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Statewide Franchise Illegal? Detroit Sues Comcast 183

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the that-sounds-desperate dept.
jqpublic13 writes "The City of Detroit, Michigan, is suing Comcast's local subsidiary citing a 2006 agreement which the City says violates the constitutions of both the United States and the state of Michigan. They claim that a federal act from 1984 supersedes the local agreement. Comcast has 20 days to respond."
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Statewide Franchise Illegal? Detroit Sues Comcast

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  • Detroit is broke (Score:2, Insightful)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297)
    This is probably more about shaking down deep pockets than anything else. Yeah, I RTFA.
    • Except for the fact that nothing in the article states they are seeking money?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chill (34294)

      Probably, but it looks like they have a case. It will hinge on whether Comcast is considered a "public utility".

      Michigan Constitution, Article 7, Paragraph 29:

      No person, partnership, association or corporation, public or private, operating a public utility shall have the right to the use of the highways, streets, alleys or other public places of any county, township, city or village for wires, poles, pipes, tracks, conduits or other utility facilities, without the consent of the duly constituted authority of the county, township, city or village; or to transact local business therein without first obtaining a franchise from the township, city or village. Except as otherwise provided in this constitution the right of all counties, townships, cities and villages to the reasonable control of their highways, streets, alleys and public places is hereby reserved to such local units of government.

      • by michael_cain (66650) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @10:37AM (#32730830) Journal

        It will be more complicated than that. FCC rules have the force of federal law, so trump the Michigan state constitution. In recent years, the FCC has stripped local franchising authorities of considerable authority. At least some of the provisions in this paragraph are clearly no longer enforceable; eg, under certain conditions the federal rules allow a company to use public right of way to provide video services even though they failed to reach a franchise agreement with the local authority. Since this paragraph can't apply to companies providing video services, it is at least arguable that state-wide video service franchising is okay. In addition, Comcast provides communications services (voice and Internet) over the same fiber-coax infrastructure, and franchising authority for those kinds of services have been outside of local control for a long time.

        As for the free service for schools and municipal buildings: the latest FCC rules nullify that if those "in kind" services are being used to circumvent the federal cap on franchise fees.

        • >>>It will be more complicated than that. FCC rules have the force of federal law, so trump the Michigan state constitution.

          Yeah but the National Constitution trumps federal law and nullifies it. See the recent case where the Supreme Court said the Constitution gives the FCC no power to regulate Comcast's Net Neutrality. The National Constitution grants no power to the national government to regulate cable lines *inside* a state, or inside a city (Detroit), so the Feds have no power in this matte

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by michael_cain (66650)

            The National Constitution grants no power to the national government to regulate cable lines *inside* a state, or inside a city (Detroit), so the Feds have no power in this matter.

            Nonsense.

            The FCC has been regulating cable service in a wide variety of ways for decades. It doesn't matter whether you or I think the 10th Amendment reserves such regulatory authority to the states; the US Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld both Congress's authority to regulate cable television services and its ability to de

    • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @09:04AM (#32729426) Journal

      Clearly you didn't read enough of the fucking article, because the real issue is that Detroit's contract requires Comcast to provide free cable to their schools, public buildings, and other benefits, in exchange for being granted a monopoly within the city. On the flip side Comcast claims it no longer has to provide those freebies thanks to a 2007 Michigan law. Detroit's argument is that the MI Law violates the MI Constitution, and as far as I can tell, Detroit is correct.

      Comcast could solve this issue, without cost, simply by honoring the Detroit Contract they signed rather than ignoring it.

      As for "shaking down" I pretty much hate comcast right now. My brother's analog comcast was $65 when discontinued, and raised to $85 digital cable. Difference? Analog cable was a flat fee regardless how many TVs you had, where digital charges $5 per set. Per month. I call that GREED on the part of comcast.

      • Comcast then (2 months ago): "We don't want to be the worst company in america again..."

        Comcast now: "Well we signed a contract but the law says we don't have to actually make good on our promises! ^_^ So you're screwed!"

        Assholes.

