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US Broadband Policy Called "Magical Thinking"

kdawson posted about 6 years ago | from the unicorns-in-the-tubes dept.

Government 287

eWeekPete writes "Is the pipe half full or half empty? Not surprisingly, the talk at the second annual Tech Policy Summit was decidedly mixed. 'The US is still the most dynamic broadband economy in the world,' said Ambassador Richard Russell, the associate director of the White House's Office on Science and Technology Policy. 'As opposed to being miles ahead, though, we're only a little ahead.' But Yale Law School's Susan Crawford called Russell's position 'magical thinking. We're not doing well at all.' She proceeded to call the White House's effort 'completely inadequate on broadband competition.'"

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287 comments

woot (-1, Redundant)

Iceykitsune (1059892) | about 6 years ago | (#22893814)

first

A corollary to Niven's Law (1, Offtopic)

spun (1352) | about 6 years ago | (#22894268)

Any sufficiently stupid government initiative is indistinguishable from magic. That is to say, it doesn't work in the real world, but the masses like to watch the charlatans on stage do it any way.

"only a little" (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22893818)

When our policy-makers (who never admit to anything bad lately) say that we're "only a little ahead," you know that we're seriously lagging.

Re:"only a little" (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 years ago | (#22894240)

Basically it means two things: First, that the rest of the world is even more behind, and second, that they got some bri... funding from telcos and now need a reason to pump tax money that way.

Re:"only a little" (5, Interesting)

Hyppy (74366) | about 6 years ago | (#22894462)

Tax money shouldn't be pumped to the telcos to yet again waste instead of rebuilding critical infrastructure. Instead, the U.S. government should build its own national, public infrastructure to replace the crap that the telcos are trying to pass off as acceptable.

Re:"only a little" (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 years ago | (#22894532)

What? Socialized infrastructure? Maybe even offering everyone the same goods for the same price, leveling the playing field instead of offering discounts for large corporations to give them an edge over the smaller companies?

Careful there, it may lead to a free market system, and I doubt that's in the best interest of the corporations and their politicians. In other words, don't expect to see that anytime soon.

Re:"only a little" (4, Insightful)

Hyppy (74366) | about 6 years ago | (#22894628)

You're right, I was completely out of line. We need the best government money can buy. In order to purchase that government, we need powerful corporations which have the people's best interests at heart to provide that money. Democracy at its best!

Wait... I think I heard of a quote about corporations and government before... Ahh, yes, it was Benito Mussolini. "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the marriage of government and corporate power." So much for democracy.

Is there an equivalent to Godwin's Law for fascism?

Re:"only a little" (1)

k_187 (61692) | about 6 years ago | (#22894690)

Is there an equivalent to Godwin's Law for fascism?

The irony of that statement is delicious.
but yeah. Companies are only going to build out where's there's profit. Gov't either has to make them build out the rest or do it themselves.

Re:"only a little" (5, Insightful)

FireXtol (1262832) | about 6 years ago | (#22894284)

America is a very large country. To roll-out fiber optics (to the curb!) would be very expensive for a nation that still has a very large number of solely dial-up users. Especially compared to the arm-and-a-leg you're being charged for poor service.
Plus it would enable hugely cheap WiFi networks. An entire neighborhood could be connected through one fiber line, and all be enjoying [several] Gigabit WAN. Enabling the ability to host your own fairly large web server.

Unfortunately, these are all very bad for big business!

Businesses model their offerings based not on what they can do... but what they think they can get away with. Establish unreliability as 'standard', establish that 'hosting your own' is cost-prohibitive (or contrary to a service agreement), and that this thing called bandwidth should be ridiculously expensive.

It is basically a criminal mentality.

Wrong (-1, Troll)

Himring (646324) | about 6 years ago | (#22893834)

'The US is still the most dynamic broadband economy in the world....'

This article is obviously wrong. The US sucks at everything ... EVERYTHING!!! Forget the fact that California, alone, would be the 8th richest country in the world were it not a state. Forget that it, alone, produces five times more agriculture than the entire Isle of England. Forget all that....

This dude obviously doesn't read /.

The modding is gunna hurt....

Re:Wrong (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22893900)

I heard that the Americans are starving!

Re:Wrong (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894030)

Just the black ones. And the brown ones. Some yellow, and a few of the white ones that like to marry their first cousins. And the white ones that live with the black ones. Aside from that, everything is just peachy!

Re:Wrong (2)

ricebowl (999467) | about 6 years ago | (#22893982)

Forget that it, alone, produces five times more agriculture than the entire Isle of England.

I'll assume you meant Great Britain. California is (bear in mind all numbers are from Wikipedia) 163,696 square miles with a population of 36,457,549, Great Britain is 80,823 square miles with a population of 58,845,700.

The population density of California would be 222.7 people per square mile and for Great Britain is 728.1 people per square mile.

So yeah, California generates more agricultural produce than Great Britain but it's got more room in which to do it. There's also the climate difference, which I'd assume helps the crops.

But were you really just expressing irritation at the fact that the US isn't leading that particular industry? 'Cause that's fair enough and, given the fact that the web was (so far as I can tell) more-or-less an American creation (with the exception of HTML), understandable.

I do have mod-points but, since I've replied to you, I can't mod you. Which is fair enough really, since I wouldn't know how to mod you. It's not Flamebait, I'm sure; but I don't think it's insightful either. And, while it's Informative, I'm not convinced that's the spirit in which you meant it. So I thought I'd reply instead.

