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Communications Government The Internet

FCC Considers Opening Up US Broadband Access 253

Posted by kdawson
from the let-slip-the-dogs-of-the-market dept.
An anonymous reader writes On October 14, the FCC issued a call for public comments on a study (PDF) done by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society about whether the US should require the telephone and cable companies to open their networks to competitors so that independent ISPs could begin offering broadband, much in the way it was done back in the days of dialup access. The study found that open-access in virtually every other country 'is playing a central role in current planning exercises throughout the highest performing countries,' noting: 'While Congress adopted various open access provisions in the almost unanimously-approved Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC decided to abandon this mode of regulation for broadband in a series of decisions in 2001 and 2002. Open access has been largely treated as a closed issue in US policy debates ever since. We find that in countries where an engaged regulator enforced open access obligations, competitors that entered using these open access facilities provided an important catalyst for the development of robust competition which, in most cases, contributed to strong broadband performance across a range of metrics.'"
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FCC Considers Opening Up US Broadband Access

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  • Not sure (Score:2, Funny)

    by mfh (56)

    so that independent ISPs could begin offering broadband, much in the way it was done back in the days of dialup access

    I'm not sure that a charge-by-minute scenario for high-speed is really in my best interest.

    • Re:Not sure (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ironsides (739422) on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:47AM (#29767977) Homepage Journal
      I'm also not sure a return to the time when the company that runs the physical layer has no reason to upgrade to allow more bandwidth is in our best interest.
      • Re:Not sure (Score:4, Insightful)

        by rotide (1015173) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:01AM (#29768125)

        Are you sure they are upgrading bandwidth now, for _our_ best interests?

        At least if there is competition the old monopoly will have to come up with some reason to choose them over the next guy.

        • Are you sure a company ever does anything, for _our_ best interests?

          There, FIFY. =)

          • by poetmatt (793785)

            occasionally companies do know to do so. [techdirt.com] Very very occasionally, and spoken as opposed to actually being done, as dell is hardly a customer friendly company.

            • by EvilRyry (1025309)

              They (Dell) are actually pretty friendly if you buy enough stuff from them as a mid-large business.

              However Dell is quite different from the average teleco in that they actually have competition. Going off the example in the link, if Dell decided they didn't want to sell servers with virtualization solutions, I would leave and buy my stuff elsewhere. However, if Time Warner decided they didn't want to allow 3rd party VoIP I wouldn't have much choice but to accept it since I really need broadband and Time Wa

          • by Afforess (1310263)
            Well duh. Companies aren't started to help people, they are started to earn money. If it's helping people you want, it's Non-Profits that you're after.

            Personally, I would be very afraid of any company that supposedly exists to only help people. Ulterior Motives would probably exist then.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Dragonslicer (991472)
              Believe it or not, it is possible for a company to earn money by providing useful goods or services to its customers instead of shafting them. It's just unfortunate that most large companies go the shaft-them route.
        • Re:Not sure (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Forge (2456) <kevinforge.gmail@com> on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:52AM (#29768705) Homepage Journal
          Americans simply don't understand how bad they have it. Right now, I pay $22 per month for 2MB DSL in Jamaica. I can get 16MB Cable for $30 but decided I need the extra bandwidth less than I need the $8. Either way, it's free modem and 3 month or shorter initial contract. This is in Jamaica, a "3rd World country".

          Meanwhile I am shopping for internet in Southern NJ and haven't been able to find anything close to that price range. Sure I can get 30MB access for $65, but that's like buying a 40 seat bus to carry your family of 4. More than you need is great if you don't have to pay for the extra.

          And for those who are wondering why an old Slashdoter would ever think he doesn't need more than 2MB. I work at an ISP, I have a pretty good idea about internet usage patterns and I know that my own pattern is such that I stop using the extra speed once I get past 768K. There was a time when I needed more. Not now.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by BikeHelmet (1437881)

            I'm in Canada. I pay $30/mo for 3mbit/512kbit ADSL, with a 200GB cap. The cap came in really handy when one of my HDDs died, and I had to re-download a lot of steam games.

            Canada has had such a law for a long time. After all - the major backbones were funded by the government, and therefore taxpayers, so why should we be locked in to monopolies? Unfortunately for us, just as the US is considering such a law, Canada is considering revoking it [consumersf...tition.com].

