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The Internet Networking United States

Why Is US Broadband So Slow? 513

Posted by timothy
from the midichlorion-concentrations-vary-by-continent dept.
phantomfive writes "Verizon has said they will not be digging new lines any time soon. Time-Warner's cash flow goes towards paying down debt, not laying down fiber. AT&T is doing everything they can to slow deployment of Google fiber. How can the situation be improved? Mainly by expediting right-of-way access, permits, and inspections, according to Andy Kessler. That is how Google was able to afford to lay down fiber in Austin, and how VTel was able to do it in Vermont (gigabit connections for $35 a month)."
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Why Is US Broadband So Slow?

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  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:19PM (#46320325) Journal

    Competition... From the government, if necessary. Let's put our tax dollars to work for us for a change.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:23PM (#46320349)

      It's not competition, it's service. The government is meant to serve the people, and sometimes that means providing utilities for the public, with the public's input and desires accommodated.

      As long as we keep private enterprise from buying up the regulations anyway.

      • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:31PM (#46320403) Journal

        It's not competition, it's service

        Say what ??

        Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, US used to be the top country in the world in term of broadband competition.

        I was one of the many thousands who were pulling cables in order to hook up the communities - and then the government stepped in, and gave the telco / cable operator the rights over others - which leads to what we have today, a scene where competition has been artificially choked off, and the country has suffered for it !

        • by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:39PM (#46320449)

          You've just noted that there is an existing infrastructure, and it is common to live off of existing infrastructure until forced to move off it. To that I will add that if I recall correctly, 10 years ago 90% of the optical fiber that existed was dark - there wasn't enough demand for it due to overbuilding in previous years. I wouldn't be surprised if that had something to do with the leisurely pace in adding both capacity and speed.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:09AM (#46320675)

            You've just noted that there is an existing infrastructure, and it is common to live off of existing infrastructure until forced to move off it. To that I will add that if I recall correctly, 10 years ago 90% of the optical fiber that existed was dark - there wasn't enough demand for it due to overbuilding in previous years. I wouldn't be surprised if that had something to do with the leisurely pace in adding both capacity and speed.

            Bingo. The ISP I work for isn't looking at laying new fiber in trenches, what we're looking at is upgrading the equipment on either end. There are plenty of situations where an existing fiber pair can carry 10x or 100x more data simply by putting better optics on it, but that shit isn't cheap. Then you have to figure that Carrier-grade routers and switches also need to be upgraded, and those things can get really fucking expensive. And all the internal bandwidth in the world won't do your customer jack shit if you can't find peering/transit partners who are willing to increase the capacity at the handoff points without charging a shitload of money.

            Sure, more fiber is better, but it's only a small part of the overall picture.

      • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:36PM (#46320431) Homepage Journal
        Yup, the government should step in when private industry is either unwilling or unable to provide essential services at a reasonable cost, the keywords being essential and reasonable. Case in point roads.

        The macroeconomic costs of having all roads be private would be huge. There would be a lot of lost productivity(not to mention fuel wastage) just on the collection of tolls. And of course anyone who owns property anywhere could find themselves at the mercy of a private interest who can essentially blackmail them by cutting off access to their home or business. Another example of an essential service where the government should, and in most rich places in the world, has intervened is insurance. The fact that the US pays so much more for getting so much less than countries with private health care systems has shown that private industry is either unwilling or unable to provide insurance at reasonable cost, and thus it must be taken away from them. Same with broadband, if US providers don't prove they are capable of *gasp* actually providing a decent service at a decent price then the government should step in. Broadband is in the new economy an "essential service", essentially the "roads" of the internet.

        The classic straw man argument is of course "well then why doesn't the government run food stores? Everyone needs food!". While this is true, food retailing(not really going to go into production, which is a separate story) is actually one of the most competitive industries in the US. Competition forces companies to provide decent service at very low margins(1-2% in some cases). If the broadband industry were more like the food distribution industry then we wouldn't even have to discuss a government take-over.
        • by Camael (1048726) on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:04AM (#46320635)

          Yup, the government should step in when private industry is either unwilling or unable to provide essential services at a reasonable cost, the keywords being essential and reasonable.

          The reverse sadly is true today. Local governments, likely under the influence of paid lobbyists working for existing corporate/telco interests, are actively writing laws to block the spread of broadband. Read for yourself the story of how the Kansas Legislature is trying to stop Google Fiber from expanding in Kansas [consumerist.com].

