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The Internet

Universal Broadband Access 104

meehawl writes: "Wall Street Journal has this on proposed new Government regulation and tax breaks to encourage Universal Broadband Access. This idea appears to be gaining ground. Whether this becomes a public good (Universal Service, the Interstates, the USPS) or just another corporate welfare program (or perhaps a mixture of both?) remains to be seen." Another submitter sent in an interesting story about broadband in France.
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Universal Broadband Access

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  • Croatia (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jormundgard ( 260749 ) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @06:13AM (#2867692)
    In Croatia there are these kiosks all over Zagreb that provide free internet access to everyone, although the keyboard is touchscreen so is a little annoying. They're provided by the Croatian telecom, HT. I don't think they're broadband, but they seem popular with all ages. I could see such a thing becoming popular in other countries, and using broadband.
    • Re:Croatia (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Dude! We're behind Croatia now?
      This dotcom bust is worse than I feared! :(
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Funny, but Croatia isn't the backwater ignorant Americans think it is. Try visiting Zagreb sometime... it's a very beautiful city (of 1 million people, I might add).
  • by IHateLinuxUsers ( 552213 ) <bigspender540@hotmail.com> on Saturday January 19, 2002 @06:14AM (#2867693)
    Make way for the new and improved Government, powered by AOL. Now you can get all your news straight from the source, with no chance of contrary ideas clouding your judgement! Be the first to experience China style censorship at the hands of American style corporations with the new AOL Government version 2.0

    Big Big Loader!
    bigspender540@hotmail.com
  • by xanadu-xtroot.com ( 450073 ) <xanadu.inorbit@com> on Saturday January 19, 2002 @06:19AM (#2867700) Homepage Journal
    From the article [technet.org]:

    "It is critically important for the United States to adopt a national broadband policy that encourages investment in new broadband infrastructure, applications and services -- particularly new last mile broadband facilities," said Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel Corporation. "Regulatory policies should encourage all companies to deploy these expensive and risky facilities."

    Unless I'm reading something wrong here, is this guy encourging companies to hurry up and try like crazy to go belly up?!? He says straigt out deploy these expensive and risky facilities. He SAYS they are risky AND expensive, but in the same breath thinks EVERY company should do it for the last mile connections.

    WTF?
    • ...said Craig Barrett, CEO of Intel Corporation. "Regulatory policies should encourage all companies to deploy these expensive and risky facilities."

      "Unless I'm reading something wrong here, is this guy encourging companies to hurry up and try like crazy to go belly up?!?"

      Likely taken out of context or Mr. Barrett simply misspoke. What he probably wishes he'd said would be more along the lines of: "Regulatory policies should encourage companies to make the necessary investments in new facilities." But it does seem like somewhat of a Freudian slip though, admittedly ("Hey, we'd be crazy to underwrite this ourselves, but please encourage these other companies to build this expensive and risky infrastructure so we can profit from it if it happens to work to our advantage.")

      The basic problem is the travesty of political campaign finance in this country, which basically creates incentives for politicians to waffle around trying to figure out who's going to pay them the most to sell their votes or, ideally, how they can get every opposing special interest to pay them a lot before they get around figuring out how they're going to screw the public with the most profitable (for the politicians) endgame playout. You can see this in the article, which mentions that the White House alone has held over a hundred meetings with interested parties (i.e., potential campaign contributors and their lobbyists) trying to figure out how best to structure public broadband rollout.

      OK, let's dispose of this political corruption problem first. (There might be some increased interest in this soon as the Enron bankruptcy scandal unfurls, laying bare how pervasive their influence-buying was for energy deregulation.) The campaign finance answer is really very simple, since the major cost of political campaigns is media buys: require the media (internet, TV, radio, and print media) to provide 20% of their advertising to legitimate political candidates, allocated equitably without charge during the campaign seasons. To get the media to go along, give them a tax credit equal to their opportunity cost for the "free" political advertising, times their marginal corporate tax rate. Voila! Public campaign financing without the corruption of the current back-room, bag-man lobbyist practices. And it would cost no more than the current system, where political lobbying costs are passed on to public in the form of higher prices for everything from electricity and natural gas to phone bills and groceries. (The previous FCC Chairman had actually suggested this, but Colin Powell's boy Michael doesn't seem to have the balls to piss off the regulated media, er... his likely future employers.)

      Once we get the political corruption inherent in the current lobbying/campaign-finance system cleared up, then and only then will the politicos get their heads on straight about how to move forward for the good of the public rather than their presently myopic and self-serving focus on getting reelected and amply lining their own vest pockets.

