Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
The Internet

Florida Court Overturns AT&T Cable Ordinance 94

jothenull writes: "A Florida judge ruled that a "Broward County ordinance requiring cable giant AT&T to allow rival Internet access to their systems violated the First Amendment."" Available wherever AP articles are found. Since cable systems get a monopoly from local municipalities, it only seems fair that they be required to fulfill certain requirements - carrying a diversity of programming, permitting access to a variety of ISPs - but the cable services are fighting their part of the bargain tooth and nail.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Florida Court Overturns AT&T Cable Ordinance

Comments Filter:
  • Under US law corparations are allowed all rights and freedoms that a induvidual is.

    I think this is one of the major problem with the court system, they allow huge companies with tons of money to basically bring continual lawsuits against people. i can not remember a time in the last 5 years that a major media company hasn't been sueing someone for violations of their 1st amendment rights.

  • All the 10-10 numbers are lines being leased out from the local phone company, because its considered a monopoly on the local phone lines. So why wouldn't it be considered a monopoly for the cable company? Maybe its because phones are almost considered a necessity these days, even welfare will pay the phone bill.
  • by jburroug ( 45317 ) <slashdot AT acerbic DOT org> on Friday November 10, 2000 @06:34PM (#630913) Homepage Journal
    Certian companies may have a wire monopoly but that monopoly is not mandated by the city, they have a wire monopoly because they own the fucking wire and can do whatever the hell they want to do with it (or should, but when it comes to telecomm the feds like to play fast and loose with private property rights.) Nothing is stopping another carrier from coming in and laying wire but the cost of doing so, if you're really that upset about your choices raise some capital and build your own network. The only way I can see how the city could somehow sanction a monopoly would be by a corrupt offical denying access to city owned right of ways to a competitor wishing to lay wire, of course if that ever happened in a sizable market you can bet that the competitors being locked out in this way would be screaming bloody murder to the FCC.
  • Corporations SHOULDN'T Have any rights. Corporations are inanimate collections of individual citizens who each themselves have rights. It pisses ME off whenever free speech and other Constitutional rights are mentioned in regards to non-people like companies.

    Uh-uh. Individual people have rights, not corporations.

  • Shouldn't the Florida courts be focusing on more pressing matters?
  • I have never been convinced of the so-called dangers of the AOL/TW merger. You seem fairl conversant and I was wondering if you could clarify some of your statements.

    --The article appropriately invoked the specter of the AOL-Time Warner merger. In the case of AOL/TW, a single corporate conglomerate will control 1. A considerable array of content and 2. a significant percentage of the U.S. cable infrastructure.--

    As it is right now, what you mentioned in points 1 and 2 are both aspects of Time Warner which is already a single entity. What is it that AOL is adding to the mix besides 25 million customers? Also what is this significant percentage? I was under the impression that TW cable could only reach 20 percent of the population.

    --If the FCC/FTC fails to ensure that AOL/TW opens up its pipeline to competing ISP's, the corporation would be in a unique position to selectively discriminate against competing ISP's and content providers.--

    Thats very much like saying that TW Warner as owner of the cable company (and the content provider here)can effect what we are seeing so that we ignore it's competitors. Yet most media companies deal with each other on a regular basis. I feel that I must be missing your point.

    thank you

  • "Slashdot: Election News for Leftist Neds. Ballot Stuffing that matters."

    When I meet a leftist Ned I'll send him right over to slashdot. In the meantime finish reading a sentance before you post an opinion on the article. That's the trick with reading, you have to try read hard to get to that period.
  • Yeah. Videotron. Think they'll start supporting Windows ME any time soon? But that's beside the point.... I'm with ADSL now, and I can honestly, and bluntly, tell you that I will never switch back to cable. I was with Rogers@Home in Ottawa for over a year. Then about 2 months ago, it all went to shit. Down an average of 18 hours a day. Any idea how hard it was to get a refund? How about the fact that I had to take them to small claims court to get more than 14 days? The list keeps going. I'm with Magma ADSL in Ottawa. I'm 6.1km away from the CO. Despite that, the speed I'm getting is better than Rogers has given me for the last 6 months, and I've got free reign to run whatever server I damn well please. Static IP, too. Really Static. Not just a DHCP that never changes like @Home. So you can have your opinion, and I'll keep mine. I'm with ADSL at least until a viable alternative becomes available. I'm looking into Starchoice sattelite, but that's about it.
  • I disagree with the fact that it is even a monopoly. I think if ATT or whoever spent the money to lay the lines, they should have exclusive rights as to what services they provide. If you didn't like TCI service, you have public airwaves (I've been living fine w/o the need for cable), and one if not two different satellite options. There is competition, just different technology.

    Same with Internet. Other ISPs should not be allowed to leech off of ATT's cable lines, because those ISPs didn't build the infrastructure. There _IS_ competition: You have many options: DSL, Satellite, Dialup - all through different companies.
  • I'm sorry, but all their lines run on public and private property. They're only _IN BUSINESS AT ALL_ because they are _ALLOWED_ to be. If they want to stay in business and keep their lines _AT ALL_, they should have to play by the rules that are set for them. If that deal includes opening up their lines, that's how it should be. You can charge me anything you want to allow me on your property, they've got it easy.

  • They don't have a legal right-of-way across provate property, the local government does and the government grants a franchise allowing the electric company or phone company or cable company to run their wires along the government's right-of-way.

    This franchise granting is done partly because the company receiving the franchise pays a periodic franchise fee to the local government granting the franchise (unlike broadcasters who just feed the FCC some bs about "operating in the public interest"), partly because the logistics of only having one cable company or phone company digging up everybody's yards is a lot more manageable than letting 37 different companies go at it, and partly because the local government is run by someone whose brother-in-law has a chunk of stock in the company getting the franchise.

    As for the notion that that a cable company has a 1st Ammendment right concerning the content carried over their wires, that's just nuts. That's like saying that the phone company has a 1st Ammendment right to control the content of telephone converstations

  • "...if ATT or whoever spent the money to lay the lines..."

    The only reason that they spent the money to do so was that they could rest assured that the govenment(s) involved wouldn't let any other company run competing lines in the same physical and geographic areas.

  • Capitialism requires competition - but not forced competiton.
    This statement conflicts with itself. If capitalism requires competition - and capitalism is desired - then competition must be "forced" if it is not realized on its own. Any basic logic course could tell you this. The statement you were trying to make is "Capitalism must allow for competition but does not require it; hence competition need not be forced." This is a debateable statement (although it is wrong, it is still debateable) but if competition is required then it must be forced. This is why monopoly laws exist
  • Looks to me like he actually managed to vote for both by punching though both holes.

