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Communications The Internet

Court Ruling Points Way To Broadband Regulation 217

DarkHelmet writes "An article on CNET News indicates: 'A U.S. appeals court has rejected the Federal Communications Commission's request to rehear a case, in a move that could prompt local governments to regulate the cable industry.' The piece explains: 'The rejection could pave the way for municipalities to force cable companies to share their broadband Internet lines with third parties.' I personally can't wait for companies like Speakeasy to branch into the Cable Internet market and provide 10-100mbps service."
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Court Ruling Points Way To Broadband Regulation

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  • As long as prices keep falling (which I imagine they wouldn't if they weren't shared).
  • de? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dukeisgod ( 739214 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:39AM (#8744206)
    Flame me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't that be de-regulation?
    • Re:de? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by unitron ( 5733 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:07AM (#8744362) Homepage Journal
      You aren't so much wrong as defining regulation too narrowly. This is about shifting the power to regulate away from the federal level to the municipal level.

      Not that I expect to have any more power to get local authorities to do as I wish than to get the federal government to do so. It'll still be about which rich guys are buddies with which other rich guys.

    • Re:de? (Score:3, Informative)

      What's in a Name? that which we call a Rose,
      By any other name would smell as sweet.

      -W. Shakespeare

      Just because it has a name like 'regulation' or 'deregulation' doesn't mean bull.

      By the way, I am against this. Not because I don't like cheap broadband, but because I hate the idea that instead of people running more wires, they want to force people to share wires. In my old town of Arlington, Mass, RCN and Comcast competed, but RCN ran its own infrastructure on the poles just like comcast did. Having its
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:40AM (#8744214)
    How exactly would one company be able to offer more bandwidth than another? There's still a limited amount of bandwidth available. With DSL, you can have the lines to yourself, connected to your backbone.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:09AM (#8744377) what you are saying (without realizing it)

      share the bandwidth nearby


      share the bandwidth, just further upstream.

      and if cables bandwidth is shared...there must be some huge headroom, because here in san antonio, sustained downloads of 375Kb/s is now possible(we had a recent speed bump)

      that's just shy of 3Megabit....faster then a T1 on the download side.

      on the other hand...DSL here, max sustained download is 140Kb/s

      so what was your point again?
      • "sustained downloads of 375Kb/s is now possible...that's just shy of 3Megabit..."

        This I do not understand. If 375Kb/s = 375,000 b/s, then how can this be more than 3,000,000 b/s?
        Define: Megabit []: Approximately one million bits of data
        • This I do not understand. If 375Kb/s = 375,000 b/s, then how can this be more than 3,000,000 b/s?

          375KB/s would require more than a 3Mb/s connection, since 375,000*8=3,000,000 and that does not account for any overhead.

          The grandparent probably just mistyped b for bit instead of B for Byte. Download speeds are customarily measured in Bytes, and connection speeds in bits.

        • No,

          375 Kb/s == 375,000 B/s == 375,000B/s * (8 b/B) == 3,000,000 b/s

          I think...

        • 375Kb/s * 1.024 (because we all know 1k isnt 1000) = 384,000b/s. Now, 384000 * 8 (8 bits to the byte) = 3072000 bits. This is roughly equivalent to a 3mbit line. When you factor in overhead, a 3mbit line would get about 360Kb/s.
    • It's hardly the case that cable providers are capping off bandwidth because of lack of availability.

      Mostly, it's a matter of giving the public only as much as they want, without having to go above and beyond the call.

      If there are more than one cable internet provider within the area, companies are going to be more willing to compete for service plans with higher bandwidth. In turn, if the node ends up becoming saturated, the cable company will then be forced to upgrade the fiber running to the node.


      • Cable does has limits, while they can be overcome by adding more lines, etc. it would also cost more money. In other words: the company could give everyone much more theoretical bandwidth but without upgrading their infrastructure the few Kazza whores would cause everyone else to have 56k.
      • by BuckaBooBob ( 635108 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @09:26AM (#8745779)
        Well your not wrong but your not 100% correct aswell :)

        Cable has Tonnes of room for Downstream (Information to the Customer).. Its the dreaded upload is where you start to run into problems on cable.. most systems I have seen have ~20ish to 40ish mzh available for upload available (If they offer Telephony services this is significantly lower aswell as any other 2 way services) some systems might only have 20-30mzh available .. it depends on what they have in the field for equipment... Upstream carriers can be as small as 900khz to as large as 6mzh.. to make life easy a 6mzh upstream carrier has just over 5-8mbit useable payload.. So that is where the bottle neck can occur... so its not upgrading fiber to the node.. its decreasing the node size is where the gain can occur... More Customers = More Revenue and when you have more revenue you should have the money to make smaller nodes.. this is where the evil shareholders come into effect to slow you down... They want Crazy profits.. You want Crazy Speed... if they spend money to make you happy then the evil shareholders don't see massive profits and are unhappy... so.. the Solution... BE A GOOD SHAREHOLDER! tell all your rich geekish friends to buy up Voting shares in the cable company and demand higher speeds over profits all the time :) and you will see your speeds soar once your in the majority :)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      How exactly would one company be able to offer more bandwidth than another? There's still a limited amount of bandwidth available.

