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Government Networking The Internet United States

FCC Dodges Pointed Questions On US Broadband Plan 276

Posted by kdawson
from the but-thank-you-for-asking dept.
Ars covers a series of questions that US senators put to the FCC chairman following up on his appearance before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in April. The headline question was a blunt one asked by octogenarian Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI): "The National Broadband Plan (NBP) proposes a goal of having 100 million homes subscribed at 100Mbps by 2020, while the leading nations already have 100Mbps fiber-based services at costs of $30 to $40 per month and beginning rollout of 1Gbps residential services, which the FCC suggests is required only for a single anchor institution in each community by 2020. This appears to suggest that the US should accept a 10- to 12-year lag behind the leading nations. What is the FCC's rationale for a vision that appears to be firmly rooted in the second tier of countries?" In the FCC's formal response (PDF), Chairman Genachowski doesn't rise to the "second tier" bait, and in fact talks about "ensuring that America remains a broadband world leader," as if he believes we currently are. A blogger over at Balloon Juice is a little more forthright on the "What is the FCC's rationale" question: "The rationale is that this is the best they can do with a legislative branch in the pocket of telecom providers."
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FCC Dodges Pointed Questions On US Broadband Plan

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  • To be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poet (8021) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:00PM (#32861580) Homepage

    We (the U.S.) is a great deal larger and more spread out than *any* of those other countries. However, it is ridiculous that I can't easily get 100Mbs (compared to other countries) in cities like Portland or Seattle. I would expect to only be able to get 25Mbs where I live (and I can and do), as I am 45 from a major metro.

    • Re:To be fair (Score:5, Interesting)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:28PM (#32861728) Journal

      Likewise it would be ridiculous if I lose my Free TV (via antenna) just because the FCC wants to sell-out to ATT, Verizon, and other megacorps. I can not take credit for these words, since they were written by someone else, but I agree with them wholeheartedly. SOURCE: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=18860552#post1886055 [avsforum.com]

      - "The irony is that if the Bush FCC had dared to push something like this, it would have been attacked by progressives -- and rightly so -- because there's absolutely nothing progressive about this particular proposal. It takes away a free service that is currently enjoyed in at least 15 million households [i.e. 15% of the population], including many who aren't especially well off [poor].

      "And it does so for the purpose of turning that spectrum over to some very, very big telecom companies to either warehouse [i.e. not use and sit idle] or offer expensive subscription services to a mostly well-heeled customer base of Blackberry and iPhone users. [Plus] the stations most likely to lose their spectrum are also those stations that are least likely to be part of any of the big media conglomerates.

      "Which means that ownership diversity also takes a hit if this FCC Plan comes to pass. It's hard for me to find the words to express the level of disgust that I feel for this misbegotten proposal. But I'll certainly cheer when FCC Chair Genachowski goes away (may that happen soon!) -- he's even worse than Michael Powell was, and Powell was pretty awful. Meanwhile, I really miss Kevin Martin, who was something of a loose cannon, but at least he didn't seem to be so totally in the pocket of any particular industry."

      2

      In other words:
      - it hurts the poor
      - it hurts rural residents
      - it add another expensive $1000-2000 annual bill
      - it serves to further consolidate the industry away from private local station, and into the hands of megacorps
      - stifles competition by monopolizing entertainment in even fewer hands (ATT, Verizon) than previously

      • Re:To be fair (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Sepodati (746220) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @05:09PM (#32861930) Homepage

        Eliminating free OTA TV doesn't mean that free services will be eliminated entirely. It could be FCC policy that the new owners of the spectrum subsidize cable or satellite services to offer an entirely free very basic tier. I'd bet that very few of those free OTA TV watchers don't have access to cable or satellite (if they wanted it).

        You have valid points that just need to be taken into consideration in the event of a complete broadcast TV removal. There's no need to waste valuable terrestrial spectrum when your points can be handled through other means, though.

        -John

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Z00L00K (682162)

          And for some users it's not just worth it to step up technology so they may just consider the fact that it may be worth it to just skip the TV and broadband. Sure - hillbillies, but when it starts to feel like the media companies starts to milk you of money and that you need a new TV every two years then it's time to think about it.

          At least ordinary radio isn't digitalized and laden with a subscription fee yet.

          One may wonder if the Amish are the ones that have the best chance to survive a breakdown in socie

          • by Sepodati (746220)

            >> And for some users it's not just worth it to step up
            >> technology so they may just consider the fact that it
            >> may be worth it to just skip the TV and broadband

            I sincerely doubt people making this decision are giving any consideration to the technology involved. They're looking at cost only. And you're right. If the cost is too much, then it won't be worth it for them to "upgrade" to whatever.

