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'I'm Suing New York City To Loosen Verizon's Iron Grip' (wired.com) 62

New submitter mirandakatz writes: New York City is lagging far behind when it comes to ensuring ubiquitous, reasonably priced fiber optic internet access for every resident. There's a jaw-dropping digital divide in the city, and more than a quarter of households are still using dial-up. The city could be doing more to fix that -- but it's not. That's why Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard Law School and fierce advocate for nationwide fiber, is suing the city. At Backchannel, Crawford writes that "the city's intransigence should be embarrassing to it. Instead of a plan, instead of exercising power and acting coherently, all we've got is shuffling and nay-saying. Getting information regarding access is the key to transforming telecommunications policy in the U.S. -- as well as in New York City. We must do better." "New York City is the regulator of all the underground conduit in those two boroughs -- meaning the pipes running under the streets through which fiber optic lines are threaded," Crawford writes. "At any moment, it could require that additional conduit be built where it doesn't now exist. It could require that choked-up conduit that is now decades old be cleaned and repaired. And it could require that that conduit run to every building in the city, and require that all new buildings have neutral connection points in their basements allowing many competitors to hawk their services to tenants. If the city took these steps [...] it would foster a vibrantly competitive marketplace for retail fiber-based services for everyone. Dozens of competitors. Low prices for data transmission. But the problem is that, as far as I can tell, the city that never sleeps is, in fact, asleep: It is not taking advantage of its powers. That is why I sued the city five years ago seeking information about its regulatory efforts."
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'I'm Suing New York City To Loosen Verizon's Iron Grip'

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  • But she probably doesn't have standing, as the theme goes.

    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

      That was my second thought: "Harvard is in (well, close enough to) Boston, and that's 220 miles from NYC."

      First thought was, "Oh God, yet another whining activist."

      • Yes while committing the atrocity of reading the article, it turns out the courts are helping to open things up a bit. So far, so good...

        • by Nutria ( 679911 )

          it turns out the courts are helping to open things up a bit. So far, so good...

          No. That's a horribly bad thing, since it will set a precedent which will destroy the US legal system.

          • that depends on your perspective, if you're a monopolist internet connection provider, then doom. If you're someone stuck with a slow connection speed because of a monopolist internet connection provider or a greedy/lazy landlord then good.
            • by Nutria ( 679911 )

              There's nothing to stop one of the EIGHT AND A HALF FUCKING MILLION PEOPLE in NYC from suing Verizon, instead of having to rely on someone who lives 3 hours away.

    • by Imrik ( 148191 )

      Well, as far as I can tell, she's suing over the poor response to her FOIA request rather than over the actual mismanagement. If this is correct, she probably does have standing to sue.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @07:49PM (#54695199)

    I've made a career in telecommunications as part of a large organization, going through migrations from T-carrier to metro-optical spoke-layout from one vendor, to metro-optical ring-layout from another vendor. This is in addition to PSTN, ISDN, and even the occasional presence of DSL and cablemodem.

    One of the fundamental problems is the sheer amount of space required in telecom rooms for all of the various service providers to have their equipment, and decisions that the service providers themselves make can have fairly important impact on the space required.

    Right now each large facility has basically four racks dedicated to service providers, moderate-sized facilities will have two racks, and small facilities will have one rack. Remember, this is for a single customer per facility, not multi-tenant facilities, and involves service-providers set up for specific purposes. We have one smallish building that was purchased with existing tenants, and thus has a couple of shared-use telecom rooms. We have probably five racks for four tenants plus ourselves in order to allow all ISPs to play. To give the service provider enough space for both their network equipment and their power-backup equipment.

    The problem is that it's asking a lot for landlords to create telecom rooms that have the square footage, cleanliness, organization, and physical access control in order to allow multiple service providers to have presence. We have a few cell-towers located on our grounds and I've had the opportunities to see inside of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile cell-tower installations, and assuming that service providers would want the level of integrity and security that the cell companies look for in their networks, it's going to be expensive to make this new network.

