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

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the in-case-you-went-a-day-without-hating-your-ISP dept.

Networking 347

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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347 comments

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speaking of FCC (0, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47167839)

watch this:
https://plus.google.com/115956... [google.com]

Re:speaking of FCC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167849)

I can't. I block that social media garbage.

Re:speaking of FCC (4, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47167875)

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

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

Re:speaking of FCC (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168145)

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

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

Isn't YouTube also considered social media?

Allow Virtual ISPs or Last Mile (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167851)

That should be an end-run around those restrictions. The city/locality owns the fiber, but sells access to companies who sell it to end users. (I'm not sure if this counts as "leasing". The locality maintains control of the fiber.)

Re:Allow Virtual ISPs or Last Mile (1)

avelyn (861334) | about 4 months ago | (#47167989)

Yeah, selling access to it would be leasing. I see what you mean with the retention of control, but unless these provisions were really terribly drafted selling access to it is going to be leasing activity, since it would be trading use of the asset for the rent, even if the use isn't exclusive and the control remains with the municipality.

Google as Victim? C'mon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167865)

Google, through it's lobbying contributions to ALEC is a supporter of the current monopoly system.

Re:Google as Victim? C'mon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168055)

Barclays, etc should do a Credit Downgrade on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, and Verizon, etc:
http://www.businessinsider.com/barclays-downgrades-utilities-on-solar-threat-2014-5
Google is undervalued in the markets...

a,
ISP analysis

Annoying. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 4 months ago | (#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:Annoying. (-1, Troll)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47167939)

So in effect you want to nationalize the internet backbone and put all backbone providers out of business. Where is the government going to come up with the billions of dollars to buy out the investors in those companies? How much do you think taxes would rise if that ever happened?

Sorry but the internet is not a government responsibility.

Re:Annoying. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 4 months ago | (#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. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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:Annoying. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168357)

I think you are a little bit confused on what the "backbone" is

No, he is just being a Republican by trying to pretend that him and his kind do not understand the concept of backbone versus last mile. That is what their kind does. They want to redirect the conversation to be about their obvious lies while they fuck over minorities and the poor in the background. That is what they do. They are taking Internet access from the poor. Recently, it was shown that the average speed of connections the poor were allowed to buy had been reduced by the Republcians by more than 60% since 2003. I know here in Seattle that my speed has been reduced from 10 Mbps in 2001 to 26.4 kbps in 2014. My building is no longer allowed to have Comcast by the city since the "director's rules" will not allow Comcast to make repairs. We are limited to dial-up, and because we have a universal SLIC, 56k connections will not work because of the extra digital to analog conversion in the middle. My old connection was 379 times faster before the Republicans here fucked us over.

Re:Annoying. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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. (5, Informative)

OdinOdin_ (266277) | about 4 months ago | (#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. (2, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#47168037)

"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.

Re:Annoying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168039)

You don't need to nationalize the entire backbone. Just the local aggregate network links - i.e: from homes/businesses to a local switch/fanout location. ISPs still can own the backbone and keep the usual peering agreements.

Re: Annoying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168051)

Why should they buy them out in the first place? There is no obligation whatsoever to compensate investors of a defaulting company. Out of business? Bad luck. Next.

Re:Annoying. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168119)

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

Actually, there's probably enough demand in the backbone market to support competition. The real issue is the last mile where there is a natural monopoly on the physical lines.

Re: Annoying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168257)

That is what TFA is about... these monopplies are not natural.

Re:Annoying. (5, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | about 4 months ago | (#47168201)

"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. (5, Informative)

anagama (611277) | about 4 months ago | (#47168279)

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. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168229)

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

Nice hyperventilating Mr. Libertarian, but that's not it at all. Please explain how a city building infrastructure is nationalizing the internet backbone. Yeah, didn't think so. The job of government is to provide citizens with the services that the private sector can't or won't. I think this is a clear cut case of "won't".

