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Networking The Internet

Utah Bill Would Prevent Regional Fiber Networks From Growing 111

Posted by Soulskill
from the stop-obstructing-my-internet dept.
symbolset writes "On the heels of the smackdown received by cable lobbyists in Kansas, Ars reports out of Utah that the cable companies aren't giving up hopes of preventing competition through legislation. The bill, called Interlocal Entity Service Prohibition, would prevent a regional fiber consortium from building infrastructure outside the boundaries of its member cities and towns — a direct attack on Google's work in Provo and the UTOPIA network. Utah is the third state to be involved in the Google Fiber rollout of gigabit fiber to the home."
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Utah Bill Would Prevent Regional Fiber Networks From Growing

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @07:33PM (#46167947)

    Please, please Mr. Politician, can't you help our poor, poor monopolies protect our billions and prevent our customers from choosing a better service for a better price? It's just not fair!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tysonedwards (969693)
      The concern in this case is that the public sector is using tax dollars and grants from federal entities to overbuild an existing private network, in turn generating income in the areas that have higher densities at the expense of the less dense areas. This effectively leaves those "unserved" still without service, despite all residents paying for the network via their property taxes.

      Should the same thing be done by a new-comer into private industry, done without tax dollars, or would connect all those w
      • by Traze (1167415)
        Except that UTOPIA is basically publicly owned. They only build out when they get a contract with a city, and so far the cities more or less own the networks when they are finished.

        Citation: I am a UTOPIA user, and have been an avid follower of their plans for over 10 years.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:21PM (#46168933) Homepage Journal

        The concern in this case is that the public sector is using tax dollars and grants from federal entities to overbuild an existing private network

        And that's bad because...?

        Let's not BS about this "private network" you refer to. It's only "private" in as much as the profits are held privately. It exists in large part thanks to public subsidies, set-asides and tax abatement. It's built on public land and right-of-ways. It got "private" because government gave telecoms and cable television special protections and specifically limited competition on their behalf.

        Tell you what: As long as the entities that own these "private" networks actually start to obey the spirit of anti-trust laws and stop trying to become content providers and as long as they get on board with 100% net neutrality and as long as they stop asking for special tax dispensations, and as long as the market actually becomes competitive, then maybe we can talk about protecting their "private" network.

        Until then, they need to take their scummy lobbyists and stop ripping people off or as far as I'm concerned, the whole network should be nationalized and turned into a public utility.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Obfuscant (592200)

          And that's bad because...?

          The fact you ask that means you probably won't accept the answer, but here goes ...

          Because there is no true competition when a government decides to compete with a private company. The government "company" has the benefit of mandatory "customers" (taxpayers), which means people who don't want to be customers are forced to help pay for those who do, and those who are customers of the private company are actually paying twice.

          If you want competition, don't create an artificial market run at sub-market pric

          • by Anonymous Coward

            But you can make it true competition even if the provider is part of the government by legislating a separate budget for the entity. What, the "efficient" private companies cannot compete on price with a bureaucratic non-profit even after all the special tax breaks, public subsidies and other carrots? Then they are charging too much.

          • by symbolset (646467) * on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @11:56PM (#46170125) Journal
            This is not a case of governments competing with a private company. Fast Internet is a valuable social good that private companies flat refuse to provide. Since they refuse to provide it, citizens are providing it for themselves through their governments. That this obsoletes the slow Internet cable companies want to provide does not mean they compete. They are substantially different things.
          • by Enigma2175 (179646) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @01:20AM (#46170639) Homepage Journal

            Because there is no true competition when a government decides to compete with a private company. The government "company" has the benefit of mandatory "customers" (taxpayers), which means people who don't want to be customers are forced to help pay for those who do, and those who are customers of the private company are actually paying twice.

            If you want competition, don't create an artificial market run at sub-market pricing supported by taxpayers. Let the competitors fight it out on even ground.

            In my market, Comcast pays the city a franchise fee for every subscriber they have, which results in net income for the city over and above the payroll and property taxes they pay. This money gets dumped into the general fund to pay for ... anything the city council wants to use it for.

            Nothing is stopping another cable company from entering the market but none has. If someone could come undercut Comcast honestly, and not sell services for less because the deficit is made up from the general tax fund, they would. Why not? Because they look at the market and see that it won't support two companies. The government, with essentially bottomless pockets, pays no attention to markets and doesn't care about operating at a loss. If they lose money from that service, they'll just plead for more money at the next election and hold other services hostage. Our city does it on a regular basis, threatening to close the library and the public pool and the senior center unless they get more money, but never do they threaten to eliminate the unnecessary things they do.

