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The Internet

Why You Don't Have a Broadband Connection 689

blandthrax writes "I ran across this article on The New Republic. The long and short of it indicates that the reason why almost 90% of Americans don't have a broadband connection is because current broadband providers are preventing other ISP's from entering the fray. The result: higher prices for broadband connections and a general lack of innovation. An interesting read full of good details. And, as usual, we learn that countries such as Japan and Korea are far ahead of the US in terms of innovation and technological saturation."
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Why You Don't Have a Broadband Connection

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  • Hassles... (Score:3, Informative)

    by FuzzyMan45 ( 451645 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @10:55AM (#4156746)
    I agree with the post, havent read the article yet, but...

    We work at a small ISP that used to (try) to offer DSL service, it worked for a few buisness clients, but the problem is, we are in california, and our telco is SBC/Pacbell/Devil-Company. It was so much of a hassle to deal with, and also too expensive. I don't think we made much profit on that deal at all...pacbell were whores. We ditched that pretty quick.
    • Re:Hassles... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Silent_E ( 592458 )
      Large companies no doubt make hassles for their competitors. This is precisely why deregulation doesn't work. The prophets of deregulation assume a "level playing field" when arguing for deregulation, but then take advantage of the lack of regulation to bully competitors out of the market.
  • i haven't read the story yet, but i wonder if this is one case where the "new republic" might advocate federal regulation to stop companies from abusing their positions...

    nah.

    never happen.
  • by doomdog ( 541990 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @10:59AM (#4156784)
    Part of the reason that Sprint canceled their ION service was that the local telcos were screwing them over when it came to provisioning customer lines. When I had ION installed, the local telco told me it would take them 30 days to install a "conditioned" line that was suitable for ION....

    Of course, when I called the telco the next day to inquire about their own DSL service, the "conditioned line" could be installed the next day....

    In the end, it did take 3 weeks to get ION installed, and it was far better service than anything that DSL could provide.... I really miss ION :(
  • Earthlink in Seattle (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jazman_777 ( 44742 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:00AM (#4156795) Homepage
    I have AT & T broadband. So I get this advert from Earthlink, basically offering the _exact same_ service for the _exact same_ price. I bet it's just AT & T with the Earthlink name. Why go through the hassle? Is this competition?
  • Slashdot... (Score:5, Funny)

    by bytesmythe ( 58644 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ehtymsetyb)> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:00AM (#4156801)
    Apparently "The New Republic" doesn't have a broadband connection, either. ;)
  • by lumpenprole ( 114780 ) <lumpenprole AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:01AM (#4156814) Homepage Journal

    It's like I'm always saying. The free market only benefits the consumer as long as laws and senators are not for sale. Telecom laws in this country are being handed out like utility contracts in some single-resource dependant dictatorship.
    When is the US going to get it's head out of it's sphincter and realize that telecom is a public resource. Or that public resources are to be protected for use, not auctioned off to the highest bidder.

    • Invalid Argument (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ratamacue ( 593855 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:42AM (#4157179)
      We do not live under a free market economy. Not even close. The average US citizen is forced to give nearly 50% of his/her earnings per year to fedeal, state, and local governments. This is hardly a free market economy, which requires strong property rights, i.e. the freedom to spend your earnings on what you want, not what government wants. Competition can only arise when the people have a choice in how to invest their assets.

      You can promote socialism all you want, but you cannot discredit an economic system that doesn't exist.

      free-market.net [free-market.net]


      • Well actually, no. Just because the market is free doesn't mean you are. I actually support income being taxed for the protection of public resources. I just think it should apply equally to corporations and the publice resources should actually be protected instead of sold to corporations that didn't pay for them in the first place.

      • You can promote socialism all you want, but you cannot discredit an economic system that doesn't exist.

        Okay, you've piqued my curiosity now. The U.S. isn't a pure free market economy -- I can accept that. So are there any examples of a pure free market economy in the world? If not, which countries qualify as the closest to pure?

        How would you respond to the suggestion that no pure free market economies exist for the same reason that no pure communist states exist? That is, perhaps society demands some degree of compromise between these two ideals, and where countries differ is in the blend?
        • by TheSync ( 5291 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @01:05PM (#4157832) Journal
          So are there any examples of a pure free market economy in the world? If not, which countries qualify as the closest to pure?

          According to the "Economic Freedom of the World" [cato.org] report from the Cato Institute, the most free economies are Hong Kong and Singapore, followed by the USA, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and Switzerland.

          It should be noted, of course, that economic freedom is different depending on where you are. For example, the UK has introduced private alternatives to their old-age pension system, whereas meddling with Social Security in the US is still the "third rail" of politics.

          Western European countries generally ranked high in all areas except size of government and labor market regulation.

          Life expectancy is higher among more economically free nations, and they also enjoy higher levels of income and faster levels of growth. The poorest 10% earn much more income in economically free countries.

          The bottom five nations in terms of economic freedom were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Guinea-Bissau, Algeria and Ukraine. However North Korea and Cuba were not included in the report since their data is not available.
      • by swb ( 14022 )
        You can promote socialism all you want, but you cannot discredit an economic system that doesn't exist.

        Same argument that communists made about the Soviet Union; "it's not communist so it doesn't invalidate communism". I've even heard it made in defense of fascism relative to Nazism -- "The Nazis weren't true to fascism, therefore criticisms of Nazism don't apply to fascism per se."

        The crux of this argument is that there is a "pure" form of the given socio-political philosophy that can be established and that the established socio-political arrangement is such a deviation from the pure form that criticism of the philosophy based on the established form is thus invalid.

        I think the weakness of such a line of reasoning is the presumption that a pure form of anything can be established and stay pure. Invariably all attempts at establishing a pure form of any theoretical political philosophy get distorted by the previous hegemonic philosophy and the unseen complications of a pure philosophy.

        Certainly robber barons, monopolies, abhorrent working conditions and dismal consumer protections were the results of the more pure capitalism of the US 19th century. Arguments by freemarketeers that these things will be self-correcting seem to ignore why they weren't in the past or to discredit the corrections applied at the governmental level (ie, no child labor, you can't sell putrid meat, etc).
    • When is the US going to get it's head out of it's sphincter...

