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The Internet

The $200 Billion Broadband Rip-Off 464

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the where's-my-dsl-dangit dept.
Jamie noted that Cringley has a piece about the US Broadband situation. He talks about where we were and where we are: 'not very fast, not very cheap Internet service that is hurting our ability to compete economically with the rest of the world' and about the $200B the phone companies got to make it that way.
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The $200 Billion Broadband Rip-Off

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  • Don't blame Canada (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I blame lack of competition. What's needed is laws that lower the entry barrier for ISPs.
    • by ivan256 (17499) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:47AM (#20203281)
      It still costs a lot of money to string fiber up to every residence. Competition could, theoretically, actually impede development of such a network, since they're so expensive to build that you're only going to build it if you have a reasonable expectation of recouping you investment.

      Not only that, but it's horribly inefficient for us to build multiple networks. There should be one physical network, and competition should exist on it.

      The problem is that in most of the country (Everywhere non-Verizon), this network isn't being built. And in Verizon territory, there is no competition allowed. Worse, in some areas, inferior technology is being installed (FTTN, etc..) that will actually delay the possibility of anything but 7ish Mbit ADSL. Even worse, we paid for the fiber network, but we don't actually have it.

      What is needed? We need some politicians with ethics who aren't in the pocket of the telcos to actually stand up and hold them to their promises. Either that, or we need the physical network to be a public utility. The former would be best for everybody, but it hardly seems likely... Everybody up the chain from the local town governments on up to the senate and even the executive branch is used to receiving their cut of what are essentially bribes from last-mile carriers (unscrutinized regressive taxes on citizens, really, funneled through telcos and cable-cos into local treasuries and national campaigns), and nobody is going to give the money back unless the voters hold them accountable. Most of the voters don't even know what's going on.
      • by viniosity (592905) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:20PM (#20203475) Homepage Journal

        What is needed? We need some politicians with ethics who aren't in the pocket of the telcos to actually stand up and hold them to their promises.

        Then end corporate personhood. In fact, why not write your Congressman about it today?

        • Which congressman

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Canada [wikipedia.org]
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by profplump (309017)
          Corporate person-hood. I hate when my corporation gets called up for jury duty, but I guess it's worth it for the right to vote. Now if only we could get a corporate-birth abortion ban to protect those startups.

          If you wanted to discuss how giving money to politians should or shouldn't be protected speech I'm sure someone could oblige you; there are reasonable arguments to be made for both sides. But it's ridiculous to pretend that the problem is with financial entities and not people -- if we didn't let cor
          • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @02:10PM (#20204301)

            Corporations aren't people and aren't treated legally as people, except insofar as their owners are people.
            Bzzzt. Wrong. A corporation is treated as a person in the sense that the corporation as a whole is legally responsible for its actions, and not its constituent parts (the people who make up the corporation). This is what protects the average joe at the bottom of the heap from being personally liable for what his employer tells him he has to do. Neither he nor his employer is responsible for those actions. This is what is wrong with corporate personhood. When a bunch of people in the corporate body behave badly as a representative of the corporation, it's the corporation that gets punished, not the people doing the wrong thing. This absolves everyone from the employees to the board, to the shareholders, from responsibility for their collective actions. Corporations have rights to free speech qua corporations, not because of the rights of the constituent parts. You will notice that the right to free speech of corporations is curtailed in ways that a natural person's right to free speech isn't (i.e. false advertising laws, etc). You should also have observed that your rights as a person are much broader than your rights as a part of your corporation. Various forms of financial entities are granted rights of possession and litigation in line with their purpose as financial entities, but they aren't treated as people in general. The supposed "person-hood" that financial entities have is an extension of the actual, physical person-hood that their owners have -- corporations have rights to free speech because their owners have rights to free speech, and I don't see any pratical way to change that, short of opressing the person-hood of business owners.
            • by norton_I (64015) <hobbes@utrek.dhs.org> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @02:48PM (#20204537)
              Actually, "corporate personhood" only protects the owners (i.e., shareholders), not employees. Employees of a non-corporate company (i.e., a partnership) are no more or less liable for their actions that those of a large corporation. In principle, employees are responsible for their actions, and management is responsible for actions of their underlings, though in practice it is hard to convict people, this has nothing to do per se with their status as a corporation. The difference is, in a partnership, if an employee screws up while performing duties for the company, all partners have potentially unlimited financial liability. In a corporation, liability to the owners only extends to the assets held by the corporation.

