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Communications

Companies, Government and Community Fiber Rollouts 220

hype7 writes "Wired is running an interesting article about a number of communities which are dissatisfied with the present communications infrastructure that they are being offered, and are deciding to do something about it. However, many of the corporates who had previously been offering services to these communities have resisted this, with Pennsylvania going so far as to draft law to prevent competition for the communications providers. What is most interesting is that in the communities where the roll outs have taken place, the incumbent providers have "dropped prices to be more competitive ... while not changing rates in areas where it continues to have a monopoly". What I don't understand is why can't a public utilities company provide a public utility if their rate payers want it? What's wrong with additional competition? And why should legislative bodies protect telecommunications monopolies?"
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Companies, Government and Community Fiber Rollouts

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  • RIAA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Thats like asking the RIAA to allow us to continue to have Fair Use of our CDs and such.

    It just wont happen, businesses do not care about anything other then profit, and stock price. What we think does not matter.
    • Republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans, republicans...

      Smaller government my ass. Democrats and Republicans are the same, big government to justify their jobs. Ever noticed the people who hate the government the most normally work for a federal/state agency? Maybe I need to get a job at the state.
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:19AM (#10234621)
    for granting Congress the power to legislate trade between the States. That little crack has widened to an enormous breach, to the point where these days, in America, the Soviet Russia jokes troll you. As the Oracle said in the Matrix "What do all men with power want? More power." As long as State and Federal legislatures exist, they will continue to pass laws. They're never "done". So of course they'll step up and slap down communities for doing this, its legally their perogative, and this is what they DO, they make laws. Not to mention the fact that they're probably all in the pockets of the telecom companies (Valenti, anyone?)
    • by jacklebot ( 620766 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:24AM (#10234677)
      All that you've said is true, but there is hope. All we have to do is raise a fuss and get the laws change. Our opinions do matter. We must contact our law makers and raise a fuss. For those that don't listen, remember their deafness and make sure they don't get elected again. And make sure they know that. Our government, at it's core is a democracy. WE have the power. We must but decide to use it.......
    • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:38AM (#10234804) Homepage Journal
      The Supreme Court interprets the Constitution, and over the decades has through rulings turned that "little crack" into "an enormous breach."

      Your point about those in power wanting more power is all well and good, but history is replete with cases of federal and state governments relinquishing power when forced to do so by the electorate (or even against the wishes of the electorate). The deregulation enacted by the Reagan Administration in the 1980s is a good example of this, while Margaret Thatcher had to ram de-socialization down the throats of skeptical Brits.

      But the point is that government won't inevitably continue to grow and grow and grow. It is only inevitable if the electorate lets it be.

      • by OwnedByTwoCats ( 124103 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:40AM (#10234828)
        Deregulation of trucking and oil began under Carter.

        Reagan's deregulation included the Savings and Loan industry. That one only cost the taxpayers $700 Billion.
        • Deregulation (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Infonaut ( 96956 )
          That one only cost the taxpayers $700 Billion.

          My point isn't that deregulation per se solves the problem of unchecked government growth. It was merely a broad example, and it is questionable whether the S&L scandal was caused by intent or by execution.

          Deregulation of trucking and oil began under Carter.

          True, but it was the Reagan Administration that made deregulation a cornerstone of its economic policy. I'm not arguing that as an economic policy the Reagan approach was all good, partially good,

    • by dykofone ( 787059 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @10:10AM (#10235159) Homepage
      As long as State and Federal legislatures exist, they will continue to pass laws. They're never "done".

      You said this, and it suddenly hit me that government is to legislation as Microsoft is to Windows. They will never look at a problem area, and go "this is all wrong, let's do it better this time" and instead simply release patch after patch, until eventually all laws and regulations are so contradictory that even attorneys will suffer a blue screen if they multitask by saying "telecommunications" and "free trade" in the same sentence.

      • I share this view, and have been pointing it out for some time. Code bloat, be it legal or computer, occurs for known reasons. These include disorganization, multiple cooks, and feature creep. Once upon a time, the tax code just tried to take in money. Subsidising education wasn't in the IRS's parameters.

        Computer engineers do study the problem at times, and solutions are known: refactoring, strict modularization, and moderation of features.

  • w00t! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tuxter ( 809927 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:19AM (#10234626) Journal
    Excellent! I think the only way we are going to get decent, scalable telecomms to our door is by paying for it ourselves. Can't rely on the government to roll out this infrastructure. It's the same as traffic problems, it costs a heap of money to fix, and won't usually be fixed in the 4 years a politician is in office, and they won't see any return from it, therefore it's not even worth them doing it. Unless we do it ourselves, we'll never get it.
    • Private companies... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by brxndxn ( 461473 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:48AM (#10234905)
      Tuxter is right. The government shouldn't be rolling out our new communications lines unless they're going to be free (as in roads), maintained by the governmet...

      I hate the goddamn monopolies in my area. I have a cable company (Cox) that blocks my school's (UF) football games on channels that I already pay for in order to put them on pay per view. People in nearby cities get all the games for free. I have a phone company that says 'all circuits are full' half the time I pick up my phone to dial out. My utilities company (power and water in one) charged me a $200 fee because I paid my bill late one month. They said they will give me back my $200 when I quit using their service.

      Where competition opens up, rates go down. We need less legislation protecting monopolies. If a company cannot survive on its own, then it deserves to die. In the same way it's unnatural to keep a total human vegetable alive on life support for years, it's unnatural to prop a company that our laws treat as a person once it's already proven to be dying.

      • The government shouldn't be rolling out our new communications lines unless they're going to be free (as in roads), maintained by the governmet...

        Free as in? Free beer or access - with all the construction companies vying to build and repair roads at our expense with left overs for political 'contributions' how can it be free. It costs a pile of cash to open and keep these roads in a minimal state allowing access.

        Most roads, bridges and ferry service were in private hands and the cash cow character
      • The government shouldn't be rolling out our new communications lines unless they're going to be free (as in roads)

        a better example would be your water service..which isn't free. But it is regulated, fixed in cost, and not trying to make a profit which is the biggest problem with regulating 'FOR PROFIT' companies to do utility work (Cable/Phone).

        Some things are by their definition monopolies and can't be done 'right' by a for profit company; their motives (profit) are in opposition to their stated requ
      • My experience (Score:5, Informative)

        by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <chris.travers@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Monday September 13, 2004 @11:55AM (#10236287) Homepage Journal
        I live in Chelan, Washington. Our PUD has put in fiber to Chelan, and many of the other towns and cities in the county. These fiber services deliver ATM-based telephone and data services, and may eventually deliver digital TV.