    Upon further investigation the the butterfly ruling was deemed legal, and the case is being thrown out as the judge cannot have a second chance at filling out the card.
  • My goodness! When I saw "Florida Court Overturns...", I though Slashdot was continuing its devolution into: "Slashdot: Election News for Leftist Neds. Ballot Stuffing that matters."
    --
  • Then AT&T shouldn't be allowed to offer local telephone services. Hey, maybe they shouldn't be allowed to offer local cable service..

    Hmm, the ideas...
  • I thought AT&T fought for the right to offer local service. Isn't this the same thing? I guess Broward County did not have good lawyers.
  • The AP article without registration:

    Court Overturns AT&T Cable Decision [ap.org]

    I am a karma whore (who hates it when the partners trick doesn't work on ny times articles).

    --
  • After all, this is the company who confiscated my fscking linux box because some brat tried to use it to hack into a skool. TCP Wrappers, shmappers. Whatever. At least I learned something.
  • Why should a company who has spent nothing on infrastructure benefit from AT&T and others massive, multi-billion dollar investements? Why should they get to use the high speed pipes that companies like AT&T, Spring, UUNEt, Time Warner, and others have to pay for? Because you want it? Well fine. If the demand exists another ISP will startup, lay the copper or fiber needed, and compete. Till then, suck it up or go back to dial-up.

  • Legally speaking, a company is an "entity" - entitled to all the same rights everyone else is. Theoretically speaking, a company has the same rights as any other citizen.

    However, there seem to be sets of laws that change this, so in some cases, companies have less rights and people have more.

    But the real purpose of a company is to remove liability from the individual owners and onto the "company" as an entity. In other words, Bill Gates is not legally liable for anything Microsoft does - Microsoft itself is. So if a system based on MS-BASIC caused a building to collapse due to a flaw in MS-BASIC, Gates would not be liable, and could suffer not penalty from Microsoft's fallings. Microsoft would be. This protects every corporate owner from liability from the companies actions.

    Don't forget, every stockholder is a part-owner. Imagine your house being taken over because you owned some stock in a company that was forced to pay massive amounts of money in damages!

    Because a company has the ability to legally act as any person does (which is why companies can bring lawsuits, for example) a company is also entitled to the same rights.

  • Did Al Gore put them up to that?

  • Piss off. If you don't like Slashdot, go start your own weblog. If it bothers you that Slashdot readers and intellects in general are so disproportionately progressive, perhaps you ought to look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself why that is. This is one you'll have to figure out for yourself.

    I'll ignore the personal slam here. It's hard to get frustrated with anything posted by an AC, especially one apparently unable to recognize sarcasm and humor when applied to an unfunny situation.

    Hell, I want the Electoral College gone--I ran a long "Ask Slashdot" that was rejected that would probably be prudent to read now--and that would put the candidate I didn't want in, Gore, into office. Fine by me--I have a vote, just like everyone else. I don't expect you to agree with me--if you did, I'd worry about you. I'd rather have Gore elected by popular vote than the current maelstrom we have today. But I follow the Constitution, even as I work to have it changed.


    --
  • Isn't that where the record store owner was ticketed for selling 2 Live Crew albums?

    Sounds like a great place.

    -Legion

  • Nothing may stop the construction of a competing system today, but that misses the point. Many of the incumbent cable systems were constructed when local governments had the power to grant a monopoly. I can remember when all sorts of sleazy deals were made between local government officials and the cable companies. In many localities, the cable companies basically bribed government officials and "influential citizens" to get the cable franchise. It is disingenuous for them to now claim that there is a competitive market, after they constructed their system under monopoly conditions.
  • Excuse me but cable != monopoly, it depends on the location and I see nothing here saying that this Florida county granted a monopoly to AT&T.

    Second point, if they do indeed have a monopoly then cry at the government agency that granted/regulates them.

    Visit DC2600 [dc2600.com]
  • If corporations lacked rights, imagine what would happen to freedom of the press. Newspapers would only be free to publish whatever they wanted so long as they were published by individuals instead of by corporations. The first amenndment most definately applies to corporations.

  • On the same string, the overseas votes are also military people even larger than the overseas students, which bush has in his shirt pocket.. :)

    Jeremy

  • hehe you canadian bitches just make me laugh :) i live in brussels/belgium and sure we do have a few good operators, but you dont choose them, and let me tell you i'm pretty happy when i get 25 kbps downlink .. adsl is nice, but we have ridiculous bandwith limits on the accounts. (like 3.5 Gb up/down a month heh).
  • Yeah, and try to get a cable company kicked out of town - a few years ago the city i was living in had the cable contract up for renewal - the cable company wanted a guarantee/exclusive license to supply cable - in exchange they would expand their service, never mind that their existing contract required them to offer service comperable to other local cities - ie they should have upgraded first and then asked for an extension - AND, if they didn't get their extension, the city would be legally required to buy the existing system that needed upgrades for a huge sum

    Long winded, but the end result is the same - cable companies must be stripped of their local monopoly status and forced to open up their lines, just as happened with phone service. There must be competition for society to benefit.

    AT&T sucks anyway, and they have no respect for the privacy of people - I currently have 2 lawsuits pending for their TCPA violations. I would love to see the government revoke their licenses for their abuses (won't happen, since the govt has no spine, but would be nice)

    Ok, rant over...

  • you are fucking right, could not have found better words. most ppl down here in brussels dont feel abused as i do when they pay 60$ a month for a crappy 256 kbps downlink (64 kbps up - not kidding here). anyway, the service suxx, it's fuqn expensive and you dont get a chance to choose your operator...
  • erm, I know I'm only a brit, but I have read the first ammendment. As far as I can tell, there was a distinction made between individuals and the press. The press would be an organisation and individuals would be, well, individual.
  • we've had two choices, TCI/AT&T, and Provo Cable, all along. Of course, it was never really a choice for many people. because Provo Cable sucks a$$.

    But now the city fathers have signed a contract where they're putting fibre to every house in town. This will be for alternate phone, cable, internet, etc. I'm not certain that this is something that the taxpayers money should be spent on, and it'll take several years to get done, but damn the taxpayers, full speed ahead! Oh, the bandwidth!

    Failure is not an option.
  • Obviously it wasn't a barrier here; what makes it one elsewhere?

    Economics.

    The first system builder has 100% of the market and monopoly pricing power. Anyone who is building a second system has to take customers away from the incumbent and compete on the basis of price, quality and service. This makes it substantially less profitable to build a second system and the market is less predictable.

