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FCC's New Broadband Plan Prioritizes Competition 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the plan-of-the-man dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "The Federal Communications Commission has released an outline of what might be included in its upcoming national broadband plan, and encouraging competition was a top priority. The FCC statement said 'Competition drives innovation and provides consumer choice. Finding ways to better use existing assets, including Universal Service, rights-of-way, spectrum, and others, will be essential to the success of the plan. The limited government funding that is available for broadband would be best used when leveraged with the private sector.' The stimulus plan provided $7.2 billion in broadband grants and $350 million for a broadband mapping program, but also directed the FCC to deliver a national broadband plan to Congress by February 17, 2010."
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FCC's New Broadband Plan Prioritizes Competition

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  • no (Score:-1, Flamebait)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:50PM (#30467830)

    All i hear is TAX TAX TAX SPEND SPEND SPEND. Why should i pay for someone to be hooked up to the internet?

  • Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:51PM (#30467850)

    Didn't we do this in the 90's, throw a lot of money at the providers and all they did was give it out to the shareholders?

    If we do this there had better be significant strings attached.

    --
    BMO

    • Re:Right. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:02PM (#30467944) Journal
      Ideally to the necks of those responsible...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:05PM (#30467982)

      Didn't we do this in the 90's, throw a lot of money at the providers and all they did was give it out to the shareholders?

      If we do this there had better be significant strings attached.

      --
      BMO

      Oh come on man! We need another financial bubble to get the economy going. What better way than to repeat the 90s. AND, it'll give those of us a chance to miss out on all the quick buck making a second time around because we don't have any connecitons.

      Why do I have this urge to go and walk the streets muttering "bullshit! it's all bullshit!" to myself?

    • Re:Right. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:07PM (#30468000)

      Didn't we do this in the 90's, throw a lot of money at the providers and all they did was give it out to the shareholders?

      If we do this there had better be significant strings attached.

      Whoa, whoa, that sounds like socialism. We'll have none of that.

    • Re:Right. (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:08PM (#30468018)

      If we do this there had better be significant strings attached.

      To enforce this, we should only give the money out AFTER the conditions are met. They've been proven untrustworthy, so don't give them anything until they give us something first. Also, that way, anyone can do it, not a single company that gets the contract. Whoever satisfies the requirements first gets paid.

    • Re:Right. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RobinEggs (1453925) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:09PM (#30468032)

      Didn't we do this in the 90's? ... If we do this there had better be significant strings attached.

      Right...give them more money but this time put *strings* on it.

      How about the kind of strings where we send every board member and executive, of any of these companies at any time since we gave them the money *last time*, a notice that they can install what we've already paid for or face federal fraud charges?

      Seriously, I'm not usually a litigious, pseudo-populist dickwad, but a lawsuit or some criminal charges seem completely reasonable here.

      And for fuck sake don't give them *more* money, unless you're okay with literally *training them*, like suggestible little puppy dogs, to defraud taxpayers.

    • by meerling (1487879) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:54PM (#30468350)
      I have to agree, our current crop of company shills have no idea how to actually use the money we (through the government) make available to them unless we give them very specific instructions. Without those instructions, barring any loopholes, they just feather their nests.

      An image of a rabid vulture sitting in a giant pile of down just ran through my mind... Disturbing, yet appropriate...
    • by Glendale2x (210533) <slashdot&ninjamonkey,us> on Thursday December 17, 2009 @03:12AM (#30470222) Homepage

      How about we just don't give them money this time?

    • Re:Right. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by testadicazzo (567430) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @05:57AM (#30471206) Homepage
      I'm annoyed by the mantra:

      Competition drives innovation and provides consumer choice. Finding ways to better use existing assets, including Universal Service, rights-of-way, spectrum, and others, will be essential to the success of the plan. The limited government funding that is available for broadband would be best used when leveraged with the private sector.'

      Blech. Sometimes free markets and competition are the best way to accomplish a social goal. Sometimes they aren't. In particular, rural and poor neighbourhoods, which would profit most from broadband and are most poorly served under the current system, and I don't see shovelling money at providers doing much for that goal. I'd rather see that money used to address the most poorly served areas of the country, and provide some public competition to private provider plans.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:52PM (#30467858)

    Seriously. I'm just waiting on it.