            I think there will always be access to free "broadcast" TV, regardless of however that broadcas

          • Re:To be fair (Score:4, Insightful)

            by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @06:06PM (#32862364) Journal

            >>>At least ordinary radio isn't digitalized and laden with a subscription fee yet.

            I concur on the Amish part. The economy collapses and they barely notice; they just keep on planting their food and enjoying life. Most of them are rich compared to most of us (they have half-a-million or more in cash or in the bank). As for Digital Radio no date has been set but I expect the FCC to shutoff analog radio by 2020 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HD_Radio [wikipedia.org]

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              P.S.

              >>>100Mbs

              BTW why do you need 100 Mbit/s? It only takes 5 Mbit/s to carry a MPEG4-encoded HDTV stream; I suppose if you have 3 people in the same house but watching different channels, then you'd need 15 Mbit/s minimum. So what's the 100 Mbit/s line for? (just curious). ----- Plus this broadband plan will be for *wireless* internet and not the answer to your problem. I've never seen a wireless connection that fast. You should be contacting the FCC and saying this plan is unacceptable.

              - And fi

        • >>>There's no need to waste valuable terrestrial spectrum

          I consider handing over Free TV to iPhones and other gadgets to be wasteful. It's no fun watching HDTV on a tiny 3 inch screen, or even a 20 inch laptop. From my viewpoint such a move would be going from Superior to inferior service. (see move below)
          .

          >>>It could be FCC policy that the new owners of the spectrum subsidize cable or satellite services to offer an entirely free very basic tier.

          I'd be okay with that but I bet in practi

          • Re:To be fair (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Sepodati (746220) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @06:12PM (#32862428) Homepage

            Yeah, that'd suck to go from 40 free things to 6-7 free things. I mean, you're entitled that the number of things that you're doing or paying absolutely nothing for shouldn't decrease. We should continue to waste spectrum so your number of free things doesn't change.

            The basic (but not free) tier on Comcast has 100 channels @ $360/yr, btw.

            I think that there's a public interest goal that's met with free TV and radio and that should be maintained. I don't think we need to use the vast amounts of spectrum to maintain it, though.

            -John

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              >>>you're entitled that the number of things

              Yes I am. The electromagnetic spectrum belongs to me and the People in general. The FCC has zero right to take-away OUR common property and lock it up behind a ~$100/month cellphone paywall.
              .

              >>>I don't think we need to use the vast amounts of spectrum to maintain free TV and radio, though.

              Free AM, FM, and TV bands represent less than 2 percent of the total usable spectrum. The word "vast" does not apply. If your precious iGadget or cellphon

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          >>>Eliminating free OTA TV doesn't mean that free services will be eliminated entirely
          .

          True but I don't think it's necessary to eliminate free over-the-air television at all. Here's my broadband plan (note broadband means greater than telephone narrowband) (i.e. >>4000 hertz):

          - Take a page out of the FDR years which mandated telephone companies must wire all homes with telephone lines
          - Update the law so it says telephone companies must provide DSL (or FiOS or equivalent service) to all homes

      • The problem is that you don't appear to truly understand what it means to be "progressive". This type of behavior is the way "progressives" always behave. Check your history, Woodrow Wilson was a "progressive", he helped AT&T start the process of securing its monopoly over telephone service. Then FDR, another "progressive", consolidated monopoly status for AT&T with the Telecommunications Act of 1934. "Progressives" have always preferred having only a few companies dominating an industry to having a
    • No, we are not (Score:5, Informative)

      by copponex (13876) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:38PM (#32861782) Homepage

      Approximately 70% of the American population lives in 1% of it's landmass, which I believe is about 100 metro areas. We are not a rural nation, and haven't been for some time. (Here's an article [time.com] that says 80% of the population lives within metro areas.)

      Norway and Sweden have similar population clusters and sparse country areas, and they have near universal broadband coverage, both wired and wireless. The difference is that they spend more money on investing in infrastructure and less on maintaining an overseas empire and a police state.

      As far as average population density, America has 83 people per square mile, Norway has 32 per square mile, and Sweden has 53 per square mile.

      It's a failure of vision, investment, and will. It has nothing to do with population density.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Average density isn't a useful measure. If you've been out west where things are significantly less dense than on back east, you'd see what I mean. Around here, you might only be 20 miles from another town, but that 20 miles could very easily be through a mountain and often is. And a lot of these communities got to be where they are due to mining. Consequently, you're stuck running wires between them.
        • Re:No, we are not (Score:4, Informative)

          by countertrolling (1585477) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @05:01PM (#32861886) Journal

          If I remember my grade school geography right, the Scandinavian Peninsula isn't exactly flatland...