Re:Wrong (1)

Himring (646324) | about 6 years ago | (#22894166)

No problem. My post fully deserved a bad modding. I suppose I get sick of the slant on /., but, yet, I'm attracted to this site at the same time. It's sorta like being in love with a hot chick that's no good for you. She cheats, she lies, she does drugs, she does all your friends, yet, you still love her ... abuse and all.

Re:Wrong (3, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | about 6 years ago | (#22894242)

She cheats, she lies, she does drugs, she does all your friends, yet, you still love her ... abuse and all.

Just wait until you wind up with something that can't be treated with antibiotics ;)

Re:Wrong (5, Insightful)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 6 years ago | (#22894074)

I think you miss the point. When the statement of a government official (we all know government officials always tell the truth, don't we) is clearly contradicted by documented date and objective analysis of that data, then it's time to cry bullshit.

For far too long bureaucrats, politicians and corporate leaders have cynically played on the sometimes-misplaced national pride of Americans to short-circuit justified criticism and move attention away from real problems. Whenever I want to refocus a debate in a way that favours my view, I simply say this: "Well, the American people have the best (fill in whatever you want) in the world." The Americans in the room will all nod gravely and accept whatever claim I've just made, no matter how outrageous. I've just convinced them that everything is mostly OK, and all that needs doing is a little fine-tuning. I now own the debate, because I've defined most of the situation to suit myself. Whatever useless little make-work project I then suggest to make things "even better" will be enough to make "the American people" believe the problem is as good as solved.

If you don't believe me, try this some time and watch it work. Don't worry about the occasional person smart enough to catch you. They'll be perceived as one of those left-wing nay-sayers who never has anything good to say about The Greatest Country In The World, Ever. In today's climate, they might even wind up on an FBI Watch List.

Re:Wrong (3, Interesting)

Xelios (822510) | about 6 years ago | (#22894330)

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross." - Sinclair Lewis

Re:Wrong (4, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | about 6 years ago | (#22894504)

"When fascism came to America, it was wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."

There, fixed that for you!

Re:Wrong (2, Insightful)

highlander76 (901551) | about 6 years ago | (#22894578)

Reminds me of some of the undercover documentaries about North Korea. When a society is afraid to honestly compare itself to others then that society is doomed to stagnate, or at least fall behind. You'd think with the internet it would be easy to get information about the situation in other countries. Oh, that's right, with our superior connectivity it still takes too long to download that information.

What? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22893836)

Corporate greed prevents connecting rural housing to broadband?

I thought greed and the free market would solve everything!

Ron Paul where are you?!?!?

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | about 6 years ago | (#22894112)

If Ron Paul were in charge of this we'd still be just as far behind, but at least we'd individually have more money due to not paying taxes to the telecom companies to roll out fiber they never actually did.

"Magical Thinking" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22893858)

Anything coming out of the White House at the moment is "Magical Thinking" alright.

magical thinking (4, Interesting)

45mm (970995) | about 6 years ago | (#22893880)

It's certainly magical ... like LSD-induced magical. What is this administration smoking? Can I have some?

Re:magical thinking (3, Funny)

AioKits (1235070) | about 6 years ago | (#22893952)

It's certainly magical ... like LSD-induced magical. What is this administration smoking? Can I have some?
But more importantly, did this administration INHALE?

Better connectivity in China (5, Interesting)

querist (97166) | about 6 years ago | (#22893948)

I don't know about Washington, DC, (which I suspect has great broadband) but where I live in South Carolina all I can get is dial-up. I get better connectivity when I'm in China.

Re:Better connectivity in China (2, Informative)

Serge_Tomiko (1178965) | about 6 years ago | (#22893984)

Ridiculous. I've been to Charleston, Hilton Head Island, and Aiken. You know what? They all have broadband available. This means you live someplace rural.

People in rural China don't have access to many basics of urban civilization known since Roman times, ie paved streets and running water. Regular electricity service is not available in large sections of the countryside.

   

Re:Better connectivity in China (1)

querist (97166) | about 6 years ago | (#22894034)

I live just outside of Roebuck, in Spartanburg County. Yes, it's rural, and so is the majority of South Carolina. So, while the larger cities have broadband, that only reaches a small portion of the population.

Re:Better connectivity in China (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | about 6 years ago | (#22894518)

Maybe its because you're black then? I mean there has got to be some sort of logical reasoning hasn't there? (Note to mods, this is a joke.)

Re:Better connectivity in China (1)

pmbasehore (1198857) | about 6 years ago | (#22894602)

I don't know if I would say the majority. My parents live in York, South Carolina, and have enjoyed broadband internet service since they moved there over 5 years ago. York County is pretty rural...

When the Farm Bureau is larger than the Police Department, your county can be considered rural.

Re:Better connectivity in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894050)

Not that it is the best option, but practically everywhere in the US can get broadband via satellite. The downside is latency. You probably would not notice it for web surfing, but anything requiring two communication would suffer. Imagine a terminal application with a 1 second latency, each keystroke would have a 2 second delay. Online gaming would be pretty bad too. VOIP would have an added pause.

Best thing for rural is fiber. Vote for your city to build the infrastructure, then lease it out to a provider.

Re:Better connectivity in China (1)

FrozenFOXX (1048276) | about 6 years ago | (#22894314)

No such luck, our broadband is horrendous. I live inside the beltway and I'm still over 13,000' from the nearest CO for DSL. The only cable here is Comcast, end of story.