  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:56PM (#30467896)

    When you have an industry with high entry costs due to infrastructure needs, you are going to end up with only a few companies after the shakeout occurs. Therefore, any policy that is designed to enable consumer choice and universal access is only useful to create an environment where competition will briefly flourish before degrading to the same old 2 or 3 dominant companies own the entire market.

    If the government truly wants to encourage competition, they would provide funding to under-performing companies and startups. This would lower the entry costs and provide a balance to the giants who would normally run roughshod over the smaller guys.

    • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @09:59PM (#30467934) Homepage

      If the government truly wants to encourage competition, they would provide funding to under-performing companies and startups.

      Wow. Give money to the companies that perform worst. You know, I'm sure that there's a flaw in that idea somewhere.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:08PM (#30468024)
      I have mod points and was going to mod your post, but I couldn't find the ones that said "idiot" or "silly".
    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:15PM (#30468092) Homepage Journal

      "you are going to end up with only a few companies after the shakeout occurs. "

      Largely because the US has become conditioned to the idea that big companies are good. Globalization is a "good thing" and we want corporations large enough to compete on a global scale. "World class" is a benchmark we use to judge companies.

      My telco serves 4 counties, I think - maybe a 5th. No one has ever heard of it. But, they are successful, in that they attract investors, and they show a profit every year. Rates are mostly competitive with the big companies. Like the big companies, they have a monopoly in their service area. I've come to like them, because I can talk to real people. And, if I ever feel the need to talk eyeball to eyeball with a service rep, it's a short drive over to Lewisville from my house.

      You're right, of course, but it sucks, IMHO

      • by LBt1st (709520) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:55PM (#30468800)

        How long till your telco is bought out by one of the big ones and becomes the local monopoly with horrible rates and service?

        • If they're anything like my cable co, never.

          My cable co has been here longer than I've been alive, they serve 3 counties, provide the highest level of service i've ever had, anywhere i've ever lived. their rates are among the most reasonable i've ever encountered, and i've come to know several people, on all levels of the company, on a personal level.

          Over 30 years, they're not going anywhere. They turn a decent profit every quarter, are constantly expanding their service offerings, increasing broadband speeds, adding more digital and (non-overcompressed) HD, and still offer a decent analog selection.

          I don't think my county would let them sell, even if they sold their networks in the other two counties they service in Ohio; they just have too good of an offering and do a decent amount of good in the community.

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Thursday December 17, 2009 @11:10AM (#30473520) Homepage Journal

          Fair question, I suppose. I really can't answer that. I can tell you, Walnut Hill was here when my father in law's parents had their first telephone installed. Things were kinda wild back in those days - three miles from the Oklahoma border, the various tribes would have a few people go off the reservations, Arkinda was a booming border town with killings every other weekend, an occasional bank robbery, so on and so forth. The big companies provided telephone service to Texarkana, but couldn't see the point in buying all the wire necessary to put in lines to Foreman, Wallace, Arkinda, Winthrop, and other backwoods little holes in the wall, scattered along the rail lines.

          So, some relatively wealthy people got together, sold some bonds, and came up with the money necessary to start stringing wire, and buy a few switchboards.

          They haven't sold out YET!! And, from what I understand, AT&T and Ma Bell tried really, really hard to get this market several times.

          That situation reminds me of something - what could that be? Oh yeah - that infamous last freaking mile that the big telcos are so incapable of providing to rural America. Same deal. They won't invest in the country, they just want the tax breaks, the monopolies, and your money. I can't see people around here approving of a big telco buying away what they are used to.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:36PM (#30468240)

      Or just do what a government is supposed to do - build things like infrastructure, which are too big and expensive to be undertaken efficiently by multiple competing private interests.

    • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:37PM (#30468654)

      IMO, If they want to truly encourage competition, they need to separate content providers from access providers. That will free up access providers to do what they should be doing best. Competing for business at the lowest rate possible. It would also remove some of the political bullshit and insane antics that new entry's in the market have to go through just to be able to drop a single line.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2009 @09:27AM (#30472464)

      The only way everyone wins is if the government controls the infrastructure and the individual companies just lease it as resellers - that way services to remote areas can be secured and one one or two massive corporations can have an effective monopoly in any area because someone smaller, faster and more efficient can always come along and eat their pie.