      Broadband internet access is now at about the point basic telephone service was 75 years ago - moderately affluent people in cities have it, others in rural areas don't. As a parallel, the rollout of broadband service to everyone who wants it (which eventually will be almost everyone) will look a lot like the provision of basic telephone service. It's going to take some public policy to make this happen. And the mix of technologies and companies involved is much more complicated now than it was with telephone services. It's going be complicated, but I'm sure some fair public utility policies can be devised to make it happen. But we need to make it happen rather quickly, if we are to maintain our economic competitiveness.
  • ...with AOLOS at the end of each one. What a vision. *vomits*
  • In 1994, I wrote a short 'white paper' making it clear that it would be vital for the government to fund the deployment of broadband as the private sector could NEVER achieve it. I have been proven correct. 8 years later, the ratio of connection speed increase - vs - speed of our computers themselves is way off the mark. The government of Germany and the US both invested heavily in the construction of a national highway system and it has done wonders for their economies, well, so would such an investment in universal broadband. We're currently in a mess, with net surfers all connected at different speeds, using various entry points (PC, Mac, Linux, Interactive TV etc etc) making the creation of quality high bandwidth content a nightmare as the 'market' is too small. I shall have to dig out my white paper if I still have it. In those days, I was using Mosaic on a 28.8 dialup connection. Today, I'm using version 5.0 browsers on a 500Kbaud cable modem. However, that is still FAR too slow and a waste of my 500 Mhz Apple G4 Powerbook processing power. I want real-time full screen DVD quality video on demand anywhere anytime. And I'll pay for it. No more jerky 1/8" screen streams please.
    • In other words... nah nah, told you so!
  • Make that national as long the broadband will not reach Europe, Australia, Asia and all the other continents... USA alone is not the world.

    Anyway, a real universal broadband would be cool.
    • Make that national as long the broadband will not reach Europe, Australia, Asia and all the other continents... USA alone is not the world.

      Anyway, a real universal broadband would be cool.


      Make that 'Earthly' as long as the broadband will not reach Ganymede, Alpha Centauri, the Andromeda galaxy, and all the rest of the universe... Earth alone is not the universe.

      Anyway, a real universal broadband would be cool.
  • by inKubus ( 199753 ) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @06:57AM (#2867764) Homepage Journal
    The only way I think this can possibly succeed is to discard the traditional "Central Office" mentality of telecom providers. If this is to be a public network, (ala state sponsored, socialist, German and/or Euro-style), it will be imperative to keep it out of the hands of a few large corporations. This means decentralization; a home by home public network. Give a gigantic tax credit to those homeowners who "host" a switch, and have their neighbors' wires come to their home to be routed to other neighbors or neighborhoods. Of course utilize encryption, but anyone with privacy concerns should learn to trust their neighbors more. Geeze, you'd rather have a huge, above-the-law corporation in charge of keeping your data secure or your buddy down the street. Of course, this would be a great thing for neighborhoods, also. Allowing a nieghborhood email service, file sharing, and whathaveyou would bring about a whole new era in living. Post complaints about behavior anonymously, welcome newcomers, it'll be the 50's all over again. Maybe people will stop being so afraid of each other that they will come out and talk, and crime rates will drop, everyone will be happier. Wow. Utopia. Oh, and since it's socialist, and supported monetarily by the government, it's free! Or the government can just give huge amounts of money to these huge corporations and let them spend half of it on administration, the execs pocket another 1/4, and the whole thing just gets done half assed enough that they will eventually give up, keep all the stuff they bought, and use it to roll out their own expensive service. Sweet. Well, that's America for you. Why do things the easy friendly way when you can allow some rich power to control your life?
    • I was thinking about this further, and realized this would also give everyone free telephone service (I mean with some sort of Voice(over)IP service), free video service (ersatz at this point, but I think someone will figure out a good way to stream video. I have a few ideas myself ;)), and more. So, of course, this would go directly against the interests of these large telcom companies. Plus, they already have all of the wires needed in place. So what needs to occur is the government needs to buy all these telcom assets (like wires, poles, etc.), hire all the displaced workforce, and boom, state telecommunications. I think this is a good idea. There ARE few places where CAPITALISM isn't necessarily a good thing: Essential services. Although there are benefits to corporate involvement, as any economist would tell you, the industries as we know them today are so vertically alligned that many of the benefits cease to exist. An economist would say that the government is inefficient, because it is too big and requires public support for everything it is in charge of. Corporations are big and inefficent now also. Doesn't it suck to wait on hold for 12387 hours to get help with something? Wouldn't it be nicer to spread this out to the neighborhoods, decentralize it, so one guy only helps 100 people, and most of the time no one at all. See, in an industry like telcom or any communications industry for that matter (USPS was mentioned), the benefits of corporate involvment cease to exist. This is because of AT&T. Back in the day, when AT&T owned everything telcom, they got too big and were broken up. Everyone knows this. But the problem is, the same wires are still there, and are still owned by those spun off broken off baby bells. Sure, the cable industry has made a little dent in home to home communications, but in most cases only in ONE DIRECTION. Regardless, all of our difficulties with telcom at this point stem from the Central Office paradigm of infrastructure organization developed by the monopoly of AT&T. This structure works perfectly for a MONOPOLY, and is designed for a MONOPOLY to use. I mean, it did make AT&T into the largest corporation in the world, didn't it. Microsoft is nothing compared to what AT&T was in 1984. Anyway, because the infrastructure we are still using today is built with a monopoly in mind, it is only natural that business will orient itself along the existing infrastructure to make the best possible use of it. Ethernet and IP make all this Central Office organization UNNECESSARY today, as these are protocols and hardware designed for decentralization. Now, the industry is not going to want to change; I mean, would you? This existing structure makes them BILLIONS at a cost of ZERO. These lines are so old, they have depriciated to be worth NOTHING right now; in fact, I doubt they are even taxed as property anymore. So, since they are no longer property of anyone, why doesn't the government just take them? Buy them, whatever. Only the government can do it. But, with the poles, and stuff, why not string fiber to each house. What's 100 bucks a house to the government? Nothing! They can just buy a fiber optic factory from one of the failing telcom corps, zip it out for even less because they aren't marking it up for a profit, and bingo. Anyway, the point I'm trying (laboriously) to make is that, TELCOM SHOULD BE RUN BY THE GOVERNMENT, AND SHOULD BE KEPT AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE. This means avoiding all the bullshit that USPS got themselves into trying to run themselves as a CORPORATION and not as a GOVERNMENT OFFICE. I DON'T CARE IF MORE PEOPLE SEND PACKAGES THRU FEDEX! JUST GET MY FIRST CLASS LETTER ANYWHERE IN THE U.S. IN 2-3 DAYS. There is no need to compete with FedEx on special stuff like packages. That is an extended luxury service, not an essential. Likewise, with telcom, I DON'T CARE IF YOU CAN WATCH 2671727 MOVIE CHANNELS ON GOVERNMENT INTERNET, people who want/need that LUXURY can buy CABLE. All I need is basic email, basic voice service (local, long distance, and 911), basic Video (community access). Anything else would be corporate. But for God's sake, let's lay AT&T to rest already, stop beating this dead horse and move into the 21st century. It's ok for these wires to be publicly owned. The roads are, and they are fine.
      • Move to Europe and then come back and tell us about how great a government Post-Telecom utility was to deal with, in your experience. BT in the UK can't find its ass with both hands for broadband, their "watchdog" Oftel is asleep at the switch, and UK politicians are too busy passing electronic privacy invasion (internal security) laws to even notice. Do you want more of this?
        • Living in the UK I totally agree with this!!! Not only did DSL spend 5 years or so in testing, its still not available to enough people and BT are still dragging their heels over every tiny thing...