Are either any good? As I suspect most people here already know, it's terrible. If you're very, very lucky you can get FiOS, but Verizon seems to have no real rhyme or reason to where they roll it out. One block away from me has FiOS, my neighborhood isn't even scheduled to get it last time I checked. What's the difference between the two? One's directly across from the police station, mine's a block away, other than that it's identical.

I think it's pretty obvious what the boys and girls in Washington have been smoking: dollar bills and corporate hand-waving.

Re:Better connectivity in China (5, Insightful)

yiffyfox (162564) | about 6 years ago | (#22894624)

I live, 35.4 mi - about 1 hour, from Google's headquarters in Mountain View. The best I can get is ISDN. No Cable/DSL is available. Nor will the phone company install a T1 to our house. I feel your pain. If you live in the thick of it, you can get broadband, step away form the city and it's back to dial-up.

Not so good (4, Interesting)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#22893972)

My boss's mother in Korea has 1Gbps coming into her house via ethernet. It costs less than 30$ a month.
Considering that a t3 functions at 45Mbps and costs a few thousand dollars a month, I'd say we're lagging behind. Badly. Most of our national infrastructure is still using lines which were installed in the 50s and 60s that have been retrofitted with newer equipment.

Re:Not so good (1)

ivan256 (17499) | about 6 years ago | (#22894100)

You don't need a T3 to get 45Mbps now that we have FTTP. You can have your 50Mbps for in the $100/month price range.

It's not 1Gbps, but it's also not nearly as bad as you say. It's pretty impressive considering how far apart people live here compared to Korea. You have to spend orders of magnitude more money on infrastructure per customer, so it only makes sense that the cost of the service reflects that.

Granted, not all of the ILECs are installing FTTP... This is a problem. Any ILEC executive that signs off on an FTTN plan instead of building out the last mile should be water-boarded.

Re:Not so good (1)

Briden (1003105) | about 6 years ago | (#22894210)

can you please elaborate on what ILEC FTTP and FTTN mean? sorry, i don't feel like RTing the FM today, you seem to know what your talking about, i'm curious how this is developing, any more information would be great.

Re:Not so good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894258)

While you're at it please explain to Briden what RTFM means because he obviously doesn't understand it.

Re:Not so good (5, Informative)

scubamage (727538) | about 6 years ago | (#22894288)

ILEC = Incumbant Local Exchange Carrier.. basically your local telco who controls the last mile or so.
FTTP = fibre to the premesis... replacing the analog loop from the telco switch to your home. All POTS lines and other telecommunications equipment use analog lines for the home run loop from the switch to the home... replacing it with digital can dignificantly increase line speeds in the US.
FTTN = fibre to the neighborhood... basially the same thing but it connects small switching stations which service neighborhoods via fibre.
One of the biggest issues is that the home runs between your handset and the telco or local switch are analog lines, which means that a) processing must be done on the signal to modulate it, and b) its going to be slower and more error prone because of the nature of an analog signal.

Re:Not so good (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 6 years ago | (#22894290)

can you please elaborate on what ILEC FTTP and FTTN mean?

ILEC = Incumbent local exchange carrier, i.e: the phone company (Verizon or AT&T) that actually owns the lines in an area. Contrast to CLEC (competitive local exchange carrier) which is a third-party company that leases facilities from the ILEC to provision service (dial tone or DSL typically) for it's customers.

FTTP = Fiber to the premises
FTTN = Fiber to the neighborhood (most cable networks would qualify, being hybrid fiber-coax)

Re:Not so good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894308)

More like $150/month for 50/20mbps, and you're limit to Verizon FiOS if you are fortunate enough to live in one of the extremely rare areas that has the service available.

When I upgraded to 20/20mbps FiOS, I asked them about higher packages. There's only the 50/20mbps, and there wasn't a single subscriber for it. $150/month is more than people want to pay. My 20/20 is $67/month. A bit steep, but probably better value than most cable and DSL services here in the US.

Re:Not so good (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 6 years ago | (#22894164)

And the question here is -- why is it this way? Who is benefitting from keeping us behind. As always, the answer is to follow the money. Surprise! It's the telcos and the cable companies, both of which would find 1Gbs running into everyone's house to be detrminental to their bottom line and even better -- they don't have to pay anything to upgrade our infrastructure! That means they get to put EVEN MORE of the exhorbitant prices they charge us in their pockets! w00t.

Nationalize the communications infrastructure and put AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and ALL OF 'EM right outta business. Screw those greedy corporate mofo bastards!

Re:Not so good (1)

operagost (62405) | about 6 years ago | (#22894496)

Nationalize the communications infrastructure and put AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and ALL OF 'EM right outta business
Goodie! Then, with the government owning the infrastructure, it will be even easier for them to perform surveillance on their subjects! No silly warrants!

Re:Not so good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894246)

My boss's mother in Korea has 1Gbps coming into her house via ethernet.

And of course she only uses it for email...

Cos she's old. And in Korea. Bet you thought that meme had finally gone away...

Re:Not so good (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 6 years ago | (#22894326)

My boss's mother in Korea has 1Gbps coming into her house via ethernet. It costs less than 30$ a month.
Ah, this explains it. You see, only old people in Korea use email, so the government there set up a special infrastructure for the elderly in order to cope with the spam levels. Of course a very fast connection is part of the equipment!

Otherwise, the USA is still the bestest country when talking about the Internet, we invented it duh! Not listening to you nananananana not hearing you, fingers in my ears!