          Best part is: the Senate bill [kslegislature.org] states that the goal [muninetworks.org] is to

          "encourage the development and widespread use of technological advances in providing video, telecommunications and broadband services at competitive rates; and ensure that video, telecommunications and broadband services are each provided within a consistent, comprehensive and nondiscriminatory federal, state and local government framework."

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ChrisMaple (607946)

          Do you pay to drive from one end of a WalMart parking lot to the other? It's private. Why aren't there any tolls?

          Neighborhoods sometimes have private roads, and don't charge tolls. The residents pay for road upkeep through a property owner's association. Private roads through a business district could be maintained the same way, either through contracting work on their road or paying a road company in possession of the road a fee for its use. The net effect would be the same as paying for road maintenance t

          • by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Monday February 24, 2014 @02:21AM (#46321207) Homepage Journal

            "Do you pay to drive from one end of a WalMart parking lot to the other? It's private. Why aren't there any tolls?"

            Two thoughts on that.

            1. They don't charge tolls because they don't want to irritate potential customers.
            2. The are charging a toll. It's built into the cost of their products.

          • by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday February 24, 2014 @03:06AM (#46321335) Journal

            Do you pay to drive from one end of a WalMart parking lot to the other? It's private. Why aren't there any tolls?

            You should read about private toll roads/bridges. [wikipedia.org]

            They come into existence one of two ways (AFAIK):
            1. State Governments that are desperate for cash will literally sell the road/bridge to a private company, who puts up tolls.
            2. State Governments that are desperate for cash will sell the right to build a private toll road/bridge to a private company,
            always with guarantees that the State won't build another road/bridge within XY miles or something to that effect.

            #2 almost always involves the State invoking eminent domain on behalf of private corporations.

          • by sjames (1099) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:24AM (#46321563) Homepage

            A property owner's association eh? If only there was some slightly larger public body that could provide broadband internet strictly for the benefit of it's members rather than for profit. Perhaps it could feature democratically elected managers. Of course it would have to collect dues from each resident in the area somehow.

            You know, that's starting to sound a lot like local government.

            Meanwhile horror and comedy stories about HOAs are legion.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        Mmm.. no. it's not that simple. When you give ANY entity dominating control, it gets lazy. The government is a prime example of this, not an exception. They're no better than a corporate oligarchy cornering the market. The only way for private enterprise to buy up regulations is if the government offers them for sale in the first place.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          You appear to ignore human nature completely in your rather convoluted spin.

          Reality is, if any entity has enough money to influence people in key positions, and have enough interest in doing so, they will. That is why all functioning entities ran by humans have bureaucracy and internal policing. It's to reduce the impact of corruption's pressure on key positions.

          • by epyT-R (613989)

            and you appear to fail reading comprehension. If anything, you support my position. It's true, any group of humans with sufficient power is subject to excessive bouts of self-interest. If you read the anon I responded to, you'll see that it is him who is biased. I was pointing that out to him.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:54PM (#46320583) Journal

        It's not competition, it's service. The government is meant to serve the people, and sometimes that means providing utilities for the public, with the public's input and desires accommodated.

        As long as we keep private enterprise from buying up the regulations anyway.

        Arguably, 'internet access' can be broken down into two (broad) components, one a fairly natural 'utility' and one much easier to build a functional marketplace for.

        The last-mile bit pipe between your house and whatever the local aggregation point is is, like most 'utilities' strongly inclined toward being a natural monopoly. Not as bad as something like roads(where running multiple competing roads simply wouldn't fit, in most cases); but between the cost and the disruption of laying additional runs, there is very, very strong pressure toward a sharply limited number of, typically incumbent, wireline players, with maybe a feeble wireless competitor that is compelling if you use under 5GB a month.

        Once you hit the aggregation point, though, anything that flows over IP can, relatively easily, be offered for hookup to your pipe. Cheap residential ISPs, fancier offerings with loads of static IPs and symmetric bandwidth, assorted VOIP and video offerings, anything you can shove down a pipe.

        Keeping the connection between me and the aggregation point installed, maintained, and lit seems like a perfectly sensible function for either the local municipality, or a suitably-tamed contract operator(It's a matter of pragmatism and local choice whether the work be done by municipal employees or an outside firm; but natural monopolies are to be kept on very short leashes). Once you hit the aggregation point, though, the more the merrier. Subscribing or unsubscribing is just a few ruleset changes, so can be fairly frictionless, and this avoids any...potentially unseemly....favor or disfavor by the municipal government toward specific content or services. They just keep the lights on, you buy what you want, or nothing at all(though, even if you buy nothing, it might well be cost-effective for the municipality itself to still offer access to its own site, emergency services contacts, etc. to residents, since traffic on the LAN costs near zero.

