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WSJ's Mossberg Calls For a Tougher Broadband Plan 332

GovTechGuy writes "Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg thinks the FCC's national broadband plan is long overdue, but he criticized it for being vague on the details and too focused on expanding access into rural areas. Mossberg pointed out that what passes for broadband in the US wouldn't even qualify as such in many other developed countries. He also noted that Americans pay more per unit of broadband speed than our competitors. He called on the government to devote time and resources to making sure Americans have the broadband access they need to stay competitive in the 21st century global economy."
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WSJ's Mossberg Calls For a Tougher Broadband Plan

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  • Right on (Score:2, Insightful)

    I like this quote regarding expanding access to rural areas:

    "That's like motherhood, everyone wants to vote for that and I certainly support that," Mossberg said. But there are two other issues that he said don't receive enough attention: speed and cost.

    Rural access is definitely important, but the United States is predominantly urban and suburban these days, and we should be leading in broadband speeds, not following.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      >>>we should be leading in broadband speeds, not following.

      We're not leading but we're not exactly falling behind either, when compared to other continent-spanning federations. #2 isn't a bad place to be:

      Russian Federation 8.3 Mbit/s
      U.S. 7.0
      E.U. 6.6
      Canada 5.7
      Australia 5.1
      China 3.0
      Brazil 2.1
      Mexico 1.1 Mbit/s

      And if you prefer to look on a state-by-state basis of the EU, US, and Canada then you get:
      1 Sweden 13 Mbit/s
      2 Delaware, Romania,Netherlands,Bulgaria 12
      3 Washington,Rhode Island 11
      4 Massachuset

      • Re:Right on (Score:5, Informative)

        by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:45PM (#32945920)

        Not sure where you'd have to live in Washington to get 11 megabits - when I lived in Seattle (Queen Anne) the only two providers were Comcast and Qwest - and with Qwest it was DSL 3 megabits (and a slow DSL at that - I never saw that kind of performance).

        Now that I live in Oregon - 3 megabits is par for the course unless you want to spent a lot more money :( - and again - it rarely ever goes that fast.

        However when my parents were living in Scotland (South Gyle Wynd to be specfic) they got 30 megabits/cable tv/phone for about 100 dollars a month - and it was very fast.

        Yeah everywhere I've been to visit and stay with friends (mostly Europe) they have it much much better and are paying far less for more service.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) *

        You're comparing US states to EU nations. If you break out the EU into it's member nations, the US drops to much lower than no 2 in broadband.

        • >>>You're comparing US states to EU [states]

          I suggest you stop being an idiot and read what the EU website says. It uses the word "states" and the EU is a far higher authority in the matter than either of us. I will defer to their expertise and their language.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        This list seems like cherry-picking. How do you define a "continent-spanning federation"? Not to mention, the United States is a much more coherent entity than the EU. Breaking out the individual US states in the second list is somewhat reasonable since there's obviously a good bit of regional variation, but you're leaving Asia out of the comparison there.

        I wasn't trying to say (above) that US speeds suck, but for a nation that I thought prided itself on technical leadership, it should strive to do bette

        • I don't really think it is cherry-picking because those countries are in the main categories of the US, large countries with variation between tightly packed metropolitan areas and some areas with only a few human beings within a square mile. Of course countries like Japan and Korea are going to be ahead of the US because they have high population densities. Just look at [] for an example. For every mile of fiber you lay in Japan, many, many
          • >>>For every mile of fiber you lay in Japan

            Japan mostly use 50 or 100 Mbit/s DSL. And yes it's because they are tightly packed with short phonelines. That's an advantage that would not have if they were huge in size like China or the US

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Cool, so how are the FTTH projects doing in New York? Chicago? LA? Other top 100 cities in the USA? They must have much higher population densities than Sweeden or Finland as a whole, so surely every larger USA city must have fiber to every home. Right?

            • Well, as far as I know, pretty well. Myself I live in a rural area so I get VDSL at about 24 Mbits/Sec but according to various sites, Verizon ViOS is doing pretty well in getting it to the coasts.
        • >>>you're leaving Asia out of the comparison there.

          No I didn't. I included both China and Russia. I disqualified Japan because in scale its no bigger than Cuba. It's silly to compare a country that is only ~5 hours wide versus a federation like the US that takes 40-50 hours to drive across (and also has to deal with annoyances like mountains, deserts, and no easy access to ocean-going trunklines).