            Sure I can get 30MB access for $65, but that's like buying a 40 seat bus to carry your family of 4. More than you need is great if you don't have to pay for the extra.

            Right now you can get 3-6mbit ADSL for $30/mo without a contract. W

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jaypifer (64463)
          The problem here is that there won't really ever be any competition for the underlying hardware. How many broadband connection does everyone have coming into their home (and how many do we want)?

          The infrastructure really is a natural monopoly and the "choice" of ISP running on top of the infrastructure is just a thin veneer of competition.

          I partly wish that the government would just take over the infrastructure and eliminate the suggestion that there is competition in the sector.
      • and my costs will go up remarkably.

        Like my gas costs, where the old company that got forced to become just a carrier and could not sell gas to me suddenly is half my bill in summer. Now I have this nice maintenance and transport charge for the gas which is a flat fee +some if I go over some mystical limit that stresses the pipes I guess.

        Meaning in summer half if not three fourths of my bill is paying the transport layer and very little goes to actual gas or the person who bills me. Yeah, I can't wait.

        It s

        • + like 5000

          I paid ~20$ a month in fees (including my favorite 8$ convience fee), and about 0$ a month in gas for about 8 months of the year. As I live in Georgia, and I only had gas heat.

          I was thinking about getting my gas disconnected and reconnected every winter, but I can't lock in a decent rate that way. And I pay ~75$ to disconnect (i.e. turn a valve, meter is electronic), and then 75$ to reconnect (turn the valve back on), and another 40$ account setup fee.

          And there really weren't better options
        • Like my gas costs, where the old company that got forced to become just a carrier and could not sell gas to me suddenly is half my bill in summer. Now I have this nice maintenance and transport charge for the gas which is a flat fee +some if I go over some mystical limit that stresses the pipes I guess.

          Meaning in summer half if not three fourths of my bill is paying the transport layer and very little goes to actual gas or the person who bills me.

          Have you considered that such a split of the cost might be because most of the expense is in maintaining the pipes and other delivery infrastructure, and the actual raw material is a fairly low percentage of the cost of delivery?

      • Re:Not sure (Score:5, Insightful)

        by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:14AM (#29768277)

        The point of having a different company run the physical layer is that anyone can build a new line, and rent it out to any ISP at a fair rate. As it is, we have mutually exclusive lines, owned by only one or two companies in most towns. So they're happy to add more bandwidth, but they don't have to because you don't have the option of using someone else's cable. The value behind this is that it doesn't matter who runs the physical layer, anyone can build new lines and sell them to multiple providers. As it is, if you build a new line, you can only sell to the company that runs the physical layer (which is also the company that runs the upper layer.)

        • Re:Not sure (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Bright Apollo (988736) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:57AM (#29768779) Journal

          mod +1 insightful and correct: infrastructure is defined as the basis for an economy and society. It is not in public interest to run more than one gas line, water supply line, or sewer line. It is impossible to run separate highways -- and outsourcing mgmt of same is proving as ridiculous as govt mgmt -- so why then do we allow the pretense of the last mile?

          The problem is a historical outsourcing of this infrastructure component to a regulated monopoly (AT&T). NYC circa 1911 had hundreds of indie wires connecting buildings; granting a monopoly to AT&T with open-access covenants solved this and cleaned up the problem. Today, the problem is largely solved but the divorce of managing the infrastructure versus providing services on it did not take place. In other words, break up Verizon and SBC and every other last-mile provider, separating the physical transport from the value-added services.

          Just think of it this way: Verizon or some other company contracts with a muni or county to provide last-mile service. Taxes pay for the connectivity, the wires, the fiber, what have you. Verizon provides -- and only provides -- a central office space with connections to the local infrastructure. Your services are provided by people leasing space in the CO and interconnecting. Last mile is provided by your town or county. Services are provided by whoever can lease a spot on the floor and cover operating costs.

          I mean, we don't run Main Street any differently, do we?