        • by S.O.B. (136083)

          I get tired of people who pull out one aspect of a coherent statement and think they're clever when they argue that that one aspect, taken out of context, is flawed. How about evaluating the statement as a whole rather than cherry picking your arguments?

        • San Francisco is a clearly defined, densely urbanized area. Yet 100 Mb/s Internet isn't generally available in San Francisco at such modest rates.

        • Do those mountain towns have phones in them? Do they have infrastructure? Yes and Yes! Next excuse.

          Teleco's don't build the infrastructure because then rural customs all of a sudden have a lot of power like switching to Vonage. Why give them something new when they have an existing cash cow the governments already helped them pay for via subsidies, non-compete agreements, and 0 interest financing?

        • by Teun (17872)
          Exactly, that's why copponex starts with describing 70-80% of the US population is living in or near a metropolitan area.
        • ROI (Score:5, Interesting)

          by copponex (13876) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @06:15PM (#32862458) Homepage

          The difference is that American society has been led to believe that the only form of investment that's worth anything is one with a high ROI. Infrastructure simply doesn't work that way.

          Let's say you have a country with one million people, mostly concentrated in a capital city. Let's say the richest 10% of that country mostly live in the capital, and 70% of the population does as well. There is little incentive for a corporation to spend the same amount of money connecting 70% of the population on connecting the other 30%. The ROI is too low.

          Furthermore, they have little incentive to provide a reasonable price to everyone, instead of a high price to the richest 10% who can afford it, and a middle price to the top two quintiles of income, and just forget about the rest. If this were just some luxury product, this is all to be expected, and not exactly harmful to the economy at large. Have a look at any South American country that was forced to follow these stupid rules: a two tier economy, with the top doing extremely well, and 90% wallowing in poverty with little access to infrastructure to help them get out.

          When it comes to infrastructure, privatization is the quickest way to destroy an advancing economy. What if lobbyists decided in the 30s that electrification was a luxury? Or decided that a national road system was a luxury? Without widespread and reliable infrastructure, you simply have no foundation for a good economy. If I want to open a business, the first thing I'm going to look for is the place that has the best infrastructure for it: ports, railroads, reliable electric grid, and of course, a population that can actually do the work.

          In 30 years, if the libertarian pretenders have their way, America will have a lopsided two tier economy, degraded infrastructure, and perhaps less public debt. But not one of the corporations is going to give a shit about the debt. They're going to take one look at our uneducated population, poor internet connectivity, unreliable coal-fired electric grid, and oil-dependent transportation network, and ask if we're willing to work for Ugandan wages, because the Chinese middle class is looking for a new textile manufacturing base.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        >>>Norway and Sweden... spend more money on investing in infrastructure and less on maintaining an overseas empire and a police state.

        Don't they also have tons of oil? So that makes them much richer countries than the US with its 13,200,000,000,000 dollar debt (approximately $130,000 debt per american home). They can afford to ripup old phones lines and laydown shiny-new fiber. We can't.

        Oh and you can't blame all that on the military. The debt grew by ~1.5 trillion since Bush stepped down. The

        • by peragrin (659227)

          yes you can blame the debt on Bush. he passed the laws that took the upper limits off of the debt that clinton had set. Bush took our national debt and added 30% more to it. the 1.5 trillion is small compared to the numbers Bush added.

          Not to mention Bush lied to everyone to get us into iraq. We didn't go there to free the iraqi's, we went for weapons that were never found. Well that's not completely true they did find some weapons. They were labeled Made in the USA and were sold by George Bush and Ron

        • Ahh yes... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by copponex (13876) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @06:28PM (#32862568) Homepage

          Do you really think America has only been spending money on the military since 2008? You know, it's really tough to argue with people whose memories only last an election cycle.

