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Major Carriers Shun Broadband Stimulus 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-risk-their-monopolies dept.
jmcharry sends word that as the deadline looms for requesting broadband grants from the $4.7 billion available in stimulus funding, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T are conspicuously absent from the list of applicants. Quoting the Washington Post: "Their reasons are varied. All three say they are flush with cash, enough to upgrade and expand their broadband networks on their own. Some say taking money could draw unwanted scrutiny of business practices and compensation, as seen with automakers and banks that have taken government bailouts. And privately, some companies are griping about conditions attached to the money, including a net-neutrality rule that they say would prevent them from managing traffic on their networks in the way they want. ... Yet those firms might be the best positioned to achieve the goal of spreading Internet access to underserved areas, some experts say." Reader Michael_Curator notes that while the major carriers may be holding back, there were still enough applications to slow government servers to a crawl, resulting in a deadline extension.
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Major Carriers Shun Broadband Stimulus

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  • They're holding out for more cash later on.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:16PM (#29072225)

      No. Among other things they don't like the idea of Net Neutrality which is one stipulation of taking the money.

      • by davester666 (731373) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:31PM (#29072357) Journal

        They just working out a plan for converting the money into bonuses. It's hard work!

      • by Tanktalus (794810)

        I'm not sure they're seeing this through. They can take the cash with a contractual obligation for net neutrality (which may be renegotiated with lower-level bureaucrats later). Or they can gamble, lose, and have net neutrality enshrined in law later, where no lawmaker will touch it again, and forever lose the ability to "[manage] traffic on their networks in the way they want" never to regain it.

        I dunno - free cash and a negotiation away from what one wants in a year or two vs no money and a crap-shoot o

        • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:07PM (#29072597)
          They looked at what happened to the banks that took money and wanted no parts of it. Taking the money won't protect them against net neutrality being enshrined into law. This Administration has shown a tendency to spring new conditions on recipients of government largess after they have it (not that this is an unusual tendency for politicians, just that most are more subtle).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by interkin3tic (1469267)

        No. Among other things they don't like the idea of Net Neutrality which is one stipulation of taking the money.

        If ONLY there had been some reference to that in TFA. Or, dare I say it, the summary. I'm imagining a fictional world in which this story had been posted to /. and it had mentioned the net neutrality hangup somewhere in the 6th line of the summary.

        Ah... so beautiful it brings a tear to my eye that it can never be...

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:50PM (#29072877) Homepage Journal

          Perhaps we have a communication problem here. From TFA, "And privately, some companies are griping about conditions attached to the money, including a net-neutrality rule " From the summar, "And privately, some companies are griping about conditions attached to the money, including a net-neutrality rule "

          It seems pretty clear, from that, as well as a myriad other articles on the intartubez, the monopolies aren't even slightly interested in implementing net neutrality. They want one thing only, and that is as much money as possible for the use of the tubez, on top of extravagant rates attached to the infrastructure underlying the tubez. (cable, telephone, satellite, fiber - you name it, they want us to pay for it a few hundred times over)

          • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday August 14, 2009 @09:25PM (#29073079)

            Perhaps we have a communication problem here. From TFA, "And privately, some companies are griping about conditions attached to the money, including a net-neutrality rule " From the summar, "And privately, some companies are griping about conditions attached to the money, including a net-neutrality rule "

            I would say we do have a communication problem. I think. Either you're being sarcastic or I am, I sincerely thought it was me.

      • by danwesnor (896499)

        I was going to post "There's probably a 'Don't screw your customers' clause", which a superset of your post, but since you were first and have actually function_read(the_rules), so I concede to your posting greatness.

        void function_read(char *whats_been_read)
        {
                if (actually_read(whats_been_read) != FALSE)
                        return;
                function_read(whats_been_read);
        }

        • by sconeu (64226)

          Warning: potential infinite recursion found (actually_read() returns FALSE)

        • by sconeu (64226)

          Correction -- infinite recursion for /.ers:

          BOOL actually_read(const char *whats_been_read)
          {
                if (is_slashdotter(getuid())
                          return FALSE;
                RTFS_or_RTFA(whats_been_read);
                return TRUE;
          }

    • by Toonol (1057698)
      I think the main reason is that they don't want to be de facto nationalized, like the auto industry.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The people at the Ford Motor Company would love to know what on earth you're talking about.
        • by Toonol (1057698)
          Ford turned down the money, and avoided (for now) the Faustian bargain. Good for them; I certainly am a lot more likely to purchase from them, than from GM or Chrysler. The major telecoms are trying to follow in Ford's footsteps, because they no doubt see the danger.