      As soon as citizens realize that being able to campaign for office has nothing to do with an elected representative's ability (or desire) to address the needs of his/her electorate.
  • by Professor Collins ( 604482 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:02AM (#4156823) Homepage
    I have many collegues overseas. For starters, the [overwhelming] percentage of Japanese and Korean weathy enough to acquire broadband is highly suspect and inflated. Secondly, the degree of this "saturation" you speak of is much easier to attain in a relatively small country such as Japan or South Korea, south Korea being about the same size as Indiana and the total sum of Japanese islands being comperable in area to California. Got the smaller land mass? Build the infrastructure quicker and "saturate" it. If this is how "advanced" a country's 'broadband' (ugh) situation is, then Liechtenstein or Luxembourg might as well be the technological capital of the world.
    • This is a very good point. I take issue with the submitter saying 'as usual...', since such comparisons are almost always naive and ignorant of various factors.

      I live in Canada which has higher broadband usage than the US. But that's because a our population is largely concentrated in a couple of small areas: the 'Golden Horseshoe' around Lake Ontario (Toronto) and the British Columbian lower mainland (Vancouver). By providing saturation coverage just to those relatively small areas, DSL and cable providers are offering services to over a third of Canada's population.

      Another common bad comparison is with cell phone technology, where Europe and Asia have much wider usage, resulting in more advanced technology. The reality of the situation is not that North America has been neglecting this area of technology, but simply we don't have the same kind of demand.

      We prefer to use personal computers than cell phones. Teenagers don't pay money to 'text' each other on there cell phones here, instead they use ICQ and MSN for free. As a result it makes no sense for our telecoms to dump countless billions into expanding our cellular infrastructure and improving our cell phones' data capabilities. They wouldn't get the same kind of returns as NTT Docomo and Vodafone do overseas.

    • by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent.jan.goh@nOsPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:18AM (#4156973) Homepage
      Though the article didn't give numbers, it did list Canada in the same sentence as South Korea. While I admit that I have a largely biased sample space, practically everyone I know has broadband. My parents do, my friends do - even my non-computing friends. You can get cablemodem access in the town of Didsbury in Alberta, a town so small that practically everyone in town knows each other. All across Canada I have friends, and they all have broadband. We've got fewer people, sure, but our landmass is pretty damn big. Make no mistake, you've got problems down there when my access costs the same as yours, but in Canadian money, is faster, more reliable and more accessible. The US has no good reason to be lagging behind. Big businesses are crushing you underfoot, and removing the technological advantage that you should have.
    • by Vinson Massif ( 88315 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:22AM (#4157011) Homepage
      Your 'smaller land mass' falls over when you compare Canada and the US re: high speed access.

      We're a much larger coutry with a much smaller population, yet we have a much higher high-speed base.

      Plus, what we get is cheaper! My $CDN cost for adsl is less than what I've seen on /. without exchange. My guesstimate is you're paying 2x my cost for inferior service.

    • > Secondly, the degree of this "saturation" you speak of is much easier
      > to attain in a relatively small country such as Japan or South Korea, south Korea being about the same size as Indiana
      > and the total sum of Japanese islands being comperable in area to California. Got the smaller land mass?

      Then what are the figures for parts of the US that are densely populated, relatively affluent, & under the same local government? If this lack of density were the sole cause, I'd expect the states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, & Delaware all to be either at the top or near the top in terms of saturation.

      (I'll concede that there are probably enough low-income folks in Delaware & Rhode Island to make keep them from the ideal of a broadband line for every household, but last I checked Connecticut had one of the highest average incomes in the US. Anyone who wants a high-speed internet connection in that state should have one, unless the market wass hamstrung by hide-bound ILECs.)

      Geoff
  • Or... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Could it be that most users on the internet are just there to send e-mail back & forth between their families, or to hang out in chat rooms?

    This is because most people do not need broadband and cannot justify the increased cost just for the online activities listed above. That is why by 2005 broadband will [instat.com] will just be catching up to dial-up [internet.com] percentage wise for users of the internet..
  • by Knife_Edge ( 582068 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:04AM (#4156836)
    My broadband connection just is not very good. There are many restrictions on how I use it. I cannot run servers, for instance, or even have a static ip. Downtime of a few random daylight hours a week is not unusual. Recently my bill was increased by $5, to a total of $45 per month. No increase in quality of service accompanied this price hike. I will not name my service provider, but it is a major one and is currently being investigated by the SEC.
    • I am a cheap bastard. $7.99 versus $40+ a month.
    • Contracts. I hate the damn time commitments
    • Install hassles or install fees and I am moving soon. Why not just wait?
    • Linux and Solaris treated like second class systems.
    • Why bother? I don't have it now and it doesn't hurt me.
    • I'm never be around to let the damn tech into my house.
    • Apathy


    That said a month to month contract (and no install fees) for a reasonably priced Unix and Unix like friendly provider with a self install kit in NoVA and I'd probably grab it.
  • In my area, the two LECs (Local Exchange Carriers) are Verizon (evil!{my opinion}) and SWB (not as evil anymore{my opinion}).

    When I or friends have tried to obtain broadband service from companies other than these, we come up against a brick wall: although smaller companies have the ability to provide dsl service in our area, they actually have to lease the lines from these LECs (verizon and southwestern bell).

    It took weeks sometimes just for the LEC to have the access on their end set up, and any time there was a technical problem, we'd have to speak to both sides, where each party generally needed cooperation and information from the other. Needless to say, this was not something that was easy to get accomplished and it totally ruined my (and others) experience. On monday, I'm ordering broadband at my new residence, and guess what? I'm going to be getting it through one of the big boys. The reason, the hassle of trying to get service through two companies that are in competition with eachother is too painstaking.
  • I work for a small ISP and one of our competitors thats much larger than us is going to start offering cable broadband through Time Warner. From what I understand, Time Warner provides the actual hookup and hardware, and then the ISP would provide mail, DNS, and tech support. The ISP would get $5 per month, per user that chooses the ISP.
  • This seems to contradict, the stories of excessive bandwith etc. Or perhaps, it helps to explain how it is possible to have all the supposed excess capacity and yet there is no "demand". There is no doubt that the demand is there, it always has been.

    If the demand wasn't there we would all still be using 9600 baud modems, or perhaps 300 baud C-64 modems. But, instead we have tried to squeeze out every possible bit per second from our modems and it is still inadequate.