          Do you know what happens when you lower taxes for the wealthy at the same time you start two foreign wars? The economics of this are so basic that it's ridiculous to have to explain further. As McCain would say, before his opinions were no longer allowed by his new campaign managers: "The tax cut is not appropriate until we find out the cost of the war and the cost of reconstruction,"

          Here's fifty years of military waste, presented in video form:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJVUQIwb-iM [youtube.com]

        • Re:No, we are not (Score:4, Insightful)

          by SwedishPenguin (1035756) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @06:53PM (#32862718)

          Norway has tons of oil. Sweden? We've got some wood, and iron...
          You most certainly can afford to lay down fiber, but it's obviously not something you prioritize, just like you can afford to cover your entire populations healthcare needs if it was something your politicians decided was necessary.
          I've got 100Mbps fiber in my apartment. My parents house will get fiber this fall, the former state monopoly (which owns pretty much all the phone infrastructure because of an idiotic decision to sell the infrastructure when the company was privatized) is putting fibers in the existing underground tubes for phone lines. (most phone lines were dug into the ground decades ago, along with electricity)

        • by cynyr (703126)
          The USA also has tons of oil, look at how much BP has spilled into the gulf.
      • Thanks for debunking this usual bullshit.

        Not that I care that much, living in one of those countries with actually decent infrastructure... that's begun to show it's age, unfortunately.

      • Norway and Sweden have similar population clusters and sparse country areas, and they have near universal broadband coverage, both wired and wireless. The difference is that they spend more money on investing in infrastructure and less on maintaining an overseas empire and a police state.

        No the difference is that Norway has a population of less than 5 million and Sweden has a population of less than 10 million while the US has a population of over 300 million. It would be more useful to compare individual states to individual European countries. It would, also, be more useful if Americans would stop worrying about the Internet connection speeds for the whole country and would instead focus on getting the speed up in their own state.

        It's a failure of vision, investment, and will. It has nothing to do with population density.

        No, it has to do with total population, 300 million people

    • Re:To be fair (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:39PM (#32861786) Journal
      Even Seattle, with it's suburban neighborhoods of separated houses is going to have trouble matching Tokyo high-rise apartments, where you can get 1Gb networks in some places.

      The reason slashdot readers have so much trouble with this (and start making up conspiracy theories like the one in the summary) is because the FCC has a different goal than the average slashdot reader. The average slashdot reader wants an OC192 line straight to his house. The FCC wants to give everyone broadband. So if you have 1mb download speeds, you're basically a success case for the FCC, even if you're not happy about it. The FCC is going to try to reach the people still on dial-up (I don't know who that is).

      As you can see from this chart, [internetworldstats.com] the US has more broadband users than any other country in the world. It has a higher percentage of broadband users than even Japan. So as far as the FCC is concerned, their goals are being reached. Your personal goal (and frankly, my personal goal) of getting an OC192 line is not a priority to them. Sorry.
      • by Teun (17872)
        Except for the difference in specification of what is broadband.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        >>>The FCC is going to try to reach the people still on dial-up (I don't know who that is).

        I do. A friend of mine is stuck on dialup (about 45k digital connection). He has both cable and phonelines which could easily be upgraded to Broadband internet (just install a DOCSIS or DSLAM box for ~$100). But they don't. IMHO the Congress needs to mandate that the local phone company must provide that simple upgrade, the same way in the 1930s they mandated the phone company must hook every home to a p

    • by Nyder (754090)

      We (the U.S.) is a great deal larger and more spread out than *any* of those other countries. However, it is ridiculous that I can't easily get 100Mbs (compared to other countries) in cities like Portland or Seattle. I would expect to only be able to get 25Mbs where I live (and I can and do), as I am 45 from a major metro.

      hey, I live in basicly downtown seattle, and I would love 25mbs where I live.

    • by Sparr0 (451780)

      Try again. Depending on whose list you use, somewhere between 25% and 50% of the countries with higher broadband penetration rates than the USA have lower population density.

      And that includes Alaska in the population density statistics.

  • Ummm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:03PM (#32861594)

    No other country that is at the top of the broadband list has 100 million homes.

    http://top10.com/broadband/blog/2010/02/top_10_broadband_countries/ [top10.com]
    http://money.cnn.com/2009/10/01/news/economy/broadband_internet_connection/index.htm [cnn.com]

    It's much easier to throw alot of broadband out when your populations are centralized, or the country is small.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Even so, areas of the US with high population density should have better broadband. They don't. That suggests that there is a more fundamental problem.