          And cable? If you live up North you should get it, but in the south, no chance....
    • Hey stupid, the government gets money from the tax payers. They would have to substantially raise your taxes to pay for this. And everyone elses. And who would run it? IT people don't come cheap. More taxes again.
    • Something to remember about trusting a big faceless corp with your info vrs. your neighbor: A big, faceless corp deals with thousands and thousands of accounts, and nobody at that corp cares about you specifically, and even if a given person did, they'd have a hard time picking your specific data out of the noise. Your neighbor, on the other hand, is alot more likely to be curious about your personal habits, and won't have nearly as much data coming through to look at and make sense of.
    • Give a gigantic tax credit to those homeowners who "host" a switch, and have their neighbors' wires come to their home to be routed to other neighbors or neighborhoods.

      Hey, why use wires? Why don't we just start building a huge wireless network across the country? Who needs the corporate owned network called the internet that we currently use when we've got something like 802.llb? Now granted, it may not be as fast as DSL or Cable, but it sure beats the dial-up connection I'm currently using. It would be a lot cheaper too. All we'd have to do is put up the money for the hardware. We could start right now in urban areas!

    • Neighbourhood nets are cool, and are a good idea. All new buildings/home areas being developed should come with a community network.

      The problem is that very few knows how to set up the reouting and upstream connectivity properly technically and cost-efficiently, as it requires almost the knowledge of a how to become a small ISP.

      And those who do know how to do it (like me) don't really want to be responsible for it, to get angry calls from $LUSERS when something don't work. And they don't want the financial risks.

      It shouldn't be much work to set up a community network. And if administrators of community networks pool together, it should be humanly possible to do the support and emergency fixes too.
    • If you want a co-op ISP in your neighbourhood, then just go ahead and set one up. You don't need government handouts or new laws. Just do it.

      There are lots of co-ops where I live (Waterloo Ontario). We have a co-op bank, a co-op grocery store, a co-op bike repair shop, etc. We used to have an internet co-op which offered fast 24x7 internet access to its members, but it fell apart when cheap broadband came to town a few years ago. There are quite a few 802.11 co-ops in existence (although not here, that I've heard). The point is, if you want it, then get together with some friends and organize it.

      Doug Moen.
  • by LWolenczak ( 10527 ) <julia@evilcow.org> on Saturday January 19, 2002 @07:13AM (#2867788) Homepage Journal
    We all know telecoms (most clecs, and ilecs (some ilecs are pritty cool though) just want money, and lots of it. Thats why the cost of a t1 is still so high, so some technican gets fired when the loop alarm is on for a few days. Speaking of loop alarm, I hope BTI is firing people monday. Anyway. Broadband would be cheaper w/o goverment regs, and if telecoms were more willing to sell t1 lines chaper. Seriously, I would put a t1 into my house, I would consolidate my phone line onto one channel, and use the rest for data. I know one of the nearby ilecs (i have sprint, sprint sucks) is doing what they call dsl, but its really a multiplexed voice line in their words. In other words, they are rolling out t1 lines to homes. Makes perfect sence, High bandwidth, high quality, cheap since they are the incumbent local exchange.

    The problem with new goverment regs is that it would just make broadband more expensive. I wouldnt mind getting together with a few friends and buying a few dslpipes to make my own dsl network, or setting up a few long distance 802.11b network, but all that stuff would get even more regulated. I mean honestly, Some Phone companies (local exchanges) will not do alarm circuits any more. I have buddies in one city that used to use them to quietly do point-to-point t1 lines inside the same exchange area.

