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Verizon and New Jersey Agree 4G Service Equivalent to Broadband Internet 155

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the buying-regulators-for-fun-and-profit dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that Verizon and New Jersey regulators have reached a deal releasing Verizon from their obligation to have brought 45Mbps broadband to all NJ residents by 2010. Instead, 4G wireless service is considered sufficient. From the article: "2010 came and went and a number of rural parts of the state are still living with dial-up or subpar DSL. And even though the original deal was made in the days of modems and CompuServe, its crafters had the foresight to define broadband as 45Mbps, which is actually higher than many Verizon broadband customers receive today. ... In spite of that, and the thousands of legitimate complaints from actual New Jersey residents, the BPU voted unanimously yesterday to approve a deal with Verizon ... According to the Bergen Record, Verizon will no longer be obligated to provide broadband to residents if they have access to broadband service from cable TV providers or wireless 4G service. ... Residents who happen to live in areas not served by cable or wireless broadband can petition Verizon for service, but can only get broadband if at least 35 people in a single census tract each agree to sign contracts for a minimum of one year and pay $100 deposits."
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Verizon and New Jersey Agree 4G Service Equivalent to Broadband Internet

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  • So how long (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @03:52PM (#46835313)

    So how long until the BPU commissioners get their nice cushy jobs as lobbyists for Verizon or a Verizon supported trade group?

  • People get the government that they voted for. If they are upset, they need to regard and blame their neighbours.

    • by organgtool (966989) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:22PM (#46835597)
      I'm getting really tired of this shitty argument. We currently have a system in which rich people and corporations can donate nearly unlimited amounts of money to all political candidates, essentially buying them all out and you insist that the problem is with the voters. When every candidate is bought, there is no one left representing US! Stop acting like there is always a perfect candidate and somehow we pick the wrong one 100% of the time.
      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Everyone has the government they deserve. This is apparently the government that New Jersey residents deserve.

      • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:52PM (#46835803) Homepage Journal

        I *do* insist that the problem is with the voters. If the voters were that irate about the politicians, they'd vote them out. Even if the new ones were just as bad, the voters would express their ire by voting them out, too.

        Political donations don't buy votes. No politician is going to risk going to jail for taking bribes.

        What political donations buy is the election of candidates who are sympathetic to you without having to be paid. They can't give money directly to the candidates anyway. The unlimited funds go to "uncoordinated" separate groups who spend it not on limousines and fact-finding tours to tropical islands but on campaign ads.

        That's the point of connection. They're not buying the politicians. They're buying the voters. And they're buying them not with money, but with whatever tools of mental manipulation the ad-makers can dream up. They spend the money to blanket the airwaves.

        All the voters have to do is to think, question whether the ads are telling the truth, and wonder why if they can form an objective picture from two biased, manipulated sets of mutually contradictory ads. That doesn't seem like a lot to ask, but the fact that the incumbents are repeatedly returned to office is a strong clue that they're not.

        Maybe it would be futile and ineffective to keep turfing out politicians in favor of new ones. But it's not an experiment the voters have tried. If they did, maybe the politicians would change the way they operate; I don't know. I do know that your picture of how the process works is deeply flawed, and most voters seem equally uninterested in actually learning how it does work.

        Your outrage at the politicians is too easy. They're doing what the voters tell them to do. If the voters are doing what the money is telling them to do, don't tell it to the politicians, or to me. Tell it to them. If you can figure out how to get them to listen, I'm all for it.

        • by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @06:01PM (#46836349)

          SCOTUS just told us that it's only a bribe if you can prove quid-pro-quo. Which essentially means bribes *are* legal.

          Besides that, the idea that "buying a politician" and "buying an election" are separate is absurd. If you want to call them independent contractors feel free, but the flow of money and control are unaffected by such labels.

          • But didn't MPAA head Chris Dodd fess up to quid pro quo in 2012 [techdirt.com]?
            • Yeah, but that's OK, he's a Democrat.
              • Now I get it. The MPAA is trying to bring back the heyday of the Gingrich House when things like the No Electronic Theft Act, Copyright Term Extension Act, and Digital Millennium Copyright Act enjoyed wide enough bipartisan support to pass with voice vote.
          • by jfengel (409917)

            The money does not flow into the politician's bank accounts. That's why it's not a bribe. They are not getting wealthy off of it; even the revolving door promises that they'll get a lucrative position after they leave Congress can't really explain it since that is often years or decades away.