      • >>>Even so, areas of the US with high population density should have better broadband. They don't

        An urban legend that keeps getting propagated across slashdot. It's no more real than the "Betamax wouldn't allow porn and that's why it died" urban legend (holds up Playboy on batemax). Let's look at the actual average rates and compare them to our neighbors Europe and Canada:

        Sweden 13 Mbit/s
        DE, Romania,Netherlands,Bulgaria 12
        WA, RI 11
        MA 10
        NJ,VA,NH,NY 9
        British Columbia,CO,CT,AZ, Slovakia 8 Mbit/s

        Noti

        • by cynyr (703126)
          could you do that with cost per Mbps of bandwidth, just to see if those US states are cost competitive?
    • Re:Ummm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:57PM (#32861872) Journal

      Here's my broadband plan (note broadband means any service greater than telephone narrowband signals) (i.e. >>4000 hertz)

      - Take a page out of the FDR years which mandated telephone companies must wire all homes with telephone lines
      - Update the law so it says telephone companies must provide DSL (or FiOS or equivalent service) to all homes by 1/1/2012
      - Use the already-existing Universal Service Fund (USF) to cover the costs

      Done. Since 99.9% of homes have telephone wires running into them, there's no digging required. No manual labor. More disruption. Simply install a ~$100 DSLAM in each neighborhood. Within a year's time, virtually everyone would have access to 1000 kbit/s or more service. That's 20+ times faster than what they had before (28k or 56k).

      Over time those DSL would be phased-out and upgraded to fiber, but as of 2012 the US Congress could claim, "Not one single american citizen is still stuck on dialup."

      • And where is the requirement for the monthly DSL cost to remain the same as voice only? Without that, you're forcing customers who use dialup to double their monthly bill.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          They don't have to sign up, the telco just has to make it available to them.

        • >>>you're forcing

          No you're not.

          First the customers don't have to upgrade to DSL if they think it's too costly. They are welcome to stay on Dialup if they wish. The key is that now they would have a government-mandated CHOICE where they did not have one before. I have a friend who would gladly pay $30 a month to get DSL like I have, but he doesn't have to. Nobody is "forcing" him. He could stay with the $15 dialup he has now. (In fact I have both - DSL for speed and Dialup for backup.)

          Second t

      • by cynyr (703126)
        DSL has a limited range for the analog portion, so if you don't have a box close enough to your home, you still need to string new cable for that to work.
    • OK, then let's just look at the Northeast megalopolis [wikipedia.org], which has roughly 50 million people on 2% of the US territory. You'll still find that broadband rates and penetration are not competitive.
      • I live on one of the "arms" of the NE Megalopolis. I pay just $15 a month. for broadband internet. That's almost as cheap as dialup. How is that not competitive?

    • by nameer (706715)
      Further, these rankings are often based on the OECD data, which is seriously flawed as a ranking mechanism. From Phoenix Center Policy Paper Number 29: The Broadband Performance Index: A Policy-Relevant Method of Comparing Broadband Adoption Among Countries [phoenix-center.org] (emphasis mine)

      A thought experiment can highlight the problems with the OECD's approach. In Table 2, we use OECD data (and some other sources) to show what the OECD broadband rankings would look like in a "Broadband Nirvana"--a situation in which every household and business establishment across the OECD has a broadband connection. One would initially think that in a Broadband Nirvana, every OECD country would be tied for first place, but the per capita method of ranking that the OECD utilizes does not show that result. In fact, in the scenario in which every home in business in the United States and every other OECD country had a broadband connection, the OECD would rank the United States 20th --five spots lower than the United States ranked in December 2006. Moreover, the United States would be further from the top position than it is today (16 percentage points back rather than 11 points back in 2006).

      • >>>in the scenario in which every home in business in the United States and every other OECD country had a broadband connection, the OECD would rank the United States 20th
        >>>

        In other words the OECD lies to make the US look bad. I suspect the same would be true for their healthcare report, where even if Obama's single-payer plan for free healthcare for all had passed, the US would still rank poorly.

    • by dkf (304284)

      No other country that is at the top of the broadband list has 100 million homes.

      So what? Very crudely, the ability of a country to pay for its infrastructure depends on the number of people living there. You've got more people, you need more infrastructure and you've got more who can pay for it. For local-level stuff (which is most of what broadband access is about; the long-range links are mostly there already) it's nearly a linear scaling. There will be variation in service levels - most folks out in the boonies, wherever that is in the world, will get less unless they're lucky - but

  • by ZanySpyDude (1215564) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:03PM (#32861596) Homepage
    I dislike immensely a system that prohibits someone from speaking openly about a nations problems to it's very legislators.
  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:04PM (#32861602) Homepage Journal

    "The rationale is that this is the best they can do with a legislative branch in the pocket of telecom providers."

    *snicker*

    Too bad US Senators are unlikely to read such words themselves. It would be fun to see their reactions at being lambasted for being the corrupt morons they are. I doubt they would change their ways over such accusations, but watching them get all puffy faced and dramatic in their excuses/responses to such outright disrespect would be funnier than most of the crap I can find on TV nowadays.