          -BA

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Belial6 (794905)
            The idea that only one last mile provider is a large part of why we have the problems we have. Running cable is pretty cheap, and takes up very little space. The big costs in getting multiple data lines to the home is not in the cable itself. It is in all of the associated costs around eminent domain, digging up streets, and such. As you have already pointed out, cities already have experience in supply a pipe to our homes. Yes, I mean an actual, honest to goodness pipe. Most homes in cities actually
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by cayenne8 (626475)
              "The idea that only one last mile provider is a large part of why we have the problems we have. Running cable is pretty cheap, and takes up very little space. The big costs in getting multiple data lines to the home is not in the cable itself. It is in all of the associated costs around eminent domain, digging up streets, and such. As you have already pointed out, cities already have experience in supply a pipe to our homes. Yes, I mean an actual, honest to goodness pipe. Most homes in cities actually have
              • Re:Not sure (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Belial6 (794905) on Friday October 16, 2009 @02:49PM (#29772207)
                You are too stuck in the self destructive monopoly run mindset to understand what I just said. No, the government should NOT provide data services. the government should provide a pipe to each home. I mean a real honest to goodness cylinder. When I say like your sewer line, I mean LIKE YOUR SEWER LINE. A pipe about the same size would be just fine to allow several dozen different companies pull cables into your home. Local governments know how to run pipes to homes. They do not know how to run data lines to homes. A pipe is a low tech device that would not need to be changed for at least a hundred years. Data lines are high tech, and need to be upgraded regularly.

                Again, the word "PIPE" is being used literally as a in the same kind of pipe that the city runs water and sewer through. "PIPE" in this context is NOT a euphemism for a data cable.
        • I've noticed many cases where the physical line owned by the local provider is capable of MUCH MORE bandwidth than they're willing to sell. They simply refuse to sell you the faster connection.

          AT&T is a good example. With ADSL2 my current pair is rated at being able to go up to nearly 20 megabits down and 2 megabits up. Yet they will only sell me 6 megabits down and HALF a megabit up.

          Allowing competition in this area would rock; it wouldn't be long before another provider offers the higher speeds on AT

        • by Bruha (412869)

          Running new lines means, bargaining with every municipality you come across, then burying the actual lines, paying for any damages you cause etc etc.

          Take the Dallas Ft Worth Area in Texas. Keller might let you run the lines, but Watuga or Roanoke could say no, and Westlake Could say yes. What good is that? Not to mention most of those cities will ask for a "donation" of some sort which makes it even more expensive.

          There is absolutely no venture capital for this sort of thing at all. Anyone who thinks th

      • Re:Not sure (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SleepingWaterBear (1152169) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:20AM (#29768325)

        I'm also not sure a return to the time when the company that runs the physical layer has no reason to upgrade to allow more bandwidth is in our best interest.

        'return to'? As far as I can tell, in most places the company running the physical layer already has no incentive to upgrade since he faces no competition. Generally speaking I'm all for a free market, but in cases where the entry costs are so high as to make new entry impractical free market capitalism breaks down, and the government needs to intervene. About the least intrusive way the government can intervene here is to make sure the entry costs to competitors are low, and it seems to be working pretty well everywhere they've tried it.

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          but in cases where the entry costs are so high as to make new entry impractical free market capitalism breaks down, and the government needs to intervene.

          Government intervention is the reason that free market capitalism has broken down. Nobody even gets to try to come up with the entry costs because there's no point -- not when Government has already granted an exclusive monopoly to another company.

          • Re:Not sure (Score:5, Insightful)

            by gtall (79522) on Friday October 16, 2009 @10:28AM (#29769155)

            Government intervention CAN be A reason free market capitalism SOMETIMES broken down. Ever tried to compete against Microsoft in the free market? Yep, that knife in your back hurts, doesn't it. Government regulation is what helps keeps bad pharmaceuticals off the "free market". Now, we could let the market decide, after awhile...when enough people have died...the company pushing the bad drugs gets no customers. This is a case of the free market not putting a value on human life that most of us, at those of us who aren't free market nutjobs, would like it to. There are many other examples.

            The "free" in free market refers to freedom of entry and exit, it doesn't necessarily refer to freedom from government regulation. Government regulation is necessary because of monopolies although lately it seems to have fallen off the job. The reason the economy went over the cliff wasn't because of regulation, it was pure capitalistic greed. More regulation is necessary or else we wind up again in the situation where companies are too big to be allowed to fail. Here again, the free market is not valuing competition the way we need it to.

            • by Shakrai (717556)

              . Government regulation is what helps keeps bad pharmaceuticals off the "free market".

              Yeah, if it wasn't for Government we might have drugs on the marketplace that caused heart attacks [wikipedia.org] or something.

              Government regulation is necessary because of monopolies although lately it seems to have fallen off the job.