            The politicians are mostly wealthy to start with, and their income sources are fairly obvious. They make money the old fashioned way, being lawyers and executives with comical salaries, which they spin into even bigger

        • by bobstreo (1320787)

          MPAA seems to disagree:

          https://www.techdirt.com/artic... [techdirt.com]

          • by jfengel (409917)

            I don't think I agree with your interpretation of this event. The MPAA discovered that even though they are sympathetic to Democratic lawmakers on most issues, they disagree on the pocketbook issue that makes the MPAA different from the sum of a bunch of Hollywood lefties. Those lefties are probably still supporting Democrats as individuals, but their collective action on financial matters runs to right-wing, pro-business, anti-consumer tactics.

            So they're probably fighting against themselves, and donating o

        • If the voters were that irate about the politicians, they'd vote them out. Even if the new ones were just as bad, the voters would express their ire by voting them out, too.

          That would be a good start, but one would hope that after a while they'd learn to stop voting them in. Just leave the office empty and let people get on with their lives in peace.

        • by suman28 (558822)
          I would have to disagree. It is great that there is a chance to vote the candidate out, BUT it is in the next election cycle. The damage is already done by that time. Any candidate that promises to repeal those laws will come in and get comfy till the next election cycle. There is no need to take any bribes, because adding to this problem are the mindless voters who can't vote out the rubber stamp candidates and you got the policy mess we are in now.
          • by jfengel (409917)

            When you talk about the "mindless voters", I'm not sure you're disagreeing with me at all. The voters have the power to fix it, or at least make a change in the individual, and that would create powerful incentives for the one in power to be different.

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        If you don't know why our current system tends to favor only two viable candidates [wikipedia.org], then you are part of the reason that, in your words, "there is no one left representing US!"

        • And what do you suggest knowing about it can accomplish? The number of politicians who are the ones to benefit from the broken system barely even constitute statistical noise.

          This bullshit about it being the voters' fault is because morons DON'T understand Duverger's law and still cling to the delusion that everything would be unicorn farts and fairy semen if everyone would just "catch on" and vote for fringe 3rd parties.

          Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Hen Housing Project still just gets to choose f

          • Remove the limit of one vote per seat, and the resulting system is called approval voting [wikipedia.org]. It appears to have fewer opportunities for insincere strategic voting than plurality. But does it have a counterpart to Duverger's law?
      • by drnb (2434720) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @05:46PM (#46836231)

        I'm getting really tired of this shitty argument. We currently have a system in which rich people and corporations can donate nearly unlimited amounts of money to all political candidates, essentially buying them all out and you insist that the problem is with the voters. When every candidate is bought, there is no one left representing US! Stop acting like there is always a perfect candidate and somehow we pick the wrong one 100% of the time.

        If anyone has a shitty argument it is you. Votes are politics true currency, money is just a tool to influence voters in order to get their *vote*.

        A 1% has *one* vote. A 99% has *one* vote. The 99% have the power but they squander it, to believe otherwise is to be a denier of reality like climate deniers, to let politics blind oneself to reality.

        Look at the two most powerful lobbying groups in the country, the AARP and the NRA. They have so much power not because of political campaign contribution but because ***their members show up on election day*** highly motivated to vote based on a single issue. Their opponents often fail to understand this, think it is simply political contributions, and in the NRA case raise huge amounts of money for anti-gun groups and then fail and fail again.

        Politicians value votes beyond all other things. It is votes that put them into office and keep them in office. The secondary nature of money is easily illustrated. No amount of money spent on TV and web ads by Bloomberg will convince NRA member to vote in favor of restricting guns. No amount of money spent on TV and web ads by the Koch brothers will convince Occupy Wall Street members to vote against banking restrictions. Only the ignorant or ambivalent voter is persuaded.

        To deny that the real issue is the ignorant/ambivalent voter is to doom one's efforts at reform. Only when the 99% insists on politicians representing their interests, and voting out those who do not, will politicians change their behavior. Reelections communicates to politicians that their actions are OK with voters.

        Voters *are* communicating to politicians that it is OK to cash in. Until *voters" say otherwise nothing will change. Don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise.

      • Well, you could get together with a number of your fellow citizens and form an organization large enough to put some lobby pressure, at least.

        Guess which organizations are typically the targets of "campaign finance reform."

  • sign me up. i can get more than that many neighbors to agree to those terms. alas, we don't even have that option. we'd pay many times more for the chance.

    it's all relative.

    • by mysidia (191772)

      sign me up. i can get more than that many neighbors to agree to those terms. alas, we don't even have that option. we'd pay many times more for the chance.

      Sure thing... they'll be happy to install a 4G tower in your area.

      By the way, the fee for going over the 250 Megabyte data cap has been increased to $25 per Kilobyte of data transferred.