      • by bondsbw (888959)
        Agreed, a contract is a contract. If one side violates it, the other is no longer held to the agreement and can sue for breach of contract. Detroit has that ability, unless it's determined that Detroit violated their contract because of the Michigan law.
      • by poetmatt (793785)

        well if a court declares comcast a public utility that could go a long way in making some necessary changes.

      • per box / outlet fee is about $8 now and $16 HD dvr per box. MRV $20 /m for the main box.

        I think soon all cable card users will also have to pay comcasts new HD fee as well but only 1 time per home and cable uses may also pay the outlet fee makeing card rent + outlet cost about the same as renting a box but less then renting a HD DVR.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Wiarumas (919682)
        Detroit kinda had it coming promoting a monopoly like that. Did they really think that they could tame the beast? Comcast operates off profits... not goodwill. Even if Comcast honored the original contract, the issue still remains that there is a monopoly. Its only a matter of time before something like this happens again or worse.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mea37 (1201159)

        I hear a lot of people saying Comcast is "ingoring the contract they signed". I'd like to hear a few more facts before jumping on that bandwagon.

        The contract was pretty old. A contract with a term that long usually has termination clauses. Have you read the contract to know if it has such clauses? Do you know if Comcast exercised them properly?

        Granted, if they did, and if the law on which they were relying when they decided to abandon that contract gets overturned, then they'll likely find themselves ne

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          It's just like every other franchise contract.

          the contract is in effect until there is competition, until then the Monopoly shall follow the terms of the contract.

          Comcast did this to protect themselves by making the cost of entry for competition to detroit (and other communities) very expensive. In some places like my home town it's actually "illegal" for me to start my own cable company as it is in the franchise contract.

          Learn about Franchise contracts, and fight against them.

          • In some places like my home town it's actually "illegal" for me to start my own cable company as it is in the franchise contract.

            Such provisions are now null and void. The latest FCC rules on the matter require that the city allow competing networks and that they negotiate with you on franchise terms. If you and the city do not reach an agreement within a specified period of time, you're allowed to go ahead and build your network. The city is not allowed to discriminate against you on things like fees for

        • I think the problem is that the state has negotiated a new contract with Comcast that Comsast and the state claim overrides Detroit's original contract. Imagine we live in an apartment building. When we all signed our leases, the building management said: "You handle your own cable." So we did. You called Comcast and got a sweet package deal with all the channels you wanted and Internet, I called a month later got a different package that included a land line phone, and Bob down the hall called Cox and

      • by tgd (2822)

        Comcast charges a fee per cable box, DVR or cable card. If you have a digital cable ready TV, it works just fine and there is no per month charge.

        I have a TV in my guest room and in my garage that both have QAM tuners and get all the digital channels (including HD) just fine without any per-set fee.

        Did you expect them to give you hardware for free?

        • Clear QAM just OTA now and you CAN'T buy the box / cable card in comcast systems.

          Service Electric seems to be the only cable co that let's buy the card.
          Purchase CableCARD for a one-time fee of $125.00 and receive a one-year warranty on the CableCARD from the manufacture so you never have to worry about rental fees again!

          Comcast pay $8 /m per outlet or $16 /m per HD DVR. They also have super cheap DTA's that don't even get the full starter lineup NO guide, NO VOD, NO PPV, NO NHL CI, NO NBA LP, NO MLB EI, NO

        • I ran like this quite some time. Then one day out of nowhere, it just stopped working. Comcast started encrypting the channels I had been receiving for months in clear QAM. No the only stations I can get w/out those external boxes are ones I could get if I put up an antenna and stopped paying Comcast. Guess what I'm doing after I move.

      • Comcast can charge $999 a month or whatever the market will bare. Doesn't mean you should like it. No, just don't subscribe. I don't except for their Internet service.

        The real heart of this issue is PR. If Comcast continues down this path, the competition will have their lunch once G4 wireless Internet/IPTV services roll out. Don't make a bad name for yourself. And if you do, just change your name to something like Xfinity... And remember. If you can't polish a turd, roll it in glitter.

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @11:46AM (#32731926) Journal

          >>>Comcast can charge $999 a month or whatever the market will bare

          What market? Comcast was given a government-granted monopoly inside Detroit. No other company can provide cable TV. No choice == no free market

          • True, it is a monopoly on cable services. But you don't have to subscribe nor should you be compelled to do so. If you really want TV service (as limited as they are), you could always go over-the-air or Dish Network. But again, entertainment isn't like water and electricity which you have to have.