    And, in case you didn't know, this doesn't change with today's broadband. Almost anyone who has used broadband (xDSL/Cable) for any period of time will tell you that the speed is the best available and that it is much better than dial-up but, they are still wanting or needing more speed. I assure you that if everyone could get a T-3 (45Mbps) for a decent cost, everyone would have one and still complain that it wasn't quite enough for them. The demand is there!
  • And guess what? The FCC is not only allowing them to do this, they're actually encouraging it!
    Why? Well, it seems that a couple of months ago, the FCC determined that the Communications Act of 1996 doesn't apply to the Internet. Remember all that bullshit about Clinton using the 'net to digitally 'sign' said act? Remember him saying how this act was going to revolutionize the 'net? Not any more. It turns out that the act was just a big land grab for companies like Clear Channel Communications and CBS.
    • "Why? Well, it seems that a couple of months ago, the FCC determined that the Communications Act of 1996 doesn't apply to the Internet."

      Then explain this [iwancio2002.org].

      "Remember all that bullshit about Clinton using the 'net to digitally 'sign' said act?"

      Somehow I recall the whole digital signature law being passed well after this one...

      "It turns out that the act was just a big land grab for companies like Clear Channel Communications and CBS."

      ... and the crap they're putting on my radio and television have what to do with the internet exactly?

  • Naw, really!? [iwancio2002.org]

    What I think we should see more of is alternative delivery methods explored. Sprint PCS just deployed their new wireless network, I'd think wireless access would sidestep the Baby Bells entirely. Even better are satellite internet options (no new ground infrastructure required).

    But instead we have... well... you get the idea.
  • It's a very common misconception that Japan is way out ahead of the US in the absorption of technology into the culture. (and that's NOT what the article says, by any means) Anyone who has lived outside of Tokyo/Osaka (and probably those folks as well) can tell you that Japan is NOT the leader of the pack in this respect. DSL (YahooBB) just came available in Mito, which is a small city north of Tokyo. Compare this to a comparable size city, Lubbock TX, which has had DSL and cable BB for years and years.

    The computer lab in the school where I taught from 1996 - 1998 had 286 machines running Windows 3.1 They kept applications on floppies. The machines weren't networked at all. Schools started getting internet access after I left. The teachers were absolutely CLUELESS re computers. Most of them used wapuros (word processors) or nothing at all.

    As the article mentions regarding BB: the NTT monopoly held Japan back for a long time, but BB is finally catching on.

    There are lots of neat GADGETS in Japan, but proliferation of computing is slower than in the US. In the "real world," not standing Akihabara (an electronics district) or at Shinjuku station (with a video screen on the entire side of a building) Japan seems much less technologically advanced.
  • I would say the main reason the best laid plans of telecoms to convert everyone over to broadband failed because the high quality/high datarate content never appeared.

    The reason for this 'more infrastructure than content' phenomona, I believe, is that the telecoms overestimated how willing the entertainment industry (@see MPAA and RIAA memebers) would be to move their content to digital formats. For example, if all the major record labels all had their entire libraries online, available for purchace and download in a fair-use friendly format, then the demand for broadband would be much higher. If you could buy, download and burn DVD's over the web, people would probably be complaining that current broadband isn't fast enough and might be willing to pay more for access to all those fiber networks out there, which currently, are sitting dark.
  • by sllort ( 442574 )
    Fantastic article, this piece really caught my eye:

    In February, Powell, who enjoys a three-to-one majority on the FCC, announced a "proposed rulemaking" on "telephone-based broadband." According to the FCC's decision, telephone-based broadband services are "information services, with a telecommunications component, rather than telecommunications services." The distinction sounds semantic, but it has profound legal implications. According to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, telecommunications services have to grant open access to their facilities, but information services do not. By defining telephone broadband as an information service--a designation originally intended for content providers like LexisNexis--the FCC removed it from regulation, allowing the Baby Bells to ban other ISPs from transmitting over their lines.

    What he's saying here is that the FCC can't regulate DSL because DSL is a service which provides content like AOL, MSN, Compuserve, etc. So if you have a DSL line, and you're reading Slashdot, the chairmain of the FCC believes that your DSL provider brought you this story.

    Mike Powell is a damned industry whore, and a disgrace to his father.

    • by gokubi ( 413425 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:26AM (#4157037) Homepage
      His father is a damned industry whore as well.

      From FAIR.org:

      The AOL/Time Warner deal also showcased [Michael] Powell's nonchalant approach to personal conflicts of interest; he took part in the merger decision despite the fact that his father, Secretary of State Colin Powell, was one of AOL's directors, with lucrative stock options in the company.

      Colin made $35M from his stock sales after the merger that his son approved. I wonder if the Powell's had a party when the "death" tax was repealed?
  • The two main suppliers of broadband in my area (Charleston SC) are Bellsouth and Comcast.

    To get Bellsouth DSL for $40/mo (might be $50/mo now...been a while since i last checked), they say I need to get their Bellsouth Complete Choice plan, which would add an extra $5-10 or something like that to my phone bill for services that I would never use. Otherwise, their DSL is $50/mo.

    Comcast on the other hand, wants $50/mo for cablemodem, plus modem rental charge (I heard they want to charge more if you buy your own cablemodem).

    so i just stick with my earthlink dialup for $22/mo and do all my broadband stuff at work. sneakernetting large downloads from work to home is no big deal.
  • but we have laws to ensure fair competition so that even the biggest telco cannot say no when the owner of the house switch to their competitors. Even the telco own the physical network implementation of that house, they must let their competitors share with it at a rate.

    It's because we always think that networks system is like sewage system which can be owned by private sectors but must be regulated by Government for the best of the public interest.

    I thought US has similar laws on fair competitions?
  • I'm tired of seeing and hearing all the broadband commercials that make high-speed connectivity seem like such a panacaea.

    Such ads usually concentrate on some particular aspect of broadband that makes it superior to dial-up. For instance:

    1) No waiting to connect!
    Now seriously, of ALL the reasons to go to broadband, this is the most idiotic. Since most people aren't running servers on their home systems , the connect time isn't that big of a deal. I have also seen DSL systems that still require you to actively connect to the network, and it takes about the same time as a 56K handshake.

    2) I get my email in seconds!
    I guess this is just because we get so much spam or something. I rarely receive an email that huge attachments.

