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FCC Commish - US Playing 'Russian Roulette' with Broadband 290

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

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  • by RunFatBoy.net (960072) * on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:03PM (#20107135)
    >In his speech, Copps didn't mention McDowell by name, but he did claim that
    >broadband in the US is "so poor that every citizen in the country ought to be outraged."

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

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

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

    Jim
    http://www.runfatboy.net/ [runfatboy.net] - A workout plan for beginners.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jandrese (485)
      Some of that is technological. If you are on a cable modem then any upstream bandwidth has to be basically carved out of the downstream bandwidth. Providers tweak their upstream caps as low as possible to free up as many timeslices as possible for download content. You may argue with this (I know I do), but it's the way the technology works. If you wanted more upstream bandwidth, you'd have to take a hit to your downstream bandwidth (which is the number the cable company actually advertises when trying
      • by devilspgd (652955) * <slashdot@devilspgd.net> on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:23PM (#20107409) Homepage
        So?

        If I get 11Mb/s total (I do, 10Mb/s down and 1Mb/s up), let me adjust the caps myself. If I want 5.5/5.5, or 9/2, let me have it. If I want 1/10, it's the same difference to the local cable loop.
        • by Zironic (1112127)
          I would love to have that ability. I hope my ISP decides to offer that soon, the closest we have here is that some ISP's have started to offer 21/3 instead of 24/1.
        • by Abcd1234 (188840)
          Why are you assuming that upstream and downstream bandwidth are a) related, and b) a tradeoff between one another? AFAIK, in a cable plant, downstream bandwidth is relatively plentiful, while upstream bandwidth is a rather precious resource, because of the way the channels are allocated.
          • by Abcd1234 (188840)
            Oh, and I believe upstream is also limited because of the transmit collision backoff algorithm they use (modified ALOHA or somesuch, I believe, though I could be mistaken).
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by devilspgd (652955) *
            In the cable modem world, yes, they are related and a trade-off -- DOCSIS 1 imposed some additional restrictions, but it's all a matter of "the way the channels are allocated" and DOCSIS 2 is far more flexible and can offer true symmetrical connections if the cable company so desires.

            Nothing stops the cable company from re-allocating the channels. Most consumer broadband cable companies are running their entire data services in what amounts to the same frequency allocated to a single analog channel 2-13.

            Th
        • by TubeSteak (669689)

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

          They'd also rather have you download 80 GB a month than upload 80 GB per month.
          • They don't want you running a webserver off your residential internet connection.

            Because they charge more for the bandwidth a webserver uses. The last tyme I saw the going rate for a T1, which cable can beat, was more than $1000/month. Of course that was years ago, they may of come down.

            Falcon
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by N7DR (536428)
          If I want 1/10, it's the same difference to the local cable loop.

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

        • by willy_me (212994)
          Well cable, for example, is a shared medium. Everyone has to play by the same rules. While it is technically possible to do what you have suggested, it would likely require a much more complicated MAC algorithm implemented in the cable modems. More complicated means more expensive. It can also imply that there will be more overhead and higher latencies imposed by this algorithm (I'm assuming that the current MAC algorithm is highly optimized). In the end is it worth it? I don't think it was when cable
      • by joto (134244)

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by obsolete1349 (969869)
      Look, I could give a shit how "fast" my upstream and downstream speeds are. I want latency reduced as much as possible. My current ISP is Qwest. They are they only game in town. I can't ping outside the network for under 70ms. I've called and complained. I've even moved to a new residency and I still have high ping. I agree with the summary. America's broadband is utter shit.
    • by StringBlade (557322) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:16PM (#20107319) Journal

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

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

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

      • by Burdell (228580)
        If you don't want oversold bandwidth, pull out your checkbook. The ISP I work for would be happy to sell you a 30 megabits/sec link, but it'll probably cost you around $60000/month. If you want us to "upgrade the infrastructure" to handle selling 30 megabits/sec to thousands of customers, somebody's going to have to pay that bill as well (just off the top of my head, I'd say it'll probably at least triple the cost).

        We oversell DSL, but we monitor the links to make sure we have sufficient capacity for all
        • by scottv67 (731709)
          The ISP I work for would be happy to sell you a 30 megabits/sec link, but it'll probably cost you around $60000/month.