Re:Not so good (5, Interesting)

JohnSearle (923936) | about 6 years ago | (#22894392)

I get 2Gbps up/down in my apartment in Finland, and it's included as a part of my rent; which is next to nothing, since it's a student apartment. On top of that, free post-secondary education for all! On the downside, higher taxes... on the upside, a well educated populous, and debt free students.

I'm a Canadian married to a Finnish citizen, which is the reason why I'm here, and I can say this connection is the nicest I have ever been on. I've also been on other publicly available Finnish connections, and it is still leaps beyond what Canada has to offer... especially in terms of fairness towards the customers, since rates are low and forced contracts are rare.

- John

Re:Not so good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894586)

I'll take a 2mbps/512kbps connection over your student connection anyday.

24/7 surveillance, connection logging, no dhcp servers allowed attached to the line? ... noooo thanks.

Re:Not so good (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 6 years ago | (#22894538)

Would you please stop comparing US w/ Korea and Finland already?

Fare comparison would be with countries with similar distribution of people over the area.

Big question is why Montgomery county or Maryland cannot be like Korea and Finland...

Just Redefine "Success" (4, Informative)

hardburn (141468) | about 6 years ago | (#22894000)

In this case, "success" means that local monopolies are continuing to make money on existing infrastructure without having to reinvest any of it into new infrastructure.

I signed up for a business-class cable modem a few years back (being willing to pay the premium so I could host my own email and not have to worry about bandwidth caps), and my contract is about to expire (defaulting to month-to-month after the expiration). In that time, the cable company hasn't increased the speed for business users at all. Normally, I'd look for a competitor, but none of the local companies have DSL coverage near my house. There's one company offering WiMax service, but I find WiMax questionable.

So apparently, in the few years that I've had my cable modem, almost nobody has invested a single penny in infrastructure upgrades. Meanwhile, the Koreans had 10 megabit fiber connections years ago. I can only conclude that "a little ahead" is a measure of profit margins, not usefulness.

Re:Just Redefine "Success" (1)

drooling-dog (189103) | about 6 years ago | (#22894542)

In this case, "success" means that local monopolies are continuing to make money on existing infrastructure without having to reinvest any of it into new infrastructure.
Bingo. The White House (and Congress, for that matter) talks to telecomm CEOs and lobbyists, and they tell them, "We're great!". Together, as in so many other areas, they make their own reality.

"Current Administration?" (1)

bigdanmoody (599431) | about 6 years ago | (#22894014)

So explain to me again how it's Bush's fault that we don't all have free gigabit Internet in our houses? Although I am registered Republican I certainly don't agree with Bush's policies on everything, but in this case I'm not really sure how this is his fault.

Re:"Current Administration?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894154)

but in this case I'm not really sure how this is his fault.

Sending one of his legion out to open its gaping maw and spew false platitudes for the corporate overlords made him part of the problem. It's not his fault that broadband sucks, it's his fault that the government is lying about it.

Re:"Current Administration?" (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894196)

Normally I don't bother to reply to obvious suspicions of partisanism, as generally they are, but this is SPECIFICALLY the fault of the administration. The FCC is directly over the monopolies that we currently have, and the top position of the FCC is directly appointed by the President. Over the last several years, we have seen not desire to encourage competition and build out, but RELAXING the restrictions of Telcos, and clear preferential treatment of telcos over cable. I would go so far as to say the FCC has experienced regulatory capture at the hands of "The New AT&T"

Re:"Current Administration?" (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 6 years ago | (#22894366)

I would go so far as to say the FCC has experienced regulatory capture at the hands of "The New AT&T"

Dude, you did it wrong. Haven't you seen the new logo? It's 'The new at&t'. See? Lowercase! Clearly less threatening and not like the old Ma Bell at all......

Re:"Current Administration?" (1)

downix (84795) | about 6 years ago | (#22894204)

His insistance of removing provisions or with executive orders allowing telecom companies to ignore their obligations that they agreed to in the 1990's to deliver such pipelines.

Re:"Current Administration?" (3, Interesting)

hardburn (141468) | about 6 years ago | (#22894208)

From the FCC using a flawed broadband policy that was started under Clinton and continued under Bush. Note that FCC Commissioners and executives are appointed by the President.

Specifically, the policy is that there be one company handling a given broadband technology for a certain area. One company handles cable, another handles DSL, etc. The problem is that there aren't enough technologies to go around, and some of them overlap within a single company. Fiber to the Curb service is obviously different from DSL, but the telco is in the best position to deploy both of them. At this point, it should be obvious that the cable/DSL duopoly isn't enough to produce healthy competition between providers.

This policy is the reason the FCC pulls out power line broadband every few years, even though the power lines were never designed to handle data, and it's been shown to create interference in the ham radio bands.

Switching administrations would have been a great time to reverse this policy, but it didn't happen, for whatever reason. A cynical person could conclude that the ISP have too much influence on the FCC, which wouldn't go away just by changing Presidents.

Re:"Current Administration?" (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#22894228)

So explain to me again how it's Bush's fault that we don't all have free gigabit Internet in our houses?

Bush != government. He only is in charge of the executive branch. The legislature is the branch charged with writing laws (although Bush oversees those writing regulations).

If you want free gigabit ethernet in your home, write your congresscritter.

(disclaimer: not only am I not a fan of Bush, well, I'm not going to get into what I think of him as the other day when I dared give my opinion of him the comment [slashdot.org] was modded up to +4 before it wound up as "0 flamebait". Some people equate bad opinions of Bush to bad opinions of the country.)

