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Broadband Net Access in the News - and in Canada 57

Posted by Roblimo
from the cable-modems-are-great-but-cable-companies-suck- dept.
limited wrote in about the October issue of Scientific American, in which, he says, "there is a Special Report on High Speed Inet Access." Great in-depth tech stuff! In related (and IMO excellent) news, here's a News.com story Zyber sent in about a new ruling from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that requires cable TV operators to sell access to competing Internet service providers. Perhaps the US FCC will be smart enough to follow the Canadians' lead. One can only hope.
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Broadband Net Access in the News - and in Canada

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  • The cable companies that you speak of... the ones that rested on their monopolies (at least until satellite TV), and laid down the cable lines in the first place... are the same companies by name only.

    The majority of them have been bought up by highly competitive companies who want to bring broadband connections to the forefront as fast as possible.

  • Esp in Finland, I believe that 80% of Finland has a cellphone as their ONLY phone.

    That is not true. They are coming close (if they have not already passed) to having 50 % of the population having cell phones. (The same goes for Sweden btw.) I recall reading something from Israel though, where the prices for cell phones (including subscriber fees et.c.) were so competative that many people got a cell phone instead of a regular phone. I don't know how true that is though.

    Lars
  • The cable companies are now racing to provide broadband service... as a result, the regional bell's are racing to do the same thing, with the satellite companies not too far behind.... each trying to keep their costs to consumers as low as possible.
    What would you call this scenario? I tend to call it competition.

    If it were not for these cable companies, your chances of getting any broadband connection might be realized 25 or so years down the road.
    it certainly was not in the phone or ISP's best interests to make the nesacary investments to roll out this new service!

    Now, the cable companies are forcing them to, in order to stay in the market.

    And do you really believe that the cable companies are going to simpl ignore the already millions of internet users on ISP's not their own (AOL = 19 million). They will open up their lines to these ISP's... it is a great market, but it should be on their terms, and not mandated by the government!
    i would even bet that self regulated prices by the cable companies will even fall under what the government would opose.
  • In my area, there is no cable modem access. Forcing the only provider to open up would cut into their profits and delay roll out even further. We _need_ monopolies to provide incentive to service providers to make the necessary capital investment. Only after that investment has been recouped does a monopoly become harmfull.

    So I'm hoping that the US (or at least Brookline, MA) doesn't follow suit.
  • A clarification of the first statement: the CRTC does not force Bell, or anyone else, to use PPP over Ethernet to provision third party access to any broadband infrastructure. I know that you didn't say that they did, but there must be no confusion as to what the CRTC's role in this is.

    Bell would certainly like you to believe that they were unfairly forced to open up their infrastructure to competitors and that the only way to provision that access was through PPPoE, but it simply isn't true. Basically no one, but Bell themselves, are in favour of provisioning open access via the PPPoE encapsulation- not the CAIP [www.caip.ca], not the CCTA [www.ccta.ca] and certainly not the end-user.

    PPPoE is basically alpha, with respect to driver development right now, it's as proprietary as can be, it provides absolutely no benefits for the end-user and, in my own opinion, has no business being in the Sympatico HSE [sympatico.ca] service, in Ontario and Quebec.
  • heh. too bad you arent using shaw :). I've had perfect service since 1996. I only recall one month where they were having growing pains, but it has been great ever since. They actually resegment their networks and increase provider bandwidth before a problem arises.

    They also have multiple connections to sprint-canada, uunet canada, @home, teleglobe. I feel for you rogers users stuck routing through mae and sprint-nap. I really do :). Shaw btw, is also the largest MSO cable provider in north america right now (from user count that is). Too bad rogers didn't do it right the first time and only use @home's connections for the value added www page instead of really really crappy peering at overloaded naps.
    ----------
  • Actually, cable internet is not even close to a net loss -- unless your cable provider is too cheap to even set up bidirectional connections for viewer guide and instant ppv services. True, it does take a lot of capital to initially upgrade the network, but in the long run they will be making a nice profit. The average user using high speed access uses 1/4 less than a dialup user would being connected all day downloading at 3KB/s. The speed may come in bursts, but you read the page longer than you load them, dont you? As for needing huge backbones to connect the modems to the internet, that isn't true. Its a misconception because so many people have the potential to use bandwidth at the same time -- but they dont. If its a really small town they could get off with 2 -5 t1's at the best commodities of scale.
    ----------
  • Give me a break. The CRTC may inhibit Canadian choice in media by forcing us to view a certain percentage of Canadian material -- but beyond that, there is no draconian censorship. If you've ever gone to the movies in the United States, then canada -- you notice that the majority of movies that are rated R in the US are 14aa in Canada. Why? Because it's stupid to regulate such things. As for pornographic censorship, I'd like to see this instance and any case law. If you followed the news 3 months ago, the supreme court even let off some prick with kiddie porn in his house because he had a right to have whatever he wanted in it (should be eventually overturned). Fuck up, yes. But that just proves that Canada has a serious vested interest of protecting our privacy and freedoms. I mean, the supreme court was almost willing to let this guy off because of the precedence the case could set in other areas.