  • 1. Deregulate
    2. ...
    3. Profit!
  • Customers, have the responsibility to know what they want and be willing to shop somewhere else.
    Consumers open wide and ingest whatever is shoved down there throats.
    Then of course there is New Jersey. I can't help you with that.
  • How? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:06PM (#46835449)

    If you have a contract that says you need to install fiber/cable, how the fuck is NOT installing fiber/cable fraud?

    • Re:How? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Russ1642 (1087959) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:17PM (#46835553)

      They are altering the deal. Pray they don't alter it any further.

    • They did not specify the medium in the original contract. They merely specified 45mbit as broadband.. which they weaseled out of by a technicality since LTE does support that speed... but at a cost.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        LTE isn't broadband though, unless they're providing an in house router for it instead of getting a phone service and tethering to that.

        • You mean like that [verizonwireless.com]?

          • From that page: $120 per month for one-eighth of the cap that people used to deride Comcast for having
            • I don't disagree with that argument at all - the problem with LTE in general is that there is at least some notion of scarcity and the cost is prohibitive if you want it to serve as an alternative to regular broadband. Nonetheless, the problem is *not* that you have to get a phone service and tether to it.

  • ...now with more corruption!
  • in this thread (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:07PM (#46835459) Homepage Journal

    will be a bunch of cynical comments about this being just the way it is

    but there are countries like canada and the nordic countries that, while not perfect, do a much better job of keeping money out of politics than the usa

    cynicism is common, but i don't like it because people use it to think they have to lie down and accept this sort of legalized corruption

    in many ways, i think the cynicism is worse than the malicious corporations. because there's always people who are robbing you in this world. you have defend yourself and fight them. but what can you say about people who roll over and take the abuse?

    we don't have to accept it

    and we start by changing the lame cynical attitudes out there

    that might be you

    that might mean speaking up when you hear cynicism and people snickering or nodding in agreement with it

    for speaking up and say wallowing in mindless cynicism is a form of accepting the abuse and is part of the problem, you may get ridiculed and flak for that. but think about what kind of mindset is mocking you, and take it as a point of pride

    we have to be the solution here. all of us. i didn't say it was easy. but i and many others are not going to continue to accept this, and i would hope more people would join us

    start by losing the cynicism

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:27PM (#46835641)

      It isn't quite as good as people think with regards to money and politics, and certainly not with regards to the Internet. Canada's 'net speeds vs costs do not compare all that well to the US's.

      Canada is a very nice (if cold) country that I visit every summer (I'm a dual citizen) but it isn't the utopia some Americans seem to think it is.

      • i don't think canada is a utopia

        i specifically said "canada and the nordic countries that, while not perfect, do a much better job"

        every country has problems. and there is corruption in canada. but canada is doing a much better job of keeping corruption in check than the usa. we can demand better, we do not have to accept the lame status quo in the usa og basically legalized corruption such as with 2010 citizens united when the supremes basically betrayed the american people to corporations and plutocrats

        do

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      will be a bunch of cynical comments about this being just the way it is

      It IS the way it is. Better get used to it.

      but there are countries like canada and the nordic countries that, while not perfect, do a much better job of keeping money out of politics than the usa

      The USA is not a Scandinavian country. Saying "we should be more like Norway" makes as much sense here as it would to go to Somalia, Afghanistan, Mexico, or Zimbabwe, and tell them "you just need to be like Norway!".

      cynicism is common, but i do

      • when i describe a pathetic attitude, it helps not to respond by exactly fitting the pathetic description

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Hey, if you want to live in fantasy land, don't let me stop you. I like to watch Star Trek TNG and fantasize about living in a world where everyone is hyper-competent and there's no greedy sociopaths running things, but I'm under no illusions that such a thing is actually possible, since it's never been achieved before in 8,000 years of human civilization.

          • I want us to be as successful at controlling corruption as Canada and the Nordic countries.

            I didn't know such a goal counts as science fiction.

            I described a certain mindless cynic in my post. You are exactly such a loser. You are the problem.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              I want us to be as successful at controlling corruption as Canada and the Nordic countries.

              Think, for a second, about someone in Zimbabwe uttering this line. Does that not sound utterly ridiculous? Same goes here. You seem to have some wacky idea that the US could somehow be like Nordic countries. It simply can't, just like countries like Zimbabwe and Mexico can't. When corruption is ingrained in your society's very culture, you can't somehow magically change your culture to be like a culture where cor

            • by Shados (741919)

              Of course, in this particular context (broadband availability and cost), corruption or not, Canada makes the USA looks good, so its probably a bad example for this article.