            Ya, Comcast can suck my balls. But the least I can do is not reward bad behavior. Though I am pleased with their Internet services, so I still do business with them on that front.

      • by CompMD (522020)

        "Detroit's contract requires Comcast to provide free cable to their schools, public buildings, and other benefits, in exchange for being granted a monopoly within the city."

        The local cable company in my city had the same situation. They were contractually obligated to provide free cable and internet access to all the public schools. The cable company went ahead and did this, and proceeded to bill the city, which without thinking, paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars. Since the cable company also ow

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Oh, but they'll argue that it's for the consumer! Of course, you're right. It's not "We want more choice and freedom, for the benefit of the people," more like "Hey, we want our cut!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      Yeah, the deep pockets of the American taxpayer. You have any idea what a state-sanctioned monopoly is worth to a company like that?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy (216950)

      It would appear to be a very clear interpretation of their constitution. Even if Comcast had not backed out of their original contract to provide free services to public institutions, it would not matter. The MI state constitution clearly says that franchises are the responsibility of the local governments, then the state stomped on that by signing a state wide deal with Comcast. It is a clear matter of constitutional law, and very much a valid case.

      • The relevant paragraph of the state constitution also grants certain powers to the local franchising authority that are denied to them by FCC rules adopted in the last few years. Specifically, under the FCC rule, there are conditions under which video services can be provided without a local franchise. In the case of such conflicts, federal rule trumps state constitution (the Supremacy Clause [wikipedia.org], as interpreted by federal and state courts). In effect, the FCC rule tacks a sentence onto this paragraph of the Mi
  • The statewide franchises were a huge bone thrown to the megacorps AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon. I know in my previous residence we would have never received cable internet if the local franchise agreement hadn't required it by a certain date with significant penalties for non-compliance.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      THESE statewide-granted monopolies and the recent (yesterday) decision to eliminate channels 31 to 51 on broadcast television is telling me that the Nobility are no longer serving the People. They are serving the corporations. ----- For digital television 2-6 are worthless (as people trying to watch WPVI6 can attest). And channels 14-20(?) are reserved for land mobile. So what's really left is 7-13 and 21-31 - simply not enough room for all the networks, especially in high p

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        When did the nobility EVER serve the people? The Golden Rule ("He who has the gold makes the rules") is one of the oldest axioms of politics.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          >>>When did the nobility EVER serve the people?

          Yes well, this is why the idea of Constitutional government was invented in the 1600s - to shackle the nobility and only allow them to exercise a FEW limited powers. All other powers would be reserved to the People (where all legitimate authority lies):

          The People (top)
          |
          Member State Constitution (a few limited powers)
          |
          Member State Government (shackled by the constitution)
          |
          US Constitution (a few limited powers)
          |
          US Government (bottom)

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by elrous0 (869638) *
            Yeah, except it NEVER worked that way in practice. The founding fathers of the U.S. put in safeguards to protect their own interests (*representative* democracy instead of direct, the electoral college, etc.) and ensure that the rabble could only send their betters to represent them. And their "betters" have been taking bribes and abusing their power ever since.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Democracy is a Tyranny of the majority (2 wolves and 1 sheep deciding what to have for dinner - goodbye sheep). Of course the Founders didn't want that. They remembered what happened to Socrates when the Athenian Democracy voted to kill him, simply because they didn't like his public speeches.

              Instead they wanted to create Rule by Law, which would protect the individual from being crushed by the majority. The Law (constitution) obliges the Nobility to behave itself by limiting their power to just a few ex

              • by HoppQ (29469)

                So, they chose Tyranny of the minority?

                • Close.

                  The US founders actually chose Tyranny of the individual (a minority of one), where each person is a tyrant over exactly ONE person - himself. That's how you achieve maximum freedom. Each person has the right to do whatever he wants to himself and with his own life, so long as he does not physically harm another's body or property, or rights.