              I don't think you read what I wrote. I was complaining about monopolies that are issued and backed up by the Government, i.e: cable & telephone franchise agreements. I was not complaining about regulation. That's a separate issue. If you hate monopolies so much then why aren't you down at your local city hall demanding that they end the practice of granting them?

              More regulation is necessary or else we wind up again in the situation where companies are too big to be allowed to fail.

              Interestingly enough the

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by gtall (79522)

                Yeah, if it wasn't for Government we might have drugs on the marketplace that caused heart attacks [wikipedia.org] or something.

                I never said the government was perfect. However, if you wish to see what it would be like without government regulation, take the bad drugs that manage to slip by and multiply that by the number of nice upstanding organizations pushing those remedies on the infomercials. I like the ones with the LEDs for curing muscle pain the best.

                I don't think you read what I wrote. I was complaining about monopolies that are issued and backed up by the Government, i.e: cable & telephone franchise agreements. I was not complaining about regulation. That's a separate issue. If you hate monopolies so much then why aren't you down at your local city hall demanding that they end the practice of granting them?

                I'm against monopolies too regardless of how they got created. I only said "Government intervention CAN be A reason free market capitalism SOMETIMES broken (ack: breaks) down".

          • Government intervention is the reason that free market capitalism has broken down. Nobody even gets to try to come up with the entry costs because there's no point -- not when Government has already granted an exclusive monopoly to another company.

            While that's true in general, it doesn't hold up as well when you're dealing with something that's restricted by the physical world. Roads, sewers, and power delivery are natural monopolies, since you can only have one or very few of each in any given location. In some cases where you can have more than one competitor, such as power delivery or Internet connectivity, bringing in new competitors is highly disruptive to people that live nearby, since it involves a fairly large amount of construction to tear u

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by NeutronCowboy (896098)

            Oh for fuck's sake. Stop, please stop. Really. You're failing Econ 101 and business development.

            There are such things as natural monopolies. Specifically, natural monopolies occur in markets where there is a very high barrier to entry with an existing player. One example would be any market requiring massive infrastructure investments up front... like, I don't know, the telecom market. Wiring something like the US with high-speed cabling - or heck, California for that matter- requires several billion dollar

      • Re:Not sure (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:56AM (#29768765)

        Yet during the time when we did do that, they were upgrading, consumers were getting more options and more services, and costs were competitive. Since they closed out that requirement, we've receded back to the point where we're only able to get the service the telco chooses to offer, and they have absolutely no incentive to upgrade because there's no reason to.

      • Re:Not sure (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ElSupreme (1217088) on Friday October 16, 2009 @10:15AM (#29768997)
        Not to mention that the single company running the physical layer is already GROSSLY OVERSELLING the existing bandwidth. How can they sell what they have already OVERSOLD.
      • I'm also not sure a return to the time when the company that runs the physical layer has no reason to upgrade to allow more bandwidth is in our best interest.

        Why wouldn't "get more money from renting more bandwidth out" not work? I assume that the laws makes it possible to run the physical network at a profit.

        Anyway, it seems to work well here in DK (I believe we have about 3-4 backbones, with various coverages, plus some wireless offerings).

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        I'm also not sure a return to the time when the company that runs the physical layer has no reason to upgrade to allow more bandwidth is in our best interest.

        There is an incredibly simple market solution for this. Eliminate the advertising of "unlimited" when it really means "limited". If they simply sold tiered access, with full and simple disclosure, the money could flow to the higher tiers as the users increase their appetite for bits. Let the free market flow the cash to those who provision more bandwid

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Huh? I've never seen a landline company charge by the minute, except for long distance. Back in the BBS day there were a dozen free BBSes here at least, and this is a small city.

      Back then it was absolutely free. My first dialup ISP charged me $12 a month. I have no idea what you're talking about.

  • Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SeeSp0tRun (1270464) on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:39AM (#29767921) Journal
    It is bad enough that we pay astronomical amounts just for internet access. This will be a great opportunity for competition, and an overall better product.

    The government has say in certain things like trash collection for efficiency. Internet access has become such a commodity in the modern world that allowing competition can only broaden our capabilities. Oh, and knock some off my bill every month!
    One question: who do the new warrants go to for interceptions? The provider or the infrastructure provider?
    • What do they need the warrant for?
    • by MikeURL (890801)
      Make the tubes a commodity with a reliable profit margin and then allow everything else to build on top of that as long as they can pay for the bandwidth they use. It is just common sense and YES it means we have to move more toward a model where you pay for what you use. But really, is that SO scary? Seriously, how much porn do you need to download. How many movies do you need to download? If the answer is "a lot" then yeah you should pay more. So what.

