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Cable Equal Access Case Goes to Supreme Court 351

DCTooTall writes "The FCC has ruled that Cable High-Speed Internet is an Information Service, and therefore not subject to the same equal access regulations that govern DSL. Brand-X Networks sued the FCC for equal access to the Cable Networks and won. The FCC appealed the decision and next Tuesday the case goes to the Supreme Court. The Telco's have repeatedly used the current FCC stance on Cable Broadband in their fight to get the same monopoly on DSL. This case has the potential to not only open the Cable networks to competition, but also prevent the Telco's from further attempts on limiting DSL options."
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Cable Equal Access Case Goes to Supreme Court

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:34PM (#12036917)
    DSL is theft anyway. I don't know what insane trickery is involved in allowing voice AND data go over the same medium, but I don't like it. It smacks of devil-worship.
    • by charon69 ( 458608 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @03:06PM (#12037989)
      Well, time for like my 3rd comment on Slashdot ever...

      I realize you were joking, but, just in case nobody knows, here's how DSL works in a nut shell.

      Your typical POTS line (Plain Old Telephone System) is just an analog connection to the phone company (yes, this is a generalization). The human voice and ear can only cover certain ranges of frequencies, so there's really no point in attempting to do voice communication beyond a frequency limit. But the higher frequencies can still go across the line just fine. As such, a DSL modem just modulates the data to correspond to frequencies higher than anything that you can say or hear and puts it on the same line as your voice traffic. To further ensure that there's no overlap between your voice traffic and the data modulations, you put a low pass filter on all your analog phone lines to make sure that they can't interfere with the data portion. At the phone company, they just strip the frequencies back into two separate systems and demodulate the data to get the 1s and 0s back.

      Yes, actually, I do work at a company that makes this stuff. Why do you ask?
  • Competition (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:35PM (#12036927) Homepage Journal
    What cable competition really means:
    • Better prices
    • Better service
    • More jobs
    • Alternative services
    • Fresh thinking
    • Offspring markets
    • by Mercano ( 826132 ) <mercano@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:47PM (#12037067)
      What cable companies want you to think competition really means:
      • Communism
      • no, terrorism. multiple cable companies fragment the American mind and make us more susceptible to attack.
    • Re:Competition (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hsmith ( 818216 )
      To bad no one addresses the real issues, cable companies are given monopolies by the counties which they offer cable in. When i lived back in Maryland, there was one cable provider that only serviced 1/2 of my county, sadly i was part of their jurisdiction. They offered no real services beyond basic cable, yet that was all i could get. Why? becuase the county didn't want Comcast to have a "monopoly" over the whole county, so they banned them from my part. So, I couldn't have high speed internet because it w
      • When government stops protecting companies and allows FREE MARKET we will all prosper.

        I was about to argue with you on that, but I actually agree with you. The gov't should only get involved when they need to punish the company.
      • I live in Maryland and all I can get in my area is Comcast. I would love to be able to get Adelphia. A friend of mine has it and she pays less for both cable(with HBO) and internet through them than I pay for just extended basic alone.
      • When government stops protecting companies and allows FREE MARKET we will all prosper.

        I agree with you in theory. But, remember that cable companies have been treated like public utility companies (gas, electric, phone, etc.) since the invention of cable TV. While I agree that there should be some competition, there are limits on how you can provide cable (and or "real" utility) competition.

        For example, the electric company has put all of the infrastructure into place for your house to be on the electri

        • Actually the government sinks a lot of money into that infrastructure as it is so its not really fair to let just one company reap the rewards of the infrastructure. Honestly though the one company does deserve rewards for their investment, but it can still be done. With your power example, anyone can generate power (generally solar, anything else requires extensive permits that no normal human can afford) and sell it back to the power company. Of course you don't make nearly the amount of money that the po
    • The cable companies are generally granted limited
      monopoly status regulated by a local (eg. county)
      government, as opposed to the telcos falling under
      Federal and (generally lenient) state regulatory

      The cable companies have additional incentive to
      "build-out" their infrastructure for widespread
      broadband access -- failure to meet (local)
      government access requirements might lose them
      their local monopoly. On the other hand, the
      telcos "talk the talk" when it comes to widespread
      broadband access (like F
    • Is the cost of that, though, that companies will be less willing to build that sort of infrastructure down the road.