          That's pretty steep. I have two 30Mbit Internet circuits under my purview at work and we are paying under $3000 each for those circuits. They are 30-up/30-down.

          We can "consume" 30Mbit/sec using those pipes due to the way things are set up (inbound traffic travels on only one pipe). On the outbound side, I have a little round-robin going between two default gateways so we can actually
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vellmont (569020)

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

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

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

      The internet is a hell of a lot more than just a series of websites, but without the truly fast connections most people will never get to see that. To
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by evilviper (135110)

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

        Yes, everyone on YouTube is a techno-nerd.
        • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:38PM (#20107601) Homepage
          I guess when I'm talking video, I'm not talking about a low-quality, 2 minute clip shot by a 13 year old, replicating the mentos+coke video. Youtube is an interesting experiment, but at least it's current incarnation is little more than a fad.

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

          Right now that doesn't exist, and the closest we come to that is people downloading TV shows with bittorent (who are the afformentioned techno-nerds).
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by evilviper (135110)

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

            Hmmm... How many decades has "America's Funniest Home Videos" been on the air now?

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

            Oh, so you mean like...
            Akimbo: http://www.akimbo.com/ [akimbo.com]
            Democracy Player (Miro): http://www.ge [getmiro.com]

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

            Actually there are high quality video feeds you can download, though I'm pretty sure there are more I can name two now, BBC and CNN [cnn.com].

            Falcon
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by stonecypher (118140)

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

            Youtube and its competitors can support such feeds. The problem - at least in this case - isn't infrastructure or capacity; you can tell because Netflix has no trouble dumping Hollywood flicks to you in realtime. The problem you're describing is that the kind of content you're describing is hard to make, and that most of it is too expensive to do without the support of television c

          • Stage6 (Score:3, Informative)

            by Nicolay77 (258497)
            Here is the high quality video:

            http://stage6.divx.com/ [divx.com]

            Well, apart from the good video quality, it is another Youtube ^^
      • by jez9999 (618189) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:19PM (#20108141) Homepage Journal
        The internet is a hell of a lot more than just a series of websites

        Absolutely. It's a series of tubes!
    • These are obviously artificial caps levied against all users (both the legitimate and abusing customers). Maybe they could throttle the upstream for those with prolonged heightened levels of usage?

      It may be in part because of the infrastructure, but I think the biggest reason is because braodband providers overstated, oversold, their capabilities. I'd bet many providers didn't expect as many users to use as much bandwidth. The services were billed as all you can eat so when a lot of people did just th

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

      You're assuming she only goes to low-bandwidth web sites. Which she probably does, because most web users aren't aware that anything else is available. But suppose she goes to one of those streaming video sites that the TV networks are setting up. She'll probably wonder why she gets a better picture

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ChrisA90278 (905188)
      Yes they WOULD notice a downstreem speed boost. Lets say my mom could get 1 gigabit fiber into her house. What would she do with it? Wel, she's cancel here cable TV subscription and her telephone subscription. She would no longer look at the TV Guide to "see what was on" She would browse a library catalog of 100,000 films and just pick one.

      What would I do with 1Gb fiber. I'd not have to go to work haldf the time. I could call up a video "chat" with coworkers and export the screen from the compters in
  • Density? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Skjellifetti (561341) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:14PM (#20107279) Journal
    Canada, Norway, and Sweden are ranked above us, but all are less dense than the US.

    I agree that their aren't many folks as dense as us at the moment, but which are more dense? Norwegians or Swedes?
    • Please don't open that can of worms.. really , please. I've lived in both Sweden and Norway, and to put it this way, the French have great love, appreciation and respect for the British as compared to Norwegian sentiments about Swedes... you have no idea what you get yourself into...
      • Bullshit. I've never talked to a Norwegian guy who had much against swedes, nor vice versa (there are of course exceptions to every rule, but I've never actually talked to one myself). We joke about the other country's stupidity all the time, but if you thought those jokes were rooted in real hate or anything like it, you really need to reconsider. Norwegians and Swedes are a relatively homogenous group and culture. All vikings, you know. ;)

        (Just kidding. Actually, ALL swedes are dumb as hell, their ugly pr
    • That was going to be my joke.