      • Re:Right on (Score:4, Insightful)

        by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:46PM (#32946328) Homepage

        Where are you getting these numbers? Where is Japan and Korea on this chart? Because they always top the other charts

        Anyway, average total bandwidth is wrong metric to be using. What you want is average home bandwidth available, and average home bandwidth per dollar, or some other way of measuring how evenly distributed the bandwidth is among the population. Average is astupid because it makes no distinction between the apartment complex in Seoul, and the bums sleeping in Akamai's dumpster, since both groups have an average bandwidth of 45 Mb/s []. So what if in one case it's 10 people each with 45 Mb/s and in the other it's 1 person with 450 Mb/s and 9 people with 0 Mb/s?

        It's transparent that average bandwidth is being used to whitewash over the inefficiencies in the American market when every other study places the oh about 33rd [] in the world, and all the ads are touting "super fast" 3 Mb/s links that rarely reach 2.5 Mb/s in practice.

        It certainly appears that the free market has failed America once again. (And no one even start with rant that problem is too much regulation, when "socialist" Scandinavia kicks your ass, it ain't that.)

      • Re:Right on (Score:5, Insightful)

        by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:56PM (#32946386) Homepage Journal

        The devil is in the details. The US numbers aren't for guaranteed speed, but for maximum speed, and only for download at that.

        No, a 0-10 Mbps down / 0-768 kbps up line is NOT comparable to a 10 Mbps up+down line. But according to your above creative "statistics", it's the same.

        Guaranteed speed is what you need to satisfy the "broadband" or "high speed" definitions in many countries; video streaming, for example, doesn't work too well unless you can guarantee a bit-rate. Which you can't with typical ADSL and cable lines.

        The arguments for why the US can't provide the same speeds for the same price as European countries have been retold so many times that many Americans believe them. No, it's not because the US has such a low population density, or rural areas are so hard to reach. The Scandinavian countries have a by far lower population density, and more difficult terrain (only 2% of Norway is arable land, for example. Mountains and fjords don't make cable stretching easy, but they manage.)

        The real reason is that here in the US, we are allergic to government regulations, and (incorrectly) believe that corporations do a better job. So we allow de-facto monopolies and duopolies to choose their own price and level of service, and the consumer has to take it or leave it. This is called freedom of choice.

        In contrast, in socialist Norway, the typical customer can choose between several broadband providers, and owns the last few metres themselves. A cable or phone company can't claim that they own the wires and refuse others to use them. So you get real competition, higher service levels, and lower prices.
        And I haven't read that any phone or cable providers over there have gone bankrupt over that either. Which means that ours are lying. Which shouldn't come as a big surprise.

        It's time that we demanded something back for the $2 billion or so that was paid to the telcos at the end of the Clinton administration era, which supposedly should go to ensure broadband access to every American.
        Instead, they fattened the wallets of stock holders and board members, cause there is no incentive for the telcos to increase their service as long as they don't have to compete.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Without a source for the rates you quote, how do I know that you aren't making these numbers up? In this world of made up facts and subjective reality, we really don't need another unsupported list. And while you're at it, what about Taiwan? What about Japan? What about Korea? Where are they on your unattributed list?

    • Re:Right on (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:04PM (#32946032)

      but the United States is predominantly urban and suburban these days, and we should be leading in broadband speeds, not following.

      Not really, and a few extra megabits don't make a huge difference. The entire point of having a national broadband system would be to make sure that the areas in the middle of nowhere get fast access because some don't think that the private enterprise can do it (which I disagree, which is a subject of an entirely different post why nationalized anything will harm economic development and jeopardize liberties...).

      No one can efficiently run an internet-based company on dial-up (in 2010 anyways...). This ends up crippling economic development for that area. And in a lot of areas that can't get broadband, you either have spotty or no cell-phone coverage meaning that 3/4G Modems aren't an option.

      When you are going from 54KB/sec to 1 Mbit/sec that is a huge leap forward. Going from 7 Mbit/sec to 14 Mbit/sec isn't too much of a real increase in noticeable speeds. There are few applications that need top-of-the-line internet access, on the other hand there are many applications where having latency-encumbered and capped satellite internet or slow dial-up is going to be a huge problem.