      I mean, seriously, would you spend billions of dollars laying fibre if you're just building it for your competitors?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:36PM (#12036933)
    If cable companies paid to put in their infrastructure, why should they be required to share it? Or, worded differently, did the govt. help pay to put in their system?
    • by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:48PM (#12037070)
      In almost all cases, yes, there was some form of government subsidy, whether it be by allowing only one cable company for a given locality, or giving free right-of-way for the lines to be run, or other such consideration.
    • The Telco's paid for their networks too.... The big difference is that there are existing regulations... and zoning laws... that prevent others from laying down their own cable... or even phone service lines. In essence, the Cable companies have a legalized monopoly just like Ma Bell did years ago. The difference is Ma Bell was forced to break apart into the Baby Bells and to open their network up to competition. The Cable companies have not....yet. And nobody is saying they have to provide FREE
    • If cable companies paid to put in their infrastructure, why should they be required to share it? Or, worded differently, did the govt. help pay to put in their system?

      I think the point is being missed here. The cable companies provide the internet pipe. But they also insist on providing your IP number, an email account, lame little web space, and other crap at a price they dictate.

      Cable companies hang their wires on poles which are located on public land. In some areas, even the poles themselves are own

    • by cyngus ( 753668 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:42PM (#12037689)
      Telco's, utilties, etc have what is called a natural monopoly. These are services with little or no differentiation(1), high barriers to entry(2), and a market winner determined solely based on number of customers (due to high fixed costs)(3). Take electric utilities as an example.
      (1)Electricity is pretty much the same, there's not a way to sell Enchanced Electricity(TM).
      (2)The cost of every company that wanted to provide electricity building power lines would be ridiculous, there is no way that an new comer could displace an incumbent.
      (3)Due to the fixed cost nature of a network infrastructure, the guy with the most customers has the highest margins. The problem then is that even vastly inefficient incumbents will continue to be the only players in the market. Forcing companies to allow competitors to their distribution infrastructure allows competition and lower costs.

      However, setting the rent the competitor pays to the distribution network's owner is hard. What is this access really worth? In most questions of price "the market" determines the price, but in this case there is no market, since your customer is your competitor and therefore you would charge prices sufficient to drive your competitor/customer out of business. Therefore gov't has to set these prices and gov't sucks at this. People in general suck at setting prices, but without "the market" its what you have to do.
      • The infrastructure owner should not be allowed to package direct to the consumer, only wholesale. This would create a "market" for anyone who wants to buy wholesale access, it could be a town or an ISP. The fox should not watch the hen-house.
    • Notice how this isn't high flying capitalist third world and there aren't wires everywhere blocking out the sky. That's because the government has granted them a monopoly to provide wiring, if they allowed anyone to do this you wouldn't like the results.

  • In Plain English? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Chris Kamel ( 813292 )
    Could someone please explain this "regulations" thing to non-americans?
    • There is no plain english explanation. This is why most americans don't understand how badly they are being fucked by the fcc.
    • Re:In Plain English? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:45PM (#12037042) Homepage Journal
      Local telephone companies (who own the wires) are required by law to sell allow other companies access to their wires (whereby the other company can supply local service) at below market costs. Sometimes around or below how much it costs them to maintain the wires as well. This way we can have competition between multiple local phone companies on the same set of wires. This was extended to DSL some years ago.

