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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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  • No, we are not (Score:5, Informative)

    by copponex (13876) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @03:38PM (#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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @03:44PM (#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."

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

    by countertrolling (1585477) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:01PM (#32861886) Journal

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

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

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily&gmail,com> on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:20PM (#32861978)

    The US really isn't that far behind when compared to other continent-spanning federations:

    Except, you're behind Russia, and you just showed that Romania is better equipped than New York. Considering the respective living standards, I can't say I agree with your conclusion.

    Not to mention how misguided it is to correlate physical distances and connectivity. You're behind Russia. Who won the cold war, again?

  • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie.hotmail@com> on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:24PM (#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.

  • Re:To be fair (Score:3, Informative)

    by vtcodger (957785) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @05:07PM (#32862372)

    ***...New Hampshire... 9 Mbit/s***

    In your dreams ... Maybe in parts of Concord and the Southern tier cities that are part of the Boston metro area. In rural New Hampshire? Not a chance. US broadband figures remain -- as they have been for two decades, a work of fiction. Even the FCC admits in its better moments that their broadband penetration data has essentially no connection with reality. "Stunningly meaningless" is the term they used a couple of years ago.

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080319/164249588.shtml [techdirt.com]

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

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:46PM (#32864006) Journal

    >>>Did I miss that in the Constitution or in the UN list of human rights?

    Yes you did. Also the Declaration of Independence. ALL things belong to the People and ALL authority derives from the People. "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People." "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." - I could also quote the 50 Member State constitutions which include similar observations/laws but I'll just stop there.

    The roads are common property of the People. The air is common property of the People. And so too are the airwaves which carry radio, television, cellphones, et cetera part of the common property of the People. It is morally wrong to take-away OUR common property, our free television and radio, and lock it up behind a ~$100/month cellphone paywall.
    .

    >>>They produced the content. They maintain the infrastructure.

    And the stations and transmitters. That's true, but the landlord is the American People. We have the power, via our government, to revoke those leases/licenses anytime we wish. In fact the FCC has done that several times over the decades. It's just like kicking-out a misbehaving tenant.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @09:50PM (#32864024)

    Oh, I forgot to mention. My last two jobs were at places where you have to fly > 1,000km from the NEAREST city to a private airstrip (you can drive but its 15+ hours). 7.2mbit/sec 3.5G coverage was the norm. I could pay $50 prepaid for 3gb of download with typical actual download speeds 200-300kbytes/sec (1.6-2.4mbit/sec).

    Only 4 hours drive is basically outer-suburban.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:42AM (#32864846)

    Have you been to Finland? It's quite a bit bigger than Singapore. Lots of forests. lots of rural areas. I live in the archipelago, and get 6Mbit/s over 3G.
    Finland has 17 people/km^2, 330 000 km2(numbers from the top of my head). I'd say you can compare it to Kansas.

  • Re:To be fair (Score:3, Informative)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @08:36AM (#32866020) Journal

    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 final thought. The US really isn't that far behind when compared to other continent-spanning federations:
    Russian Federation 8.3 Mbit/s
    U.S. 7.0
    E.U. 6.6
    Canada 5.7
    Australia 5.1
    China 3.0
    Brazil 2.1
    Mexico 1.1 Mbit/s

    And if you prefer to look on a state-by-state basis of the EU, US, and Canada then you get:
    Sweden 13 Mbit/s
    Delaware, Romania,Netherlands,Bulgaria 12
    Washington,Rhode Island 11
    Massachusetts 10
    New Jersey,Virginia,New Hampshire,New York 9
    British Columbia,Colorado,Connecticut,Arizona, Slovakia 8 Mbit/s

  • by cbope (130292) on Monday July 12, 2010 @04:59AM (#32872778)

    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.

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