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9th Circuit Overturns FCC's Cable Modem Decision 344

Posted by timothy
from the giveth-and-taketh-away dept.
Decaffeinated Jedi writes "According to this Washington Post article, a federal appeals court in California has overturned a Federal Communications Commission decision that many smaller companies claim has kept them locked out of the high-speed cable Internet business. As Chris Murry of Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports) notes, 'Many consumers hate their cable companies' privacy policies and their failure to deal with spam effectively. Giving consumers a choice of Internet service providers would open the door to more competition, and let people choose services with better privacy and less spam.' As noted in News.com coverage of this decision, however, FCC chairman Michael Powell plans to appeal the ruling." Reader rednaxela provides some more insight (and a link to the ruling itself), below.

rednaxela writes "The 9th Circuit today issued a decision overturning the FCC's classification of cable modem service as an 'information service,' stating instead that cable modem service consists of both an 'information service' *and* a 'telecommunications service.' Telecommunications services are classified under Title II of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and are subject to all kinds of regulation. Information Services are classified under Title I, and are largely free from regulation. If upheld, this decision will likely require cable modem providers to open their networks to competing ISPs. Further, this is likely to derail, or at least complicate, the FCC's plans to classify DSL service (which is provided primarily over incumbent telco facilities) as a unified 'information service." Bottom line - the 9th Circuit's decision may well have preserved open access for competing ISPs on all forms of wireline networks.' Here is the 9th Circuit's ruling (PDF).

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9th Circuit Overturns FCC's Cable Modem Decision

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  • by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:11PM (#7148998) Journal
    Dont' worry, the current Vegas Odds on the 9th Circuit Court being over turned are 21:1, based on past history alone.
    • Not overturned. The correct term is "reveresed." Overturned means that a higher court reversed them. If they reverse themselves, they can't be overturned.

      Clear as mud, right? I just don't want to hear the old argument, "No, they're not the most overturned, look at New Hampshire, you insensitive clod!"
    • by whatparadox (560642) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:36PM (#7149190) Homepage
      The 9th Circuit decisions get overturned more often based on volume, but it is the largest circuit by far. By percentage, The 9th sits average ~75%. I heard this on NPR's All Things Considered; Sept. 17, 2003; "Arguments on Recall Filed with Appeals Court"
      • by AEton (654737)
        Here's a link [moderateindependent.com] that addresses the issue with some real numbers. 75% for 9th circuit, 100% for several others. The pundits who say "most overturned court" are looking at number of cases selected by the Supreme Court, not percentages - it's about as silly as Michael Moore's use of numbers instead of percentages for gun deaths in "Bowling for Columbine", and it smacks of the same yellow journalism to report that kind of figure.
        • The pundits who say "most overturned court" are looking at number of cases selected by the Supreme Court, not percentages

          No, sorry, you're the one playing games with numbers here. I just typed it already in a comment below, so just follow http://www.centerforindividualfreedom.org/legal/9 t h_circuit.htm [slashdot.org] to see how meaningless than 75% number is. You trying to compare small circuits having one or two cases reviewed and getting 100% turnover with the 24(!) cases heard from the 9th (that's more than the n

        • by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Monday October 06, 2003 @11:43PM (#7150282) Homepage

          "The pundits ... are looking at number of cases selected by the Supreme Court, not percentages"

          This is a very good point but maybe I think it ought to be said more bluntly.

          The 75% overturn rate is NOT 75% of the cases decided by 9th circuit cases. It is 75% of those cases the Supreme Court decides to review.

          If you lose in the 9th, you get to ask the Supreme Court to review the case. If the SC refuses, it is a silent affirmation. In fact, it is even used in citations - if you see "cert. denied" after a cite, it means it was appealed to the SC and rejected (implying that the case was decided just fine at the circuit level).

          Now, the SC is busy - it isn't going to spend its time patting the circuits on the back and saying "nice job". Instead, when a case is accepted for review by the SC, it is going to be a case in which the Court has some serious questions/doubts. It should therefor being pretty unsurprising that the cases accepted for review (which is far below the number appealed), stand a good chance of being overturned.