    The only practical way I can see it working would be to build incredibly high-bandwidth fiber networks in a star topology where the power-reundancy is needed only for the building, rather than to keep a ring intact for adjacent customers, and to then break-out with some fairly expensive equipment in order to offer service to the tenants, as that equipment would need to be small in unit-usage so that the power, active network gear, and the demarcation point and LIU are able to fit into as little space as possible to allow more service providers to serve the building.

    Otherwise I'm not sure how it would really work. Dedicated fiber to customers back to a CO or NX would take too much space in-conduit, but other solutions would take up too much floorspace in the building.

    • GPON/10GPON. Two strands per building, no active equipment, split as needed per tenant up to 128x, shared ~2 Gbits today, 10G down the road. Add strands for extra customers or the occasional customer that needs dedicated 10G.

      Just because the telcos want two racks for a building doesn't mean it is the only solution.

      From the landlord space perspective, you can always do what the cell companies do... rent space. Carrier neutral conduits to the building make things easy.
      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        I'm fairly sure that the ring-topology network that we're part of is using some kind of GPON-type system, there's a sort of comb-filter for optical that splits out 1310 for the XFPs that they're using to connect to their equipment. Their rings are managed by their equipment before they hand-off to us, apparently we're not the only customer so the network is some kind of L2 MPLS tech on Alcatel equipment.

        My guess is that since we're one of the launch-customers, they simply don't have enough fiber to avoid u

      • This is the exact space I work in. 10G PON (XGS and NGPON2) both have an OLT that still resides in the CO. Several of the carriers are working with a new technology called CORD which is coming out of ON.Labs (not a company but community) that uses open source software and commodity servers to backend the optics on the OLT.

        The other interesting tech in this space is G.Fast which uses a 10G PON port from an OLT and a DPU to deliver HSS over existing copper in a building. So you drop a two fiber link, as you

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why spend millions tearing up the city in an effort that would probably take so long that the new conduit would already have been rendered obsolete by wireless technology?

    • by bn-7bc ( 909819 )
      I doubt Wiereless can efectivly deleiber 100/100+Mbps to evry subscriber in a metro area, limited spectrum, high transpitter denesty etc, I know puting down fiber isn't chaep but when the dich is open there is little exstra cost in 5-10 extra fiber pairs, and those can supply an aufull lot of costumers, an wen 10,20-23 yesr town yhe line when you can't squize any mor banwith out by upgrading end devices it shuld not be tottaly imposible to get another cable down (cheap no) Compare this to wireless once the
  • Bad information? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dog77 ( 1005249 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @08:01PM (#54695259)
    The submitter says that for New York City "more than a quarter of households are still using dial-up". Where are they getting this information? I found this article that says the 2014 Census Bureau counted New York City with 30,000 house holds with dial up. Lets assume 5 members per house hold, that would be roughly 1 or 2 percent of the population of New York City, not even close to 25 percent.

    https://www.lawnstarter.com/bl... [lawnstarter.com]
    • by Anonymous Coward

      they probably think dial up and ADSL are the same thing

  • I'm so sorry for you guys in NYC running dial up. I have fiber AND coax based options into my home, but I'm in fly over country... You know that deep red backwater in the middle of the country that you east and west coast folks like to make fun of for being so backward...

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      You're the exception, Cowboy. Fly-over country is slowly failing. Why? Because you don't have open societies that are supported by the majority of the people. I feel real sorry for people moderate sensibilities living in your part of the world. And, if you think I'm blowing smoke I'd be willing to make a long bet that fly-over country will continue to lag in many world-wide developed nation standards. In the meantime, enjoy your bandwidth and the ability it gives you to rapidly access Brietbart feeds.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Just to put "lagging" flyover country in perspective for you, I paid $240K for my 2700 square foot 5BR house on 21 acres, with detached 3-bay garage and swimming pool. No subdivision. No HOA. Powering my Internet addiction is a 100/20 mbit cable connection that I pay a whopping $60/month for. I step out of my house, and all I can see are some cows.

        You silicon valley weenies think you have it so good paying $1.2 mil for a 2BR condo just so you can live in a "hip, urban landscape" with all the organic free ra

        • The only reason that's even possible is that flyover country gets more back in tax dollars from the federal government than it sends in, while California (and a few other states) pay for your lifestyles. By which I mean the welfare programs that are overwhelmingly largest in the "reddest" counties.