    • by alen (225700)

      it will never improve and here is why. if an area has a choice of cable/internet providers they will always be running marketing promotions to steal each other's customers. a person can simply move back and forth since the product is the same and a commodity. at some point one of them will go under. happened in every previous situation like this

      RCN tried to compete in the northeast and failed. its expensive to build out a network. the content people want a lot of money for the content. Comcast pays 1/3 of r

    • It's governments that enforce the current monopolies and dualopies, what they call a "franchise".

      Do you really want government "competing", keeping ie Google fiber out while they offer up government service that works as well as Congress does, with DMV style customer service, and healthcare.gov quality? The way government would "compete" would be to simply deny permits to any company offering a better service that what government bureaucrats and theirlobbyist friends throw together.

      The only large-scale suc

      • by alen (225700)

        NYC there are no franchises and the two cable companies have different areas carved out. with FIOS in parts as well. no one will build in the other's area because by the time you lay the wire and run the marketing promotion, you won't make any money

      • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:42PM (#46320469)

        you seem to have a chip on your shoulder about Government.

        I have issues with them, too; but I'd rather a non-corporate entity build out and even own our infrastructure than profitmongers!

        roads, water, electricity, bridges: all were started by government and that was the major funder. we would not have postal system and roads 'to everywhere' if the decision was left to the profiteering ones.

        infrastructure is one of the things goverments do best.

        as for your bullshit distraction about how well congress works, that's neither here nor there nor part of any thread on this topic. sheesh.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mc6809e (214243)

          I have issues with them, too; but I'd rather a non-corporate entity build out and even own our infrastructure than profitmongers!

          I have news for you: local governments are incorporated, too.

          And don't think for a second that the people involved in local government aren't interested in making decisions that personally profit themselves and their friends.

        • You're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. Electricity, for example. Started by government? No, governments were fairly late entrants. The first electric utility was and Calder and Barnet, in Godalming. Several of the earliest electric networks were run by Edison.

          Roads are most often built by governments these days, at a cost of about $1 million / mile. I get to see them allot, sitting in gridlock we paid millions for. Eventually I get home and turn on my lights, powered by cheap, rel

          • by besalope (1186101)

            My internet is never gridlocked like the government roads are.

            Really? My internet through Comcast is great and I get the speeds I pay for, but only during non-peak times much like non-rush hour traffic on the roads. However, the speeds are abysmal on nights and weekends much like rush hour traffic to and from work.

            We can add as many lanes as we would like to the expressways (internet backbones, e.g. cogent) to try and ease congestion, but at the end of the day it is the exit ramps (ATT/Verizon/Comcast/TWC/etc cross-carrier connections) and the local "last mile" road

    • by khasim (1285)

      I would pay taxes for the local government to lay fiber to each house. And terminate them at a government owned facility.

      Then, let the various ISP's compete on price / service / etc for who will get my fees for Internet connectivity.

      The government then charges a co-location fee from the ISP's who want to participate. To cover the heating / AC / physical security / etc costs of that facility. With a very slight (5%?) overage to cover updates/upgrades.

      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:16AM (#46321017) Journal
        Yes, as with the "tradgedy of the commons" the network is by it's very nature a shared resource which means everyone wants to use it but nobody wants to pay for it. In the early 90's, many western governments (eg: UK/AU) sold their public phone networks to private investors. Here in Oz that resulted in the two major telcos rolling out two fibre (pay TV) networks covering the profitable suburbs of the major cities and nowhere else.

        I had both hooked up and several months of free pay TV since they were both running at a loss to attract customers with "free trials", I also tripled the money I paid for 1000 shares in the initial government prospectus. The major telco who inherited the copper from the government was forced to split the business into wholesale and retail companies. The retail end was supposed to compete on a level playing field with other retailers, ( which going by the plethora of independent ISP's we have today is one part of the sell off that seemed to work rather well). Now we have gone full circle and are building a single publically funded fibre network under the banner "NBN" which started off as "FTTP for everyone" but has now been trimmed to "FTTN for most". The NBN basically owns and maintains the network and will charge retailers a usage fee.