          It wouldn't surprise me if there was legislation passed forcing them to take the assistance.
          • It wouldn't? It would sure surprise me considering how illegal that would be...
          • faustian bargain - bullshit. All the rescued businesses will be sold back into private ownership as soon as we can get rid of the failing rubbish that the tax payer has just wasted billions on rescuing from the recent failure of capitalism. Im hoping it wont be my pension fund buying these crap companies either. As for Government broadband money, I doubt anyone wants it because they cant think of any way to screw any money out of anyone who isnt already on the net. Who wants a load of farmers and low wage w

  • No way (Score:5, Insightful)

    by courseofhumanevents (1168415) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:14PM (#29072207)
    "All three say they are flush with cash, enough to upgrade and expand their broadband networks on their own."

    I don't know what their real reasoning is, but you can be assured that it is not because they want to be responsible and expand with their own money.
    • Re:No way (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Starteck81 (917280) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:24PM (#29072279)
      I second that. I know in my area Verizon's roll out of FIOS was delayed by two or three years because they wanted Washington state to subsidize something like 70% of the infrastructure upgrade cost.
      • You may be going Evil Verizon corporation. But remember most of the current infrastructure is from good old Ma'Bell days (A phone monopoly who had massive government funding). Infrastructure is one of those things we all know we need but no one want to flip the bill for. Do you want to pay $2000 for a line to you home so your neighbors will only need to pay $50 because you paid for the infrastructure to you neighbors or the reverse a neighbor paid $2000 for the line and wants you to pay part of the bill ev

        • Re:No way (Score:5, Interesting)

          by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday August 14, 2009 @10:54PM (#29073515) Journal

          Yeah, try $200K and they will STILL fuck your neighbors for the "cost". How do I know? Because they had been telling my folks that they would run the two block to the house since they built in in 1982. Guess how far away they are now? That's right-two blocks. They haven't run any line anywhere in my area in decades.

          So, since I had some cash from a settlement in the mid 90s, and there were several SOHOs down that round, that was only a quarter mile from end to end. I had a friend that worked at the cableco figure our roughly the cost of the line, he figured at the time $12k. We got together and offered them 15K PLUS guaranteed 5 year full package sales from the entire route. We figured it as over $230K over the 5 year contract. Do you know what their answer was?

          They wanted $75000! PLUS FIVE years PLUS a 'fee for the cost of the line! That's right, they wanted a good $70k in profit (since the line layers here were on salary at the time) before they ever layed a fucking inch! And THAT is why we will end up having to seize the last mile, because we have PAID [newnetworks.com] once already, and all we got in return was the finger. We should give them 90 days to repay that money PLUS interest, or we take it. if they want a monopoly? Get off their asses and run to the millions that aren't getting dick from them now! And we'll be nice and give them double time if they run fiber to the neighborhood, and add another five to ten for fiber to the door. Because otherwise we will NEVER get nationwide broadband, and will fall farther and farther behind the rest of the world. Monopolies are NOT capitalism, and as we have seen all we get from the teleco/cableco duopoly is a rotting infrastructure.

          • Nice (Score:3, Interesting)

            by zogger (617870)

            Nice rant, man, +5 "right on, preach it"!

            If these big telco skunks were really interested in running something decent out here in rural land, instead of milking 100 year old repurposed telegraph wires or whatever that chintzy stuff hanging on the poles is, they could and would have done it years ago. They ain't interested, low hanging fruit only. And even the chintzy stuff they had to get ordered to provide, they sure were never going to do it on their own. And because they took all that loot in the 90s and

      • I second that. I know in my area Verizon's roll out of FIOS was delayed by two or three years because they wanted Washington state to subsidize something like 70% of the infrastructure upgrade cost.

        I hope the state did not cave. Verizon has or is in the process of pulling out of the state, leaving the infrastructure in the hands of a local company. The cynic in me says that if they took state money for the build-out then this little manoeuvre has caused any stipulations to be shed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by oracleguy01 (1381327)
      Agreed. I think it is more that they don't want the increased scrutiny or the net neutrality restrictions. Since both of them could affect their bottom line.
    • The "Real Reason" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp.Gmail@com> on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:31PM (#29072345) Homepage Journal

      I don't know what their real reasoning is, but you can be assured that it is not because they want to be responsible and expand with their own money.