              • Instead they wanted to create Rule by Law, which would protect the individual from being crushed by the majority. The Law (constitution) obliges the Nobility to behave itself by limiting their power to just a few express items.

                Yeah, and nobility effectively gets to stay in charge, even though with limited power. Which is precisely what GP was talking about.

                If direct democracy is two wolves and a sheep (which is a story told by the wolves, by the way, because in practice it's usually two sheep and a wolf), then republic is one wolf representing two sheep and deciding on what to have for dinner - for public good, of course.

              • Actually you're both right. The Structure of the US government was designed partially to protect from a Tyranny of the Majority, and partly to protect the interest of the propertied classes. It's a Red Herring to suggest that a pure unlimited democracy would have served the country better, but it's equally fallacious to ignore the clear bent toward protecting property rights and the privileges of the upper class in our government's design. Having said that, a great deal of the most blatant upper class bi

              • by Chris Burke (6130)

                It's a Republic not a democracy.

                [pet peeve]

                We're a Representative Democracy, not a Direct Democracy.

                Republic means the head of government is not a monarch. It is orthogonal to Democracy. England is not a Republic, but it is a Representative Democracy.

                China is a Republic, but it is not a Democracy of any kind.

                [/pet peeve]

                You're absolutely right in every other sense, though.

            • The electoral college was not designed to be self serving in the way you imply. IT was designed to help keep 'the whims of the crowd' in check. Its a moderation device to defend against the tyranny of the masses. When I was younger I railed at the electoral college too, until I matured and realized that the masses cannot always be trusted. Never forget, first and foremost we live in a REPUBLIC. The will of the people will always be tempered with the inalienable rights of the republic. Unchecked democracy is
          • by Lumpy (12016)

            No it did not. you never learned US history did you.

            The Us revolution was to make a bunch of rich guys here no longer pay taxes back to GB. Nothing more.

            It was not about freedom, it was not about anything but greed and power.

            • Re:They have a point (Score:4, Informative)

              by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @12:02PM (#32732140) Journal

              >>>It was not about freedom, it was not about anything but greed and power.

              I see the Government Monopoly school system has brainwashed you very effectively, in order to make you reject freedom and more trusting of government control of your life. There are all kinds of things wrong with your statement, but I'll just pick one:

              The US Founders were not rich.

              Ben Franklin was but all the rest were poor and deep, deep into debt (kinda like us today). They were commoners who rose to the level of politicians, but they still remained poor in their personal lives. Hell when Thomas Jefferson died (July 4, 1826) his estate was immediately partitioned by the British bankers, because he owed them the equivalent of $200,000. His slaves were sold-off, his possessions confiscated, and there was nothing left for his children to inherit.

              That story was true for virtually all of the Founders. They didn't do it for wealth - they didn't have any. They did it because they were tired of UK police entering their homes for warrantless searches (to enforce the Stamp Act), tired of soldiers stripping their farms for food, tired of government-granted Monopolies that took-away freedom of choice, and tired of regulations that stole what little income they earned as fishermen, traders, doctors, and so on.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by vertinox (846076)

                That story was true for virtually all of the Founders.

                What? What?

                In the 1700's if you owned more than one slave you were considered wealthy by the people of the time.

                Frankly, I'm not sure why people modded you informative other than the last part.

                But the truth of the matter is that American merchants did agitate the revolution in the beginning and the UK responded in most likely the worst possible way by warrentless searches, soldier quartering, etc etc in which the founding fathers objected too.

                In that reg

      • by afidel (530433)
        Actually, they aren't exclusive franchises they are statewide franchises which takes all control out of the hands of the local municipality. Basically the megacorps were finding too expensive/inconvenient to lobby and bribe^h^h contribute to campaign funds for local officials in each municipality so they just applied their money at the state level and made the problem easier to manage. Of course that works against the public interest in a number of ways not least of which is removing clauses like the ones t
        • >>>they aren't exclusive franchises they are statewide franchises

          If the franchise agreement Comcast signs with the member state (Michigan, France, or whoever) gives them sole control over cable TV across that whole area, how is that not "exclusive"?