          According the SC [supremecourtus.gov], they receive 7000 cases per year. They only write 80-90 opinions, and decide an additional 50-60 cases. At most, 150 cases are actually decided. This is 2.1% of the appeals to the court. Assuming 100% are overturned, the Circuits get it right 98 times in a hundred. If only 50% of a circuits decisions were overturned, they would get it right 99 times in a hundred. I personally doubt that the difference is significant. So you see, this "most overturned court" thing, aside from being wrong, is one of those statistics/damn lies things.

        • it's about as silly as Michael Moore's use of numbers

          <sarcasm>

          I used that very same argument when my colleges lamented the shooting death of the 9 year old here the other day but here 5 year old brother.

          No reason to give a fuck about unlikely things like that. </sarcasm>

          • by pla (258480)
            I used that very same argument when my colleges lamented the shooting death of the 9 year old here the other day but here 5 year old brother.

            Appeal to emotion tends to work poorly with geeks.

            As well it should, since it has no logical validity whatsoever, but, just thought you might want to know so you can better match your arguments to your audience in the future.


            No reason to give a fuck about unlikely things like that.

            Sarcasm aside, no, we shouldn't worry about unlikely things like that. You or
            • Thanks for your reply I wish public debate could be done like that. I actually do agree with you.

              FYI, I had to comment here a few weeks ago about an article by Bill O'Reilly claming that we were at WW3 and our actions should reflect a war effort

              Just out of curiosity I analyses the casuaties / hour of WW2. Here is the result

              First calling this WW3 is an insult to the two first WW's. With 40Mill killed in WW2 this equates to 27.000/ day or ten times the 9/11 Every day. Now if the 9/11 lasted say 2.5 h

      • A 75% average overturn rate is crazy, as is allowing people to use infrastructure that the did not build. Allowing them equal use of right of ways and the like is a good thing, but the idea that they can just use equipment that somebody else paid for is crazy. But I guess if a judge thinks somebody calling me to offer crap is free speech anything can happen...
        • Somebody else paid for?

          Are you forgetting that cable operators in almost all areas have municipal charters? Government granted monopolies designed decades ago to spur investment. They've got their ROI. They can still charge for the lines use, but it's about time (and it shouldn't have taken a court to do it) that someone stood up and said it's time to end the cable monopolies.

    • If we can keep this ruling intact, I hope that this helps lower the $50 a month cost that I pay for my cable modem! I've been forced to use one company for years now, without the option of DSL in my area. What's worse, if I ever wanted to go to dish for my television service (I want Discovery HD) then I had to pay and extra $20 fee for simply not having cable service.

      FWIW, I pay $130 to my cable provider each month. That's $40 more than my monthly power bill. It's that odd?
    • Is this the same 9th Circuit Court that ruled the U.S. Constitution as unconstitutional?

  • I'm in Canada (Score:5, Interesting)

    by B3ryllium (571199) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:13PM (#7149005) Homepage
    I hate that Shaw is such a monopoly in my particular region. In cities, they compete with Telus - but frankly, Telus is the greater of the two evils. That's another topic for another day, however.

    Out here in Ruralland Canada, Shaw Cable is the only choice for highspeed, and they charge an arm and a leg AND make you sign over your firstborn. It's very annoying. I'd like to see them put in charge of the infrastructure alone, and have mom & pop ISPs handle the cable modems, and the end-user support. They should only have to pay a small per-client licensing fee, and be given free reign to charge what they'd like above that for internet access. They should also have the option of regulating speeds at their own discretion, for various bundle offerings.