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

      I am guessing that the rate of urbanization matters more than population density in regards to ease of broadband access.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jrumney (197329)

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

        The rate of urbanization in the US at 75% is average among developed countries. Compare Ireland at 60% to see if your theory holds up. I suspect not, as it seems to me that broadband access depends entirely on the political will to make it happen. The US's problem is that they have offloaded all responsibility for important infrastructure from the government to local monopoly corporation

      • by Keebler71 (520908)
        Exactly... comparing the densities of {Canada, Sweden, Norway} to that of the US might make sense if any of the countries' populations were evenly distributed. They aren't ... the VAST majority of Canada's population is confined to relatively small areas with densities on par with the US. A much better metric would be comparing the amount of land area that has a population above a certain threshold density.
  • by gethoht (757871) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:24PM (#20107411)
    Ok folks, comparing the density of sweden or norway is not like comparing the density of the US. First of all, the US is a shit-ton larger than those countries. I understand the argument, but I don't think they're really incorporating the total size of the US. When you take the lack of density and spread it out over an area that is many multiple times larger than norway AND sweden combined, I think you can better understand the technical problems and costs involved with such an endeavor.

    That being said, I do believe that the ridiculous telco/cable monopolies that have been governmentally supported for so long now has an effect as well. It's a combination of alot of factors, just like most other things in life.
    • Copps argument is that, in certain respects, the entire area of the United States should not be considered. No one should expect Topeka to have the same type of service, but one think that Manhattan should be better than Seoul.
    • by Zironic (1112127) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:34PM (#20107565)
      The point is that if Sweden and Norway can get high speed internet into the wilderness then the US should at least be able to get high speed internet into their cities.

      The fact that the country is larger shouldn't make it more difficult as such. Making a large network is just connecting two smaller ones no?
    • ...that works to our advantage. We have a LOT of open space, which makes it damn easy to run fiber. When the line needs to go through someone's house, it tends to cost more money...
    • First of all, the US is a shit-ton larger than those countries...When you take the lack of density and spread it out over an area that is many multiple times larger than norway AND sweden combined

      ...you get what is called "economies of scale" and reduced costs.

      Why does anyone ever make these "US is huge!" types of arguments? China's huger, and look what they've done in the last 20 years. I put it down to the US's biggest cultural problem: irrational American exceptionalism. Too often Americans assume

    • Canada is bigger. I hear that broad band sucks in New York City which has more people than ALL of Canada. So let's stop playing the "big and sparse" card as it is nonsense.
    • Just look at NY (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:12PM (#20108589) Homepage
      Lack of density is a valid argument for explaining why rural areas have bad broadband. But it isn't a good explanation of why urban areas don't, the size of the U.S. not being relevant. Why isn't it relevant? Because the only part of the Internet where the large size of the U.S. makes a difference is in the backbones that connect the population centers. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought that as of now our backbones are operating at way under capacity. In other words, the distances between cities has not proven a problem for creating large internet connections between them.

      So the connections between the cities are fine, what about the cities themselves? Take NY City. It's the biggest and densest city in the U.S. There's no distance argument to be made here. And there are 10 million potential customers -- that's more than the entire country of Sweden, all in one compact area! Yet if you only compare NY and ignore the rest of the country, we're still way behind in broadband.

      No, sorry, the density argument holds no water at all. At least, it is clearly not the limiting factor on broadband, because where it isn't a factor at all broadband is still limited.

      You are however absolutely correct about the monopolies being the cause. Why don't we have better broadband? Because the telcos neither want nor need to provide it. Hell, it wasn't until the mid to late nineties that we started to see sub-$0.10/min long-distance POTS because of the lack of competition before that. Why would they go run off and invest in more technology when there's nobody for you to go to if you think they're too slow? Right now the only "competition" we have is DSL vs cable, and they have apparently decided that it's perfectly adequate to just compete on price and the slightly different features of DSL vs cable.
  • Godwin's (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Cabri (13930) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:27PM (#20107457) Journal
    There should be some equivalent to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_Law [wikipedia.org] for arguing that the US is a less densely populated country when faced with the fact that such and such service or infrastructure in the US is inferior to its counterparts in other industrialized countries.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by _xeno_ (155264)

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800)
      On the other hand, the notion that dividing total population by total land area gives a meaningful value for "density" as it relates to providing services or infrastructure is at least as broken.

