifetime medical bills for injured veterans, increased cost of oil etc.)

Only 100 Billion??? (2, Interesting)

zenyu (248067) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253046)

I have a difficult time believing that such a paltry sum could build a real high speed network throughout the country.

That's like $8/month per tax payer spread over a decade. At that level of cheapness every ISP would be running fiber to the curb, I would have 20 fibers running in front of my house already. Heck, they telephone or cable company could just charge some exorbitant amount for plain old telephone service or cable tv, like $10/month, and pay for this thing! :)

If they had thrown out a figure of 10 trillion dollars I would have been the first on the bandwagon telling my government that they must spend the money now, but a 100 billion is just not a believable sum. I'm sure you could wire up a small portion of the population living in densely populated areas for that amount and then use a small tax on those connections to slowly reach rural populations, but then you have to convince rural states that the investment is still a good idea and that the project won't stall after that first 20% is covered.

Also 100Mbps? If you're building it now you should set the speed at 10Tbps and then try to upgrade it later when faster speeds are cheaper. The short distances you are dealing with in fiber to the curb allow for multi-mode fiber which gives you a bit more leeway for expansion, but you still need the network design and the physical fiber itself to allow for the future speeds you will want to introduce.

Instant Payback Economic Stimulus (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253058)

$100B spent on improving US broadband infrastructure would have instant payback in the US economy. First, most of the labor would be Americans, so the expense would create jobs. Second, the US still has most of the industry making most of the profits on the kind of broadband equipment we're talking about. There's no reason that the purchases couldn't prioritize vendors which keep more of the money paid them inside the US.

And that labor and equipment expense would make US labor and equipment compete to get it, and improve their quality offering, which makes them more competitive overall. It would jerk lots of talent and productivity away from lots of less productive efforts, like pursuing BS defense and "homeland security" contracts that wind up sending lots of profits overseas, lots sunk into rich pockets that pay either little/no taxes (especially the corporations), or even ship those profits offshore.

And it would boost America's workforce of exactly the kind of skills and products the rest of the world is looking for now. That are already associated with the "America" brand, since everyone still remembers we invented the Internet.

And then of course we'd have all the economic value of actually using that broadband infrastructure to produce even more, to make even more money with it (including designing and deploying the next $100B in broadband buildout).

It's as if the US invested $billions in the auto industry back during the Great Depression. Which is exactly what we did, by joining WWII which demanded $billions in cars, trucks, tanks, planes, and ships. But this time we're not going to send them all out to be destroyed, and to destroy the territory we'd capture when we win. Instead we'd increasing the value of everything we got to buy with our increasing profits, and bringing the world together instead of blowing it apart.

Congress is about to pretend to stimulate the economy with about $65B sent out in little $600 checks to every taxpayer. Who will mostly spend it on gas and Chinese-made TVs and crap. If they were really visionary, and really wanted to boost the economy, they'd make local governments and corporations match that expense only 1:2, and actually rebuild this country as the 21st Century is so clearly begging us to do.

The problem is... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253088)

its all in control of large companies who have a vested interest in not fixing it.
At least because its an unnecessary cost as users don't have any real alternative.

Free Market Works In USA (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253124)

First off, Verizon is really running fiber optic everywhere in its service territory with FIOS. Secondly, supposedly obsolete cable internet providers are touting their DOCSYS 3 modems which match that performance. So, bandwidth is being made available and at a rapid pace to people that are willing to pay for it.

More importantly, 100B is entirely something that American internet providers can afford. Verizon's market cap alone is 110B, and Comcast's market cap is 50B. That's just two companies worth more than enough to finance growth in bandwidth. So, in a way, people arguing for massive government taxpayer internet are really arguing for taxpayers to pay for something that the private sector CAN afford. There's no need for the government to get involved. The private sector has the money.

Putting it into perspective (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22253136)

So for a 1/10 of the cost of the war we get nationwide fiber optics which would improve infrastructure and create new business opportunities and benefit most citizens. Essentially for what the war is likely to cost we could have solar panels on every home in the US, allowing us to shut down some coal plants rather than build more and have fiber optic cables to most homes providing high speed internet and HiDef video. If we put the better than a trillion dollars the war is running into replacing the oil and improving infrastructure we wouldn't need Iraqi oil. Nothing will get better in this country until people get angry but apparently they aren't all that upset since all the front runners are talking more of the same. Time to swim back to Europe. Might have seemed like a good idea 500 years ago when my ancestors came over but it's looking like a bad idea now.
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