    The clear solution is for the consumer to dish ou the cash and build their own infastructure, any which way they please, but cheap t1 loops would be VERY nice.
    • I agree, give us cheap T1, and let me do the work.

      I'll get a few old machines, load up linux, and I can easily supply my neighbors with access. My two closest neighbors [on both sides] pay $40 a piece for their ISP. I also pay $40. So that's $120/month.

      Our network can be setup with minimal hardware costs, in all reality. A few pentiums [I, One] and a gang of NICs. Hell, I'd even let them run what ever service they want. No need for load-balancing servers, etc.

      I mean, how hard is it? It isn't hard at all. I signed up for a local dial-up service once and the tech support was done by ONE guy, the owner. I was like the 10th customer, and was invited to the NOC after calling him for help with an e-mail problem [someone I didn't know mailed me decent and two other games and it was #1 in the box!~200MB over 33.6]. He ran all MS servers, but it was pretty light. For two days I kinda worked there [so I could play quake on his T1:-)] and there actually wasn't much to it.

      That was waaay before I got into linux and now I know I can do the same thing he did. Even more. The only thing I didn't understand was the phone lines. He used portmasters, I think. His T1 was run through a pipe right to the NOC from the local bell [you can see inside their center through it]. But being that we would be using a T1 and ethernet, any PC can connect to the service.

      Hell, we could run the ethernet over a barbed wire [slashdot.org]! We already have a fence.

      The guy is out of business now because another ISP became _huge_ at the same time.
  • 100 Mbits/sec ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cheezehead ( 167366 ) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @07:37AM (#2867818)
    Excuse my stupidity, but how would a 100Mb/s connection for everyone help the economy? What in heavens name do you need that for? Watching movies? How does that help the economy (other than the MPAA, RIAA and the rest of them, since we're not going to get all that content for free)? Watching movies is nice, but I already have something for that (TV, VCR, DVD).
    Don't tell me you need 100Mb/s for browsing. Downloading big files, sure, but how often do you do that? And why isn't 1.5 Mb/s fast enough for that? Again, watching movies in real-time over an ultrafast connection would be cool, but why is that a national priority?
    • why is that a national priority?

      Because silly, the MPAA, RIAA says so. Didn't you learn anything in High School gov't class? Business runs the politics of this nation. Because cash runs the nation.

      Seriously though, if the content holders put up the campaign money politicians have no problem walking all over the telco's.

      What do we need 100Mb/s for? Movies, TV and Music, just like you said. People don't want to watch something for 20 seconds and then see 'buffering' watch for 20 and then see 'buff..

      Educational material [propaganda?] could be served up. Instead of the President trying to get on the network, you can simply click "President" and bam!

      But you are right again about 1.5 Mb/s being fast 'enough'. But the problem is the word 'enough'. Everyone seems to have this attitude that 'you don't need this' or that is fast 'enough'... but why?

      Why not push it to the limit? I mean, VoIP while watching DVD quality streamed media and getting debian ISO's at once would be nice. It could eliminate legacy POTS, maybe even cable. But then again, I've got HBO on Demand and I can watch that and get 1.5Mbit at the same time... so that makes me wonder.
      • Everyone seems to have this attitude that 'you don't need this' or that is fast 'enough'... but why?


        Because there is a cost issue. You could probably get a telco-grade line at 100Mb/s today. But would you be willing to pay thousands of dollars a month for it? Granted, some companies or institutions may need this, and are willing to fork over the money for it. I'm just looking at it from a personal point of view.

        If someone would offer 100 Mb/s service for $40 dollars a month, I'd order it today...
    • I'm not sure how it would help the national economy either. But I work at home a lot, which for me often means running an X windows server for processes running elsewhere. If I didn't have broadband, I'd be out of luck.

      Another viable option for me would be doing some of the work locally, which would require downloading some large but not unmanageable files (say on the order of 100MB). This is also something that wouldn't be practical without broadband (and is in fact hampered by my provider's limits on upstream rates).

      Having a fast connection also facilitates some kinds of online shopping, like buying downloadable software, or browsing samples of music and movies that you might want to buy.

      So I don't know how it would help the economy exactly. But I'm more productive because I have a cable modem. And it does facilitate lots of commercial things that aren't just watching movies or surfing. And that's just the stuff that works right now.
      • I once ran an X-client over 28.8K dial-up. That's not workable, I agree :-)

        I agree that it would be cool and convenient and nice to have high bandwidth. I have a cable connection, and it sure beats dial-up. It's worth the $40 a month I'm paying.

        But: is it absolutely needed? Not for me. I could read slashdot with my dial-up, and read/write e-mail, and browse the Web. Sure, I would think twice about downloading an ISO image, so in that sense things have improved.

        I don't doubt that things will be moving in the high-bandwidth direction, I just still don't understand how it would be a national priority. Surely this plan must cost money (if it were free, I'd say "go for it today").

        Maybe offering affordable broadband (~1.5 Mb/s) for more people could be a higher priority. A bandwidth like that allows you to do pretty much anything to improve productivity, exchange information, etc.