        For my 2Mb/s down 640Kb/s up connection and a telephone line, I pay about $53 per month. The telephone line is not Voice over IP, but is circuit-switched. ATM provides the means to transmit both the voice and data channels down the fiber.

        Now, our PUD doesn't offer these services directly. They only run the fiber network. My actual telephone and internet bill come from my provider of these services (Localtel). What the PUD has actually done is open competition by allowing the customer to choose any of a number of service providers using their network. If I don't like Localtel, I can go to NW Telephone, or Panda Computers, or Modern Networking...... The list goes on.

        Now, it is actually interesting. Verizon services here suck, to put it mildly. Ok. Their residential services are OK. But they don't offer any reasonable business services. No fractional T1, no PRI.... So if I am implimenting a phone switch for a customer, I am stuck with analog lines. This means I have to deal with echo cancellation and other artifacts of 4 to 2 wire conversion.

        Now, if I have my customer go to fiber, some of the service providers *do* offer fractional T1, PRI, etc. services over the fiber. Now everything works great and the phone switch is cheaper, more robust, etc.

        Competition is a wonderful thing.

        The problem is, from a telecommunications company perspective, that they are used to being monopolies because of the fact that they own the lines. Community-owned fiber networks are a good solution to this problem, but they need to be used to stimulate competition by allowing choice of service providers.....
        • Mod Parent Up (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SydShamino ( 547793 )
          Darn, why did I have to blow mod points on garbage last Friday when I could have used them here?

          Parent poster has nailed this concept perfectly. It is impossible to have a pure, free market on services delivered to our homes via cable. Why? Because we limit the number of cables that can be pulled to the home. Even if a second company can pull cable, would you want your street torn up for the 3rd? The 4th? The 10th? No, if we let every company that wants to provide a home cable service the opportunit
    • I think the only way we are going to get decent, scalable telecomms to our door is by paying for it ourselves. Can't rely on the government to roll out this infrastructure.

      Ummm... In the context of this article, you've given a complete turnaround in the course of two sentences. In this case, it is the people of these towns that want to build their own fiber-based infrastructure because the private companies for whatever reason won't do it.

      If we use your argument, since my city doesn't generate any reve
    • Re:w00t! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Slime-dogg ( 120473 )

      Except that when *we* decide to do something ourselves, it counts as the government. It isn't the federal government, it's more of the localized version, but it still is government... you know, of the people, by the people, for the people?

      The problem is that people can't distinguish between the forms of government. There's nothing wrong with local governments being so&so large, because the locals have more control over what is going on. If things get to the federal level, people automatically have

  • by HBK-4G ( 2475 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:21AM (#10234635)
    Corporations don't care about the consumer. They never have, and they likely never will. Corporations care about the consumer's money. As long as they can provide the bare minimum required to keep the money flowing into their coffers, that's all they'll do.

    Pessimistic, yes. But show me a wildly successful corporation that lavishes it's customers with their every desire. Yeah. Right.
    • by Randy Wang ( 700248 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:24AM (#10234676)
      That's absolutely right, and yet the conclusion you draw from it is off in every possible way. Agreed, they care about our money and nothing but, but that's not necessarily reason for us to have to it ourselves, so to speak:

      Have you never heard the phrase "To vote with your feet"? Moving from one, crappy, ISP to a slightly better forced one to imitate the other and, hopefully, to go one better, and so on, until their respective services are worth the money you pay for them. Best part is: you're always getting the better deal, if you keep up with the philosophy.
      • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:35AM (#10234767)
        Have you never heard the phrase "To vote with your feet"? Moving from one, crappy, ISP to a slightly better forced one to imitate the other and, hopefully, to go one better, and so on, until their respective services are worth the money you pay for them.

        People want broadband (didn't we just have an article here this weekend about 3x the amount of broadband usage since 2001?) and there is very little competition in the market.

        Sure... You can get your DSL with whatever fucking ISP you want. Woofuckinghoo. You still have to fork over $30/mo to Verizon, QWest, Frontier, SWBell, whoever for the line. Where's the competition there? I can't exactly vote with my feet for DSL. Ok, so maybe you have Cable in your area. Sure, you can vote with your feet and go there. What good does that do you? You can't change your ISPs with most Cable ISPs and you can't get a different line providor. Hmm. Ok, so you don't want broadband, you go back to dialup... Who owns the lines? Yup, another monopoly.

        Until all the city governments in the nation deploy grass-roots wireless networking to their residents for only the cost of maintenance we won't be using anything that isn't under the control of monopolies.

        My feet are tired.
        • I dream of $30/month broadband. My choices are $45/month for Road Runner, or $65/month DSL from my local independent telephone company.

          Road Runner hasn't been that bad, and they came out right away when lightning fried the cable modem (I had to replace the router, though, and the ethernet boards on the computers. And put a wireless card into my iMac, because ethernet on the motherboard was fried.) But they are expensive.
      • Have you never heard the phrase "To vote with your feet"? Moving from one, crappy, ISP to a slightly better forced one to imitate the other and, hopefully, to go one better, and so on, until their respective services are worth the money you pay for them. Best part is: you're always getting the better deal, if you keep up with the philosophy.

        I totally agree, but if you'd read the (very good) article you'd see that these people don't have the option of voting with their feet. There's a monopoly provider, an

        • Ah, but the power propping up the "state-enforced monopoly" is owned by the ratepayers, and they can change the management of *that* if they wish. The new management might even decide to try the old management and their buddies for malfeasance resp. illegal restraint of trade, or some such.
      • Except that philosophy doesn't work in a monopoly situation. And in a lot of communities now, there exists a monopoly or duopoly preventing real competition from happening.
      • Have you never heard the phrase "To vote with your feet"? Moving from one, Please pay attention, parent and article are talking about regulated monopolies, the choice isn't about walking from one ISP to another, it is choosing between having a service or not having it at all. With a regulated monopoly, the feedback loop is complicated by the inclusion of the regulatory agency, which tends to be very slow at taking actions that affect the financial well being of the corporation.
      • Have you never heard the phrase "To vote with your feet"? Moving from one, crappy, ISP to a slightly better forced one to imitate the other and, hopefully, to go one better, and so on, until their respective services are worth the money you pay for them.