  • The reason AT&T has a monopoly in your area is because they own the cable. Who do you think layed the cable to every house in America? Who? The government? No. The people? No. The only reason AT&T doesnt own all of it (or some other company) is becase the FCC requires that no cable company cover more than a certain number of customers.

    AT&T owns no cable (as in cable tv, and cable modem) anywhere near where i live. Time Warner has this entire area. AT&T is not even factor here at all actually. They own 0 miles of cable in this area, telephone or coax. In the area the article was talking about, AT&T does have a monopoly. The ONLY reason they have one is b/c no one else is ALLOWED to compete in that way. Its a gov't sancationed monopoly.

    Why should a company ,who has spent millions to build infrastructure, now have to give it away.

    Dude, you are a complete moron. Forcing the cable company to open its network does NOT mean that it must do it for free. If you had done the reseach i asked of you on the local dialup ISPs, or maybe read my last post in detail, you'd see that the local ISPs have to BUY the connection from the telco. They then turn around and resell that connection. Thats what forcing the cable system open would do. The ISPs buying the connection turn around and try to undercut the telco's ISP service, so that they can get more customers. Its called competition, and it drives the price down. I'll use your last paragraph to show that you are a complete moron.

    (cable modem, DSL+ISDN+T1, microwave, wireless radio, and satelite)

    Ok, DSL, T1, T3, ISDN. Those are all via your local telco, and the fact that you have more then once choice as ISDN provider, for example, is b/c that local telco IS FORCED TO KEEP ITS NETWORK OPEN. Otherwise, you'd have ONLY one provider for all 4 of those services. Out of those 4 i mentioned, 2 are not practicle for home use; they should not even be considered options, since we are talking about access for the average person. ISDN is all but dead, at least it should be. Its the equal of having 2 56k modems; thas not even broadband. So now we are left with DSL. Where i am, i don't know of anyone but the local telco that provides DSL. Its 39.95/month, with a 1mb down and 128kps up. I've seen it displayed, i doubt its even that fast. Oh, BTW, RoadRunner (TW's cable ISP), is also 39.95/month if you have cable tv, 34.95 without. It offers 2mb down, and 384 kps up. Wait, why would i want DSL now? Especially since my local telco is extermely unreliable. Should DSL go down, i wouldn't expect it back up for at least a week. Microwave and wireless radio? Around here thats not even an option. Tell me, how fast is that, and whats the price? I doubt those are viable solutions for most people. Satelite? You're kidding right? For a packet to leave my computer, it must travel up to the satelite, which is what, 26 miles above the earth? Then it travels down. Thats 52 miles just to get to your provider, and now it has to be injected into the internet and come back. Once its back, its got to travel another 52 miles to reach you. You think thats gonna be faster then traveling 20 miles round trip to your local headend? Or, you can upload with a 56k modem, whoopiee!!! Now, you send even slower, and you STILL are tying up a phone line. Its 50-60 dollars, and you only get 400kps!! Are you on crack?

    To summarize:
    My choices are one of 10 ISPs that offer 56k (keeping in mind that those 10 would not exist if the local telco was not forced by the gov't to open its networks, and that they offer about the exact same service), or a cable modem if i want broadband access. Now, there's only one cable provider, and its networks are closed. So if i want broadband, i MUST get it from the cable company. Don't say i can pick DSL, its less service, for the same price, and you'd have to be an idiot to pick it over cable.

    As for punished for being successful? Well lets say i open a chain of grocery stores, and i'm able to run ALL other grocery stores in your area out of buisness. What am i gonan do now? I"m going to raise prices, and cut service, b/c that will make me alot more money. Now, i'm being very very successful, so by your logic i should be left alone. Nevermind that now alot of people can't afford food, and that alot of what i sell is now substandard. (Thats why the gov't inspects meat, b/c stores would sell diseased meat, so don't tell me that wouldn't happen). Are yo gonna sit and argue with people that want to break my monopoly b/c i really did fairly beat all the competition? Or are you gonna say this is insane? And if i'm forced to raise the quality of food? Ok, but i'm gonna raise price to make up for it. Thats now business works, and i don't think you'd argue with that.
  • In case you want some refernces:

    http://www.frontierlightinglink.com/
    http://www.rochester.rr.com/
    http://www.direcpc.com/
  • No - the point I am making is that forced competition is as good as no competition.

    Capitilism requires open, real, and market-driven competition - not forced government mandated handouts to your potential competitors.



  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, 2000 @06:00PM (#630948)
    Apparently the ruling has been reversed. The judge was confused about the placement of the "Yay" and "Nay" check boxes in the paper work.
  • Starting at the end:

    If you owned all the grocery stores, and then marked up prices, cut service, etc etc, new competiton with reasonable prices and service would open, and force you out of business.

    Dude, you are a complete moron. Forcing the cable company to open its network does NOT mean that it must do it for free.
    I am not suggesting giving away the use, but they are giving away the infrastructure. IE letting people use the network now, for a low cost, puts the burden of developing and laying all the underlying network only on one company, who is now forced to give away cheap access.

    (keeping in mind that those 10 would not exist if the local telco was not forced by the gov't to open its networks, and that they offer about the exact same service)

    Nope, local free access has been available for a long, long time. It began as regulation, but now is basically voluntary. It had nothing to do with internet acccess.

    Are you on crack?

    Listen to me. You have no right to internet access. You have no right to broadband. You have no right to expect anything, from any company - ever! Thats the nature of capitialism. But you do have options. Complain a lot. Move. Look into wired technology. Dont use the internet. Sell your computer. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO INTERNET ACCESS. Its plain and simple. Therefore, no company should be forced to do anything with their property, whether or not they are a monopoly. EVER. Period.

    The rest world does not care about your broadband access. I dont either. What I care about are people like you, who feel that they have a right to anything they want. And damn it, if its not how I want it, or how I like it, then the government needs to fix the problem for me. People like you dont want to solve the problem themselves - they want a cheap, government mandated fix. If you really wanted broadband access you'd get yourself a T1. Thats what I did. Thats right, moron. I didnt *like* DSL service, or cables flucations in bandwidth. I didnt like the wireless or mirco options. And so now, I have my own fractional T1 in my house. It costs me $300. you want good, reliable access? Then fine. Cough it up.