Re:Annoying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168237)

What are you talking about? Comcast, Verizon, and others are not backbone providers that would be places like Level 3 Communications who already said ISP's are fucking us for the last mile. They're nowhere near their capacity even if the ISP companies want us to think they are my friend works for l3 and I can assure you they're not, nope it's all about money as usual. :/

Opening up cheap fiber is bad for business.

Re:Annoying. (4, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 4 months ago | (#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. (5, Insightful)

burne (686114) | about 4 months ago | (#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?

Re:Annoying. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167965)

The government needs to enforce a Quality of Service (QoS) like they did on telephones (5 minutes max downtime per year [wikipedia.org] ), so that we can have a stable infrastructure that expands and progresses. However, the current government is unable to escape their corruption, so I doubt we will pursue having decent infrastructure with the current US government (since regulations increase business costs and the government officials are bought and paid for, to avoid raising costs and instead impede competition).

Re:Annoying. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 4 months ago | (#47168005)

I love the idea, until those patch cables get moved over to a black MITM box with the NSA logo all over it. No sir, I don't like it after all.

Re:Annoying. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168041)

>he thinks the NSA doesn't already have black boxes in private datacenters already.

Re:Annoying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168159)

Dear sir. The snooping is already done. The difference is only the price that will be charged for the service.

Re:Annoying. (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 4 months ago | (#47168285)

Are you actually suggesting the current situation is different? We already know all our traffic is being fed to the NSA.

Re:Annoying. (1)

anagama (611277) | about 4 months ago | (#47168341)

I'm SOOO glad that AT&T operates room 641A and not the city of San Francisco. That makes it all so much better. Plus it costs more! Another bonus (for somebody).

Re:Annoying. (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#47168009)

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

It's not an issue because providing whatever internet connection is popular this year is not what government is for.

Re:Annoying. (0)

bongey (974911) | about 4 months ago | (#47168089)

Um after the healthcare.gov disaster you want a government organization to provide your local internet. I will pass on the bright idea.

Re:Annoying. (2)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 4 months ago | (#47168301)

Are you also suggesting government get out of the police and military business? Because after all they can't do anything right, so clearly it would be better if private enterprise handled those jobs.

Re:Annoying. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47168415)

Please, it was no worse then any equally scaled effort by anyone, private or public.

The government runs a lot of services very well.

Re:Annoying. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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...

Re:Annoying. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168273)

I'd like to see new home builders do this too. Run fiber throughout the neighborhood and run it all to one central location for connection.

Re:Annoying. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 4 months ago | (#47168335)

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

Why taxes? My water bill pays for the pipes, my phone bill pays for the phone line, my electric bill pays for the electric wires, and my cable ISP pays for the coax. Should someone who doesn't use the service be forced to help pay for it through their taxes?

No, just require that anyone who provides the pipes has to allow third party ISPs to provide service over them and charge them a fair price. Better yet, prohibit the company that owns the wires from being the ISP.

Level playing field (-1, Troll)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47167889)

A private business trying to compete with a tax paid government agency is at a great disadvantage. The tax paid agency has no incentive to not lose money. All they need to do is spend their budget.

Re:Level playing field (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47167933)

" The tax paid agency has no incentive to not lose money. "
they actually do.

becasue
" All they need to do is spend their budget."
that will go away.

Re:Level playing field (1)

khallow (566160) | about 4 months ago | (#47167957)

becasue
" All they need to do is spend their budget."
that will go away.

... at the end of the fiscal year.

Re:Level playing field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167945)

Allow me to correct that for you.

A collection of private businesses acting as a monoply trying to compete with a tax paid government agency is at a great advantage, because they can lobby the federal and state governments to make their model more profitable and they can sue the municipailities into compliance

Re:Level playing field (1, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#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:Level playing field (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168057)

Do you understand the difference between the city providing fiber and a business providing Internet? Really, talk about knee jerk reactions. The bulk of the cost of an ISP startup is the last mile, this does not affect the backbone of the Internet, the ISP would be responsible for getting services to the fiber shack, which btw is no different than it is today except that the fiber shack was paid for with taxes but is owned by Verizon and the likes.