        Too bad where I live the government only licenses one cable company per market. Don't like Cogeco? Too fucking bad. If I were to vote with my feet I'd have to move to another city.

      • I agree with this post 100%.

        However, the problem with your post is that it assumes there is a competitor (the slightly better ISP) that is available. Where I'm at, my one and only choice for broadband is SBC DSL. I'm not all that happy with the service only because the reliability is hit or miss. It may stay up for 10-12 days at a time and then suddenly fade in and out for the next week. The speed is great (average of about 4.5Mbps) but I can't host anything because I don't know if it will be up when

      • To some extent, the incumbant carriers do have a legitimate beef: the possibility that the utilities will jack up the rates on the services they have monopolies on (water, gas, electricity) to subsidise artificially low prices to get customers for their (competitive) telecomms service. This is exactly what AT&T was doing that got them broken up in 1983; subsidising the supposedly-competitive long-distance market with revenues from the monopoly local market.

        Yes, competition for local services is good.
        • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @11:41AM (#10236144) Journal
          Wasn't that part of the plan? weren't the regulated monopolies granted because they were supposed to supply their service to not only densely populated area that are profitable, but parsely populated areas that aren't profitable.

          When a cable company rolls out broadband service like they did in my area only two years ago, they run their lines along poles owned by the utilities or underground on public right-of-ways, in return for that boon, we expect a certain level of service, and we expect that either rates will go down or service will go up as the company pays off it's infrastucture investment. If they don't expand into less profitable areas, decrease rates or add services as time go by, they become vulnerable to competion and I have little pity for them when a muncipality plays by the same rules that let them get fat and lazy.
      • Where do you go when the only broadband provider in town is the one you're walking away from?

        That was exactly what the situation was in Truckee, and probably in most other rural towns in America. For heaven's sake, you can't even get real competition in New York City for broadband access, because the incoming cable is owned by a single company who will not share access. It's either the cable company who wired the building or crappy DSL. Forget about satellite, cause you can't put up satellite dishes on the
        • Actually, cities, landlords, and home owners association aren't permited to ban satellite dishes by federal law. They used to do it, but this changed a few years ago in 1986. You need to keep up with the FCC. Read this: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/Satellite-TV/TVRO/part7/ [faqs.org] In short, you can have a dish, the standards for proving that it physically harms a person and not just his property values are too high for the city/landlord to win in most situations.

          Some people will complain about latency, but the rea

    • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:26AM (#10234690)
      They care about the consumer. As long as the consumer is willing to put money into their pockets they can continue to provide the lowest denominator of service.

      People are willing to pay Comcast $100+/mo for Internet and Cable (and sometimes telephone). It's probably not worth that much but people say "hey, look, it's a good deal." completely unaware that there could/should be better offers available.

      Monopolies and how we are affected by them go unnoticed by most of the public. Look at ClearChannel. They are fucking everywhere. Billboards, radio, football... Do people know? No. You know why? Because they don't care.

      Until people start caring things won't change much. I have a feel people will never start caring (as monopolies control the medium in which we get informed).
      • People are willing to pay Comcast $100+/mo for Internet and Cable (and sometimes telephone). It's probably not worth that much but people say "hey, look, it's a good deal." completely unaware that there could/should be better offers available.

        If they are willing to pay $100, then it is worth at least $100 to them.

        That's separate from the question of competition, which can drive the price down below the value. In a monopoly situation, and excluding other factors, such as the state forcing you to buy, the

      • Well, I learned not to see billboards a long time ago, and we have NPR in my market, so what's to care about? Let ClearChannel make buckets of money off things that don't interest me, if they can.
    • Corporations don't care about the consumer. They never have, and they likely never will. Corporations care about the consumer's money. As long as they can provide the bare minimum required to keep the money flowing into their coffers, that's all they'll do.

      This is the one thing I can never really understand about America, and the reason I submitted the story.

      Why on earth don't you guys change the laws? Corporations and their incessant drive for money can be a positive force, if they're funneled in the

      • "...why do you guys let these corporations get away with blue murder without doing anything?"

        We don't. History is replete with corporations destroyed by their overreaching, when their customers got fed up. But it takes time to tear down a giant.

        And destruction is not the only option. Sometimes the monopolist just has his market redefined for him. ATT doesn't own the telecom business anymore, but they're still a power to be reckoned with -- just not the power that, many years ago, they thought they'd b
    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:38AM (#10234800)
      You all forget one simple fact: the law in some 48 states requires corporations (publicly-held ones, at least) to act solely in the interests of the Company and the Shareholder. Even if an unusually-enlightened CEO were to end up in charge of a major corporation, he would soon be removed from office when his sense of responsibility and duty to the community lowered the profit margin a fraction of a percent.

      Consequently, until a whole bunch of laws get changed so that corporate leaders can behave responsibly and not be penalized for it, don't expect anything to change. Not soon, anyway. And keep this in mind: it is the shareholders that collectively determine the public ethics of a corporation. The laws were meant to allow shareholders to act as the final check upon the behavior of errant CEO's and Boards, but the problem is that the shareholders themselves have become just as focused on money as those who sit in the big fancy boardrooms. Anyone or anything that reduces those dividend checks, even if it is something to the public good, will likely not be tolerated.
      • Notice also the proportion of shareholders which are other corporations, and thus have no personal interest in society other than that it permits them to live.

        And how many times has your pension fund voted against your wider interests, in order to maximize return on your retirement contributions? Is this good or bad?
        • Notice also the proportion of shareholders which are other corporations, and thus have no personal interest in society other than that it permits them to live.

          Excellent point. Diversification, don't you know.

          As for your question, I don't know. I guess I'm not sure what you mean by "wider interests".
      • Even if an unusually-enlightened CEO were to end up in charge of a major corporation, he would soon be removed from office when his sense of responsibility and duty to the community lowered the profit margin a fraction of a percent.

        Nonsense! Last time I checked (~10 years ago) Target gave 5% of their profit back to the communities where their stores are. Costco pays its workers a living wage (min is $10/hr I hear) when they could probably get by paying $5.15 to the lowest rungs.
        Corporations, like peopl

    • Not only is this absolutely right, it's absolutely fine with me. Corporations should only be concerned with their profits. It's a good motivator. However, this means that the government and the people *MUST* regulate corporations in such a way that it is profitable to act in the interest of the public. A "carrot and stick" approach are needed with corporations.