      Yes, but cable companies currently aren't giving end-users anywhere near that amount of bandwidth!

      Currently there's no incentive whatsoever for the existing cable company (say, Time Warner) to provide quality service. There's no incentive for Time Warner not to terminate users who happen to exceed some arbitrary bandwidth usage pattern. There's no incentive for Time Warner to p

    • by fatman1683 ( 706195 ) <> on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:15AM (#8744410)
      There's a marked difference between the bandwidth a given line is physically capable of supporting, and the bandwidth your provider is actually prepared to give you.

      With DSL, the closer you are to the CO, the higher your theoretical maximum bandwidth. But, in order to maintain consistency of service, DSL providers give everyone a speed that is determined to work all the way up to the maximum theoretical distance limit for DSL.

      Cable doesn't quite work this way, for a few reasons. First, the cable TV system in the US is a fairly new network, meaning that the infrastructure itself is generally of higher quality. This is what allows cable to offer speeds superior to DSL. Second, a cable signal, being a much more powerful signal than DSL, and nearly always running on shielded lines, doesn't deteriorate near as badly over distance. Cable providers' bandwidth limits are purely marketing-driven, and don't come anywhere near the physical limits of the cable connection.

      Presumably any government regulation would require the cable provider to sell the third-party ISPs as much bandwidth as they wanted, meaning that if you were willing to foot the bill, you could max out the physical capabilities of the cable network, which is probably somewhere close to LAN speed in most places.
      • "Cable providers' bandwidth limits are purely marketing-driven, and don't come anywhere near the physical limits of the cable connection."

        Not entierly true (or at least it used to not be). I know there were places in the country (mostly California and New York with extremely high population density) where cable fell between dialup and ISDN - I knew a few people who claimed dialup speed. I do not know if that is still the case but do not think it is. Living in fairly rural east Tennessee I've pretty much al
      • First, the cable TV system in the US is a fairly new network, meaning that the infrastructure itself is generally of higher quality. This is what allows cable to offer speeds superior to DSL. Second, a cable signal, being a much more powerful signal than DSL, and nearly always running on shielded lines, doesn't deteriorate near as badly over distance.

        No, the age of the system has nothing to do with it. It is a matter of design purpose: for phone service, all that was needed was a bidirectional channel of
    • Well, since Comcast artificially limits my bandwidth now, I would assume some other ISP would be able to raise that artificial limit. Or lower it. Or maybe Comcast would limit the bandwidth to the ISP and raise it for their own customers. Who knows? But the point is competition could result in higher bandwidth -- it's technically possible.

      But since we're talking about the cable television industry, my bet is on this eventually reducing our bandwidth.

      • Everyone in your community goes through the same lines. The reason caps were originally put is because a handful of people can easily use all the bandwidth in the area if uncapped. This would leave everyone else with a pitiful service.
    • "How exactly would one company be able to offer more bandwidth than another? There's still a limited amount of bandwidth available. With DSL, you can have the lines to yourself, connected to your backbone."

      The bottleneck between cable and DSL isn't removed, just moved to a different point in the network. You still need a big pipe going in, and that pipe can be saturated. Doesn't really matter which service you use.

      So why would cable based broadband benefit from other players? Service. An ambitious up
      • One of the benefits of forcing these companies to open up thier market is the local isp can use it. I'm sure they would consider this as a primary motive if they did force them to open it up.

        Right now were I live there are 3 ISPs and 2 of them are about to go under because dsl is locked (other political reasons) and cable is overtaking the dial in subsciptions. In order for them to compete with high speed internet they would need the ability to go into an area like this. The one ISP that seems to be doin
    • The same way I can get 5meg/500k DSL from Sonic for $45/month while SBC charges $65/month for 1.3meg/128k. It's not that they can't provide the bandwidth, they just want to ring every penny they can out of us. SBC was offering much better bandwidth for a nice low price - except when you wanted a static IP, then they reamed you.
    • by mjh ( 57755 ) <mark.hornclan@com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @09:04AM (#8745702) Homepage Journal
      A lot of other folks have spoken to the capping of cable bandwidth, and what they're saying is true. But there's another aspect of bandwidth that I haven't seen touched yet.

