Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC Dodges Pointed Questions On US Broadband Plan

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Ummm... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @04:11PM (#32861642)

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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: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."

  • 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:To be fair (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @05:16PM (#32861958) Homepage

    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 society.

  • 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.

  • Re:No, we are not (Score:3, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @05:52PM (#32862240) Journal

    >>>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 military only spent about 10% of it, so even if you eliminated the military entirely, the debt would still be +1.3 trillion higher than when Bush left office.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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:To be fair (Score:2, Interesting)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Saturday July 10, 2010 @07:30PM (#32862954) Journal

    >>>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 cellphone needs more space, then use channels 52 to 83 which we have already given you. If that's still not enough, then stop picking on us and take it from elsewhere (like shortwave).
    .

    >>>Comcast has 100 channels @ $360/yr

    I called comcast a few weeks ago and they told me that tier is (1) only 60 channels not 100 and (2) would cost $65 plus an extra $5 per TV (box rental) or $80 per month plus tax. Total: $1020/yr.

  • Re:To be fair (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 10, 2010 @10:03PM (#32863778)

    "Only" 5 Mbps? Fuckety fuck fucking fuck.

    I live in a suburban area. I've had DSL service for 9 years (and change). My max sync speed is 768 kbps. And it costs $20/mo.

    It wasn't always this bad. When I signed up, I was at the edge of the availability radius. I was 11900 (and change) line feet from the central office. 12000 line feet was the cutoff. So SBC (now "the New AT&T" a.k.a. "the same old rape") sent out a truck and removed an unterminated segment. I got 768kbps for the first week, and after some testing, they set it to the full 1.5 Mbps. All was well for 8 years.

    Spring of last year, when they started selling 3 Mbps and 6 Mbps service, I checked on the availability and found that I could get 3 Mbps. An upgrade, and a $5 discount (from my old grandfathered-in price). I ordered the service, and the next day, I started getting 2.2 Mbps. The day after, 2.0 Mbps. By the next week, I was getting 1.5 Mbps again. Of course, the 3 Mbps rate is "up to" 3 Mbps, and they only guarantee 1.5 Mbps. Oh well. It was still $5 cheaper than I had paid for the last 8 years.

    Around this time, they start advertising that U-verse is available in my neighborhood.

    Fast forward to the fall of last year, and now the speed is down to 1.2 Mbps. I call customer service, and they find nothing wrong and their tests show "nothing wrong". It "must be my equipment". Whatever. On a related note, several neighbors tell me U-verse is great.

    Jump again to winter, and the speed drops suddenly to 768 kbps. I call again. Again it's "my equipment". Most of my neighbors are telling me U-verse is pretty good, but they had been having some odd problems where their bandwidth was lower than promised. But that's all fixed now, and it's great.

    I swap out my modem, cables, router, etc. I rearrange my network. Nothing. Still 768 kbps. Finally I called The Same Shitty AT&T You Always Hated again and refuse to hang up until they fix something. They run a quick line test and find that my line has been degraded (probably by U-verse installations) and that it can't handle a sync rate over 1.2 Mbps. They forcibly downgrade my service to 768 kbps, even though their records still indicate that 3 Mbps is available at my address. They refuse to fix their shitty network and try to sell me U-verse instead (for a LOT more money, and they won't unbundle TV - but I refuse to pay for TV). They begrudgingly and with much fighting and "escalation" gave me a partial refund for 6 months worth of service. And then it was only because I notified them that I had opted out of the class action lawsuit against them and retained my right to sue their sorry asses in small claims court.

    So here I sit, in a "well served area" with NO VIABLE OPTIONS FOR INTERNET FASTER THAN 768 MOTHERFUCKING KILOBITS A SECOND. Yes, motherfucking.

    Fuck AT&T.

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

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:01AM (#32864526) Journal

    >>>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 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. No disruption. Simply install a ~$100 DSLAM box 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 DSLs 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." They might even be able to use it for the reelection campaign.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.

Working...