-mcgrew

Re:"Current Administration?" (1)

Shakrai (717556) | about 6 years ago | (#22894422)

Bush != government. He only is in charge of the executive branch

Which according to his minions can pretty much do whatever it wants without any Legislative or Judaical oversight.

The legislature is the branch charged with writing laws

Might wanna tell King George about that. He seems to have other ideas [wikipedia.org].

If you want free gigabit ethernet in your home, write your congresscritter.

I did but my check wasn't as big as at&t or Verizon's, apparently.....

(disclaimer: not only am I not a fan of Bush, well, I'm not going to get into what I think of him as the other day when I dared give my opinion of him the comment was modded up to +4 before it wound up as "0 flamebait". Some people equate bad opinions of Bush to bad opinions of the country.)

I love the United States and would gladly give my life to defend them. I also think GWB is a dimwitted moron who owes his success in life to his family name and Karl Rove. Let's see where I end up after the modding is done ;)

Re:"Current Administration?" (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 6 years ago | (#22894238)

One of the President's duties (I hesitate to say job, as it's not in the Constitution) is to direct policy. The analogy to a ship's captain is not wholly unfounded.

The President can lean on government agencies and attempt to place people in head positions that have certain agendas in mind. Hence, he could get someone like Crawford in place as the FCC head or the "associate director of the White House's Office on Science and Technology Policy." (Nice business card title there...)

So, he's at fault as well. But lots of people share the blame here, let's not kid ourselves.

Crawford right -- net should be publically owned (5, Interesting)

Jerry (6400) | about 6 years ago | (#22894044)

Crawford added that what America needs is "access to a general communication structure that is open with universal access," a notion characterized by Russell as a "tragic mistake" and invoked an image of a single, regulated monopoly.

"More pipes into the home is the key," Russell said.


We already have "more pipes" and their bandwidths are too narrow and too expensive. We pay $70 for 10MB and many European and Asian countries pay $15 for 40MB to 100MB.

We should have had a PUBLICLY OWNED 100GB optical fiber pipe across the nation FIFTEEN YEARS AGO but the cable and telcos reniged on their promise to build it after Congress gave them to money to do so in order to prevent local governments from building their own. Much of that pipe my city government installed is still buried and is still good. One line goes under my yard. We should demand that the cable and telcos FULFILL their promise and finish the job they were paid to do, and finish it without being paid a single penny more or raising their rates. That's right... take it out of the profits and stockholder dividends. The stockholder's didn't mind receiving windfall dividends while the cable and telcos management was taking the money and paying themselves huge salaries and bonuses and giving those dividends. It's time to pay up, with interest... just like they'd charge.

Susan has balls !!! (1)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#22894188)

I've said the same thing. Connectivity should be somewhat socialistic, services should be market based. As long as the content providers are giving you the connection there can be no fairness in it. When having the internet was similar to dial-up=beater car and broadband=luxury SUV perhaps the market was handling it. Now we have a need for ALL people to have broadband access to the Internet. The market fell behind. The 'market' in this case fell behind not because of some magic, but because of greed.

If the infrastructure that your home machine connects to is a co-op infrastructure (owned by the users) and you buy services from ISPs like email, Internet connectivity etc. then their view of and version of the Internet is no matter to you, you can switch on a whim. If they start dropping p2p connections, you just switch to a competitor. All competitors for your business connect into the user-owned infrastructure and billing choices determine your packets route from the user owned infrastructure to the outside world. At this point, all ISPs are equal players... even little ones, and they will have to compete on services offered and price. In that way, yes, the market will fix things.

Such things right now are done with co-ops or via the local municipality as they have the funds to pool together and build out local infrastructure.

I'm not being paid to investigate further than the idea, but I know that it can be done. We just need a little governmental coercion to get the ball rolling really... well, more or less.

Re:Crawford right -- net should be publically owne (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#22894370)

I agree. A lot of people are sure that anything any government runs will be run badly, but health care in other countries belies that. All the retired people I know are happy as clams with their medicare, yet the youngsters don't want it. I think they're brainwashed fools who refuse to look at facts.

Here in Springfield [wikipedia.org] the power company [cwlp.com] is owned and run by the city government. We have the lowest electric rates in Illinois.

When the tornados tore through here [wikipedia.org] in 2006, they destroyed a very large portion of the electrical infrastructure here. Power was restored to everyone city-wide in a week.

In contrast, later that summer St Louis was hit by a single tornado. Its corporate owned power company, Ameren (IINM) took a month to get everyone affected back on line.

I would love to see CWLP take over broadband and cable.

-mcgrew

Re:Crawford right -- net should be publically owne (2, Insightful)

Shishak (12540) | about 6 years ago | (#22894426)

We should have had a PUBLICLY OWNED 100GB optical fiber pipe across the nation FIFTEEN YEARS AGO but the cable and telcos reniged on their promise to build it after Congress gave them to money to do so in order to prevent local governments from building their own. Much of that pipe my city government installed is still buried and is still good. One line goes under my yard. We should demand that the cable and telcos FULFILL their promise and finish the job they were paid to do, and finish it without being paid a single penny more or raising their rates. That's right... take it out of the profits and stockholder dividends. The stockholder's didn't mind receiving windfall dividends while the cable and telcos management was taking the money and paying themselves huge salaries and bonuses and giving those dividends. It's time to pay up, with interest... just like they'd charge.
What exactly are you smoking? 100Gb 15 years ago? 28.8 dialup was fast 15 years ago. The 100Gb Ethernet standard isn't even ratified TODAY how in the hell are the telcos supposed to build a 100Gig 'optical fiber pipe' when the technology doesn't even exist TODAY. There are NO routers that support 100Gb connections. OC-768, 40 Gb is the fastest you can get today and the are MILLIONS of dollars While I agree the telcos and cable cos can and should do more to promote broadband around the country. You have NO idea what you are talking about!