      Now, Cable companies (who sometimes own the wires and sometimes don't, in my are the county officially owns the wires and we still only have one cable company) are not required to open up their cable lines to competing companies.
    • Re:In Plain English? (Score:3, Informative)

      by mamladm ( 867366 )
      With Cable Internet services the Cable TV operator is the only internet service provider on the cable network and no other provider has any right to gain access to that network providing their own service.

      With DSL services the situation is different. Internel service providers have the right to get access to the telco's network to provide their own service over DSL in competition with the telco that owns the wires.

      The telcos would like to get the same monopoly status that cable operators have. Internet se
      • by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:12PM (#12037330) Homepage Journal
        Interestingly enough, the telcos getting monopoly status over their lines may lead to an increase in competition:

        Telcos upgrade to fibre to the home to compete with cable (Verizon is doing this).
        Cable operators drop price/increase bandwidth to compete with Telcos.
        Telcos offer Video services.
        Cable offers better deals to compete.
        Cable offers phone service to compete with Telcos.
        Telcos offer better deals to compete.

        At this point in technology the two are evolving into natural competitors on multiple fronts.

        If the cable corps have to open the lines, it can mean more competition on that front. Either way so long as the status quo is not maintained consumers come out ahead.
    • Regulations are promulgated by Executive level entities. Congress provides these entities the authority to promulgate regulations in order to enforce laws that Congress passes.

      For example, Congress may say that no one can dump Substance A without a permit, and give the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the permitting process and enforcement of permits. The EPA would then draft regulations that set up the permitting system. These regulations are subject to public comment. Agencies ca
  • the real problem (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eobanb ( 823187 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:36PM (#12036942) Homepage
    is the FCC. They started this new philosophy of "let's deregulate, and all our problems will go away," and look what happened. The media sources are consolidating, and the telcos are consolidating. Did the FCC WANT this to happen? Sometimes I think so, since it seems so damn obvious that it would. Why would you EVER want to monopolise the cable and telephone lines? How is DSL NOT an information service? The FCC has to recognise that whether it's IP over coax or fibre or phone line or WHATEVER, it's still internet service. They've just really turned the wrong way in the last few years, and it's hurting us all.
    • by igjeff ( 15314 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:49PM (#12037095)
      Unfortunately, you're suffering from, apparently, the same lack of understanding that the FCC is.

      There are two services in play, here.

      The first is DSL or cable modem service, which are clearly telecommunications services. These are the actual DSL or cable modem signalling over the wire.

      Then there's the Internet Access overtop of the DSL or cable modem service. This is correctly classified by the FCC as an information service. Their problem (and apparently yours as well) is that they/you don't realize that DSL and cable modem service isn't *inherently* Internet service. DSL has, quite successfully, been used for non-Internet services, and cable modems could easily be used in the same ways. The FCC's stance on DSL and cable modem service, however, has made most of these uses uneconomical. A more reasonable stance, that takes into consideration of the layered nature of networking technologies, would much more realistically align the regulatory environment with the real world...both technically, and wrt competitiveness. (Internet service is competitive, DSL transport service is notsomuch).

  • "Naked Cable" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jm92956n ( 758515 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:37PM (#12036948) Journal
    If the cable companies are forced to open their networks, it would hopefully allow one to eventually obtain "naked cable." I'd like cable internet access, but the price for non-subscribers is $20 over their already inflated price.
    • by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:43PM (#12037016)
      Doesn't your cable provider offer Cinemax?
  • Competetion is good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:37PM (#12036949) Homepage
    I hope it happens. It'd be nice to finally be able to get better than 2mbit down and 256kbit up.
    • And maybe they'll let me use an ftp server, and not fuck me in the ass with their disallowance of game servers too. Its really hard to play online games that require you to be the host every now and then...
    • There is competition. I can go with the more expensive DSL that's slower (2048/256), makes me have a voice line, doesn't block ports, and gives me ISP choice or I can go with Cable which is cheaper, makes me have CATV as well, blocks all server ports, and is faster (3000/384).