        Then again, maybe in 5 years I'll be going "what was I thinking???". :-)
    • You're excused.
      Movies will be just the first wave of high bandwidth applications. Once enough people have enough bandwidth, the real killer apllications will come.
      Just like the most usefull internet applications now are e-mail (including maillists) and instant messaging/chatting, the really usefull high bandwidth applications will ease communication between (groups of) people.
      For some examples of applications that need a lot of bandwidth, try http://apps.internet2.edu/ [internet2.edu].
      Another possibility is a version of the Sun Ray [sun.com] system. Imagine storing all your data (work, pictures, movies...) on a single server at home, and accessing it from anywhere in the world, using very light weight clients.
    • Why do we need an interstate highway system. Before that there were side roads and routes that could get you anywere, only you couldn't top 30MPH in most places, and there were a lot of bumps and pot holes and the occasinal dirt road? Back in the 50's, who could have imanged the trucking industry being as large as it is. The improved transportation allowed an expansion of the econmy as more things could be transported quickly. I'm not saying highways and broadband are a one to one corliation, but there are some striking simlaritys.
  • Broadband access. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @07:40AM (#2867826) Homepage
    It will not be corperations and communications companies bringing broadband access to the masses in rural or small towns. it will be the gurella wireless network builders. I have seen towns in northern michigan completely ignored by telcoms and cable for broadband access. Wireless, 802.11 wireless can give users broadband. Unfortunately there's a problem.. T1 broadband costs $1000-$1500 plus access fees in these rural areas. farmers and rural people will not pay $300.00 a month for access, and the group or company setting up the wireless access cant afford to charge less unless they get 200 customers or more.
    • A t1 is not broadband, and here is why. A t1 is in most cases, primarly intended, or atleast was intended to mostly carry phone calls between COs and Businesses. So the FCC decided that T1 lines had to be up 90% of the time, or the ilec gets fined. That is why a t1 line so expensive, because they HAVE to keep it up. Phone companies start firing people when a t1 loop goes down. With a broadband user, it dosent really matter if the line is down for a few days, the phone company is just going to assign it a repair ticket, and process the next ticket, but if a t1 goes down, they are normally at your door within an hour ready to fix it. I had a phone line that was down for two weeks once... My father worked his way up Sprint's Corperate Tree to the compaints office of the President of sprint. The technican who showed up about an hour latter had the fear of god in him. Plus, the complaint office called my dad back on the other line, and told him that the technican, dave i think, would be there in 15 minutes to fix it. When you pay for a t1, you pay for uptime, you don't pay for bandwidth, but with broadband, all you pay for is bandwidth.
  • Make it known how easy it is to get colossal amounts of pr0n.

    That would sell it for millions of males all over the world, and end the problems of cable companies and telcos sinking under the weight of their debts.

    I reckon the vast majority of existing and potential net users think the only way to get pr0n is from a web site using their credit card, and most people aren't really up for that. They've never heard of usenet, and many of those who have won't be aware of the amount of pr0n at their fingertips.

    Trouble is, the cable co's and telcos can't really push this since a) it might damage their reputation - particularly if they want to be seen as providers of entertainment for all the family, and b) most pr0n in the multimedia newsgroups are rip offs of copyrighted material.

    All it needs is an cable co or telco with sufficiently low moral fibre, a good legal department, an advertising campaign and some help screens.

    Problem solved.

    I think.
  • It won't make surfing the web any faster for these people. We'll experience the same phenomenon as with hardware/software. As the hardware gets faster, the software gets more bloated; as connections improve, there'll be more flash crap, stupid sounds, etc. You think X10 ads are annoying now? Wait 'till they start SPEAKING at you.
    • I have broadband. I live in Canada, and in my town, there is fierce competion between broadband providers.

      I also run junkbuster, which speeds up page loading, and I don't have to look at X10 ads. You can too. Check out www.junkbuster.org.

      Doug Moen.
  • by saberworks ( 267163 ) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @07:55AM (#2867847) Homepage
    ...please don't turn broadband internet access into the shambles that is the "modern" telephone system. People think Microsoft is a monopoly, but I'll tell you what, Qwest is the monopoly in this area. Most (if not all?) areas have a single telephone company that services everyone, so basically, if you have a problem with the company, you have absolutely no choice but to deal with their crap.

    For instance, Qwest promised me 7cents a minute long distance, but when the bill came, it was $800 - they were charging me 25cents a minute because of a computer operator error on their part.

    At the time I was working solely online, and I used the telephone lines to access the internet for my job - so guess, what? If I didn't pay them $800, they were going to switch off my phone (and thus completely removing my livelihood). Even after 6 months straight of talking to them on the phone once a week, they never gave me a credit. I was promised, at least a dozen times, that my account would be credited - but it never was. Turns out the "Customer Service Representatives" just put in a request for credit, and these secret guys in the back (that they wouldn't let me talk to, no matter how I begged) were in charge of actually issuing it. Well apparently they didn't agree with the CSR that kept promising me credits.

    Anyway, I didn't mean for this to turn into a rant about Qwest, but the point is, don't give us this local monopoly crap that we have to deal with for phone, electricity, etc. Soon as we have that, we'll have them supporting only one operating system, overcharging, giving us crap "privacy policies" like Qwest's new one (they should call that an "anti-privacy policy").
    • Stiff Qwest on the bill. Sue in Small Claims court. Win.

