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Communications Government The Almighty Buck The Internet

FCC's Broadband Plan May Cost You Money 318

Posted by kdawson
from the one-hand-giveth dept.
At ten minutes past midnight the FCC released their National Broadband Plan. Judging by the available coverage, few reporters spent the night poring over it. The BBC at least posted something in the morning hours, but it quotes Enderle, so that gives you some idea of its sourcing. Business Week notes the plan's cool (not to say frigid) reception among broadcasters. Dave Burstein of FastNet News did some real digging. His take as of 4:00 am Eastern time is that the plan will cost most Americans money, and won't provide much if any relief to the poor. We'll see many more details and nuances emerge over the day. Update: 03/16 19:53 GMT by KD : The FCC plan (PDF) is here.
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FCC's Broadband Plan May Cost You Money

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @08:09AM (#31493684)

    The government tries to "help" and only ends up costing taxpayers money without really solving the problem they don't have the business solving in the first place.

  • by dogmatixpsych (786818) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @08:27AM (#31493774) Homepage Journal
    Of course it will cost us money. Any time the "government" says they can do something at zero net cost, you know they are either lying or unreasonably optimistic. That is one of the rules of government spending - it always costs more than stated. A $750 billion stimulus will not cost $750 billion, it will cost $1 trillion. A $3 million bridge will cost $4 million. A 'brief' war will cost 5X what you think it will.

    You may or may not like big businesses but businesses are usually very good at reducing costs, governments are not (the reason that isn't true with ISPs or cable companies is because they don't have any competition - most people live where there is a de facto ISP monopoly). I don't know why so many people - Republicans and Democrats and Independents - want the government to do more and spend more for us.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by egcagrac0 (1410377)

      I don't know why so many people - Republicans and Democrats and Independents - want the government to do more and spend more for us.

      I'd like for someone to do more for us, but I can't seem to get Google (or Apple, or Lenovo, or...) to give a shit about what I want. Since I'd rather have something done than nothing, the government - sucky as it is - is the remaining option, with the all the delightful garbage that accompanies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        You forgot option 3 - do it yourself. In my city there are mostly-empty metal pipes running under the streets, so I'd start my own ISP and run the fiber through those pipes, thereby providing 100 Mbit/s service to any customer who wanted it (about 10 times faster than Comcast or Verzion).

        Of course that assumes I care enough to create a corporation.

        I don't.

        I look around the world and I see that the U.S. average speed is about 1 Mbit/s behind the Russian Federation, but 1 Mbit/s ahead of the EU, 2 Mbit/s

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by geekoid (135745)

          Except the people that 'own' the backbone won't let you in.

          A lot of people have tried just what you suggest.

          I'm not concerned, I have 15 Mb and with the industries push to get HD online, I suspect it will be 25Mb next year.

    • by TheKidWho (705796) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @08:46AM (#31493904)

      Yes, except the entire purpose of a corporation is to turn a profit, social welfare be damned. If hooking up Internet to those 10 people living away from society isn't going to turn us a profit, then we'll be damned if we're going to hook them up! The Federal Government on the other hand has more at stake with regards to the welfare of society and making sure that interstate commerce is working smoothly.

      There are certain jobs that only the government can do well, and there are many others that the government should have absolutely no role in. The problem with government spending is that everything goes by a middle of the road scenario when it comes to cost estimation, however these kinds of large scale projects always become more complicated then it initially seems and costs rise.

      • by Akido37 (1473009) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @09:08AM (#31494150)

        The Federal Government on the other hand has more at stake with regards to the welfare of society and making sure that interstate commerce is working smoothly. There are certain jobs that only the government can do well, and there are many others that the government should have absolutely no role in.

        Amen. This is why the Federal Government is mandated to run the Post Office. At the dawn of the Republic, no intelligent businessman would operate such a money-losing enterprise. However, it is a necessary and needed service.

        Rural electrification and rural broadband, in my opinion, also merit Government intervention.

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @09:53AM (#31494678) Homepage Journal

      It depends on the government and the business. In a free market, business almost always does save the customer money. In a natural monopoly like utilities, roads, bridges, etc, you're going to pay through the nose if privately owned.

      An example is two electric companies, CWLP and Amerin here in Illinois. Amerin's rates are far higher than CWLP's, who provide the cheapest power in the state. Amerin's customer service is abysmal, CWLP's is excellent. When two F-2 (almost F-3) tornados tore through CWLP-served Springfield, we had power restored in our devastated neighborhood in a week; houses that had their roofs impaled by their neighbors' roofs had electricity back long before the roof was fixed, and the electrical infrastructure was completely destroyed, requiring replacement of every pole, wire, and transformer. When a weak F1 passed through Amerin-served Cahokia across the river from St Louis, my friend Jeff was without power for over a month. I visited him a week after his tornado, and the only evidence one had gone through was his lack of electricity.