    3) Watching streaming video
    I have yet to see streaming video on the web worth watching. Maybe I'm not looking in the right spot or something, but until I can watch DVD quality movies online, I don't care about streaming video.

    4) Listening to streaming audio
    This is much more plausible, but probably doesn't justify the much higher cost of broadband vs. dial-up. I do like listening to streaming audio.

    Dial-up is more practical simply because it is far less expensive, and is more than adequate for most users.

    Now, when it comes to:

    5) Getting the latest linux distros that are upwards of 400 MB and...
    6) Downloading tons of pr0n

    well, broadband just can't be beat.

  • Another problem with the lack of choice is that often the few choices you do have, don't let you do what you want to do with the internet. My local cable company has broadband cable, but their Acceptable use policy reads like a Microsoft EULA. I don't like it and won't use it. It bans servers of any kind, bans P2P sharing, I think it even attempts to tell you that you must support community deceny standards. (I thought that was the whole point of the internet, letting you determine your own deceny standards)

    My other problem is that I'm in a DSL dead-zone and the only one even willing to try and offer me service is Ameritech, which has a similar draconian Acceptable Use policy, and they use PPPoE.

    My only hope is that I can get a wireless broadband connection with a local ISP (who has a decent Acceptable use policy and allows servers... their only restriction is that you don't use the connection for illegal activity), but currently my house is situated too high to have a good line of sight to their antenna. The only way to get to it is to have a larger antenna then my community allows (I'm petitioning the Building Dept for an exemption). Hopefully they'll agree and the antenna won't make my neighbors nervous about "death rays" as the Building Dept Manager put it.
  • by irishkev ( 457679 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:14AM (#4156947) Homepage
    There are lots of people out there who just don't care about having faster Internet connections. You always hear about some freak out in the sticks, salivating to get his paws on a fast pipe. What about the millions of people who have access to broadband connections but don't sign up!?

    Let's face it: People like us are not normal at all. Most people dial in, check email, buy a CD from Amazon on occasion, and that's about it. I've told several people that DSL or cable is easily 50x faster than dialup. They look at me like I'm crazy, "Now why would I need to go so much faster? And doesn't that cost a whole lot?" It's like, you just want to bang your head against the wall. But when you consider how much TV normal people watch, it makes perfect sense. They don't really want unfiltered knowledge. They can't handle it. Why go looking for information when all most people want is the pap and pizzle the spews from the their TVs?
    • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:53AM (#4157273) Homepage
      That doesn't really cut it. Many 'normal' people today own computers that are way faster than what would have been an 'ubergeek' box 3 years ago. The need argument is pretty silly - we dont _need_ the Internet in the first place.

      Normals will 'need' broadband when it becomes cost competative to dialup. (Its only a few bucks more here in Toronto, Ontario.) Its not about 'need', its about superior technology at the same price. Thats when it becomes a no brainer for the normals, and its a shame the US market hasn't been able to achieve this cost competative point with broadband yet. You wouldn't turn down broadband if it were available for the same price as dialup now, would you?
    • "Let's face it: People like us are not normal at all. Most people dial in, check email, buy a CD from Amazon on occasion, and that's about it. I've told several people that DSL or cable is easily 50x faster than dialup. They look at me like I'm crazy, "Now why would I need to go so much faster? And doesn't that cost a whole lot?""

      If those people ever paid attention to the patches that they should be applying to their windows boxes, they would have a different attitude.

      I have 5 machines shared over a 28.8 at home (which is the best connection available here in my area of rural Canada) and the windowsupdate is useless because everything so huge and I don't want to download it for each windows install. So therefore I get the 'prepackaged install' which can be downloaded and run later.

      But of course the prepackaged installs and some of the linux security updates are freakin' HUGE! (Mandrake 8.2 wanted to download ~400 mb immediately after I installed it.) The problem is that it's very hard to get secure in a reasonable amount of time on dialup. I'm STILL downloading W2ksp3 (*) a few MB each day. There are still tons of remote root exploits I have to patch in my linux install. But I CAN'T! Thank you, dialup.

      (*) Please no lectures about the sp3 EULA. I know.

    • I've found the most important thing to people (including myself) isn't the download speed most of the time, it's the always-on connection. The ability to sit down, check your e-mail, and walk away is great. The ability to use the internet despite your teenaged daughter being on the phone ALL THE TIME is great; the ability to use the phone while your 13-year old l33t h4x0r s0n is fragging his lamer friends on counterstrike is also a bonus.

      Also, in Canada, fast download speeds are paying off. One of the largest media companies (CTV) has a cable news channel, but if you have broadband, you can watch the day's stories on-demand on their website. The 'tickers' and so on, like CNN also has, displaying the weather and whatnot are similarly interactive, letting you jump straight to the day's business news or weather reports.

      Not to mention that you can listen to the CBC's radio programs (mmm, culture) via the internet.

      All in all, broadband is taking off like a rocket here, but these two reasons (always-on and interactive media) are the keys.

      Me, I just want to idle on IRC....

      --Dan
    • ...or the Ulysseses ($50), but that doesn't have that cool ring to it.

      Your average consumer doesn't want to cough up fifty bucks for broadband. I'm not an expert on bandwidth costs, but I'm willing to bet that they'd find bandwidth a lot less expensive if they ever really had to compete for customers.

      My guess is that in a few years, it's theoretically possible for people to have cable modem speeds for $20 a month -- what the average person is willing to pay. The problem is, with broadband costs still ridiculously high, there's little incentive for average folks to jump on the (brace yourself for a bad pun) "band" wagon. Hell, I don't like paying fifty a month for my cable modem.
  • by Anonymous Custard ( 587661 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:15AM (#4156952) Homepage Journal
    I recently ordered Verizon DSL (NY suburb area, optimum online not available). I asked the sales rep why I should go with Verizon and not with another equally priced DSL provider: He said something about how Verizon has much more experience with DSL.

    I found out the real answer later. When the rep was checking my phone line to see if it was DSL capable, he implied that if my line hadn't been DSL-capable (if it was on older wires) then it could have been fixed, by speaking to a local Verizon phone line technician, usually by catching him on the job and asking him politely to hook it up (or possibly by requesting a service job through my local Verizon office, although they wouldn't be obligated to do it).