              There are lots of other ways in which corporations are treated as people, but most of it comes down to "they are non-person entities which can own property" -- this is the root of their ability to be slandered or libeled, their ability to be a party to a lawsuit, and so forth.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by amRadioHed (463061)
          I agree, but I think public financing of campaigns would be the more relevant issue in this context.
      • by S.O.B. (136083) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:27PM (#20203549)

        We need some politicians with ethics who aren't in the pocket of the telcos to actually stand up and hold them to their promises.


        When it costs in the neighbourhood of $200 million to run a presidential campaign they're going to be in a number of pockets.
        • by Captain Splendid (673276) <capsplendid@gmail . c om> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @01:18PM (#20203915) Homepage Journal
          When it costs in the neighbourhood of $200 million

          Well, it will do when you make the campaign season last over a freaking year. I always cringe around election time in the US. How much productivity and money is wasted in this regular orgy of popularity contests?

          Go for the British model. Announce elections, campaign 5 weeks, over and done with.

          Forget campaign finance laws and lobbying problems. Just drastically shortening the election season alone would make a huge postive difference in the US.
          • The down side of the British system is that, unlike the US system, the party in power gets to decide when the elections are (unless they haven't called one in five years, then one happens automatically). Most aim for some point in their fourth year when they are as popular as they think they will get. If the government loses its majority via a by-election (when an MP resigns or dies) or via defection then they can also be forced to call an election via a vote of no confidence, but this is very rare (It ha
      • What costs the most is stringing the wire. For new construction you have to string the wire, so omitting the fiber at the same time is negligent.

        We need some politicians with ethics who aren't in the pocket of the telcos to actually stand up and hold them to their promises. Either that, or we need the physical network to be a public utility.

        Congratulations! You have the right answer. Now what do we do?

      • by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @01:09PM (#20203845) Journal
        we paid for the fiber network, but we don't actually have it.

        Why do the congress critters need to hold the telcos responsible when we the customers can. As you pointed out, we paid for a service that was not delivered. That sounds like a giant class action lawsuit to me. Now if it were an individual person I think that it would qualify as fraud, and that person would face prison, but in this case the criminal is a corporation with corporate personhood. So how do you jail a corporation? Well jail is basically the loss of you freedoms to the state, so that is what we should do here and in other cases of corporate criminal activity, take away control from the those in control and give it to the state for the duration of the sentence. That would mean the stock shares are frozen and cannot vote, the upper management/board of directors is not paid or allowed accept new employment, and a state Warden will run the company with the sole goal of maximizing the public good through the companies line of business, shareholder profits or losses are not considered in state Wardens decision making process, only the maximum quality at best possible cost to the existing customers. Yes the executives and the shareholders will get screwed in this scenario, but they are the ones who's greed and poor decisions lead to the fraud in the first place.
      • This is exactly what I argued at the CPUC hearings for the AT&T-SBC merger. I started off by saying that a mistake was made thirty years ago, when AT&T was forced to divide itself King-Solomon-like. What should have happened, instead, is that AT&T should been forced to become a nonprofit corporation or pseudo-governmental agency, similar to the Postal Service.

        Our postal network and roads and highways are generally recognized as common shared infrastructure; we don't allow the construction companies that build and maintain them to OWN the sections upon which they work, do we? Given that telecom and data networks are every bit as much shared public infrastructure, why then have we allowed the corporations that built those to own the pieces?

        We fucked up many decades ago, perhaps as far back as the first telegraph lines, when we failed to recognize that the components that make up electronic (and now digital) public networks are common infrastructure, of the same sort as highways, and thus infrastructure which should be publicly owned. This is one instance where MORE socialism, not less, would be an enormously good thing.
    • by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:52PM (#20203717) Journal
      ...of plant and service.

      Personally, I'd rather have two bills - one for the physical layer (cables, swtiches, and maintenance) provided either by the government or pseudo-governmental corporation, and one or more for the data (of any kind - voice, video, internet). By segregating the two, you can allow local issues to be dealt with as a local problem, and offermake up funding for low-density where "the government" feels necessary (rural electric comes to mind as an example, if not the best one). For those afraid of government, realize that most areas run their own water and sewer, and do a fairly good job, on the whole. And I'm not saying it has to be government - a corporation can run the plant (under gov. supervision - any monopoly needs close oversight).