Re:Level playing field (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#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:Level playing field (3, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 4 months ago | (#47168225)

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:Level playing field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168397)

I do want to correct you with the only example that I know of. The Tennessee Valley Authority [tva.com] power company.

I haven't looked at information on it in years, but my understanding is that it is one of the best power companies (at least to work for) in the nation. I do like the tidbit about them not needing tax money on the right hand side.

Re:Level playing field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167951)

While what you say isn't wrong, it is no different than any other competition. If it were paid for with tax dollars, then that local government wouldn't have much incentive to provide a [i]good[/i] service, just the basics. If an ISP can't compete with that, they have no reason to be in business. Of course, they've grown used to not having any competition at all, and expect that to always be the case.

Oh, also, ISPs take in tax dollars all the time. Remember a year ago when Verizon took $4.5 billion in tax dollars to improve services in New York, and in doing so claimed it was entitled to tax money as it was providing a service as a utility? Well, funny that now, only a year later, they are suddenly not subject to certain things as they claim they are not a utility. Hmm... something about having your cake and eating it, too.

Re:Level playing field (1)

anagama (611277) | about 4 months ago | (#47168379)

This allows them to not pay for right of way access, for building tunnels, installing poles, etc. etc. It's a "socialize expenses, privatize profits" thing -- essentially leveraging the worst parts of socialism to further the worst parts of capitalism.

Re:Level playing field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167953)

That's why we should have private enterprise competing to build roads. I can't wait to have ten road providers to choose from.

Re:Level playing field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167975)

Those private businesses all took public money to build their infrastructure. If they don't want to compete with the government, then they can give back those billions.

Re:Level playing field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167979)

The people running the tax paid agency have incentives to do a good job. If they do not, they get fired.

Re:Level playing field (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#47168061)

Your are funny. (I assume that was a joke)

Re:Level playing field (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168097)

So here's a thought for you.

Certain things are natural monopolies. Generally speaking, these are things that cost a relatively large amount of money to deploy to everybody, but which have relatively low marginal costs once the infrastructure is in place.

Electricity.
Water.
Gas (in the sense of natural gas, rather than the liquid hydrocarbons that the USA calls gas.)
Telecommunications.

So instead of having private companies providing these services, why not have the government pay for the infrastructure - out of tax payer's dollars, yes - and provide them to the community, whilst private companies pay the government to provide the necessary services on top of that infrastructure? You get competition, in the form of multiple private companies providing similar services at differing price levels (and, presumably, differing service levels), without having to worry about somebody charging juuuuuust underneath what the market is willing to tolerate before somebody else comes in to build duplicate infrastructure (or even better, charging more than that level, only to drop prices when somebody threatens to build duplicate infrastructure until such time as that somebody goes away, at which point the prices go right back up again...)

Or is that too socialistic for the United States of America?

Noncompetition (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 4 months ago | (#47167897)

Comcast themselves say "Comcast and TWC do not compete against each other in any area" [comcast.com] (direct quote).
This collusion clearly violates the ideals of free-market capitalism, but at what point does it violate the law?

(Sorry to anyone who's seen me post this comment before, but I'm still scratching my head over this)

Re:Noncompetition (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#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:Noncompetition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168107)

FCC regulation likely affords them freedoms that other businesses may not have.

Re:Noncompetition (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#47168431)

FCC regulation does not make them immune from antitrust laws.

Re:Noncompetition (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 4 months ago | (#47167963)

but at what point does it violate the law?

The point at which they stop giving campaign contributions and spending so much on lobbying. Unfortunately, that will never happen. We've passed the point where the influence public opinion could outweigh the influence of campaign contributions.