      Even if bandwidth were an issue (which it isn't) it would be fairly easy to give multiple ISP's access to the infrastructure without impacting each other's bandwidth. The cable that runs into a subscribers house is divided into a bunch of channels. In my home town, channel 3 is ABC, 6 is NBC, 11 is Fox, etc. To get cable modem to work over the cable plant you need two things to happen:

      1. You need to ensure that the cable plant can transmit signals in two directions, and
      2. You need to allocate a single channel for download and a single channel for upload.
      Basically, a single ISP on the cable infrastructure needs two channels. If you want to give competitive access to the cable infrastructure, you could run the competing ISP on those same two channels, or you could allocate two completely new channels.

      Where I live, there are three ISP's running on the local cable plant. They are all running on the same two channels because there's more than enough bandwidth to accomodate them. But if there weren't it would be an easy matter to allocate a couple of unused channels to one or more ISPs and effectively double the total available bandwidth on the system.

    • DSL and Cable can have similar ammounts of bandwidth available to the user... If you think your DSL is all yours think again... your DSL is shared just like cable is once it hits a concentrator after that there is no difference between that and cable... I see too many cable companies under engineer there systems.. That is why some people see cable as slow (that or poor installations or .. the end user.. Yes the end user can destory his speeds by goofing with the wiring)... most Cable companies in Canada hav
  • Always a downside (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:41AM (#8744219)
    Sure, with government regulation your cable bills will be cheaper, and your service better. Great. But once the government has latched onto this industry it'll never let go. We could soon see cable TV channels with an anti-war bias get censored off the air 'for our own good', and copy protection built right into the cable system (protected by the DMCA, naturally). Say goodbye to having non-fritz chip enabled machines (like Linux boxen) working on broadband. I hope it doesn't come to this.
    • We could soon see cable TV channels with an anti-war bias get censored off the air 'for our own good'

      I'm really tired of hearing this slippery-slope argument of liberal outlets being eliminated if the government regulated the media infrastructure. Although there is always the chance of funny-business(TM) once the government gets involved, it's highly unlikey they would move to overtly violate first ammendment rights. If they did, the media itself (even conservative media) would be quick to create a ru
      • This is traditionally a conservative/libertarian (yes I know the differences) argument; but can go either way really. Often time they use NPR and PBS to backup claims that government run media is biased.

        The truth is, that this type of regulation is not going to affect content such as this much at all. The original poster does have his tinfoil hat on. But I resent you calling this a liberal issue when most liberals would in fact approve of it. Original poster was most likely a troll in fact.
      • Grow up, believe it or not the government isn't out to get you.

        No actually they are out to get us. The only reason they haven't succeeded is they are out to get each other as well.

        Assuming people aren't out to get you won't get you very far in NY.

        Fedreralzation of almost anything is a prelude to failure. The "conservitive" Repulicans used to believe that. Remember states rights? Let dumb states make dumb deceisions, and smart ones succeed?

    • Re:Always a downside (Score:2, Interesting)

      by azuretek ( 708981 )
      yea, just how the government tells us who we can call on the phone... or where we can drive to...

      the government controls alot and we still have freedom to do what we like, just quit with the stupid idea that the government is there to censor. In reality the government dosen't care much about anything we do, as long as we go to war when they need us and we pay our taxes they could care less what we do.

      Police and other authorities are only there so that everyone will feel safe. Freedom to do what you like w
    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 )
      telecommunication service = wiretap. Imagine Carnivore @ the end of every loop. I'd also imagine that this would lower the requirements (for getting access to someone's datastream) & make them the same as plain jane phone taps.

      Yea yea, not guilty, nothing to hide. There's nothing illegal about your girlfriend sending you naked pictures, or your porn subscription to, but lots of things we do/say day to day are potentially very embarassing. And what about that whole 'anonymity' thing? Why

    • Anal Probes (Score:3, Funny)

      by repetty ( 260322 )
      You forgot anal probing.
    • MPAA and CSS? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by enosys ( 705759 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:05AM (#8744779) Homepage
      The MPAA isn't a government agency but look what they did with CSS and the DMCA. You don't need a government to do the copy protection parts at least.

      Oh, and what bias do you want? Corporate or government? Are the networks fair and balanced now?

    • by mgoren ( 73073 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @05:22AM (#8745171)
      I just want to point out the other side.. that there is also the possibility of censorship by the cable company when there is no real competition. If everyone ends up getting broadband from one cable provider or an oligopoly of a few, those providers have the ability to decide you can't run any servers, you only get x upload bandwidth, your screening of Disney's movie (if, say, the cable company buys disney) will receive a higher QOS than a movie from some other company, etc. All of these either are already happening or really could happen.