      I chose DSL.

      So you are saying that somehow, if DSL had competition, it would get faster? They are slower with Cable competition so I really don't see your point.
      • DSL is a different technology which provides the same types services. Its speed is limited by the limits of technology. Most cable ISPs cap their network speeds to considerably lower than what the carrier media is capable of. Cable companies currently have geographical monopolies, and you're stuck with them if they're your only option, you deal with what they give you. Competition will change this, almost certainly.
  • One possible bad outcome from this is that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate any of it. ... and the Phone company ( was one big one, then baby bells and now ...) and the cable companies and do what ever they want .....the courts are going more and more big bisness..
  • from TFA (Score:2, Informative)

    by killawatt5k ( 846409 )
    "High-speed Internet connections are not telephones," HA!
  • Techinal Problems (Score:5, Interesting)

    by steve6534 ( 809539 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:48PM (#12037073) Homepage
    While this could be a good thing for customers there are several technical considerations to look at. 1. There is not enough upstream bandwidth in a typical cable plant for several providers to provide their own service over a seperate cmts. 2. If multiple service providers try to offer their brand of "service" over the same cmts there wouldn't be a difference in service from what there is today (Except content) If one provider tried to sell a higher bandwidth package it would affect customers from all different providers on the same cmts. 3. Who pay's to maintain, power, and house the cmts ? The way that dsl ir provided (Each ISP installing their own DSLAM) works great because there is a seperation of where the last mile to the customer terminates - The only leased telco facilty is the copper from the service address to the CO. If service providers had to share the same DSLAM and had a limit of bandwidth that could be provided dsl would be a huge disaster.
    • Re:Techinal Problems (Score:4, Informative)

      by BumbaCLot ( 472046 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:52PM (#12037126)
      Wrong, they actually do.
      Not all ISPs have to supply DSLAMs to share DSL with telcos. I work for an ISP and we sell Verizon and SBC DSL. We are charged for lineshares by both companies. With Verizon we provide them with DLCI numbers and have static IPs for our customers. With SBC, their Redback routers look at the username and route to our system based on that.
    • Re:Techinal Problems (Score:4, Informative)

      by silas_moeckel ( 234313 ) <{silas} {at} {}> on Thursday March 24, 2005 @04:06PM (#12038746) Homepage
      OK I actualy do this for a living every now and then and your pretty far off. There is a limit to the number of channels avalible past the fiber. 188 of them last I checked but not all cable co's have upgraded there physical plant to support them all. Each provider would need a minimum of 2 channels to hook there head ends into (for practial purposes they whould need space in the CO or very near it)

      And as to DSL your incorrect again, everybody does not have to put in there own dslams to make it work. Many get an ATM feed from the incumbents DSLAM and that is the first shared bandwith and ATM can and does provide garentee's as to bandwith use per virtual circut. Often the incumbent changes as much for this service as they do for DSL as to avoid competition.
  • by BigZee ( 769371 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:48PM (#12037080)
    As far as I can see, the issue here whether the cable network should be opened in the same was as the phone network. However, isn't it the case that the phone network is considered to be a public asset whereas the cable network is a private one? This is certainly the case in the UK where the phone network is a public network that is gradually being made open to any internet supplier. However, there's no reason that I can see that Telewest or NTL should be expected to open a network that they put there own private money into. Is this not exactly the same thing? If it is, although one might like the cable company to open it's networks, it doesn't seem to me that there is any obligation or regulation that should expect it.
    • However, isn't it the case that the phone network is considered to be a public asset whereas the cable network is a private one?

      No. The phone companies own the wires. They are required, however, to allow other companies to "lease" their lines at cost.

      The problem was that breaking up Ma Bell didn't solve anything because the baby bells were still monopolies in their areas. Then, the telcos started merging (SBC with Ameritech and some others) and now, you've got almost the same situation. You've got fo
      • Don't forget Insight in the real outlaying areas, actually outside of Indy...