Re:Crawford right -- net should be publically owne (1)

atomicdoggy (512329) | about 6 years ago | (#22894478)

Why? I keep looking around in the constitution and don't see anything about a right to download porn fast. Why is it the government's job to even have a "broadband policy"?

Re:Crawford right -- net should be publically owne (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894490)

We pay $70 for 10MB and many European and Asian countries pay $15 for 40MB to 100MB.

Not in the UK they bloody don't!

Translation (5, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#22894048)

"A little ahead" in this context means "behind Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland, Korea, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, United Kingdom and Belgium" in broadband penetration.
And that's with a very liberal view of what broadband really is (256 kbps or above). If only looking at true broadband capable of video streaming both ways, the US is WAY down the list behind almost every other non-third-world country.

Geographically, it becomes even worse, with broadband being largely unavailable outside cities and suburbs, while other countries have ensured that penetration also reaches areas with a low population density.

The US is much like the Holy Roman Empire in that it refuses to acknowledge that its days are numbered and that to survive, it needs to accept that it's not #1, and that it must accept help from the outside.

Or, to use a vehicle analogy (this is slashdot, isn't it?): The train has left, and the US was not on it. Even though the many of the engineers are Americans, the passengers and their agents were too busy haggling over the ticket price, so they missed its leaving the station.

Re:Translation (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 years ago | (#22894342)

Well except I don't know a single person that can not get broadband.
I have a good friend that lives in the middle of no where Idaho. Somewhere near a town called Rupert... He has broadband.
My father in a cabin in mountains of Northern GA. He has broadband there. I think that if you take a look at the percentage of people and the actual number of people in the US that have Broadband available you will see that it is a pretty big number.

I have a cable modem at home. Most of the time I can not saturate that link when I am downloading an ISO so I don't think that FIOS would be much of an advantage since most of the time I am limited by the server speed more than my connection. Would I like a super fast and cheap broadband connection? Well yes I would. Do I need it it? Not really. It would be great if my office could get a fast two way connection that was cheap but for home not so much.

The problem with broadband in the US is most people do have access to it but a lot of them don't see the need for the extra cost over dial up. The economics of broadband vs dial up is much different in the US than other countries. In most EU contries you pay by them minute even for local calls. In the US local calls are part of your flat rate bill. So in those countries it is actually cheaper for everybody to get broadband even if they just use it for email and surfing than it is for people in the US.
I deal with about 15,000 users. They are everywhere from North Dakota to Alaska. I don't know of a single one that can not get broadband.

Can it be better? Yes it can. Is it a national crisis? I just don't think so. Do I want my FIOS? Yes I do.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894428)

Well except I don't know a single person that can not get broadband.

Nothing like striking down valid statistics with anecdotal evidence.
I don't know a single black person, but that doesn't mean they don't exist or are too insignificant to be considered.

Re:Translation (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#22894488)

"In the US local calls are part of your flat rate bill."
Don't assume that everyone has the same plan as you. I live in the US, and I pay per minute for local calls. Because the number of local calls I make are very few, this saves me over $100 a year.

Re:Translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894570)

The train has left, and the US was not on it. Even though the many of the engineers are Americans, the passengers and their agents were too busy haggling over the ticket price, so they missed its leaving the station.
Yes, and the AOTUS is rolling their own chairs across the rail, pretending they're still travelling along with everybody else.

I Double Dare You: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894092)


All U.S. FOREIGN POLICY is magical thinking.

Sincerely,
Filipino Monkey

USA Broadband is fine (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#22894116)

The gist of the article is the phrase "universal access". What this really means, is that cash strapped cities and suburban areas should again rise to subsidize broadband in rural areas. I think at some point, if you choose to live in the middle of nowhere, you aren't going to get all the benefits. While its great that Denmark has higher broadband penetration, I think its silly to argue that broadband penetration in a country the size of one of our states is the same sort of engineering feet as solving the problem on a continental basis. Broadband for the USA is a much, much, larger problem than broadband for a tiny european country.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (1)

Trigun (685027) | about 6 years ago | (#22894216)

It seems to me that what you are saying is that you don't have a bandwidth problem, you have a population density problem.

So why are you kicking the Mexicans out?

Re:USA Broadband is fine (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#22894292)

It seems to me that what you are saying is that you don't have a bandwidth problem, you have a population density problem.
So why are you kicking the Mexicans out?


I agree. Lack of density compounds everything - it means we don't have a national rail network, for one, and our highways cost a fortune to maintain. Water, electricity delivery, all are huge problems. There are some places in the USA where water is literally trucked in, because they are so remote. On the other hand, if you don't mind not being on the internet or can live without fast downloads, then, the great outdoors can be alright. The sky is mighty big in the western USA, for sure, but the loneliness is not for everyone.

I don't want to kick the Mexicans out, for sure. I'd like them to learn english and become US citizens, and I'd favor some sort of an amnesty program, for sure.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894604)

Because they're not legal immigrants.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (2, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | about 6 years ago | (#22894248)

You're quite wrong here. To quote F.D.R.: "Look to Norway"
Norway has mountains ranges and large fjords cutting off easy access to most anywhere, and less than 3% arable land. It's much harder to cable up Norway than the US. Yet, they have a much higher broadband penetration, especially outside the big cities. This doesn't jive with your claims.