      While I certainly understand the concern about government censorship, if I'm not mistaken in this case we're talking about the government forcing the companies to allow other companies to use their pipes. While this may or may not be fair, there will be compensation (obviously the companies using the pipes will pay), and it should force competition... which is a Very Good Thing for the above reasons. And it doesn't seem likely to me that this type of regulation would cause government censorship... (the reclassification as "telecommunications" would allow government spying, but that's not really anything new.)
    • Re:Always a downside (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @07:34AM (#8745447) Homepage
      we are also forgetting one important thing. These "local Governments" are the ones that give the monoply franchise agreements to the cable company to keep competition out. The Cable company has to pay a kickback to the city to keep it that way or even in business. NO OTHER BUSINESS is required to pay a kickback to the city... the local Menards doesn't have to pay a franchise fee directly to the city.

      Thisw is very typical in many large to small towns.... Metro areas like detroit and chicago that have more than 1 cable company can't charge these kickbacks as they know that the fed's would be all over them.

      many times a cable rate increase is attached to the city increasing their kickback amount demanded from the calbe company. but most times It's trying to increase profitability.

      The first step in making things better is to fight any franchise kickbacks your local community is getting out of the cable company and any unfair laws that allow them to have a monoply and not allow competition to come in.
      • NO OTHER BUSINESS is required to pay a kickback to the city... the local Menards doesn't have to pay a franchise fee directly to the city.

        Maybe, but telcos definitely have to (many states regulate pricing, require certain level of service for remote areas etc. etc. etc). And developers sometimes have to pay for infrastructure and/or maintenance costs, for new malls. The concept is hardly unique to cable cos.

        I do agree in that kickbacks should be eliminated, even more so to prevent unfair competition b

        • the problem is that the Local city make a LAW against starting your own calbe TV company or telecommunications company. so they can protect their kickbacks. I ran into it here with my community WIFI network, the city wanted me to either start paying their bribes or they would arrest all of us and sieze all our equipment. a simple 4 part series on city corruption by the local TV station (the main anchor being one of our charter members) shut them up and made them back off, but they will try to squeeze us
    • Oh, no! Look out! The black helicopters are coming for you! Run!

  • This makes it much easier for the good old Department of Justice to put wiretaps on these lines. This may mean that bigger authorities than the RIAA may throw their hat into the ring for fighting P2P networks, among other things.
    • I felt I should clarify this a little bit. The reason that this would make it easier for the DOJ to tap the lines is because the cable lines would now be classified as telecommunication lines as opposed to their former classification of information service lines. The requirements for getting permission to tap an information service line is much more stringent than tapping a telecommunications line.
    • This may mean that bigger authorities than the RIAA may throw their hat into the ring for fighting P2P networks, among other things.

      Yes, among other things. Like stopping crime by getting wire-taps on criminals. This does happen to be an area of interest for the FBI. Most of them could give a shit about somebody downloading the latest pop album.
  • by BalloonMan ( 64687 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:47AM (#8744246) Homepage Journal
    Soooo, does this mean we are (in essence) taking all the wires that the cables companies have strung by eminent domain? Not that I'm opposed to nationalizing infrastructure, but I think we ought to pay them something for their trouble. Oh wait, I've already paid for that wire ten times over with my skyrocketing cable bill.
    • Re:Nationalize it (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jacer ( 574383 )
      Get educated. By the laws of eminent domain the governemnt (through taxes) will have to pay an acceptable price for those lines.
    • This is more like the railroads back in the 1800's. Railroads are now required to carry others' cars, in fact they pay rent for the cars on their track.

      At one time there were hundreds of small railroads, many of which owned only a single line from PointA to PointB. Their anticompetitive tactics often included predatory pricing, delay of competitors' shipments and outright refusal to carry a competitor's engines or cars. Companies with a monopoly on routes important to others sometimes charged 10X the go
  • Faster service? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fiz Ocelot ( 642698 ) <baelzharon@gmaiF ... m minus language> on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:51AM (#8744268)
    Well technically you could offer faster service. If you alter your cable modem's firmware you could get much higher speeds... But the company has tools to detect that and ban your modem from the network, and send you a nice letter. But since it's shared bandwith you can't really do that anyway.
  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:55AM (#8744289) Homepage
    If your ISP is different than the company that maintains the wires, they always point fingers at each other when there's an outage. People have discovered this over and over with DSL, and there's no reason to think it would be any different with cable.