      By separating the physical and the data, you can offer _real_ competition by local or national providers. Think of long distance telephone service - it's in a hell of a lot better shape (for the consumers and competitive pricing) than, say, local telephone or cell service (Verizon, anyone?). Most places don't even have the possibility of a competing high speed carrier because the physical plant operators can charge whatever they want for access, and as a result their services will always end up being more competitive.

      Power would be nice this way, too. I already have the physical plant portion broken out on my bill with generation costs separate. By prohibiting the physical plant operators from having any financial interest in the service operators, there will be a more level footing - and more opportunity for competition.

      Oh, in case you're curious, the incumebents know this, and would lobby to their deaths against any mandated separation.
  • more evidence (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bombula (670389) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:37AM (#20203223)
    This is just the latest piece of evidence for the case that completely unbridled market capitalism is not without flaws. The biggest shortcoming, in my opinion, is the inherent contradiction between what drives the market economy and how markets work:

    Mainstream economic theory clearly states that free markets only work when they are both competitive and transparent, and yet, just as clearly, the profit motive drives companies to minimize both competition and transparency. Profit itself is therefore inherently at loggerheads with the two prerequisites of free markets. As competition and transparency decline, so does market efficiency, until at some point inefficiency yields to outright market failure. We already have market failure in many industries - oil, diamonds, OS and Office software, telecommunications - and now broadband too, it seems. It's funny this contradiction raises so few eyebrows...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cyber-vandal (148830)
      It's funny this contradiction raises so few eyebrows...

      Dogma is rarely questioned and when it is you get called a heretic/commie
    • Re:more evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:50AM (#20203307) Homepage

      This is just the latest piece of evidence for the case that completely unbridled market capitalism is not without flaws.
      Whether there are flaws in "unbridled market capitalism" or not, blaming it in this case is inappropriate, for this isn't a story of completely unbridled market capitalism! The story, and indeed the telecom industry in general, is positively fraught with government intervention and regulation. And though "The FCC was (and probably still is) managed for the benefit of the companies and their lobbyists, not for you and me," that makes it even less free-market, not more.

      I know an economics professor, incidentally, who noted that regulations on trade are generally put in place by the rich and powerful and act to keep the little people down. This is a textbook example.

      • Re:more evidence (Score:4, Informative)

        by Bombula (670389) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:56AM (#20203345)
        While you're right, of course, about this being a story about government regulation, I don't see how that negates the contradiction I pointed out in my post. Without regulation, corporations would have even more leeway to stifle competition and transparency - examples of which abound, especially outside of western culture (example: the now richest guy in the world, the Mexican telecom magnate and his monopoly in Mexico).
        • Re:more evidence (Score:4, Informative)

          by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:32PM (#20203585) Journal
          ...the Mexican telecom magnate and his monopoly in Mexico

          A very heavily government protected monopoly. Hardly a case of "lack of regulation" I guarantee you. In fact it's a prime example for the libertarians to use against regulation. What we need is for the public to keep a close eye on how things are regulated and actually use their vote to weed out the crooks, otherwise it will only get worse.
          • by teflaime (738532)
            What we need is for the public to keep a close eye on how things are regulated and actually use their vote to weed out the crooks, otherwise it will only get worse.

            Which will never happen. Most Americans, let's face it, are simply disinterested when it comes to politics. And the ones who aren't are too stupid or corrupt to move beyond the surface picture painted for them by the national Parties.
        • by FooAtWFU (699187)

          While you're right, of course, about this being a story about government regulation, I don't see how that negates the contradiction I pointed out in my post. Without regulation, corporations would have even more leeway to stifle competition and transparency - examples of which abound, especially outside of western culture (example: the now richest guy in the world, the Mexican telecom magnate and his monopoly in Mexico).

          Hmm. Okay. I won't speak to that directly, but I'll offer a Milton Friedman quote that expresses a related sentiment:
          "The two chief enemies of the free society or free enterprise are intellectuals on the one hand and businessmen on the other, for opposite reasons ... every businessman is in favor of freedom for everybody else, but when it comes to himself that's a different question. He's always the special case. He ought to get special privileges from the government, a tariff, this, that, and the other t

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by RatPh!nk (216977)

            I agree with this and have said it myself many times. It is a wonderful quote. It is in the headlines everyday, "free markets for everyone else, protection for me". As an example, watch how this sub-prime mortgage market plays out. Watch how the government will jump in and bail thses folks out. If it were you or I making these very poor quality business decisions, we would be ridiculed, and basically told you get what you deserve. You can also see this applied in a class sense as well. Free markets for the

      • is positively fraught with government intervention

        You sure about that? TFA seemed more to point out how government basically abdicated most of their oversight duties simply because the telcos told 'em everything was just peachy.