    Anyway, as for competition laws, it does make some sense. My cable provider has been nice, but I hear horror stories of users of rogers cable. In every area that got sympatico adsl -- that also had rogers cable -- everyone i know switched over because of the terrible service. Unfortunately though, this is the case for many of the MSO's in the united states using @home also. RR & Mediaone seem to be fine, however.
    ----------
  • by Baraka (35968) <[chrisw] [at] [iintech.com]> on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @10:23PM (#1679322) Homepage
    Finally, a topic I know a little about ;)

    First, some background info: since the beginning of the year, I've been involved with a consumer's telecommunications organization, the Rogers @Home User's Association [rhua.org]. We are a collection of about 500 users of the Rogers@Home [home.com] internet service, based in both the Ontario and British Columbia provinces in Canada. I serve as their technical director and liaison to management.

    What do we do and why do we exist? We formed out of necessity. The entire service had literally collapsed under its own weight, back in December. All of our circuits going to the @Home Network in the US, were completely oversaturated. This had the effect of raising minimum network latency during peak hours, to an excess of 400, 500 and even 600 milliseconds. People were extremely angry, technical support could offer no help, hold times were a minimum of 30 minutes and management would not admit that anything was wrong. Hell, management was thoroughly incommunicado. That entire mess lasted six weeks before it was corrected in the middle of December.

    I went to the CRTC [crtc.gc.ca], our equivalent of the American FCC, and complained bitterly. They proved to be more technically inept than I had ever dreamed of and didn't want to touch the issue with a 10 foot pole. I went to other industry officials, but nothing seemed to help.

    Fast forward to February- after many of my comments in the various related newsgroups, a successful petition of angry subscribers, the threat of legal action and the RHUA right there in the thick of things, I received a call from the General Manager of Rogers Cablesystems (parent to Rogers@Home), of the Greater Toronto Area. Seeing as Rogers is the largest cable operator (MSO) in all of Canada, I was a little stunned that I would receive a call from someone so high up in the company. He was interested in setting up a meeting between senior management and I, to discuss the various problems with the service. Over the next few months, two meetings took place, the results of which can both be viewed here [rhua.org].

    Now I'm not going to say that the results were very encouraging, but I will say that this whole process has been a step in the right direction. To the best of my knowledge, there are no other consumers groups in the sphere of telecommunications who have direct lines of communication to the senior management of their respective service(s). Due to these open channels of communication between me, our other regional reps and management, some users experiencing serious problems, were able to receive attention a lot sooner than they normally would have. The RHUA is continuing its efforts to hold management accountable for any problems that affect this service and to ensure that the needs of our subscribers are tended to quickly and efficiently.

    Now, what the hell does any of this have to do with third party access to the various broadband infrastructures? Well, I've been dealing with the management of my service long enough to know that they, along with every other MSO out there, won't take this newest CRTC ruling lying down and they have the power to see their will through. Open access to the coaxial broadband infrastructure was ordered way back in 1996! Today we're in the same, damned place as we were back then. I don't think this ruling is likely to change anything in the near term. Rogers has revealed a target date of mid-2000 for the provisioning of their service to third party ISP's. Another thing I learned from my management meetings is that MSO's are definitely NOT very good at following target dates. As I have no faith in the CRTC to see their ruling through, God Only Knows (tm) when we'll see any real movement on this issue.

    As per my subject of this posts, there are a great deal many details that have yet to be ironed out in order for the CRTC's ruling to be followed. In my opinion, they've barely even started yet. This [crtc.gc.ca] document contains the recent CRTC decision that has been referenced by our press as of yesterday. Here is another URL [crtc.gc.ca] that contains basically all the related links to CRTC rulings on broadband internet access. Of particular note is the Canadian Cable Television Association's technical report [crtc.gc.ca] on providing third party access to the coaxial infrastructure. Be warned that this link is to a dreaded Micros~1 Word 97 Document, but the information contained therein is extremely interesting and critically important, IMHO. The methods for actually provisioning third party access are outlined and briefly discussed.

    This aspect is more significant than most people realize. Anyone who is familiar with techologies favouring the PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE) encapsulation, will clue in to what I'm talking about here. To make a long story short, PPPoE was developed with third party access to the broadband infrastructures in mind (particularly DSL-related access methods). The scary thing about this technology is that it does not benefit the consumer- not in the slightest. It contains network management features that can only benefit the service providers, themselves. The features are- again, in my opinion- inherently oppressive to all consumers of these broadband services. They are designed to usurp power from users of broadband services, into the hands of their providers. Features include isolating each user's traffic into a "virtual circuit", completely dynamic IP addressing from designated address pools, point and click network monitoring, and a point and click user disconnection option, among many others. I quoted the virtual circuit term above because VC's are traditionally supposed to provide some enhanced reliability, but PPPoE does nothing of the sort.

    Basically, if you're worried about CALEA, your online privacy and security, your consumer rights, or anything else that's related to your electronic freedom, be sure to check your concerns at the door in a PPPoE-enabled world. This technology puts way too much power in the hands of individual providers who will be free to do as they choose with it. Snooping on your online communications will be a cinch, as the virtual circuit ID is all that must be isolated for a party to easily see everything you're doing. I don't think I need to explain any further implications of this technology. The sad reality is that I feel that government regulation of broadband services will have to be implemented, in order to curb the abuses of service providers at some point in the future. And as we all know, regulation is definitely not the way to go.

