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Hundreds of Cities Wired With Fiber, But Telecom Lobbying Keeps It Unusable 347

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-case-you-went-a-day-without-hating-your-ISP dept.
Jason Koebler writes: 'In light of the ongoing net neutrality battle, many people have begun looking to Google and its promise of high-speed fiber as a potential saving grace from companies that want to create an "internet fast lane." Well, even without Google, many communities and cities throughout the country are already wired with fiber — they just don't let their residents use it. Companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, and Verizon have signed agreements with cities that prohibit local governments from becoming internet service providers and prohibit municipalities from selling or leasing their fiber to local startups who would compete with these huge corporations.'
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Hundreds of Cities Wired With Fiber, But Telecom Lobbying Keeps It Unusable

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  • Re:speaking of FCC (Score:5, Informative)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:34PM (#47167875) Homepage Journal

    crap. linked to my g+. Sorry, my bad.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:08PM (#47168063)

    You're on drugs if you think you have to upgrade fiber to increase bandwidth.

    It is TRIVIAL to supply 100Mbit/100Mbit to every home and that is more tan enough for running 20 netflix feeds per home. In fact the gear for 100Mbit is dirt freaking cheap and all over the place used.

    The entire City Plant can be 100/100 and the only hard part is the Internet POP. so you need a couple of fibers to the next town. In fact if you do it right every town has a 2 fibers off to the next town to create a web like the internet is supposed to be. suddenly your STATE is completely online and now it is trivial to get backbone wholesale rates for internet access from a backbone provider. comcast did this using leftover gear from the @home days to have a backbone all over several states in the midwest back in 2003 and it is STILL running on that now 15 year old gear and is still more than they need in bandwidth for flinging TV commercials all over multiple states.

    Let me guess, you actually don't know shit about how networking works let alone fiber?

  • Re:Annoying. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:25PM (#47168165)

    This is almost a word-for-word description of how it's done in Sweden. It's not always the government that owns the fiber, it might be a private investor or land lord that owns it and charges a small fee from tenants/users for installation and maintenance.

    In my rental apartment building the land lord recently installed fiber-to-the-home for every apartment, raised rent by about US $11 per month and now I have a choice of about 8 ISPs starting at US $13 per month for unlimited 10/10 mbps and ending at unlimited gigabit in both directions at an obscene US $90 a month. Historically prices for the top-tier bandwidth has gone down quite rapidly.

  • see iProvo (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:25PM (#47168167)

    Provo, Utah tried this approach: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IProvo [wikipedia.org]. Unfortunately, it didn't work out too well, and Google had to come save the day...

  • by JeffOwl (2858633) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:26PM (#47168179)

    Oddly enough electricity providers in parts of Texas and not completely monopolies. There is still a company that maintains the lines and infrastructure but you buy your electricity from one of several providers who compete with each other on price and plans like "nights or weekends free." So that's great.

    However, the phase of the development in which I live only has DSL. Two streets down or over and they also get the option of cable. Not on my street though. Not sure how that happened.

    The city has a municipal monopoly on garbage collection

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:38PM (#47168225) Journal

    they will act like any other local utility and tell you to wait 5 years until they gather enough data that there is a demand for it, then take another few years to study the problem, then spend another 5 years begging for money in the budget and finally upgrading the network

    Utilities don't get funded through the general budget.
    They petition the PUC/PSC/etc with a plan, it gets approved (or not),
    then the utility either raises prices the approved amount to cover the direct cost
    or the utility issues bonds... and then raises prices the approved amount to cover the bonds.

    And AFAIK there's no such thing as a government utility, only government chartered corporations.
    They are self funding and mostly independent of government, except where they have to interact with the Public Utilities Commission, like any other utility.

  • Re:Annoying. (Score:5, Informative)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:48PM (#47168279) Homepage

    Here's another example.

    1. Claim common carrier status
    2. Get access to public rights of way
    3. Raise rates
    4. Say you aren't a common carrier
    5. Profit.

    there is no ?

    http://www.theverge.com/2014/5... [theverge.com]

    Today New York's Public Utility Law Project (PULP) published a report, authored by New Networks, which contains previously unseen documents. It demonstrates how Verizon deliberately moves back and forth between regulatory regimes, classifying its infrastructure either like a heavily regulated telephone network or a deregulated information service depending on its needs. The chicanery has allowed Verizon to raise telephone rates, all the while missing commitments for high-speed internet deployment.

    It's a mess -- and, by all appearances, it's completely legal.

    * * *

    First, Title II designation gives carriers broad power to compel other utilities -- power, water, and so on -- to give them access to existing infrastructure for a federally controlled price, which makes it simpler and more cost-effective for cables to be run. And that infrastructure adds up: poles, ducts, conduits running beneath roads, the list goes on. Second, Title II gave Verizon a unique opportunity to justify boosting telephone rates in discussions with regulators, arguing that these phone calls would run over the same fiber used by FiOS, Verizon's home internet service. According to PULP's report, Verizon raised traditional wired telephone rates in New York some 84 percent between 2006 and 2009, blessed by regulators in return for its "massive investment in fiber optics."