        And though "The FCC was (and probably still is) managed for the benefit of the companies and their lobbyists, not for you and me," that makes it even less free-market, not more.

        I must need more coffee. How does that sentence even make sense?
    • Re:more evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by schnikies79 (788746) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:50AM (#20203311)
      We in way shape or form have "completely unbridled market capitalism." Thats impossible when you have government granted monopolies, the FCC, etc.

      Telecoms are using government regulation in their favor. They don't want capitalism.
    • ...about "completely unbridled market capitalism".

      What we have here is the exact opposite: Central-planning. And it has gone haywire, as it usually does.

      Throw in a touch of the corruption that centralized power allows, add a little protective legislation, and you get what we have today.

      Methinks you tend toward Marxist-style central control.

      • by enrevanche (953125) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:25PM (#20203527)
        This is not government central planning, but corporate central planning. This really has nothing to do with the regulation causing this fiasco, but that the regulation was pointless, that the major telcos just did whatever they wanted anyway.

        What you don't understand, is that effective regulation is required to have any kind of long-term competitive market, especially when the product is not a commodity.

    • by toppavak (943659) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:56AM (#20203343)
      Er... the telecom industry represents completely unbridled market capitalism?
    • Re:more evidence (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:57AM (#20203351) Journal
      Except this isn't an example of "unbridled market capitalism". The original copper network was a private/public compromise built on private property seized by the government with its power of immanent domain.

      The federal government allowed monopoly control of the copper by one company, as long as it agreed to follow certain rules that a normal company would not need to. That is why multiple phone companies were allowed to compete on the same copper.

      Now we have the case where companies are not fulfilling their part of the bargain and the government isn't enforcing it any more.
      • by HardCase (14757)
        The original copper network was a private/public compromise built on private property seized by the government with its power of immanent domain.

        I wouldn't call a utility easement a property seizure by "immanent" domain. Nothing was taken.
      • Re:more evidence (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium.yahoo@com> on Sunday August 12, 2007 @01:00PM (#20203775)
        You must be taking your information from post AT&T breakup, 1981'ish. Back when the publicly owned and traded phone "monopoly" was f'd up. HiTF a publicly traded company can be considered a monopoly I would like to know. But, anyway...

        The original copper network was a private/public compromise built on private property seized by the government
        No sir. The original copper was being put in place in the mid 1800's along with the railways. The land was "seized" from the native Americans.

        The federal government allowed monopoly control of the copper by one company, as long as it agreed to follow certain rules
        Bell was given credit for the phone making The Bell Telephone Company was the only player in the market. The government owned the copper it put in place until the, then, "American Bell Telephone Company" built enough exchanges to receive through government grants the existing copper because uncle sam didn't want to pay for upkeep not to mention it needed private phone system and couldn't do it due to patents:
        Until Bell's second patent expired in 1894, only Bell Telephone and its licensees could legally operate telephone systems in the United States http://www.corp.att.com/history/history1.html [att.com]

        Up until the 80's the majority of old folks had their money tied up in phone stocks and government savings bonds. The industry was broken up to get that stagnant money back out in the world to pump the U.S. economy back to life.

        The reason we don't have good network connectivity is the constant fighting for control of what is unarguably the biggest industry in the U.S. Everything, in one way or another, is dependent on communication. The people in the industry are the second most greedy pieces of sh't on the face of the earth. Absolutely everything they do is for their own benefit. The massive tax cuts they received to "modernize the infrastructure of our nations communications" went directly onto their bottom line. The proposals that Google et. el. are putting together are the only signs of hope the people have to break free from the same ol sh't.
        • Back when the publicly owned and traded phone "monopoly" was f'd up.

          I'm not so sure about that "f'd up". Audio quality used to be "So clear, you can hear a pin drop". Now, it's some guy yelling into the phone "Can you hear me now?" or "Fewest dropped calls" (how about 'no' dropped calls).

          To be sure, the AT&T monopoly was screwed up in it's own way. But what we have now is still screwed up, just differently. Having said that, I can get 20/5 cable, or 15/2 FIOS for under $50/month.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by wytcld (179112)

          HiTF a publicly traded company can be considered a monopoly I would like to know.

          Many publicly traded companies have been considered monopolies. Whether a company is publicly traded, privately held, or government owned is orthogonal to whether it's considered a monopoly. All that's required to be a monopoly is to have effective control of the largest part of the market for a particular good or service.