      • by profplump (309017)

        And so your solution is to do nothing? And you expect people to agree with you?

        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          You can do what the smart people in Germany did around 1935. Remember, there were some people who tried to change things there; it didn't go well for them (I seem to remember guillotines being used for dissenters).

      • by schnell (163007)

        You could try the loud protest route, but look how that worked out for the OWS demonstrators.

        The OWS protestors accomplished nothing because THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK THEY WANTED. They were just protesting against bad things, with no common agenda on how to fix it or what they wanted instead. Christ, they even had to have public meetings (at least in NYC) to decide if they as a group wanted to buy sleeping bags, and even then it took hours because they wanted consensus and some douchebag would always sidetrack the conversation into whether sleeping bags were exploiting the Earth and they shoul

    • start by losing the cynicism

      At some point you have to accept that you are living in the last days of Rome, and nothing is going to turn it around. The USA will be burned to the ground, economically, by the uber rich, and they will not leave a scrap of meat on the carcass. The barbarians are already at the gates. It's over. It's time to start planning what comes after. It's the rebuilding that will be exciting.

  • For all the wrong reasons. Spread your cheeks NJ.

  • And New Jersey, I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further.

  • Give Back The Money (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:11PM (#46835501)

    Verizon was given a shit load of cash in tax breaks, rate hikes, etc in return for providing 45Mb broadband to all state residents.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:12PM (#46835517)

    Not one single Cellular network in the United States offers TRUE 4g.

    What they offer is relabeled, bastardized 3g+ (4G LTE is an enhanced 3G - long term evolution standard, it is not by definition 4g)

    Look at the specs.

    Verizon isn't out of the woods just yet, they actually have to bring in TRUE 4G first.

    Good on New Jersey for forcing them to upgrade their networks :)

  • Since when has the definition of broadband been so high in the US. Last I knew it was still officially classified as anything faster than ISDN. Got 1Mbps down on your DSL link? Enjoy that sweet broadband citizen.

    It seems most likely that such an impossibly high target (for US infrastructure) was purposely snuck in by industry lobbyists to make it more likely to be waived in the future.

    • Since when has the definition of broadband been so high in the US. Last I knew it was still officially classified as anything faster than ISDN. Got 1Mbps down on your DSL link? Enjoy that sweet broadband citizen.

      It seems most likely that such an impossibly high target (for US infrastructure) was purposely snuck in by industry lobbyists to make it more likely to be waived in the future.

      10 mbps hahahahahahah.
      We pay for 7 where i live and maybe get 4mbps when it is "fast" around like 1-4 am the rest of the day it is usually around 3-2.5mbps.
      Our options consist of centurylink dsl or centurylink with bundle with cable. Cell signal is neither fast nor reliable (3g if the weather is good if its bad... one bar if you sit in the window sill). oh and dial up. fuck the tellaco's

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Since when has the definition of broadband been so high in the US. Last I knew it was still officially classified as anything faster than ISDN

      Uh no, and it never has been. Last I knew, it was 6Mbps, as defined by the FCC — which also understands the definition of broadband [fcc.gov].

  • If Verizon Wireless is the only option for broadband in your area, I would hate to see the bill for a family of four that uses Netflix. How about downloading a 13GB patch [google.com] for a single game? Can these people send their bills to the state for reimbursement?
    • by Ichijo (607641)

      Consider it part of the cost of living away from civilization.

      "If you love nature, stay away from it." --Henry David Thoreau

      • In part I share that sentiment. That is, right up to the point that the innocents that don't get choice where their parents force them to live are affected. If you choose to live on the fringes of the grid, that's your problem. If your kids suffer from lack of opportunity because you force them to live on the fringes of the grid, you're a douche bag.

        Setting all that aside however, we have a company that was given all manner of financial benefits in exchange for their obligation to provide 45Mbps broadban

  • I just.got.a.Virgin.Mobile Samsung S3 that gets 4G, and yes, it is comparable to WiFi speeds. It is much faster than 3G, maybe 10X?? And.since right.now I don't need WiFi for my laptop as much, this will work (for my current needs).
  • So I guess Verizon isn't going to give back all the money New Jersey residents handed them in order to build out broadband.....time to litigate.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:43PM (#46835737) Journal

    What good is 45Mbps when you hit your monthly cap in just under 12 minutes, and then get charged $1.50 per minute of full-rate data after that?

    When compared to AT&T, Verizon wired, Comcast, and TW, the cost for wireless "broadband" (even capped at 250GB/mo) is astronomincal, running over $1000 per month.