    In Austin there are three cable "ISPs": RoadRunner, Earthlink, and a local one whose name I forgot. Since they all use RR's physical plant, I choose RR since there's only one company to call and one company to blame.

    The only solution to this appears to be structural separation (where the company that owns the wires is not allowed to be an ISP), but this has its own problems (like it would probably be more expensive).
    • The only solution to this appears to be structural separation (where the company that owns the wires is not allowed to be an ISP), but this has its own problems (like it would probably be more expensive).

      Well, my In-Laws live in Tacoma, WA, where the city has a cable system in direct competition with Comcast. They subscribe to the city system, and have their choice of three ISPs for high-speed internet. The city (the folks who own the wires) is not one of them. We, on the other hand, have Comcast (alas, w

      • 44.95 for me, because I refuse to get basic cable. 39.95 if I buckled down and got cable.

        They must really want me to watch American Idol. They'll get no such pleasure out of me.

        • That's just silly. Get the basic cable to save you the money, then throw out your TV. There you go, you're saving money and you never have to watch basic cable.
          • No, it's $39.95 PLUS the $15-20 for basic cable, thereby costing more.
            • 44.95 for me, because I refuse to get basic cable. 39.95 if I buckled down and got cable.

              No, it's $39.95 PLUS the $15-20 for basic cable, thereby costing more.

              So which is it? At first you're saying that you're actually paying more because you don't have basic cable, then you're saying that basic cable would be an extra $15-20.

        • That's a good deal. I have comcast internet service without cable TV service. And of course, there is zero competition in my area (unless you consider sattelite to be competition).

          My bill is $55/month.
        • Dear Smartass,

          Just so you know, American Idol is on network know, the public broadcast airwaves. That's where most of the crap lies these days. If you like to watch a little TV now and then and actually see something worthwhile, the only way that's going to happen is with cable.

          Bragging about not watching TV is so 90's. Get over yourself.
      • It could be other factors that are keeping the prices down for your In-Laws, such as economies of scale, equipment upgrade cost distributed per capita/user, regional differences in cost of living, etc...
    • Grande [] also offers cable & broadband, but I'm not sure if they use RR's lines.

    • > In Austin there are three cable "ISPs": RoadRunner, Earthlink,
      > and a local one whose name I forgot.


      What you say about DSL is true. They really are Keystone Cops operations.

      I live in the Austin city limits. My house was built in 1978. I've been waiting for DSL as an option since 1998 but still can't get it. I figure I never will.

      I remember when Southwestern Bell used to run ads that went something like, "Who do you want to trust your data to? A cable TV company, or the telephone company,
    • The same here in Aussie. Telstra owns most of the ADSL infrastructure, so our company chooses Telstra for broadband services. Now we have has situations where Telstra blamed Telstra for problems and we got nowhere. This is because the retail and wholesale internet are two completely independant business units.

      Telstra Retail actually has to go through the same painfull channel every other ISP goes through to get their connections, not favourites (in theory at least).
    • Open access (ISP competition) would be good but regulation cannot create this competition. Rents for pipes will either get set too low or too high, and either the pipe or the ISP's will eventually die. The chance of government bureaucrats getting prices right are very poor. Having structural separation can create ISP competition, but there will still be finger pointing and a monopoly pipe.

      Once you have pipe competition, then there is a market, and no government regulation is needed. The pipes can then
    • The only solution to this appears to be structural separation

      I agree, and personally would like to see this even for telcos. The company owning the physical lines would be run more like a public utility.

      The only problem with the approach that I can see is the probability that this utility will have no incentive to run in anything but a maintenance mode. They're not going to roll fiber out to every home, for example. What would be the point? They can't actually sell a service over it.

      I'm not sure I a
      • The only problem with the approach that I can see is the probability that this utility will have no incentive to run in anything but a maintenance mode. They're not going to roll fiber out to every home, for example.

        One solution that has been suggested is to offload the risk to the customer. Want fiber to your home? Pay the $2,000 for the utility to install it.
  • Cable vs Phone (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Karplusan ( 731780 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:56AM (#8744297)
    I was talking to a friend of mine earlier and it sounded like the Cable Broadband was about ready to do what Phone companies had to do years ago. Is it feasible, or even proper for each phone company to have it's own phone lines for it to use? If that were true, then every house would have 3 or more phone lines for the different companies your phones are on. That is worse than the current state where we have more phone numbers than people in the house. So, there was one phone company that owned all the phone lines, and then the government saw this as a monopoly and opened it up so we could afford to have more phones than people. Broadband, there has been one company that made all physical wiring, and only uses 10% of it and chokes out any competition. So the government will have to intervene and make it possible for companies to compete.
    • Re:Cable vs Phone (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Feanturi ( 99866 )
      As someone who works directly in the cable field, I cringe at the thought of two different companies working the same plant in the street. In my city there used to be two companies, but the CRTC (this is Canada) split the city between the companies, so each one had its own territory with its own wires. Then the other company bought the one I worked at, and got the whole city, and I had to start working in the *HORRIBLE MESS* that they had already destroyed their reputation with on the other side of town. It
  • Double-edged sword (Score:5, Informative)