Re:Noncompetition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167969)

This collusion clearly violates the ideals of free-market capitalism
 
Businesses making agreements with each other is anti free markets?
 
If people honestly think this then it's no wonder so many of you just knee jerk so hard about free markets. The free market doesn't mean that every entity involved has to go as cut throat as possible. It is possible for businesses to interact and set up agreements that benefit them both in a non-fiscal way. Just because a business can expand into a market doesn't mean that there is some kind of quasi-religious zealotry that means that they have to.
 
A lot of business owners who believe in the free market are very happy in their little corner of the world with what they have even if they have the means and opportunity to expand. Everyone out there doesn't have to rule the world and many of us are happy just being happy where we are. It seems to many around here think that if you subscribe to an ideal that you have to become some raving lunatic and follow it to the Nth degree... like the kinds of assholes who thinks everyone who's pro-marijuana is nothing but a stoner or that every Christian is some young earth creationist fundie who's just looking for people to preach to.

Government ISP? (-1)

thule (9041) | about 4 months ago | (#47167901)

Even if they sub contract out the work, I'd rather not have the government be my ISP. The right way to go is to get local governments to change rules allowing easier permitting for others to run fiber. I want competition, not government ISP. That is where real change can happen.

Personally, I *want* "fast lanes" because they remove popular traffic off the main transit links. The cost of those fast lanes get passed on to customers that subscribe to things like Netflix. For people that don't have Netflix, they get less traffic on the links they care about. Even with cost to Netflix, it may still be cheaper for them than sending bulk data over their own transit links. It is a win-win.

Stop trying to make rules for how the Internet works. Peering, even if it isn't settlement-free, is a good thing. People, use your brains!

My home town, Burbank, CA has metro fiber for businesses. Studios love it. The fiber is actually owned by the cable company. Heh!

Re:Government ISP? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 4 months ago | (#47167927)

You have no clue what net neutrality is, do you? OR maybe you do ant you want 1 company dictating what people can see and do?

"Stop trying to make rules for how the Internet works. "
sense, you make none. The internet functions on rules.

Re:Government ISP? (1)

thule (9041) | about 4 months ago | (#47168091)

Net neutrality as was originally defined was that packets shouldn't be treated any different than any other packet. The idea was to prevent traffic shaping. I pointed out, quite awhile ago, that no shaping had to be done. All a company would have to do is let some ports get congested and upgrade ports that serviced their preferred services. Few seemed understood this point. I also wondered exactly how this would be regulated since peering is an integral part of how the Internet works. Fast forward to present. Now everyone is talking about peering. Welcome all! This was my point all along. I just feared the day when people would realize this point. I don't want the government approving every single stupid change an ISP has to make to their peering. It sounds like a regulatory disaster. More lobbying, more corruption. The best way to solve the problem is to pressure local governments to open up right of ways. The cable companies can sue. Let them.

Re:Government ISP? (1)

marka63 (1237718) | about 4 months ago | (#47168211)

Except they are treating the packets differently by allowing vastly different percentages of them the be dropped over different peering links. If the packet is destined for their network and they have control over the link then the packet should be treated equally to all other packets destined for their network. They have (partial) control over the bandwidth of the peering link.

The same also applies to packets leaving their network.

Re:Government ISP? (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 4 months ago | (#47167947)

If it's implemented as you imply, I'd be fine with fast lanes too. I just don't think it will be.

Re:Government ISP? (1)

thule (9041) | about 4 months ago | (#47168109)

It has been implemented this way already. Starting with Yahoo! years ago. AOL too. If a company has a large national network, they can deliver data to peering points bypassing expensive transit links. Do you think Yahoo! and AOL had unfair advantages?

Re:Government ISP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168017)

So you want a privatized sewer system with multiple redundant sets of sewer pipes strewn about the city all owned by different private enterprises. Then when you want to switch they come to your house, dig up your yard and the street in front of your house to connect your sewer pipes to their sewer pipes. Sounds like a grand idea!