          Is it your theory that the stockholders would be motivated to have the company they own give up its monopol

  • For A Start (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JamesRose (1062530) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:42AM (#20203241)
    These companies can sell you an 8 meg broadband connection, they'll sell it to 100 people and the line they're selling this on is an 80meg connection (example, not right numbers but right point). Any industry that can do this legally (or just get away with it) is clearly going to screw any consumer they can.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ivan256 (17499)
      The real problem is that the most they can sell you is an "8meg" connection (it's not *really* 8meg because it's asymmetric).

      1999 called. It wants it's internet connection back.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Every industry does this legally.

      Go outside and look at the electric lines leading into your house. How much current can you draw over them? It's probably a hefty amount. Now go look at all your neighbors and add it up. Then look at the distribution system. Guess what will happen if you all start drawing the maximum amount of current at the same time.

      Go into your bathroom and turn on your shower full blast. Guess what will happen if everyone in your neighborhood did the same thing at the same time.

      Go to you
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        First I need to state that I agree entirely with your post. That said, however:

        The electric company provided me with a contract that specifies exact voltage tolerance limits. This contract also states that they will make their "best attempt" at providing power for a reasonable time (99% of the month, or something), and are not responsible for interruptions in emergency/disaster situations. Guess who has to pay for my refrigerator motor/electronics if suddenly the electric company decid
      • Re:For A Start (Score:5, Insightful)

        by kimvette (919543) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @01:56PM (#20204207) Homepage Journal

        Every industry does this legally.


        No, they don't. A grocery store doesn't charge you for a full loaf of bread and then tell you sorry, you can have only two slices because they sold that same loaf to 9 other people.

        The gas company doesn't charge you for 10,000 cubic feet of gas and then come back and tell you that you can use only 1,000 cubic feet because they oversold.

        A law company doesn't work for 3 hours and charge you for 30.

        That would be called "fraud" in any industry other than telecom.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Meh, that's not really a good point. I don't need my 8Mbit (which I actually have) all the time. If my ISP can juggle usage patterns to ensure I get my 8Mbit when I need it, why should I care? It's the main way to actually turn a profit on this internet business. At least, when there's some competition. In the Netherlands, low-end internet connections are provided at a net loss to the major ISP's.

      Think of it as insurance, or banks. If we all needed our insurance to pay up, we'd get nothing and the insurance
    • The fact that my ISP doesen't have (customers x downstream kb) capacity on their backbone is totally irrelevant.

      What is relevant is how OFTEN they hit their maximum capacity, and for HOW LONG when it happens.

      As long as I get the capacity I need and pay for, who cares if the total capacity is lower? No user actually uses their lines 100% 24/7 (unless they are software pirates in which case they deserve to have their connection terminated anyway).

      - Jesper
  • by morari (1080535) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:50AM (#20203305) Journal

    'not very fast, not very cheap Internet[..]
    And not very available either. Much more of the country is without than is with, I can assure you. The telecoms and cable companies don't care though. For some reason putting out a bit of money for a long-term payoff just doesn't register with corporations.
    • Compute the cost of the cable and hardware needed to reach a farm twenty miles out from a town. Add the labor and construction, then divide the total by monthly rate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 12, 2007 @11:51AM (#20203313)
    Let me tell you 'bout my friend in Holland. And, no, I don't mean Holland, Michigan. I mean Holland, Holland.

    He pays some ridiculous amount of money monthly, 10 or 20 Euros, and gets high speed broadband, TV (including the porn channels) and phone. His mortgage is 3.8%. Sex of any kind is not against the law and he can travel to any country in the EU without even slowing down as he drives across the border. At the risk of going off topic, do I need to add that health care and education are free.

    Could it be that there's something not quite right here in America?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ...that gives them all those strange ideas.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FooAtWFU (699187)

      At the risk of going off topic, do I need to add that health care and education are free.
      Free. Right. Yeah. That's cute.

      Just because someone else (or, really, everyone else) pays for it doesn't mean it's free.

    • What's your tax rate over there in utopia?
      • What's your tax rate over there in utopia?

        The rates are comparatively high, but not higher then they used to be in the 50-60s in the USA, at the height of the post-WWII prosperity boom.

        Furthermore, a majority of Americans are now realizing that saving some few hundred to few thousand bucks (at the majorities' income levels) a year in exchange for not being able to afford medical care or education for one's children is a rather rotten deal. Hence strong (and getting stronger) support amongst the American

    • by HardCase (14757)
      Could it be that there's something not quite right here in America?