      To paraphrase Lilly Tomlin's "Ernestine", "We're the electric company. We don't HAVE to." Amerin is only beholden to its stockholders, since their customers have no other choice for electricity. OTOH if CWLP's service is bad, the Mayor loses his job; the customers/citizens own CWKP.

      CWLP not only doesn't use tax money, it actually turns a profit for the city, keeping taxes lower. Since my experience with the tornados [slashdot.org], I've advocated that all utilities be taken over by city and county governments. Keep government out of construction and fast food, but do away with private-owned utilities. A monopoly doesn't follow free market rules.

    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      That is one of the rules of government spending - it always costs more than stated.

      Yeah, if you think corporations are any different, you need to climb out of your mom's basement and take a look at the real world.

      You may or may not like big businesses but businesses are usually very good at reducing costs,

      Right, and then pocketing the savings. I mean, look at all the deregulation that's happened over the last 20 years. That's totally saved the consumers money, right?

      Yeah, or not.

      the reason that isn't tru

    • by copponex (13876) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @11:03AM (#31495910) Homepage

      Privatization! All the same mistakes the government makes, plus the cost of profits, administrative overhead, plain old greed, no transparency, and no incentive to make things right.

      The Pentagon’s reliance on outside contractors in Iraq is proportionately far larger than in any previous conflict, and it has fueled charges that this outsourcing has led to overbilling, fraud and shoddy and unsafe work that has endangered and even killed American troops. The role of armed security contractors has also raised new legal and political questions about whether the United States has become too dependent on private armed forces on the 21st-century battlefield...

      “This is unprecedented,” [Charles Tiefer] added. “It was considered an all-out imperative by the administration to keep troop levels low, particularly in the beginning of the war, and one way that was done was to shift money and manpower to contractors. But that has exposed the military to greater risks from contractor waste and abuse.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/washington/12contractors.html [nytimes.com]

      "Right now the government is paying health insurance plans that administer Medicare Advantage, on average, 12 percent more per person than it spends on patients enrolled in traditional Medicare," said AMA Board Member Cecil Wilson, MD. "With Medicare payments to doctors who care for seniors slated for a 10 percent cut next year, Congress must put the money used to subsidize the insurance industry to better use."

      At the AMA's Annual Meeting late last month, America's physicians sent a resounding message to Congress - eliminate the Medicare Advantage subsidy. AMA policy clearly states that subsidies to private plans offering alternative coverage to Medicare beneficiaries should be eliminated, and that these private Medicare plans should compete with the regular Medicare program on a fiscally neutral basis.

      "While groups that truly represent physicians fight to preserve all seniors' access to health care by stopping Medicare physician payment cuts, the insurance industry and its partners are solely focused on preserving their $65 billion government subsidy," said Dr. Wilson.

      http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/76805.php [medicalnewstoday.com]

      Engineers hired to investigate the cause of September's massive Big Dig tunnel leak have discovered that the project is riddled with hundreds of leaks that are pouring millions of gallons of water into the $14.6 billion tunnel system.

      While none of the leaks is as large as the fissure that snarled traffic for miles on Interstate 93 northbound in September, the breaches appear to permeate the subterranean road system, calling into question the quality of construction and managerial oversight provided by Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff on the massive highway project.

      Finding and fixing all the leaks will take years, perhaps more than a decade, said Jack K. Lemley, an internationally known consultant hired by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to investigate the problem. Just repairing the section of wall where the September leak occurred will take up to two months and require closing of traffic lanes.

      The engineers also said they have discovered documents showing that Bechtel managers were aware that the wall breached this fall was deficient from the moment it was built in the late 1990s, yet did not order it replaced and did not inform state officials of the situation.

      http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2004/11/10/big_dig_found_riddled_with_leaks/ [boston.com]

  • by Akido37 (1473009) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @08:28AM (#31493780)
    The Government provides a service - in this case, asking/forcing someone else to provide a service - and people are shocked that it will cost money? What kind of Communist paradise do these people live in where Government doesn't cost anything?


    Everybody wants services (public schools, Medicare, military, etc), nobody wants to pay taxes.
    • by Krneki (1192201)

      The Government provides a service - in this case, asking/forcing someone else to provide a service - and people are shocked that it will cost money? What kind of Communist paradise do these people live in where Government doesn't cost anything? Everybody wants services (public schools, Medicare, military, etc), nobody wants to pay taxes.