  • Apples and Oranges (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaggieL (10193) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:04PM (#32861606)

    "Ranking" broadband penetration by comparing countries like Singapore and Finland with the US containing states like Alaska, Kansas and Nevada) is just plain silly. The economics of providing network coverage are insanely sensitive to population density and land area.

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      Kansas: 12.7 KM^2
      Nevada: 9 KM^2
      Finland: 16 KM^2
      Sweden: 20 KM^2

      So cute, Kansas and Nevada are slightly less dense then the high tech countries. But if that argument had any sort of weight, how do you explain:

      USA: 32 KM^2
      New York: 157 KM^2
      Pennsylvania: 105 KM^2
      California: 90 KM^2
      Texas: 30 KM^2

      If population density was so decisive, why doesn't states with up to 10 times the density manage to compete?

      • Population density is only a good estimate of the typical distance between people if the density is homogenous. How are the people distributed in Kansas compared to Finland? If you're a telecom company, you want the number of subscribers per foot of earth dug to be as big as possible. Fiber doesn't cost anywhere near as much as easements.

        Further, it's not fair to compare max available broadband in one country to typical available broadband in another country.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cbope (130292)

      As someone living in Finland... sorry, epic fail. Less than 2% of the landmass of Finland is developed and occupied by humans. We already have 100Mb connections widely available and broadband is a legal right for all citizens. Plus, we have mobile phone coverage of about 98% of the entire country.

      You have a oligopoly problem in the telecom/boradband industry and corrupt politicians that are keeping you in the dark ages. Change the system.

  • USA ROCKS! (Score:4, Funny)

    by jjeffries (17675) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:11PM (#32861638)

    >as if he believes we currently are.

    Whut? The USA is the best, most freest country in the world. We're #1 at everything without even trying! USA! USA! Anyone who doesn't think so is a damn dirty hippy fag druggie terrorist communist and can get the hell out!

    Thank you Jesus! Amen.

    • The scary part is there are people who would say that and not be joking ...

      You are joking right?


      Right?
      • A country that fines people almost $1000 for not "voluntarily" buying hopsital insurance is not a "best" country. Nor it is free.

        What's next? Fines for people that buy normal cars instead of Priuses/hybrids? Fines for people who don't bu life insurance? Fines for people who don't buy a new computer once every year? Once the precedent is set then the idea of fining people can be extended to other facets of life.

      • by cynyr (703126)
        must be, the USA isn't in the world cup final, nor did they do well at the nordic events in the last winter Olympics.
  • Seems like the US has a large monopoly problem over there. While you could argue that because it is two big companies that doesn't make it a monopoly, I would argue that because both of them are completely useless it is as good as having one. I think on all services - telephone, cell, and broadband the US government needs to make it illegal to both own the underlying networks and to provide retail services to end consumes.

    Namely that ISPs have to sell off all of their fiber to someone else and buy it back o

    • by SJ2000 (1128057)

      While you could argue that because it is two big companies that doesn't make it a monopoly...

      Oligopoly [wikipedia.org]

    • Yes but that would require congress to do something and they have no reason to betray the people giving them enormous bags of money on a regular basis, especially since they can just gerrymander elections into doing what they want.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:26PM (#32861720) Homepage

    Other than to distribute TV, what's all that bandwidth for?

    Most slow-loading pages today are server-side problems. Usually some ad server is holding up page loads.

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      Well, HD video streaming does take a ton of bandwidth. Though what I really enjoy with my 100mbs connection is how I can pull down a 10gb game from steam in under an hour or 100mb patches in a minute, though even if you can't think of any bandwidth intensive tasks you want to do I'm sure that some enterprising business will find something for you to spend all that bandwidth on :p

      • >>>Well, HD video streaming does take a ton of bandwidth

        Not really. HDTV uses about 4.5 Mbit/s for MPEG4 video and 9 Mbit/s for MPEG2 video.

    • Think ahead, please.

      Look at how popular handheld wireless devices have become, despite the lack of the bandwidth to support them properly. There's lots that can be done with more bandwidth widely available -- and if it's already available in many places, they'll already be doing it before it's being done in the US.

      • >>>Look at how popular handheld wireless devices have become

        Look at how popular Free TV has become. 15% of the nation watches it, and a lot of them are new viewers due to quitting $80 cable to get an antenna instead. It would be a shame to kill that off and hand it over to cellphones that requires ~$100 a month to steam video off the net, and thereby harms the people who quit cable to try and save money.