The real difference is in politics, not geography.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (1)

QuickSilver_999 (166186) | about 6 years ago | (#22894566)

Norway also has one of the highest GDP's in the world thanks to a large amount of oil being shipped from their North Sea platforms. Most of those oil companies send a whole lot of money directly to the government. One of the reasons the price of oil is so high today is that the US is subsidizing things like broadband rollout and health care in places like Norway through buying their oil. Don't believe me? Look into tobacco. The real reason it isn't outlawed is simply that the government would collapse if it did not have the revenue stream generated by the purchase of cigarettes.

Raise our GDP by 50-100%, and I'll bet we'd see a bit more penetration. Everyone in the world stop buying oil from Norway, and see how long they stay at the top of stuff like this.

You also have to deal with the fact that in the US, especially in the Midwest, there are sections of land the size of Norway that have less people living in them than Norway does! And if you think it's so cheap to run fiber, think again. There is a lot of money involved, and that takes time. If you want true comparisons, compare something like the state of Texas to Norway, not the whole US. Something comparable in size, if not population. Comparing a country the size of the US to something the size of Norway is disingenuous in the least. Compare us to the Russian Federation and what do you get? Or how about the whole European Union? I'd be more interested to see those kind of figures honestly.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (4, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | about 6 years ago | (#22894282)

I have cows in my back yard.

On Main Street in the center of my town, people keep horses and sheep. I don't think you could categorize my town as anything buy "rural".

However, Boston is 30 miles to the east of me. I've got Fiber to my house. Nobody in Boston does.

Why do I mention this? It's because the problem is much more complicated than you imply. We've got a city with a high population density with no access, and rural farming communities with the option for 50Mbit symmetric connections, because while it's typically easier to serve a higher density population, the problem reverses when you start talking about a place where everything is hundreds of years old. It's hard to lay cable in a city that has gone through hundreds of years of layered construction projects, so those of us in the sticks end up with service first.

We need to come up with our own solutions. The only way we can be compared to European and Asian countries is in these statistical analyses. We can't always adopt their solutions. If you look at the European cities that have high penetration, they're generally fairly modern cities (even if they're "old", because many of them have had non-voluntary infrastructure resets (read: wars) over the years) compared to some US cities. We need solutions custom tailored to each of our regions. There isn't one magic solution.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894494)

On Main Street in the center of my town, people keep horses and sheep. I don't think you could categorize my town as anything buy[sic] "rural".

However, Boston is 30 miles to the east of me.
30 miles west of Boston places you in Marlborough [wikipedia.org] which can't exactly be called rural. Looking at Google Maps, you'll see that 495 is about 30 miles from Boston, and you can tell that nothing along 495 counts as rural.

Given that Marlborough is home to several tech companies (according to the article) I can't say it's that surprising that areas near it would have fiber installed. You're not rural. Get over it.

If you look at the European cities that have high penetration, they're generally fairly modern cities (even if they're "old", because many of them have had non-voluntary infrastructure resets (read: wars) over the years) compared to some US cities.
So your solution is to bomb Boston? I can get behind that. Maybe we'll get lucky and hit the representative from the Boston district that called for arresting computer security researches as criminals.

Of course, you'd still have to solve the problem of most tech gear having blinking LEDs on it, but I suppose you can always use a lot of electrical tape.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (4, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | about 6 years ago | (#22894344)

I don't think there are that many people arguing that some hermit living in the middle of the woods in Montana should have telco's lining up to run a fiber line to his house, but there's a strong case to be made that even in dense urban areas and brand new high end suburbs, the state of the telecommunications infrastructure in the USA is generally behind the times. I've got family living in wealthy areas of the east coast, and their internet options are limited to the same dsl/cable choices that I get where I live. In the south in a city that was half destroyed by a hurricane a couple years ago.

What I think this means is that the government should force the telcos to get off their asses and actually upgrade some of this stuff, and do it without passing huge new bills onto consumers. Yes it's regulation, no it's not free market economics, and no it's not necessarily fair to the telcos and their shareholders. But the idea that those telco companies and their successes are the result of a free market is just a myth. They were handed their marketshare by the government decades ago. That wasn't a gift, it was a trade, and the telcos need to be held responsible for their side of the bargin.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894374)

Yeah yeah, trot out the usual bullshit. "Wah! our country is so large and spread out that we can't even provide asian-speed broadband in the densest downtowns of our largest cities!"

It's still bullshit, and will continue to be so until New York catches up with Hong Kong or Tokyo (and don't give me that "we can't put new wires in old buildings and under old streets" bullshit, how many centuries do you think Hong Kong has been around?)

Re:USA Broadband is fine (3, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | about 6 years ago | (#22894400)

Typical infrastructure lie. Do you know, factualy, that electrical power supply is far more expensive not only to supply but also to power. Water services are also far more expensive to provide and also the cost of supplying the water. Public roads of course are an order of magnitude more expensive and that excludes the cost of the land used.

So of all the services FTTH is the cheapest to provide and supply. The only thing holding it back is the existing inflated value of the copper network, with the telcos valuing it in the billions to justify their share prices, and make no mistake, they will lie, cheat, steal and corrupt to protect that copper network for as long as possible.