          • I think he means they're not municipal-level franchises.
          • by afidel (530433)
            It doesn't give them an exclusive franchise, at least the one in Ohio doesn't. Verizon and AT&T both got statewide franchises and are able to offer video services in any area they have a footprint regardless of any existing franchise agreement for exclusive video rights.
            • And what if AppleTV comes along and wants to offer Fiber-based video & internet to Ohio residents? Are the blocked from entering?

      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        For digital television 2-6 are worthless (as people trying to watch WPVI6 can attest). And channels 14-20(?) are reserved for land mobile. So what's really left is 7-13 and 21-31 - simply not enough room for all the networks,

        Geez. How many broadcast networks do you guys get? Even throwing out the 2-6 you mentioned (though my channels in that range work fine), 7-13 and 21-31 is still 18 channels. I'm on the east coast we get ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CW, and WB - I didn't even think there were really any more networks besides those that did OTA broadcasts :S. Learn something new everyday I guess.

        • TV channels are easier to tune well with at least one "open" channel between transmitted channels.

          As for the channels in question, I think you'll find maybe the digital channels may say they're in the 3-6 range, in reality, they aren't necessarily using the analog equivalent of that channel. My local channel "3" is actually assigned to digital channel 8, they keep the callsign and the number.

          • by tweak13 (1171627)
            A quick FCC search shows that the station he refers to is in fact transmitting on channel 6. Having a local station that is also in the VHF-Lo band, I can attest to how utterly worthless it is for digital.
        • >>>7-13 and 21-31 is still 18 channels

          You forget that broadcast TV extends across a 200 mile radius. In that context 18 channels is not a lot. For example Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Baltimore, and Washington DC are all part of the same region, and they must all share those channels in such a way that they don't overlap. So really it's just 4-5 channels each, and that's not enough to carry all the networks.

          >>>How many broadcast networks do you guys get?

          ABC
          CBS
          FOX
          NBC
          CW
          PBS
          PBSarts
          PBSworld
          PBSk

          • by David_W (35680)

            But how many of those are sub-channels on the same frequency?

            (Not to imply that will suddenly give plenty of channels to use, but let's put the list in proper context.)

      • by tweak13 (1171627)

        And channels 14-20(?) are reserved for land mobile.

        Nope. There's a broadcast station near me that had analog on 17 and digital on 16. Analog is of course now gone, but the digital channel hasn't moved from it's assignment. Where my parents live there's a digital channel on 15. And yes, those are all really the channel assignments, not just keeping the old branding.

        A quick search suggests that those land mobile assignments apply only to a list of 13 metropolitan areas. I don't get why the FCC hasn't given those guys the boot and let broadcasters take

      • Did the decision yesterday really say that?
        I'm just asking, because all I saw was 500MHZ additional to wireless services, but they didn't say where those 500Mhz were coming from. I assumed it would be carved out of sub 5Ghz spectrum, but not the UHF TV band

        Was there additional info published?
      • by Lumpy (12016)

        And now I read this nonsense about Michigan and other states giving exclusive monopolies to Comcast and other megacorps. Unbelievable.

        This has went on for decades. When CableTV started in the 70's it was done to make community TV setups illegal.

        WE had a Community TV when I grew up. the neighborhood had a single 200 foot tower with a gob of antennas and the whole neighborhood was wired with coax. it worked great. we paid $50.00 a year for it and got over 13 channels clear as day.

        TCI cable came into town and

      • by russotto (537200)

        THESE statewide-granted monopolies and the recent (yesterday) decision to eliminate channels 31 to 51 on broadcast television is telling me that the Nobility are no longer serving the People.

        The decision to eliminate 31-51 isn't a done deal. It'll take an act of Congress, and there's a whole lot of folks who screamed enough about the original digital transition to delay it for another six months even at the bitter end when even the broadcasters weren't on their side.

