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FCC Wants To Shift Phone Subsidy Funds To Broadband 211

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-know-just-the-place dept.
An anonymous reader writes "FCC chairman Julius Genachowski revealed plans yesterday to overhaul the U.S. phone subsidy program and shift its focus to providing broadband access. He said, 'Broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society. If we want the United States to be the world's leading market, we need to embrace the essential goal of universal broadband, and reform outdated programs.' According to BusinessWeek, the program currently 'supports phone service to schools, libraries, the poor and high-cost areas.' Last year it spent $4.3 billion to provide support to over 1,700 carriers in high-cost areas. Genachowski hopes the change will put the U.S. 'on the path to universal broadband service by the end of the decade.'"
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FCC Wants To Shift Phone Subsidy Funds To Broadband

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  • Open up the books (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SeeSp0tRun (1270464) on Friday October 07, 2011 @10:19AM (#37638412) Journal

    I'd like to see what carriers would be getting, vs what we will continue to pay.
    Fee hikes every year leaves me bouncing between two carriers that I hate, just because they're the only two in town.

    • Re:Open up the books (Score:4, Informative)

      by bws111 (1216812) on Friday October 07, 2011 @10:31AM (#37638538)

      If you already have broadband it won't lower your fees. The program is to subsidize service in areas where it is currently too expensive for companies to wire (rural areas).

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Please? My local WISP got bought out by a new one that claimed I wouldn't have to pay an installation fee, which was part of the deal. No, instead they decided to overcharge me for the first four months. When I called them on it they agreed to even refund me for the difference, and in the case they put a note "this is ONLY for Martin" ... And the final insult is that they are merely an AT&T reseller! AT&T literally owns all the fiber that runs into this valley, so it's ATT or a satellite. I would be

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm an auditor for the organization that this article is talking about; I specialize in auditing the telecom carriers. This would be a huge change, but it's definitely needed. There has been a shift away from traditional land line service to internet-based and mobile-based communications. The support that the schools and libraries, hospitals, and telecom carriers in high cost areas is used to fund broadband services already. Unfortunately, this change would mean higher costs for end-users but keep in mi

  • How many degrees is that from a 'right'? Will 'three strikes and yer out' be the same as the death penalty?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It's exactly that, a necessity. I'm not sure why you are comparing it to the death penalty..well that's not true, I do know. It's because you're an ignorant ass.

      If you want people to participate in society, then they need communication tools. And since rural area aren't profitable enough to corporation, the government gives them money specifically so rural area can participate.

      • by Bob-taro (996889)

        It's exactly that, a necessity. I'm not sure why you are comparing it to the death penalty..well that's not true, I do know. It's because you're an ignorant ass.

        If you want people to participate in society, then they need communication tools. And since rural area aren't profitable enough to corporation, the government gives them money specifically so rural area can participate.

        I live in a rural area and the best speed I can get is 1.5mbps dsl. I used to get wdsl from a local provider but it was very unreliable. I have much slower speeds than people in town, but it's my choice. It doesn't keep me from "participating in society". We have several computers/devices in the house and the biggest hardship we have is that we can only have one video stream going at a time. I feel like I'm fully participating in the internet society - I bank online, buy stuff online, watch netflix, my

        • If you can get 1.5 mbps dsl, you're not in need of a broadband subsidy.

          I can't get any wired internet faster than dialup, there are no WISPs around here, and while I was able to get no-cap 3G, it ain't exactly what I'd call cheap. I pay for it, because I'd go bonkers on dialup.

          Banking online doesn't work reliably on dialup any more. It takes so long for most banks' pages to load, the security timeout trips before you can do anything.

          I'm on 3G, theoretically 1.2mbps, and I can't stream Netflix. Heck, I can

  • ...and the fast-path treatment they're getting from Obama's FCC.

    Free smartphones for @AttackWatch!

  • This sounds like the kind of thing that should be decided by Congress and the President, rather than by an unaccountable political appointee. We're talking an awful lot of money here, and I'm quite leery of letting a government agency decide more-or-less arbitrarily to redirect billions of dollars in such a manner.
  • My in-laws live in rural SC and the only broadband option they have is sattelite (which isn't really broadband at all.) Trying to fix their laptop is a nightmare since they only have dialup. It's not profitable for the cable or phone companies to run out an entire line to one house on the end of a dead end road when there is no guarantee that the people at that road could even afford it, so they don't bother. Extending the subsidies would knock out one more excuse the broadband companies have against uni
    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      That seems a remarkably stupid way to do such a thing.