    This gives Verizon a completely unfair advantage, since no other company is authorized to maintain the phone lines in the area. DirectTV DSL can't sell to non-DSL enabled customers, but Verizon DSL can since they can enable just about anyone who asks!
  • You mean a country full of greedy individualist companies is technologically behind contries with a strong sense of the common good? Amazing.
  • I live in broadband hell.
    Namely Aurora, Illinois.
    I'm close enough to the Central Office (12,000 ft) but Ameritech/SBC claims their CO is full (which I think may be true).
    No problem, they are working on project pronto which is supposed to offer DSL for all the suburban neighborhoods. Notwithstanding the legal issues, they started rolling out project pronto in Illinois this spring. Of course it's completely half-assed and there are no rhyme and reasons to the way they are doing it.
    So they keep calling me to tell me that DSL is finally available. They send me a DSL modem and they tell me, oups sorry, not yet for you and I send it back.
    I played that game 3 times. Now I stopped.
    So technically the remote terminal (the project pronto Fiber to the neighborhood part) is supposed to be up in October for us, but I heard that one before.
    So I left Ameritech/SBC alltogether and went with another local phone provider (cheaper).
    As for Cable, it is still not available, as ATT inherited some really crappy and old system from the previous cable company and they haven't had a compelling reason to upgrade yet. (they have the monopoly). So there again, I refuse to use ATT and I have satellite (much better).
    Of course satellite Internet sucks (pings terrible, no good for VPN) and will probably go bankrupt soon.
    There are some wireless options but it's all mom and pop and most of them have been known to get our money and run with it.
    Plus they can't subsidize the cost of HW as much as DSL and cable so the upfront cost is too high for me ($250 to $500) and the monthly cost is also too high.
    So in the mean time, I just pay $5.95 for cheap dial up access.
    I still think it's ridiculous. I live in America!
    People in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, France ... everywhere all have DSL but not me...
    The perverse nature of the capitalist system:
    No money (not enough) for the big guys and they won't get in ...
    Sad sad ..

    I think my situation sums up the situation of many many millions of American.

    Just my 2 cents...

  • The article mentions a few times the poor effects of declaring data traffic to be "information services" instead of "telecommunication services" which are regulated differently.

    However, I seem to recall when that happened that people generallly took it to be a good thing - are there not unpleasant implications to declaring data traffic as "telecommunications" that would hutr us more? I can't remember the full implications of each type of service.
  • by Trane Francks ( 10459 ) <trane@gol.com> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:21AM (#4157008) Homepage
    When I see so many posts commenting on how expensive 40-60 bucks/month is, I have to smile. Here in Tokyo, I jumped at the opportunity to install ADSL in May last year. My price for the telco fees + ISP port connection/services was just under 80 bucks/month. It has since dropped, thankfully.

    However, prior to ADSL, my dial-up charges were on the order of about $250/month. The North American all-you-can-eat dial-up courtesy of no-charge local calls would have delayed my adoption to xDSL for a very long time. The move was made because the pricing was so much more attractive.

    Of course, now things are different. Telecommuting and doing the VPN into the office network wouldn't be possible with dial-up, so when the company asked me if I wanted to work at home, I was suddenly VERY pleased to already have ADSL installed.

    Hmmm. It occurs to me that some of you folks stateside might have a good argument to present to your local representatives. Telecommuting really does require broadband. If the broadband providers are forcibly slowing the adoption of broadband in wide areas, it's plausible that there are negative economic consequences coming about as a result.
  • Scary. (Score:5, Informative)

    by SlashChick ( 544252 ) <erica@eri[ ]biz ['ca.' in gap]> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:23AM (#4157015) Homepage Journal
    "In Virginia, when one small town, Bristol, wanted to set up its own broadband system, Verizon lobbyists persuaded the pliant, Republican-controlled state legislature to pass a law prohibiting any town from doing so."

    I found that quote very disturbing. Fortunately, I read more on the subject and found out that Bristol won a lawsuit that overturned the decision. [virginiabusiness.com] The state is appealing the decision (imagine that), but for now, Bristol has set a precedent that says that municipalities can set up their own broadband service. It's insane that Bristol even has to go to these lengths, but at least they won.
    • Usual for Virginia (Score:3, Informative)

      by edremy ( 36408 )
      One classic (non-tech) example. Our former (idiot*) governor had exactly one idea his entire term: cut the car tax. It was all he cared about.

      One county near to me watched its revenues crash to the point where they couldn't pay teachers or policemen. So they voted to reinstitute a car tax to keep them solvent. Gilmore went out of his way to try and get rid of the county government. But hey- he cut taxes! What more do you need?

      *You know you're a moron when the RNC fires your ass after only a year. Took him almost nine months to find another job.

  • Synopsis (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:23AM (#4157020) Homepage
    (Because it's not like anybody will read the article before spouting off):
    • Residential broadband prices are rising rather than falling.
    • There are 15 ISP for every 100,000 diallup customers, but only 2 ISPs for every 100,000 broadband customers.
    • Broadband ISPs are 95% owned by cable and phone companies (directly or indirectly).
    • Copper and cable are poor long term solutions, but there's no incentive to put in fiber-to-the-door.
    • Instead of trust-busting, the FCC has gone for "deregulation", which has just allowed the Baby Bells to deny their capacity to other providers.

    To synopsize the synopsis, we've screwed regarding broadband. But then, anyone that's been keeping even a casual eye on broadband for the past couple of years already knew that. The Baby Bell shutout this year was just the last nail in the coffin.

  • You want to know why I don't have broadband? Because despite living within 10 miles from AOL, PSINet, WorldCom, as well as big corp. offices of several other well known firms, there is still no viable broadband for most people out here in Loudoun County.

    Rumour is, eastern Loudoun was a failed experiment in "fibre to the curb" a few years back. There's more fiber out here than in a Metamucil factory. Thus -- no DSL.

    "Fine," you say, "what about cable?"
    Well, we're in a real jiffy of a situation [adelphia.net] in that aspect too. As if the fact that we've got Adelphia out here isn't bad enough, the bit of broadband roll-out that they are doing is going west-to-east -- leaving the areas with the highest population densities out in the cold.

    Finally, since you likely live in a TH/Condo out here -- myself included -- unless you have access to southern skies, you have no satellite options.