        In other words, after a 20yr lead, private enterprise has failed to deliver the infrastructure that the government is now attempting to build. For now most people outside the middle class suburbs (or living in a flat/unit) are on DSL over the original (government built) copper network. My hope for the next 20yrs is that they can claw back that taxpayer investment from the private companies who will profit from the new "free market" that the infrastructure will provide.
    • by Cimexus (1355033) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:35PM (#46320427)

      Agreed - more competition is needed.

      I moved here to the US from Australia last year. While speeds in Australia are nothing spectacular, we did have a LOT of choice when it came to ISPs. In Australia, in a mid-sized city (~350,000 people), there was a choice of 20-30 ISPs (ADSL2+, VDSL2 or in some areas, fibre). Here in the US, in a similarly-sized city, I have a choice of precisely one provider (the local cable monopoly).

      Ok that's not entirely true - I also have AT&T DSL as a choice, at a whopping maximum speed of 6 Mbps down / 512 kbps up. But really, that's a non-option - it costs roughly the same and is 10 times slower than cable. (That upstream speed in particular is ridiculous in the year 2014 ... no idea why they don't use ADSL2+ with Annex M or similar tech to boost that up to 1-2 Mbps at least ... but I digress)

      Having at least just a couple more options for ISPs would help, you'd think. With the vast majority of people in the US having only one or two choices of provider, what incentive do those providers have to improve their product? They have a captive customer base who literally have nowhere else to turn.

      • by Espectr0 (577637)

        I would love to get your local cable monopoly, or 6 Mbps choice.

        In Venezuela, we get 1.5 Mbps on average.

        You guys aren't that bad, you just can't compete with Europe or Asia (how should you? the US is quite bigger and harder to lay down fiber)

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 24, 2014 @03:31AM (#46321401)

          You guys aren't that bad, you just can't compete with Europe or Asia (how should you? the US is quite bigger and harder to lay down fiber)

          That is a bit of strange myth. Apart from central US perhaps being a bit empty many states are comparable to European nations.
          Take for example California, it is just marginally smaller than Sweden and approximately the same shape. With four times the population one would think that the internet should be faster, cheaper or at least comparable.
          It is all just politics.

    • by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:50PM (#46320537) Homepage

      It wont stop the incumbents from plotting and scheming to fuck it up. Look at Australia's experience, designed and underway and national NBN fibre to the home network. A change of government blatantly sponsored by the News Corporation the owners of Fox not-News and it gets scrapped with nothing but bullshit and PR=B$ left over about vague promises and a scam to sell the taxpayers the worthless rotting copper left in the ground for billions of dollars. Now matter what get's done, they will plot and scheme and lobby to undo it. They want their 1980s media model back where they had total control and you had to pay to be heard.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:22PM (#46320339)

    Answer: corporate greed.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Comcast does everything it can to charge more for less service. Why does Comcast want to give less service when through periodic updates that it could give faster service? Well Comcast also wants to sell television packages, and people can stream movies and television on their computers easily if the rates are high enough. Comcast just successfully extorted Netflix. It doesn't do a lot, but tweet support for Google Fiber, and tell your elected representative you want it in your area.
    • Comcast does everything it can to charge more for less service.

      I'm no fan of Comcast, but, really, this is exactly what every for-profit business does. If you can get people to pay you $10 for a widget instead of $5 then you charge them $10.

  • 1 Mbps in Seattle (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Comcast doesn't cover all of the city, Frontier only offers service in a few tiny areas far away from the city, and CenturyLink suffers with mostly 40+ year-old wiring and equipment in most of the city, so those of us that can get 1 Mbps reliably here are better off than many. I'm right at the edge of service, so some of my neighbors down the street can't even get DSL. Dial-up is their only option. Because the city government is anti-Internet, they will not allow competition or even easy upgrade permits

  • Big picture remedy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:26PM (#46320375)
    Cut down the biggest branch of our government - the lobbying industry.
  • by alen (225700) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:28PM (#46320381)

    as it is now, you have to ask every hick town for permission to lay cable and allow them to extort you via yarn museums and other costs
    george bush tried to pass national franchise rights but it was fought by all the hick towns who keep taxes artificially low and leech off everyone else. and when telecoms refuse to pay, people there whine how they are underserved

    and contrary to populist belief, the telecoms spend billions of $$$ every year in capital expenses. and they borrow to do so. comcast is $44 billion in debt. Time warner is $25 billion in debt. AT&T is also carrying some insane debt from its idiotic shopping spree almost 15 years ago to become a cable company. back then it cost almost $100 billion. its all in the public financial statements they file. they might not have FTTH, but cable and telecoms have spent tens of billions if not hundreds of billions of $$$ over the last 20 years building out their networks and the bill is now due. meanwhile newcomers like google have no debt and lots of cash and can invest a lot of money into FTTH and other ventures.

