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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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23, 2014 @11:25PM (#46320363)

    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 for even the Comcast or CenturyLink monopolies. Comcast has been blocked for years from burying new cabling on my street. As long as you have obstructionist city governments, you'll never have good Internet access. The situation was made worse recently when we elected a socialist that is very anti-Internet.

  • 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

  • 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 !

  • 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 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 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 ChrisMaple (607946) on Monday February 24, 2014 @01:26AM (#46321053)

    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 through taxes, with the additional advantage that road owners don't have to go begging to the government to fix that pothole that's been growing for five months.

  • 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.

  • 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 Ex-MislTech (557759) on Monday February 24, 2014 @12:53PM (#46324265)

    Correct the US does not even place in the top 20 internet connection world wide anymore.

    Mostly due to greed of US Telcos which is obvious after you read about them stealing
    $300 billion in tax payer money like the thieves that they are. []

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