    • I live 10 miles outside of Madison, WI, and the best I can get is 600k/s wireless (I could go to 1MB, but thats almost $100/month!). Ad Servers are not my problem. The problem is that ATT doesn't want to upgrade the central office in my town, and won't even tell us how many neighbors have to sign up to get a DSLAM added to a remote site near our 75 houses in our neighborhood. Charter comes within a half mile of us, but they won't tell us what it would take to come out to our neighborhood either.

    • I usually torrent the latest tv-episodes in less than 1 minute. That's why...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:44PM (#32861810)

    This is Cringely's take on broadband and the government (from August 2007)

    http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2007/pulpit_20070810_002683.html

    "The National Information Infrastructure as codified in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 existed on two levels -- federal and state.
    As a federal law, the Act specified certain data services that were to be made available to schools, libraries, hospitals, and public safety agencies
    and paid for through special surcharges and some tax credits."

    "Over the decade from 1994-2004 the major telephone companies profited from higher phone rates paid by all of us, accelerated depreciation
    on their networks, and direct tax credits an average of $2,000 per subscriber for which the companies delivered precisely nothing in terms of
    service to customers. That's $200 billion with nothing to be shown for it."

    "It is on the state level where one can find the greatest excesses of the Telecommunications Act. All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia
    contracted with their local telecommunication utilities for the build-out of fiber and hybrid fiber-coax networks intended to bring bidirectional digital video
    service to millions of homes by the year 2000. The Telecom Act set the mandate but, as it works with phone companies, the details were left to the states.
    Fifty-one plans were laid and 51 plans failed."

    "There are no good guys in this story. Misguided and incompetent regulation combined with utilities that found ways to game the system resulted in what
    had been the best communication system in the world becoming just so-so, though very profitable. We as consumers were consistently sold ideas that
    were impractical only to have those be replaced later by less-ambitious technologies that, in turn, were still under-delivered. Congress set mandates then
    provided little or no oversight. The FCC was (and probably still is) managed for the benefit of the companies and their lobbyists, not for you and me. And the
    upshot is that I could move to Japan and pay $14 per month for 100-megabit-per-second Internet service but I can't do that here and will probably never be able to."

  • by fullback (968784) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:47PM (#32861830)

    The "US is too big" argument is specious. How did Americans ever get telephones, gas and water if the country is too big? Why don't high-density cities have 1st-world Internet speeds?

    Look, I've lived in Japan through all iterations of Internet connectivity, from x.x modems, through ISDN, Adsl and fiber. I don't live in a city, I live an hour drive from a major city, but I've had 100Mbps fiber for eight or nine years now. It's so long ago, I can't remember, but it costs me about the same as a couple of pizzas per month.

    I actually have 1Gbps wired, but I don't need that capacity yet. I have HDTV through my connection and the infrastructure is so solid, I have never had an outage in 15 years - not one. I lived in a rural area 8 years ago and still had 40Mbps Adsl.

    There are few technological or geographical hurdles affecting your Internet connectivity in the US. You have only market hurdles. The biting reality is that local monopolies are stifling the market, as they are intended to do. If you really want state-of-the-art connectivity, you have to embrace a free market. Recall local and state politicians who vote for monopolies, or defeat them in elections by voting in people who will repeal monopoly legislation made in collusion with the provider.

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @05:03PM (#32861898)

      We own a farm that is a 4 hour drive from a major city. At the farm house, they didn't get phone service until the early 1950's and they had a party line until 1990. Electricity came in the 40's, but water is provide by a well and sanitation by a septic tank. Gas has been and is still provided by a propane tank and is filled by trunk once a year (we don't spend much time there after my grand mother died, but still keep the place up as a place to go when we want to get away from the city for a few days or need to do farm business).

      Telecom services eventually do make it out to the rural areas, but it takes time. And by time I'm talking years and sometimes decades. Even cell reception with Verizon can be spotty in places because there is something like 0.4 people per square mile. Rural in Japan is not the same thing as Rural in Kansas or Nebraska or Montana.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by fullback (968784)

        "Rural in Japan is not the same thing as Rural in Kansas or Nebraska or Montana."

        Yes, I agree. I would probably refer to your family farm as "isolated" and not "rural." ;-) Either way, it is near the extreme end of the density chart, and that may be why you don't live there full time.

      • by Teun (17872)
        However interesting your story is, people in situations like yours hardly make a dent in the average for the whole USofA.
      • by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:14PM (#32863568)

        Rural in Japan is not the same thing as Rural in Kansas or Nebraska or Montana.

        No, but URBAN Japan IS a lot like urban New York, urban Chicago, urban San Francisco. And yet, somehow their cities get the same 100Mbps fiber that's OH NOES IMPOSSIBLE! for the U.S.