            That's why it is bad.

            But the problem with the current situation is since there is a natural barrier to competition because not every provider can be allowed to use easements to run their lines. The way cities handled this in the past was granting a single company a monopoly on providing a certain service. This doesn't work well in practice, particularly in industries that are not heavily regulated by the franchise authority like cable TV.

            The solution to this problem is for the city to own a fiber network and any company that wants to provide IP services (TV, phone, internet) over this network is free to do so. This gives a level playing field for all competitors who want to provide this kind of service. The existing monopoly system does not work for anyone but the monopoly holder, it certainly does not work for the consumer.

            Full disclosure, I am a subscriber of one of the fiber networks mentioned in the summary and so I might be biased.

            • by Sarius64 (880298)
              Yes, exactly when Cox cable has minimum packages in San Diego that run $135 a month for basic and the only sports package. It's just ridiculous that these "public" granted monopolies continue to bend the consumer over.
            • by Obfuscant (592200)

              The way cities handled this in the past was granting a single company a monopoly on providing a certain service.

              Every cable TV franchise I've ever dealt with has been non-exclusive. That means no, it isn't a monopoly. And today, I can get the same (Internet) service from at least three companies in town, using three different delivery mechanisms. That pretty much proves that there is no monopoly on Internet service provided to anyone. Wait -- if I want satellite latency, four different delivery mechanisms from at least four different companies.

              At the point you realize that the monopoly isn't, the rest of the argum

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            In my market, Comcast pays the city a franchise fee for every subscriber they have, which results in net income for the city over and above the payroll and property taxes they pay. This money gets dumped into the general fund to pay for ... anything the city council wants to use it for.

            Wow, you really have a middle-school social studies level of understanding how stuff works.

            Nothing is stopping another cable company from entering the market but none has.

            You better tell Comcast that they're wasting tons of m

            • by Obfuscant (592200)

              Wow, you really have a middle-school social studies level of understanding how stuff works.

              No, I have a direct understanding of how the local franchising authority has dealt with Comcast, what Comcast is paying, and where the money goes. I was on the cable advisory board for several years here, I met regularly with both the cable execs and city management. I was on the same kind of board in another city I lived in previously.

              You better tell Comcast that they're wasting tons of money on those lobbyists because everything is fair and above-board and there's no need for them to dedicate so much money and effort to making it a non-free market.

              Your statement is direct support for my claim that another company could enter the market. Why would Comcast bother spending money on lobbyists if nobody could compete with

          • by thaylin (555395)

            The fact you ask that means you probably won't accept the answer, but here goes ...

            Because there is no true competition when a government decides to compete with a private company. The government "company" has the benefit of mandatory "customers" (taxpayers), which means people who don't want to be customers are forced to help pay for those who do, and those who are customers of the private company are actually paying twice.

            You dont have an understanding of the history of the cable companies do you? They used the same method that google and utopia used to get their network off the ground, tax payer funded subsidies and deals, now it is somehow bad if someone else does it?

            If you want competition, don't create an artificial market run at sub-market pricing supported by taxpayers. Let the competitors fight it out on even ground.

            No we are apparently supposed to allow an artificial market to run at above market pricing, still supported by taxpayer subsidies.

            Yes, I understand. Free markets only for those who do things the way you want them done. Otherwise the government must solve the problem by competing with them.

            The government allowed them to get the monopoly, to the detriment of the tax payers. In these cases the government is allowin

          • The government "company" has the benefit of mandatory "customers" (taxpayers), which means people who don't want to be customers are forced to help pay for those who do, and those who are customers of the private company are actually paying twice.

            Competition works great, until you get into the category of utilities. If the majority of the population decides that the free market isn't serving its needs, it can decide to create a utility. The reason why companies may not be entering a market is because the only way to give the product a reasonable cost (such has ones involving infrastructure) is to have everybody pay for it. Is there a free market where you get your water from or your electricity from? I highly doubt it. A company competes for a contr

    • When will those Conservative Republicans realize, that Government shouldn't interfere with the natural progression of free enterprise?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    (I hope)

  • by Delarth799 (1839672) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @07:37PM (#46167985)
    With another election year here it's time to roll out the bribe.... I mean campaign contributions to those who are willing to support the legislation being presented before them. Wouldn't surprise me in the least if most of those opposed to this had the big telcos or any PAC they setup start rolling out attack ads against them shortly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Billly Gates (198444)

      Yep

      Bought out for just $250. [arstechnica.com] I guess that is what integrity costs nowdays.