    not being evil, just a fact of life. it has happened before and it will happen again. wintel beat IBM. and now IOS/Android/ARM/Qualcomm is beating wintel. AT&T and then the baby bells built out an amazing PSTN network and the cable companies came in with unlimited local and long distance calling to steal the customers. railroads built out a national rail network and the airlines and cars came in to steal their profits as well

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      and contrary to populist belief, the telecoms spend billions of $$$ every year in capital expenses. and they borrow to do so. comcast is $44 billion in debt. Time warner is $25 billion in debt. AT&T is also carrying some insane debt from its idiotic shopping spree almost 15 years ago to become a cable company. back then it cost almost $100 billion. its all in the public financial statements they file. they might not have FTTH, but cable and telecoms have spent tens of billions if not hundreds of billions of $$$ over the last 20 years building out their networks and the bill is now due. meanwhile newcomers like google have no debt and lots of cash and can invest a lot of money into FTTH and other ventures.

      not being evil, just a fact of life. it has happened before and it will happen again. wintel beat IBM. and now IOS/Android/ARM/Qualcomm is beating wintel. AT&T and then the baby bells built out an amazing PSTN network and the cable companies came in with unlimited local and long distance calling to steal the customers. railroads built out a national rail network and the airlines and cars came in to steal their profits as well

      And they've gotten billions in tax breaks, and the government ignoring monopoly laws for them in exchange for building out those networks. Which they still own, and get to charge any third party who tries to "compete" with them for the privileged of using. They decided to pocket the extras as profit instead of using it for what it was supposed to be for, that's their greed and poor planning and their problem.

      The government paid them to build out their networks for better service, and they spent the money on

      • by alen (225700)

        and last year comcast spent $7 billion on capital upgrades
        what's your point? they spent almost $20 billion to pay for all the TV shows on their service. they spent $2.5 billion paying debt they took on to build out their network

        when cable internet first started it was less than 1mbps. now its 100mbps over the same wires.

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:01AM (#46320949) Journal
        Here is a heartwarming story. http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pu... [pbs.org]
  • WSJ article (Score:2, Informative)

    by bzipitidoo (647217)

    This article is in the Wall Street journal. That's suspicious right there. Of course they'd find a way to blame government regulation and interference for the problem, rather than abuse of government power to form and support monopolies.

    I'm not saying their point is completely without merit. But I tend to think other factors exert more influence over why we have such relatively slow Internet service.

    • Regulatory capture (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:30AM (#46320807) Homepage Journal

      Of course they'd find a way to blame government regulation and interference for the problem, rather than abuse of government power to form and support monopolies.

      They're two words for the same thing: government failure [wikipedia.org] in the form of regulatory capture [wikipedia.org]. Granting a monopoly privilege certainly qualifies as "regulation and interference".

    • The article's assessment is mostly correct. It even correctly mentioned that the previous net neutrality rules were unconstitutional. Except the article neglected the fact that new rules forcing local municipality to open up rights of way would also be unconstitutional because Federal agency has no power over local jurisdiction.

      Forget about the federal or even the state government for a moment. The problem is that most people don't even know how to keep their local government in check. They increase local s

      • Unfortunately, many of us have jobs, families, and lives that don't allow us to be the politicians; participation in the HOA, Subdivision, City, County, State, and Federal processes that many of us live under would consume a significant portion of what (if any) free time we have available. This is why we, in theory, elect representatives to act in our stead. What has happened is those people willing and able to represent us are not those qualified or trustworthy to do so, and the populace has become disillu
  • by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:36PM (#46320433)
    Didn't we give the telecoms a shitload of money during the Clinton years to build out high speed internet?
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:46PM (#46320511)

    This has been covered 2-3 times in the last year already, and the answers aren't going to change.
    Corporate greed is the overwhelming reason.
    Lack of necessary infrastructure is the other. But then that's because there is no system upgrading being done because of -- corporate greed.