    I brought this all up because AOL and GTE specifically used PPPoE hardware, manufactured by Redback Networks [redbacknetworks.com], to provision third party access to GTE's coaxial infrastructure. Although I'm betting that PPPoE will not be implemented for open access to the coax infrastructure up here, I AM worried that a different scenario will unfold in the US. I think that every possible step must be taken to prevent PPPoE from being used to provision third party access to any and all broadband infrastructures in the US. This technology has already surreptitiously found its way into several consumer DSL markets out there, both in the US and in Canada, but it must not be permitted to come to cable.

    I'm not against Redback Networks, UUNET, AOL, or any other proponents of the very proprietary PPPoE technology; it's just that unless I see any clearcut benefits to consumers out there and my doubts are confirmed by more and more existing and future broadband users, I will personally do all that I can to spread the word about PPP over Ethernet and its implications. One thing I'd really like to see, is someone like Bruce Schneier, and/or an organization like L0pht, go over this technology with a fine tooth comb and tear it to pieces. I have yet to read a critique of its supposed "security features".

    On that note, if someone at /. wants me to write up a more detailed analysis of PPPoE for all to see, please give me a shout and I'll be more than happy to oblige.

    To finish up here (you're all sighing with relief, I know), I want to say a few last things. First of all, some additional consumer groups must sprout up in the US and Canada, to pay attention to these serious developments and to protect the rights of their constituents. From what I have been able to tell thus far, there just aren't enough people who are willing to stand up and fight for their rights in an organizational manner. I have pushed and pushed for the formation of a Cox @Home user's group, but the main proponent of this idea has told me on numerous occasions that people just aren't angry enough with their service to do anything about it. And this after being well aware that Cox will implement further upstream rate caps of 128 Kbps, with NO proportional reductions in the monthly fees that subscribers pay. This is downright criminal, the way I see it and is something that's totally unjustifiable. Our upstream rates have remained at 400 Kbps because our objections to the cap were voiced very loudly, very early into the process. Purveyors of broadband services will do as they please unless they answer to a consumer authority.

    Second, as the CRTC is technically clueless and toothless, with respect to consumer advocacy, our whole situation over here is in limbo, in my own view. I truly hope that American MSO's and, more importantly, American citizens interested in broadband access, observe our progress here and learn what works and what doesn't, from our successes and failures. If all goes well, the RHUA and I might have a hand in seeing how third party access is provisioned to the existing coax infrastructure.

    Last but not least, we need to see management become more accountable for the products and services they provide to ordinary consumers. Good customer service is a very difficult thing to find nowadays, with respect to individual consumers. The quality of customer service you receive should not be proportional to the size of your wallet, or the pull of your company. Cable companies providing broadband services, are simply not using the very medium they are selling, to reach their customers. People feel totally left out and unappreciated by the purveyors, and they have every right to feel that way. When someone wants to complain about poor service, or voice their concerns about a related issue, they often must wade through a thick veil of bureacracy to get even the most meager of results. It has been bad- and still is bad- for users of my internet service and as terrible as that may seem, broadband subscribers south of the border have it even worse. This has got to stop now! I've always maintained the highest respect for Slashdot and sites like it (okay, there are no others like it :P), for cutting through all the bullshit and propaganda that's peddled on a daily basis nowadays. The time for action against corporate apathy for individual consumers, has come. Just the very thought that a totally free operating system like Linux, will one day overtake the most widely used product of a corporate behemoth like MS, gives me a truckload of hope for the future. My only hope is that some of the creative power behind the open source effort, spills into the domain of broadband services and the rest of the telecom world.

    -Chris Weisdorf
  • The CRTC forces Bell to open its ADSL network to competing ISP's. As a direct result of this, Bell forces its high-speed service customers to use the RedBack pppoE mechanisms ("Access Manager" software). The Windoze version of this software can be quite evil, and the Linux version is even more. 50% CPU utilisation for a simple ftp transfer have been reported...

    Is there any effort to implement pppoE at the kernel level in 2.3.xx?

    sigh...

  • I'm sorry, but there are some statements here that I have to take issue with.

    >What some companies tend to overlook is that the upfront costs is the sunk infrastructure but the long-term value is in the services on top. Unfortunately it does lead to a chicken and egg situation as nobody wants to seriously risk all that capital without having some guarenteed of payback down the track (can we say cable companies here?)

    I've not seen *anyone* even hint at the idea that "Open Access" requirements would come with compensation to the cable companies. This concept that the cable companies have to have monopoly ISP access on the cable networks is so bogus. Its predicated on the thought, I guess, that the cable companies aren't charging enough for the access level, and instead are making up for the loss by charging more for the Internet Access over top of the cable modem access. More practically speaking...they aren't overcharging for what they are promising...but they certainly aren't (for the most part) delivering on what they promised.