A basic responsibility of government is infrastructure. It's what allows large systems to operate and compete. When phones were new, every phone company ran their own lines. We don't do that anymore. We have a quasi-private enterprise that lays one set of phone lines, then the consumer chooses who they want for their service (for long distance at least, you're still stuck with the monopoly of your single local provider).

Let the people (via government) lay the basic infrastructure (pipes/wires) then let private businesses pay to use said infrastructure to sell consumers goods/services.

Re:Government ISP? (1)

thule (9041) | about 4 months ago | (#47168235)

In Los Angeles, there is a heck of a lot of fiber. I remember talking down the sidewalk in Burbank. Three man holes a few feet apart. One said "MFN 20K" (which is now AboveNet), another "ATT 20K", and another "Layer3 20K".Admittedly, these are obviously backhaul links, but they were on the same street as the muni sewer. Given how they were laid out, they were probably using the same conduit. Fiber is not the same as water, sewer, etc. It can be done and is already being done. I'm pretty sure AT&T and Charter fiber run on the very same poles in a city.

Re:Government ISP? (3, Interesting)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 4 months ago | (#47168031)

I want competition, not government ISP.

You're (probably intentionally) ignoring a huge point. As pointed out in the summary, the agreements also prohibit the leasing of the already existing fiber lines:

and prohibit municipalities from selling or leasing their fiber to local startups who would compete with these huge corporations.

So it's not just that the government can't operate an ISP, it's that nobody else can. And before you try and say it's not fair that the cable company had to run their own lines, while the government ran them for these other ISPs, keep in mind these points:
1. The competing ISPs would still have to pay for the lines.
2. The cable companies have received huge subsidies from the government.

Personally, I *want* "fast lanes" because they remove popular traffic off the main transit links.

Okay, now I know something's up. I also see that all of your recent comments pro-big-corporate-ISP. What you're pretending to not understand is that "fast lane" doesn't mean fast lane, it means everything else is slow lane. They're not talking about building out new faster infrastructure. And it's not simply about peering, it's about charging providers extra to provide this "fast lane" which amounts to "give us money or we're gonna slow you down."

My home town, Burbank, CA has metro fiber for businesses. Studios love it. The fiber is actually owned by the cable company. Heh!

See! You think fiber is okay if it's the cable company making a profit on it, but not if it's a competing ISP.

Re:Government ISP? (1)

thule (9041) | about 4 months ago | (#47168147)

I want competition, not government ISP.

You're (probably intentionally) ignoring a huge point. As pointed out in the summary, the agreements also prohibit the leasing of the already existing fiber lines:

and prohibit municipalities from selling or leasing their fiber to local startups who would compete with these huge corporations.

So it's not just that the government can't operate an ISP, it's that nobody else can. And before you try and say it's not fair that the cable company had to run their own lines, while the government ran them for these other ISPs, keep in mind these points: 1. The competing ISPs would still have to pay for the lines. 2. The cable companies have received huge subsidies from the government.

Personally, I *want* "fast lanes" because they remove popular traffic off the main transit links.

Okay, now I know something's up. I also see that all of your recent comments pro-big-corporate-ISP. What you're pretending to not understand is that "fast lane" doesn't mean fast lane, it means everything else is slow lane. They're not talking about building out new faster infrastructure. And it's not simply about peering, it's about charging providers extra to provide this "fast lane" which amounts to "give us money or we're gonna slow you down."

My home town, Burbank, CA has metro fiber for businesses. Studios love it. The fiber is actually owned by the cable company. Heh!

See! You think fiber is okay if it's the cable company making a profit on it, but not if it's a competing ISP.

I'm not pro-big-ISP, I'm just skeptical of FCC regulation. There is a difference. I am also convinced that most people have no idea how the Internet works. My comment about Burbank just a funny thing. It works just like you want. Burbank doesn't own the fiber, it is owned by the "evil" big-ISP. They just sub-out to the cable company for maintaining a neutral network that all businesses can connect to. Transit is optional and doesn't have to be provided by the cable company. Burbank had a huge incentive to do this because of all the studios in the area. They needed high speed point to point links to send large amounts of data.

Re:Government ISP? (1)

fightinfilipino (1449273) | about 4 months ago | (#47168081)

Stop trying to make rules for how the Internet works.

but this is precisely what the corporate lobbyists are doing. do you have ANY solution that will stop these lobbyists from undermining actual competition? this is where government CAN step in, to stop these shenanigans and enforce an equitable, competitor-filled marketplace. otherwise, an unregulated "free" market quickly becomes anything but, full of Comcast-esque fiefdoms.

Re:Government ISP? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 4 months ago | (#47168321)

do you have ANY solution that will stop these lobbyists from undermining actual competition? this is where government CAN step in, to stop these shenanigans and enforce an equitable, competitor-filled marketplace.

Are you listening to yourself, at all?

...the government has already stepped in, or else you wouldn't have a problem with the lobbyists. You do understand who lobbyists lobby, right?

Re:Government ISP? (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 4 months ago | (#47168141)

Last mile utilities are natural monopolies. If you want 4 companies to run fiber past your house your price will reflect running the fiber four separate times. The entire reason broadband costs in this country are triple or more those of the rest of the developed world is we are paying to run the same wires multiple times.

They beauty of not recognizing the natural monopoly is that two things will happen, the first is that if you are a high enough density with wealthy enough customers you might get a singe overbuilder who will conspire with the incumbent to ensure prices remain high, and the if you aren't in an area conducive to overbuilding your price will go up dramatically just because they can.

The solution is to either recognize the last mile monopoly and make it government administered (government build-out of neighborhood connections with leased access to all comers), or let it be private and regulate the shit of out as a utility. Anything other than those two will result in high prices, bad service and abuse of monopoly. We're currently doing the later in the US in the name of competition and free market that doesn't exist. As a result we pay 10 times more than countries like sweden (with worse density than the US and worse construction conditions) and we have worse service than some third world countries in both speed and reliability. The worst of all worlds for no other reason that to make rich people richer. It's the height of stupidity.

At some point people need to realize that pretending we live in some ideal free market is just that, pretending. Monopolies are contraventions of the free market and MUST be regulated or you end up with something far worse than government run. Republicans helped spearhead trust busting back in the day (because trusts break free markets), it's ironic how they want to prevent trust busting today.

Niggle: one polices one's monopolies and crooks (1)

davecb (6526) | about 4 months ago | (#47168333)

Actually one "polices" them rather than "regulating" them. It's called the "police power of the state", and refers to a lot more than the cops. Anything that gets you dragged in front of a magistrate or board who can punish you is policing

Regulation is a technical term for bylaw-like legislation, is misleading as heck, and historically is a term that lots of people in the 'States and Canada viscerally hate.

Re:Government ISP? (3, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 4 months ago | (#47168323)

If government couldn't do a better job, then why are corporations working so hard to keep them out?

free market failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47167907)

The last mile is not amenable to free market solutions. Not unless you want dozens of fibers from dozens of companies all terminated at your doorstep, each alone capable of transmitting the contents of the library of congress before you finish reading the bathroom newspaper. Why would we want this? It's stupid. Get everyone a single fiber to their home, pay for it collectively, and lease the rights to use it to your ISP. Tell me about a better plan.

Make it a utility. (2)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 4 months ago | (#47167923)

More cities need to treat internet access as a utility. It's the best way to break the current monopoly.

Re:Make it a utility. (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#47168023)

What utility is not a monopoly? Besides, most city dwellers have the choice of cable, DSL, or wireless.

Re:Make it a utility. (3, Informative)

JeffOwl (2858633) | about 4 months ago | (#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

Re:Make it a utility. (1)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 4 months ago | (#47168361)

Exactly. I live in Texas, and use a co-op for electricity. It's been much better than when I was in Nevada.

Re:Make it a utility. (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47168217)

choice of cable, DSL, or wireless.

Cable: I can have TV and broadband. But in spite of advertisemsnts for a bundle of three services, telephone is not available in my area. Agreement with the telco.

DSL: Not offered for years. FiOS was coming. When it finally arrived, broadband and telephone was available. But the TV offered was les extensive than what my rabbit ears pick up. Agreement with the cable company.

Wireless: Too slow and intermittent for streaming video or VoIP. Broadband is slow, but useable for simple web pages. I'm not supposed to use VoIP over wireless broadband anyway due to TOS. Agreement with the telco.

So basically all of the providers have an agreement not to compete in each others core businesses. They claim not to be monopolies needing regulation. Because competition. Really? Where?

Re:Make it a utility. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168267)

I disagree with you Republicans that want to make Internet access a utility. Utilities are government-granted monopolies that disallow competition. That is what we have in Seattle where we are not allowed to buy from anyone but the government-granted monopolies and Comcast and CenturyLink are not allowed to upgrade. The city here treats it as a utility so they prevent competition and prevent both the phone and cable TV monopolies from upgrading. That is what happens when you put Republicans in control. They want to make everything a monopoly since they don't believe in capitalism. They are all facists. Since they rule here in Seattle, we are not allowed workable Internet access. Instead, I'm stuck with less than 1 Mbps at home for nearly $70/month, and many of my friends are still on dial-up. That is why happens when you make Internet access a utility.

Re:Make it a utility. (1)

B33rNinj4 (666756) | about 4 months ago | (#47168377)

First, I'm not a Republican. Second, if the city leaders that you vote into office are screwing you over, elect someone to do the job better. Petition the city council. Man up, and take matters into your own hands. You are in a much better position to control your rates.

Re:Make it a utility. (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47168367)

The "monopoly" (which is not what it is at all) is the only way a phone company can be profitable and the only way they will maintain the network. If the city doesn't like it they're welcome to maintain it themselves. Several have tried and after bankrupting the city re-signed their carrier agreements. Copper networks are hugely expensive to maintain. The only way they are profitable is because the phone company can spread the rates out to everyone in town. The people in the cheap areas to server pay more than they would otherwise (business parks, high density areas like apartments) and people that live in expensive areas to serve get VERY large discounts so they can afford service. Without this setup most of the city could not even afford to have phone service. This entire system requires reduced competition. If any other company could come in and install their own network, they would install it ONLY in the areas that were cheap to serve... they'd undercut the telco and people living in that "Cheap to serve" area would obviously switch. The phone company would be required to raise rates for everyone else. The competitors would again move in to the cheaper ares, people would switch and the telco death spiral would end with rural customer unable to get service at all...

Business as usual (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 4 months ago | (#47167931)

Screw the consumer. Its how barely regulated (virtual) monopolies, that are out of control, operate.

Break them up, jail the board of directors. Return control to the people.

Re:Business as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168275)

The telecom companies have so far refused to honor their side of any of these agreements. AT&T promised years ago to bring high speed internet to rural areas, they took all the tax cuts they could get and then refused to provide even a single foot of fiber. Local governments should order the telecoms to provide their side of the bargain or the contracts will be declared null and void and release the municipality to provide fiber to their residents.

Re:Business as usual (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47168329)

Screw the consumer. Its how barely regulated (virtual) monopolies, that are out of control, operate.

Break them up, jail the board of directors. Return control to the people.

Barely regulated? The telecom industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country. I work for a telco. We've got an entire floor of people dedicated to regulatory compliance. It's a huge cost to every telco out there.

Cable companies, however, are barely regulated at all. That's real problem. You need to either regulate them or deregulate telcos. If you don't most telcos will be bankrupt in a decade or two. Every major Telco out there is selling off exchanges as fast as they can. They're losing their asses to the cable companies now that everyones moving to cellphones.

fiber for my anus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168049)

needs it

A war well waged (4, Insightful)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 4 months ago | (#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.

Government Actively Keeping Fiber Dark in My Town (1)

glennrrr (592457) | about 4 months ago | (#47168105)

Because my city council demands that any new company providing cable TV commit to wire every home and apartment building before getting permission to operate in my town, Nashua, NH, Verizon FIOS was driven out of town. As it happens they sold what fiber they'd laid down to a regional operator, so I can get fiber Internet, but not TV.

I'm not saying that Comcast lobbied hard and spent a lot of money to get this rule enforced, but obviously this kind of barrier to entry benefits Comcast or any incumbent ISP greatly.

the "agreements" cover more than fiber... (3)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#47168163)

Community Wifi is also targeted with this. My experience was from Comcast targeting the one community WiFi project we had running and was shut down.

we were illegally providing internet service for free without paying franchise fees to the local government to the tune of $10K a month.

It's a fucking Mobster kickback is what it is...

Let's be clear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47168173)

The ISP's WANT net neutrality, and they want the FCC to regulate them.
That would put the final nail in the competition coffin.

Could you imagine what would happen if you had, let's say, 33 ISP's to choose from in your area?

And Outside the U.S. (4, Interesting)

fullback (968784) | about 4 months ago | (#47168223)

I'm moving and my new place has 200Mbps down/100Mbps up fiber, so that's an upgrade from the 100Mbps I've had for about 15 years. And the price is going down to about US$38/month. Not bad, huh? I could choose 1 Gbps, since everywhere has been upgraded with it for years now, but it would only be useful for content inside the country. The infrastructure is far more advanced than the U.S.

Of course there are no caps and no provider-conspired speed throttling. I've never had a provider-caused outage in 20 years of internet service.

That's that service level and pricing that competition has created over time in Japan. I'm in a small town, so don't even think about the "U.S. is too big" reply. Every time I go the U.S. I'm shocked at the level of service. You are really under the thumb of the internet provider mafia.

You need to vote in representatives that will actually to start representing you. I don't see any hope for you without that.

ah no (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47168251)

Again with this one-sided uninformed bullshit. Why did the city sign those agreements? A gift to the telecom? It's a joke. City after city trys to install their own network and gets their ass sued by their local telecom. And they lose... every time. Why? Because it's breach of contract.

Those telecoms agreed to maintain the cities aging copper network in exchange for no direct competition for teleco services. Maintaining that network is hugely expensive. The city comes in and plans to install fiber which will clearly be a direct competitor to the old copper network. Does the city want to release the telco from their obligation to maintain the copper? If they were I'd pretty damned sure the telco would jump at the chance. But they're not. They want the telephone company to continue to maintain a dieing network while the city installs fiber to only the most profitable areas, in direct competition with the telco.

No city is required to sign these agreements. They are up for renewal all over the country every day of the year. Yet, they all sign. They could maintain the network themselves, but they don't. If it was such a profit rich venture why don't we see cities doing this all over? Because it's not very profitable. They city could certainly buy out the contract, even in the middle of the contract and take over the network any time they wanted. But then they would have to maintain that network... the WHOLE network. Not just that business park where they wanted the fiber.

What I'd suggest, is if the cities want more control over this sort of thing. They should buy the network, not sign any more contracts and then install fiber conduit only. Lease conduit to vendors. They you have competition. Any vendor can come in, blow a new fiber through the conduit, and get going. When they dont need it anymore they pull their fiber, and viola. The governments not providing your intenet and you have real competition. This will require the city to maintain the phonelines however. No phone company is going to touch them if they're losing the most profitable part of town, they'll lose money.

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