      Instead of ranting like we do on tech forums like slashdot I am wondering something instead? Is it possible to run with no campaign contributions at all? How stupid are American voters who buy things based on TV ads?

      I am dead serious too. Perhaps if less people really vote based on flashy ads on TV we can get some R's and D's on pledge to not take any corporate donations? Ya ya both parties are the same I am about to get, but here is

  • by jxander (2605655) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @07:40PM (#46168019)
    If you can't beat them, legislate them.
    • by Obfuscant (592200)

      If you can't beat them, legislate them.

      No private company can compete with a government operated one. People who don't want to be customers of the private company because they charge too much, or don't provide good enough service, or for whatever reason, don't have to pay anything. People who don't want to be customers of the government-run company wind up with the Sheriff tacking a note on their door telling them when the tax sale of that door, and the building it is attached to, will take place.

      • by Bert64 (520050)

        And people who don't want to be customers of a private monopoly have to do without service at all. And for something which involves laying cable in the ground a monopoly is how it will always end up simply due to the cost and stupidity of having lots of competing cables down every street (or none at all in unprofitable areas).

        The only real solution would be a non profit to operate the physical infrastructure, on the basis of providing the same service everywhere to anyone at the same cost... Any company can

        • by ultranova (717540)

          Any company can rent the physical lines from the non profit at the same cost and provide service to end users, and the non profit uses all revenue from doing so to maintain and upgrade the network.

          Or, better yet, just let end users deal with the non-profit directly. What value would a for-profit middleman add in this situation?

          • by Bert64 (520050)

            choice...
            with a single provider you're likely not to get advanced features like multiple ips, ipv6, reverse dns etc

            • by Obfuscant (592200)

              with a single provider you're likely not to get advanced features like multiple ips, ipv6, reverse dns etc

              You may not get all that for free, but if there is a market for it they'll sell it. My last cable install, Charter would have happily sold me multiple static IP addresses, as would CenturyLink on DSL before that. They do "reverse DNS", it just doesn't necessarily resolve to what you want it to. These are cash cow services. Free money for them, pretty much. They'll move to IPv6 when necessary, and since you can get there from here there isn't a strong reason to do that.

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          And people who don't want to be customers of a private monopoly have to do without service at all.

          Your choice. Why should your choice not to buy something mean I'm forced to give it to you using my money?

          And for something which involves laying cable in the ground a monopoly is how it will always end up

          No. Only stupid cities granted cable TV exclusive franchises, and so the problem you have is with YOUR ELECTED GOVERNMENT who were morons. I don't know of any, by the way. All the ones I've dealt with are non-exclusive. The limit to how many cable TV services can use one pole is not "1" as you seem to think. It isn't infinity, however, so there needs to be some limit, and there needs to be a limit so

      • by thaylin (555395)
        Again with the false propaganda. First this is not about a government owned monopoly, it is about the government helping other companies the same way they helped the incumbents in most cases. Second if I dont want water service from my local government I can dig a well and not have to pay a dime, no sheriff will come to my door. Same with most government untilities. The only time that will happen is if I use the service and not pay, or fail to pay my taxes.
  • by buswolley (591500) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @07:40PM (#46168023) Journal
    bye
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Those of us who read and post as AC have experienced this for a while.

      Given that you are logged in, are you saying that logged in users are now getting hit with Slashdot Beta ?

      Is there any other good places online where we can have the same detailed and informative discussions about the range of topics present on Slashdot ?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'd prefer it if there were places that did not delete comments. That's one of the things I like about Slashdot (other than that time they deleted one due to a DMCA request or something).

      • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:16PM (#46168377)

        Yes, they're forcing logged in users over to Beta. Not all of us at once, but in waves.

        If you find an alternative site, I'm all ears.

        Or if you set up an alternative site, since older versions of SlashCode are open source.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I'm the same AC above. Thanks for the confirmation that logged in users are not getting hit as well.

          I've read Slashdot daily for over a decade, but there's no way I'm going to suffer trying to read Slashdot using that horrible design when the Beta goes live.

          There wasn't even a way in Beta to directly link to a specific comment within a thread the last time I checked.

          I also don't know of any other viable sites unfortunately. Other sites I read like the Register don't have a suitable comments system and their

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I recall the first time I saw the Beta, a few weeks ago. My immediate response was to think that my DNS had been hijacked. I just closed the window. I still do, when I see the Beta. It's fucking awful. It's like they want to be purty, like OSX, but with the functionality of GNOME.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          I'm using the old-old layout. the no ajax replies one. it's still on non-beta.

          the beta is everything whats wrong with modern web design. might just as well use a fucking rss reader.

      • Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/) is considered a rather good source of tech news and discussion. It has a slight Apple bias since most of its contributors use Macs, and the level of discussion over Linux topics is relatively minor compared to Slashdot, but on the other hand there's far more balance in terms of user comments.

    • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:30PM (#46168517)
      I've tried it a few times and really do not like it... there is a lot of whitespace... comments don't stretch across horizontally from side to side so there's a big white empty column on the right side. Increasing the font size doesn't really do much except squeeze comments closer together in a weird way. It's not for me.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If you are on the beta, how are you posting? I call BS.

    • The beta doesn't add any useful new features. All it does is remove them and severely fucks up the best part of this site: the commenting and moderation system. If the commenting system goes out the window, why would I come here? The stories are always several days or a week old, the editors are terrible at their job, and all of the actual articles are on other sites I could browse instead.

      What the hell, Dice?

  • "On the heels of the smackdown received by cable lobbyists in Kansas ...

    I don't think that word means what you think it means (if it's even a real word). From what I've read on the subject, it's more like, "Oopsie! We went a little too fast and didn't have all our ducks in a row. We'll iron out a few wrinkles first, then go live again soon. Sorry for any inconvenience this may've caused you."

    • by rossdee (243626)

      "I don't think that word means what you think it means (if it's even a real word)"

      Its a real word - it means a wrestling match.

      I think its on the SyFy channel

      BTW just to keep on topic, (which is the Slashdot Beta) I haven't been to the beta site, but it sounds like crap to me.

    • by thaylin (555395)
      Maybe it is you who does not know all the definitions of the word..

      smackdown

      smakdoun/

      nouninformal

      1. a bitter contest or confrontation.

      "the age-old man versus Nature smackdown"

      2. a decisive or humiliating defeat or setback.

  • The state is good example of money talks ... I hope Google fights this hard!

    Maybe the one democrat in the state senate can help .... doubt it. (I didn't fact check that, but in the past there have been times when there was only one)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For a small fee, you to can buy a Republican that will be willing to write up regulatory legislation that goes against their core values of free capitalism, free market and freedom.

    • No. For a small fee, you can get a Republican to do unspeakable things to you in a public washroom. It takes a bit more money to give up the rest of their "core values".

      • and for a fraction of that fee, you can get TWO russians to do unspeakable things in the public restroom. our republicans look like amateurs compared to the sochi russians.

        (gotta laugh at the 'double toilet' concept russia has come up with.)

  • by misosoup7 (1673306) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @07:43PM (#46168075)
    And this is why we can't have nice network infrastructures.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @07:44PM (#46168087)

    We're in a post-free market. One where buying and selling goods is a secondary market, ruled by the laws of buying and selling laws and regulations.

  • by litehacksaur111 (2895607) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @07:45PM (#46168097)
    It seems that every state legislature or local municipality is now entertaining the idea of limiting ISP competition and enabling packet discrimination. Can we please label all ISP's as common carriers and eliminate all of these monopoly protections.
  • The rich & powerful are going to use gov't whether you like it or not. If there is no gov't they'll use their wealth to create institutions that might as well be. I've yet to hear a convincing argument otherwise.

    So if they're going to use the tool that is gov't, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't. The worst that'll happen is the jack boot in my neck is a public one instead of a private. And at least with a strong central gov't I can vote against Jack Boots...
    • by BoberFett (127537)

      So you're going to ensure that the government the rich and powerful have to use against you is even bigger and more powerful? Interesting logic.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        a weak government is ran by outside forces.
        a strong government is ran by the elected people.

      • by dryeo (100693)

        We can always go back to when one private security company (Pinkertons) out of many was bigger then the US armed forces. The government at the time was just strong enough to legitimize the private security companies who amongst other functions, did a lot of the work keeping the common worker in their place.
        Actually we are going back there, as long as the government is capable of deputizing the private security the rich and powerful can fuck people over without a powerful government. Many other things are th

    • How odd that the more socialist this government becomes, the more things like this occur. There's always a ruling class and a subjugated class, no matter the form of government. Some are just more transparent about it than others.
  • HB60 Pulled (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @07:56PM (#46168181)
    HB60 was pulled [utah.gov] from the scheduled Feb 4 committee meeting. I wonder if someone got cold feet?
    • Re:HB60 Pulled (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:20PM (#46168425)

      It's an election year. Begging for attack ads from one of the world's largest advertising companies is a losing proposition.

      "Never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel."