        Here's my ranking of who I would like to get cable internet from if I had a choice.
        1. Brighthouse (they do it right) 2. Comcast (they just leave you alone, but don't really know wht their doing) 3. Insight ( they don't know what their doing and make sure you know it)
    • Are other cable companies allowed to lay their own cable in these neighborhoods? If not then they have locked out competition and have an unfair monopoly.

      Has the cable company paid the government for the use of public property to run their cables? If not, the public space is being used with no compensation, and being forced to allow other companies to use the lines to service the public may be seen as fair returns to the public for the use of that space.

      It seems under either of these conditions, requi

  • by Giant Space Hamster ( 157354 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:50PM (#12037101)
    The FCC is basically offering the cable companies a de facto monopoly on cable internet in order to ensure that more people can get connected and the size of the network is increased. After all, if the cable company has a monopoly, the only way it can really grow is to hook up more people.

    But if, on the other hand, other companies are permitted to use the network, the cable companies may feel that expanding their network is not worth the cost, thus preventing people from ever getting high-speed internet.

    Personally, I think it's a relatively hard decision to make. Allowing the monopoly screws over those people who already can get cable internet, but offers the greatest incentive to extend access to more people. Not allowing the monopoly gives cheaper prices to those with cable internet, but pretty much ensures that the networks won't get expanded, especially to more rural areas.

    Perhaps a compromise of a limited-time monopoly would be best. Cable companies get a 5-year monopoly on new networks, and afterwards must open them up to competition.
    • by newdamage ( 753043 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:04PM (#12037256) Homepage Journal
      I'd like whatever you're smoking, please.

      The FCC is going to give them a monopoly so they can grow and increase the size of their network? When has that ever happened? In every case of a monopoly all that happens is that progress stagnates and prices go up.

      Intel: if it weren't for AMD we'd all still be using PII 500's and paying out the nose for them.

      Microsoft: we have Apple and Linux to thank for MS even acknowledging that Windows might have flaws that need fixing.

      Comcast is the monopoly where I live (Tallahassee, FL), and all that means is that they can afford to do rediculous things like charge an extra $15 for naked cable (more than just getting bare bones local channels + high speed), having crappy service, and inflated prices.

      Where's their incentive to improve? I'd love to have other options.
    • The FCC is basically offering the cable companies a de facto monopoly on cable internet in order to ensure that more people can get connected and the size of the network is increased. After all, if the cable company has a monopoly, the only way it can really grow is to hook up more people.

      You assume the goal of a monopoly is to grow. A monopoly wants to reap maximum profit. If you look at the market totals, a monopoly has the highest average price, and the lowest volume.

      Take microsoft for example. Are th
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:51PM (#12037111) Homepage Journal
    Here, let me download you a copy.
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:52PM (#12037127)
    but I've never gotten "information" from my cable modem provider. All they sell is a pipe and the information comes from elsewhere. It's not that much different than using the telephone, in which case the "information" comes from the people I call, not the phone company.
  • I hate subjects (Score:4, Interesting)

    by weavermatic ( 868696 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:59PM (#12037207)
    I always hate how aprtment complexs always try to tell people that only one type of broadband service is available in their buildings. Liek where I live now, they told me I would have to go through Qwest. Meaning I would have to have Qwest phone service plus shitty Qwest DSL. Instead I called Speakeasy, had Covad come out and install some sort of bypass so I dont' need a phone line, and now i have 6mbit down 768 up with tons of extras for $100 a month, and I can resell the bandwidth on a wireless access point. Screw telcos.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 24, 2005 @01:59PM (#12037208)
    The deal with a common carrier is that a common carrier has to accept anyone's traffic. ie. If the railroad ships wheat for company X then they can not refuse to ship wheat for company Y.