    Instead of having the same discussions about the problem, a more productive discussion would be about how to solve the issue and steps people can take to actually realize those solutions.

  • Just curious. I'd assume it's the same rural folks who are against the high taxes that would widen pipes to their houses. I get 24/24 in suburban KC and I figure most similar communities are the same.

    • by alen (225700)

      or they live a person per mile and it would cost tens of thousands of $$$ just to wire their one home.

      • by Sardak (773761)
        Where I live is in the midst of a moderately dense residential area a few miles from downtown. We have a single high speed provider available, and our current plan is about $65/month for "up to 12/2 Mbps". And, indeed, on speed tests and the occasional Linux ISO torrent, I actually see those kinds of speeds. However, for practical applications, such as streaming videos on Hulu, we're lucky to have things play smoothly at the 0.5 Mbps resolution even at off-peak hours.

        I don't think we necessarily need f
        • by alen (225700)

          that's about average. nyc i was paying time warner cable $65 for 20/1 for a while. 15 years ago internet only for 1mbps cable would cost you close to $100

          and i really can't believe tech people can be so dense. the internet is not your ISP. its not some magical one entity. its hundreds of networks connected together via different business agreements. just because you pay for 12/2 doesn't mean the server or network your linux iso sits on can support that for all their users at once. if you do a traceroute and

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      KC has google fiber thus competition genius, the rest of us are paying out the ass for 20mb service that is down half the time

      • by alen (225700)

        and give google a few years
        prices will go up as the media companies raise them
        i'll take it as well if i could but google has no debt unlike every cable company in the USA with tens of billions in debt from past investments

    • by RR (64484)

      Well, lucky you, living in a city blessed by Google Fiber.

      In the rest of the country, the Internet is generally slow. It doesn't matter if it's liberal or conservative. The government isn't forcing competition, and the government isn't taking the lead on building infrastructure, so the cable and phone companies invest way less on fast Internet than in almost every other industrial country.

      Even in Silicon Valley, with its dense urbanization, left-leaning politics, and large population of knowledge workers, m

  • Municipal Fiber (Score:4, Interesting)

    by worldthinker (536300) on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:04AM (#46320631)

    The best way is to allow cities and counties to create municipal fiber utilities that provide uniform and universal access of its citizens to ISP's. Municipalities can require multiple ISP's to service the city providing service level and price competition. The capital outlay for the fiber infrastructure is born by the city/county and is capitalized in use fees. Cities would set SLA standards for customer service response and repair times. Penalties for non-compliance and the right to replace ISP's that don't perform.

    We would get the fastest and most robust internet connections available on the planet. We would get TV and phone service bundled on one wire. We would get lower monthly bills.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      We would get the fastest and most robust internet connections available on the planet. We would get TV and phone service bundled on one wire. We would get lower monthly bills.

      And unicorns would fly out of your butt.

  • At our office we have fiber from XO, TWTelecom, Abovenet, and a few other smaller players. Time Warner is spending ungodly sums to bring fiber down the corridor to serve ~5MM square feet of offices.

    But, ATT only offers "up to 6mbit" DSL. Pricing is comparable for value, but the offering is simply not up to snuff.

  • When there is little or no choice, the price rises. What is so difficult about that?
  • Because you damn well know the answer, you're just trying to hold onto a shred of hope that it's not something so nefarious.
  • Money

    Everyone wants improvement & no-one is willing to pay for it.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Google is willing to pay. Heck, some municipalities are willing to pay. This reminds me of an old joke:

      A carpet-bagger and a Texas cowboy were seated on a train across from a very attractive woman. The carpet-bagger leans over and propositions the woman, offering her $10 for sex. Saying nothing, she just sits there, looking shocked. A few minutes later, the carpet-bagger offers her $25. At this point, the cowboy pulls out his revolver and shoots the man dead.

      The woman gushes, "Thank you, sir. For standing

  • Expedite permits for people who refuse to do work.

    How about: Municipalities write up a batch of permits and leave the utilities name blank. First one to schedule the work gets the permit and everyone else can go f*ck themselves.

  • It's all about population density. Google swoops in to a major metropolitan area and wow... they can deliver gigabit speeds for $35/month. What if you live in the other 99% of American where the population density isn't 50k per square mile? Oh, that's right, google isn't installing fiber there.

  • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:40AM (#46321115) Homepage

    I think that the problem here is that there's no differentiation between the fiber itself and the service carried by it.