      Then move somewhere else.
      • Good, idea, however, it wasn't practical in that situation. I was living in an apartment in southern CA where I had a lease, no other internet access was available, and I had put off paying the bill for so long (trying to settle it BEFORE I sent them any money) that they were 2 days away from switching off my phone.

        No phone, no internet access. No internet access, no job. No job, no money. I probably had enough in savings to live for a month or two, but by the time I got back online, the web site would have been in shambles. Also, does anyone know how long it takes to get a court to hear a case? I don't (never been to court...).

        Fortunately, I live in a completely different state now. However, it's STILL QWEST! When I first got here, it was US WEST but they got bought out by Qwest... as soon as I heard the "privacy policy" I tried to opt out, but everyone knows the story of them not answering the phones + their site didn't work, so I cancelled the phone altogether (praise cable internet access! - and the nice thing, I had a choice to get DSL as well).
    • Take the phone company to small claims court!

      You don't need a lawyer, they do. Small claims courts are simple and don't allow most of the legal mumbo-jumbo that applies in "big" courts.

      It'll cost them at least half of that $800 just to ship a lawyer into town to defend the case - meaning they probably won't.

      Don't ask for anything but the filing fees (typically around $50) and your $800.

      You're almost guaranteed victory if you can reasonably substantiate your claims! Include paperwork, times, dates, who saids, etc.

      -Ben
  • "Internautes" = Internauts. I like it. Not so much "surfing" as an epic sea voyage. With sirens and cyclopses and a golden fleecing at the end of it all...
  • The real key to universal broadband is the so-called last mile - the connection to the home and thru the home into the computer there. Whatever solution you come up with will have to be duplicated tens of millions of times, just like it has been for telephone jacks and electrical outlets. A company in my hometown, Time Domain [timedomain.com], is about to get licensed by the FCC for a revolutionary new type of wireless technology that may very well be the key to solving the last mile problem. You can read coverage about them from USA Today [timedomain.com], The Economist [timedomain.com], US News & World Report [timedomain.com], Business Week [timedomain.com], and The New York Times [timedomain.com].
    • Widespread use of impulse transmission at high enough power to go miles is not going to happen. It would interfere with too much. "Ultra-wideband" means "interferes with everything if it has enough power". These systems have to be severely limited in power to be tolerable. If we see this, it will be for very short range applications.

      This is really just spread spectrum, with more spread. There's way too much hype from the impulse radio people. There was major hype from LLNL about "micropower impulse radar", which turned out to be a dud - other RF sources interfered with it too much.

      • Hmmm....Actually Livermore was using Time Domain technology with the microwave impulse radar, as discussed here [timedomain.com]. Also, I wouldn't envison a high powered spread spectrum transmitter reaching miles of range as tthe solution to this problem...more like a bunch of low powered ones where A can pass on to B which can pass on to C and so forth...
  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @08:27AM (#2867900) Homepage
    If the view is that "Broadband will Save the World Economy", then its a reasonable question to ask: "How will this happen?".

    A few articles down from this one on slashdot is a piece that details how the entertainment industry is claiming to be at risk from what is essentially broadband.

    Sine both have powerful money interests behind them, there is clearly an agenda that the Internet will become the "commercial" Internet. Worse, I believe draconian copy protection and content protection will be mandated by law. Follow along:

    1) Broadband will be subsidized by the US Government. This subsidy will naturally favor existing broadband providers, which at this point amounts to Comcast and TW/AOL.

    2) Because of this subsidy, and the lure of high-speed access, smaller and regional ISP will have no alternative and will become ghetoized. I'll bet that most of them will fold within 2 years.

    3) At the same time, content providers (TW/AOL, Disney, etc.) and their lobbiest (RIAA, MPAA) will begin a serious push to get hardware and software protection mandatory within the US.

    4) Congress will agree, not because they think it is a good idea, but because they fear they'll push a broadband infrastructure and get no benefit.

    5) Richard's Stallman's nightmare vision will very quickly become a reality as all types of content providers push congress to mandate the type of draconian laws (DMCA) that have been created to protect special and narrow interests.

    6) Private web servers will quickly become a thing of the past, since all content providers do not allow you to run your own server.

    7) My guess will be a call to "license" web servers on the same grounds that we "license" radio and TV stations....."Bandwidth belongs to the public, why should anyone be allowed to run a web site without proper government controls....it only makes sense so they don't interefere with 'legitimate' web sites".

    8) And I don't even think I'm painting a worst-case scenario here. I think this is likely within a few years.
  • If you are in favor of government stepping in to help your own pet project, don't act so surprised when they step in to help someone else's in a way that removes some of your freedom.

    Take a stand against big government: join the Libertarian Party [lp.org].
    • How is that hypocritical? If you support government intervention in one area must you be in favor of intervention in all?
      • No, what's hypocritical is complaining about big government in general when you support big government in one area. The smart person will realize that a group encouraging government intervention in one area, no matter how well intentioned, serves to encourage growth of government in general, usually in ways the same group doesn't like.