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

  • About time. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Morky (577776) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:27PM (#20107477)
    It's about fucking time someone with the clout of the head of the FCC got vigorously vocal about this. Much better that Powell's focus on tit-flashing.
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:30PM (#20107517)
    As far as I can tell, the one and only reason that we lag behind in broadband is this: the current situation favors entrenched monopolies squeezing every last drop of revenue out of existing (government-subsidized) infrastructure while slowly rolling out higher bandwidth solutions in select areas.

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

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

    • by garcia (6573)
      If you want to fix this, I suggest the following it: take all of the cables away from the existing telcos and make one nationwide heavily regulated company that would just maintain the lines and sell bandwidth to whoever could afford it. That would go a long way towards leveling the playing field.

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

      We have watched as the monopolies have leveraged their power, money and influence over plenty of other governm
      • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Friday August 03, 2007 @06:02PM (#20107943) Homepage
        And somehow a single government controlled monopoly will be better than numerous independent monopolies?

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

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

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

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

        Yes, I just contradicted myself in my own post. :)
      • And somehow a single government controlled monopoly will be better than numerous independent monopolies?

        It's working fine in at least one place, in northeastern Utah a group of communities have been able to build a Broadband Utopia [ieee.org]. Anybody can start a business delivering any service the infrastructure is capable of, whether it be broadband access, phone service, tv, or a combination of them. It is capable of speeds of up to 100Mbs.

        Falcon

    • by KiltedKnight (171132) * on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:50PM (#20107781) Homepage Journal
      When the people who maintain the wires are also allowed to sell the broadband services over them but are required to "open up the lines" to competing services, you basically have a conflict of interest. There are exactly three entities that can put lines up on your local phone poles or in the conduits: local power company, local mega-baby bell, and local cable contract holder. That's it. Nobody else. Otherwise, if you have above-ground lines, you'd look up and see wire after wire after wire after wire.

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

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

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

  • by asabjorn (903413) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:36PM (#20107581)
    From my experience I agree fully with Copps that the state of broadband services atleast here in the San Francisco Bay Area is abysmal. When I lived in Norway I shared a 2 mb/s DSL line with 38 students and that connection was about 10 times faster at peak times than my private Comcast "5 mb/s" connection in the middle of the night. As stuedents in scandinavia tend to do a lot of P2P filesharing I expected this to be the other way around when I moved here. The things that annoys me the most is high latency, slow speeds and my FTP/SSH speeds. Judging by how my download speeds decline over time I believe Comcast is shaping traffic and btw it sometimes takes much longer than it should to get my search results from google. There are probably countless reasons for why the broadband is so much faster in Norway than in the San Francisco Bay Area, but the most noticeable difference is that the broadband competition thrives in Norway (ADSL, SDSL, VDSL, Cable, Radio Broadband, Fiber Optic, 3G Broadband etc. (and I am just listing technologies here, not providers) ) I effectively (and practiacally) only have two choices here (Comcast Cable and ADSL from AT&T + peers). In the so-called internet mecca of the world nobody offers me VDSL or fiber-optic broadband! That is not good enough. Where do you think the next google will come from? and that
  • Outraged indeed (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:39PM (#20107617)
    My office in Japan, located in a bedtown area about 100 miles from then center of Tokyo, has 2x100mbps symmetrical fibers. The company paid the equivalent of about $150 in installation costs, and the monthly fee is around $55 for each fiber.

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

    So how is such a difference possible in Japan?

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

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

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

    I won't mention how antiquated DSL technology in the US is...
  • OECD numbers flawed (Score:2, Interesting)

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

    The OECD's methodology is seriously flawed, however. According to an analysis by the Phoenix Center, if all OECD countries including the U.S. enjoyed 100% broadband penetration -- with all homes and businesses being connected -- our rank would fall to 20th. The U.S. would be deemed a relative fa
  • The real problem is the big telcos that own the majority of the "backbone" network and the majority of the copper and fiber in this country.