      At least if we can separate the physical laye
    • by Shakrai (717556)

      The government has say in certain things like trash collection for efficiency.

      You think government picking up the trash makes it more efficient? What planet do you live on?

      My home town has a mixture of communities with public and private trash pick-up. Follow the two garbage trucks around and you'll soon learn the difference between the two. The public trucks require three men and plod along at a leisurely pace. The driver sits in the cab the whole time and does nothing but drive. The private trucks work with two men, the driver gets out and helps and they manage to move at a m

  • Canada (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:42AM (#29767935)
    This is a practice Canada currently uses. And we are ditching it. Estimates are that prices will almost double and dozens of companies will go broke as a bell monopoly forms and dominates the ISP market in Canada. Its like doomsday.

    I think it is safe to say that if the US implements it you will see lots of competition and halving of prices if this is implemented in the US. The idea that all countries don't do this is ridiculous. And the only people it hurts are entrenched corrupt monopolists.

    Which is why it probably won't happen.
    • by Ironsides (739422)
      Why would bell have a monopoly? Didn't anyone else lay cable for internet? Or did Canada give Bell a monopoly on physical lines?
      • Bell's network was laid using federal money. The network was handed over to Bell in exchange for an agreement that forced Bell to re-sell bandwidth because the network was built with taxpayer dollars. The population density is much lower in Canada so nation-wide infrastructure projects often have to be backed by the federal government to be a worthwhile investment.
        • by Yvan256 (722131)

          Except that now the big companies are buying all the smaller companies. Telebec, for example, is now part of Bell Aliant [bellaliant.ca].

          So the monopoly is coming back, except this time the CRTC seems to be turning a blind eye.

    • Canada has relatively lax regulations as compared to most European countries and it has been a huge damper on innovation and competition. Bandwidth is required to be sold wholesale to smaller providers but wholesale costs are allowed to be much higher than in Europe, and yes, the CRTC is considering lifting what meager regulations we have. It may well be a disaster for broadband prices and speeds and we already have some of the worst in the developed world

      It's important to recognize that in Canada the netwo

    • by Malc (1751)

      A wholesale business was never enforced on the non-telcos. In some places, it's a choice of Rogers or DSL. If your lines aren't good enough, then tough, you don't have a choice and have to pick one of the crappest ISPs.

  • by vekrander (1400525) on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:42AM (#29767939)

    a-compelling-study-on-a-slow-moving-possible-future-outbreak-of-common-sense

    • I'm going to go with 'goodluckwiththat'. As long as Telecoms have lobbyists who contribute huge amounts of money to the campaigns of politicians who greatly desire money, I'm not holding my breath that laws like this will easily pass.
  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:43AM (#29767947)
    I've got to say that--for all the many, many other ways the Obama administration has disappointed me and failed to delivery--the recent changes at the FCC and it's new more pro-consumer bent has truly pleasantly surprised me. Between pro-consumer moves like this, their slap down [latimes.com] of Apple/AT&T, and their support [latimes.com] of net neutrality, they're taking a remarkably progressive (and sorely needed) approach to communications issues. It's too bad the telecommunications giants will probably just bring in their many whores in Congress to pass laws to override the FCC in the end.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is a great idea, implemented badly. So badly that I suspect we would be better off doing nothing. This is, unfortunately, the problem I have with a lot of Obama's agenda, which is incredibly frustrating.

      The correct solution, in my mind, is for the government to become the infrastructure owner for, at the very least, the last mile. The government needs to build an adequate pipe to every single house and run them all back to regional colos owned and operated by the government. In cases where there al

  • Cell phones? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mekkah (1651935) on Friday October 16, 2009 @08:51AM (#29767999) Journal
    Can they do this with cell phone networks too? Not only to stop the Verizon "Can you hear me now", but I imagine that would focus on better phones rather than commercials about a fscking map.