    Does anyone think this is a good way to break up monopoly power, or is it just silly?
    • Re:I'm in Canada (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eht (8912)
      Canada and monopolies can be a slight problem, the US allows Microsoft to operate, but they won't even let DeBeers in.
    • Re:I'm in Canada (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pieroxy (222434) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:23PM (#7149082) Homepage
      I have trouble understanding the FCC on this one. USA is a country with anti-trust laws, which basically means they know that a monopoly can kill a market, screw people, do a lot of bad things. They know it. And yet they enforce that a cable company will have a monopoly on their small (sometimes ridiculously small) geographic area.

      How can you enforce something you know is bad for the market/consumer and therefore bad for the economy overall.

      I used to live in Sunnyvale, CA (Not really far far away from the next city, just in the heart of the silicon valley), and where I lived, just *one* provider for cable: Castle Cable. They don't even provide internet cable!!!!!!

      Guess who got my 39.99 broadband bill? SBC. No choice. Unless I rent a T1 or something...

      Note that SBC is not so bad, so I'm globally happy.
      • Re:I'm in Canada (Score:3, Insightful)

        by solprovider (628033)
        Phone, cable, power, whatever.

        Separation of hardware and software and content.
        (like the separation of church and state.)

        Infrastructure companies made the investment to install the wires to an area. Let them make their money from renting those wires to other companies that provide services.

        The "Cable" companies are winning because they laid the wires for the sole purpose of providing content, and were regulated as content providers. Now they are branching out, but want to keep the laws as they were whe
      • They're just refusing to force existing cable providers to open up their lines. They're not stopping anyone from laying thier own cable to compete.

        And, who says cable competition is necessary? End users do not subscribe to cable - they subscribe to internet service, which they can also get by satelite, DSL, modem, cell phone, leased line, etc. Or they subscribe to TV, which they can also get by satelite, broadcast, DVD rental, etc.

        Just because products are not the same does not mean that competition do
        • They're not stopping anyone from laying thier own cable to compete.

          False. You will get arrested if you try to dig up the roads to lay cable to compete, or if you try to climb the telephone/power poles to hang cable.

          Cable companies are in general handled as utilities. As legally enforced monopolies. You cannot get right-of-way to lay cable to compete.

          who says cable competition is necessary? ...satelite, DSL, modem, cell phone

          While there is certianly some truth there, that is much like saying you don'
    • We need to have a division of services. A broadband pipe service which is open to competition, but which is severely regulated in terms of compatibility (or a government monopoly perhaps), and a bunch of content provider services like TV, internet, phone, radio, etc. You choose which internet provider, which phone company, which TV channels you want.
    • I really feel for you but I don't think what you describe is possible.

      >have mom & pop ISPs handle the cable modems, and the end-user support.

      They will eventually get bought out by bigger corporations like dialup ISPs were and you get the same situation.

      >a small per-client licensing fee, and be given free reign to charge what they'd like above that for internet access.

      What they would charge above the fee would be for overhead (support, extras). If its the exact same service on a technical leve
      • Shaw offers a reduced speed package for a reduced rate, $24.95 for "five times dialup" and $40 for full cable (about 3 megabits on average).

        Telus is $34.95, but for some reason they think it's an acceptable business practice to be totally completely and 100% incompetent in actually hooking their customers up. I went without internet for seven days last week because they were too incompetent to mail out a modem on time. It still hasn't arrived, 9 days after they said "3 to 7 business days". (This is why I s
  • Competition (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tsanth (619234)
    Let's say that there does come pressure for cable companies to lease their lines out to third parties. What about protections to keep those third parties from being charged exorbitant rates for their leased lines?
  • by zangdesign (462534) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:14PM (#7149017) Journal
    Holy cow! I thought this guy was evil incarnate. So now, it looks like he's evil incarnate, who's trying to make himself look good.

  • cool! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:15PM (#7149022)
    maybe now the most-technologically-advanced United States will catch up with third-world South Korea in broadband!!
    • Um, I don't think you can really call South Korea a 'third-world' country, especially since they're number 12 in the world [wallstreetview.com] in GDP, just ahead of Canada.