      I have 20/20 MB optic line in my house for 26E a month.

      My city has 10.000 inhabitants, so the price for fiber optic in a bigger environment should be even cheaper.

    • Actually a communist paradise DOES cost money. You earn it - the government takes it and "serves" you with free grocery stores (with long lines), free housing (with 10 people squeezed inside), free apartments (the size of a dorm room), and on and on. Just see Soviet Union circa 1980.

      As for this broaband plan:

      I still don't see why it's my responsibility to fund a fiber optic hookup for some farmer living in the middle of noplace (the Wyoming/Idaho border for example). There's a much cheaper way to get bro

      • >>>my job at the FAA

        I thought maybe I should expand on this. I used to work for the FAA... part of a 4 man team. I received a year of pay, but did only 2 months of actual work. The rest of the time I and my colleagues surfed the net, or read magazines, or whatever. On top of that we got expensive boondoggle trips with $115 hotel rooms that had free room service, et cetera.

        And as I looked around, I noticed that other FAA workers were doing the same thing: Surfing the net. When my one-year stin

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      What kind of Communist paradise do these people live in where Government doesn't cost anything?

      California. Prop 13 [wikipedia.org] and St Reagan say so.

    • Personally, I have no problem paying for the services I use (and a little here and there to help those in need is ok, too). The problem is, I pay income tax. Some of that money is going to the ISPs, etc. Then I pay state/local taxes which also partially fund ISPs. Then I pay additional taxes attached to my broadband/cable/telephone bill. Then there's the broadband bill itself. Oh, and my cable/telephone/wireless bills are increased because carriers can't afford broadband on its own. So fine, I'm willing to
    • by Maxmin (921568)
      The government has already cost us $200 [newnetworks.com]-$300 billion [newnetworks.com] in "telecommunications fees" for this very service, high-speed broadband, during the 1990s.

      That plan cost us dearly, but never materialized. We shouldn't be paying for it again, but it sounds like we are about to, without a choice.

  • Rural areas (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @08:28AM (#31493792)

    Consider that wiring urbanized areas is quite straightforward due to the availability of labour as well as the preexisting infrastructure. Wiring rural areas is a tough task, where often services are provided for an outright financial loss. Even in countries such as New Zealand where the enlongated geography and coastal towns mean that in principle there is only a short distance for cable to run, laying infrequently used cable in remote areas makes it unattractive.

    In such cases broadcasters ought to accommodate wireless services, and probably a good argument can be made for compulsory acquisition of airwaves.

  • by MacAndrew (463832) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @08:42AM (#31493878) Homepage

    When they talk about the warring parties, there doesn't seem to be enough discussion of the death of free (ad-driven or public, but no access fee) broadcasting. Much of the focus, with some lip service to expanding access to broadband, seems to be on wringing as much profit out of the limited spectrum as possible rather than the maximum benefit to all of us from what is basically a natural resource. I don't like the idea of private industry snapping up control and then renting it back to us. How long before the old rabbit ear antennas are quaint and $50/month service is required? The Internet is a vital alternative for many things, but it is far from cheap or independent itself. I for one am feeling more and more "owned" by the access providers and would like to hear a lot more about ubiquitous free Wifi -- in the cities and the boondocks -- and such, as common and cheap as electricity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Grygus (1143095)

      When they talk about the warring parties, there doesn't seem to be enough discussion of the death of free (ad-driven or public, but no access fee) broadcasting. Much of the focus, with some lip service to expanding access to broadband, seems to be on wringing as much profit out of the limited spectrum as possible rather than the maximum benefit to all of us from what is basically a natural resource. I don't like the idea of private industry snapping up control and then renting it back to us. How long before the old rabbit ear antennas are quaint and $50/month service is required? The Internet is a vital alternative for many things, but it is far from cheap or independent itself. I for one am feeling more and more "owned" by the access providers and would like to hear a lot more about ubiquitous free Wifi -- in the cities and the boondocks -- and such, as common and cheap as electricity.

      "Free" broadcast is alive and well - online. Rabbit ear antennas were quaint fifteen years ago. Internet access in many areas is already as common and nearly as cheap as electricity. Being owned by service providers has been happening your entire life; if the electric company suddenly tripled their rates, what would you do besides complain and pay it?

