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Comment: Re:Congratulations (Score 1) 590

by Copid (#49134691) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules

Why do you need to "wire up a large geographical space"?

Sure, it's possible that a lot of little ISPs could cover an area effectively as well and compete with the monopolists on a block-by-block basis. Economies of scale work against it, but it's possible. I don't think such an ecosystem would create too much competition, though. Any ISP capable of starting up and surviving in a tiny footprint would likely choose the most under-served space to do it, so you'd expect most areas to be "monopolist + 1 small ISP" instead of a few ISPs, which is what you'd get with a lot of large operations working a city at a time.

Then again, "a lot of large operations working a city at a time" is exactly what we don't have, so the 1 small / 1 big equilibrium is better than nothing.

Really? I don't believe that's true.

You don't think that the number of people with competitive broadband depends heavily on the definition of "broadband"? If I define "broadband" as "a working sewer system" I think we'd see a substantial increase in the number of people with broadband. And if you define it as a 25Mbit Internet connection, you'd see a much smaller number. So when the telcom industry tells rosy stories of robust competition in the broadband industry, they're using a definition carefully chosen to make that story true.

Netflix works fine at 3 Mbps, what more do you want?

Netflix recommends 5Mbps for HD and 25Mbps for UHD. If we want to stick to a single stream at SD, it's great, though. Previous generations survived with low res black and white televisions with no ill effects, so we could actually get away with a lot less than that. As long as our Internet usage patterns remain what they were in, say, 2012 for the foreseeable future, we can define ourselves as having perfect infrastructure and decalre victory.

Weirdly, the US broadband market seems to be the only tech market where we haggle over how many years ago everything became "good enough" to stop improving. I mean, Intel keeps putting out better processors even though MS Word runs perfectly well on the ones from a few years ago. It's hard to fill up the hard drives we buy today, but they're still getting bigger. Which is good, because cloud storage sucks at 3Mbps, so all of the possibilities on that frontier are out the window unless we upgrade.

Furthermore, many of those subsidize broadband, so it's actually a lot more expensive than it seems.

It's these kinds of vague, hand-wavy assertions that drive me nuts. This stuff is just numbers, and it's knowable. Which countries and how much? What's the definition of "a lot more expensive" in terms of dollars per month so it's easy to compare? I admit it's hasty back-of-the-envelope work, but I'm not able to subsidies that work out to the equivalent of more than a few dollars a month.

The reason why that matters is not pricing, but that Comcast at least has to keep their equipment and services competitive.A government-mandated monopoly doesn't even have to do that.

They have to keep their equipment and services competitive with whatever a new competitor might bring online, but they can keep their prices at monopoly levels until that competitor actually does come online. The fact that Comcast has to keep up efficiency doesn't result in all that much benefit the end user if it all ends up in monopoly profits. The fact that it's marginally better than a government ISP is still damning with faint praise.

Comment: Re:Congratulations (Score 1) 590

by Copid (#49134139) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules

Yes, mostly due to government regulations, planning departments, and other governmental gatekeepers.

I don't doubt that those contribute significantly (although nobody seems to want to put up real numbers to back up the claim), but even in the absence of regulation, wiring up a large geographical space is bloody expensive. There are very high capital investments to be made in either case, and you have to be reasonably sure they'll pay off.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that our regulatory regime is the major source of the problem, but I'm skeptical that the problem is "regulation exists" rather than, "our regulation sucks." I mean, not all of the countries that are beating the snot out of us on the broadband front are known for their light regulatory touch. Their regulatory environment likely just encourages competition better than ours does.

Actually, the majority of Americans have two or more wired providers, plus two or more wireless providers. That's in addition to satellite Internet and various local options based on microwave links.

I think this hinges pretty heavily on the definition of "broadband." A lot of these claims are based on somewhat dated thresholds like 4Mbit, which is "broadband" by some definitions, but kind of laughable when you compare the results to other civilized countries. Once you get to higher tiers like 10, 25, and 50Mbit, things start looking substantially less competitive.

I'm hopeful for what wireless providers will be able to bring in the coming years, but the competition situation for real broadband right now is pretty grim, limited by the fact that the best ways to move lots of data fast is over physical wires and it takes time and money to run wires.

If Company X can offer the same service as Comcast but more efficiently, then it is rational for Company X to enter the market. What Comcast currently charges makes no difference.

That needs to be phrased very carefully. It needs to be able to do it more efficiently than Comcast at its equilibrium competitive price. Your second sentence is key. What Comcast currently charges isn't the rate you have to beat. The target rate is whatever you think Comcast could cut its rates to if it had to compete with you. Given that has already amortized a goodly chunk of its capital investments and it's able to bundle with television and sell one or the other as a loss leader depending on the market, that makes it a risky prospect. So unless you have a real ace up your sleeve, you'd generally invest elsewhere and Comcast never actually has to come anywhere near that rate.

Comment: Re:Congratulations (Score 1) 590

by Copid (#49133751) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules

Not where I'm living.


Even in markets where Comcast has a monopoly, it has to keep its prices low enough and its product up to date enough to make it unprofitable for other players to enter.

Sure. But the barriers to entry for the broadband market are tremendously high, which is why most locations have only one major provider. If you want to become a broadband provider, you'll usually choose a place without an existing broadband solution, because otherwise you run the risk of a price war that could make your newly built infrastructure a lot less profitable. The fact that Comcast could lower prices in itself is a disincentive for others to enter the market, which basically means that Comcast doesn't have to lower prices. It's similar to when companies like WalMart announce that they'll beat any competitor's price. That's partially to get your business, but it's also a very public announcement that nobody else should even bother trying to compete on price, which prevents WalMart from actually having to act on its guarantee on any large scale. The counterintuitive net result is higher prices on average.

With barriers to entry being what they are, keeping your product good enough that nobody risks huge piles of capital to build out risky new infrastructure is about as high a bar as keeping your service just barely good enough that people don't vote you out of office. Sure, it could happen, but it probably won't. It keeps things from getting ridiculously bad, but they're still pretty damn bad. The fact that Comcast is just slightly better that a government agency that provides a service you need in order to live really is damning with faint praise.

I'll be honest about my personal experience--just about the only government agency I've dealt with that is worse to deal with than Comcast is the California DMV. I'm fairly certain that if they outsourced the DMV to Federal Express or, the whole operation would be a single rack of servers and a couple of guys to keep them running and mail out the printouts.

And you have a choice whether you buy Comcast's product, a choice you don't get with many public utilities.

That's true in the sense that you can choose not to have broadband Internet access at all while skipping out on running water or trash collection is not really a good option for most people. If we needed broadband as badly as we needed city water, you could bet your bottom dollar that Comcast's prices would be even higher than they are now and their service would be even worse. A much better setup would be if you could choose between Comcast and some other technically comparable alternative, but that's not a reality in most places. In terms of market outcome, there's a world of difference between "My optional product or my competitor's optional product," and, "My optional product or go fuck yourself."

Comment: Re:I hope this wasn't a trojan horse (Score 1) 590

by Copid (#49130493) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules

What might help is if we got the competition going with more companies laying cable in the same area competing for the same customers. The argument that this is not profitable is a fiction. The cost of laying cable is trivial IF you exclude the costs that cities and counties charge ISPs to lay the cable.

I'd like to hear some of the numbers on this one.

Comment: Re:Congratulations (Score 1) 590

by Copid (#49130367) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules

Next thing, they are going to push for making Internet service a public utility and monopoly.

Broadband already is basically a monopoly and hugely overpriced. I'm not a fan of turning it into a regulated utility, but let's be honest about the state we're in. If Comcast is your only viable option, you're already dealing with a provider that acts more or less like a government department, just one with higher profit margins.

Comment: Re:Sounds good (Score 1) 590

by Copid (#49130165) Attached to: Republicans Back Down, FCC To Enforce Net Neutrality Rules

Who the hell keeps paying for a product if you don't get anything of value? Stop pretending you know what's good for a person more than they do.

That's true for almost every product, but there are specialized products that the average person doesn't necessarily evaulate as well as experts do. You ask your doctor which medications to take. Before you sign an important contract, you check with your lawyer. For a lot of people, health insurance sits in the "don't know what you're buying until you've bought it" zone. People are often happy with their plans because they've never really used them. It pays for your basic doctor's visits every time? Awesome! Got into a car accident and found out that it only covers those injuries if you're hit by a Fiat or similar brand? Oops. Looks like you bought Insurance Flavored Product which explains why your plan was so cheap.

Alternately, you could create a normalized set of definitions of minimum coverage so people know roughly what they're getting at a given tier.

Comment: Re:Just Require an IQ Test (Score 2) 673

by Copid (#48886015) Attached to: Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated?

Considering recent studies show that cancer is more likely to be caused by genetics than smoking ... you might want to adjust your ignorant holier than thou attitude and learn how science actually works rather than blindly believing shit you've been indoctrinated with and being too stupid to think for yourself.

Death is more likely to be caused by car accidents than being eaten by wolves. Therefore, being eaten by wolves doesn't cause death. Science, bitches.

Comment: Re:Where is the line on other health aspects thoug (Score 1) 673

by Copid (#48885897) Attached to: Should Disney Require Its Employees To Be Vaccinated?

So, in summary, vaccines are one thing, out of many, that help your immune system and reduce your chances of infection. If you assign liability, or worse, criminality, to not boosting your immune system in one way, why not the others too?

Because some things are easier and more effective than others, so the reasonableness of the requirement and the benefits of compliance are different. How is this question different from, "You're not allowed to drive while drunk, but why just have that rule and not also a universal speed limit of 2 mph if we care about safety?"

Comment: Re:And so on. (Score 2) 316

by Copid (#48836049) Attached to: Eric Holder Severely Limits Civil Forfeiture
Good. That's something that you can at least respond to in front of a judge. "Are there bad pictures on my phone? No? Then give me my car back." On the drug side it was, "Nice cash. You're probably going to use it to buy drugs, so it's ours now." How can you even theoretically respond to that? If it's your word against theirs and there's no evidence to break the tie either way, you're screwed.

My primary worry is that the child porn hole will result in more people having to track down the source of every movie in their porn collection to show that everybody was 18 years old and if they can't, they lose their property. That could be a huge mess. We'll see if "child pornography" arrests based on somebody having a lot of videos suddenly skyrocket to make up the lost income from drug seizures.

Comment: Re:And so on. (Score 2) 316

by Copid (#48835519) Attached to: Eric Holder Severely Limits Civil Forfeiture
At least with child pornography, they have to have some sort of evidence that you might be involved in child pornography. Even flimsy evidence. With drugs, all they needed was to find you carrying a lot of cash or a nice car and say that they were suspicious of you. The "drug dog alerted on his car outside the view of the dash cam" or the, "only drug dealers carry large amounts of cash" lines are totally irrefutable wildcards that the cops could use to steal your stuff if they saw you on the street with something valuable. It's a lot harder to steal your car or your cash on suspicion of child porn during a routine traffic stop. At least they need to pull some Internet records and search your house to see if you have any in your possession.

Comment: Re:Again, this has nothing to do with terrorism (Score 1) 329

Exactly. Every time something like this happens, the government appears within a couple of days and says, "We've used the data we have to reconstruct everything that happened. Also, in order to prevent future attacks, we need more data." The story they're telling is not consistent with needing more data. It's the story of an organization that's awash in so much data that it can't make any useful predictions from it. It's only useful in hindsight.

Comment: Re:So... (Score 1) 311

by Copid (#48793525) Attached to: Google Fund To Pay For 1 Million Copies of Charlie Hebdo

I personally believe (and I accept that I cannot prove this) that a great many people who are currently speaking in favour of Charlie Hebdo's right to deliberately offend a "them" would take offense to the Sia video and would be denouncing her right to incidentally offend the "us".

How many of those people you imagine exist do you imagine would change their tune if the people who worked on the video were all shot in the head?

One person's error is another person's data.