      • Um, we can already do that, Hughesnet for instance can reach pretty much anybody in the US, provided they have a view of the southern sky. Not sure about the quality, but it's definitely broadband. Even if it's not top rate broad band or suitable for gaming.
        • Re:Right on (Score:4, Insightful)

          by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @09:28PM (#32946546) Homepage Journal

          but it's definitely broadband

          That depends on your definition.

          FreePress defines it as 5 Mbps downstream AND upstream, and it definitely doesn't qualify for that.

          In Britain, I believe the government has pledged a guaranteed minimum rate of 2 Mbps within a few years. Yes, that's not the maximum rate but the minimum rate, which in most of the US is exactly zero.

          AT&T called me the other day, wanting to know whether I would be interested in high speed Internet. I told them that yes, I would, but that they don't have high speed Internet to offer me where I live. 0-1500 kbps down and 0-512 kbps up isn't high speed. It's a shame that companies are allowed to commit fraud like this, and mislead their customers into thinking they get high speed. What they get is "High Speed Internet(TM)", which is a trademark and not a promise of Internet access that's actually high speed.

          High speed compared to POTS? No, not really. Even ISDN BRI has a minimum speed that's much higher, to say nothing of PRI. And this is 2010 -- I had stopped using modems in the mid 90s. Comparing with 56k modems is as irrelevant as selling a car on the argument that it's up to 50 times faster than a horse and buggy.

    • Mossberg isn't in a rural area so he doesn't know what he's missing. He's in a densely populated area. He's simply focusing on what will give him the most benefit. He disregards everyone else not in his same position.

  • by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:28PM (#32945816) Journal

    1000 kbit/s is 40 times faster than what some rural residents currently have (28k or 33k analog). And it would be extremely easy to implement - just use the already-existing phone lines that lead in 99.9% of homes. All that's needed is to install the DSLAM and it's done. The entire US could be finished by 1/1/2012.

    I've spoken to two people, who formerly had 26k and 33k respectively, and they love the new DSL. They jumped from those slow speed to 1500 and 3000 kbit/s respectively.

    • 1000kbits is crap. Give me 4000kbits, PLEASE!

      The problem is the telcos have no competition to spur innovation. As you said, the copper is already there...

      • >>>1000kbits is crap.

        That's just the proposed legal minimum. If you bothered to read my *whole* post, you'd see I talked about Rural people who had been upgraded to 1500 and 3000, which are the usual standards. That's a huge jump (100 times) compared to the Dialup speeds they used to have.

        Oh and just for full disclosure: I have 700k. By choice. I could go higher, but don't think I need anything faster. Just like I don't think I need "a shiny red car. Shaped like a penis." (quoting Spike the va

        • If you can get a bit-directional 1Mbps line... that's darn close to a 1.5Mbps T1, which companies pay hundreds of dollars a month to get! A T1 is plenty for most small Internet business-related traffic, unless there's hosting going on locally or remote backups happening of multi-gigbytes of data.

          Personally, I'd love an unfettered 1.5Mbps uplink, though I'd miss some of my 7Mbps down, I only get 768k up. That makes my local FTP server a little sluggish for remote file retrieval, especially if I'm steaming so

          • >>>768k up. That makes my local FTP server a little sluggish

            Bah. When I ran my own BBS the upload speed was only 9 kbit/s (premium subscription; non-subscribers only got the standard 2k speed). I would have thought I had died and angels were sucking my ____ if I had a 768k uploading capability for my bulletin board

            • >>>768k up. That makes my local FTP server a little sluggish

              Bah. When I ran my own BBS the upload speed was only 9 kbit/s (premium subscription; non-subscribers only got the standard 2k speed). I would have thought I had died and angels were sucking my ____ if I had a 768k uploading capability for my bulletin board

              Too bad he's not running technology that's older than half the computer-using population.

          • Geez, you guys are slowpokes. I am downloading at 1 MB and uploading at 2 MB (bytes, not bits) right now and I consider that being slow and that's why when I move into a new apartment next week I'll have a fiber optic cable to my computer with 500 Mb (bit) connection for 100$ (price includes: premium VIP service, full cable TV package, phone with a VIP number and unlimited national calls, a security camera with off-site backup of motion detected security captures) that is available to a large (200k) and rap

            • by mirix ( 1649853 )
              pffffft. The American Free Market(tm) will take care of it, surely.

              Who do I have to kill for a 2MB upload around here?
    • >>>use the already-existing phone lines

      P.S. And wouldn't have to decapitate Free TV or Free Tadio to do it, as the current FCC plan would do.