    Just wonderin'
  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:00AM (#29768113)

    Funny story. When I first got DSL, back in 1999 or 2000, I (a) really wanted to stick with my cool existing dialup ISP, and (b) really wanted a static IP. My landline provider, Verizon, was happy to sell me DSL for $49/mo, but with dynamic IP and none of the awesomeness my current ISP provided (static IP, shell access to the email/Web host, etc, etc). Fortunately, thanks to the laws then in place, my ISP was able to offer DSL access over my Verizon line -- still giving me static IP, and letting me keep my existing accounts, all at the same $49/mo.

    UNfortunately, Verizon back-charged my ISP something like $32.50/mo. for DSL access, so my ISP was suddenly getting $17.50/mo from me for an always-on DSL line's worth of traffic, where before they'd been getting $25/mo for a most-of-the-time-on dial-up connection's worth of traffic. They got to keep a faithful customer, so yay, but they lost revenue and increased expenses. I'm not sure how many others followed in my footsteps, or how much of a difference it made to the company, but they finally folded up and stole away in the wake of an ice-storm in 2002.

    So, open access sounds like a great thing for consumers -- assuming the entrenched monopolists/duopolists can't find a way to make it economically untenable, while still complying with the letter of the law. Of course, the only way that could happen is if the telcos and cablecos could somehow exert influence over the content of said law. Good thing that never happens.

  • Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:00AM (#29768117)
    Wait... Are they trying to say ... that competition is ... good? What a novel idea! Why didn't someone think of that sooner!

    sigh...
  • by R2.0 (532027) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:05AM (#29768173)

    Open access already is required by law, but the FCC isn't enforcing it. Why? Well, getting past the "It's all Bush's fault" crowd, the law was so poorly written that it was practically unenforceable. The ILECs "opened" their lines to competitors, and then used paperwork, "reasonable" delays, and low level sabotage to ensure that their competitors didn't keep the clients they could get.

    The problem isn't the FCC; the problem is a Congress that writes laws consist of

    1) broad but vague edicts that are left to the Executive branch to complete ("Stimulus" Plan), and
    2) "Disease of the Week" laws that are extremely narrow in response to whatever is in the news right now (banning ANY lead in childrens' items, no matter the exposure risk).

    • The ILECs "opened" their lines to competitors, and then used paperwork, "reasonable" delays, and low level sabotage to ensure that their competitors didn't keep the clients they could get.

      Ain't that the truth. I worked for a CLEC around '99-2000, and the ILECs were an absolute nightmare to deal with, even when they were technically complying with the laws. For example, they had something like a 60 day window to handle requests that we submitted to them. 30? 60? I forget, but we'll go with 60 for illustration. In this case, "handle" doesn't mean "complete" - it just meant that they had to act on it in some way.

      So, a new customer would sign up for our DSL service. We'd fire off a work o

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk (75490)

      Imagine a law stating that every grocery store must allow other grocery stores to have stalls within their own store. That would present a bizarre conflict of interest because they must help their competitors... and on their own property.

      This is what the current "open access" laws do. A telco who owns wires must allow another telco, who has no wires, to provide a competing service over their own wires. That's just plain silly. We need to go the next step, and establish telephone/ISP service providers, a

  • by _LORAX_ (4790)

    Open access is just a short term solution at best, a sham at worst; as long as the media conglomerates own and operate the "last mile" infrastructure they will always have a competitive advantage in delivering services. Open access works best in those other counties because the delivery system is often owned by the govt or a non-profit, not someone who is competing with others to provide service.

  • ... to make it more effective.

    Don't the telcos in the US wholesale their DSL business to third parties already? Yes, I realise that DSL isn't the only way to connect to the net.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:23AM (#29768351) Homepage

    OK, who are you going to believe: Harvard, Adam Smith, and a bunch of empirical evidence, or the oligopolists who have monopoly rents to defend? Competition never did anything good for anyone who was in charge of an existing monopoly. Competition may be one of the fundamental tenets of free market capitalism, and may be a principle requirement for maximization of both GDP and a society's ability to satisfy wants, but it simply does not guarantee those who have attained wealth and power that they will be able to continue their acquisition of it without trying very hard.

    Ask yourself what is really important here: The principles of economics which are supposed to be the bedrock of our superpower status, or the rights of a few CEOs to do a poor job and charge whatever they want?

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:27AM (#29768387) Homepage

    Let me remind everyone of how things were back in the golden age of the internet.