    If a town lies down dark fiber and then lets the end customer choose operator using that fiber, then it wouldn't be a big problem.

    As for putting fibers on utility poles - that's stupid for several reasons - risk of damage is high, complex arrangements on poles means high risk of conflicting wiring and it really destroys the general view of a small town having the air filled with wires crossing all over the place.

    Compare Westford, MA, USA [google.com] with Kållered, Sweden [google.com].

    It may be more expensive to bury the wires, but it will lower the costs in the long run.

  • by evilviper (135110) on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:40AM (#46321117) Journal

    I don't really care how "slow" my internet access is... Hulu streaming works at 500kbps, and I can't find any broadband providers that offer service speeds lower than that in the past decades. Just give me CHEAP!!!

    I don't want to pay $65/mo to get bottom-tier FIOS speeds that I won't use. Yet FIOS deployment means I can't get cheap Verizon DSL anymore.

    I don't want my cable company to eliminate their bottom tier, upgrading everyone to 15Mbps and doubling the monthly price. What does my mother need with 15Mbps internet access to read her e-mail? I know she'd rather have her $20/month back.

    Where are all the cheap broadband packages going? I just checked due to another commenter, and see that Time Warner (not in my area) offers 2/1Mbps service for $15/mo... That would be pretty good, except they're about to get bought by Comcast, which doesn't offer anything below 3/1Mbps for $40/mo.

    Screw your HighDef streaming video... Where's my entry-level internet service? When CELLULAR in cheaper, something has gone horribly wrong.

    • erh... BECAUSE cellular is cheaper, the low tier broadband packages are dying out. Think about it: You can have 20 bucks a month with 3G speed, either from a cable in your living room or wherever you choose to be with your cell phone.

      Take a wild guess what most people will choose. Especially now with laptops that come equipped with the ability to insert a phone SIM, making phones obsolete if all you want is a data plan.

  • by Chas (5144) on Monday February 24, 2014 @04:58AM (#46321641) Homepage Journal

    Basically the inertia of massive infrastructure across a large, non-homogeneously settled area.
    The insane costs and regulatory nightmare of laying new infrastructure.
    Oh yeah, and the greed and apathy of the few major providers, standing atop their government authorized monopolies.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday February 24, 2014 @08:51AM (#46322239)

    When I was in the US last time, I was appalled. I saw phone wires and electricity wires hanging everywhere, phone distributors (I don't know the technical term in English for them, where a few wires from various households come together) that are a fire hazard, at best (that they're working was a veritable miracle), I've even seen hemp insulation.

    Honestly, I thought I was somewhere in the USSR, somewhere behind the Ural, in the 60s.

    Why is it in such a state? I can only assume it is, funny enough, for the same reason it was in the USSR, but for a different underlying reason: It worked. In the USSR it was not improved because of shortage. In the USA it is not improved because of profit. In either case it would have required investment that was not warranted. It's good enough for the customer. In the USSR, it was good enough for the comrade because they delivered the bare minimum of what was necessary. In the US, you get delivered the bare minimum of what is necessary to keep you paying.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday February 24, 2014 @09:36AM (#46322485) Homepage

    Very simple answer.

    Pure Greed. AT&T, Comcast,Etc... they care more about profit margins than quality of service. If you will swallow paying $60 a month for paltry speeds then that is what they deliver. Plus they work hard to keep competition out so they dont have to lower prices or increase speeds.

    It's greed, The companies hate you for even wanting more.

  • by jon3k (691256) on Monday February 24, 2014 @10:32AM (#46322897)
    The company I work for has a few dozen branch sites in the south east US. Lately we've been looking at increasing the broadband Internet service used to provide WiFi access to guests. When we rolled out the first broadband circuits there 5-7 years ago, our options were typically cable service at maybe 5-10Mb/s and DSL service at usually 3Mb/s. Now, most of these sites have 100Mb/s cable internet service available. Granted, it typically runs ~$200/mo for business class 100-150Mb/s internet service, but still, at least the options fucking available at this point.

    I really feel like in the last couple years there has been an actual improvement in broadband speeds with the real push for DOCSIS 3. It's the one real improvement we'll see without replacing (too much of) the copper in the ground. Maybe I'm crazy but I really believe Google Fiber may have played more than a small part in this. Not actually being available everywhere, just the threat to the existing duopoly of cable/dsl providers that they may move in and provide some real competition.

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