      The real reason is because these grants are a Faustian Bargain: there are never-ending strings attached to government money. And it's not just the net neutrality issue. If you take that money, there's a whole host of demands the government can make. I work in aviation, and have seen some of this stuff in action with FAA grants, where you accept money for a project, and then there are costly consequences years down the road.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by s73v3r (963317)
      Look at the negative reaction to the money given to the banking and auto industries. Most telco's reputations are shitty enough, imagine adding the hate of stimulus spending to that.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by element-o.p. (939033)
        Give me fiber to my doorstep and network neutrality (and no forwarding my traffic to NSA), and you will find I have very, very little hate for you!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by interkin3tic (1469267)

        Maybe that did factor into their decision, but I have to think that while there's plenty of hate for telecos among certain dark corners of the internets, like here, it's not going to resonate with the unwashed masses like the auto or bank bailouts did. Maybe I'm wrong, never looked at any polling data on it. My impression though is that net neutrality is fairly low to under the radar for most people.

    • Government money comes with strings. Sometimes it is just better to say no and deal with having less money.

      The government says gives you a million dollars to to put broadband in rural areas. To fully do what the government wants costs you 2 million dollars. Even if you are planning to expand in that area it is not a good situation to be in and it better to pay the 2 million out of your own pocket then take the government, who will in turn watch you like a hawk and make sure it goes where they want it not

    • Yeah, when the government says they want to build decent infrastructure, these companies say, "Oh, but that's too expensive, and we don't have the money to do it because our business isn't profitable enough. We need you to subsidize us." And then when the government says, "Ok, we'll subsidize you, but you have to honor net neutrality," they say, "Meh, no thanks. We have tons of money."

      • It makes perfect sense; the companies have enough money as-is, so they don't see a need to expand, since their customers are obviously happy as-is. If the government is willing to pay for their expansion, fine, but they only want it on their terms.
  • by soconn (1466967) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:16PM (#29072229)
    I think they meant to say "we already scam consumers enough to not need the cash" . I hope to see some disruptive technology to circumvent the stranglehold these dinosaurs have.
  • by markringen (1501853) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:18PM (#29072245)
    they don't want real broadband... they only want to offer crappy 256kbps, and pander it off as broadband. which btw isn't broadband anywhere outside the US. time for the US government to start their own broadband service.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)

      time for the US government to start their own broadband service.

      Oh yes, because I want my internet connection tapped 24/7 and all my comments that criticize the US government to be flagged (or did you forget flag@whitehouse.gov?). And just look at the crappy service you get from other government agencies like medicare, the lackluster performance of veterans hospitals, the annoyances of the post office, the general greed of the IRS, and the pain of it all. Yah, I really want the US government to provide broadband.

      Comcast/AT&T/Time Warner suck, but you can bet t

      • by timeOday (582209) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:34PM (#29072391)
        What's wrong with the postal service? They're in a sort-term downturn of a long-term declining industry, but they seem to be making cutbacks to cope. More to the point, I don't think my mail is any more likely to be snooped on than my phone is to being tapped or my computer monitored, and those are run by private companies.

        As for medicare service being worse than private insurers, is it? Medicare has far lower administration and advertising costs. They're not perfect, but most of the people I know with complaints about denied coverage have been from private insurers. (Although I was never creative enough to call them "death panels," ha ha).

        So, I will agree private industry beats government when there is good competition - look at fast food, it's amazingly efficient. But compared to monopolies or duopolies, I'm more please with govt services.

      • by Killer Orca (1373645) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:11PM (#29072611)

        time for the US government to start their own broadband service.

        Oh yes, because I want my internet connection tapped 24/7 and all my comments that criticize the US government to be flagged (or did you forget flag@whitehouse.gov?). And just look at the crappy service you get from other government agencies like medicare, the lackluster performance of veterans hospitals, the annoyances of the post office, the general greed of the IRS, and the pain of it all. Yah, I really want the US government to provide broadband. Comcast/AT&T/Time Warner suck, but you can bet that the US government will suck even worse. Or are you forgetting all the times they've screwed up technology (BBS raids, DMCA, etc)

        Yet people are perfectly willing to let the government fund, control and direct the military, some even might say we have the best military in the world; but when it comes to healthcare they become a pack of morons who couldn't find their own ass with two hands and a flashlight.