    You had dozens of ISPs to choose from. In a major city, perhaps hundreds. You could instruct your computer to connect to any one of those ISPs, regardless of who was your local telephone company. If you didn't like your ISP, then you could switch to another one that same day. No installers, no custom modems rented from the phone company or ISP. Just a standard device.

    Back then, we never worried about network neutrality, or traffic filtering, or censorship. There were no sites like ESPN that could only be accessed by certain ISPs. Internet was really really really cheap ($9.99) and "unlimited" really was unlimited.

    The reason things changed is because when we used dial-up over telephones, phone companies were legally required to be neutral carriers. When we switched to broadband that was no longer the case. Basically, the phone companies found a legal loophole that killed competition. It has taken congress and the FCC 10 years to understand this. Hopefully they won't get lobbied by the new oligarchy and kill this proposal to fix things.

  • Yes! PLEASE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eples (239989) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:27AM (#29768391)
    Verizon installed a fiber node this past year in my neighborhood, yet I cannot get FiOS because "it's not done".
    To make matters worse, I cannot use my preferred ISP (Speakeasy) because of the infrastructure hurdle mentioned above.


    In my mind, this is anti-competitive behavior by a monopoly (Verizon, obviously) to prevent me from choosing a different ISP. I really wish I could because Verizon's service and reliability is absolutely horrible.

    One point of irony in all of this is that when the Verizon tech tested the copper line, the automated voice is still "Welcome to Bell Atlantic", the PREVIOUS established monopoly. (and it was James Earl Jones' voice no less.)


    As Nobel Laureate Dr. Paul Krugman noted today in his column, competition is always a good thing [nytimes.com].
    • by geekoid (135745)

      What area are you in? I have Verizon and have never been happier with an ISP.
      I have had them for years and have need to make 1 phone call for a problem when the first set up DSL. An issue that turned out to be a neighborhood problem they fixed in an hour.

      The only other problem I had is when they laid fiber they broke my sprinklers. Something they fixed very quickly.

      In fact, when I had DSL they had a 14.99 a month special, one they extended to me even though my current contract was 24.99. The applied it auto

  • MIND BLOW! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AtomicDevice (926814) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:34AM (#29768477)
    So wait, what you're saying is that lines which were built with huge amounts of public money, by companies with a publicly mandated monopoly should be... open? to the public?

    This is gonna blow my mind to chunks to the milky way.

    What we (the people) should do is tell comcast and ted turner to go suck a fat one, take back the lines that we paid for, and turn them over to co-ops who actually want to give us better service at a lower price.
  • by Terje Mathisen (128806) on Friday October 16, 2009 @09:35AM (#29768491)

    Norway, Finland, Sweden & Denmark are all among the top nations in the world, for both cell phone & broadband coverage, and among the lowest prices in the world for cell phone use.

    A key part of bringing this about here in Norway has been that the physical access layer ("last mile copper"/gsm cells) has to be available to competitors, with government-controlled rates.

    I.e. when I got ADSL about 8 years ago, I got it from NextGenTel, a competitor to Telenor who owns my regular phone circuit.

    On the GSM side we have two physical operators (Telenor and Netcom), both my kids get their cell phone service from one of many virtual operators (Tele2) which uses the Netcom infrastructure. Their monthly bills are usually so low that the operator will wait 3 months between each bill to reduce billing overhead. (I'm paying less than $10/month for each of them.)

    Tele2 btw used to be based on the Telenor network, they got an even better deal (i.e. probably lower than government-mandated rates) from Netcom so overnight they simply moved everything across. My kids had to reset their phones to reconnect to the new set of towers, everything else just worked.

    Terje

  • I must be missing something here.

    Those who "provide broadband" are the physical infrastructure providers (allowing for minimal software layers regarding static/dynamic IP addressing, mundane access control, etc.); this is not the same as what many deem "ISP"s to wit email service, web hosting, etc. It's the difference between who paves & maintains the road to your mailbox vs. who picks up your trash. Back in the "golden age of the internet [where] you had dozens of ISPs to choose from" it was the phone

  • The only reasonable way to make this work is to force the companies involved to break up. The physical plant and the services MUST be separate companies with no special treatment for anyone. The owner of the physical network sells bandwidth to all comers at the same rate, and that is ALL they do. Data from A to B, charged either by rate-limit or per GB with the same price no matter who comes asking. I should be able to get the same rate for a connection as a Fortune 100 company. That will level the playing

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