  • Re:Annoying. (Score:5, Informative)

    by OdinOdin_ (266277) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:02PM (#47168385)
    Very similar to how it works in the UK.

    A business called "BT Wholesale / aka OpenReach" operates as a corporate entity in its own right, that the government regulates. They more of less have last mile monopoly over the old British Telecom (which used to be the incumbent single telephone operator that was originally a public entity). So this was made private maybe 20 years ago but with certain caveats.

    Such as a uniform pricing policy to all other telecom operators wishing to buy their wholesale services. Think like FRAND, as opposed to scheming and back office deals to maintain pricing.

    Such as not offering the full package, i.e. only offering wholesale services. A regular home or business consumer never buys directly anything from the wholesale division. The end customer buys from the many (more than 500 in our little island) brand names, who in turn pay the wholesale rental fees out of your subscription.

    Such as allowing politicians to have influence (through regulation) over certain aspects of governance. This is a good thing when there is a last mile monopoly, there is at least some kind of elected accountability. Especially when the government paid for the original construction of the network.

    There is of course a parallel cable network now, that also have their own independent last mile. So in almost all urban/suburban locations another option exists, but BTs copper POTS network has a much higher coverage.

    There also exists some areas (such as Kingston and Hull) which ended up with their own last mile services that operate their own telecoms independently.

    Here in the UK now (with BT wholesale) the whole country is getting more street side cabinets (to within of 100 meters of every urban and suburban location) and fibre optics installed to those cabinets back to the local exchange site. The last 100 meters is still largely delivered over copper but at speeds around 80MBit/20Mbit, but I'm sure further speed increases will take places like ADSL/ADSL2/ADSL2+ in the future. This national roll out is over half way through and I'm sure within the next 3 years the original plan will be complete.

    There are still issues with many rural locations being on dialup quality, hopefully as cellular like technology improves this could be utilized as back haul for rural locations. Rural in the UK might mean just being 8 miles out of town.
  • Re:Annoying. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:10PM (#47168407)

    universal SLIC

    Forcing phone companies to upgrade them to digital SLICs would do more to speed up Internet access as a percentage of current capacity than any other thing the government could do.

    For those that don't know, SLIC stands for Subscriber Line Interface Circuit, and they are typically used to take a few POTS (plain old telephone service, a standard analog phone line) lines from a CO (central office) and multiplex them to all of the homes in a neighborhood. This allows the phone monopolies to sell many more phone lines than they actually have. For example, my old neighborhood in Seattle had only nine incoming POTS lines, but Qwest could support more than forty houses. We just couldn't make or receive calls for a few hours a day because all of the circuits were busy. The problem with universal SLICs is the extra conversion of the analog signal from your house to a digital one in the SLIC then the conversion back to an analog to the CO. That prevents 56k from working. Typically, you are limited to 26,400 bps with this sort of system. If the phone monopolies were required to upgrade the SLICs so that instead of using analog, they were digital to the CO then we would be able to have a chance at a much faster 56k connection to the Internet. For places like Seattle where you still have a lot of people that don't have DSL or cable as an option, getting rid of the universal SLICs would almost double the connection speeds for many people. I know my friends where would love a chance to get a 56k connection.

  • Re:Annoying. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enigma2175 (179646) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:10PM (#47168911) Homepage Journal

    The core issue is whether a government should be providing a service. But that should not be an issue.

    The government should provide the pipes (fibre or copper or whatever) to the houses that it covers. Paid for by taxes.

    The pipes terminate at a government facility that the government leases space at to ANY AND ALL companies that want to provide ISP services over those pipes. As cheap as possible but without allowing one company to lease ALL the space.

    Then switching between ISP's should be as simple as moving a patch cord.

    Your taxes pay for the pipes and their maintenance and the facility and its maintenance (minus the lease revenue).

    This is how my fiber network [utopianet.org] is operated. The 15 member cities contributed to the network and their residents are seeing the benefits. I can choose what ISP I want (but I would probably never change because I LOVE my ISP) and any ISP, telephone or TV provider can provide service over the network. If my ISP starts any Comcast-style extortion shenanigans with service providers then I can simply switch, there aren't constraints on who owns the wire like private cable/telco networks.

    If course Comcast and US West/Qwest/Century Link fought tooth and nail against the network and they are fighting it still. I think the last tactic was getting a bill introduced in the state legislature to prohibit the Utopia network from selling any network service in cities that border Utopia cities. This is just a long line in bills written by the cable lobbyists but so far the cities have resisted [crosses fingers].

    So if 15 cities can get something like this done in Republican dominated, pro-business Utah then what's your city's excuse? It's not that hard to get something done on a city level if you can get a few voters on board. The Internet has quickly become an almost indispensible part of life and a majority of a person's day-to-day business (paying bills, communicating with friends, scheduling appointments, etc.) is conducted over the network. It has become important enough that cities should treat it like the utility that it is. Put pressure on your local elected officials to get your own network and bypass the attempted takeover of the Internet by Comcast.

The sooner all the animals are extinct, the sooner we'll find their money. - Ed Bluestone

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