    A while back, I wrote a letter [wiw.org] to my local Representative about the fact that they lured all the high-tech companies out here w/o having the infrastructure in place for high-tech workers. His reponse [wiw.org] was typically clueless.

    Verizon themselves also recieved an angry letter [wiw.org] from me, very recently, as they incessantly flood my mailbox with DSL ads, despite the fact that I can't get it.

    Bitter? No, not at all...
  • Hollings (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Amazing Quantum Man ( 458715 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:26AM (#4157038) Homepage
    <SARCASM>
    This is why we need more legislation like the CBDTPA! Why, if we didn't pass it, then we wouldn't be promoting Consumer Broadband! We need the Hollywood studios to put out high-quality crap^H^H^Hcontent so that suckers^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hconsumers can get broadband from our greedy^H^H^H^H^H^Hgreat telecoms!
    </SARCASM>
  • The US is a heck of a lot bigger than these other countries (Japan etc). When one ISP can cover a country well, like the cell phone situation in Japan, it is very easy to be quick to market. When you are a huge country, in terms of area, it is a much slower, and more costly, process. The dead spots in between (area of minimal population) make it much less attractive for companies to spend the money on it, especially now after the dot-com fiasco.

    How many people in the US can say they don't have cable TV? DSL is dependent on short range transmission, satellite has huge lag.

    There are problems... we have to come up with the fixes...
    • I'm glad somebody else has noticed this. Everybody just assumes that USA is slow or incompetent. This is the first time I've seen soembody bring up the point that the United States has a LOT of ground to cover. Most other countries are roughly the size of 1 (one) of our states. Beacuse of this, stupid stereotypes are born. "America's so self centered" "Of course! With a population of 250,000 people, the news channels can get a little crowded!"

      Okay okay, I'm done ranting. All the anti-american comments I've read here in the last few weeks have caused me to need to vent.

      Getting back on topic: There are a few things to consider:

      1.) America's huge, getting broadband to every home is a huge challenge. It'll only happen when there's economic benefit to it. Nobody's going to run cable to my Grandma in Hillbilly Hills Missouriif she's not willing to pay enough to make it profitable to them.

      2.) Alot of people have discovered that broadband is a luxury, not a necessity.

      3.) The Internet needs to be cheaper, not for the consumer but for the companies providing it. If they're metering people to pinch pennies, then the technology needs to improve so that it's not so costly. Call the Cable/DSL providers selfish if you like, but you CAN get a telephone to every home in America.

      4.) Make broadband internet more attractive: Personally, I think ISP's like ATT Broadband should stream some of their cable content to their customers. AT&T has a nice little network there, they could drop on-demand episodes of MST3k or something like that to their customers without having to actually go out to the net itself. (Meaning: it's cheap) I'd be willing to pay extra $$ a month for a service like that if the content's interesting. ISPs do a terrible job of upsells.

      Whatcha think, sirs?
    • I think it's time we had a good, healthy debate on whether or not America is a good country. That matter has been swept under the rug for FAR TOO LONG on the internet.

      As a side note, I defy anyone out there to give me a single good reason to buy a $70.00/month broadband connection (the cheapest that's available out here in the boonies). For what? Download songs? I can do that on a dialup. Download movies? I can pay less per month and get them on DVD. None of my favorite sites require broadband.

      So what's the point? I can think of a hell of a lot more things to do with that money...
  • I'm guessing one of the reasons 90% of Americans don't have a broadband connection is because a huge percent of them don't want broadband.

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:36AM (#4157125)
    Here in the UK, we were a little slower with broadband, but it's taking off here now to some extent.

    Rather than the 12 month contract, leased modems, astronomical prices and company monopolies, a new method has emerges that seems to be working. Approximately 40 to 70% [e-envoy.gov.uk] of UK exchanges are dsl capable now, dependign on how far along you think they are. Oftel (the UK telecoms regulator) ruled that BT was obligated to allow other ISPs to offer dsl over BT's existing phone lines with no punitive charges in order to aid competition.

    As a result of that, I have a dsl service (640k down, 256-300k up) that costs me $35 (equiv) a month with no 12 month contract. The only outage I had was when lightning struck my house and cut the phone off (hardly the ISP's fault!) and I own all the hardware at my end.

    You buy a small dsl splitter from your ISP (or an online retailer) that you plug into your existing phone socket allowing you to connect your phone and modem. This way, no engineer needs to call round and install any hardware. The setup is a breeze, and I can have a static ip and run my own servers for a small fee if I need that capability.

    The other option is to get your broadband with cable TV. NTL offers cable internet with their cable TV service. The modem is built into all of their set top boxes, so if you want to use the service, all you need is an ethernet cable from your tv box to your PC and a phonecall to them to get set up.

    I think the driving force for this is the way the phone system works here. Local calls are not free, so dialup access is either through an ISP that offers a toll free number (AOL, Compuserve etc) which are expensive or an ISP that offers free use, but with a normal local call rate number, costing you 2p per minute off peak, and 3.5p per minute on peak.

    For the amount of time I spend on the net daily, I'd easily rack up the same cost in phonecalls as I'm paying for my broadband access, except at dialup speed. No contest.
  • Comparing something like this in the US to Japan and Korea doesn't make any sense at all. They have much less space to deal with, and a far smaller rural population. The US is full of big empty spaces and would better compared to Russia or China as far as how many people are connected. It's a lot easier to connect large numbers of people when they live in a small area as opposed to a huge mass of land where they are spread all over.
    • by debrain ( 29228 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @12:23PM (#4157533) Journal
      In Canada, which has nearly twice the geographic area of the US and a tenth the population, I and many of my friends have had 2 MBit DSL for over 4 years now, and now I can get cable modems for 8 MBit for the same price. How much, you ask? US$25.66 per month.

      So the argument that "The US is full of big empty spaces and would better compared to Russia or China as far as how many people are connected" is moot since it could be compared to Canada and still be a disgrace to free enterprise. It is a good speculation, though: Korea and Japan do have the benefit of greater density. With the absence of Canada (and Sweden, I might add), the influence of population density might be a more reputable argument for the dearth of US broadband services. But I find it highly suspect to call 'geographic area' a significant factor in broadband rollout in lieu of the successful distribution of broadband in Canada.

      More likely, I would speculate, is the presence of public and regulated telecoms in Canada (Bell & subsiduaries) and Japan (Nippon Telegraph & Telecom).