      • by MacAndrew (463832)

        Actually I have a generator. :) And the analogy is limited: Electricity is a commodity that you actually consume. The airwaves are more like free speech. Electricity is about quality of life, communication about quality of mind. As for rabbit ears (and rooftop antennas), currently MILLIONS of homes in the US get their signals that way, including HD. I use it here sometimes with an eyeTV adapter. (And millions still have dial-up. Honest.)

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          If not for the clueless pretense of suburbanite conspicuous consumers and the
          nonsense of their assocated HOAs, I could put up a nice rooftop antenna that
          would yield me signal & image quality that blow away any other option.

          The penny pinching mentality of corporations typically means that any local
          signal carried by a cable provider is degraded considerably. What they try
          to call HD is kind of sad when compared to the real thing.

          When it comes to TV, an antenna is actually the more sophisticated option.

          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            If not for the clueless pretense of suburbanite conspicuous consumers and the
            nonsense of their assocated HOAs, I could put up a nice rooftop antenna that
            would yield me signal & image quality that blow away any other option.

            FCC regulations prevent a HOA from disallowing an exterior television antenna. They can write it into their contract if they like, but it still doesn't trump federal law.

          • The 1996 Telecommunications Act nullified all housing contracts that ban antennas or satellite dishs. So you can erect either of those on your roof. More info can be found here: http://www.highdefforum.com/local-hdtv-info-reception/2922-discussion-hdtv-ota-reception.html [highdefforum.com]
            .

            >>>if the electric company suddenly tripled their rates, what would you do besides complain and pay it?

            I'd turn off the heat in every room except my main living room and supplement it with portable heaters in the bath or bedroom

      • >>>"Free" broadcast is alive and well - online.

        That's NOT free. You have to pay a monthly bill, and if you go over ~250 gigabytes per month (which would be easy to do if internet == television in your home), then you have to pay even more money.

        In contrast my broadcast television has NO monthly free and I get all of these channels:
        MAIN channels:
        2 (BaltimoreTV)
        3 (ion)
        6 (news)
        8 (NBC)
        10 (Xena, Hercules, and other 90s classic)
        11 (syndicated/independent shows)
        12 (PhillyTV)
        13 (baseball)
        15 (CW)
        17 (MyNetw

        • by vlm (69642)

          I don't see any reason to kill off broadcast, free TV as some companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple want to do.

          Who donates to the re-election campaigns, you or your list of companies?

          Hmmm. Commodore64_love is happy, vs cold hard cash. I wonder how this is going to turn out?

          • Well right now it's a battle between the folks who wants to use TV/FM spectrum for wireless internet (MS, Google, Apple, etc) and the folks who want to keep the spectrum (National Association of Broadcasters, NBC Universal, etc).

            I'm not sure who will win. It may end as a tie, so that ultimately it will be letter-writing campaigns that decide. I know which side I'm choosing (free TV). Without free TV I'd be forced to pay ~$65 a month for Comcast Cable which is an inferior choice IMHO.

      • BTW here's the antenna I use. Nothing big or bulky. In fact it fits inside my apartment behind my TV and receives stations 60 miles away: http://www.electronichouse.com/images/slideshow/AN4228.jpg [electronichouse.com]

  • by Neuticle (255200) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @08:45AM (#31493898) Homepage

    Having lived in and visited countries with largely state-run telecom industry and then come home to the USA, I think it should be painfully obvious to all that government does not do a good job at running telecommunications. I know this isn't an attempt at running a telecom, but it sounds like they are going to screw the pooch just by trying to influence the market. The power of the FCC to f-things up is just that immense.

    And I'm going to punch the next person that tells me "Broadband is a right". The hell it is. It is a good, a service that must be paid for, same as healthcare. You can not have a right to something that is non-free. Now I'm open to discussion on whether the state should pay for people to have a certain good, but see the above on how well states run telecoms.

    • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @09:10AM (#31494174)

      And I'm going to punch the next person that tells me "Broadband is a right". The hell it is. It is a good, a service that must be paid for, same as healthcare.

      There are some regulatory hassles, but pretty much anyone can buy land and build a dr office on it.

      On the other hand, I can't think of any broadband provider who does not have easements to steal the use of property, a government granted monopoly to sell in a market, or use the public's wireless spectrum for private profit, or simply sponge off/resell someone else whom does so.

      That's the difference. Broadband is not a free market by any means so its pointless to pretend that it is. Take Take Take from the public, the least the public should ask for is universal service and a nicely regulated price. If the drooling masses want to dramatically simplify that to "broadband is a right" that's more or less close enough.

      You can not have a right to something that is non-free.