    • Agreements that were actually lived up to? Wow, that's a shock. Usually the telcos promise everything and deliver nothing. 300 billion worth of lies [newnetworks.com] according to the last thing I saw
  • by AHuxley (892839) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @09:03AM (#32729410) Homepage Journal
    " ceased making payments to support local public and educational programming, and closed local public and educational video studios and ceased providing mobile units, equipment, staff and maintenance"
    They still cant do the isp/telco basics. Did the feds also hand out tax breaks for the above too?
    Could be time to roll and dig your own, see if a little community organizing gets dark fiber found and schools supported.
    • Or even better:

      Have the city of Detroit run 100-fiber bundles under all the streets, and then offer to lease 1 fiber per television or internet company. Just imagine: Customers would be able to choose from Comcast or Cox or AppleTV or Time-Warner or Cablevision or whatever. True competition. True choice.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @09:21AM (#32729630)

        Have the city of Detroit run 100-fiber bundles under all the streets, and then offer to lease 1 fiber per television or internet company. Just imagine: Customers would be able to choose from Comcast or Cox or AppleTV or Time-Warner or Cablevision or whatever. True competition. True choice.

        Without federal assistance, the city of Detroit can't afford to buy 100 strings and pairs of cans at this point. They aren't even processing rape kits because the city is too far in debt. Sure the former mayor is in prison now, but the whole city is still screwed.

        • Detroit could hire someone, like Google, to do the job for them. In exchange google would administer the leasing of the 100-fiber network to other companies over the next ten years. It would be a government-regulated private corporation, and then Detroit would take over that corporation in 2021.

          • by powerlord (28156)

            Perhaps the good city of Detroit could just outsource the city government to some well meaning Corporation?

            I'm sure I've seen some thoughts on this somewhere ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093870/ [imdb.com] ).

          • Detroit is b-r-o-k-e, broke.

            They sold their water and sewer system [michiganmessenger.com] to a neighboring county because they couldn't afford to operate it. There is consideration being given to filing Chapter 9 bankruptcy [crainsdetroit.com]. The mayor has seriously proposed bulldozing a quarter of the city [cnbc.com]. Detroit can't afford to build anything. And, IMO, a company would be nuts to put any significant money into infrastructure in that environment.

            • Detroit sounds like Rome circa 450 AD. The city of Rome had depopulated from 2 million to just 100,000 and was literally falling apart due to lack of funds.
              .

              >>>a company would be nuts to put any significant money into infrastructure in that environment.

              Even in its decrepit condition Detroit is still bigger than the city where I live, and companies have installed both Cable TV and DSL here. So I think Central Detroit could still be a worthwhile investment for a Google or other company.

    • How about we just get rid of these government granted monopolies (franchise agreements) and let whoever wants to and can get right of way permits provide cable service? Then we could maybe find out if the free market could fix the problems we have with cable tv and high speed internet service. As a bonus, we would also find out if all those people who keep talking about "natural" monopolies are right or not.
      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        How about we just get rid of these government granted monopolies (franchise agreements) and let whoever wants to and can get right of way permits provide cable service?

        It isnt just the permits. Literally everyone (aka current and future competition) can cost the project time/money with lawsuits, which is why towns and especially cities often go with the force-of-law franchise method. Otherwise it seems to never get done.

      • The popular conception (and whether it's accurate or not I don't claim to know, but it's certainly an arguable view point) is that without the carrot of a monopoly in front of them, most companies won't risk the investment in the hardware. Especially to more remote or poorer areas. It costs a lot of money (and takes a lot of time) to do this kind of thing. I'll give you a medium scale example.

        In 2003, the city of Lafayette, LA was getting a bit miffed about its communications infrastructure. Cox Cable w

        • In the current "Quarterly profit numbers are my Holy Scripture" environment, how many companies do you think will risk 3-5 years of build up and another 3-5 years to profitability without some sort of guarantees?

          I have NO idea and nobody else does either because the government bought into that idea years ago and never gave us a chance to find out. My suspicion is that where I live (in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area) I would have 5 or 6 choices. In areas where population density is much lower, I suspect that areas that do not currently have high speed Internet connection wouldn't see if it for a very long time, but then I don't expect they will get it for a very long time under current conditions either.