      I am not sure why you listed Korea for DSL rollout; last I heard, the North was ignoring us, and the South was very rural except for Seoul and a few other cities. Any Koreans available to clarify that?
  • Residential broadband continues to grow at about 12% per year, with cable modems having about twice the market share of DSL. [xdsl.com] 12% per year market growth isn't bad; it beats the introduction of the telephone. Considering that few people actually need a high-speed internet connection, that's a good growth rate.

    68% of US residences can get high-speed Internet access, but only about 13% do. That's about typical penetration for a luxury good.

    Where's the problem?

  • I live in a mostly rural area, too far from any switch for DSL. Adelphia Cable has promised cable modem service for my county for well over a year now and still zip. And, now of course, Adelphia has 'restated' their earnings and we've seen their CEO lead away in cuffs. We may never see cable modem at the rate. But the good ole boys in county government renew them anyway...
  • by -tji ( 139690 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:45AM (#4157207) Journal
    I just got back from my first business trip to Tokyo, and I was surprised to see there that they had numerous competing DSL providers, each providing much higher bandwidth at lower prices than you can find in the U.S.

    Yahoo!/Softbank had the best offering: 12Mbps DSL for ~ US$19/month!!! This would be amazing in the U.S., but factor in that Tokyo is a ridiculously expensive city, and it's even more amazing. A cappucino in my mid-range business hotel costs ~ $6.

    What do we need to do for that kind of service here? I am paying over 3x that much, for a 1.5Mbps DSL service.
  • I can't speak for Korea, but in Japan the situation is no different for a startup broadband isp. Distribution of access might be better, but check out Professor Collins' post, below. NTT's blatant monopoly and unabashed abuse of power makes ATT's actions here seem insignifigant. The dot-com boom never happened in Japan. Can you guess (one of the major reasons) why?

    For more info on Japan and NTT, look for Tim Clark's "Japan Internet Report".
  • by hacker ( 14635 ) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:48AM (#4157225)
    When I was in South San Francisco, I was paying $99.00/mo. for a 144k SDSL line. It was good, solid, and MegaPath's service and support was absolutely stellar. I had zero complaints, and I had the extra money at the time to pay for the bandwidth.

    At the same time, a coworker up the road from me in Daly City had a 1.5/784k ADSL for $69.00/mo.

    I resigned and relocated to Westerly, RI and Cox Cable was my only choice. I now pay $109.00/mo. for 256/256 with 1 static address. The service is absolutely slush (and I'm on a "Business" class connection, no blocked ports, separate non-residential subnet, etc.). Cox has now started capping people below their subscribed bandwidth, and has begun to shut people out of their own cable modems, so you can't get traffic statistics from the modem any longer... even if you own the equipment!

    The nearest DSL around here is from ChoiceOne, and it's 2x the price for 128k SDSL. I'm 2,000 feet from the CO. 1.5m SDSL from ChoiceOne here is $499.00/mo. That's almost what it would cost me to get a T1 dragged into my house.

    That same friend recently moved from Daly City to Fremont, and now pays $79.00/mo. for his 1.5/768k DSL line and he also has a cable line, which he pays $29.00/mo. for. He's getting two broadband connections at more than 10x my speeds, for less than I pay for one cable connection, per month.

    Broadband pricing varies WILDLY from location to location, even a few miles apart, from the same providers and CO.

    And for those who don't know what the "Brass Rail" pricing is, "..just firmly grasp this brass rail on the front of my desk as I step behind you for a moment.." -Broadband Provider

  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:48AM (#4157226)
    It just struck me that the USA is increasingly seems to be getting behind when it comes to new technology.

    Broadband is just one example where the USA lags behind other parts of the first world. Mobile telephones is another where the Euros and Japanese seem to be in the lead. With technologies such as Digital Cameras, Camcorders, DVD etc. Japan seems to be clearly in the lead. The XBox is trying to catch up with the Japanese PlayStation and Gamecube. With cars, it seems that the Germans increasingly have the lead.

    Thinking through all the technology I have, hardly any of it is American. My laptop is Sony. My mobile phone is Ericcson. My car is German. My watch is Swiss. My DVD, television, Playstation, PDA etc. are all Japanese. My building architechture is European. About the only American technology I have is a HP printer.

    The funny thing is that this is probably going to provoke a load of responses from Americans saying what bullshit it is to suggest that the USA does not lead the world in technology and it will probably get modded down to -1. Go on then. Whatever.

    • Yeah, and... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mulletproof ( 513805 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @12:23PM (#4157527) Homepage Journal
      You're just noticing this? Not that I disagree with most of it, but you're neglecting a minor point-- Most of the R&D is "made in the USA" when it comes to technology, and farmed out to foreign markets for production. And just for something to chew on, who developed the technology for the CPU in your computer? Your high end graphics card? Who has been the leader in computer developemnt and innovation for the last few decades? Not saying your wrong, but it's a relevant point to study. When it comes to stuff like this, I think America is on the wrong side of the scales. It's not national pride when I say more stuff should be made in America... It's financial security. Hey, lets go to war with... China. Ow. That's gonna seriously hurt the marketplace for a bit. We're way over-leveraged when it comes to our relaince on foreign markets for daily items. World trade is good... To a point. Unfortunately, the US is past that point.

      Fact is (speaking as an American if it isn't already obvious), the US is the leader in technological development, not always, however, in its application into the market at large. I think Japan has everybody beat in that arena...
  • Actually, I suspect it's more of a case that dial-up is an entrenched market in the US whereas it wasn't in either Japan or Korea. Oh, sure, it existed and people used it, but they hadn't had the years of dial-up exposure before cable and DSL hit the scene like the US did. Again, dial-up is an entrenched market. Sure, the limited pool of cable/DSL providers may have something to do with it, but lets get some perspective here.

    As to the "And, as usual, we learn that countries such as Japan and Korea are far ahead of the US in terms of innovation and technological saturation." bit, Gee... no biased there, huh? Granted, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in their workforce and schools as well, in addition to the huge number of unreported rape cases, but hey, they are saturated with innovative technology... As usual. It's not nessisarily the topic, I realize, but loaded comments like that so irk me.
  • San Francisco status (Score:3, Informative)

    by blakestah ( 91866 ) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @11:59AM (#4157321) Homepage
    Here in SF, I have one option for broadband at home - ADSL. Cable modems are beginning to show up, but are not available for me yet. All other options (other than leeching off others 802.11b) are more costly.