      If a corporation wishes to pollute, they can do so. But they must pay for the costs associated with their pollution; health and environmental degrad

    • by Anonymous Coward
      But show me a wildly successful corporation that lavishes it's customers with their every desire

      Apparently you've never been to a Nordstroms. Lavishing customer's every desire is central to their success. I had a foul-up flying to Seattle once (where I had to change plans in Chicago due to weather issues and United couldn't get my luggage off of my original flight and onto the Seattle flight). A call to Nordstroms in Seattle and some descriptions of my clothing sizes was all that was needed for me to hav
    • Exactly right. So, raise the bare minimum until it's what you wanted. One way is to take your business elsewhere, even if you have to create an elsewhere to which to take it.
  • Let's See (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dolphy ( 569457 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:21AM (#10234636)
    "What's wrong with additional competition? And why should legislative bodies protect telecommunications monopolies?" Because additional competition means less profit for the existing monopolies. Because telecommunication monopolies protect legislative bodies when it comes to election funds. It may sound like paranoi, but it's also the real world.
    • Re:Let's See (Score:3, Insightful)

      Competition does not necessarily mean less profits for existing monopolies. In fact, it could result in more profit by pushing technologies that give consumers more options, which could justify higher rates, ad corp finance nauseum.

      Corps like higher profits, but they like not having to work hard even more. So instead standing up for fair and pesky competition, they just have their lobbyists keep matters under control by buying Congresspeople.

      Remember, elected officials don't represent their constituenci
      • Corps like higher profits, but they like not having to work hard even more. So instead standing up for fair and pesky competition, they just have their lobbyists keep matters under control by buying Congresspeople.

        It is not about working hard, it is about minimizing risk. Corps want the best ROI, but with minimal risk. Shareholders prefer nice returns without the possibility of losing their shirts.

      • Because most companies want to just go on making money the same way they did, yesterday and the day before that. To try making money another way is to RISK, and once a company has 'made it,' RISK is one of the last things they want.

        It doesn't matter that they might make more money by changing - they might not. It's the small companies with little to lose that take risks. To give credit, some large companies take risks, too.

        But I suspect government-regulated monopolies are amoung the most risk-averse compa
  • Ma Bell can't die... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:22AM (#10234649)
    Whenever our normally capitalist system grants somebody a monopoly, it's usally because two of that kind of business would lead to mutual destruction, and we need that business to exist because it makes other businesses possible.

    Netflix would not be able to operate if not for the United States Postal Service, for example. The same goes for most magazine subscriptions. Sure, FedEx, UPS and Airborne Express all compete with the USPS express and priority line of services, but everybody else is prohibited by law from making a daily stop at every address without a pre-existing relationship.

    Cities control the local water and sewage systems as well for obvious reasons. We can't afford these services becoming unavailable for any length of time for any reason.

    POTS used to be an essential utility as it was the only commonly deployed realtime communnication tech. Now, it's not so much the only game in town, but it still is the only communication lifeline for some elderly people who don't want a cell phone. Because of this, the local Ma Bell company is not allowed to close up shop, and that's why they're basically granted a monopoly to soak the customers the can soak so that the company can afford to give below-cost service to those who can't.
    • While I can see your argument, the USPS must exist; it is mandated in the United States Constitution.
    • Because of this, the local Ma Bell company is not allowed to close up shop, and that's why they're basically granted a monopoly to soak the customers the can soak so that the company can afford to give below-cost service to those who can't.

      They soak those low income folks also. In my latter years of college, my yearly income was really low. My AT&T bill was always about $20 per month. I'd look at the line items, $15 for services that I used and $5 bucks for fee/taxes! My long distance bill was worse,
  • Microsoft should NOT be converted to a public utility.

    not that they don't try to take advantadge of every situation.

  • Money... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GoMMiX ( 748510 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:23AM (#10234666)
    "And why should legislative bodies protect telecommunications monopolies?"

    Campaign donations... It's all about money, if telco's are going to rollout fiber they want to be the only ones to use it. I thought the FCC already ruled on this, and was 'giving' telcos a monopoly nationwide? (Being that if they roll the fiber, they don't 'have' to sell it to competition?)

    Regardless, these telcos have deeper pockets and connections then the **AA's do - with the US so far behind in the communications area, I think it has to become painfully obvious there is more at play then just the difficulty and expense of rolling out the glass. IMHO, the telcos are refusing to do it waiting on the government to pay for it AND let them control it. Telcos don't want glass everywhere because once things go digital they don't know how to play anymore. And God knows people are itching to drop telcos like a bad habbit. And after years and years of dog poor service (IE, got a problem? Call support, wait 2 hours on hold - get transferred twice with additional hour of wait time per transfer, then get disconnected. Rinse, repeat. - Then you switch to cable instead of DSL - have a problem - call support - on hold for 10 minutes...)
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:24AM (#10234668) Homepage Journal
    What's wrong with additional competition? And why should legislative bodies protect telecommunications monopolies?

    There's nothing wrong with additional competition. It's good for the economy, and it's good for you and me. It's just bad for telecom giants who are used to lobbying for (and in many cases) getting their way.

    Americans have become so used to looking first to giant corporations that we've in many ways lost the ability to come up with our own local solutions. The fact that more and more localities are bucking this trend is a good thing indeed, but at the state and federal level telecom giants hold much more power.

    Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, giving breaks to big players and shutting out small players seems anti-competitive, doesn't it?

  • Profit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Paulrothrock ( 685079 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:26AM (#10234693) Homepage Journal
    TelCos and Cable operators don't move into these communities because they can't make a profit on running the cable there because they would charge unreasonable rates. So when a community forms a group that doesn't have to worry about profits, the TelCos and cable companies get mad because they can't compete against someone who doesn't have to make a profit, or waste that profit giving money to shareholders and executives with multi-million-dollar salaries.
    • The national telcos and cable operators, on the other hand, enjoy economies of scale beyond the wildest dreams of a community group.
  • by l4m3z0r ( 799504 ) <kevinNO@SPAMuberstyle.net> on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:30AM (#10234727)
    This is a prime example of how public utilities for services is extremely beneficial to the consumer and to the community. Just another example of how the libertarian idea that privatizing removes corruption is just foolish and wrong. I for one would rather have local community leaders controlling my power,phone, and water services. Since it ain't hard to affect local politics, running for city council is WAY easier than running for congress or the senate. Especially since in some city's people running for the council positions have no opponents.