        Aside: In my case, I would give up getting "for free" all the useful domestic services I now receive (e.g., roads, police) that could just as well be privately-operated and paid-for, in return for taxes slashed to a single percentage point of what they now are. With all that money I'm giving to Uncle Sam and my state government, I could prioritize what's important to _ME_ and allocate resources specifically to those things.

        Getting back to my original reply, I'd take corporate entities attempting to place restrictions on me in a natural free market anyday over the situation we have today, limited liability corporations given government-granted limited monopolies. At least in the first case, there'd more likely be competition (any percentage is at least as great as 0%!).

        If I might remind you all, we wouldn't be in the SSSCA or DMCA situation in the first place if government didn't have the power to grant such monopolies. Reverse engineering being legal is the "natural" state, and only by abusing their powers have the governments of the world been able to outlaw that. Think about it.
  • First, do you really want to trust any article that uses the term "Megabites" prominently in the headline?

    Second, do you REALLY want the US goverment to provide you with Internet service? Consider: in the 1970's the US goverment decided that 55MPH was the law. Since they owned the funds to pay for the roads, their word was law. I always wondered what would have happened if a rich state had said "FUCK OFF! I CAN'T DRIVE 55!" and kept the limits, and accepted the loss of the federal highway funds.

    Do you really want the US government to be able to say "No Naptser, No Porn, and DAMN SURE NO .ISO's!"

    What I wouldn't mind would be something along the lines of the REA from the early 1900's. The government provided low-interest guaranteed loans to businesses to provide electrical power to rural areas. The catch - YOU WILL PAY THIS LOAN BACK! No Chapter 11, no Chapter 13. Fail to pay it back, and we nationalize your company.

    EVERY REA COMPANY PAID ITS LOANS BACK AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.

    A concrete example (for the blockheads out there ;):
    A friend of mine lives in a small town. The cable TV company there is also a phone company (but not in that town), and they don't do DOCSIS, they do DSL (great for me - they are MY telephone company). So cable modems are right out.

    The phone company in his town is Sprint. They aren't interested in DSL, they want to do wireless and they aren't ready to deploy that in his town. So, right now he has 2 phone lines and runs bonded PPP to get a measly 112kbps.

    He's a networking guy - he could set up his own ISP and run DSL if he could get the seed money to do so. What if he could get a RNA (Rural 'Netification Act) loan to do so?
    • First, if you're going to insist on a REA-type federal approach, at least insist that a hard time limit be imposed on the agency. The REA hung around until 1994 [encyclopedia.com], and even then was assimilated into a similar government agency. Bureaucracies don't ever put themselves out of work.

      Second, does it really take that much money to get started? And that cost is continuously dropping, especially with the help of open source projects [instant802.com]. Isn't it likely that this problem can be solved within the next several years without government intervention? I'll bet on private initiative and creativity (hmm, solar powered WiFi relays anyone?) to get the job done.

      Besides, if taxes weren't so damn high more individuals would be able to finance such initiatives. It would be far easier to bootstrap ventures if, say, we didn't have 1-1/2 months per year of labor confiscated by the Socialist Security system.
    • Louisiana did tell the Federal Goverment to go screw themselves and kept a 65 mph speed limit. Their roads are some of the shittiest in the nation. Louisiana is actually a poor state. It is the rich states that couldn't afford to kiss off the federal funds. Although that was changing, many states were calculating how much a 55 mph speed limit cost them to enforce, decided it was costing more than the federal funds (I have no idea how they came up with numbers for that), and were about to tell the Federal goverment they didn't need the money anymore. That's why the Federal Goverment removed the national speed limit recently. They couldn't risk the states not taking federal funds for highways because that is how they make many "laws" (National Drinking age for one) they do not have the constitutional power to enforce.
  • Broadband is now our god-given right?

    My parents live in a small town and have only ONE dial-up provider to "choose" from... and that is through the town bank!

    Ironically, many small towns had cable TV long before cities because they had such limited access to broadcast TV and it was simply easier to bury the cable. But there is no digital cable or cable broadband available.

    But still, you really go rural and there is no cable TV- it is all dish TV (much of it BIG dish... sometimes several).

    On the flip side, in IA, where my parents live, there is a fat fiber pipeline in town connecting the school and courthouse to schools and courts across the state- the entire state is fibered. The infrastructure is there, but ordinary citizens are deprived of its benefits. In a town of 2000 people, how much of that bandwidth would the handful of people online actually consume?

    I know with my phone company, living in the city I help SUBSIDIZE phone service in outstate communities (I receive notices to that effect every once in awhile). On the flip side, I can call millions of people in my local calling area compared to a few thousand in a rural area... so it is a small price to pay. I would not mind subsidizing broadband to rural areas. It is like fax machines. One fax machine in the world is useless... there is nobody to fax to. The more fax machines there are, the more valuable it becomes/the more people you can communicate with.

    Yet again, if you want to live near an international airport, or a freeway, they won't just build one hear you... maybe it is just all about "location, location, location."
  • What do we really need universal broadband for? To view the latest shit from Hollywood or hear the latest garbage from Britney Spears, all copy-protected and available only under Windoze of course?
  • I submitted the story about the huge growth in French broadband:

    Broadband in France has grown by 500% in the past year, causing total Internet use in France to increase by 26% just in last quarter of 2001. France Telecom is charging such low prices (~$25/month) that they are being accused of trying to reimpose their monopoly.