  • Comcast Victims (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kylere (846597) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @09:04AM (#32729418)
    I think it is too early for the Comcast victims in Michigan to rejoice, they purchased one set of politicians years ago and it is clear that the bribes have worn off. New Bribes in 3...2...
  • The United States Constitution is the charter for the federal government. It creates an entity known as the "United States". In numerous statutes, the "United States" is confined to federal possessions: D.C. and its territories. There is also no such thing as federal "common law". The Constitution governs itself, interstate commerce (see "commerce clause [wikimedia.org]") international trade, wars, etc, state's limitations. It does NOT create a parent government. It creates a government that only operates under certain con

    • Read the article more carefully. They're saying that the state's constitution specifically delegates selection of franchises to the municipalities, yet the state also awarded a franchise to Comcast, overriding Detroit's existing franchise with the same. The article clearly cites chapter and verse of the Michigan constitution that's relevant here, so it's hard to see what the state thought it was doing.

      The US constitution bit has to do with the laws the govern the contract signed by Detroit and Comcast. I

    • Yet another person who didn't read the article.

      Detroit is not saying anything of the kind. Detroit is reading the MICHIGAN constitution and saying it gives Detroit exclusive power to make contracts with Comcast and other utilities inside the city.

    • The FCC governs many items that would not "normally" qualify as Federal Jurisdiction.

      An example:
      I could have a very week HAM radio that could only reach a block or two down the street. I could be in the middle of my State. However because I am broadcasting a radio signal in a specific band I require authorization from the FCC to legally use that equipment.

      Being as Comcast is an entity that is strongly regulated by the FCC, I would be surprised if the FCC had no jurisdiction here.

      What they fail to mention is the 10th Amendment. The Detroit interpretation is ignoring the fact that unless there is an enabling statute, the federal law is void. It would make the 10th amendment at odds with the article, and void both provisions. It would be impossible to reserve any power to the states if federal law trumps state law. We've avoided this so far by having the federal only govern international and interstate commerce.

      Historically, Feder

  • They are nothing more than restraints on trade that protect incumbents. Why should Cox need a "by your leave, sire" from Detroit to wire up its own infrastructure and compete against Comcast? Why can't AT&T just make its own agreements with property owners and wire up a competitor to FiOS?

    Oh right, because some asshat thinks that he can regulate these businesses "in the public interest" to get concessions "for the community" like the freebies to local government and schools.

    It's not worth it. Break it a

    • by Migraineman (632203) on Tuesday June 29, 2010 @10:59AM (#32731170)
      DC tried this, and it just resulted in one company tearing up a street that the previous company tore up and re-paved. You've never seen so much redundant construction and horrible patch-jobs. Oh, and when Company A "accidentally" drops the backhoe bucket on Company B's fiber, Company B will be along shortly to dig up the street (again) to repair their infrastructure.

      There's merit to having a common infrastructure, but it probably needs to be a municipal resource. That's a completely different type of monopoly, and is subject to a different type of corruption. I personally think "communications as a utility" is less evil than a communications infrastructure that's privately owned (and can be withheld on a corporate whim.)
      • If our local community wanted to pass any type of tax increase to build a public fiber network and then lease those lines out to whatever providers wanted to compete for my $$$, I'd vote for it in a heartbeat. I'm not sure I want government entities providing the service, but just building and maintaining the line/infrastructure. For rural districts, they should do what farmers and people did years ago: form coops.

        I have a house in Missouri and a townhouse I rent in Illinois. All my utilities in Missouri

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Because "wire up your own infrastructure" requires ripping up the streets, blocking traffic, entering on and using public property (and public easements on private property) to hold your wires, etc.

      Local jurisdictions go the "public utility" route to make the net cost to the public low. Having several companies doing the same infrastructure installation would have an economic cost far larger than the economic benefit of direct competition.

      To compensate for the lack of competition, the local jurisdiction co

  • I'm glad to see that ED-209 found new work as a lawyer.

  • Fuck Comcast. Prices are too high, repair services are too slow, and Internet service is extremely unreliable.
  • The law that moved Michigan's franchise authority to the state level lacks any provision for resolution or mediation of consumer disputes. What a wonderful gift to comcast - no complaints to deal with. Prices go up and up, and in some areas comcast's hardware is oversubscribed, so image quality is poor. Analog quality was better than their digital.

    Thank you Governor Granholm. Maybe you can further stimulate Michigan's economy by converting even more waterfront public parks to private golf courses. [savejeanklockpark.org] And

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