      Yes, our taxes are too damn low!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
      He pays some ridiculous amount of money monthly...

      He also pays ~$7/gal for gas (the highest in Europe).
      If he makes more than EUR$53,000, he pays 52% in income tax. Add on to that 6.5% for the "free" health insurance premium, a flat tax of 25% on any 'substantial business interest'. There are other taxes as well.

      Holland is great. Lived there for 3 years. But there are substantial differences between Holland and the US. Differences that make a direct comparison, on narrowly selected data points, silly.
    • When one part of such an assertion is invalid, I can't believe the rest

      he can travel to any country in the EU without even slowing down as he drives across the border.
        I call bullshit on that. -- any european want to chime in here? from ANY country to any country- so long as it's all EU? I simply find that ubelievable...

      and therefore- the rest of it I find hard to believe...

      • by demachina (71715) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @01:51PM (#20204177)

        Your bullshit call is for the most part the only thing that is bullshit. The grand parent is correct you can travel between any of the original 13 EU members without stopping. Since the Schengen agreement all interior border controls were removed and the only border and customer enforcement is around the edges. If you have an EU passport its relatively easy to move around and work in EU countries.

        The grandparent slightly overstates when he said "any country in the EU" since I don't think the newer members have signed on to these open borders yet.

        The EU has really become the United States of Europe. Its more like the early United States since the states still retain a lot of power, but assuming it holds together it will probably continue to become more like one nation over time.
  • by ZoneGray (168419) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @12:16PM (#20203465) Homepage
    In most of America, only two companies are allowed to run wires into your home, the local telco monopoly and the local cable monopoly. The existence of the cable and telco monopolies is responsible for the problem. As long as that's the case, you're just arguing about the best way to manage the ripoff. Any regulatory scheme, at best, simply minimizes the ripoff. At worst, it leads to the two companies having undue influence over regulators.... and indirectly gives the regulators vast power to regulate and monitor private communication.

    My own feeling is that the very idea of regulated telecommunications is inconsistent with the First Amendment. I don't think it could be any plainer. But I'm not holding my breath waiting for the court decision.
    • by dal20402 (895630) *

      My own feeling is that the very idea of regulated telecommunications is inconsistent with the First Amendment.

      That's a very interesting and thought-provoking way of putting it. The problem is that completely unregulated telecommunications, as we saw in the very earliest days of radio, are even less effective, because no messages can get through at all. While there are obvious free-speech problems with any government involvement, I think some level of regulation is necessary to ensure that speech actually happens in a more or less organized fashion.

      I think a solution that would not run into any potential First A

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Courageous (228506)
      In most of America, only two companies are allowed to run wires into your home, the local telco monopoly and the local cable monopoly.

      Not true. In California (and many other states), there is no dejure cable monopoly. All cable companies are "allowed" to run cable if they so elect. The nature of the problem isn't that they aren't allowed, but rather that they'd rather not. I.e., they are indeed a natural monopoly. Alas, they are not regulated as one.

      C//
  • 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.

    For instance, later in TFA Cringley says that a five-year phone rate freeze was part of the deal at one point, then says that rates should have really fall
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Devistater (593822) *
      Easy enough, if you did indeed RTFA, the link to the 400+ page ebook about this scandal is on the right page:
      http://www.teletruth.org/docs/SCANDALFINAL92006.pd f [teletruth.org]
      I'm glad its free now, the author used to charge for it. Maybe I can finally read it.

      Essentially very little of the $200 billion is anything to do with phone rates. Its mostly stuff like corporate tax breaks from states and local gov to the companies.
      A quick check of the ebook shows:
      Chapter 19 on page 191 of the PDF starts the coverage of the money
  • Search the /. archives, /.s including myself have been describing and predicting to state of telecommunications in the USA as far back as 1997.

    Yep, that long ago, but do you think any of you younger /. whipper-snappers would remember back to 19970901 launch. CmdrTaco, Hemos, ... were all young fellers like yourselves are now ... young, but git'en older, wiser, wizen, creaking and crankier with age.

    Should we ask CmdrTaco and Hemos; When/What/Where are the 10th year celebration' keggers, or is it a BYOB in Death Valley?
  • ....spoon feeding the consumers and avoiding telling them or letting them realize what you are doing.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday August 12, 2007 @01:43PM (#20204113) Journal
    The band width you are not getting is because spammers are getting it...

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