      • P.S. And wouldn't have to decapitate Free TV or Free Tadio to do it, as the current FCC plan would do.

        Uh, what? I'm not disagreeing with you, although this makes no sense to me without details.

        • The current TV uses channels 2-51. The FCC plans to "decapitate" it and only leave channels 2 to 25. That's about half the spectrum which means instead of averaging 12 different stations per city, there will only be 6. Goodbye independents or movie channels or RetroTV channels and so on. You can also say goodbye to spanish channels like Univision, since there'd only be enough to hold the top 6 networks.

          As for Radio the FCC proposed cutting FM in half too, but then they must have changed their minds beca

      • "Based on analyses of programming and signal throughput, as well as case examples, two stations could each broadcast a primary video stream in HD simultaneously over the same channel without causing material changes in the current consumer viewing experience." (FCC, NBP)

        So even in your market where you supposedly get 40 OTA TV channels, you'd only need 20 actual 6MHz channels to provide every one of those to you in HD. Right now there are 44 channels (7 - 51, exclude 37) optimal for DTV.

        Just because the pla

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dahamma ( 304068 )

      Do you live in a rural area?

      I have many relatives who do and 1Mbps is insufficient for at least one major reason - movies.

      Blockbuster put all of the local video stores out of business, and now that they are circling the drain, they are closing all of their non-profitable stores (which apparently includes most of the ones in rural areas). Because of this, a lot of people in rural areas are starting to rely on streaming for their VOD rentals.

      Unfortunately, 1Mbps is pretty much the minimum for watchable SD vi

      • >>>Blockbuster put all of the local video stores out of business

        (packs suitcase). Sounds like an opportunity to serve the rural community by opening DVD rental places. Oh and you can download movies over the net. I only have 0.7 Mbps and stream movies and TV shows all the time.

    • by Isao ( 153092 )
      DSL performance drops with distance, which is a factor in rural areas. You may be able to get 1.5mbits out to 9 or 10 thousand feet. If you're lucky you can still get SDSL 128K at 27K feet (which is really ISDN 2B+D bonded), but that's pretty much the limit out to 33K feet. There are some newer technologies for DSL, but I expect them to also suffer over distance. Fiber of course avoids much of this, but there's the cost of running it.
  • by lullabud ( 679893 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:48PM (#32945938) Homepage

    I think the ROI in rural areas is going to be pretty slim, and won't help the cause much. Places like Korea and Japan have a much higher overall population density, so when fiber gets laid there it ends up being used by more people, helping their numbers compete against our rural and suburban areas where population density is low. I think the geography of the USA is set up to fall behind in this regard.

    • This will probably surprise you (it did me), but Japan's broadband network is almost nothing but DSL. It's because their phone lines are extremely short that they can offer 100 Mbit/s DSL plans. So I say we should just mimic what Japan did.

      • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:28PM (#32946218) Homepage

        This will probably surprise you (it did me), but Japan's broadband network is almost nothing but DSL. It's because their phone lines are extremely short that they can offer 100 Mbit/s DSL plans. So I say we should just mimic what Japan did.

        The reason it won't work for the rural US is because you can go for miles between homes, so it doesn't make sense to slap those DSLAMs (or whatever they're called) in for one or two homes. Just run fiber and be done with it - you can still go to copper just outside the house and save money there. Investing in fiber now is just like investing in electrification in the early 20th Century. If you don't have a fiber network in 2050, you're not going to have an economy worth speaking of either.

      • >> So I say we should just mimic what Japan did.

        How do you propose we make everyone's phone lines short enough to support 100Mbps? I want technical details.


    • by mirix ( 1649853 )

      I keep hearing stuff like this, but it doesn't explain while rural broadband availability is higher, and prices are lower, in Finland, Sweden, et al; Nor does it explain why Russia is beating out the US & Canada at speed (presumably price too, but I'm not certain).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think you hit the nail on the head here. The problem is what you mean with 'return'.

      For an ISP a return on their investment is how much people will pay for the service.