      Like free speech, or equal protection under the law, or not quartering soldiers in private homes without the owner's consent? That's expensive compared the alternatives, but our ancestors decided the costs were worth it. You can always move to Somalia if you think that would be a paradise on earth.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Neuticle (255200)

        I agree that sanctioned monopolies are bad, competition universally brings lower prices and better service. As for right of way access and easements, do you think that if we charged companies for that, they would not just pass the cost on to customers? Also, companies pay the government for spectrum, they don't get it free for commercial use.

        Like free speech, or equal protection under the law, or not quartering soldiers in private homes without the owner's consent? That's expensive compared the alternatives

        • If we charged companies for those things they would not provide services in areas where it was not economical (which is what currently happens anyway). The only reason everyone has access to telephone lines is because the government decided that telephone service was a necessary utility like water or electricity and subsidized it with taxpayer dollars.

          The FCC now considers broadband Internet to be a necessary utility. I think 'free' public Internet would probably be a bad idea but I understand where the FCC

        • by vlm (69642)

          As for right of way access and easements, do you think that if we charged companies for that, they would not just pass the cost on to customers?

          There are some fees already. The governments agreed upon dollar value probably has no relationship with my losses. Essentially the govt collects money and keeps it in the name of my hassles. I highly suspect the dollar value is mostly selected by corruption.

          Also, companies pay the government for spectrum, they don't get it free for commercial use.

          Its my spectrum the company is selling, and they're keeping the money. Slashdot car analogy is, I sell your car, and also keep all the money, and you get ... nothing. Its basically an automotive "chop shop" analogy. We're rapidly nearing the point

          • by Neuticle (255200)

            I think we are differing in our meaning of "Free". I say these rights are free because it costs nothing to exercise them. You are basically arguing that those rights aren't free because they force the government to spend money on actions that they could do cheaper by enslaving the population.

            I must say I find this to be an odd argument, but I'll agree that a democratic republic is a more expensive system of government to maintain than a ruthless despotism. Heck, I learned that from Civ 3.

      • >>>Broadband is not a free market by any means so its pointless to pretend that it is.

        No it isn't but that could be easily fixed by allowing other companies access to the government-owned metal pipes under the street. Why should Comcast and Verizon be the only ones to run lines??? I say let other companies such as Cox, Cablevision, ATT, AppleTV, and so on run lines also.

        Then each customer will have a choice of ~10 companies and there will be true competition instead of duopoly.

    • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @09:21AM (#31494304)

      Having lived in and visited countries with largely state-run telecom industry and then come home to the USA, I think it should be painfully obvious to all that government does not do a good job at running telecommunications. I know this isn't an attempt at running a telecom, but it sounds like they are going to screw the pooch just by trying to influence the market. The power of the FCC to f-things up is just that immense.

      And I'm going to punch the next person that tells me "Broadband is a right". The hell it is. It is a good, a service that must be paid for, same as healthcare. You can not have a right to something that is non-free. Now I'm open to discussion on whether the state should pay for people to have a certain good, but see the above on how well states run telecoms.

      Erm..., you've got it wrong. In parts of the U.S. the electrical (and other) utilities are operated by a government entity, a "public utility district" or P.U.D. In other places, the electrical utilities, at least, are run by profiteers. Guess which system works better? And by better, we mean cheaper, more reliable, and of higher quality. That's right, all of the above. The reason for this is simple - accountability. In a marketplace that defines a natural monopoly, the mythical "invisible hand" of market economics is, de facto, not in play. Consumers can't shop for a better deal and, not being share holders, have no other influence on the provider. The P.U.D. customer, on the other hand, has the equivalent of share holder status. He/she has a vote that will elect the officials who will run the "company". The officials' jobs are tied to the customers' satisfaction above all else. And guess what? It works.

      So why should telecom be any different? Socialize the ownership and operation of the infrastructure, and let the market, now open to all via that infrastructure, determine what sells and what doesn't.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Neuticle (255200)

        I wasn't talking about electrical or water utilities. Those do tend to be natural monopolies where competition is not feasible*, but telecommunications is most certainly NOT in that category. Competition is easily possible, and it works. There are towns near me that have multiple cable providers and they get lower prices than I do, because I'm stuck with a city-granted monopoly, or much slower DSL. Why cities keep up these agreements is beyond me.

        *Although with electricity being all one grid, at my last pla

      • >>>So why should telecom be any different?

        Where I live electricity is not a monopoly. I have the choice of about 10 different companies, and it works great. We have the cheapest electricity in the U.S. at only 8.9 cents per KWH.

        I want the same non-monopoly situation for my internet and cable TV. I want to able to choose from ~10 different providers.