  • Now, let me just start off by saying I install cable modems for AT&T here in Minnesota. It was formerly MediaOne's before AT&T bought us out.
    Anyways, we've got around 16,000+ miles of plant. I've probably seen 70% of it.
    <BR>
    Now with cable a lot of things can go wrong, such as cable in the home (splitters, fittings, window filters, etc), Fiber Node, and return path issues.
    My question is, if you were getting service from a third party ISP who would be responsible for trouble calls? As it stands right now, when someone calls in for a problem, it's usually resolved by Teir 1 phone support, if they can't fix the problem over the phone, I get sent out about 2-3 days later. Now with a 3rd party handling trouble calls that 2-3 days WILL jump to 2-3 weeks. It's just easier for the consumer this way.
    <BR>
    And why should AT&T open up something THEY built to support THEIR customers to some other comapany? That's just stupid.
    <BR>
    Besides, we offer 1.5Mbps/300Kbps access for 40 bucks a month. You can't get much better than that here in the Twin Cities.

  • I hate the fact that I can't choose which Internet Cable I want to use. In Montreal we only have the choice of ADSL from one company and Cable from another. That's it! I think that other companies should be allowed to open compete with the big boys.
  • If you owned all the grocery stores, and then marked up prices, cut service, etc etc, new competiton with reasonable prices and service would open, and force you out of business.

    Ah ha, now you seem to start to get it. Now image i somehow got a gov't sactioned monopoly, which forbid anyone from competing with me. Thats what the cable and telephone companies have. What would happen to my stores then?

    I am not suggesting giving away the use, but they are giving away the infrastructure. IE letting people use the network now, for a low cost, puts the burden of developing and laying all the underlying network only on one company, who is now forced to give away cheap access.

    Except that this case is about cable systems, and for the most part the network is already there. Besides, thats the price the company pays for having a gov't sactioned monopoly. Monopolies are bad for capilism and consumers, but we let them exist, although with certain restrictions. Monopolies also get broken up when they begin to abuse thier power. Restrictions like these are aimed at trying to keep the monopoly from gaining even more power.

    Nope, local free access has been available for a long, long time. It began as regulation, but now is basically voluntary. It had nothing to do with internet acccess.

    Local free access? Where is that? Cheap, yes, free no. Do you honestly think that a phone company would allow competition to its ISP service if they didn't have to? As soon as that regulation was removed, the telcos put an end to all those dialup ISPs. The goal of a buisness is always to elimiate competition, and the goal of capitalism is to have competition. If buinsness wins, captialism falters, i would think you would understand the economy you so eagerly pretend to support.

    Listen to me. You have no right to internet access. You have no right to broadband. You have no right to expect
    anything, from any company - ever! Thats the nature of capitialism. But you do have options. Complain a lot. Move. Look into wired technology. Dont use the internet. Sell your computer. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO INTERNET ACCESS. Its plain and simple. Therefore, no company should be forced to do anything with their property, whether or not they are a monopoly. EVER. Period.


    Dude, shut up with that alright. Thats all you say, yelling that over and over again. I'm not even talking about rights to broadband, i'm talking about keeping monopolies in check. You said before that this was punishing someone b/c they were successful. Thats not the case at all; the cable companies were handed monopolies from day one. It has nothing to do if they were successful or not. Since the gov't (the people, in the US) GAVE the cable companies thier monopolies, we can tell them to do whatever we want with it. They didn't even earn it, so why do they even have a right to it at all?

    The rest world does not care about your broadband access. I dont either. What I care about are people like you, who feel that they have a right to anything they want. And damn it, if its not how I want it, or how I like it, then the government needs to fix the problem for me. People like you dont want to solve the problem themselves - they want a cheap, government mandated fix. If you really wanted broadband access you'd get yourself a T1. Thats what I did. Thats right, moron. I didnt *like* DSL service, or cables flucations in bandwidth. I didnt like the wireless or mirco options. And so now, I have my own fractional T1 in my house. It costs me $300. you want good, reliable access? Then fine. Cough it up.

    You don't even know what you're talking about. The problem is there is no competition for the most common form of broadband. Ever buisness should have a competitor. Good for you that you have your own fractional T1. I don't care. It seems to me that you want me to pay 300 just b/c you do. Well i think cable modems are just fine. And i think with some competition would make it even better.

    Please, stop dodging the heart of the issue, and being so bitter that you're stupid enough to pay 300 for broadband. I like how nothing below a T1 is suddenly in your eyes not broadband. Tell me, why is creating competition bad? Instead of opening the cable systems network, should we take away the gov't granted monopolies they have on cities? And why is it that you think anyone that doesn't buy part of a T1 doesn't really want broadband? So if i don't buy a porshe, i don't really want a car? Whatever..
  • we-love-florida-in-so-many-ways dept.

    Are you trying to insinuate something?

    Me? NO, NOOOO , Nooo........

    YES

    Monty Python we love thy so, let us count the ways...

    ________

  • again this statement is undeveloped. obviously capitalism prefers open, real, and market-driven competition over forced government mandated handouts to your potential competitors.

    but if capitalism "requires" open, real, and market-driven competition what happens if such a competion does not exist? does the system suddenly shift to something other than capitalism. if so, then since capitalism is still the prefered system, isn't it better to mandate competition so that one day this competition can grow into being "open, real, and market-driven." then the required factor is back and we have capitalism again.

    please choose your phrasing... when you use a word like requires you suggest a consequence but you don't develop it
  • In many localities there is an official, government protected monopoly on the actual physical lines, which makes sense when you consider the herculean effort required in laying the lines and coordinating with public utilities. The contracts with the localities generally require that the authorized monopolist allow other companies to purchase use of the wire at a reasonable price. It's all part of the business. If you want to be the monopoly, you have to play by the rules. It's been the case with phone lines and power lines for ages. It disturbs me how the courts have lately been tricked into thinking that the internet somehow works differently.
  • by jault ( 147271 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @06:02PM (#630956)
    might be to end the local monopolies.

    Where I live, AT&T (formerly TCI) has been the only cable company in town for the last 20 years. So many people have complained about the service, though, that the city finally signed an additional contract with another cable company (I don't recall the name). It'll take a couple years for the new company to get their infrastructure in place, but it will be interesting to see whether things improve once people here have a real choice.

  • It is the same case here, in Victoria, BC. For adsl we are forced to use one of two companies, both of which limit up stream bandwidth.
    With cable there is only one choice (shaw) who have alot of uptime problems.
  • by tzanger ( 1575 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @06:56PM (#630958) Homepage

    "A Florida judge ruled that a "Broward County ordinance requiring cable giant AT&T to allow rival Internet access to their systems violated the First Amendment.""