      For the society as a whole there are other returns: people get better informed, better connected, get easier access to learning and knowledge (including farming info and crop prices), people have the possibility to look beyond their surroundings and look at the big picture, people can innovate and communicate their innovations to anyone in

  • We pay a lot more (Score:5, Informative)

    by Onomang ( 1822906 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:50PM (#32945954)
    I've been looking at internet rates because I'm planning to move very soon. Where I'm moving (Irvine, CA) there is only ONE internet provider (Cox).
    It's $32/mo. for 3 mbps, $47 for 12.5 (10 with a 2.5 boost) or $62 for 25 (20 with a 5 boost)
    Compare that to France's 28 mbps for ~$38 US, 50 mpbs for ~$65 or even 2.5 down/1.2 up gbps in Paris for ~$90
    or how about Germany: 6 mbps for ~$26 or 32 mbps for ~$38.
    Why are we paying nearly double the cost as other countries? Irvine is in Orange Country ("The OC") and is less than an hour from Los Angeles, so there shouldn't be any complaints that it is too rural for fast, affordable internet.
    • I have Cox internet and live in the next town over from Irvine. It is expensive but its very reliable and fast. I have the mid tier plan and have no problem pulling in 2 HD netflix streams. Powerboost is noticeable and does get you watching movies very fast. Their premium cable service is terrible though, extremely overpriced for what you get. I only get basic cable 2,4,7,11,13, WGN, PBS and minor locals in HD for $20/month, its cheaper/easier then trying to get an antenna put up on my condo.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      That's exactly because US has no government regulation. In UK for example, the phone company is required to lease the copper lines that go into your house (and backbone) for a fixed , government regulated rate to any ISP in the country that wants to connect to you. Bring this concept to USA and even if you only apply it state by state, you'd have a skyrocketing of competition, because any small ISP in any part of the state would be able to connect and service any person in the whole state (provided that the

      • We sort of tried this; the problem is that when there's trouble on the line, the phone company blames it on the ISP, and the ISP (probably more correctly) blames it on the phone company, and meanwhile you've got no internet service...
    • Re:We pay a lot more (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zak3056 ( 69287 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @10:34PM (#32946866) Journal

      Compare that to France's 28 mbps for ~$38 US, 50 mpbs for ~$65 or even 2.5 down/1.2 up gbps in Paris for ~$90 or how about Germany: 6 mbps for ~$26 or 32 mbps for ~$38.

      You realize those service levels are not universal, right? My company's HQ is located between Bremen and Hamburg. The best data service available economically is 4Mbit DSL... anything better would require pulling a DS3 from Hamburg at phenomenal cost (>10k EUR/month). We have another site about 15 miles from Paris, and costs and availability are similar. Another office about 10 miles from Leeds in the UK. Similar story. Another office located in Shanghai, and the costs there were so high when we were shopping for an MPLS provider that it almost killed the project.

      The most cost effective connectivity we have is in Bedford, NH, with the local cable co's lowest tier being 16mbit (they can live without comms for a few hours without suffering too much, so no SLA required).

      (OTOH, our US HQ in east Tennessee can't get anything at all--not even consumer grade circuits--faster than DS1s at ~$750/month for each circuit).

      Anyway, to get back on topic: whenever I hear that $COUNTRY is an absolute utopia for broadband that we have to emulate, I take it with a large grain of salt.

  • True, but.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Totenglocke ( 1291680 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @07:50PM (#32945956)

    He called on the government to devote time and resources to making sure Americans have the broadband access they need to stay competitive in the 21st century global economy.

    That's true, but many (possibly all?) of those countries subsidize their ISP through tax dollars to get lower rates - so you're still paying for it, it's just that the monthly bill the ISP sends you is lower but the amount the government takes out of your paycheck is higher.

    Has anyone ever done a study of the real cost of internet in countries where it's partially funded by taxes? Then you'd have more accurate numbers for a comparison.

    • Exactly, I'd rather have money in my pocket to spend on whatever I wish than to have a tax system like in Europe. Yes, I might have to pay a bit more for internet, but at least I choose to spend it on that rather than to have VAT or other hideous taxation systems to fund whatever.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Entropius ( 188861 )

        You're assuming that once taxes are included the European service costs more. This may be the case; it may not.