    Cable did not start as a common carrier. It started with small providers grabbing signals off the air and stuffing them into the cable to sell to their subscribers. Since they weren't charging the TV stations to get their signals to the subscribers, they weren't acting as common carriers. They weren't charging people to get their signals somewhere.

    Telegraph started out as common carrier in that if they sent messages for company X, they had to send messages for company Y.

    Telephone is a common carrier because they were forced to be one. I think that will happen to the cable companies too. The minute they started dabbling in internet services and telephone, they opened the gate and they won't be able to shut it.
  • Another Option (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kefaa ( 76147 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:00PM (#12037216)
    This case has the potential to not only open the Cable networks to competition, but also prevent the Telco's from further attempts on limiting DSL options."

    Or, it could allow the Court to redress what it may see as a fact no longer in existence. They could decide that equal access is unenforceable regardless, in which case the telcos would be allow to prevent competitors from using their equipment.

    You can never tell in these cases because the SC can be thinking anything. But I do agree, it will have an impact.
  • I Don't Get It (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bleckywelcky ( 518520 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:00PM (#12037220)
    The FCC is supposedly there to help the public out by regulating phones, internet, RF, etc ... Why would they appeal this sort of thing? It should be blatently obvious to anyone that opening up cable lines to outside companies is in the public interest (even if the cable companies gripe and do a half-ass job at it). I mean, sure, they can defend themselves in the first suit just to defend themselves. But why appeal it? This is ridiculous. The operation of the cable companies as monopolies is obvious ... with their erroneous fees here and there, their slow service, the whole "wait 60 days until you get service again", bundling services so you can't get internet unless you have cable, etc, etc. None of this stuff would be as bad as it currently is if there was true competition, because they would be out of business at the drop of a hat! I think the FCC positions need to be elected or something, so at least there is SOME pressure to serve the public interest.
  • Isn't the local monopoly status of most cable companies granted by the local muncipality? Doesn't the local muncipality have the power to insist on common carrier status for Internet access? I know that more savvy communities used to hold the cable companies for community access channels, video equipment, classes, etc.

    Is this just another situation where the elected officials are not working in the best interest of their constituents?

  • Sillyness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:12PM (#12037331) Homepage
    This is silly.. if you don't like the cable company, work to change it.

    EVERY cable company must have a contract with the local city/town to operate.

    I worked at a public access TV station in a small town during this. They are usually 3-7 year contracts, the cable comittee is usually made up of people from the town/city.

    Our managed to get MediaOne (at the time) to give free cable modems to all the schools, as well as free cable service, on top of what they were required to give the public access TV station. They also had to agree to offer high speed access across the entire town in 2 years or less.

    It came VERY close to dumping them and going with Adelphia.. if that happened then everybody in the the town would switch to Adelphia and MediaOne (now Comcast) would have been OUT.

    Also, you can get Earthlink service over cable via Comcast..
    • This is silly.. if you don't like the cable company, work to change it.

      You can't do that any more. Not since the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Municipal regulation of cable companies has been severely limited.

    • Re:Sillyness (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) * <> on Thursday March 24, 2005 @03:07PM (#12038011) Homepage Journal
      Yeah I was an idealist too. Then I went to the meeting and realized that everybody on the board was actually employed by the cable company they were supposed to be regulating! Apparently nobody had heard of the concept of Conflict of Interest. I just love town politics. I just wish I could figure out a way to work up enough intrest to get the local residents mad, but this apparently ranks as a "What's the problem? These are the guys who know how this stuff works, why change it?" to most of the townsfolk, including the city reps who appointed them. Morons.
    • FREE???
      I pay for cable you insensitive clod.
      thus paying for your free access
  • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:14PM (#12037351)
    To me, an information service sends data one way, from provider to consumer. A telecommunications service allows two-way communication.

    The Internet's most popular service is e-mail.