    • Re:cool! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Steffan (126616) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:42PM (#7149240)
      > maybe now the most-technologically-advanced
      > United States will catch up with third-world
      > South Korea in broadband!!

      Um, I don't think you can really call South Korea a 'third-world' country, especially since they're number 12 in the world [wallstreetview.com] in GDP, just ahead of Canada.
    • "Third-world South Korea"? You're talking about one of the most advanced countries on the planet.

    • maybe now the most-technologically-advanced United States will catch up with third-world South Korea in broadband!!

      South Korea has a much easier time rolling out broadband than the US.

      In particular, something like 90% of the population lives in large apartment buildings in dense cities. LARGE apartment buildings. SO large that they each have a small telephone exchange in the basement.

      Wiring all those apartments for broadband is a snap. For instance you can put a router in the basement, hook it into t
    • If the cable companies and the Baby Bells have their way, we'll catch up with North Korea in broadband within a decade.
  • by perimorph (635149) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:15PM (#7149023)
    People are complaining about ISPs not doing enough about the spam problem, and yet people also complain about how on-line privacy is being erroded..

    Now, someone please explain to me how these two "goals" (less spam and more privacy) can co-exist with each other. I just really don't get it.
    • by Xtifr (1323)
      Now, someone please explain to me how these two "goals" (less spam and more privacy) can co-exist with each other.

      Well, just off the top of my head, these companies could respect their customers' privacy by NOT selling the names and addresses to spammers... :)
    • Same as road rules. You have reasonable expectation to drive down the road in piece. Of course, there also hot rodders & dump trucks that feel the need to use residental roads too much and, of course, get nailed. Just like you wouldn't expect a large truck or racer to constantly drive by your house, you don't expect people using your ISPs, or home email box, for unsolicited mass emails.

      For a matter of fact, the key to limiting [insert canned-meats procuct by Hormel] is to come up with similar "roa

    • by qtp (461286)
      People are complaining about ISPs not doing enough about the spam problem, and yet people also complain about how on-line privacy is being erroded..

      Online privacy and spam are only relatyed in that when your online privacy is not protected, you will recieve more spam.

      Now, someone please explain to me how these two "goals" (less spam and more privacy) can co-exist with each other. I just really don't get it.

      Most of the practical methods of reducing spam are not going to effect privacy negatively at al
  • by myov (177946)
    Wil this force cable modem users to authenticate through PPPOE?
  • BOTH GOOD & BAD (Score:4, Interesting)

    by exhilaration (587191) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:21PM (#7149072)
    This is good for those of us that already have access to high-speed cable Internet. The investment has already been made which pretty much means that it can only get better. (Note the optimism)

    This is bad for those that lack access to high-speed cable Internet, perhaps because they don't live in highly metropolitan areas. As it becomes more likely that a cable company will have to share its infrastructure, the cable company becomes more likely to drag its heels. For example, Verizon held back the deveopment of DSL in the northeast because they were forced to share their network.

    Any thoughts?

  • RIAA (Score:3, Funny)

    by dolo666 (195584) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:23PM (#7149086) Journal
    Why not open a company that taunts "free P2P sans RIAA risk!", and just lock the P2P to the network only, thus preventing anyone outside from identifying you or snagging your stuff?

    If enough privacy could be designed for such a system, I have a feeling people would flock in droves to it. The only problem is the obvious lawsuit that the RIAA would hit you with.

    My opinion is that you could win the case based on the internet's ability to remain private, and if the ISP got a radio broadcasting licence, in which case they could effectively bypass any copyright nonsense.
    • Nice idea, except for the fact that cable companies make money on the hope that their customers will pay for lots of speed......but only use a fraction of it checking email and minor web surfing.....not 24/7 P2P usage......there is no money in that right now with the current infrastructure.

  • by Dr. Transparent (77005) * on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:24PM (#7149096) Homepage Journal
    Regulation inherently leads to less competition in the long run. Forcing ISPs to share infrastructure leads to localized government monoplies because companies can't afford to offer their lines up to everyone and still keep them up and compete with service. This might have short-term benefits, but long term this will be destructive. You will see local government sponsored monopolies on ISPs.