  • Technically, it is (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Guspaz (556486) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @04:53PM (#46835819)

    There's no technical reason that good LTE coverage isn't going to give you a broadband experience. I've got 50/10 meg VDSL2, and three-bar LTE coverage provides similar downstream and way more upstream.

    The problem, then, isn't the technology itself. The problem is the 1GB data cap and $15/GB overage fees. My VDSL2 connection comes with 300GB of data, on an LTE connection that'd cost me $4,500 a month. At those prices, even if LTE is capable of acting as broadband, you can't use it as such.

    • by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday April 24, 2014 @05:29PM (#46836095)

      There's no technical reason that good LTE coverage isn't going to give you a broadband experience. I've got 50/10 meg VDSL2, and three-bar LTE coverage provides similar downstream and way more upstream.

      The problem, then, isn't the technology itself. The problem is the 1GB data cap and $15/GB overage fees. My VDSL2 connection comes with 300GB of data, on an LTE connection that'd cost me $4,500 a month. At those prices, even if LTE is capable of acting as broadband, you can't use it as such.

      Well, there is one Technical reason -- the same reason that limits every wireless protocol -- there is a limited amount of frequency spectrum available to wireless signals, which puts a cap on the aggregate bandwidth available. Multiple sectors and channels can help, but it's still not the same as wireless -- just like how 300Mbit 802.11n Wifi in the office doesn't give everyone the same quality of service as 100mbit wired connections -- it's great when only a few people are using the Wifi, but when everyone tries to use the fileserver at once, they all have to share the same bandwidth.

      Wired infrastructure is also aggregated and shared on the back end, but there are fewer limitations on available bandwidth since the fiber backhaul has a lot more capacity than the limited RF bandwidth available to carriers. Increasing LTE capacity often means installing a new cell site so each site serves fewer users, which can take years from planning to implementation. In comparison, adding additional wired backhaul capacity is often as easy as lighting up another fiber strand (or using faster transceivers).

      • by profplump (309017)

        But they aren't using wireless for the backhaul, they're using it for the last mile. And they're doing it because it's cheaper and quicker to install than improved wireline connections.

        So if they want to use wireless to meet this obligation they should be held to the same standard as if they had met it with wireline service.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          But they aren't using wireless for the backhaul, they're using it for the last mile. And they're doing it because it's cheaper and quicker to install than improved wireline connections.

          So if they want to use wireless to meet this obligation they should be held to the same standard as if they had met it with wireline service.

          My point is that wired gives dedicated bandwidth to the aggregation point. With wireles the bandwidth is shared, so the more users that use it, the more it degrades. I thought that was clear when I made the analogy with Wifi.

          Oh, but in many rural areas they *do* use point-to-point wireless for the backhaul. Since it's point-to-point, it's not subject to the same sharing constraints, but it's not the same as a hardwired fiber connection.

      • by Guspaz (556486)

        These companies are using LTE to deliver service to rural areas with low population densities, and they have massive amounts of spectrum. Rogers has 170MHz of spectrum, for example, enough to deliver ~2.5 Gbps to fixed wireless to a single cell with LTE. Obviously they're not going to dedicate that much spectrum to fixed wireless, but in rural areas they could afford to spend most of it.

  • And it's only 100 times more expensive.

    • by Trekologer (86619)

      And it's only 100 times more expensive.

      In fairness, only 7 times more expensive. The mean for residential fixed access broadband usage in Q1 2013 was 47.7 GB. A Verizon 4G LTE data access plan to satisfy this usage level would be $355/month. A Verizon Fios 15/5 Mpbs plan is $49.99/month.

  • And even though the original deal was made in the days of modems and CompuServe, its crafters had the foresight to define broadband as 45Mbps

    Not really. If you read what Verizon agreed to it was "up to 45 Mbps". Which obviously means nothing. If you can watch video they met their obligation. I don't think the agreement mentions anything about a cap either.

  • We need a universal service directive similar to the one that was in place for landline POTS telephones.

    The Internet has become as essential today as telephone service was before it. Why shouldn't it be subject to the same rules?

    And no, an expensive cellular data plan with a low cap is NOT an adequate substitute. If the providers want to argue that wireless service will suffice, then they need to make it compete on price and data volume with wired services.

  • Time to make New Jersey and Verizon pay us back the entirety of that $200 billion given nearly two decades ago.

  • If we want maximum progress and job growth then the entire US should have at least 1Gbps service. 40mbps is only a drop in the bucket. And why is it permitted that most people are prohibited from running servers on their home internet connection they often pay quite a bit for? This means that that wide open place you can still start a business without a ton of regulators landing on your head, the internet, is not accessible for the majority of people to legally take advantage of from their home! Ins

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