    What if the Postal Service was (privatized and) declared an information service? Would I no longer be able to send letters to some addresses because they belong to a different carrier service? Would I have to pay extra postage for cross-carrier service?
  • by MCRocker ( 461060 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @02:21PM (#12037462) Homepage
    ILECs complain that they can't make any money. They all want in the long distance and wireless business, not the margin challenged local business and whine about how legislation prevents that and they do their best to use passive aggressive behaviour like dragging their feet on third party DSL installations.

    Unlike the post office, telcos don't have to provide service to remote locations, so they don't. Residents of remote areas usually set up co-ops to run their local phone service. The strange thing is that they typically have much better service because of it even though their physical costs are higher.

    Putting these two observations together, here's what I propose:

    Force all ILECs to sell their local exchanges to the residents of that exchange who run them as co-ops. Allow the ILECs to change their business model to compete with long distance providers. Allow individual residents to choose from any long distance provider who's willing to hook up to their local exchange.

    Do the same thing with cable providers. The local cable 'exchange' runs cables to the neighbourhood, and individual users get to choose, which cable content providers they get hooked up to with video, radio and ISP service being independently selectable.

    This system allows for competition on content and services, while putting the part of the system that needs to be a monopoly in the hands of the people who are most interested in and affected by the actions of the monopoly.

    There are lots of details left out here, but this should get the germ of the idea across.
  • I thought cable was already opened for broadband competition. Here in Central Florida, there is only one cable provider in most areas (Bright House Netorks, with a bit of overbuild with Adelphia and or Cox in some areas), but where broadband ISPs are concerned, everywhere that Bright House Networks offers service, you have the choice of any of 4 ISPs.

    Bright House themselves doesn't have a 'house brand' (Road Runner is considered by some to be the house brand, but Bright House owns no stake in Road Runner a
  • The problem is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suitepotato ( 863945 ) on Thursday March 24, 2005 @04:58PM (#12039293)
    Too many cooks.

    I love how many people glom onto this corporate bashing stance of forcing "competition" without any idea of the technical wherewithal involved in making it happen and the degredation of service in the near, mid, and long term.

    I've worked for DSL CLECs which had resellers self-branding what they sold for another partner ISP which actually supplied the IPs and had a layer two frame or atm circuit to us and we had one then onward to a partner CLEC which held the facilities where we didn't have a build and from them over ILEC copper to the customer using a customer owned CPE.

    Can you say clusterf*ck? I knew you'd try.

    Occam's Razor applies here.

    On top of this, are we going to legally require the cable companies to give away connections for free? No? Then we can add the charge they give to the competing ISP on to whatever the other ISP charges the customer.

    It gets better kids. Think about this... How big are the cable providers' fiber nets? Many of them either own a load of their own or they combine their sizeable assets with others. We're not talking a couple DS3s on a dial-up ISP here, we're talking major OC fiber lines handling hugantic ginormous (thank you Bruce Almighty) amounts of data quite well every day.

    I'm supposed to want someone other than my cable company for what reason? So I can say that my last mile is cable but the undersized backhaul is on an overutilized interface on an underpowered Cisco router administered by some nineteen year old cert whore? So that I can say I'm doing business with TWO different entities instead of one? So that I can say my ISP is a mom and pop (or t-shirt wearing crew of Linux geeks) unlike those big corporate cable people (in polo shirts)?

    If you want something done right, you use the right tools and methods, and you do it with intent to succeed. You don't host a mission critical commercial web server on a DSL line, you have it hosted professionally on a good pipe. You host a personal vanity server on DSL.

    Similarly, my broadband is too important to sacrifice to some so-called competitor's vanity. Even today in DSL we still see ISPs taken seriously whose idea of a NOC is two teens occasionally taking time out from their endless Half-Life game to run pings in five or six windows and don't even know what Matt's Traceroute is, never mind even know how to check the atm traffic on their own router. Such have been contributory to the disasterous collapse of some CLECs. I know, I used to work with such yahoos and was there when they helped down us.

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.