It will only be replaced when fault rates start to have a severe economic impact upon the overall economy, and why will fault rates rise, why naturally enough, why spend money on maintaining the copper if you are going to replace it with fibre.

No for the country size lie, oddly enough smaller countries, also have lower populations and smaller economies, hence they have significantly less money to spend on infrastructure projects.

Re:USA Broadband is fine (2, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#22894514)

I think its silly to argue that broadband penetration in a country the size of one of our states is the same sort of engineering feet as solving the problem on a continental basis

Your feet are engineered? ;)

Seriously though, I don't see any difference between giving Denmark universal broadband penetration and giving Illinois universal broadband penetration.

Why are our cities cash-strapped while Denmark's aren't? Why do you make excuses for government's abysmal failures?

One more nit: we're only about a third of the continent. Mexico and Canada are part of North America as well, and Canada has a comparable land mass, although I don't know how many Canadians have access to broadband.

The US's real problem when it comes to our governments (local, state, and federal) is our method of financing political campaigns. Has there ever been a plutocracy that was just or efficient?

Re:USA Broadband is fine (1)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#22894534)

Why are our cities cash-strapped while Denmark's aren't? Why do you make excuses for government's abysmal failures?

Government is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. If people want broadband, they can buy it. If they don't have the money for it, its not the government's problem. You could always move to where there -is- broadband and that reflects on the value of a neighborhood. It's not a failure of government that taxpayers don't want to subsidize something that is a private sector effort.

"Magical thinking" (1)

sm62704 (957197) | about 6 years ago | (#22894118)

That is a symptom of schitzophrenia [wikipedia.org].

Schizophrenia, from the Greek roots schizein (, "to split") and phrn, phren- (, -, "mind"), is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mental illness characterized by impairments in the perception or expression of reality, most commonly manifesting as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions or disorganized speech and thinking in the context of significant social or occupational dysfunction.
Emphasis mine.

I've known a few schitzophrenics. I seem to be a "nut magnet", as you know if you've read any of my journals here or old diaries when I was at K5.

-mcgrew

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894128)

"As opposed to being miles ahead, though, we're only a little ahead."
Since when was having huge swaths of populated land without fiber-optics considered "ahead"?

American broadband: (1)

n3tcat (664243) | about 6 years ago | (#22894212)

A series of optimistic tubes.

Enough with the tubes (2, Insightful)

clay_buster (521703) | about 6 years ago | (#22894564)

Geeks talk about the size of the pipe to their house. Some Senator talks about the internet being a bunch of tubes that can fill up because of file sharing or video on demand or whatever. It's exactly the same metaphor the technocrats use. So exactly why was the guy wrong other than he's old and from the wrong party?

Nothing new here (1)

Remillard (67835) | about 6 years ago | (#22894266)

This is simply another example of the Bush administration engaging in wishful thinking. We're doing well with broadband because we say it's true. The Iraq War has been a huge success because we say it's true. The economy is strong because we say it's true. Global warming is a myth because we say it's true.

Sadly the country is full of folks who do not think critically for themselves and believe what they've been told is true. Imagine what's going to be "true" tomorrow.

Re:Nothing new here (0, Flamebait)

tjstork (137384) | about 6 years ago | (#22894416)

This is simply another example of the Bush administration engaging in wishful thinking. We're doing well with broadband because we say it's true. The Iraq War has been a huge success because we say it's true. The economy is strong because we say it's true. Global warming is a myth because we say it's true. Sadly the country is full of folks who do not think critically for themselves and believe what they've been told is true. Imagine what's going to be "true" tomorrow.

I say I'm doing well with broadband because I have FIOS. Bush has never said, as of late, the war is a huge success, and has always said that it would be difficult work. The economy is strong because I sold my house for more than it is worth and have a job that pays a lot more than I made when Bush was sworn in. Many of us have been proposing nuclear power to beat global warming for decades, and yet you refuse it, so I think it is reasonable to think that when various left wing leaders say that they see global warming as not so much an environmental problem as a vehicle to scare the masses into accepting a massive redistribution of wealth, then, I say yes, I think the politics of it are b.s. I mean, even Obama talks about using cap and trade CO2 money to pay for his health care proposals - this isn't a solution to an environmental problem, its a tax increase backed by a body of lies. I think there are still a lot of people that support Bush because they have thought critically, and they are better off, and we tend to view the claims of the left wing that we are being suffering or robbed as so much superstitition.

What do we need more residential bandwidth for? (1)

Animats (122034) | about 6 years ago | (#22894340)

What's the point of more residential bandwidth? All most people will do with it is watch TV. Why should national policy be devoted to helping people watch TV, which is a fundamentally nonproductive activity?

Once you get to 1Mb/s or so, you can do everything most residential users do that isn't video-oriented. What's the problem?

The "gigabit connections" of some of the high density countries are illusory. You may have gigabit Ethernet to your apartment, but your 1000-unit apartment complex doesn't have a terabit pipe going out.

Magical Thinking (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22894414)

Let me remind all citizens of the dangers of so-called Magical Thinking...We have scarcely begun to extract all the benefits provided to us by ..our benefactors...

Sounds like someone is channelling Dr.Breen.

Typical Slashdot (0, Troll)

operagost (62405) | about 6 years ago | (#22894420)

Monday through Thursday, Slashdot complains about the government interfering with our lives. On Friday, it demands more government intervention. The more power you give to government, the more it takes from you.

The last mile problem (1)

PPH (736903) | about 6 years ago | (#22894684)

The owners of the last mile are holding it hostage for a bigger cut of the profits.
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