        • I spent 15 of the first 18 years of my life going to military doctors. Consequently, I'm not terribly optimistic about the service government run health care will provide. However, I agree whole heartedly with your description of our fighting troops.

          So why the discrepancy between the fighting military and military doctors? Those who are on the front lines have a real incentive to get very, very good at their jobs. Those who aren't...well, the military doctors get a chance to practice on them.
          • by Rycross (836649)
            Funny enough, I spent the first 18 years of my life going to military doctors and have the exact opposite opinion.
            • I had my arm set wrong after I broke it when I was four; they had to break it again and reset it. I had another doctor blow me off when I told him I was sick and it wasn't the flu; I now have my brother's kidney because both of mine had quit. I don't know that getting a correct diagnosis earlier would have made any difference, but I can't help but think that putting off treatment for another week didn't help any. Military phlebotomists consistently had trouble getting my veins to bleed when doing lab wor
          • by Omestes (471991)

            I'm not in the military, but I know some field doctors in the military, and I must say that they shock me with their professionalism even off the field of battle. One of them while on the trip to a bar, noticed a small car accident, where the police and paramedics already responded, he pulled over, and rushed to the scene, just in case he was needed. He wasn't, but still stayed just in case something happened. This guy also suffered from severe PTSD, and was an emotional wreck both before and after this,

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          You need to look at what the military does. It demands strict discipline at mediocre pay and is designed to inflict serious harm on others should the need arise.

          That's some things the health care or social security just can't operate like. Also, there are stories all the time about waste and the uselessness of military projects and the costs of supplies. Look at the amount of money that is thrown at the military, the constant race (generally using private companies) to build the better killing machines and

          • The federal government has no authority to control and provide health care unless you either ignore the constitution, stretch some clause well beyond it's intent, or ignore the entire structure and limitations plus role the federal government is constitutionally allowed.

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that exactly the type of thing President Bush was constantly accused of doing?

            • by sumdumass (711423)

              Yep, and when the supreme court got involved, he was shot down bigger then shit when he actually did it.

              But two wrongs don't make a right does it? Or if one president ignores the constitution, is it open game for all the others after him? I would really hate to think that it's open season and anything goes now. Kind of gives the "rule of law" no rules wouldn't it?

              • But two wrongs don't make a right does it? Or if one president ignores the constitution, is it open game for all the others after him?

                That's exactly my point. Also, how can Obama give us "change you can believe in" when he's doing the same type of thing he objected to when Bush did it?

                • by sumdumass (711423)

                  Oh... Sorry, I mistook your statement as one of those "Clinton did it" from when people started berating Bush's actions. Of course to Bush's defense on those, the courts never considered them unconstitutional and in some cases (executive privilege) rules in the administrations favor.

        • Yet people are perfectly willing to let the government fund, control and direct the military

          Because we have to have one and it has to be centralized.

          The side effect is that we have $600 toliet seats.

          You are so eager to let something that does not by nature have to be centrally controlled, and coordinated - so the next time you go to a hospital your posterior is on a $600 bed pan?

          It's not like when I go to an ER they have to synchronize operations with a team in another state, or even the next county...

          • by Macrat (638047)

            You are so eager to let something that does not by nature have to be centrally controlled, and coordinated - so the next time you go to a hospital your posterior is on a $600 bed pan?

            You mean like the current examples in the health industry like $100 aspirin?

        • by Dravik (699631)
          You seem to forget, whomever funds, controls, and directs the military are the government.
        • by sconeu (64226)

          Yet people are perfectly willing to let the government fund, control and direct the military,

          Because that is actually one of the powers granted to the Feds by the Constitution.

        • by tsotha (720379)

          The US military is the most powerful military in the world because it is the best funded military in the world. There's no basis for anyone to say the government is doing a particularly good job managing that particular function. Anybody who's every dealt with the military can tell you it's riddled with inefficiency on a scale that would never be tolerated in a private enterprise, but efficiency doesn't matter if you can swamp it with cash.