        • Yes, but I still enjoy the freedom to spend my money how I feel like it. While I might enjoy cheaper internet access, it is still a loss of economic freedom unacceptable in a free society because there may be those who don't wish to "purchase" internet but are forced to because it is in a tax. That is the fundamental flaw of taxation-based services is that in general there is no distinction made between those who wish to use the service and those who do not, thus taking out any choice of what to spend your
        • Until someone does the accounting, we won't know. Still, it's pretty hard to believe that other countries are able to provide vastly superior service at 1/3 or less of the cost, especially when (as with Sweden) they have fairly low population densities. The basics - technicians, fiber, routers - all cost pretty much the same across the developed world. Cable companies are profitable, but they don't have margins of 50%.
      • So, you'll better spend several times more for a crappier Internet connection and be locked into a monopoly or a duopoly for the majority of your territory (and only be offered dial-up or sub1Mbps connections for crazy money in a lot of places) and also deal with actually having to fill your super complicated tax forms every year than have a few more percent of your paycheck withheld?

        Oh and please tell me the next time you go and choose to spend some of your money building a transatlantic fiber cable. I'll

      • by packman ( 156280 )

        I can assure you, none of my tax-money goes to subsidizing internet providers. Governments supporting private companies is extremely regulated in the EU, and mostly forbidden by anti-competitive laws. There was quite a bit of noise here in Europe when countries wanted to support the car-manufacturers financially for exactly this reason.

        And I pay 55Eur/month for phone + cable-tv + 20mbit down/1mbit up cable internet. I do have a 50gb/month limit, but for 99eur, I can have 100mbit down / 5mbit up with no limi

        • I can assure you, none of my tax-money goes to subsidizing internet providers. Governments supporting private companies is extremely regulated in the EU, and mostly forbidden by anti-competitive laws.

          So your tax money instead goes to the government effectively masquerading as a private company. Same thing only less freedom (with a corporation you can choose to explicitly -not- support them, yet you can't legally stop paying taxes).

          And I pay 55Eur/month for phone + cable-tv + 20mbit down/1mbit up cable internet. I do have a 50gb/month limit, but for 99eur, I can have 100mbit down / 5mbit up with no limits with the same company. Compared to what they offer in the surrounding countries here, that's both actually pretty expensive...

          Look at your population density though, you don't -have- miles and miles between towns with only a few thousand people. In the US its pretty easy to drive for an hour out west and not see a single reminder of human civilization except for a few road signs and if your lucky

          • Actually, *you* don't have the rights to bear arms in the US. Read your Constitution - 'a well regulated militia' has the rights to bear arms. If you are not a member of a well regulated militia, you have jack squat.

            • No, read the document again

              A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

              If the constitution would have meant what you seem to think it mean, it wouldn't have read that way, it would have read: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of militiamen to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

              Had the constitution meant what you said, then one would think that the founding fathers, who wrote a lot about their philosophy about it, would have backed up your claims, however, they do not.

              No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.

              Thomas Jefferso

    • I get 60 mbps down / 6 mbps up for 35 euros a month ($45) in an urban part of the Netherlands. No tax money is involved at all.

      I think one key difference is that while I have only 1 option for cable, I have a dozen options for ADSL, meaning different companies to choose from. The government decided that since the copper network was built with public money, the privatized telecoms company maintaining it (KPN) would have to allow competing companies to rent the copper at a reasonable rate. This created a lot

    • Re:True, but.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AigariusDebian ( 721386 ) <aigarius@debian.ERDOSorg minus math_god> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:37PM (#32946248) Homepage

      Internet is not funded by taxes in most of these countries, the government only sets up the rules so that there is more competition on the market, for example by forcing companies that own copper going into homes or fiber going between cities to sell access to these services for the same price to all competitors (including internal buyers). So the big players can't buy out all ISPs in town, take control of all backbones going out of town and of all the copper going into people homes and then raise prices tenfold (over 5 years) while not investing a single penny in infrastructure development.

      Also government can setup rules like, if you have 100k urban customers, you must also have 10k rural customers. Or a rule like - if you want access to this government owned and operated hyperspeed backbone, then you must offer same connection price to all people in this area (which includes both profitable urban locations and unprofitable rural locations).

      And in some places where actual municipal networks do exist and thus is very cheap or free for people to connect to and is funded by public funds, such network is usually pretty slow, boring and cheap as hell to maintain.

      Government is not bad - it is there to force companies to do unprofitable things that benefit the people.

    • by Fjan11 ( 649654 )
      Actually an important reason for the much higher speeds where I live (the Netherlands) is because there is a lot more competition between ISPs, no government subsidies at all (on the contrary, you pay sales tax on your connection fee).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by iammani ( 1392285 )

      As if in the US it is not subsidized by tax dollars? It is sad that people do not even remember that the govt gave billions to ISP.