  • by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:16PM (#30468104) Journal
    Their president has said, [publicknowledge.org] "Nothing in the outline presented this morning would increase competition. Reforming universal service and supporting municipal networks are worthwhile goals, but they would do nothing to reverse the slide caused by eight years of misbegotten telecommunications policies that have crippled most meaningful broadband competition for consumers. There was no discussion of opening telecommunications networks to competitors. There was no discussion of structural separations of carriers into wholesale and retail components. These are the factors that Harvard’s Berkman Center told the FCC in a study a mere two months ago were the reasons other countries have surpassed ours – they are using policies we discarded."
  • by jaryd (1702090) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:25PM (#30468164)
    remind anyone of a bailout?
  • by scorpivs (1408651) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:29PM (#30468192)
    I'd like to see private individuals -- the everyday people who share their wi-fi with their neighborhood -- included among those qualifying for these government-funded 'subsidies.'

    Oops.

    Fixed that for ya.
  • by TopSpin (753) * on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:31PM (#30468208) Journal

    It's very simple: open the lines back up to CLECs. They've been hurt by being shut out for the last decade, but they're still around. They'd be happy to pick up where they left off and resume reselling lines successfully.

    Dumping money on politically important municipalities for "wireless", or something, isn't competition. Competing carriers is competition.

    • by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @05:39PM (#30479662) Homepage

      Not sure how it worked elsewhere, but in Illinois it was very simple. The state mandated the prices that could be charged for lines. Didn't matter that the cost of maintaining the equipment and lines was several times the rate mandated by the state.

      Ameritech, before being bought by SBC had a very simple policy. Since they could not afford to have the lines used at that rate, there were no possibilities of installing third-party equipment. None. Therefore the lines were never utilized at below-oost rates.

      I believe this was the situation in most states. The CLECs could either get a below-cost rate or nothing, so mostly they got nothing. The various regulations that enabled this nonsense were finally repealed and everyone got on with business.

      I am sure we can return to an environment where the ILEC has to provide services to other companies below cost. What is needed is sufficient regulation to ensure that there is no cost-shifting, that there is a minimum number of customers that must be served through this and there are no fees that can be charged to offset the loss. This will force the ILECs out of business pretty quickly. And under those terms, nobody is going to want to pick it up.

  • by jonsmirl (114798) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:31PM (#30468210) Homepage

    FCC Takes on Cable But Not Carriers With National Broadband Plan [gigaom.com]

    The actual presentation from the meeting is included in the article.

    I am anxiously awaiting for this to be approved: "Mandate a home gateway device. Require MVPDs to provide a small, low-cost device whose functionality is to bridge the proprietary MVPD network elements (conditional access, tuning & reception functions) to common, open standard, widely used in home communications interfaces; enables a retail navigation device to operate on all MVPD platforms."

    I'm hoping that means unencrypted channel streams in-house over Ethernet.

  • by g0dsp33d (849253) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @11:56PM (#30468806)
    I really want this to work out. Unfortunately with the US government, this is an investment opportunity for tube manufacturing and installation.
  • ta30 (Score:-1, Offtopic)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:18AM (#30469838)
    lizard - In ot'her as WideOpen, but many find it
  • by dwiget001 (1073738) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @12:34PM (#30474804)

    What we need is a National Broadband Plan.

    We are going to put the U.S. Government in the ISP business to foster competition by those greedy and money grubbing private ISPs.

    The way it works is, the U.S. Government cuts all broadband traffic down to 80 Kbps and then expand the U.S Government broadband bandwidth to 160 Kbps or more.

    ISPs can only offer 160 Kbps or more bandwidth, if their broadband plans meet certain government criteria. However, unlike the current health care reform bill(s) floating around, the ISPs are authorized to A) disconnect anyone even suspected of illegal file sharing or any other reason, as they see fit, B) cut of any and all access to such hate sites as "www.usconstitution.net" and any other sites the current Administration deems "objectionable" and finally, C) dramatically raise prices to help cover the onerous regulation and reporting requirements that result form the National Broadband Plan. The procedures for determining who gets put onto the "No Net List" are classified and by statute are not subject to FOIA laws.

    Oh, and your excise and any other taxes related to accessing the Internat are all being increased 100 percent, across the boards, to help pay for the program. Yeah, we know, sucks to be you, huh?

    Remember, this is helping our children, you money grubbing capitalist pigs!

  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @02:26PM (#30476384) Homepage

    ... is there anything you can't do?

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them. -- Bill Vaughn

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