        One thing this country has become a major producer and exporter of: pathetic excuses.

    • It's interesting that you would cite local monopolies as the problem. What I expected to see in this thread was, "The feds should do more to build a national broadband infrastructure," with the usual assumption that the US federal government is and should be all-powerful and in charge of controlling the economy.

      There might be a valid argument that the Commerce Clause bans state and local governments from imposing regulations that prevent interstate competition, and that such regulations should be struck d
      • by cynyr (703126)
        they basically own the sewers, the water, parts of the electrical grid, the roads, a large number of things. so why not some fiber cables?
  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:59PM (#32861874) Homepage Journal

    Thanks to a marketing mentality, our response to any realisation that we're not doing well is to "declare it ain't so" and toss out distractions until the challenger gives up in exasperation. Any studies to the contrary have enough mud slung at them that the common person won't trust either side and will allow their national pride or other predispositions to decide what they think is real.

    We're not good at looking problems in the face, no matter what their nature.

  • by nhavar (115351) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @05:18PM (#32861964) Homepage

    Why can't we do this in a logical organized manner.

    1. The government builds out infrastructure
    2. The telecoms lease infrastructure
    3. Individuals buy service from the telecoms at a regulated rate
    4. The regulated rate has enough buffer to subsidize service to those under the poverty line
    5. The lease rate has enough buffer to pay for the original build out, maintenance, plus further innovation
    6. Innovation money is funneled back into colleges for research into next gen technologies

    The build out could be done with contractors through the telecoms, or contracted on a state by state basis giving states control of where and when to build but the federal government own the spec of how to build out so that it remains consistent and interoperable from a interstate trade perspective (i.e. some broadband may be shared over boarders like in the case of St. Louis). The telecoms still get to profit from the infrastructure albeit at a reduced profit due to regulation and people below poverty get the opportunity to take part via subsidy, library, schools, etc.,. You could even due partial regulation where it's regulated up until some minimum standard and anything over that is considered "gold plan" allowing the telecoms to charge higher rates for higher usage.

    • by Nyder (754090) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @06:30PM (#32862586) Journal

      Why can't we do this in a logical organized manner.

      1. The government builds out infrastructure
      2. The telecoms lease infrastructure
      3. Individuals buy service from the telecoms at a regulated rate
      4. The regulated rate has enough buffer to subsidize service to those under the poverty line
      5. The lease rate has enough buffer to pay for the original build out, maintenance, plus further innovation
      6. Innovation money is funneled back into colleges for research into next gen technologies

      The build out could be done with contractors through the telecoms, or contracted on a state by state basis giving states control of where and when to build but the federal government own the spec of how to build out so that it remains consistent and interoperable from a interstate trade perspective (i.e. some broadband may be shared over boarders like in the case of St. Louis). The telecoms still get to profit from the infrastructure albeit at a reduced profit due to regulation and people below poverty get the opportunity to take part via subsidy, library, schools, etc.,. You could even due partial regulation where it's regulated up until some minimum standard and anything over that is considered "gold plan" allowing the telecoms to charge higher rates for higher usage.

      How about this. broadband, tv, phone, electricity, water is all taken care of by the government. no private companies trying to make a profit from them. It's part of our rights as american citizens.

      Yes, we would still have to pay for them, as taxes, or whatever. But no middle man trying to profit off people.

      Of course, the biggest problems are corporations. We have to limit their power first.

      • by willy_me (212994)

        How about this. broadband, tv, phone, electricity, water is all taken care of by the government. no private companies trying to make a profit from them. It's part of our rights as american citizens.

        But then you lose all competition. The costs would rise and eventually exceed those charged by the greedy corporations.

        Now I'm all for the government building the infrastructure - just so long as they do not actually do the work themselves. Let them contract out - and ensure there is some diversity in handing out the contracts so that competition remains healthy.

        With the government (ie, us) owning the infrastructure we can ensure that people will not be stuck with only one provider. The data might a

    • Short answer: because someone in the telecom industry doesn't get a bigger bonus.
  • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday July 10, 2010 @05:24PM (#32862006) Homepage

    Claiming US is a broadband world leader is complete and utter bull and quite well shows the ignorance of the speaker. Even Finland isn't at the top but still we have a broadband coverage of about 90% of the whole country, including rural areas, and the downtimes in broadband services are rare and don't last long.

    There was discussion about this on OSNews a while back and I think it was South Korea where a 100mbit/s broadband connection costs like 10 euro/month, and it covers the whole country. THAT'S more like a broadband world leader tbh.

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