    • I keep wondering why if, as they say, broadband is so vital to economic growth that the only way to get it is to subsidize it.

      If it provides a business advantage, someone will be selling it, and low and behold, they do. But it costs money to provide high speed networking -- networks cost money and the sellers don't see the business advantage to investing more money in networks than they can recoup. You can always get bandwidth if that's what you want, but it will cost you. That's how the market functions

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave87656 ( 1179347 )

      Germany does not subsidize any of the ISP's, but they do force competition. The US is slowly becoming a single provider country, at least for a given area. They can charge what they want.

    • Re:True, but.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Aceticon ( 140883 ) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:03AM (#32949166)

      Actually in most of Europe Internet access is not subsidized by taxes.

      What's different from the US and the reason why Internet access is cheaper/faster in most of Europe is that in here we usually have laws in place forcing the telcos that own the last mile to open up access to any ISPs at competitive rates. Before those laws came to be, Internet access in all of Europe was slow and expensive.

      All that is needed are laws that create an open competitive market on top of a natural monopoly.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 )

    Just pass a federal law stating that it is an illegal restraint of interstate trade for a state or municipality to restrict the ability of new service providers to enter their markets. The only regulations they should be able to impose are civil and criminal penalties for damaging infrastructure.

    • by kabdib ( 81955 )

      RIght -- San Jose didn't have cable modems for /years/ after they were available to the surrounding cities (this is in the heart of f--king Silicon Valley, mind you; High Tech central) because the city wanted perks and freebies from Comcast.

      I suffered on dial-up, ISDN and Metricom wireless modems while my friends had megabit plus.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You apparently don't know bureaucrats - damaging infrastructure is a huge one. Have you tried bringing an Internet connection cable into a house without 'damaging infrastructure'? Like digging up roads or putting up cables on masts or even connecting to pre-existing copper in a house?

      It would be much more effective to use the UK model - split up physical and logical providers: the cables must be owned by one company and the service must be provided by another, separate company. And the company that owns the

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by stinerman ( 812158 )

      This is already the case in many places in the country. The cable company doesn't have a statutory monopoly, yet there is only one cable company serving a city. There is most often a natural monopoly in the case of Internet access. Let's put it this way: my grandparents don't have cable. They can't get it even if they want it. Is that because the county passed a law stating that no one may have cable in rural areas or is it because no cable company thinks that they could ever profit by building infrast

  • It may be true that "Americans pay more per unit of broadband speed than our competitors", but our ISP's make more money than their ISP's.
    Or maybe they waste more money, I forget.

  • Government approved monopolies are the problem. Getting the government more entrenched in broadband is not going to make it any better. Also get the ISP's out of the business of owning the last mile network and you'll see things improve dramatically.
  • Lawrence Lessig (Score:5, Informative)

    by Improv ( 2467 ) <> on Sunday July 18, 2010 @08:52PM (#32946362) Homepage Journal

    See Lawrence Lessig on why we failed in broadband compared to other highly developed nations: []

    It's not that we over or under-regulated, it's that we got the regulation wrong.

  • National defence is the job of the federal government because no one else can do it.

    Our police force and fire departments are the job of local and state governments because no one else can do it.

    I'm not convinced that internet access should be something that the government does because there are plenty of other entities that can do it. In fact, they already have. My mother lives in a rural area in a town of 8,000 people. She has high speed internet. She is retired and lives on a fixed income.

    There are w

  • by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:20PM (#32947100)

    Odds are this is just another giant telco scam to steal more money from
    the American ppl like they did in the $200 Billion Broadband scandal. []

    The telco's took the money and screwed it off and used it to pay
    stock dividends.

    When you count the hideous rural connect speeds that have to go
    thru analog loops giving them a max connection speed of 26.4 kbps
    then we rank as 16th in the world.

    It is pathetic, and if they had spent HALF of the $200 billion on upgrading
    the network it would be fine.

    When you look at present dark fiber in the ground it is over 90% dark in some areas. []

    As I have said on other forums, we have an idiocy problem, not a money problem.

    The pirates are looking to plunder our wallets again in their real life game of monopoly.

  • by Fizzol ( 598030 ) on Sunday July 18, 2010 @11:32PM (#32947164)
    Hooray for laissez-faire capitalism!

Disks travel in packs.