          And yeah, if the government takes over health care the quality wi

        • Soooo... you've managed to not hear about these places called Iraq and Afghanistan for the past five years? How big is the cave you are living in?
      • by Atario (673917) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:31PM (#29072733) Homepage

        Oh yes, because I want my internet connection tapped 24/7

        As others have pointed out, they already did this with a more-than-willing corporate helping hand.

        and all my comments that criticize the US government to be flagged (or did you forget flag@whitehouse.gov?).

        Spreading FUD is not the same thing as criticizing. And it's the content of the FUD they're asking for. (And speaking of spreading FUD, your post seems a shining example...)

        And just look at the crappy service you get from other government agencies like medicare

        You ask anyone who's on Medicare if they want it abolished. Go on, ask. Your odds are about 50/50 between being looked at like you have three heads and being called an idiot.

        the lackluster performance of veterans hospitals

        How Veterans' Hospitals Became the Best in Health Care [time.com]

        the annoyances of the post office

        Annoyances like being able to send a letter for a negligible amount of money?

        the general greed of the IRS

        Greed?? The IRS collects and passes on the money they're told to collect and pass on. It's not like they get to keep it.

        Yah, I really want the US government to provide broadband.

        Yah, fer sher, y'betcha. I do. I want as many players in the market as I can get, public, private, or otherwise. It'd be a damn sight better than the local monopolies we're screwed with now.

      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:32PM (#29072745)

        Oh yes, because I want my internet connection tapped 24/7 and all my comments that criticize the US government to be flagged

        Why would you think this isn't happening now anyway? Except now the government isn't the only one who can tap into your connection, private corporations get to do so as well.

        And just look at the crappy service you get from other government agencies like medicare, the lackluster performance of veterans hospitals, the annoyances of the post office, the general greed of the IRS, and the pain of it all.

        Government run markets can and do suck in many instances, but privately run markets can and do suck as well. You list three government organizations. Of them, VA hospitals are currently among the best in the nation according to patients (although they were bad 20 years ago). The post Office does a pretty good job in my book compared to UPS and FedEx. The IRS is a lousy example since it isn't something private industry can do, collect taxes.

        Yah, I really want the US government to provide broadband.

        Broadband is a utility these days and should be treated as such. I happen to live in one of the best cities in the country for internet access because it has one of the largest wireless co-ops around. You can get free internet access anywhere in the city and much of the surrounding area, provided by local businesses and individuals who share part of their home connections. It sure beats all the privately run broadband options. I would like to see government step up and subsidize the creation of fast internet backbones with real competition for service across them, as other countries have done. We've already given more money to private corporations, per citizen, than many other countries, we just didn't attach strings to the money so nothing resulted. Right now the big providers aren't touching this money because they're counting on waiting for more later, without strings. The last thing they want is actual competition within a geographical area.

        but you can bet that the US government will suck even worse. Or are you forgetting all the times they've screwed up technology (BBS raids, DMCA, etc)

        Yeah, and there's also DARPA net, breaking up Bell, and several other things they've done that greatly benefited telecom technology. What's your point?

        • by jackbird (721605)
          The IRS is a lousy example since it isn't something private industry can do, collect taxes.

          In the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apparently they can [hab-inc.com]. I was more than a bit surprised to learn this when I moved here.
        • Yeah, and there's also DARPA net, breaking up Bell, and several other things they've done that greatly benefited telecom technology. What's your point?

          Too many people don't realize that there would be no internet at all as we know it today if not for the breakup of AT&T.

      • What's wrong with Medicare?

        I'm disabled and have been on Medicare for a few years. I have to say, Medicare is better than any private insurance I ever had through work.

        The only thing that changed when I went on medicare is that it costs me less. My co-pay is far less. I have the same doctors, I'm on the same meds... in fact I have more doctors and specialists, have had biopsies, tests, and I'm on more meds, because I'm aging and my health is deteriorating... but not due to lack of medical care.

        I personally

    • hey don't want real broadband... they only want to offer crappy 256kbps

      I know of no major broadband provider in my area that offers 256, believe me I've looked for my girlfriends parents. It's ridiculous here in southwestern Idaho, you simply cannot find anything at the 20 dollar point, Qwest comes close. if you have a qualifying home phone plan, but after 12 months it reverts to I think 35, cable is the same 20+6 for modem lease, and it's a 1Gb cap. I just can't understand why they are so reluctant to take over that sweet spot from the dial up days. It's not like they haven't

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TRRosen (720617)

      they don't really care about the speed. 256k of 3 meg cost them the about same. They only care about the price.
      256 is great when priced accordingly (same as dialup). Its ideal for those who only use it for email (grandma)

      real problem is ISPs want to use obsolete equipment they pulled from bigger markets and soak rural areas with substandard service at high rates with no cost to themselves while they take the money to upgrade bigger markets. eventually sending that equipment to the rural area once its obsole

    • by SkyDude (919251)
      Well, if you like the US Postal Service, you'll LOVE USG Broadband!
      • by Macrat (638047)

        Well, if you like the US Postal Service, you'll LOVE USG Broadband!

