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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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  • Annoying. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:35PM (#47167879)

    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).

  • Re:Noncompetition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:49PM (#47167941)

    but at what point does it violate the law?

    It started violating Federal and State antitrust laws many, many years ago.

    The deeper question you should really be asking is: why haven't they been called on it?

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

    by burne (686114) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:51PM (#47167961)

    The core issue is whether a government should be providing a service.

    Is a road, street lighting or waste disposal a 'service'?

    Is intarwebs a service?

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:54PM (#47167977)

    you're on drugs if you think your local government will upgrade their networks every time netflix doubles their data that they send. it might seem good now but 5-10 years in the future if local governments run the ISP's out of business they will laugh at you when you complain you can't stream 8K or whatever the next one is. 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

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:56PM (#47167997)

    Well, for starters, they could try using the billions they've been giving to providers to upgrade their damn equipment even though they never do...

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:59PM (#47168015)

    Where is the government going to come up with the billions of dollars to buy out the investors in those companies?

    Who gives a shit? It's not the government's responsibility to coddle obsolete industries and their investors. Or at least, it SHOULDN'T be the government's responsibility.

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

    by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:02PM (#47168033)

    So in effect you want to nationalize the internet backbone and put all backbone providers out of business.

    I think you are a little bit confused on what the "backbone" is. It is not the same as the "last mile" which is what I am discussing.

    In my suggestion, each of the ISP's that were leasing space would also need a connection to an "upstream" provider. Whether that was one of the backbones or an intermediary would be up to each company.

    All the government does is provide access to the pipes from the government site to the houses.

  • Re:Annoying. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:02PM (#47168037) Homepage

    "Where is the government going to come up with the billions of dollars to buy out the investors in those companies?"

    We found more than that to fund killing people in the middle east for more than 10 years... It would not be hard at all to find the funds to buy up all the backbone companies.

  • A war well waged (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dega704 (1454673) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:08PM (#47168065)
    In my view municipally run fiber networks are an inevitable necessity, whether they are open-access or the service is run by the city. Internet access has become a vital utility and becomes all the more so every year; and fiber networks are the only viable way to provide it and grow with future needs. I wish the average person could understand this. Competition doesn't happen partly because building multiple physical network infrastructures in the same place makes no more sense than having multiple electrical or water systems. The only reason there are two hardwired Internet providers in any place to start with is because two completely unrelated infrastructures(cable and phone) were converted to provide service; both of which, ironically, have been made obsolete by the Internet. It worked for a while, but it has been obvious for years that it is time to move on. That is why so much fiber infrastructure was built in the first place. The incumbent ISPs know this, and are terrified by it. Hence why they have gamed the entire system and greased legislators with bribes---excuse me--"lobbying money", and done a very thorough job of it.
  • Re:Annoying. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:30PM (#47168201) Homepage

    "Nationalize" ... whatever.

    How is it what we have all that different from nationalized net access when 99% of users are locked into one of three major providers who then use that money to buy legislation and ordinances which favor them making even more money.

    In the choice between a monopoly or nationalization, nationalization is a no brainer, because out of it might spring real competition as a GP poster pointed out, by leasing the pipes to any and all ISP wannabes. In contrast, monopolization leads to fat profits at users' expense, poor service, and crappy laws and it can never ever get better. Obviously, a free market would be better than either the other two, but we have a free market in net services like N. Korea has a free and open society.

    Secondly -- exactly who invested in the network? I know I saw a recent article about cable companies taking Federal money to build out their networks and then claiming those lines aren't covered by common carrier rules --- a corollary to "socialize losses, privatize profits" would thus be "socialize expenses, privatize profits." I did find this about Comcast using $40m of public funds to build itself an office building Philly:

    http://newslanc.com/2014/01/16... [newslanc.com]

    Also how these assholes are making competition illegal: http://arstechnica.com/tech-po... [arstechnica.com]

    Or what about the fact that to lay all this wire, they are using public utility rights of way. If they aren't going to be a public utility they should have no right to use that right of way -- it's a kind of robbery of the commons -- a robbery of every American.

    Until these monopolies start actually using their own money for stuff, the whole cry for the investors shit is just that, fetid stinking steaming shit. Cry a river of it. Then go swimming.

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

    by currently_awake (1248758) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:46PM (#47168259)
    Yes, I think the government should nationalize the internet pipes, last mile right up to long haul. And then run it like it runs the national highway system. They would run the entire internet super-highway, but not the traffic on it, just like they run the highways but not the trucks and cars that use it.
  • Re:Annoying. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:53PM (#47168319)

    Right. The last mile is prone to natural monopoly. It doesn't make sense to install multiple fibers.