    What about the market structure in France makes companies compete to provide cheap broadband service to customers, while in most other countries they are trying to prevent their competitors from providing service?
    • I think it has nothing to do with the market, but with the State.
      In France, France Telecom has a great network (phone network), because in the 70's, State gave a lot of money to dramatically improve the phone network.
      Then in the late 90's, they created ART (Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications), to ensure that the use of the phone lines between France Telecom and its competitors is fair (since FT didn't pay for them).
      As a result, the only tactic for FT to reimpose their monopoly, is dumping prices, because, technically, ART is there to regulate (it's far more difficult to regulate prices, provided the complex structure of costs involved, than technical issues).

      The article is not complete. In fact, there are two possibilities for ISP to sell ADSL connexions using FT phone lines:
      1- ISP buy from FT ADSL connexion, package it with IP access, and sell everything to the customer.
      2- the customer buys ADSL from FT, and IP from ISP.
      Till quite recently, only solution 2 was broadly available, and it is still in that solution that you have the best choice of offers as for IP access.
      Wanadoo, FT's ISP, is by far the worst ISP for ADSL. IP connexion is barely ok, but everything else is between bad and very bad (mail, news, etc.). And it is 100% true that FT is dumping prices in irregular ways. Moreover, if u buy ADSL access from FT, and not IP, Wanadoo tries however to get you buying their IP access, using dumping techniques, like offering the modem, or offering cuts on ur.. phone bill ! (this is my personal experience with them).

      And remember: FT is still a state-owned company...
  • In Europe most if not all Dial-up access have some form of time metering. They charge you a fee on a per-minute, per-second of connection base, or they give you a time credit (usually around 30 hours) per month for a flat fee. This is due to the historical charging scheme for local phone calls.

    Therefore, when a salesman arrives and tries to sell you DSL access, he is like the messiah when he tells you you'll have 24/7 access for a flat fee. He doesn't even have to mention the speed increase, he already has sold his thing.

    This and a better abitlity in general to manage and develop heavy investment networked infrastructure that there is in Europe, due to the governements being less shy stepping in, makes that broadband internet access is doomed to be better, more generalized and cheaper than in the US.

  • by Tony Shepps ( 333 ) on Saturday January 19, 2002 @01:48PM (#2868934) Homepage
    Consider the small, non-corporate sites that can't manage the traffic throughput, versus the big, highly-connected sites. Which ones win under this scenario? Already we see major "independents" like K5 and Adequacy, creaking along, trying to keep up with the tides. Let's hope the phrase "All connected up but with nowhere to surf" isn't the watchword of the next decade...
  • Right, this is exactly what we need. Picture this:

    You're browsing the internet (you know, going to your favorite porn sites), and you get a popup ad. This is no ordinary popup ad, this one not only blinks, flashes, moves, won't close, and spans more of itself - it's talking to you - nonstop - about the product while playing some cheesy muzak. Right, that's exactly what I'm looking forward to. Not.
  • Why doesn't it occur to the technology world that we already are getting a very reasonable adoption per year in those areas that have high speed access for a major percentage of the average citizens entertainment budget! No doubt, decreasing the price would help--that it under the companies total control! But, both low speed and high speed bandwidth is getting more expensive and we have a recession.

    The worse thing possible is to subsidize the "socalled" high speed access which has not increased in speed for 3 + years -- still stuck @ ~ 500kb for dsl and 3 mbs for cable. They want a "subsidy" for their current business. If we encourage locking in the current technology, when we can get content beyond what dial up provides fine, i.e. current video content, video conterence and need more speed, the users will be locked into deals at the current speed with the incumbent suppliers and no funds will be available to the post-cable/telco era challengers.
  • Ambitious Goal of 100 Megabites to 100 Million
    Homes & Small Businesses by 2010


    I could understand if a small backwoods town printed something like that, but TechNet?

    Come on...
  • That should be a step in the right direction.
    For the US though, it seems that faster access for less cash is as much a problem as a solution. The only thing that seems to captivate the majority of American consumers is lower prices. But lower prices on higher bandwidth will wipe out a lot of existing business plans like web hosting and existing ISPs, not to mention exponentially raising the stakes on the entertainment industry. Of course these are only problems for those who are swimming against the tide of technology by providing half-ass solutions and irrationally insisting on the validity of outdated business plans. Unfortunately, many US telecoms and entertainment businesses suffer this allfiction.
    More bandwidth at lower prices will be an enormous blessing to many companies, but many of them may be outside of the US.
    I'm a Californian living in Taiwan and I've had both cable and DSL in Taiwan for several years now at costs much lower than what I used to pay for a modem connection when you factored in the per-minute local phone charges. Spending the Christmas holidays back in the States this year I found that the majority of people I ran into were still using modems despite living in areas with both DSL and cable alternatives. It was clear that everyone of them had the same reason for holding out on broadband: cost. Paying too much for something you're not sure you want or need is the ultimate hulimiation in the States.
    I assume first mile ethernet will bring broadband costs into check, but I'm not sure it's going to be a huge plus for the many US businesses operating on the assumption that bandwidth must be costly. in the cases of China, India and Brazil, the benefits may be much more easily recognized. They won't miss the neighborhood Blockbuster Video they never had.

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