      Why subsidize companies who might or might not provide access when the government could just directly spend the money to build the infrastructure in the first place? They can then lease it out to the broadband companies to provide actual service. Though really that should be a state level decision, heck maybe you'd get different states trying different things and we'd all benefit from the resulting innovation (or even just from the resulting examples of

  • by MetricT (128876) on Friday October 07, 2011 @11:08AM (#37639012) Homepage

    The FCC needs to compel broadband providers to actually provide service in some instances. My parents live a mile off the road in a deep valley. The "mile off the road" part precludes cable because the cable company wants $15,000 to run line. The "deep valley" part precludes cell service and satellite. Literally, their only option is DSL, but BellSouth's local DSLAM has no free ports and they have refused to add a new one for several years.

    We've raised the issue with the Tennessee Regulatory Commission (the TN service nominally in charge of overseeing utilities) and even they won't/can't do anything due to our braindead legislators handicapping them.

    I can find 24 port VDSL2 DSLAM's on Google for $100 a port. I'm presuming AT&T, with their much larger negotiating power, can do even better. I'd be willing to buy the whole DSLAM for them, but they have no internal way of even handling that.

    When the customer has no other option from whom to buy, there is no "free market". In that particular circumstance, the seller should be compelled to provide service.

    • by Rockoon (1252108)

      The "mile off the road" part precludes cable because the cable company wants $15,000 to run line.

      Its only $600 per household if there are 25 houses out there, which isnt that unreasonable.
      If they moved into the middle of nowhere where few people live, then I say fuck 'em. Seriously.

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        If they moved into the middle of nowhere where few people live, then I say fuck 'em. Seriously.

        If by that you mean, consider it part of the cost of living out in the middle of nowhere, then I agree. Why should people who wisely chose to live in an urban area where utilities are cheap have to subsidize the lifestyles of people who live in rural areas?

        As Thoreau would say, if you love nature, stay away from it.

      • by MetricT (128876) on Friday October 07, 2011 @12:11PM (#37640052) Homepage

        My parents live 1 mile off the main road, on a creek rock drive way. There is only one other neighbor living on this road. It's still far cheaper to just buy AT&T a DSLAM, if they even had the internal procedure to do it.

        They built this house back in 1985. It was their dream house (still is, and mine too), in a nice, quiet, secluded little valley. I'm led to understand that the Internet wasn't such a big deal back in 1985, and thus had no bearing on their purchasing decision at the time. I'm sure a lot of older, fixed income people are in similar circumstances, having purchased homes before the internet even existed.

        You are an idiot. Seriously. You'd have to work harder to even be considered a worthy troll on FARK, much less here.

        • So your parents have enough wealth to have a dream home with a wilderness surrounding and only one neighbour. They share what sounds like a square mile of wilderness with only a couple of other people. Do we understand you correctly?

          I bet they have a well and a septic tank and not municipal sewer and water from the water company as well. Right?

          They understood that most utilities would not be running lines out into their dream home/wilderness retreat, right?

          They have wealth and privacy far beyond

          • by MetricT (128876)

            It's hard to tell the difference between a libertarian and a troll on Slashdot, since they usually say the same things. If it wouldn't be too much of a strain, could you actually *READ* what I say before replying.

            I'm not asking you to subsidize our lifestyle. I'm not asking for a single dime of your money. I'm willing to pay full market price for a 24-port DSLAM so my parents can get internet. I am simply asking that AT&T be compelled to get off their corporate duff and *PROVIDE SERVICE*. That'

          • by kimvette (919543)

            The providers should be compelled to run those cables because they collected hundreds of billions in "FCC fees" which were supposed to be allocated specifically for that purpose, but the providers decided to pocket instead.

            It is time to make them deliver what they have already been paid to deliver.

    • I think the federal government should start with this idea: It may be the case, within a few year or decades, that broadcast radio and TV will go away. Standard telephone lines will go away. Cable networks will go away. And we will be left with one thing: the network that we call the Internet. Even physical travel and shipment of goods may decline in some cases

      That may not work out to be true, but let's just start from that stipulation. Let's assume, in addition, that almost everyone will need Interne

    • by khallow (566160)

      When the customer has no other option from whom to buy, there is no "free market". In that particular circumstance, the seller should be compelled to provide service.