        All of my mail has reached it's destination.

        Can't say the same for UPS or FedEx.

      • by sjames (1099)

        You mean the only parcel service that has never destroyed a package I've trusted them with? Where do I sign?

  • The Explaination (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sasayaki (1096761) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:27PM (#29072317)

    This has a simple explaination.

    Money is power; simple as that. If you have money, you can get people to do things- it's power. There are other forms of power but money's the most common (and, in many but not all cases, the most powerful).

    Restrictions on how you can spend your money devales that money. $1,000 is a nice sum of money for (almost) anyone to receive, but if it can only be spent on peanuts only you can eat? Can you eat a grand's worth of peanuts? What if you're allergic? In this case the money is basically worthless, because it has no power.

    Almost all ISPs want the power to restrict the usage of their clientbase. In some cases this is benign- stopping spammers from throwing out millions of spam e-mails a day, for example. In other cases, not so (blocking/disconnecting high usage users then dramatically overselling their network). But want of power isn't a problem; everyone wants power. Everyone. Every individual, every corporation... everyone. So that's okay.

    The reason why they are rejecting the money is because it has external factors. It has a stigma of being 'government bailout money'. It can only be used for certain things, and it has strings (a'la net neutrality). The ISPs have evaluated their money, decided that the restrictions limit its power too greatly and that it would be a net power loss for them.

    It's as simple as that.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How can not taking taxpayer money be chalked up to greed?

    • Because one byproduct of the taxpayer money was presumably used to allow for taxpayer input on the business methods used by the companies (which, honestly should have happened ages ago when they took startup taxpayer money for broadband, but that is beside the point).
  • Business as usual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TRRosen (720617) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:31PM (#29072355)

    The big carriers will ignore the stimulus.
    Small Start-ups will take the money and build into new markets.
    the start-ups will then sell out to the big ISP's
    the start ups get rich from tax money
    the big ISP get expansion paid for by the government with no regulations attached.

    We get screwed and pay for the privilege

    • by rsborg (111459)

      the big ISP get expansion paid for by the government with no regulations attached.

      Considering the cost of the broadband stimulus ($6B) and the cost of the 90s previous efforts ($200B) which resulted in fuck-all for expansion, I'd say if it works, then it is a goddamned good deal.

      Regulations will be pushed through later.

  • by gar_man (556291) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:33PM (#29072385)
    Telecom companies are regulated monopolies. Regulations can changed with a change in law. You don't need to entice them to change with a big gob of money as a carrot. The truth of the matter is that it is easier politically and procedurally to do these changes with telecom cooperation.
    • Telecom companies are regulated monopolies.

      Not always. I work for a regulated Telecom company. We were bought last year by an unregulated Telecom company that is doing everything in its power to absorb all of our unregulated services while keeping the regulated side as distant as a parent company possibly can.

      • by GigsVT (208848)

        No one wants to comply with mostly irrelevant 100 year old laws, and regulation of pricing down to the stupidly detailed level (government dictating how much caller ID should cost, etc).

        • When the market is made by a single company which has literally the power of life and death over people (911 not available to a village because AT&T refused to lay lines), then the "stupid" and "detailed" regulations need to exist to prevent manslaughter.
           

  • by Azureflare (645778) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:36PM (#29072407)
    It's all about the regional monopolies. With regional monopolies, they are able to control prices within certain regions since there are no other options. Why would they want to spend money expanding/improving service in regional markets where they have no competition?

    Those net neutrality rules would possibly threaten those regional monopolies... so they're like "F THAT! I want my control!"

    For example, consider the recent obscenely low bandwidth caps in rural areas where there is no other option. That's a prime example of the power regional monopoly gives these companies.