      Google practically INVENTED 'ink' as it's used today. If they ever decide to really earnestly get down in the muck with the SuperPACs, it'll be a fun time in the old town.

  • February 2014 will be forever known as Snuff February, when Dice Killed Slashdot.

    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      February 2014 will be forever known as Snuff February, when Dice Killed Slashdot.

      I haven't heard such negative response to a new product since the first Windows 8 previews without the start menu!

  • a direct attack on Google's work in Provo and the UTOPIA network

    Do we really feel, Google should own networks? With taxpayers' help?

    Sure, it is fun and games, while they are still growing — the lucky users can't shut up about it. What happens, when Google becomes a regional (or nationwide) monopoly, however? What if they decide to "boycott" a site — either because it is run by "haters" of one kind or another, or is spreading malware?

    At least, I can switch from FiOS to a coax-cable provider today...

    • What happens, when Google becomes a regional (or nationwide) monopoly, however?

      How could they? Is all that cable in the ground going to dry up and blow away? Is the cost of electricity going to overwhelm these poor benighted cable companies? Is the American public going to stop paying for all the media these incestuous content+transport companies produce? Are you not going to be able to choose AT&T or Comcast?

      Maybe not. Throughout history, when a monopolist's power is broken and a real market happens, the monopolist takes their toys and goes home, after discovering they're a

    • Do we really feel, Google should own networks? With taxpayers' help?

      Sure, it is fun and games, while they are still growing — the lucky users can't shut up about it. What happens, when Google becomes a regional (or nationwide) monopoly, however? What if they decide to "boycott" a site — either because it is run by "haters" of one kind or another, or is spreading malware?

      The UTOPIA network is owned by the member cities. If Google would like to provide ISP services to people on that network they are free to do so, the same as any other ISP. Provider lock-in is why networks should stay the property of the people and not the corporations, hopefully UTOPIA won't go the way of iProvo and get gifted to Google.

      • by mi (197448)

        The UTOPIA network is owned by the member cities.

        Oh, that's a recipe for disaster... Competing with such a network will be like fighting city hall. It may be great now, but wait until the towns start enacting laws mandating censorship over anything that passes the city-owned network, for example.

        I don't know about you, but I dread the thought of my Internet service being anything like what the electric utility provides around here.

        Provider lock-in is why networks should stay the property of the people and

        • The UTOPIA network is owned by the member cities.

          Oh, that's a recipe for disaster... Competing with such a network will be like fighting city hall. It may be great now, but wait until the towns start enacting laws mandating censorship over anything that passes the city-owned network, for example.

          Why don't we stick to what happens in reality instead of imagining what might happen. There has never been such a thing proposed. It would be much harder legally for a government to implement such censorship since the government is bound by many laws that a private company is not. Since private companies and the existing government-owned networks are not doing this now, why do you fear it happening?

          I don't know about you, but I dread the thought of my Internet service being anything like what the electric utility provides around here.

          I don't have to imagine what the internet service on this network would be like because I have been using i

          • by mi (197448)

            Why don't we stick to what happens in reality instead of imagining what might happen.

            So that we don't repeat the mistakes that lead to AT&T monopoly [wikipedia.org], for example. Or the TSA-like abuses — once government (what you keep affectionately calling "people") gets its monopoly, it becomes even more vicious (and less efficient) than a corporation would've. At least, the corporation might be challenged some day by a competitor — a government agency needs not fear such things.

            I don't need competing net

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But, we better legislate against it just in case.

  • It's my opinion that if it weren't for these regional monopolies, internet service pricing would be much much lower.

    If a good or service becomes a commodity, and the price of that commodity levels out at a sufficiently low cost, why wouldn't a municipality take out a bond and develop its own fiber service. How is it unlike a water and sewer department?

    • Definition.

      Water and Sewer are utilities, and thereby regulated.
      Internet is an entertainment service, and thereby unregulated.

      Telephone service providers are pushing to move their equipment entirely to IP, gaining the "service" classification as it would no longer fit the present definition of a telecommunications network.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday February 06, 2014 @08:42AM (#46172549) Homepage Journal

    Really needs to step in and stamp this nonsense out since the FCC is clearly inept ( or corrupt ).

    Its are very rare cases where a state protected monopoly is appropriate, where fractured markets and incompatibility will harm consumers, but physical internet access is NOT one of them.

  • The representative for HB060 [utah.gov] is Curt Webb from Logan UT. Seems odd as his area is not remotely close to UTOPIA or Google Fiber. Looks like someone someone found a disinterested politician who doesn't know any better to push this bill?

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