    Regulation != Choice

    -------
    Just leaving some blood in the water.

    • And what is so wrong that? Telecommunications has become just as important to our economy as water or electricity. I think it's time the government start to accept this. Having deregulated competition among private utility companies inevitably leads to reduced service and increased rates (there are dozens of examples to choose from, but energy in California comes immediately to mind). If you want to see DSL or Cable prices drop to rock-bottom, have the government treat it like any other essential commod
  • Question? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TnkMkr (666446) on Monday October 06, 2003 @08:28PM (#7149137)
    It was my understanding that the phone companies had to open their lines up because their infrastructure was in part funded by the government. And a lot of the initial capitol to build a reliable phone system was provided by the taxpayers.

    I thought the cable companies totally funded the construction (or purchase of pre-existing) system, and had no government assistance financially or otherwise? If this is the case is it fair to force a private company to allow competitors to use the fruits of their labor?

    I picture a similar case being United Parcel Services being forced to share it's truck fleet with the competition, just because no one else can afford to buy their own trucks.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.
    • UPS doesn't have to dig and bury wires on government owned property the way that the cable company does.

      Don't you think it'd be a bit of a problem if there were eight cable companies in your area and eight cable lines running to every house?

      The sides of roads would look like battlefields as each company digs, accidentally breaks the other guys lines, and repairs their own lines.

      And who knows how many homegrown cable networks might exist that way...
    • Re:Question? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by softweyr (2380)
      I thought the cable companies totally funded the ... system.

      As with most things in the USA, some did and some didn't. Some communities laid down cable themselves, some granted rights-of-way in existing underground conduits or on existing poles. Some cable companies strung the cable themselves, over public rights-of-way.

      In some cases the early cable operators even strung the cable on poles that belonged to the local telco, without asking permission, and then were granted the ability to keep them by imm

    • Re:Question? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Divine_Entity (707314)
      Well we are forgetting somthing. Sure the cable companies funded the lines and such but the main trunk lines are being run along the roads and many other places that are owned by the government. So what to we except competitors to do run 6/7 different sets of lines when the existing infrastructure will work? That would be like Bell Sprint,AT&T all having there own lines in one city it would be insane.
    • I thought the cable companies totally funded the construction (or purchase of pre-existing) system, and had no government assistance financially or otherwise?

      It varies from place to place. Here in Madison when another company tried to come in they faced a large number of onerous requirements (like "You must wire the entire city within two years") that the incumbant cable company didn't have to face while it slowly grew up. In other places the cable company is explicitly a monopoly, I'm not entirely sure

    • Re:Question? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pben (22734)
      The Phone companies in the USA have mostly been privately funded. The exception was rural telephone companies started during the depression (1930's), they got loans at rates that were backed by the US goverment.

      The Bell system was formed about a hundred years ago by merging and buying out of other private phone companies. AT&T agreed to regulation in return for buying out their competition. The US goverment changed their mind in the 1980's and that lead to the mess we have in today's US phone system.
      • The US goverment changed their mind in the 1980's and that lead to the mess we have in today's US phone system.

        It also led to the inexpensive, feature-filled telephones we have. And to the cheap access to the Internet that we now have. And the 3.5 cents per minute calling cards I buy at the local Costco store.

        If there was still a huge monopoly Phone Company with a monopoly on the copper lines to our homes, DSL would cost just as much as a T1 used to cost (in other words, a LOT).

        I for one like a free m
    • "I thought the cable companies totally funded the construction (or purchase of pre-existing) system, and had no government assistance financially or otherwise? "

      Because the people granted the rights of way for the cable, it's not completely a private enterprise.