    Clearly The best solution is to have a public utility and a private company offering the same services for a community. This way you force them to compete and since they are different animals they will be very unlikely to make some kind of alliance to hike prices.

  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:31AM (#10234733) Homepage
    I've got answers:

    "why can't a public utilities company provide a public utility if their rate payers want it?"

    "What's wrong with additional competition? And why should legislative bodies protect telecommunications monopolies?"

    Because governmental entities do not give money to political causes. Also, government businesss do not raise taxes.

    Accordingly, if a legislature is faced with helping and protecting a private business versus a government business, the legislature will ALWAYS support the private business.
  • by photon317 ( 208409 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:31AM (#10234734)
    You don't want 50 seperate startup companies all laying their own custom fiber or coax networks through your city redundantly, when you know that when it all shakes out, at best 3 will survive. Because physical infrastructure is involved, typically communities award a contract to a single player, who will provide said infrastructure - and they tend to keep that contract going because of the infrastructure (there would be financial issues switching to a new provider and possibly having to pay for them to buy the old infrastructure from the previous company).

    The government's answer to these competitive problems to date in the electric and telecomm markets is to enforce a really stupid form of competition, and require incumbent telcos and power providers to share their physical network with startups (where "share" means basically resell). So now You can choose Traditional Company A, or one of A's 50 crappy resellers who have no physical infrastructure of their own.

    The Right Thing, IMHO, is that municipalities (or states, or whatever) should be putting out bids and taking contracts to build physical cabling infrastructure of various types for the area, and also contracts (perhaps from the same provider, but not neccesarily) to maintain said cabling infrastructure. The cabling infrastructure is then owned by the municipality itself, and it terminates at certain wire-centers where competitive providers can hook in with their own real equipment (much like internet NAPs in some ways - a shared facility where people co-loc edge equipment).
    • This is an excellent point. However, certain utilities do not lend themselves to local public ownership, since many rural areas would be completely without access to them. Case in point: rural electrification in the 1930s. The population density of these ares is such that the local governments would have to raise taxes so high to cover the cost of stringing and maintaining power/cable/telephone lines to Old Lady McGee, that she'd never be able to pay them. Even at a wider level, this may not be fesiable, fo
      • Uhm, you do realize that if left for the private sector, much of rural America would STILL be without power?

        Here's an excerpt about the Rural Electric Administration: http://newdeal.feri.org/tva/tva10.htm [feri.org]

        "Private utility companies, who supplied electric power to most of the nation's consumers, argued that it was too expensive to string electric lines to isolated rural farmsteads. Anyway, they said, most farmers, were too poor to be able to afford electricity.

        The Roosevelt Administration believed that i
    • The government's answer to these competitive problems to date in the electric and telecomm markets is to enforce a really stupid form of competition, and require incumbent telcos and power providers to share their physical network with startups (where "share" means basically resell). So now You can choose Traditional Company A, or one of A's 50 crappy resellers who have no physical infrastructure of their own.

      Not sure what you're going on about - it works fine where I live. TDS Metrocom smokes SBC in ev


      • SBC is a baby bell in heredity. I'm assuming TDS Metrocom is a CLEC, and that they are in fact using re=sold SBC lines, since I haven't heard tell of any true alternative LECs running their own physical networks. Your lines are still serviced and providiosned by SBC, subcontracted to TDS Metrocom. TDS is probably just operating a more efficient business on a lower profit margin than the front offices of SBC do.
  • My future father-in-law works for the Lt. Governor of PA. I'll be doing my best to raise this issue to him and have him talk with her about it, which will hopefully get this [state.pa.us] idiotic and corporate-centric bill defeated.
  • Monopoly structure (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sjwaste ( 780063 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:33AM (#10234756)
    To answer the OP's question about why the government allows these monopolies to exist:

    Economically, the incumbent firm would not sink the cash required to build the initial infrastructure unless it was guaranteed years and years of profit to recoup the cost. It's not the efficient solution, but it was common decades ago to do this. Regulation prohibited competition so that the incumbent could recoup its costs and profit from its venture. It's unfortunate that legislators still believe the telecommunications giants still need this sort of protection, though. The efficient solution is to allow competition, because lets face it, the incumbents have made their money back and then a lot more.

    I just wanted to shed some light on why this happens in the first place. Why it's still happening is that old habits die hard, especially with the lobbying dollars that the telecom firms have!
  • by erikharrison ( 633719 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:34AM (#10234764)
    Lots of people are pointing out the obvious connection between money and politics. But there is a historical connection that needs to be pointed out.

    Many moons ago, most places in the US didn't have power, or phone service. So the US made deals with private companies, wherein the utility company would provide a service (such as phone lines) in areas where building the infrastructure would ordinarily be cost prohibitive. In exchange, they got monopoly guarantees for long periods of time on those areas.

    Telco's are used to getting their way (I worked for Bellsouth Internet for a few years). After all, BellSouth makes a profit even if you get Earthlink DSL in the South, because BellSouth has a monopoly on the network, provided by the federal government. There is a long history in the USA of enforcing monopolies for utility companies, that in many cases has far outlived it's consumer benefit
    • But there are still places of the country (rural, appalachia, etc) that it's not cost-effective to run basic phone lines. Will private companies do that without some kind of government protection on their lost costs? I highly doubt it. Yes, the big telcos have a monopoly (disclosure: i work for one) - but the "competition" that has come up, at least seen from our end, is not competition. It's companies that get to use the big Telco lines and fiber for much less than it costs to maintain them. If it was
  • by iPaqMan ( 230487 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:38AM (#10234797)
    Local governments shouldn't be allowed to compete for local telecom services because they have an unfair advantage in the ability to acquire capital. They just tax you! Cities that claim that they can provide services cheaper than a nationwide telecom are playing a shell game with their funding.

    They most often have no clue what it really takes to provide services. They are sold on an idea, they implement it, they realize it is going to cost more than they thought, they subsidize the project, you get the service a rock bottom price, and later your taxes go up because the city is running short on cash.

    What has this accomplished? You raised taxes for everyone, even those that don't what the service, you put a legitimate company out of business in you area, and as technology progresses you are left behind because no one will want to serve your area after you the way your city treated the last competitor.

    You also mention that the local telecom providers lower rates once a community telecom comes in. You have to understand that the incumbent provider has spent millions and millions of dollars to provide service in the area. They are forced to lower prices to levels that are below the cost of providing service just to survive. Local telecoms are regulated; they have to provide service to anyone who wants it. They can't just pack up there bags and leave. So, its either sell service at below cost or be left with a multimillion dollar network that no on is using.
    • by Paulrothrock ( 685079 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @10:14AM (#10235207) Homepage Journal
      I understand that the initial deposit is funded by tax revenue, because there aren't any customers to provide funding. I don't have a problem with that because the infrastructure will create business, and improve the economy of the region.

      But why can't the service run as break-even, funded by those who use it? The USPS is a government corporation. Sure, it's unfair to FedEx and UPS and DHL, but they run as a break-even corporation, which means it doesn't cost taxpayers a cent to not use the service.

      If the state government legislated that all government-run ISPs operate at break-even, and that their capital cannot mingle with tax-payer dollars, then this is a non-issue.

      You also mention that the local telecom providers lower rates once a community telecom comes in. You have to understand that the incumbent provider has spent millions and millions of dollars to provide service in the area.

      What we're talking about isn't local phone service, or even long distance. Kutztown did not have *any* broadband because Comcast and Verizon said it was too expensive to provide them with broadband, and wouldn't move into the market. Rather than let the city sit back and slide into oblivion, they chose to take action and get broadband the only way they knew how; through the local government. The city is thriving now, with new companies moving into the area because of the cheap broadband.

      Comcast and Verizon are whining now because they can't move into the area to get business because Kutztown is providing very high quality service that people like, and helping their community to survive. If Comcast and Verizon wouldn't move into the area before, they shouldn't be allowed to do so after the taxpayers have made the sacrifices to save their community.

    • Private corporations shouldn't be so lazy that government might think it can provide a higher level of service. Private corporations that let their customers become so unsatisfied that they resort to government takeover have squandered their monopoly privilige. I don't see how cable companies, etc, can be so shortsighted, when service is bad enough, the government will get involved for better or worse.

      As broadband becomes seen as a basic utility that enhances the competitive ability of a community, gove

      • The problem is that the corporations (much as I dislike them) are caught in a classic Catch-22: low price means poor service, good service means high price. Either way (poor service or high price), the consumer will run whining to the government. But there ain't no such thing as a free lunch, and you can't get good service at a low price.

        Are the telcos providing the best possible service for the price they charge? Damned if I know! Do you know? If not, how can you claim that they're lazy and/or greedy?

        • How to know whether they are providing the best service for the price they charge? That doesn't really matter. The name of the game is maximizing return on investment. If a slightly lower service letter allows them to reduce costs without losing customers, that is what they will do. But, if the customers feel sufficiently abused to demand an alternative, then this tactic backfires.

          By lazy, I'm referring specifically to their effort at monitoring the public mood and governments' likelihood of jumping in

    • It's not always about price.

      Back in the 60s or so, one of the more important issues was that it had become possible to build affordable telecom equipment and services *that customers could not use*, because the One True Telco were uninterested in selling it and refused to permit the customer to install his own. The only provider in town had a fixed vision of telecom services from which the subscribers' vision had sharply diverged, and they weren't interested in changing.
  • A Case Study (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Some Slashdot Reader ( 813033 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:38AM (#10234801)
    I'm not trying to sell anything here, but maybe some cities could look at what Frankfort Kentucky did as a case study. Cable Modems 128/128 at $14 per month. 256/128 at $18 and 512 at $24. (higher services available) VOIP telephone at something like $13 per month. Plus long distance calling at good rates. Plus they provide they provide electricity, water, cable tv, and security monitoring at good rates. Everything comes on one bill. Perfect? -NO. A monopoly? -pretty much. but a good service at comparatively low rates? absolutley. http://www.fewpb2.com (too lazy to do html. sorry)
  • Electrical Coops (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Skjellifetti ( 561341 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:41AM (#10234834) Journal
    What I don't understand is why can't a public utilities company provide a public utility if their rate payers want it?

    Your terminology is a bit off. A public utility [thefreedictionary.com] is a "company that performs a public service; subject to government regulation." It need not be owned by a gov't.

    That said, there are examples of systems where distribution is owned by the gov't or by a local cooperative. Many communities, particulary small towns or rural areas in the US, have electrical coops that handle distribution of power to individual homes. I'm not sure why politicians believe internet service should not also be handled like this.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:42AM (#10234842)
    The government has been managing telcos for decades (i.e. charging levies for rural connectin subsidies). Cable companies have had their own oversight as well, right down to the municipal level. Governments have been "picking winners" in the communications market for a very long time and will continue to do so in order to prevent what they perceive as scenarios where service can be lost entirely.

    Wireless should change this - because the provider does not have to make an investment in hardware (even if just wiring) to each destination location, it will be easier for players to enter and exit the market. Until then, you can't use the word capitalism with a straight face when describing the telco markets.

  • Say, if everybody just roll out the cable to their nearest 4 neighbours, wouldn't the grid be constructed by a cooperative effort?

    I don't know how it'd work though, does seem a bit too idealistic :(
  • by kvn ( 64836 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:43AM (#10234861)
    What's wrong with additional competition? And why should legislative bodies protect telecommunications monopolies?

    Do you have any idea what the profit margin is on $50/month internet access? A non-profit can provide this service for less than half the cost.

    Legislative bodies do whatever their corporate masters (read: big donors) tell them to do. The public good is never a concern. Welcome to the wonderful world of representative "democracy".
  • 340mill! WTF! (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheLoneCabbage ( 323135 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:45AM (#10234879) Homepage
    do some basic math. This UTOPIA project, the largest and most ambitios, will cost some 340million to deliver service to 140,000 consumers. That's a cost of $2,500 per customer! That's static start up cost, assuming that it all comes in on budget, on time, and you still haven't considered coninuing maintenance and upgrade!

    No wonder their are no companies leaping to do this. Someone has to pay for this. You really think your going to get 1.5Mb fiber to your house for $40 a month?

    Look I think it's a sleazy as it gets bribeing the gov't to keep competition out of the market. But one does have to ask the questions:

    Q:Why isn't their more free market competition to start with?

    A:Telecom is a nasty, expensive, buisness. And now that it's been wrapped up with the computer industry it's a moving target. If your crystal ball get's foggy for just a little bit, your out of buisness.

    These services will get to consumers, when they can be practically and effectively deployed.
  • C'mon....ADMIT IT. Please. Our government sold us out a long time ago. Our elected officials and high level bureaucrats can do whatever they want. You know it. I know it.

    And of course, OF COURSE, there is money to be made by eliminating competition for corporations.

    And protecting the corporations or the wealthy at the expense of the little guy is what America is all about. In fact America was basically built on slavery, which was an official part of the government. And slavery ended not that long ago. THe
  • by richardbowers ( 143034 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:47AM (#10234900)
    I agree with the comments in spirit - here's the argument that kind-of makes sense against allowing non-telecoms to compete in telecommunications. Telecommunications are basically socialized in the US, with subscribers in urban areas subsidizing subscribers in rural areas. People in Hawaii and Alaska don't pay anywhere near what their service costs, while people in the suburbs get soaked. If you let the communities pay only what it actually costs to serve them, then the economics change. Official telecommunications companies have regulations that can make them provide service that would otherwise be against their interest.

    This is the same problem that the Postal Service has with UPS and FedEx - they have charges that are related to actual costs, and tend to get used more for people in urban areas than rural areas because of that. In doing so, they take away the customers that the Postal Service counts on to subsidize the rural routes. The result is that they lose money.

    Is this trade-off worth the loss of competition that it brings, in exchange for allowing people in Montana to have phones? I'll leave that to the combined wisdom of Slashdot.
  • by keiferb ( 267153 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:49AM (#10234918) Homepage
    Does anyone happen to have a link to the legislation (or at least some info on it, who's behind it, etc?) that's mentioned in the OP? I live in PA, and would like to take a look at it and send my congresscritters some feedback.

    Thanks!
  • by James McP ( 3700 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:50AM (#10234928)
    IANAL so the terms may be off, but some functions are a vital service that impacts general community health (i.e. water and sanitary services). In some areas power and telephones are considered vital services that are too important to trust to a private industry. For those areas, a public utility is the way to go.

    Otherwise it turns into a government vs. industry situation and the gov't will always be able to legislate the industry out of the picture. For this reason, government operated services have to be declared a vital service where there are already market providers. I believe the rules are different where there is no existing market and no private entities have indicated a desire to enter the market.

    The solution is to use a hybrid solution; the public co-op. The legal definition meanders about from place to place, but a co-op is generally a not-for-profit/non-profit organization that provides a service to its owners (i.e. the community). Not being a profit-focused organization, the local gov't can usually provide some form of special concessions to "stimulate" the local reinvestment of capital.

    There are two problems from my experience is when a co-op (or any competitor) enters a market with an existing monopolist provider.

    1) In things like telco, the first person on site spent a fortune to build the infrastructure; ordering them to share with their competitors tends to make them feel like a J.C. Penny's being ordered to allow Sears Roebuck to take over floor space for free. This really does have a sense of unfairness to it, though I agree that an entrenched carrier is in many cases taking advantage of public right-of-ways and thus is required to share.

    2) The original service provider is a a real $**thead and is screaming "unfair competition" with no real basis. Where I live the local cable provider threatened lawsuits, failed to provide upgrades, and basically threw temper tantrums as long as the city did not give them an exclusive contract, excluding other carriers from using the right-of-ways even though those other carriers would be forced to build their own network.

    Case number 1 is a real fairness issue. The groundbreaker could be taken advantage of by acruing massive debt his competitors don't have to deal with, alternately the system could be well amortized and the carrier just doesn't want competition. #2, IMO, deserves to be beaten with a big publicly-driven cluebat until rationality or cessation of bodily functions happens.

  • A local experience (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Insightfill ( 554828 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:51AM (#10234937) Homepage
    Two years ago, my local community put "fiber to the home" on the ballot. [tricitybroadband.com]

    SBC got really nasty and start bombing the postal mailboxes of all of the residents with FUD [tricitybroadband.com] mailings about how the new initiative would cost every homeowner a fortune in new taxes. The only indication as to the source of the FUD mailings was "SBC" written in tiny six point font in the corner. There were plenty of similar mailings over the month before the referendum, and it failed (narrowly) in a non-presidential election year. Generally, these tend to be smaller turnouts with mostly older voters.

    This year, they got it back on the ballot again, and I hope that it goes through, if not for the "fiber", at least to stick it to SBC. I'm voting for it again.

    (Side note: we already have power over leased ComEd lines, but bought from nearby Wisconsin, and our electric rates are relatively low.)

  • Way Out West (Score:3, Informative)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:52AM (#10234944) Journal

    Basically, the approach is to minimize the monopoly. They do the monopoly from the block level greenbox to the house. That's it. They also allow up to a hundred different providers into the greenbox.

    The interesting thing about this approach, is that a company like Disney could use it to get into the cable industry and break the monopoly. Since the FCC allowed the merger of Comcast/ATT, my prices have shot up (1.5 with another hike coming that will double it), and service has plummeted (I had an out about every 6 months, now it is weekly). I would love to get off them. But the alternative is qwest dsl. Both Comcast and Qwest vie for the distinction of being the 2 worse companies out of all bandwidth providers.

  • by kcurtis ( 311610 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @09:59AM (#10235019)
    Not that this is the case all the time, but the state does have an obligation to protect utilities from unfair competition. It has to do with the fact that corporations would only serve profitable areas if they had a choice.

    Start with the consideration that utilities are regulated heavily to start with, and that this has always been the case.

    States like PA have urban, suburban, and rural areas. If an unregulated company came in to provide a new service, it would only provide the service in areas where it would be profitable -- probably urban and suburban neighborhoods. People in the boondocks would be left without the service, or would have to pay much higher fees for the service.

    But utilities, which can be considered more necessary than luxury, are offered statewide because the state has controls over the system.

    It is a matter of the greater good... and if a corporation wants to offer a utility service in a state, then it agrees to be regulated by the state. If you don't want to be regulated so heavily, find another business.

    Some people always consider regulation to be evil, and ignore the fact that there may be legitimate reasons for regulation. Besides, we do have a system where people can get regulations reduced -- it is called an election. Regulations aren't enacted in a vacuum - they are put in place by elected representatives.
  • While the idea of public broadband has always been an attractive one for slashdotters, the incursion into this arena by Grant County PUD in central Washington State stands as an example of why we don't want bureaucrats meddling in business.

    In this state the PUDs are treated as municipalities under the law and are given a set of rules under which they can operate. Broadband and electrical power are different services so it took an act of the Legislature to allow them to enter the market. The legislature, under some pressure from the big telecoms who were afraid that the PUDs would "cherry pick" the larger communities and leave the rural people to fend for themselves, allowed the PUDs to be "wholesale" only. The first thing Grant County PUD did was ignore that law.

    Grant County PUD had first partnered up with two local ISPs which charged $20 to $25 per month for the broadband servoces back at the inception of the project in 1999. But at the same time the Manager of that PUD was trying to attract an outside competitor, also a utility provider, to enter the market in this county at a subsidized rate of $8 per month.

    The PUD did attract that utility but only by entering into secret (and illegal) agreements to subsidize the program at cost plus 10%. So the new provider would risk nothing and could make 10% on the rate-payer's money even if they gave away their services for free. Then the PUD employees threw as many of the new customers to this new competitor as possible while their managers used their position as investors to pressure prices to a point where the commercial ISPs could no longer compete profitably.

    It was only after the PUD had spent several million dollars propping up this outside provider that the story became known. Meanwhile, the PUD had raised the electrical rates to cover the $100 Million cost of fibering only 1/3 of the County but lied when asked about it. The Commissioners and Managers claimed that the rate increases were due to other factors. However their own emails, obtained under the State's public disclosure act, showed this to be untrue.

    Agricultural interests were incensed because they use a lot of that electrical power. A large farm might have a $500k yearly power bill for their irrigation pumps. While 4% isn't much for my house, it's a chunk of money on a half-million dollars.

    It took almost a year after the discovery of the secret contracts and a State Auditor's report which also found illegal and improper actions, to rid ourselves of the management team that led us into this debacle. The largest ISPs in the area, including the first two to partner up with the PUD, went out of business and were gobbled up by another outside competitor; costing jobs and an economic drain on the communities' resources. The Commissioners who were supposed to keep a rein on the PUD managers are now up for re-election and facing some tough questions.

    The problem with bureaucrats going into business is that, essentially, they don't understand profit and loss. It's all other people's money and if they make a mistake they just raise the rates to cover it. We could have fibered this County up for the money they spent, had they spent that money wisely. Instead they created a NOC they thought they could make profitable (not at $3 million a year to operate they couldn't), they installed fiber to the areas where their managers lived regardless of population density (it turns out the telecoms fears of "cherry picking" were well-founded, but the managers weren't smart enough to do it that way), and they drove jobs and money out of the area.

    Had they simply created the infrastructure for the product instead of getting involved in creating subsidies for favored businesses we would have been ok. But that's the problem. Bureaucrats don't make good business people.

    So if you don't want to see jobs go away, money disappear and your power rates rise, treat the entrance of government into business with caution. These things are run by politicians, not business people. And it's not their money.
  • by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Monday September 13, 2004 @10:25AM (#10235334) Journal
    What I don't understand is why can't a public utilities company provide a public utility if their rate payers want it?

    Why? Its my opinion that McCarthyism has so cripled American Public Discourse that the very THOUGHT of community owned co-operative behaviour is tanamount to treason.

    McCarthyism did such a fine job of identifying those nasty 'co-operators' (communists) as UnAmerican that today, even the rabble will reflexively defend the 'rights' of their plutocracy to rule.

    American People will not consider -- wont even discuss it without flaming liberal/socalist/communist-label throwing -- that maybe, just MAYBE a non-profit, community owned utility can deliver a service better, more cheaply and more uniformly than a for-profit.

    Even such public goods utilities, like HEALTH CARE is a for profit venture in the USA. This is UNHEARD of outside the USA. Universal Public Healthcare is the norm in almost all the rest of the worlds' wealthy nations (canada, europe, aus., nz, ?,?,?). Hell, 45million USofAmericans dont have health insurance. In any nation, let alone the self-declared 'most wealthy' this would be a national scandal and shame. In the USA, the discussion isnt even entertained -- why would the for-proift media care to question the for-profit health-industry? They sit on one-another's boards. They are co-invested, and cross-linked. Maybe the Publicly-funded, independant national broadcaster would like to discuss the matter -- oh, dont have one of those either (see cbc.ca; bbc.co.uk; abc.net.au).

    If the community considers telecommunications is a universal public good, why dont they mandate the creation of a utility? Instead, in USofAmerica, the plutocracy will use McCarthy's specter to assure that all that effort runs through their private, for-profit structures. Private banks. Private accounting. Private Advertising. Private Broadcasting. These for-profit sectors collude to assure their is no chance of cooperation amoungst citizens.

    The person is a Consumer First, never an empowered citizen. That is why, the public need is not being met. If you are a rich consumer, you might be able to convince the for-profits there is enough meat in the market to give you what they want, but forget organizing your community to provide for the community's need... what are you? Some kind of communist?

    Want to make political change? Forget it, you cant even get on the ballot... sorry. Ask Mr. Nader.
  • This arrangement amounts to unfair competition because Eagle Broadband receives "tax exempt public financing" that is not available to other cable and telecommunications providers, Abel said.

    This is the argument that will squash this movement unless change is made to open competition at the far end.

    Here's what I came up with for a public policy class a few years ago: Have the municipality rollout a fiber plant to each block or superblock of homes, all terminating at one or a small number of COs. Assume
  • 1) One big monopoly is easier to legislate on, and liaise with.

    Take Australia, where Telstra is the monopoly supplier. They were charter bound to provide Telecommunications to outback [rural and remote] farming communities. Now that Telstra is being privatised, part of the legal restraints [cathnews.com] is a continuation of the same services. The government and the opinion forming people [voters at large] find it easier to think of this long standing monopoly as being reponsible for this service provision.

    I see a lot

  • In Truckee, a mountain community near Lake Tahoe in California, USA Media Systems, recently acquired by Cebridge Connections, has a monopoly on broadband internet and cable TV access, according to Harry. Cable modem users there have often complained about the service provided by the company and satellite dish services were not a viable alternative because large snowfalls frequently block reception, he said.

    "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversatio

  • DSL IMHO is the big problem. Our digital economy is to reliant on it, and it's to limited. Here's why:

    It's limited based on distance from the POP (point of presence). As a result, there needs to be rather plentiful hardware to cover an area. So when they started deployment, they scattered some about. See if DSL would catch on... it did.

    But the problem is, filling in the gaps isn't cost effective. So there are many small gaps, but it isn't worth the cost to the DSL provider to blanket the area.

    Cable

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