    It seems interesting that whenever an individual's rights get stomped on by a corporation nobody in power seems to care. Yet when a corporations "rights" are threatened, a ruling in favor of the company is made.

    Now I realize that this is a company vs a county but still.. I had no idea that corporations had First Amendment rights.

    Disclaimer: The link was down when I tried to read the linked article so I am only going on what the blurb said.

  • Further Update: Hordes of lawyers are currently flying to Florida to dispute. CNN says, "Its just too close to call."
  • This is the consequence of elected judges....
  • yo, there's adsl and cable, but the clear choice is cable unless you're a little mexican who can sneak into the CO and uncap yourself.. not to mention getting a better modem too. As a former user of Sympatico Highspeed, Orakle hereby decrees that their service, is uhh... shit. I've been on cable for a few months now and it beats the living crap out of the Montrealian dsl service :) Thing with DSL is that even if i'm close to the CO, which i am... about 100 meters close or about 300 feet, i still only get 100-150 kb/sec, while on cable, i've seen speed up to 500kb/sec. Sure, cable's more expensive, and DSL is dropping in price to try and compete, but personally, i think sympatico HSE is worth about $10 CDN a month and no more. their technical support team is a bunch of boneheads, especially the level one guys.. level 2 guys know their shit. I found that it would always die on my also. So once again, the clear choice for high speed broadband access in montreal is cable from uhh.. whatcha call it...
  • you never stop to amaze me. who has heard of corporations being treated as 'natural persons'? if that holds true, then i would like to make use my corporate rights as an individual. i mean, if companies have the same rights as a person, should i as a person have the right to use corporate law? so i'm not born on my birthday but incorporated under trustee management of my parents until, i the company reaches the age of 18 [21 in some states], when i automatically assume all offices in my company. as such, i have the right to own other companies - people - to sell parts of myself to shareholders; depending on state law - i might be limited to dividing myself into only about 2000 shares and can not offer myself to the public as such. however, i can file for an initial public offering and then auction off parts of myself to be traded publicly... wow, even better, i can buy others, chop them up, absorb pieces i like and sell of the remains... serious, in most western countries corporations are only treated as individuals [or 'entities'] where applicable - meaning in a practical sense, wherever corporate law does not apply. this is specifically the case when corporations deal with individuals. however, i have never heard about a company claiming what is ver much the equivalent of basic human rights. let's face it the declaration of human rights is in essence a large chunk of what is embedded in the U.S. constitution; yed, amazingly enough, it is the very U.S.of A. that has one of the worst human rights records on the planet - yep, the u/s are battling against china and peru for rank 92, straight behind australia - another human right advocate. to the subject matter, well, it's likely that they get away with it just because of those amazing laws you have in your corner of the planet. while i think human rights as such are unworkable and basically a load of b/s i also think that corporations should have the right to block courts with non-sense suits while actual 'human cases' are waiting years to come to trial. just my electronic $0,02
  • yeah, the company's name is Videotron.
  • ah, it seems like everyone is waking up from a really calm, scary dream... welcome to the gibson/sterling novel of your choice.

    none of this is new in florida or anywhere else i don't think.

    Your Vote Doesn't Count If They Don't Count It: U.S. Election Fraud [bjord.org]
  • This is an abuse of the first ammendment. The relation between carriers is purely commercial. Using a law whose clear intention is to protect the public space and encourage the free exchange of ideas to justify limits on commercial regulation that has nothing whatsoever to do with the expreossion of ideas is constitutional travesty.

    I guess this is a republican judge who was elected erronously by an old lady who wanted to buy a poodle.

  • Ever read your own post an hour after writing it and thinking what on earth is that?

    Ugh... well, so I can troll myself before someone else does (and I previewed the thing four times!):

    The third paragragh should have read:

    But the real purpose of a company is to remove liability from the
    individual owners and onto the "company" as an entity. In other words, Bill Gates is not legally liable for anything Microsoft does - Microsoft itself is. So if a system based on MS-BASIC caused a building to collapse due to a flaw in MS-BASIC, Gates would not be liable, and could not suffer penalty from a lost lawsuit. Microsoft would be liable. This protects every corporate owner from liability from the company's actions.

    Italized portion (mostly) is the part I screwed up. Man, I gotta get some more sleep, I guess.

    I also left out the part about companies having more rights than individuals in certain cases in the second paragraph. Well, preview is nice, but I guess I should read more carefully...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    AT&T, the company, is not a common carrier. Telephone lines are common carriers. This is an important distinction.

    Years ago (I forget the exact date) the FCC tried to get cable companies declared common carriers, and this was overturned by the Supreme Court, because the FCC lacks the authority to make this decision. Common carriers must be declared as such by an act of Congress, and until this happens, cable providers will not be required to give their competitors access to their lines.

    However, AT&T is currently experimenting with this in Colorado, if I'm not mistaken, probably because they want to forestall any lawsuits. If they do the right thing in the first place, and allow other ISPs to access their high-speed lines, they can avoid a lot of bad publicity, lawsuits, and possibly make a potential common carrier decision a waste of time.
  • ....it will delay access to fiber optics networks until they are wiretappable and it will make them have to provide wiretaps for the police.
  • It is disingenuous for them to now claim that there is a competitive market, after they constructed their system under monopoly conditions.

    Why? Locally we have a choice of cable companies, even though one of the two was originally constructed under a monopoly. Obviously it wasn't a barrier here; what makes it one elsewhere?
  • One of the problems for a second cable company is the "Make Ready" charges. Cable wires must be forty inches from the lowest power line or transformer. (Some areas permit twelve inches from a grounded transformer) They must also maintain a twelve inch seperation from any other wires (other cable lines or telephone)

    If there is room on the pole for the new wire, there is no charge for make-ready for that pole. However, if there is no room, the new company must pay for the replacement of the pole.

    Prior to construction, the company must pay the owners of the poles 100% of the cost of making room for the new system. If you are the second cable company on the pole, your make ready costs are often many multiples of the costs for the first guy.