    So the core decision is preference between handing the last-mile monopoly over to a private company, or to the government. A pretty good case can be made for the government solution. I'd sure like more than one choice (aka no choice) in provider for my cable Internet.

  • Re:Government ISP? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by currently_awake (1248758) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @06:53PM (#47168323)
    If government couldn't do a better job, then why are corporations working so hard to keep them out?
  • Re:Annoying. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jklovanc (1603149) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:41PM (#47168541)

    Are you willing to pay for it in higher taxes?

  • Re:Annoying. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NormalVisual (565491) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @08:18PM (#47168693)
    I am. I already pay $800 or so per year for connectivity, so what difference does it make whether it's to AT&T or to the government, especially if I end up getting far better service as a result?
  • Re:Annoying. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @11:15PM (#47169375)
    Those are services, but the means to provide them are pretty clear and straightforward. That wasn't the case with Internet service. Nobody was really sure what was the best way to provide Internet: ISDN/DSL over phone lines? Cable modems? Satellite? Fiber?

    In cases like this with unclear optimal solutions, the government gets out of the way and lets private industry pick the horses. The government provides the easement for placing the lines, but responsibility for constructing and maintaining the lines rests with the private companies. That way a wide variety of solutions are tried, not on the government's dime, and over time it becomes clear which solutions are superior.

    At this point though, it's pretty clear that fiber to the home is the future. There's still some uncertainty about exactly the type of fiber interfaces, but for the most part changing those won't require burying completely new cable. So while I think it was necessary to have the intermediate step where private companies offered different types of Internet service, I can also agree with now having the government provide Internet service over fiber lines. (Well, provide the fiber lines. The service itself along with any peering agreements should be offered by private companies, since it's not at all clear what arrangement of peering agreements is optimal.)
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @01:34AM (#47169729) Journal

    When I first came to America I was very impressed with the idea that America has a government of the people, by the people and for the people

    For a kid from a Communist country, I can't tell you how much awe I had for the notion that a government is actually on the side of the people !

    But then ... I was naive

    It turns out that the government of the United States is not what I imagined to be

    The government of China is definitely NOT on the side of the people - and they do not have to be, because they never say that they are a democracy

    But in the United States of America, we are supposed to be a Democracy, which means that the government has to rely on the VOTES of the people in order to be formed

    So, what the fuck has gone wrong ???

  • by Calydor (739835) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @01:39AM (#47169737)

    This is why there would be multiple ISPs AT THE DATACENTER.

    Do you have ten different sets of plumbing running to your house so you can pick and choose between the best supplier of fresh water? A dozen different power cables so you can switch power company easily?

  • by Sigmon (323109) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @07:57AM (#47171015) Homepage
    Really? Seriously? Do you ACTUALLY believe that people having a sense of patriotism is how we got to where the U.S. is now? (Meaning it's not so much a government for the people, by the people, but more-so a ruling class lording their power over us.) How shallow. No, my dear fellow... We USED to have something to be relatively proud of... and still do to some extent, but it's almost gone. Freedom has been under assault for almost a century in our country... by men who believe they can make better decisions than I could and should make for myself. They go by many names... Progressives, Liberals, Democrats, Socialists... even some call themselves Republicans. All of them thirst for power and consider the 'masses' to be dumb hicks who couldn't feed themselves if the 'elite' weren't in charge. You are like one of these. Do you think a people smart enough to govern themselves are so dumb that they would just 'believe the hype'? Not at all. The sense of patriotism is toward the ideal this nation represents... not toward the government. Indeed, part of that ideal is quite suspicious and wary of people in government gathering too much power unto themselves.
  • by Zalbik (308903) on Thursday June 05, 2014 @12:10PM (#47173091)

    They go by many names... Progressives, Liberals, Democrats, Socialists...

    And here's why they win. They've convinced Americans that the battle lines are "left vs. right", "republican vs. democrat", "liberal vs. socialist".

    This keeps people fighting amongst themselves, arguing whether their shade of grey is the "right" way to run a government.

    It's pretty obvious to an outsider what the power division is in America. It's pretty obvious if you look at america's decline over the past decades & see how authority has been consolidated & maintained. It's pretty obvious if you look at how fear and uncertainty are utilized by the government to herd the population in the direction they want them to go.

    The battle lines are: "rich vs. poor". They almost always have been.

    Until people understand that, and as long as people believe that stupid side issues like minor health care reforms (and yes, they are quite minor), gay marriage, abortion, gun ownership, immigration reform, etc are what is going to ruin / save the country, the longer the people in power stay that way.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.

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