    Every Open Access proposal I've seen would open up cable modem access to multiple ISP, but the cable company would still get paid for each and every cable modem installed...ie, for the access via the cable network. This would be *direcly* analogous to dial-up access. There are multiple ISPs available, but you still pay the telco for your phone line. :)

    If the cable companies aren't charging enough for the basic cable modem access, then that's their fault. They shouldn't punish consumers because they're too dumb to figure out what their cost structure is.

    Shoot...with the use of cable modems and PPPoE and the like, you can even have consumers switch ISPs on the fly, which makes it almost a dial'ed type of situation, which makes the analogy with telco's even more accurate.

    My personal thought is that the cable companies are using the "cost recovery" as an excuse to maintain a monopoly hold on the even more lucrative ISP business in the cable network area. "Cost recovery," is not an issue in a well-done open access setup.

    Jeff
  • Oh, nonsense...

    A monopoly position is going to encourage development? That would be a first.

    Listen...there's basically two seperate services being offered here. First, there's a cable modem network service, which is what I've been calling "cable access." There's not much hope in getting competition in here as cable companies are unlikely to want to come in and build their own infrastructure when one already exists, and that's assuming the franchises even allow that! The second in Internet Services that happen to be served over cable modem networks as well as other access media. There's significant competition in this arena on most media, cable-modems being the only exception.

    Basically, the cable companies are leveraging thier monopoly in cable access providing (the actual wires) to force there way into another market (Internet access). That's arguably anti-competitive and illegal!

    Making the arguement that cable companies won't upgrade their cable plant if they don't have a monopoly on Internet access via the cable plant is specious at best.

    Let's continue the analogy to telcos since it really is a pretty good one....back in the day when you could only rent your telephone from AT&T, upgrades and improvements to the telephone system were virtually non-existant. Allowing other people to build their own equipment to connect to the telephone company network pushed AT&T (and the baby bells) to make improvements rather more quickly. Introduction of local telco competition in 1996 is pushing telco's to make upgrades even more rapidly.

    So, to apply this to cablecos. Sure...the best way to encourage cable companies to upgrade and make improvements would be to have competing cablecos in the same franchise area...the franchise where I live allows for this, but doesn't require it...so far, no other cablecos have decided to come in and set up a competing shop. So, barring that happening, the best we can do is allow multiple people to connect to the cable network to encourage the upgrades and improvements. Allowing cablecos to monopolize Internet access via cable networks is going to encourage them *not* to make upgrades and improvements (despite their marketing crap they spew) as a person is considerably less likely to switch from a cable modem to DSL, than they are to switch from provider 1 (say @Home) to provider 2 (pick any other) on cable modems.

    No, your arguements are bogus at best. Encourage competition wherever possible...this is almost always in the best interest of the end consumer. Encouraging monopoly providers almost always results in a lowering of service quality.

    Jeff
  • Ack...too early in the morning.

    That should say, "I've not seen *anyone* even hint at the idea that 'Open Access' requirements would come with*out* compensation to the cable companies".

    I promise to proofread better next time.

    Jeff
  • Uhm....T3's are faster than E3's I believe (45Mbps vs. 34Mbps or so?) Sorry to burst your bubble.

    Jeff
  • >How come nobody posted the story about
    >CA*NET3 (The new internet infrastructure planned
    >for Canada)? It's to run 60 times faster the
    >US's INET II.

    It was posted and discussed - a few weeks ago. Check out this article [slashdot.org] or call me a liar :-)

    Enjoy
  • Maybe it's just the two different group of posters, but it's interesting to see the change of opinion in this forum and in the one from Tuesday about Internet self-regulation.

    Thurow was lambasted in that forum for suggesting that self regulation was a myth unless there was some force on the sidelines waiting to step in if people didn't play fair. Fair enough.

    However, I find it interesting that people seem quite happy with the idea of a government body coming in and forcing the cable companies to let others be more competitive.

    I would point out that competitive access to the physical network (ie. consumers with a wide choice of service providers) means that there will be greater freedom on the 'net. Why? Big providers like AOL, Sympatico are reknowned for catering to the most conservative faction in order to appeal to the largest market possible. (Wasn't it AOL who used to censor chat groups by their members? I think it's in Rheingold's book...)

    In the fine print of the @Home use policies it says you're not supposed to set up your own server on their network. Of course, many people who know what they're doing ignore them, but if @Home had their way everyone would only be accessing the net and not publishing to it except with @Home servers (and presumably subject to @Home's ideas of what is proper and improper posting).

    Take it from the other side though, especially with regards to Canada, a country that still has rather draconian censorship laws. (Border guards have been known to hold 'pornographic' materials for review. The scary thing about censorship of course, is that it always comes down to a few people telling others what's right.)

    My rather drawn out point is this: regulation has it's place, but so does the competition of the market. I don't for a second think that either one is our friend (or enemy!), but that they should be played off each other to get the desired outcome. I think posters in this forum would be pretty receptive to that idea, but I think maybe others from the Thurow discussion may have pause for thought.

  • OK Mr. and Mrs. Cable company. We want you to spend millions and even maybe billions of dollars (overall) on upgrading your plant and then we're going to insist that you allow Joe Anyone to use your network at some ridiculously low cost, therefore not allowing you to get any return on your investment for yourself.

    Ummm... you've got to let the cable companies make some of their money back. If you fail to do this, there will be little incentive to have the cable companies make all these upgrades.

    I can just see everyone bitching over who gets what transmit and receive frequencies on the CATV wires... it'll be damn interesting, and I've the feeling that the way some manufacturers control their hardware, you'll have interferences galore if you start mixing systems on a common cable plant. *sigh*


  • Yes, potential problems down the road if the cable companies are able to amass such power of high-speed access, and the FCC will have to watch this in the years to come... but what you are addressing is essentially putting the cart far before the horse. There is a far more fundamental problem with high-speed access that's hurting consumers right now: They can't get anyone to sell it to them!

    The incentives to roll this out have simply not been there... until AT&T came along and forced everyone to get off their asses.

    A monopoly position is going to encourage development? That would be a first.

    Whoever said cable modems are the wave of the future? The vast majority of speed-starved consumers will gladly fork over $60 a month to the first medium who arrives with a high-speed link.... no technological questions asked.

    Remember DSL? AOL certainly does. When it isn't busy coaching lobbyists and bawling at the government to save it (and they are ones to talk!), it's making deals with the likes of GTE, Ameritech SBC and Bell Atlantic.

    There are options out there right now... instead of botching up the whole process with forced regulation, let these companies put out the service first! They are competing right now!
  • Over here in Nova Scotia we got it OK. If you're in the metro-Halifax area than in the vast majority of areas you've got cable access available. If you're stuck in an area without cable, you can always go to the competitors AT&T and pick up some ADSL lovin. Then if you're stuck outside metro-Halifax there's always that satellite provider... whom I can't remember the name of right now... and it's only good for fast downloads but that's better than nothing I suppose.
  • It's 30,000, the population at UBC. Even though it seems like 60+k because of all the arts people greatly outnumber Applied Science people.
  • They are not talking about opening up the lines for a ridiculously low cost... the cable companies are still going to make a pretty profit from their initial investments (just not as high as they might like it).

    However, the reason that I am against open access, is that it will discourage competition and improvements on technology. Let the cable companies, the regional bell's and the satellite providers duke it out. That is enough competition
    to keep prices down, but more importantly, it will encourage companies to reinvest their profits in order to improve upon these technologies.


    If the cable companies are forced to open up, that , in a sense will guarantee them a certain rate of profits. The companies will be merely content to rest on their laurels with this guarantee, than to spend additionla capital on maintenance and upgrades. Why would they!? Their profits will not nesacarily improve with better service, if forced to open up.
  • by Rix (54095)
    I guess the only thing keeping many Americans from moving to Canada and tapping this large, relatively undisturbed paradise is their lack of conversational French (and unwillingness to learn other languages, instead insisting that others learn English). I myself think I'll pick up a French course or two next semester.

    French is really only used in the eastern provinces. The real reason would be the gov't taking half of your income, and the lack of civil rights.
    Cheers,

    Rick Kirkland
  • So, what you're saying is that a monopoly position is going to encourage these cable companies to roll out there services in other areas more quickly? How do you say that with a straight face? I've been practicing that and can't suppress the giggles every time I say it.

    Look at it this way. The cablecos are going to more quickly deploy it in other areas (if they're not idiots, which certainly remains to be seen) because they don't have to build out their proprietary Internet access to these locations. They can set up the cable plant for cable-modem service, hook up whatever local ISPs are already in the area and immediately start gaining revenue from the service. Cable modem access was long ago available to be up and running in our area...what was the delay? Waiting for @Home to build their (still pathetically performing) network out to our location enough to actually be able to sell their service on the cable network. All that time, Intermedia was sitting there with the possibility to sell cable modem access, but refused to let anyone hook on because they were waiting for Intermedia to come in and provide the only (already overloaded and its only been running here for couple of months) service on the network.

    Here's a clue...if cablecos are depending on competition with DSL to keep the regulators off their backs...they're in bad shape, 'cause right now, every local and national ISP that's not affiliated with a cableco is badmouthing (and rightly so) the cable-modem access for the suckiness that it is. Any time that DSL is a viable alternative, the cablecos are gonna lose and lose big time! @Home can't even provide service to a tiny fraction of the population where I am...DSL already has more customers around here and its only been available for a month, and even its not opened up to alternatives ISPs very well. When BellSouth gets a clue on their pricing and other ISPs can viably offer DSL service via their DSL network, Intermedia/@Home is dead.

    Long term, customer choice is almost always gonna be better than monopoly positions both for consumers, and even for the monopoly company! By the cablecos not fostering competition, and by governments not fostering competition within the cable access networks, both entities are ultimately shooting themselves in their respective feet.

    Jeff
  • Cable modem access was long ago available to be up and running in our area...what was
    the delay? Waiting for @Home to build their (still pathetically performing) network out to our
    location enough to actually be able to sell their service on the cable network.


    Wasn't this my point? I have to wait years still for any high-speed access (at last estimate)... if this starts getting regulated, i am going to have to wait even longer. Instead, I want these various high-speed mediums to be racing to get to me, and to provide me with their service!

    Here's a clue...if cablecos are depending on competition with DSL to keep the regulators off their
    backs...they're in bad shape, 'cause right now, every local and national ISP that's not affiliated
    with a cableco is badmouthing (and rightly so) the cable-modem access for the suckiness that it is.
    Any time that DSL is a viable alternative, the cablecos are gonna lose and lose big time! @Home
    can't even provide service to a tiny fraction of the population where I am...DSL already has more
    customers around here and its only been available for a month, and even its not opened up to
    alternatives ISPs very well. When BellSouth gets a clue on their pricing and other ISPs can viably
    offer DSL service via their DSL network, Intermedia/@Home is dead.


    First of all, that DSL is better is certainly up for debate... but more pertaining to our argument thread here >> Read your first sentence above. You are again proving my point. DSL is certainly a viable, competing high-speed option away from cable (in fact, AT&T is starting to even provide DSL service!). If so many people think DSL is better, that will encourage the cable companies to improve their technology, and roll it out even faster.

    And I still believe most consumers do not give a rat's ass on the specs... they will fork out the money to whomever is able to reach them first.

    Long term, customer choice is almost always gonna be better than monopoly positions both for
    consumers, and even for the monopoly company! By the cablecos not fostering competition, and by
    governments not fostering competition within the cable access networks, both entities are
    ultimately shooting themselves in their respective feet.


    There is going to be choice! You will be able to choose between cable, DSL, satellite, and whatever else rolls along.

    And do you really believe the cable companies are going to completely turn their backs on the ISP's anyways!? This would eliminate a large customer base and source of revenue.
  • Cable modem access was long ago available to be up and running in our area...what was
    the delay? Waiting for @Home to build their (still pathetically performing) network out to our
    location enough to actually be able to sell their service on the cable network.


    Wasn't this my point? I have to wait years still for any high-speed access (at last estimate)... if this starts getting regulated, i am going to have to wait even longer. Instead, I want these various high-speed mediums to be racing to get to me, and to provide me with their service!

    Justas cable TV service got a hell of a lot better with the advent of competing satellite TV, so will cable connecions get better.

    Here's a clue...if cablecos are depending on competition with DSL to keep the regulators off their
    backs...they're in bad shape, 'cause right now, every local and national ISP that's not affiliated
    with a cableco is badmouthing (and rightly so) the cable-modem access for the suckiness that it is.
    Any time that DSL is a viable alternative, the cablecos are gonna lose and lose big time! @Home
    can't even provide service to a tiny fraction of the population where I am...DSL already has more
    customers around here and its only been available for a month, and even its not opened up to
    alternatives ISPs very well. When BellSouth gets a clue on their pricing and other ISPs can viably
    offer DSL service via their DSL network, Intermedia/@Home is dead.


    First of all, that DSL is better is certainly up for debate... but more pertaining to our argument thread here >> Read your first sentence above. You are again proving my point. DSL is certainly a viable, competing high-speed option away from cable (in fact, AT&T is starting to even provide DSL service!). If so many people think DSL is better, that will encourage the cable companies to improve their technology, and roll it out even faster.

    And I still believe most consumers do not give a rat's ass on the specs... they will fork out the money to whomever is able to reach them first.

    Long term, customer choice is almost always gonna be better than monopoly positions both for
    consumers, and even for the monopoly company! By the cablecos not fostering competition, and by
    governments not fostering competition within the cable access networks, both entities are
    ultimately shooting themselves in their respective feet.


    There is going to be choice! You will be able to choose between cable, DSL, satellite, and whatever else rolls along.

    And do you really believe the cable companies are going to completely turn their backs on the ISP's anyways!? This would eliminate a large customer base and source of revenue.
  • Oh good grief...you really have no clue what you're talking about.

    I don't think anyone has ever said that there is absolutely no competition in broadband service completely, but instead that enhancement of competition within the cable modem access media specifically would improve cable modem service. I don't see how anyone that has worked within this field at all could even halfway argue that point.

    >And do you really believe that the cable companies are going to simpl ignore the already millions of internet users on ISP's not their own (AOL = 19 million). They will open up their lines to these ISP's...

    And this statement clenches it...you really are *totally* out of your field of knowledge...either that or you work in a marketing department for a cableco. I have not heard any significant cableco ever express any intentions of opening up their access to any other ISPs, ever.

    Jeff
  • And this statement clenches it...you really are *totally* out of your field of knowledge...either that
    or you work in a marketing department for a cableco. I have not heard any significant cableco ever
    express any intentions of opening up their access to any other ISPs, ever.


    Yup... just because you have never heard of it must mean that I am completely full of rhino feces.
    :)

    --Executives close to AT&T (T) and American OnLine (AOL)
    said the two companies are considering an arrangement which would give AOL -
    and perhaps other internet providers - enhanced access to AT&T's systems, The
    New York Times reports in its Monday edition.
    The arrangement would bypass communication systems and web services developed
    by Excite@Home, an internet-over-cable company backed by many cable television
    players, including AT&T.
    Such a deal would let AT&T and America Online each tap the technical and
    marketing strengths of the other, The New York Times reported.
    AT&T and America Online declined comment, the New York Times reported.



    12:46 AM- - 12 46 AM EDT 08-09-99


  • Canada and most European countries are far ahead of us in terms of liberating and socializing new technologies. France had widespread ISDN in the mid to late 1970's. The U.S. is still living in the dark ages of Rockefeller capitalism. Many other countries know better.


  • I dont really know *a lot* about networking standars, but one thing is true about the US, it always deploys as "standard" an inferior technology. While the rest of the world uses European standars for hign capacity transmision lines, for example, the E1 and the E3, and the US implements the T1 and the T3 which are slower than their european counterparts. And I am not an european, I live in Mexico and we use the european standars here.

    Another example and a very recent one is the declaration of one of Nokias Top execute's about that cellular phone that was released to the public in Finland or Sweden which let you surf the web using new HDTV signals. They said they never released to the us public 'cause the technology the US implemented in HDTV was inferior to the european one, but then again it was the cheapest one.

    I think this goes waaaaaay back to SNA and the OSI network model, maybe that's just too many speculation...
  • I digress. I don't want a this versus that debate either. Perhaps I was generalizing too broadly.
    But I think a point still stands that if cable companies are raking in tons of cash, it would the "right" thing to do to pony some up for the advancement and proliferation of new technology.
    This is why they busted up the phone companies (sorta). How would you like it if you still had to rent your phone?
  • What some companies tend to overlook is that the upfront costs is the sunk infrastructure but the long-term value is in the services on top. Unfortunately it does lead to a chicken and egg situation as nobody wants to seriously risk all that capital without having some guarenteed of payback down the track (can we say cable companies here?) but you can't create new services without experimental test-beds and cheap access. Thus the Canadian development is rather bold in opening up high-speed networks without obvious immediate commercial paybacks (and anyone mentioning video-on-demand should look at the distinct lack of consumer interest in trials so far) but then I suppose that is the definition of R&D.

    Apart from 500 interactive home shopping channels :-(, what applications would benefit from greater bandwidth? Perhaps security monitoring (check on baby-sitters at home), or full-screen help-line type activities but one bottleneck I see is that the traditionalists who own the infrastructure may not always be the innovative providers, ie all the gear but no idea. Trying to "add value" by competing with customer applications which sit on top of the communications pipes (now that bandwidth and connectivity is becoming a commodity) is a rather interesting way of pissing off friends and creating enemies. The appearance of ISPs outside the traditional telcos indicate that it is not always easy to look outside traditional sources of cashflow.

    So can anyone name any telco which has been particularly good at bringing new services to consumers? Or do /.ers think they mainly copy (and compete/crush) the plans of internet startups?

    LL
  • must be some nice crack your smoking there bub
    last I heard many european countries have drastically limited internet access thanks to their monopolistic government spawned phone companies and per-minute phone charges.
  • Almost everyone has private internet access, a t1 connection in every high school, lots of public access computers in public libararies, most universities have broadband, cable modems gaining quick popularity everywhere, it's the only place in the world that I know of where you can see the original Tom Green Show (that is to say, the only good ones.. sorry MTV fans), a much lower crime rate than the U.S., less restrictive laws, smaller cities (Ottawa, the capital of Canada, is smaller than Austin, Texas)..

    I guess the only thing keeping many Americans from moving to Canada and tapping this large, relatively undisturbed paradise is their lack of conversational French (and unwillingness to learn other languages, instead insisting that others learn English). I myself think I'll pick up a French course or two next semester.

    Disclaimer: The preceding joke is probably funny only to me. Don't hurt me. ;)

  • by legoboy (39651) on Wednesday September 15, 1999 @07:29PM (#1679352)
    I've got to say this... With no statistics to back me up, residents of Canada probably have the highest per capita access to the internet in the world. I would say that a *majority* of people in my area have private access. (ie, family)

    In the area of BC where I live, the high schools all have t1 connections, and the public libraries have a *lot* of computers for public access. Most (if not all) of the universities have broadband in the dorms, and I know that at UBC, the only residence without it is Gage. (Locals could tell you that its buildings are about 60 years old, and solid concrete.) I'm not sure of the total student population at UBC, but I think it's over 50,000... If I'm wrong, correct me please.

    In the past few months, the availibility of cable modems residentially has been skyrocketting. I'm in a town of about 30,000 people, and I'm paying a bit under $40 Canadian a month for my service. Bandwidth is unlimited, and I get t1-equivalent speeds in peak hours.

    Tangent: City councils in the area are trying to encourage high-tech companies to move here, and there *are* a fair number of minor ones that have., despite our beloved NDP government.

    It is interesting to note that the @Home Service has been expanding very quickly here in the last little while. It makes me wonder if the cable companies saw this ruling coming, and quickly made a deal with them so that they could get their own subscriber base before anyone else has a chance.

    In other provinces, especially southern Ontario, I know that broadband is at least as easy to acquire as it is here.

    ------
  • Canada and most European countries are far ahead of us in terms of liberating and socializing new technologies. France had widespread ISDN in the mid to late 1970's. The U.S. is still living in the dark ages of Rockefeller capitalism. Many other countries know better.

    Hmm - and you know what the really irritating thing is - here on the shallow side of the pond we could have had high-bandwidth cheap connections (cheap) to every house in Britain if the monopolies commision (or whatever it was called back then) hadn't refused BT the license.

    Oh well - it's too early to be really bitter :)

    Mark
  • There are two cable company trials, cooperating with 3rd-party ISPs, going on in Canada. Both are using "policy-based routing" as implemented by Cisco routers, to send subscriber packets to the appropiate ISP.

    They are not using PPPoE, as Bell Canada is currently using for their ADSL service.

    Details of the Videotron/UUNET setup at:
    http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ENG/PROC_REP/TELECOM/1998/ 8638/C12-17.html

    (in particular see the file 980208.zip)


    Richard
  • Fair enough, but BT are now rolling out ASDL in some areas (£40 for 512kbs). This gives you continuous connection, and at last we can use the internet like our US counterparts.

  • It would appear that Moterola believe that cable access will be the way forward. Check out this story [bbc.co.uk] for details of them buying STB maker General Instruments. I personally think that two way cable connections are a good thing, but here in Britian it is yet to take off. Maybe soon...

  • It is sold in europe because (I believe) because almost everyone owns a wireless there. Esp in Finland, I believe that 80% of Finland has a cellphone as their ONLY phone.

    Other than my 1 line for web surfing, I am PCS-exclusive.

    Anyway, back to the point. They probably built GSM phones for the european market, where they knew they could sell them, however, in america, Our digital standard is PCS, and TV/Web/cellphones are a harder sell.

    So it has nothing to do with HDTV.
  • As a Canadian, I can say that it's pretty cool. It will go a long way to forcing prices down and ensuring competition in the marketplace.
  • I don't think that is true at all. Cable Internet is not available in my home town (in Alberta) either, nor is ADSL. In fact,
    whether this goes through or not has nothing to do with cable Internet is small towns.

    The reason? Cable Internet is too expensive. Cable companies need the high prices of cable TV to subsidize the net loss of
    cable Internet. And this is in the cities. In small towns it is worse. They have to either bury thousands of miles of backbones
    or lease a telco's if available, just so that only a few people can use it. I've seen a map of Telus' backbone. It is huge,
    expensive, and covers only major cities and a couple lucky towns on the way.

    As for "We _need_ monopolies to provide incentive to service providers to make the necessary capital investment.", your on
    your own on that one. And the cable company in my home town is neither Shaw nor Rogers; it's privately owned.
  • Cable companys, although widely affiliated, are much smaller in their market size than the baby bells are, let alone their predecessor. Here's something to chew on though... AT&T (ATT or whatever they call themselves) is fast becoming one of the largest cable providers in America.
    If at first you don't succeed...
  • BT are only rolling out ADSL because they are being forced to, and the £40 is only the start.

    Prices have yet to be finalised, but they are talking about £40/month for a 512kbit downlink from an ISP to your home, and higher prices for faster links. The link is a virtual circuit over their ATM network with the last leg being ADSL.

    The crucial point is that you don't buy this from BT. You pay your ISP for Internet access, and they pay BT to install the ADSL link.

    So you don't pay £40 per month. You pay the ISP quite a bit more, and then you add VAT (our version of sales tax) on at 17.5%. Estimates suggest that a decent Internet service won't leave you much change out of £100 per month. And if you want the line to go to a business instead of your home then you will pay even more. The same service starts at £150 per month then.

    So why are they selling a service at a price point that even they admit won't generate much demand? Well BT makes an awful lot of money out of its leased line business, and doesn't want to canibalise it. However Oftel (UK telecoms regulator) will demand that BT allow competitors access to their local copper loops in (IIRC) 2002, and cable modems are coming up behind.

    Meanwhile I note that US West is offering ADSL with Internet access for a stunning $30 per month.

    BT sucks!

    Paul.

  • And that is exactly what I see as the largest problem with opening up the cable lines.

    Where is the need for high maintenance and improvements in technology when these companies have close to a guaranteed return? Why would they want to invest more into a system, when their profits will remain largely the same?

    If left up to the regional bell's, broadband technology would probably be 25 years down the road. I applaud these cable companies for coming in, shaking things up and forcing the regional bell's to get of their asses.

    There is going to be compitition to drive prices down between DSL, cable and satellite access. Forced open access is only going to encourage stagnation.
  • I know someone who's had a cablemodem in my town for about 3 years. Now just about everyone I know has either a cablemodem or ADSL.

    With both going for $39.95/month (about $26 US) with free installation and no equipment rental, how can you justify getting a 2nd phoneline ($20/month) and Dial-up ISP ($19.95/month).

    The same thing has happened with PCS phones around here, everyone in my family and everyone I know has one. The reason is because it's only $20/month for 200 minutes, and no contract. And if that's too much for you, you can get a "pay-as-you-go" service. There's also healthy competition, with four major wireless companies.

    Lowering the costs of technology, and making it widely available, causes people to adopt it more readily. Now I can't wait for digital radios to go down in price, since every radio station in Toronto is now broadcasting in digital.

    Jacob Rens
    Daily Videogame News and Info: http://www.the-nextlevel.com

  • I as considering having ASDL at home as I thought it would be

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