          • Wait.. so taking money from rich people to give to poor people: OK. Taking money from rich states to give to poor states: OMG!!!?

            Seems like a coherent worldview you guys have, to be sure.

            And for the record you're not even right. The reason it's possible is because there is more land and fewer people. Pretty basic stuff here...

            I feel like you just wanted to work in the "but CA pays more taxes!!!" talking point. Oddly enough, with regards to the rationality of your point, I think the people you despise mos

            • Wait.. so taking money from rich people to give to poor people: OK. Taking money from rich states to give to poor states: OMG!!!?

              That would be OK except they waste the money. For example Ohio has expensive Botts' Dots that we can't afford... and which aren't necessary. You just recess 'em like we do now. They bought those with our money.

            • Taking money from rich states to give to poor states: OMG!!!?

              They get four times the voting power and our money? This sounds suspiciously like taxation without representation.

      • You're the exception, Cowboy. Fly-over country is slowly failing. Why? Because you don't have open societies that are supported by the majority of the people. I feel real sorry for people moderate sensibilities living in your part of the world. And, if you think I'm blowing smoke I'd be willing to make a long bet that fly-over country will continue to lag in many world-wide developed nation standards. In the meantime, enjoy your bandwidth and the ability it gives you to rapidly access Brietbart feeds.

        Yea, I'll take my 3 bedroom ranch home in the burbs for $200K over the third floor walk up one room apartment for $1Million ANY day. Having two choices for High Speed internet (greater than 50mbps) is just the icing on the cake, but it sure makes it nice streaming to any one of the three of the wide screen TV's we have.

        Nothing wrong with being a cowboy either... You may not eat beef, but a lot of folks do and where do you think it comes from? Don't get me stared on wheat and corn and how hungry you'd be

    • I'm so sorry for you guys in NYC running dial up. I have fiber AND coax based options into my home, but I'm in fly over country... You know that deep red backwater in the middle of the country that you east and west coast folks like to make fun of for being so backward...

      One sign of being backward is using everything for political points scoring.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    >more than a quarter of households are still using dial-up.

    I assume when Crawford wrote that statement she had referred to a 2014 NYC comptroller report [nyc.gov] about "Internet Inequality" that says, "27 percent (730,000) of NYC households lack broadband Internet at home.." in a bullet list summary of the report. However, the tables in the appendix of report read differently. Unless I'm just reading the report wrong (which is probable), in the table titled, "City Totals (Households)", only 17,635 out of 2,551,9

    • by Imrik ( 148191 )

      I doubt this accounts for the entire disparity, but households without a computer frequently lack broadband internet.

  • Good luck with that!
  • All that years of work just to get information released. Perhaps a shortcut could be taken thanks to a leak from a friendly insider? I noticed the practice was quite trendy nowadays.
  • by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Monday June 26, 2017 @08:53PM (#54695497)

    >"when it comes to ensuring ubiquitous, reasonably priced fiber optic internet access for every resident"

    Is that the standard for which to aim? Fiber to every resident? That is not only unrealistic but just silly and unnecessary. Fiber to the customer is very expensive, hard to install, hard to terminate, and hard to repair. How about fast, reliable, and reasonably priced as the goal? What about choice in providers? What about good customer service?

    I have nothing against fiber- it can be very reliable, super fast, is impervious to interference, can push data a long way without repeating, and is future-proof. But the cost and complexity of fiber means it is usually at odds with providing wide coverage to everyone. Fiber to the neighborhood is usually a very reasonable compromise when the goal is to make it affordable AND accessible.

  • "and more than a quarter of households are still using dial-up."

    I am going to have to fact check that. I'm real sleepy right now so if anyone want's to beat me to it, go for it. Dial up? New York City? One Quarter? You sound like just another pissed off customer screaming "OMG I will soooooo sue you!". If one-quarter of the population of NYC is on dial-up, low latency satellite will beat overhauling all of that with fiber by a long time.

    "instead of exercising power and acting coherently, all we've got is
  • I *knew* the internet ran through pipes!

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