    Also as a side note, I find it hilarious that they think they can justify instating bandwidth caps when they apparently have more then enough capital. Wow, where did the argument that they were losing money due to excessive users go?
  • Squeal like a pig (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:38PM (#29072419) Homepage

    Some say taking money could draw unwanted scrutiny of business practices and compensation, as seen with automakers and banks that have taken government bailouts.

    Ha! You mean like finding out how profitable broadband really is and how that caps and traffic shaping would be largely unnecessary if the carriers spent the money doing the upgrade? Money we all know they have. Or would that be finding out how a few people at the top of the corporate pile are enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else? Extracting revenue without adding any real value and justifying it by saying their compensation packages are "in line" with industry norms?

    Hard to figure out which one of those topics they're not interested in having become public knowledge. It would probably be wise to select "All of the above". And probably a couple more we don't know about.

    Maybe we need a public broadband option? The our Congresscritters could start raking in millions of lobbyist money from the major carriers. It would give those hordes of fat, old people screaming at public health care meetings a new opportunity to get free bus rides and box lunches. And then they could accuse Obama of trying to take over the internets.

  • by ZuchinniOne (1617763) on Friday August 14, 2009 @07:49PM (#29072481)

    Remember when the telcos claimed that net-neutrality would harm the industry by preventing them from collecting enough money to upgrade the infrastructure in the US?

    This proves their previous anti-net-neutrality arguments were BS.

    From http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-148385.html [zdnet.com]

    "Republican backers, along with broadband providers such as Verizon and AT&T, say it has sufficient Net neutrality protections for consumers, and more extensive rules would discourage investment in wiring American homes with higher-speed connections."

    From http://www.freedomworks.org/publications/the-problem-with-network-neutrality [freedomworks.org]

    "By contrast, mandatory network neutrality is bad for business. Unlike the narrowband phone lines of the twentieth century, broadband pipes are being built with billions of dollars of unsubsidized investment in a competitive environment. ISPs make this investment on the assumption they can recover the costs and profit. As such, broadband lines are not the "public resource" that monopoly networks were in the past. Companies that own high-speed lines have a right to recover the costs that other parties impose when they wish to use those lines to transmit high-bandwidth, revenue-rich services of their own. If network neutrality is enacted, ISPs will have no incentive to build new pipes. Consumers will therefore get less choice."

  • Does it matter why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yamfry (1533879) on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:08PM (#29072603)
    Does it even matter why they aren't taking the money? If the application system is being flooded, that means that the market will potentially be flooded with companies that are required to respect net neutrality. Since they will by default provide a service that is better than the incumbent monopoly, then assuming that it is not a true natural monopoly the market place will become competitive. That can only be good news for consumers and companies that rely on ubiquitous broadband.
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Friday August 14, 2009 @09:13PM (#29073013)

      Does it even matter why they aren't taking the money?

      I fear it might.

      If the application system is being flooded, that means that the market will potentially be flooded with companies that are required to respect net neutrality. Since they will by default provide a service that is better than the incumbent monopoly, then assuming that it is not a true natural monopoly the market place will become competitive.

      There are two types of companies taking this money. The first are companies trying to compete in municipal areas where there is already competition. These companies, however, are still dependent upon the big boys who are not participating for backbone. That means the net neutrality can be castrated by those few. The second type of companies are trying to expand into unserved, rural areas. They are, again, wholly dependent upon one large company per area for access to the backbone. This provides the same problem as before. Anytime the big companies want they can move into these areas and undercut the little company that did all the hard work and all that government stimulus goes away, providing only the advantage that they sped up getting broadband to an area, not in making it any cheaper or more competitive in the long run.

      Theoretically, small companies taking this money could grow and build their own backbone and compete with the big ones, but realistically we gave the big companies so many billions in subsidies in the first place that the playing field could only be leveled by addition monies given for this purpose as at a later date. Basically, we dug ourselves into an uncompetitive hole with government money and it will take either more money or serious legislation to undo the damage. Given how much the incumbents have to lobby with, it seems unlikely.

  • by bersl2 (689221)

    Let the small players have a chance to provide what the big ones won't.

  • by RobertLTux (260313) <(robert) (at) (laurencemartin.org)> on Friday August 14, 2009 @08:28PM (#29072717)

    so either they need this money to finally upgrade their networks or they have plenty of money so they should already be upgrading their networks.

    What i would like to see is a commitment that a Minimum bandwidth be available per account. Having "Up To 70megabits per second" speed is all well and good but what good does that do you if 99.99999 percent of the time
    you are stuck at 0.7 megabits per second because they have 400% of the pipe allocated.

    Also it should be forbidden for a carrier to cut off a connection because the user is running %protocol
    (unless of course actual "court of law" evidence exists that something illegal is happening)

  • The Carriers just need more Vespene Gas.

  • If the telecoms take this money, they will most likely be required to actually upgrade their infrastructure. The telecoms do not want to upgrade their infrastructure, as this would allow their competitors to eat away at their marketshare. What's the easiest way to stop people from using Skype, Netflix, Hulu, etc? Give them shitty internet speeds with low bandwidth caps.

    If the buggy whip companies had owned the roads, they wouldn't take a government bailout to pave them for cars, either.
  • Yeah Smallbies! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tablizer (95088) on Friday August 14, 2009 @09:02PM (#29072947) Homepage Journal

    Yet those firms might be the best positioned to achieve the goal of spreading Internet access to underserved areas

    Let smaller companies have it. We have too many big oligopolies (the cousin of monopolies). Big companies tend to "win" by playing games using their shear size instead of outright compete. And they are more likely to bribe congress than smaller ones per portion.
                 

    • The moment smaller nimble effective competitors start to take up the subsidies, the AT&Ts of USA would jump in with both feet on them AND the senators resulting in:
      1) Raising capital requirements of the companies to $5 Billion. This effectively removes the underdogs lose.
      2) Incorporate smaller companies that soak up the capital but do nothing.
      3) Change the law to criminalize the subsidy by suing each company and each county in state courts tying up resources.

      JP Morgan, would be happy to see his plans f

  • My hope is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday August 14, 2009 @09:15PM (#29073021) Homepage Journal

    that all of that stimulus money goes to local governments, and small companies. (not necessarily "small business" per se, but small companies) The government shouldn't be rewarding monopolies. Let's see real competition for a change.

    I hated to see multi-billion dollar banks being bailed out, I hated seeing the big 3 automakers being bailed out - but I will actually LIKE seeing 20 million homes in America finally getting that "last mile" of real broadband. My 256k for $75/month sucks almost as much as 56k did. Latency is just as bad as 56k, and, of course, I seldom actually SEE 256k - generally, it's somewhere between 170 and 230.

    Broadband? God, I'd LOVE to be able to watch a Youtube video about a new Linux operating system, and not hear the son yealling "LAG!" at the top of his lungs!

    Stimulate me, Congress!!

    • Broadband? God, I'd LOVE to be able to watch a Youtube video about a new Linux operating system, and not hear the son yealling "LAG!" at the top of his lungs!

      You can either wait, or do the following:

      1) In firefox, the Live HTTP Headers extension shows the HTTP traffic on the wire. When you open the youtube page and start the video, you can see the actual URL/filename of the video. Copy and paste this URL into a download manager of your choice and you can download a physical copy of the video to yo

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday August 14, 2009 @09:26PM (#29073083) Homepage

    By taking government money, they will have less control over what they do. There are contentions about net neutrality, about uneven deployments of broadband and all manner of things. However, the various states are the government entities that should be writing more mandates related to uneven deployments while the federal government should be mandating network neutrality.

    Seriously, the problem of "cherry picking" the broadband deployments was really bad 10 years ago. It is beyond that now. They don't want to build infrastructure that doesn't yield really good returns. That makes perfect sense for them. But it doesn't make sense for the public, however. It is the public utilities commissions that set the standards for deployments of the infrastructure, however, and they have been bought off pretty well so far and haven't been requiring broadband everywhere as they should have been. I hope no one is confused about the role and responsibility of the public utilities commissions. It is precisely the unwillingness of the PUCs and the utilities themselves that have led to municipalities deploying broadband themselves. Some serious reforms need to get put into place and most of it should be in the form of cleaning up the corruption in the PUCs and to put people in place with some backbone.

    Either give us municipal broadband (not my preference) or give us wider deployments from the cherry-picking utilities.

    Oh yeah, and lest I forget, we need ISPs to be officially considered to be "common carriers" as other communications providers are. The fact that they aren't is a huge part of the problem with enforcement and regulation.

"Regardless of the legal speed limit, your Buick must be operated at speeds faster than 85 MPH (140kph)." -- 1987 Buick Grand National owners manual.

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