      Or the buyer should be compelled to move to a location where there is service. That seems even fairer.

      • by MetricT (128876)

        This isn't a house, this is a home. My parents and I built it ourselves. I invested several years of my life doing that. I wouldn't trade it for all the gold in Fort Knox.

        Why are all the liber-tards on Slashdot unable to comprehend simple English. *** I AM NOT ASKING YOU TO SUBSIDIZE MY LIFESTYLE ***. I am happy to pay the full price for a whole 24-port DSLAM, just so my parents can finally get internet. I'm not asking you for a single dime. I'm asking that AT&T be compelled to get off its

        • by khallow (566160)

          *** I AM NOT ASKING YOU TO SUBSIDIZE MY LIFESTYLE ***.

          Yes, you are. Forcing someone to offer you a good or service (and you can bet good money BTW that they'll be forced to offer it well below cost!) is a subsidy. It's morally equivalent to forcing you to move to another "home" as to force a large business to provide a clearly profitless service.

          Anything provided by government of monetary value, such as compelling someone to do something for you is a subsidy. In fact, compelling people to do stuff for you is not only a subsidy, but one of the most profitabl

          • by kimvette (919543)

            Yes, you are. Forcing someone to offer you a good or service (and you can bet good money BTW that they'll be forced to offer it well below cost!) is a subsidy. It's morally equivalent to forcing you to move to another "home" as to force a large business to provide a clearly profitless service.

            It's already been subsidized by the miscellaneous "FCC fees" that you paid for many, many years. Those fees were supposed to be allocated specifically for expansion of broadband to every address but instead was pockete

            • by khallow (566160)

              It's already been subsidized by the miscellaneous "FCC fees" that you paid for many, many years.

              Then let's eliminate the FCC fees.

    • by MetricT (128876)

      Binkley's Law of Slashdot: Any sufficiently advanced troll is indistinguishable from Libertarian.

      This thread has taught me a lesson I will always remember.

    • A past FCC person and a telco guy followed the money trail and found agreements were made, taxes and subsidies were given to the tune of a 300 billion telco scandal [newnetworks.com]. Just hold the past agreements accountable. But of course that won't happen. Hell my local congressman was head of the telecommunications subcommittee and always sided with his top donors - big telco, go figure.

      Or put the 1996 telco reform back in effect, the one that demanded opening up the government mandated monopoly to competitors. This was

  • ...have already been given to the telecom companies to expand broadband to under-served areas. I want to know where that money has gone - because it didn't go into expanding and improving broadband.

    I have a wild suggestion and I actually don't believe I am suggesting this, as I dislike interference by the government in general, but... make all telephone and cable transmission lines national infrastructure. Virtually all of the current infrastructure built by the Bells and cable companies runs on or under wh

    • by webheaded (997188)
      What would have been far more logical is to simply build the lines ourselves and then allow these companies to use them for just enough fees to cover maintenance. That would sure as hell have cleared up a LOT of issues we face today and we'd actually have a free market. Of course, I'm sure someone paid off someone even that long ago for this to happen and as you can see, we are currently fucked. Thanks guys.
  • Why wold any one have a phone. Land lines are replaced with VOIP. And who would pay long distance with services like skype where calling around the world is like $0.08 cents UDS. to make the connection on the far end.

    Then with the air waves stolen away. We all should be boycotting cell phone air time. Until we replace the piracy with our own roof top infrastructure.

    So in reality there are no phones so it foolish to pay money for that.
  • OK,"No Taxation without Representation" is not exactly what I mean. What I really mean is this: No subsidies without quid pro quo. If we're going to recognize it is a necessity and start handing them our hard-earned money, I want the public to get a big fat return on its money: I want common carrier restored -- the same level of protection from scrutiny and interference, public and private as mail or POTS.

    Well, on the public side, the same level we would have if the Bill of Rights were still being observed.

  • by Art3x (973401)
    Subsidize LTE build-out. The best of both worlds. Cheaper, too, to reach the remaining masses.
  • The right way to overhaul these subsidies: eliminate them. Why should the federal government be paying for people's Internet access?

    If there are truly issues in particular localities, then it's a job for the towns, counties, or even the states. The federal government has zero business interfering here...

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