    The cost, per month, is $50, from PacBell. Of this, $40 is the rental fee to use the same line they had already installed for my phone. Due to government regulation, anyone can be my ISP, as long as they pay PacBell $40 per month to rent the line. This process effectively killed all competition, since the ISP margin is razor-thin, whereas PacBell is raking it in. Now, the ADSL works fine, outages are rare, and service is pretty good (excepting the slow time to get connected after ordering). But if the line rental were $10/month (or even $20/month - about what local phone service costs), I would have something that approached the value I receive. Remember - this uses the SAME LINE that my phone uses.

    Recently I visited Japan. The hotel had free high speed access with DHCP. This wasn't even a costly hotel. It is seemingly ubiquitous there. And the blame in the US is a complete lack of appropriate government regulation on the people who own the lines.

    The funny thing is, I signed up for DSL 3 years ago, and got a static IP address. Recently I moved, and now I have to use PPPoE - for the same price. That is right, after three years, they offer me worse DSL service for the same price. Something is rotten in Denmark.
  • ...Okay whatever. I don't think so but apparently anyone with an opinion that differs is a troll.

    It has been pointed out in previous commentaries that the main reason why many other countries can achieve a higher amount of technical sophistication is the cost of roll-out.

    Japan is a lot smaller than the US. They can deploy new technologies with the risk [cost] of failure a great deal lower. In addition to that, US consumers don't often pay the prices that the Japanese routinely pay.

    History has shown, however, that companies in the US have to be forced into compliance and into change very often. For example, the mandate of touch tone service... the utility commissons of various states had to insist they upgrade their equipment.

    Broadband is another matter since it's not yet seen as a "utility" as I consider it to be. Soon enough it will be I think... give it about 5 years.
  • Price has nothing to do with it for me, availability does. I can't get cable, dsl, or anything. I live in a heavily populated near suburb of Chicago so it's not like I'm out in the styx either. If I can't get it at any price, then price doesn't even enter the equation.
  • I work at an independant ISP in northern California. We offer broadband DSL, using SBC's DSLAMS. DSL is distance sensitive. If a customer is too far out from the DSLAM, a repeater (RTCLLI) is necessary to keep the signal clean. Part of our agreement with SBC that allows us to use their DSLAMS and sell DSL is that we can't use the repeaters. If we do, all traffic becomes property of SBC. So, if a potential customer is too far out for a direct connection, but is in the range of the repeater, we can't service the customer. They must go with SBC. Can't tell you how much that sucks.
  • my experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @02:09PM (#4158290) Homepage

    Aside from the gratuitous and annoying bashing of Republicans, it was an interesting article. However, it missed the real reason that broadband is such a pain in the ass.

    About 4 years ago, I got a cable modem from Marcus, our local cable provider. The infrastructure was designed so that few homes would share a line, and the speeds were estimated to max out at 6Mbit/6Mbit. There was no cap on bandwidth. There was no hassle about servers. I had 5 static IPs for $45 or so per month. I did not get any cable TV service. The provider was @Home, but I ignored them. Marcus' tech support was clueful and useful, the few times I had to call them. Uptime was excellent.

    Charter bought out Marcus about 2 years ago, I think. The first thing that happened was that the prices started rising (to about $55 per month). Then the bandwidth got capped at 3Mbit/512Kbit. Then they hassled me about the server. Then the uptime started getting a little iffy. Then they required that I have basic cable service in order to get the cable modem, split the fees, and ended up charging another $5 per month net. Then they tried to rent me the cable modem I owned (that failed when I threatened them). On top of all of this, their technical support was miserably uninformed and useless.

    When @Home died, I lost the ability to get static IPs (DHCP only) and the price was going to go up. Despite my $200 investment in a cable modem, I switched to DSL from Verizon. The cost was about $55 per month, the data rates were OK, but they set me up on the wrong service plan. I was unable to get static IPs, and to switch from the (wrongly-provisioned) home service to the business service (complete with IPs) would not only take 3 weeks, with all of the coordinating done by me (even though Verizon owned both DSL services, the modem, the phone line and so forth), but it also cost me another $30 per month to switch over, and I'd have to send back my DSL modem and get another one! On top of that, their uptime was not good, and their tech support was clueless. (Once, I called them to let them know that their nameservers were down. The tech support person told me it was not them, it was me, and that I would have to fix my problem. Note, I was on the DHCP only service, and was using their nameservers, etc., with nothing on my end but clients. I asked the tech to go check, and he came back with (I kid not!) "I can't check, because the network is down.")

    I decided to get Earthlink's DSL, because I could get a static plus several dynamic addresses for $65 per month without any hassle about servers, and with better bandwidth, and because the sales guys appear clued in. I didn't want to wait weeks without service, so I reattached my cable modem and got it turned on for the interim period. I was told that for $45 or so per month, I could get 5 dynamic IP addresses. (Bandwidth now 384Kbit/128Kbit!!! and no possibility of static IPs.) When it was hooked up, I could only get three. I called tech support, and was told I was on the wrong package. I should only have one. Tappity, tappity, voila! Two of my computers stopped working. Call to sales got my package upgraded to one that "supports home networking" for another $10 per month. Still no additional addresses. Call to tech support informs me that while my package supports home networking, I had not purchased any additional addresses. Call to sales gets me 4 additional dynamic addresses for $7 per month each, total now up to $85 or so. I can get 3 addresses. When I bring my laptop home from work to use the VPN, I have to unplug the cable modem, turn off all of the machines, plug in the cable modem, and turn on the machines in the order that I want them connected to the network. Usually, I can get three, and sometimes four, to work at one time. I have stopped calling customer service or tech support, because they don't want to help me very much, and appear unable to help if they wanted to. I am expecting the Earthlink service to be working any day now, so I can shut off the Charter crap.

    In the end, bad customer service, high prices and terrible difficulty just making things work will drive me off of traditional broadband. I am looking very seriously at moving to a community that has broadband installed throughout and run by the homeowners' association (they are building a number of these in my region now) rather than put up with the hassle of dealing with any of these companies. Maybe Earthlink will save me (I've heard good things) or maybe I'll move.

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