      UPS wouldn't be able to build their own interstate highways and not let others use them.
  • What the hell!? (Score:2, Interesting)

    You can't even find a decent ISP anymore. You hear people talking about how this and that company is a monopoly, customer service sucks, they don't deal with spam properly, service inconsistent, etc. Why is that? What the hell is going on!? Why can't there just be a high-speed ISP that does what it's supposed to do? Is it that they just don't give a crap or what? Remember back when Microsoft said that high speed internet was going to take a couple of years longer to come to the mainstream then anticipated?
    • I think there's something fucked up going on. Fuck high-speed internet, fuck technology... fuck computers.
      Hey ... you forgot the horse they rode in on.
  • Where I live, my cable modem and cable TV are both provided by Cablevision / Optimum Online. My combined bill to these guys for one modem and no premium channels, and their shiny new digital channel box, is over a hundred bucks a month. This is with the "discount" I get for having a cable modem and a cable box both in the same household, and it's done nothing but go up since I moved here.

    Some of the money is probably being diverted into building new infrastructure. They've moved all the analog cable TV
    • If you don't watch TV often, why in the world would you pay for digital cable? I don't understand why people pay an arm and a leg for this crap. :)

      As I think about it though, everything tech-related keeps getting cheaper as time goes by. Just wait a few years and we'll have more connectivity than we know what to do with. People are just impatient, I guess.
      • Two reasons -- one, there are times when I do turn on the TV on impulse or for a news flash, and I don't like to be caught with my britches -- er, cable down. The other is that there are things I do watch, just not very often, and I'd rather not deal with the expense of a separate dish account.
  • There was an article in 'IEEE Spectrum' this month taking about some technology improvements that would allow broadband to the house at around 20Mbps.

    One of the drivers they mentioned for this was this FCC regulation limiting access to their infrastructure.

  • by Brian Stretch (5304) * on Monday October 06, 2003 @09:12PM (#7149401) Homepage
    Seriously. The telcos and cable companies shouldn't have to share their hardware. However, local governments need to make it as easy as possible for competitors to get approval to build new networks. Fiber-to-the-home, anyone? HDTV over IP multicast? The "monopolies" are vulnerable if anyone wants to give it a shot.

    If the "monopolies" started doing dumb things like blocking Internet traffic between their subscribers and Mom & Pop Internet Co., then you'd have a case for regulation, assuming the free market didn't smack them for such foolishness first. But making companies share their plant to the point that the "competitor" is just a marketeer slapping their name on the same service is silly. Powell is right.
    • That's exactly the problem. The market isn't free. It costs an exorbitant sum of money to build a cable (or telco) network, which constitutes an almost insurmountable barrier to entry. As such, there would be no mom-n-pop internet companies, because mom-n-pop seldom can seldom raise the billions neccessary to enter the market...not to mention the fact that municipalities typically grant one cable provider (usually the one that bribes, er, campaign finances them the most) a local monopoly, which creates an a
    • The cable company is granted a "franchise" in most cities. This is, in simple terms, a monopoly. They are protected from competition. Lately, they've had to compete with satellite, but cable companies do have advantages (apartment buildings, high-rise condos, etc don't allow dishes).

      As a result of this competition, the individual consumer has very little "say". There's no opportunity for anyone else to improve on the product.
      Opening up the "local loop" allows competition. It doesn't necessarily
  • Question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nemesisj (305482)
    Maybe I'm misunderstanding this, but doesn't it seem odd that we're all expecting the cable companies to allow competition on a physical network that they built and own? If someone wants to compete with them, let them build their own network. Am I completely off base?
    • In virtually every county in the U.S., the local governments grant the cable companies a monopoly to lay the cable. The governments do not allow a competing firm to build their own network.
    • Re:Question (Score:5, Insightful)

      by softweyr (2380) on Monday October 06, 2003 @09:28PM (#7149493) Homepage
      There is a lot more at stake than just the wire. The phone companies and in many cases the cable companies were given easements by local governments to run wire under streets, were often given land to place exchange offices on, etc., because they provide a "public good." These days, such rights-of-way can be sold for money, but the telcos and cable companies get a free ride off your tax dollars because they are supposedly providing a public service.