    by sn00ker ( 172521 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:56AM (#8744302) Homepage
    On the one hand, you have a ruling which is potentially good for competitive offerings.
    Don't knock competition. I'd love competition in the local loop, and you guys really have no idea just how lucky you are to even have a choice of cable or DSL.

    But, on the other hand, you have a ruling which allows in the thugs of the Department of Justice. And that is a huge down side. We're all familiar with the stories of the various barely-legal taps that FBI have been indulging in under the Patriot Act. I'd be terrified at the idea that they could use that same bullshit legislation to place sniffers onto a shared medium with my 'net traffic on it.

    Still, that's a good market - Start a cable ISP that does customer-to-company encryption. That way the Fibbies can't sniff the traffic off the wire, they have to go to the trouble of getting a warrant and sniffing off a switch at your office.
    Of course, if Shrub gets elected again you can be sure that such an ISP model would be out-lawed - Entirely on the grounds of fighting terrorism, obviously.

  • 10/100 over cable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @12:57AM (#8744307)
    With the current DOCSIS 1.0 spec, 10/100 is impossible. And due to the fact that most cable providers only support DOCSIS 1.0 right now, the only way you are going to see 10/100 to the home is over fiber... And I don't think that is going to fit into the speakeasy price plan of 19.95 a month...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      And may I also add... Does any one here really understand shared bandwidth? Think about it. No matter how you get to the internet, you are going to share bandwidth somewhere. And as long as your service provider monitors the congestions points of the network and upgrades those points before they become a problem, you will never see a slow down. This goes for DSL, fiber, dial up, cable, wireless, and what ever you may use to get online.
  • by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:00AM (#8744325) Homepage
    I was talking to my friends about proposed a la carte packages [] after visiting comcast's web page and realizing that their starter package is 52.99. That does not include sales taxes and the inevitable fees. In that discussion, I mentioned I just want a fast data connection [].

    Ultimately, everyone will be better served by competition in this market. The main reason I wanted comcast was to receive the local cable access channel. Small producers like myself are budding every day. With fast data pipes, channels could proliferate. Companies like Atom Films, Project Greenlight and the like could offer premium subscription services.

    In case the benefits of this aren't immediately obvious, let me add one feature the /. crowd can surely appreiciate -- cable porn. (yeah, yeah I know there's Spice and the like but this way, there could be an Indie Nudes or Suicide Girls Channel)

    Ultimately, producers of content could market directly to consumers. Aggregators (like current channels) could make the process easier. Expect an explosion of creativity . . .

    • Sorry to reply to my own post, but I wanted to clarify that the starter package is for TV service. Cable internet would be an additional 42.99 + fees and tax. I would gladly pay $50 for a 35mbps connection. Then, if I wanted, I could subscribe to individual "channels." There would be plenty of free stuff, but some niche channels would command a premium. Imagine IMDB [] connected with links to pay and watch movies. Damn!

      Of course, this could also pave the way for independent producers to make a living, or at l

    • That can't be their smallest package. If i'm not mistaken, you can still order the "lifeline" package which would only be channels 2-13.

      But it should qualify for al-a-carte.

      but good luck getting those bastards at comcast to go for it.

      Anyone know if DTV offers a similar service anymore? They used to 3ish years ago...

      Steven V.
      • They may have such a package but it's not advertised on their website. I can pick up most channels with an antenna just fine (even MTV2!) I'm leaning towards DirecTV. They have a Tivo box for $99 and their monthly service is $43. Then again, I may just forgo subscription television and continue to rent movies from Netflix and my local independent video store. Most of TV is crap and I have a ton of Simpsons tapes and Family Guy DVDs. Tivo would be cool though; I'm sure that I could find a few hours of good p
  • ...cable companies already had to share their lines? Isn't this how I'm able to get Earthlink Cable in my area (Rochester, NY) through Time Warner? (Earthlink is actually a couple dollars cheaper for us than Road Runner, since we don't have cable TV...)
  • What's the point? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grumling ( 94709 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:07AM (#8744358) Homepage
    If cable companies have to open up their lines, what's the difference? Your favorite ISP will just set up a domain, or maybe a mail and www server near the cable system's backbone, and charge whatever the cable company charges them + 50% retail markup. Strangely enough, it will cost about the same, have the same level of service, etc.