      • by vlm (69642)

        The reason for this is simple - accountability. In a marketplace that defines a natural monopoly, the mythical "invisible hand" of market economics is, de facto, not in play. Consumers can't shop for a better deal and, not being share holders, have no other influence on the provider.

        Just like healthcare. Especially emergency rooms and any other critical care.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dkleinsc (563838)

      You can not have a right to something that is non-free.

      Sure you can. Public defense attorneys, jury trials, and other requirements of the Constitution definitely aren't free.

      • "It is only to protect our rights that we resort to government." - Thomas Jefferson. You have the right to not have your property stolen, or your life taken, and that's why the courts exist - to enforce those rights.

        You don't have a right to internet, or a car, or a house. Those are *luxuries* not necessities, and therefore I don't want to buy them for you. I might be wiling to loan you money *voluntarily*, but that's it. I don't want to be forced by Congress.

        My internet is only $15.
        BTW my first car was

      • You can not have a right to something that is non-free.

        Sure you can. Public defense attorneys, jury trials, and other requirements of the Constitution definitely aren't free.

        Neither is jail. But those are all costs borne by government to TAKE AWAY inherent rights of one of its citizens. The only real justification for doing that is to protect the rights of other citizens. Which is the only reason for the necessary evil of government to exist at all.

        So the costs you are attributing to these things are inherent costs of GOVERNMENT, not of individual RIGHTS.

    • by Eskarel (565631)

      I'm not entirely sure I agree with you.

      To begin with, having lived in a country with an appalling semi-privatized used to be government run telecom(Australia and Telstra) and having lived in a country with an appalling fully privatized telecom(USA and SBC) I can't say I've noticed a huge amount of difference. Large telecom companies are pretty universally appalling in my experience be they state run, private run, or somewhere in between, apparently in order to run or work for a large telecom you have to sel

      • by vlm (69642)

        Health Care would be a lot cheaper if we didn't have to try and turn it into a short term profit generator.

        Malpractice claims aside, very few people have any problem with health care providers. They are generally nice, super motivated individuals whom want to do as much as they possibly can to help you, which of course is sometimes a bit expensive, but then again, what they do is simply amazing. If reinvested insurance money bought them a cool new lifesaving toy, they're going to use it, regardless of cost, to your benefit.

        On the other hand, private health insurance companies, now those guys suck, they're Sata

    • by flitty (981864)
      "Broadband as a right" should be as much a right as guns are. If you want to buy a connection to the internet, you should be able to get one. If the government needs a $5 subsidy from all people connected to the internet to pay for such a right, it's about time. The internet is becoming such a backbone to society that we should view it like electricity or water or sewage.

      Also, this isn't a "state run" plan. It's paying a tax to subsidize corporations to provide the service, much like landline phone co
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      And I'm going to punch the next person that tells me "Broadband is a right".

      I hope you're a kung-fu black belt, because since a recent survey said 80% do consider it a right (even though I don't), you're going to be vastly outnumbered.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by amplt1337 (707922)

      Having lived in and visited countries with largely state-run telecom industry

      Which would those be? Because if you're talking Bolivia or something, I would humbly suggest that there might be some confounding variables other than private-vs-public.

      You can not have a right to something that is non-free. Now I'm open to discussion on whether the state should pay for people to have a certain good...

      Um, what about a right to fire-fighters? What about a right to the equal protection of the country's laws? Law enforcement is very much non-free, but it's assumed necessary in all but the most incoherent anti-government political positions.

      There's an additional discussion to be had about the nature of rights, but I don't want to get too s

  • I'm sorry, but do you mean to say that I may have to pay as much as $5-$10/month more in hard left socialist taxes for my broadband speed to increase by 1500%? Not gonna happen, America.

  • "The FCC set a long-term goal of 100 million households with connections of 100 megabits per second"

    I remember seeing that statement somewhere else (I think it was ArsTechnica.com [arstechnica.com]), and I can't help but wonder how the FCC thinks that will help consumers if the Internet backbones and servers don't also get improved? Here's what I mean - my local Telco recently rolled out fiber to my apartment building, so I now have a 10Mbs/2Mbs Internet connection - not blazingly fast by any means, but a nice bump up from t

    • by T-Bone-T (1048702)

      A couple years ago I had 6Mbs cable and I only ever reached top speed when I hit a local server. With no one else using the connection I could usually only hit around 4Mbs. I know what I could use 100Mbs for but that wouldn't last very long because my hard drive would fill up pretty quickly.

    • some servers are rate limited so 1 download can't max it out and so others can get a good speed as well.

    • Keep in mind that this type of connection isn't necessarily for the current "client-server" model that we're used to today. Not to mention that not all data "requires" a 100Mbit connection.

      Imagine having HD surveillance of your house at all times? Imagine being able to stream HD x264 encoded content across multiple TVs and devices in your house? Or being able to access your movie library while over a friend's house?

      Instead of the hosted servers, you can run your own services and devices from your own home i
      • by JSBiff (87824)

        Excellent point. But, I would like to point out that the intention of my post wasn't that there weren't use-cases which could be of interest to most users which could use that bandwidth. . .

        My point is that, because A) 100Mbps service will most likely NOT include 100Mbps upload speed (or even 50Mbps upload speed, most likely), and B) I don't *think* the backbones can actually handle millions of users all transferring 100Mbps data at the same time, that I *still think* the usage cases you bring are still not

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vlm (69642)

      What's so special about 100Mbps?

      Its "a couple TVs worth of Hi Def video" aka competition for the cable providers.

      Its a nice simple power of ten of a number. You can get into long tedious arguments about specially recoding feeds into H.264 at this parameter and that parameter blah blah. However, 10 Mbps is pretty borderline, and 1G is way the heck more than necessary, the convenient power of 10 in the middle happens to be 100 Mbps.

      Also the folks involved are all slow moving dinosaurs. You know that bit about hit the brontosaurus tail an

    • The same argument was used when the US Interstate highway system was built decades ago. We already had highways linking the various major cities; why do we need these big limited access highways? Decades ago when the first bypass Interstate highways were built in the middle of open county around metro areas the discussions were equally argumentative -- who would ever need such a highway? Who would provide services for travelers on these roads?

      Decades may be required before the average person needs 100Mbps. And some of the original architecture and 100Mbps equipment will fail to meet future needs [ analogy attempt: compare a cloverleaf intersection in Ohio with the newly built High Five intersection in Dallas]

      One of the functions of government is to provide very long term goals and infrastructure measured in decades which private industry cannot meet -- and which most people cannot comprehend.
      • >>>The same argument was used when the US Interstate highway system was built decades ago.

        False.

        Virtually all 1950s-era Americans agreed that we needed better paths for our automobiles, because they could see what limited-access highways such as the State Turnpikes did for long distance travel (fast, safe, smooth). It is only in recent times that some have said the interstate system should be dismantled because it encouraged sprawl (bad for the earth, don't ya know) but that certainly wasn't the c

    • >>>I now have a 10000kbs/2000kbs Internet connection - not blazingly fast by any means

      Not fast? Not fast??? I only have 750/128 you insensitive clod!

      ;-)

      But seriously I wouldn't know what to do with myself with that kind of speed. I already watch free TV shows and download movies (shhh) off the net with my "slow" 750k connection. What on earth would I do with a 10,000 line? Feels like overkill, and while you say "not that fast" it feels VERY fast to my mind.

      • by JSBiff (87824)

        I just meant in comparison to some of the other Internet connections out there - I actually have the 'slowest' tier my telco is offering over the fiber. I also believe that recent Cable-Modem Tech has bumped speeds up to over 100Mbps?

        My point was, that I already have a hard time actually using the bandwidth available to me - not for lack of imagination on how I could use up some bandwidth, but simply because it seems like it's almost impossible to actually get connections to any other host on the Internet t

  • Sigh (Score:3, Informative)

    by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @08:49AM (#31493942)

    I've been following news and speculation surrounding the plan for the better part of a year now. There were numerous tell-tale signs that this was going to be a flop, like Blair Levin, the head of the NBP team, discounting the importance of line-sharing, despite it being touted as the single-most effective means of promoting competition in the ISP industry by a Harvard-Berkman study commissioned by the FCC.

    Also, Dave Burstein is amazing. The guy knows more about telecom than anyone else in Washington. I highly recommend you read his website at DSLPrime.com

    • I haven't been following this closely, but I could tell it was going to be a major loss for the American people. There are a couple of reasons. One, many of the people who do not have broadband connections to the Internet do not have them because they do not see them as being valuable enough to be worth the price. Two, this Administration has so far demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of how business works and therefore was likely to conclude that this could be implemented by government fiat witho
      • >>>One, many of the people who do not have broadband connections to the Internet do not have them because they do not see them as being valuable enough to be worth the price.
        >>>

        There are a lot of people like that.

        Such as my friend's dad who could get highspeed internet through his cable provider, but he says he doesn't need to pay $60/month just to "read email and livejournal". He's happy with his $10/month dialup plan.

        And there's nothing wrong with that. It's HIS money and HIS choice.

  • Since when is broadband internet a right, and the government has to intervene to make sure everyone has it. That is total crap. It's literally stealing my money, and giving it to someone else.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by debrisslider (442639)
      Access to information is vital for being an informed member of society, and the government long ago decided it is worth subsidizing its availability. Don't think of it merely as access to the internet. We have libraries for free access to books, newspapers and magazines, government pamphlets/official documents, educational programs, public speakers and presentations, community cultural and political events, and even just intellectual hangouts. The internet is merely the world's best library, alongside being
    • Well a week ago most people [csmonitor.com] (76% of americans, 87% of chinese) think it is or should be a right.

  • by debrisslider (442639) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @09:02AM (#31494084)
    So the text has been out for several hours and this guy flipped through it (you can't honestly read 357 pages of children's fiction in that time, let alone government policy) enough to find a few stated ideas for taxes, and all of a sudden it's a net loss for consumers? When are those taxes going to take effect, and what is the inflation-adjusted amount in today's dollars? It's a lot easier to suggest taxes than to try and tell congress how to budget or regulate companies, so this statement of policy cannot honestly take into account any kind of subsidy that might be dreamed up by congress (save your complaints about how taxes pay for that, that's not the kind of cost we're talking about), nor any kind of price regulations that would decrease charges. A substantial part of the plan is supposed to be paid for by auctioning another part of the broadcast spectrum, and there's no way of knowing anything other than a ballpark estimate for that amount. It's not like this is anything other than the first public rough draft; items will change and funding will be battled over every day until the relevant budgets are passed.
    • He read more of it than any other legislature will, at least he's raising some questions, whether they're educated or not.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Abcd1234 (188840)

      So the text has been out for several hours and this guy flipped through it (you can't honestly read 357 pages of children's fiction in that time, let alone government policy) enough to find a few stated ideas for taxes, and all of a sudden it's a net loss for consumers?

      Correct! See, you must remember, the FCC is obviously run by pinko communists. Plus, this is Slashdot, home of the knee-jerk nerd who, when he isn't jacking off to pictures of ESR posing with his handguns, is whining about government taxati

    • by amplt1337 (707922)

      ...yeah, not to mention that his take on it was essentially fact-free hectoring about how the report is light on figures. Mmmkay.

    • I didn't see a link to the document in those links, but I'd assume its a giant peice of legalese. A large majority of legal documents are simply definitions, and the rest overly verbose ways of describing something simple. Once you know how to read a legal document, it takes less time to read than most child's books of the same length.

      It is still important to read thoroughly to find the gaps and loopholes coded into the document, but you can grasp a majority of the substance by only reading 20% of the pap

  • Last Mile (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @09:28AM (#31494370)

    Here's what I would do: cities and towns provide the infrastructure for the last mile. They connect fiber to homes, schools, and businesses and run it to a neighborhood hub. In rural areas, counties could build towers for 4G wireless. Then the big carriers would connect to the hubs (multiple carriers per hub for maximum competition) and charge for service. Local government would be responsible for deploying and maintaining last mile service, private carriers would compete to supply internet connections and other services (telecomm, video) at the best possible prices. Of course, I don't expect any of this to actually happen ...

    • Re:Last Mile (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ducomputergeek (595742) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @09:56AM (#31494764)

      Exactly, it should be the LOCAL governments that do this. If the local city/county wanted to pass a bond or even a sales tax increase to pay for it, I would vote for it. Especially since it's a lot easier to vote that lot out of office if they don't deliver than it is the people inside the Beltway.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mpe (36238)
        Exactly, it should be the LOCAL governments that do this. If the local city/county wanted to pass a bond or even a sales tax increase to pay for it, I would vote for it. Especially since it's a lot easier to vote that lot out of office if they don't deliver than it is the people inside the Beltway.

        Probably easier to get rid of than your State government too.
        Government, like many other things, appears to have an optimal size. Those who created federal nations appear to have understood this.
    • by eth1 (94901)

      I've also thought that this would be the best way to do it. After all, my city already has enough conduit run to every house to provide full duplex water service, and they manage to deliver that quite well.

      Unfortunately, it would be really expensive to add this now that everything is all built up. New development doesn't really have any excuse.

  • by dwiget001 (1073738) on Tuesday March 16, 2010 @09:49AM (#31494616)

    "...that the plan will cost most Americans money, and won't provide much if any relief to the poor."

    When does the U.S. government do something that doesn't match the above?

I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality through not dying. -- Woody Allen

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