  • So that we as customers will not be screwed. You're a pretty big fucking moron too. The whole problem is ANOTHER COMPANY CANNOT LAY ANY MORE COAX, B/C AT&T WAS GRANTED A MONOPOLY THERE. And no one can lay fiber optic/copper cables b/c the phone company has a monopoly in that area. So your choices are, the phone company offering DSL (which here sucks compared to cable; 1/2 the download, and 1/3 the upload rate of cable), or cable modems. The ONLY reason you do not have only one choice for dialup providers is b/c the local phone company was forced to open its network. And the result of that is pretty good; you can get dialup from $10-20, while cable modems and DSL remain around $50. Which i personally think is reasonable for cable modems, but given the past track record of the cable company, i expect the price will increase over time, and not b/c of inflation. I don't know why the gov't ever tolerates monopolies; the nature of buinsess doesn't allow them to be nice when they have one. I also don't get how they won based off the 1st amendment, which basically allows for freedom of thought. And i don't know why buinesess are covered by the Constitition, they are not people, and as such have no rights at all.
  • Erm..what I could see is some other power company claiming rights to use the power grid for their own plant to their own customers on their own bill.
  • Great. So Free Speech counts as porno, racism, and the 'right' to have a coax network. But it doesn't count when you're buying a TV ad to tell people you are endorsing a political candidate. Could someone remind me why we have a 1st Amendment?

  • yo dude, i'm running winme right now no problems. win2k works fine too.
  • The officers of the company are legally bound to think of the good of their shareholders and maximize the value of their investments. If you own your own company, then your are of course free to decide that $X is enough and give the rest back, or whatever, but the CEO of your local utility doesn't own the company anymore than the lineman does and doesn't have that freedom. He is working with OPM.

    You could try talking to the real owners of the company, but I think you'll find that they are insurance companies and pension funds, who also have an obligation to maximize their investments...

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday November 11, 2000 @07:19AM (#630976) Homepage Journal

    own the fucking wire and can do whatever the hell they want to do with it (or should, but when it comes to telecomm the feds like to play fast and loose with private property rights.)

    Of course, the telephone and cable companies benefit from that as well. I don't remember signing any deals about the phone or cable companies being allowed to dig a big trench in my front yard, yet they seem to feel free to do so.

    Perhaps AT&T would prefer that the various levels of government stop 'playing fast and loose' with private property rights and instead, negotiate a private contract with each and every property owner in every area they serve. Surely negotiating millions of contracts and being subject to the whims of millions of property owners would be a small price to pay compared to leasing their lines at reasonable market rates to other companies. Or they could just go out of business if they prefer.

    I would suggest to Broward County that next time the contract comes up, give AT&T the choice of a 1 billion dollar surcharge, open up the lines, or abandon the lines and get out of town. I'll bet they take the second option. If they choose the third, it'll be easy enough to get someone else to provide the service by renting the county's newly aquired cables.

    I really fail to see how being required to open their lines to other ISPs prevents AT&T from saying anything they want. Hhere's the first amendment violation?

  • sorry, wrong. Just b/c AT&T owns the lines does NOT mean that someone shouldn't be allowed to use a different ISP. Just b/c such and such owns my telephone lines means I can't use an ISP not affiliated w/those lines? Get real.
  • These kind of "Well, Mr. Cable is a monopoly!" things PISS ME OFF!
    Why do you want ISP's to be open, but allow the damned company to be monopolistic? I mean, c'mon people. Leave them BOTH closed or open BOTH. I frankly, like SusCom, and their service is A+. If another company came in, I'd certianly stay with SusCom. I'm not sure about ATT tho.

  • by Tappah ( 224124 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @06:06PM (#630979)
    It is erroneous to claim that a City gives a cable company a "monopoly". This is not the case.

    Cable companies are usually required to obtain a franchise agreement, which grants them the authority to use local city-owned rights-of-way in exchange for a number of things, including, requirements such as providing "open access" to competing ISPs. The agreements are basically lease agreements, leasing the city property in return for consideration.

    By law, a municipality cannot grant an exclusive franchise (monopoly), and in fact, most cities are busily trying to lure competitors to their local cable companies into town. They hate having a single cable company as much as the citizens do. But the cost of building a new system is large, and only recently have companies begun to step forward to try and "overbuild" old systems, like AT&T's. The arrival of these overbuilders has less to do with anything congress did (i.e. telecom Act of 1996) than it does the perceived opportunity to run the old coax companies out of business, by building modern state of the art ringed fiber networks, which can offer voice, video, and data at rates and speed vastly exceeding anything that can be done on a crapulent old Coax system. Take a look at Western Integrated Networks [winfirst.com] proposed system as an example of what these new arrivals want to build. Notice, the fully symmetric 100baseTX ethernet network provided into homes, via a fiber actually brought into the house? That ought to get any self-respecting geek's heart pumping fast.

    In regards to "Open Access", the more important thing happening, is th activities resulting from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in Mt. Hood v. AT&T, where the court ruled that @Home was a telecommunications service, not a cab;le service. This ruling will require (if left to stand) that cable comapnies be regulated identically to telephone companies, and thus will be forced to offer competitive access to their networks.

  • by Gefiltefish ( 125066 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @06:07PM (#630980)
    Imagine if your power company also marketed and sold household appliances, tvs, computer equipment, and so forth.

    What would happen if they said to their competition, "No, you cannot use our power grid to run your devices. It is an infringement on our rights!"

    Gee.. wouldn't that be wacky and interesting?
  • by Tappah ( 224124 ) on Friday November 10, 2000 @06:09PM (#630981)
    Wrong. Under federal law, CFR 47, no city may grant an exclusive franchise to *any* cable operator. It's illegal to create a monopoly in this way, and no city does it, and hasn't in 50 years.
  • I hate to see this kind of thing. One would think that after awhile these corporations would decide they have enough money and can stop worrying only about the bottom line and start worrying about the good of the many.

    What does it really matter if they make 1.2 billion instead of 1.3 billion, if it means the people will be better off. The cable companies should not be allowed to profit at the expense of consumer rights. But it won't end until you demand your voice be heard and your rights respected.

    What can you do? Write your local newspaper. Write your congressman. Make it clear that you will not support corporations that limit your choices and limit your rights. If the aforementioned avenues fail, a boycott might drive some sense into the cable companies. You can get by without cable for a few months, can't you? Especially if it means having your rights restored.

    I am,

  • Heard inside GNU headquarters...

    • "CABLE_ME_HARDER".... hmm.. no..
    • "ST. IGNOCABLOUS" ... no, that won't work either..

  • BROWARD CO, FLA (AP) -- In a surprise announcement, Saint Aardvark the Carpeted [tripod.com] announced that he was unable to come up with a parody of AT&T's freedom-of-speech lawsuit.

    "It's just too much," a spokesman said. "He tries real hard to come up with quick satire for quick karma, but then something like this comes along and just defies parody."

    "He's feeling pretty bad, as you can imagine," the spokesman added.

    Free Software Foundation guru Richard M. Stallman was unavailable for comment. A source close to the programmer said he was "busy frantically trying to think of a punchline."

  • >So why wouldn't it be considered a monopoly for the cable company? Because under the federal law (47CFR), Cable companies are not common carriers, while telephone companies are. Cable companies do not, as others have noted, have statutory monopolies; it's just tough to be the second one in town. Since telephone companies are common carriers, they are obligated to provide access to anybody. So you can use DSL to reach any connected ISP, or dial-up, or leased telco lines. But cablecos are under a different law. That they provide anything but video is a bonus. If you impose excessive obligations on t hem, they just won't do data at all. Better to let them learn how to be "open" before imposing premature regulation on them.
  • I think cases like these are beginning to bog down SO much in federal courts, that we need to increase their capacity. Seriously, this stuff is happening everywhere with every major industry right now. Anyone who has merged enough times now has the money to fight to protect their monopolies, and it's not the final decision that matters. It's the god-damn court time. Because during that decision-making process they are able to continue practicing their unfair business practices and we, the consumers pay the freaking price.

    I would almost be willing to give up the internet if it meant I could put just one cable/telephone/etc. company out of business in the process.

    tcd004 Janet RenoMargolis, Election Uncoverage [lostbrain.com]

  • I live in Morganton, NC. [morganton.nc.us]

    I forget the details but we kicked TCI out or they left after their franchise was up. We ended up creating our own cable system-CoMPAS. [morganton.nc.us]

    As you can see on the CoMPAS website, the regular cable is competively priced and has a fair selection of channels. It is also reliable as I can never remember my cable being out in the years I have had CoMPAS.

    The only drawback is that the infrastructure was not built with broadband in mind. Therefore we only have one-way broadband and it is prohibitively expensive.
  • I thought that AT&T, like most telephone\utility companies, was considered a "common carrier", meaning that they carried all data, regardless of what that data was.

    That way, they are not liable if one of thier customers said something libelous, terrorist, pornographic, goatse, etc.

    But now AT&T says that they have a right of freedom of speech? What is AT&T a provider of , speech or data?

  • I would hate to see the day that a man or company can work hard to produce a product and then be forced by the government to hand over the fruit of his labors to any one that comes by whining that they are a victim of a monopoly. I don't neccesarily think that locking out a rival isp is good. But what right do they have for using those lines? Did they pay for those lines? Did they dig the ground, lay out the money, do anything to entitle them to use those lines? NO! Those people are the parasites on the back of economy. If you think that the government should force a cable company to open those lines I think you should support the government in buying those lines with your money. Don't condemn a company for being successful.
  • oh shit, is this going to go the way of the clusters, can linux run on that thing, etc? Please don't overkill it for weeks to come...
  • this website, DSLReports [dslreports.com], has very useful consumer ratings for most of the DSL and broadband providers around the country.

    very useful for those angry about their service. .

  • How willing would you be to set up complex communcations infrastructure or invest millions in development costs if you weren't certain that the government wouldn't bust open your piggy bank to give your product to your competitors or to your buyers in the name of fairness?

    I've never heard a case where a cable operator was required to GIVE access away, only required to LEASE it at a reasonable market rate (that is to say at a rate that allows for a fair profit). Keep in mind that without years of government granted monopoly, AT&T would not be a multi-billion dollar company today. ("We don't care, we don't have to, we're the phone company!").

  • Nothing may stop the construction of a competing system today, but that misses the point

    You seem to believe that owning a cable system is a profitable endevor. The fact is, in most places, adoption rates are lower than expected, and it's never been profitable, even when they have a wiring monopoly.

    Back in the 80s, most real companies wouldn't touch cable as an investment. So, you got a bunch of sleezy small-timers, some with mob mystery money.

    Now AT+T, deluded by Internet coolness and local telco service, bought up a bunch of cable systems, and guess what? Investors are shitting themselves looking at that $100 Billion in debt (and growing, mostly from cable build-out and upgrade costs ), despite AT+T monopoly in most regions. And cable telephone will probably never happen (why would it with cheap wireless?) AOL-TimeWarner only makes it fly because they make money on programming, although TW was losing money in net.

    And you wonder why well capitalized companies (like the Bells) aren't falling all overthemselves to build out new cable systems and fight a price war with the existing providers?
  • Riiiight, Career military people and anyone in it for the next 2 or 3 years will vote for democrats who have stretched out military so thin its pathetic... Anyways, go back to your corner.

  • Take a breath dude.

    You say that AT&T has been given a monopoly. I dont know if that is true, but if it is.. my answer is still so-what.

    No company should ever ever be forced to help its competition. No matter how big the monopoly, or how powerful it is. You want high-speed access? There are lots of options. Look around. Just because you dont like the DSL or Cable serivce doesnt mean that the government should force open the private property of some company.

    You want to affect the quality of the service? Cancel your service. Call all your friends. Get them to cancel too. Call everyone who has it, and get them to cancel.

    Besides that, I dont know what you are talking with local dialup. I think you made that up.

    You are whining like high-speed access is your god-given right. Its not.

  • A spelling flame contained:
    " In the meantime finish reading a sentance [...]"

    Et tu, Brute?
  • You say that AT&T has been given a monopoly. I dont know if that is true, but if it is.. my answer is still so-what.

    Of course its true. How many cable providers are there in your area that can provide service to YOUR house? I know that sometimes cities are split between cable companies, but how does that effect you, if you can still only pick one? Thats the whole reason the fed wants to force AT&T to open its network in that area. To force AT&T to compete.

    No company should ever ever be forced to help its competition. No matter how big the monopoly, or how powerful it is. You want high-speed access? There are lots of options. Look around. Just because you dont like the DSL or Cable serivce doesnt mean that the government should force open the private property of some company.

    For capitilism to truely work, you need competition. Cable companies have none. Tell me, since you seem to be the expert, what are my other broadband options besides cable or DSL? T1, T3? Nope, thats your local telco also. Satilite? Thats not even broadband. Gov't must absolutly step in to break up monopolies; forcing a company to open its access is one way of doing that.

    You want to affect the quality of the service? Cancel your service. Call all your friends. Get them to cancel too. Call everyone who has it, and get them to cancel.

    How would that affect service? Do you think if you're the only game in town you'd care if you lost a few customers? Do you really think Ma Bell would've cared if an entire town canceled thier service? Why would Time Warner, or AT&T? All that would happen is they'd sell the francise to someone else, who may or may not get the customers back. And nothing will have changed either. Thats exactly the problem with monopolies, they don't give a fuck about the customer. The local telco here gets fined the maximum penalty under NY law b/c of poor customer service. Do they care? No, its probably cheaper to pay that then to improve service. Tell me you think there's nothing wrong with that if your phone goes out, and you have to wait AT LEAST 3 weeks for them to even begin to look at it.

    Besides that, I dont know what you are talking with local dialup. I think you made that up.

    You think so? Go do some research. ISPs buy a T1 or T3 or whatever from the local telco. They then setup their own network for you to dialin to, and all the customers share the ISPs line. Now, do you think Bell Atlantic, who offers an ISP service, would allow say Netcarrier, or Voicenet (both local Philly providers i know about) to compete with them using a high speed line they provided? AT&T certainly doesn't want to, why would Bell Atlantic? The answer is simple; b/c the gov't told Bell Atlantic they must open thier network. Do you really think that your mom and pop ISP was allowed to hang wires off the phone companies polls? Even if they did, i'm sure it'd be expensive. Do you think they could afford (or would be allowed) to tear up streets to run their own fiber optics? It would be a very expensive thing, and you'd never see small ISPs b/c starting one would be too expensive. Yet you do. Please, go do some research.

    You are whining like high-speed access is your god-given right. Its not.

    High-speed access my not be my right, but if you want capitalism to work, you need competition. I'll admit, my cable company has been good so far, but i don't think they'd do anything rash that would cast the impending merger into a bad light. There's also relivitly little that can go wrong with cable, and it still takes a 2-4 weeks to get it installed. I hope you don't have comcast cable for highspeed access and want to VPN to work; you won't be allowed, unless your company purchases a VPN solution from comcast. Don't believe me? Go check out thier contracts. You are not allowed to connect to a noncomcast bought VPN server.
  • You're a f***ing moron for thinking this way. You wanna go back to using carrier pidgeons, that's fine. If you don't like the cable service you recieve, then DON'T USE IT. The reason att and other cable companies don't have competition in their areas is cause the market is not even close to saturated yet! I'm so sick of the morons making coments about how companies should be run; you have no clue as to the logistics of running a telephone isp, much less providing broadband service to 2 million people. Morons!
  • But the point is, they DO have first amendment rights. So saying that their first amendment rights were violated is not a ludicrous statement. Perhaps the judge was referring to freedom of the press.

  • The reason AT&T has a monopoly in your area is because they own the cable. Who do you think layed the cable to every house in America? Who? The government? No. The people? No. The only reason AT&T doesnt own all of it (or some other company) is becase the FCC requires that no cable company cover more than a certain number of customers.

    Now, lets talk about choice, shall we? There is no monopoly on Internet access. There isnt one. Period.

    First of all, 100% of the country with a phone can get Internet access through AOL or Earthlink or other National ISP's. Even if there is not local number, there are long-distance numbers that everyone can call. Thats option number #1.

    Next, there are several companies that provide satelitte service. Plus serveral more are starting up soon - service is coming online in the next few months.

    Next, lots of places have Cable access. Not all, but lots.

    Next, lots of places have DSL. Not all, again, but lots.

    Next, in big cities, you can get microwave from people who no connection to telecoms.

    Next, in some big cities, you can get fiber to your door.


    Those are some ways. Now, you think the government should force companies to allow their competitors to use their private property. Are you high? Capitialism requires competition - but not forced competiton. I repeat my main statement from before.

    No company should be forced to help its competitors by the government.

    Think about it. Why should a company ,who has spent millions to build infrastructure, now have to give it away. Why punish success, because some whinning, drivelling, guy wants faster access to the Internet? Get real.

    If the demand was there (which it is) then a company could get the capitial, lay new wire or use new technology, and get fast access to your doorstep. Thats why there are loads of new companies sprining up everyday - in my home town of Portland, ME I have at least 5 available forms of broadband (cable modem, DSL+ISDN+T1, microwave, wireless radio, and satelite). Throw in at least 10 dial-up ISPs, and thats 15 types of Internet access. NOW TELL ME THAT ANYONE HAS A MONOPOLY ON INTERNET ACCESS.


  • Dammit, this cable signup form is confusing, I wanted HBO not Showtime...
  • Then how come every single residence in my city uses Sprint? The businesses use CFW, but Sprint owns the lines. We get our long distance choices thanks to the FCC. It's a wire monopoly. It's not everywhere, but it's here, and many other places as well, just Like the Cable monopoly in Broward county.
  • Apparently, the ruling has been reversed again. Florida law states that the judgement forms must spell the field as "Yea", not Yay.

    In related news, the defense attorneys are stonewalling the ruling, by forcing investigations into similar cases being tried in other states.

  • From the article:
    ``Compelled access like that ordered by the Broward County ordinance both penalizes expression and forces the cable operators to alter their content to conform to an agenda they do not set,'' the decision said.

    Perhaps. However, look at the issue of penalizing expression from the flip side of the coin.

    The article appropriately invoked the specter of the AOL-Time Warner merger. In the case of AOL/TW, a single corporate conglomerate will control 1. A considerable array of content and 2. a significant percentage of the U.S. cable infrastructure.

    If the FCC/FTC fails to ensure that AOL/TW opens up its pipeline to competing ISP's, the corporation would be in a unique position to selectively discriminate against competing ISP's and content providers.

    To better illustrate this the consequences of Closed Access, consider a well-known white paper from Cisco released in 1999 called Controlling Your Network - A Must for Cable Operators [cptech.org].

    The Cisco paper includes such gems as this:

    Committed access rate (CAR) is an edge-focused QoS mechanism provided by selected Cisco IOS-based network devices. The controlled-access rate capabilities of CAR allow you to specify the user access speed of any given packet by allocating the bandwidth it receives, depending on its IP address, application, precedence, port, or even Media Access Control (MAC) address. For example, if a "push" information service that delivers frequent broadcasts to its subscribers is seen as causing a high amount of undesirable network traffic, you can direct CAR to limit subscriber-access speed to this service. You could restrict the incoming push broadcasts as well as subscribers' outgoing access to the push information site to discourage its use. At the same time, you could promote and offer your own or partner's services with full-speed features to encourage adoption of your services, while increasing network efficiency.

    In other words, a cable operator using Cisco's equipment will be able to selectively discriminate what content a consumer can view, slow down content originating from a competing content provider -- in the words of many Open Access proponents, transforming the "information superhighway" into a "digital toll-road."

    Even if the ruling mentioned in this post is correct, I believe that the alternative to mandating open access will result in more significant penalties to free expression.

    Sincerely,
    Vergil

Congratulations! You are the one-millionth user to log into our system. If there's anything special we can do for you, anything at all, don't hesitate to ask!

Working...