    You'd think that maybe we all would have learned something after the DSL fallout earlier in the decade.

  • by konfoo ( 677366 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:11AM (#8744390)
    Cablecos are notorious for being cheapskates. They brought us the $50 throw-away box, are unwilling to change, and charge an arm and a leg for any minor improvement. You can be sure that if they are to surrender their pipeline, that they will do the bare minimum to support any 3rd party. Sure, it may be good to have the ability to pick and choose between vendors, but ultimately someone is going to have to do maintenance on the pipe if it breaks. Hidden infrastructure and support charges will quickly kill any small service provider. They don't have the domain over the pipe, and they don't have the expertees. We tried this years back with ADSL. It was a total failure. How many of those companies are still around? None except Earthlink and a few others. The rest are.. you guessed it.. the telcos.
    • by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:22AM (#8744436)
      There is a chance it might work if the regulatory penalties for non-compliance by the monopolies were so stiff that they would decide to comply. This is why it hasn't really worked out in the phone markets. SBC in Illinois has just been paying FCC fines for the last few years as a cost of doing business. Its worth it to them to prevent any competitor from really having a shot at serving the area. Only Verizon and MCI can even afford to try, and I doubt they make money on just the local service.
      • Now if you can get local municipalities to regulate you cold get fines so bad they need to comply and or loose there cable franchise. Well thats at least around me where the cable company has short contracts like 5 years and can be thrown out having to leave all the infrastructure in place. The flip side is they dont improve infrastructure unless they have to.
    • Today I got support for my cable modem from Time Warner of all people. Without knowing what was actually wrong, they replaced the cable modem, it worked, then took off without charging me a dime.

      Coablecos are not all the same. Even a multi-national sub-conglomerate greedy-pigheaded company might be nice to deal with every once in a while.

    • Ahem. I believe [] is still around.

      If not, then I'm getting my ADSL from thin air!

      And they are very very good. Worth every penny I pay. :)
  • monopoly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:13AM (#8744398) Journal
    I would rather that the justice allow the companies to keep their lines to themselves, but simply disallow them a local monopoly beyond a 5-10 year period.

    I am sure that more than a few would say that is silly, but we already grant the baby bells a monopoly to guarentee 2-way communication. They are also regulated and pay heavy taxes. For tv, well, 2 major satellites systems are in place (echo and direct). By disallowing monopolies in cable, it will encourage a great deal more competition. I would like to see disney or warner take on Comcast (comcast makes Qwest look good; very hard to do).
  • by chunkwhite86 ( 593696 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @01:59AM (#8744549)
    'The rejection could pave the way for municipalities to force cable companies to share their broadband Internet lines with third parties.' I personally can't wait for companies like Speakeasy to branch into the Cable Internet market and provide 10-100mbps service."

    I agree, imagine the impact this could have on modern bandwidth intensive technologies! []
  • by matthewcraig ( 68187 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:03AM (#8744775)
    First off, cable companies are already regulated.

    In fact, the broadband market should already be very well opened to competition through regulation. It's been many years since The Telecommunication Act of 1996 [] was passed to do open their markets. The question is why is it not working out like predicted? There are a few companies that are moving into very specific cable markets, like Knology []. However, this act was supposed to open up all markets (telcomm, cable, wireless, satellite) to anyone who wanted to sell services over existing bandwidth.

    The fact we aren't seeing more competition can only be explained (a) if there are no interested firms, (b) if existing customers are too apathetic to new/quality services, or (c) if the regulation of the act are not being enforced. Does anyone know how the regulations of this act have played out in the past eight years in corportate practice? The article seems to indicate that FCC has been dragging their feet enforcing at least the cable market.

    As far as I can tell, the regulation of TA1996 should be more than adequate for competition, in theory. Maybe future regulation will be a federal push encouraging existing carriers to roll out broadband to rural locations, although most people have satellite out there.
    • The reason the 1996 act isn't working out is obvious to everybody but Congress and the lobbyists who pled with them not to be thrown into the briar patch.

      The boundary lines were drawn in all the wrong places.

      After a promising start, competition in the DSL market has nearly dried up because the local telcos that own the wires in the streets have absolutely no incentive to cooperate in good faith with CLECs that compete with the telcos' own DSL services. Look at how they always phrase the subject in publi

  • by pedrop357 ( 681672 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:18AM (#8744821)
    As my post will surely demonstrate, I'm not that familiar with how cable/DSL networks work.