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

    It's just a big mess, and I think the only real solut
  • by jc42 (318812) on Friday August 03, 2007 @05:57PM (#20107889) Homepage Journal
    A couple hours ago, NPR had an article about the practice of US government agencies intercepting communications between people in various other countries. Part of the explanation was that communications (both Internet and phone) in a lot of the rest of the world go via the US because in so many countries, the connections to/from the US and internal US connections are so much faster than the internal comm systems within the country, and the comm stuff generally picks the fastest available routes.

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

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

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Frenchy_2001 (659163)
      How else can you explain all the "dark" fibre that has been installed, at great expense, and then (supposedly) not used?
      very simply: bad projections that never happened.
      During the peak of the dot com boom, people started to build the infrastructure to sustain the current growth. At the time, *everything* was turning into a web service and everyone and their dogs were creating new internet startups. The prediction for bandwidth was through the roof and backbone companies took notice and started building more
  • Many people have been complaining about their local governments handing out cable monopolies. This is not the case (at least in Ohio). In Ohio, anyone who wishes to provide cable service has to pay a franchise fee to the local government for using the rights-of-way. Even though this is the case, in the vast majority of cities there is still only one cable provider. This is because in many cities two cable companies couldn't both stay in business. They simply wouldn't have enough customers. Cable is a
  • I think most of us are still playing Texas Hold 'Em with broadband. But if you know of a good Russian Roulette site...
  • In all fairness, Copps is about the ONLY FCC commissioner who has even the remotest of clues. He was the ONLY FCC commissioner to address the interference concerns of the Amateur Radio Service regarding interference from BPL (broadband over power line) deployments. The others, just a bunch of political appointees who have ZERO clue and are grossly unqualified to be FCC commissioners. These guys are just like Ted 'series of tubes' Stevens who describe the Internet as tubes and dump trucks.

    Trust me, if I was
  • Worldwide costs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Darth Cider (320236) on Friday August 03, 2007 @07:27PM (#20108697)
    Here's a recent chart of broadband speeds and costs [dailywireless.org] around the world.
  • AT&T.

    'nuff said.

    Whether we're talking about the old, monopoly-that-was AT&T, or the current, Dr. Frankenstein built me a monster AT&T, the moniker AT&T represents a lack of progress. Verizon, although late, is moving in the correct direction. Sprint is deploying WiMax as fast as it can. Some cable companies are exactly where they should be (OptimumOnline, RCN, I'm looking at you), and other, although a little slower, are getting there (Comcast, WOW, Time Warner, Charter).

    Notice that in areas where Verizon is competing with Comcast (or other cable companies), broadband is doing *well*. Also notice that in areas where 5-10 mile fixed wireless is implemented, things are good to. In other areas with some competition, things are okay, too: It's a little expensive, but in Chicago I have options for 8 Mbps cable (Comcast), 25 Mbps cable (RCN), 15 Mbps ADSL2+ (Cyberonic), 3 Mbps fixed wireless (multiple WISPs), or 3 Mbps mobile wireless (EVDO, Sprint, Verizon, both RevA).

    But areas dominated by AT&T? The *vast* majority of customers are locked in at 3 Mbps down, 384 kbps up. A few (located close to AT&T DSLAMs) can get 6 Mbps down, 768 kbps up. And AT&T's "new" U-verse is limited to 6 Mbps/1 Mbps.

    This is unacceptable.

    Frankly, AT&T's status as a monopoly provider in the old days fucked up the market so badly that it took decades to recover; and the recover some how involved putting a new AT&T together that is poised to fuck up the market again. The single *best* thing that the FCC can do now is strongly regulate AT&T's capability to strangle other providers, giving time for less-evil companies like Comcast to put up some decent infrastructure.

    Anyone who disagrees with me; try and imagine what the U.S. broadband market would look like if AT&T was really pushing the curve in terms of what was possible. They're financial stable, profitable, and have plenty of cash on hand; if AT&T was deploying "true" next gen broadband infrastructure (at least as good as Verizon, or perhaps better), it would fundamentally change the market. The cable cos would be rushing out the door to deploy 25+ Mbps everywhere, and Sprint wouldn't be the only company pushing WiMax.

    The U.S. broadband market would be a different place if you could get Verizon FTTP everywhere. Sadly, AT&T is still the dominant company, and until either A) the FCC starts to regulate the hell out of them, or B) Consumers & Businesses wise up and stop purchasing service from them, we'll be stuck with shitty broadband.

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