      The irony in this is Qwest, generally one of the lousier Baby Bells, has a great DSL service offering. They'll partner with just about any ISPs that will pony up the bucks to drop in a local T-1 or greater connection to the QWest network, and offer dozens to hundreds of ISPs at reasonable rates (starting at roughly $22/month for 256K symmetrical, exclusive of ISP fees).

      The cable companies have long complained what a burden it will be to provision cable modems with multiple ISPs, but it's just not true. All they have to be able to do is associate a subscriber, via the MAC address in their cable modem, with a DOCSIS config file that tells them which ISP to communicate with.

      The telcos do have a bit of a head start, in that they have a logical and well-defined way to get the data off their network and onto the ISP: they require the ISP to buy telco services, in the form of T-1 or greater lines, to shovel the data across. I'm pretty certain the cable companies will be able to solve this problem in a cable company kind of way, too, if they just put their minds (well, engineers) to it. So let's have it, CableLabs, give us a cable standard for an ISP interconnect over cable.

      This decision is more akin to the federal government requiring airlines to fly you to your destination regardless of which rental car company and hotel you will be using, rather than allowing them to refuse to fly you unless you use their rental cars, their hotels, etc. You wanna carry bits around on wire, fine. You wanna provide internet end-point services, that's fine too. Just don't tie the two businesses together.

    • Re:Question (Score:3, Informative)

      by ChaosDiscord (4913)

      Maybe I'm misunderstanding this, but doesn't it seem odd that we're all expecting the cable companies to allow competition on a physical network that they built and own? If someone wants to compete with them, let them build their own network.

      Many cities and other locales have specific laws limiting the ability of arbitrary companies to start running cables. Running any sort of cross city wiring is a major project that will create disruptions, the cost of which is, at least in part, be covered by the city

    • They typically get plenty of public money to build those networks.
  • by geekee (591277) on Monday October 06, 2003 @09:18PM (#7149435)
    This type of case exemplifies the problem you have when you let a govt. grant a monopoly. Once a govt. grants company a the exclusive right to lay down a physical network (cable, phone, power, etc.), that company is a de facto monopoly. Here's how the game works. Govt. grants exclusive rights initially to the company paying for the netwrok to encourage investment in the network with a guaranteed monopoly. Once the network is working well, the monopoly right is taken away, and other comapnies are allowed to use the network at or below cost. This has the immediate effect of screwing the company that owns the network by changing the rules on a whim in the middle of the game. The secondary effect is that incentive to improve the network has been significantly diminished since money invested won't get a return since it benefits your competitors at your expense. Also extending the network to areas outside the current reach is unlikely for the same reason. The only good solution is to allow two or more companies lay redundant networks. The real competition between AT@T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. has vastly improved long distance and lowered the rates. The artificial competition in local phone markets has not reduced cost or improved service substantially, however. Don't expect there to be any improvement in cable service due to this artificial competition.
    • >and other comapnies are allowed to use the network at or below cost.

      If memory serves, the regulations which the Baby Bells protested so bitterly required them to lease their network to other ISPs at the same rates they charged to their own subsidiaries.
    • The real competition between AT@T, Sprint, Verizon, etc. has vastly improved long distance and lowered the rates.

      Um, I used to have a real connection, analog, uncompressed, etc. Now I have a acelp-encoded* 2k datastream that makes non-voice sound like shit, introduces a few tenths of a second lag-time and lets them multiplex a dozen calls into what used to be near-immediate and mine-all-mine! I'll grant that things are cheaper, but I don't see the vastly improved part.

      Oh, and I'm not so sure about th

  • by andy1307 (656570) * on Monday October 06, 2003 @10:16PM (#7149826)
    Michael Powell supports media consolidation redardless of the side effects(mostly negative for the consumer). In this [nytimes.com] example, Fox is squeezing Cox(;0) by demanding cox pay a higher rate for Fox Sports. This means higher cable bills for consumers which in turn drive them into the waiting arms of Direct TV, also owned by Fox parent News Corp.
  • To: fccinfo@fcc.gov

    The Ninth Circuit Court today overruled the FCC's designation of the cable broadband as an information service and rightly classified it as a communication service.

    The cable industries foray into the internet has made them capable of providing Voice over IP, fax over IP and every other service that a regulated communication's company provides. Exempting the cable internet service providers from the same regulation as traditional telecommunications providers is bad for competition and

  • by Xaoswolf (524554) *
    It look as though the 9th circuit finally did something right...
  • by ClarkEvans (102211) on Monday October 06, 2003 @11:12PM (#7150132) Homepage
    The problem here is that a for-profit entity was granted a monopoly (and usually given special government levys and sometimes even public bonds for funding) instead of setting it up as a non-profit "governmental" entity giving public ownership. This sort of stuff happens with the falacy that just because something is commerially owned that it will be competitive. Corporations in a non-competitive market are usually slower, less attentive, and more costly than government due to profit maximization... at least with government you can kick the ring leader out of office every few years.

    On the flip side, government has no business being in a field where their could be competition. And thus even though a non-profit "governmental" organization may own the resource, this does not mean that everything should be done by the non-profit's employees. Within a monpoply are many potential competitive marketplaces, opportunities for capitalism to thrive -- laying the wire, maintaining the wires, content providers, maintainers of wires, etc. Thus, just beacuse a non-profit ("governmental") entity may own the resource does not mean that it should try to do everything internally. The distinction is actually quite clear; for a power company, the non-profit should own the transmission wires, while the power plans themselves can be for-profit (properly charged for polution they create to keep the playing field level).

    Unfortunate when it gets all messed up like this, and then regulation is used like a bandaid to fix a more fundamental resource ownship problem. The overall goal is to maximize competition and thus efficiency; phone, energy, and cable companies rarely do this on their own -- the 9th circut is just doing its best to "encourage" a monopoly to be at least somewhat competitive. Ick. The courts would be better off forcing a sale of the "necessary public" aspects of the company to a non-profit and then having the maintanence of these resources open to public bidding. While this would be very painful up front... it would correct the core issue.
    • You have a point. But how easily do you overcome the inertia of the current setup to dismantle the monopoly and create a properly competitive market?
  • if this makes it to the Supreme Court the odds are that it will be overturned.
  • What is up with this guy? He is anti-consumer in every possible way it seems. Hopefully congress will give him another legislative smackdown like they did with the radio ownership rules.
  • As Chris Murry [...] notes, 'Many consumers hate their cable companies'

    Yes, yes we do.

    Oh... there was more to that quote?
  • Oh, look!
    The 9th circuit has overturned another lower court ruling. WHY IS THIS NEWS???
    The 3 judge panels of the 9th circuit overturn just about everything that makes it to that court. It seems that these actions are held up about as often as they are overturned by the next higher court (or the full sitting of the 9th circuit).

    Seriously, I think the 9th circuit would overturn a ruling that stated simply "Water is wet."

    Personally I think the cable companies should have control over their private wiring. I
  • by LuYu (519260) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @03:32AM (#7151167) Homepage Journal

    Giving consumers a choice of Internet service providers would open the door to more competition, and let people choose services with better privacy and less spam.
    You mean they are actually allowing capitalism to exist in the USA? Who would have thought the monopolists would ever allow that to happen?

    You know, if this trend continues, US citizens might even have (shudder!) freedom again. And companies might actually have to have good service to keep customers interested.

    As it stands, we are all rationed cableTV/modem access the way Russians were rationed vodka and food.

  • by pb (1020) on Tuesday October 07, 2003 @03:58AM (#7151232)
    You missed the other half; this is obviously an attempt to shut down or regulate the nascent VoIP market. The big phone companies don't want to slash their margins and have to compete with Vonage and the 10-10 numbers on price and value, so they'll do it in the courtroom.

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