    Is it possible for cable companies to use some sort of demand based throttling ie., allow me to use as much bandwidth as my line/modem will allow until others begin to do the same? If the maximum possible bandwidth for my run is something like 45mb/s, allow me to use 20 of that until other people begin to use up the remaining 25.

    Another example might be when I download ISOs. The first one d/l at ~345KB/s, when I go after the second one (different server), the first one drops down and the two seem to share the ~345KB/s, d/l at 165 and 180. When I went for the third one, they went down to ~115 each.

    Could the cable companies set minimum thresholds to determine when to throttle high b/w users?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:42AM (#8745076)
    Not that I saw in here anyway. Lets see how these things operate, shall we?

    First off, your downstream is going to be in a 6mhz channel bandwidth (thats the size of a tv channel, bandwidth wise.) Typical downstream is going to use 64 QAM, which is ~5 bits per hz. Basically ~27-28 megabits in 1 - 6mhz space. Now, if you use 256 QAM, this increases, probably around the ballpark of ~38mhz (its late, I'm tired)

    Now onto upstream. Docsis dictates either 16qam or QPSK (4 qam) for upstream rates. 16qam = 3.5 bits per hz, qpsk = 1.5 bits per hz. Keep in mind, distance can be a factor in this as well. (yes, its not just dsl anymore for distance limitations, never has been when its comes down to modulation.) So you're probably figuring, great. we have 9 megabits to play with right? Well, in transport, yes, but not with a cable modem system.
    In Docsis 1.0, most you could have for an upstream channel size is 1.6 Mhz. 1.6 Mhz * 1.5 bits/hz is going to leave you with about ~2.5 megabits.
    In Docsis 1.1, you get 16qam and ability for 3.2 mhz channel sizes, so that'll leave you with about ~8-10 megabits. Since you can only cram so-many channels into a 6mhz block for upstream, you end up being fairly limited. The only way this will substantially increase will be if Docsis 2.0 is deployed around. Docsis 1.1 and Docsis 2.0 are more fun creatures, crypto signed firmware files by manufacturers.

    Now, if you can co-lo your own CMTS(s) you can do docsis 2. Otherwise, you'll be waiting for cox/comcast/rr/whoever to upgrade their gear. I think also starting with docsis 1.1, they can make provisions in the cable modem for what vlan you'll fall into in the config file, but guess what? It won't matter what provider you have at that point if they can't co-lo their own CMTS. We'll use cox for an example. If I just have bandwidth running to them and they setup config with specifics and I'm their competition, but we're using same wire, unless its allocated different frequencies, you'll be sharing your preferred ISP w/ everyone else who uses their own ISPs. The only thing you'll really see with is maybe some dropped prices (which I'd hope) and possibly more downstream speeds. Otherwise, there just isn't the bandwidth to support it unless theres a massive upgrade to docsis 2.0, good luck seeing that in the near future. Also, if you are a cable co and maintain a cable plant + head end, you probably don't want someone else to bring their equipment in that knows nothing about the cable network, much like telco, all this needs to be engineered correctly.
    • Now, if you can co-lo your own CMTS(s)

      Most of your analysis is spot on. I can think of at least two problems you don't mention that are going to come up early and often with co-lo.

      First, upstream bandwidth is a really scarce resource for most cable companies. It's already in use for the cable company's DOCSIS cable modem system, for RF return from set-top boxes for premium video services (PPV, VOD and the like), and in some cases for telephony service. Upstream bandwidth limitations will impose a d

  • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @08:51AM (#8745657)
    The companies that started home broadband, put up huge money, and took huge risks. I don't know that any of them are in the black from their investments yet. Most are out of business: TCI, @home, AT&T broadband.

    Now, 3rd parties just get to walk in, and take advantage of everything that's been done with no effort and no risk.

    Doesn't seem fair, or maybe I'm missing something.

  • by andy1307 ( 656570 ) * on Friday April 02, 2004 @08:57AM (#8745677)
    What if my provider allows me unlimited downloads or let's me run a commercial website for a really low rate. Won't that affect my neighbours? I'd imagine the cable providers negotiating a rate with the incumbent cable company, but what would be a fair rate. The incumbent cable company can't just say take this very high rate or leave it.
  • Cable Specs (Score:2, Informative)

    by hitech69 ( 78566 )
    Typical Downstream of 256 QAM = 37 Mbps after overhead, and Upstream is QAM16 = 8 Mbps after overhead. Typically you don't see those results, because you have to add in the factor of noise and losses due to distance and node combination. That downstream will typically be shared between 1000-1500 customers and the upstreams are shared from 0-300 customers.
  • by Bendebecker ( 633126 ) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:47AM (#8746922) Journal
    If I can't afford it.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong