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Communications The Internet Networking

FCC Considers Deregulation of DSL 414

Phlatline_ATL writes "In an article on ArsTechnica, they explore the FCC's current consideration to reclassify DSL as an information service and as such would no longer require the telcos to lease out their lines. This seems like it would effectively make the telcos the exclusive DSL broadband providers." From the article: " So after six months to a year it would be goodbye Earthlink and Speakeasy, hello SBC DSL monopoly (in the case of Chicago, where I live). So the telcos would get what they want, which is no competition while the consumers get screwed. But it's perfectly logical under the FCC's definition of broadband competition, where they want cable to compete with DSL--and hopefully IP over power lines and WiMax down the road."
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FCC Considers Deregulation of DSL

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:32AM (#13249554)
    "If only we were allowed to keep their lines all to ourselves," they say, "we would hurry to get fiber laid to every house in the land and offer faster and wider range of services."

    It's not exactly as if DSL has been a "competitor" by any means in any area I have lived in. Its distance requirements, slow speeds, and typical poor telco customer service has always lagged behind services offered by Cable. This is speaking only from my limited experience with four different DSL providers and two cable providers so obviously YMMV.

    When I first got DSL in the summer of 1998 from Epix/Commonwealth in PA it was 640/160 and remained that until 2003 (IIRC, I wasn't living at home anymore) at which time they bumped the service to 1.5/384 to "compete" with Adelphia cable. Five years stuck at half the speeds? Problem was that there was NO competition because Adelphia was only broadband downstream and analog upstream in many areas for quite some time.

    Out at college we got DSL in the fall of 1999 when we moved into an apartment. Verizon offered the lines and we took up the local freenet ISP as they were cheap. They were offering 768/128 on overcooked DSLAM racks (two racks per T1 instead of one rack per T1 like it was supposed to be) and speeds were consistently in the 40kB/s range. No one would take blame and would always finger point at the other guy (it's the ISP's fault, no it's Verizon's fault!)

    Roadrunner came to town in the fall of 2000 and we dropped DSL quickly. While our latency in online gaming went up so did our download speeds. At first it was a bit over 1.5mbs but quickly went up to 3mbs. There was no finger pointing as RR handled both the ISP and the line. Was it good? Certainly for me it was. Faster speeds, less downtime, and no finger pointing. Comcast was smooth in MN but working for them in OH I knew that there could be serious issues (depending on your location) with speeds, intermittent bloc-sync, etc. 1.5mbs and then 3.0mbs w/o any real problems. Problem here was DSL wasn't even available and if it was, it was only 640/128 for more money...

    My idea of DSL being competitive changed only slightly when I moved in August of 2004 to a house that offered Charter (no servers w/blocked ports) and DSL (Frontier and ISP choice). I went with Frontier and Visi (local kick ass ISP that allows servers). For once in my DSL using life I am happy w/the speeds (currently 3712/448) and the service. Visi handles everything for me so I just contact one point. I would be *extremely* upset if I had to go back to Frontier as they don't allow online bill pay, aren't very nice on customer support, and are likely not as knowledgeable as Visi's guys. Charter, charging $39.99/mo for the Internet (I think it was only $11 for CATV making it a total of $52) was a ton less money than Visi/Frontier at over $60 (requiring me to have a voice line and the $25/mo ISP charge). For most the price alone is a no brainer. For me, because of the server issue, the couple extra bucks is worth it.

    So in all those years Cable hasn't improved all that much and neither has regulated DSL. So where's the competition driving faster speeds? How will deregulating DSL do anything?

    It's sometimes better for the customer to use the same line and ISP and it's sometimes better to use the ISP different from the line, but it's *always* better to give the customer a choice.

    So, the FCC is going to "do us a favor" and push for businesses to continue to fuck their customers over? Freedom to choose is always a better option to than freedom for businesses to do what they want... They have proven time and time again that they don't have competition as they already charge astronomical rates for the lines. They probably can make more money by finger pointing and less staffed CSRs for their own ISP. What incentives do they have to move to high capacity lines if the only other option is Cable? None. Especially when it's in the best interests of the Cable company to keep their available down
    • by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:44AM (#13249718) Homepage
      Okay- say what you will about deregulation, whatever. The issue to me, is that these lines are on public property, and in public airspace... Would another company be allowed to build poles and run lines right next the current lines? If not, it seems that the phone companies should have to share/lease them out at a fair price.
      • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:46AM (#13249741)
        Would another company be allowed to build poles and run lines right next the current lines?

        McLeod has Fiber running 150 feet from my house along County Rd 46. I don't have access to those lines and they are likely sharing the "public space".

        So why are they being treated differently? If we are going to regulate/deregulate due to public space I want access to that Fiber.
        • McLeod has Fiber running 150 feet from my house along County Rd 46. I don't have access to those lines and they are likely sharing the "public space".

          So why are they being treated differently? If we are going to regulate/deregulate due to public space I want access to that Fiber.

          The EU regulations, which are pretty sane, have a simple distinction. Run a network open to the public and you get regulated, but you get unparalleled access to public lands. Run a private network and you're at the mercy of local go
        • Never works like that.

          Double standards are part of having a shitty government. They will say, "You want to build here? Ok, we'll give each of these people $5,000 to 'git." to a big developer. If you're a startup or some average citizen, they'll say something like, "And make all those people move out? It would cost so much to fairly compensate them, and they would be resistant to moving! Those houses and folks are old, let them be."

          Consequently, if I said someone was violating my copyright for a song, I
      • by pizen ( 178182 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @11:16AM (#13250056)
        The power company owns the poles (and hates it when people call them telephone poles). Nothing is stopping a company from leasing pole space from the power company to run lines to compete with the phone and cable providers except the extreme cost.
        • It depends on where you live. Some places the power company owns the poles. In other places the telephone companies own them. Then there are the distribution companies. They just own the poles and right-of-ways and don't make either electricity or dial tone. Regardless of who owns them they are almost always part of a regulated utility monopoly, and therefore come under the controls of the PUC in your state, and they don't want the poles to become overloaded. Either technically or visually. There are
      • by tgd ( 2822 )
        Actually in most cases the poles are owned by the power company or a 3rd party who leases them to both.

        And if you wanted to come in and run your own lines, they'd probably let you. Just pay the same everyone else pays.
    • Luckily in my area (northern NJ, now), we've got *some* broadband choice.

      It's amazing though, it depends on where you live, what service you will get.

      Until recently, we had verizon DSL, but it was restrictive, hard to operate the included router, slow, and was very very very prone to disconnects. It would frequently go down for hours at a time. Verizon's solution was to "power down all computer, powerdown the DSL, and power everything back up" which wouldn't always work. and it was a pain to power down 8 co
    • So, does anyone have an address where we can write to the FCC and weigh in/complain on this issue?

      It might not make much difference, but at least the attempt would have been made...
      • NEWS FLASH
        The FCC just ruled FOR the deregulation of DSL. [reuters.co.uk] Takes affect in 270 days.

        I work for a small ISP in Fairfax, VA and this move puts our business in immediate jeopardy. My company is part of a lobbying group called the Washington Bureau of ISP Advocacy (WBIA). There are tons of useful links on their website such as how to contact your local senators and how to contact the FCC directly.

        http://www.wbia.us/ [www.wbia.us]

        Please visit and write your local and federal represenatives and tell them that you want the fr
    • On a related issue the Michigan Public Services Commission just deregulated all telephone services for the Detroit area under the "competition will benefit the consumer" banner. Unfortunately where I live (largish city currently undergoing a population boom) there is -no- competition for land line. You get Verizon or you don't get a dial tone. Period. And the state of Michigan expects competition to keep down prices.

      Not only that, but Verizon flatly refuses to provide DSL service of any kind to this ar

  • I've been (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreyWolf3000 ( 468618 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:34AM (#13249580) Journal
    ...a speakeasy customer for a few months now.

    They're not the cheapest, but their staff is the most knowledgable I have seen, and they're definately the most Linux-friendly.

    The more people that switch away from SBC the more money the competition has to fight this stuff.

    • Re:I've been (Score:3, Interesting)

      What do you mean by Linux-friendly? A Linux box gets an IP just like every other computer. Unless you mean that when you call them to find out why the Internets are broken, they don't force you to pretend to reboot Windows.
      • Re:I've been (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Halthar ( 669785 )
        Well, I haven't needed their support to get my Linux box up and running, but I have talked to a few people there, and have discussed things like Shell Scripting with each one of them. When you sign up for an account, they also provide instructions for Linux users. Something I don't remember getting from Verizon when I had service with them.

        Their support folks actually know what they are doing, and are actually knowledgable about Linux/BSD/etc in my experience.
      • Re:I've been (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mad_Rain ( 674268 )
        What do you mean by Linux-friendly? A Linux box gets an IP just like every other computer. Unless you mean that when you call them to find out why the Internets are broken, they don't force you to pretend to reboot Windows.

        That's exactly what he means - when you tell them that you checked out the problem from your end with (insert your favorite Linux network tool here) and got result Foo, they will say "That's cool, we'll check Bar and..." ta-daaaa, they'll have you up and going. Or at least that's been m
    • Re:I've been (Score:5, Informative)

      by honkycat ( 249849 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:50AM (#13249777) Homepage Journal
      I've been with Speakeasy for almost 5 years and would not consider another provider. When I first signed up, it was a bit rocky getting online (took about 3 months while they coordinated with the local phone company and the Covad middle layer) but since then I have moved from coast to coast a couple times and had no trouble bringing my service with me. Other than at the very beginning, I've had virtually NO downtime -- ran into a little trouble when my DSL modem started failing, but they can hardly be held responsible for that.

      Furthermore, they have eminently reasonable policies. You are allowed to use your DSL connection as a full and proper connection to the internet -- they have no arbitrary restrictions on services you can run. It's not a download-only pipe like the Telco and cable companies want to sell you. They do their best to support you running any OS you want and the techs I've spoken with are actually sharp enough to help you outside of a script. Not only that, but they have some authority to do what it takes to get the job done. All the while, you have access to the communications logs between the Speakeasy techs and the local telco and other parties involved in providing the line.

      The existence of a company like this, IMO, indicates that there is demand for services the telcos are unwilling or unable to provide. They footed part of the bill to run the wires to your house, so they should get some return. That's why Speakeasy *rents* the line from them and adds their markup on top. There's no reason that the telco needs to bundle ISP services with the telco line. If I think the telco has a good pipe but offers crappy ISP service, it makes sense that I can opt out of their ISP offerings. The architecture is already in place to let me do this.

      Furthermore, the telcos did not foot the entire bill for running the wires. Government assistance and tax dollars helped set up the network. They're part of the public infrastructure and they knew that when they got in the business. They therefore have responsibilities not only to their shareholders, but to the society that they bargained with to get their business in the firstplace.
      • by IronChef ( 164482 )
        If the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen puts Speakeasy out of business, I will go on a killing spree.

        (Happy customer for years)
      • Re:I've been (Score:3, Insightful)

        by acidrain69 ( 632468 )
        "and the techs I've spoken with are actually sharp enough to help you outside of a script"

        I want to comment on this since I happen to be a tech for a major DSL provider. (COUGH! Shit Bell Corp) I know more than to speak off of a script. We are forced to read off scripts, and deviation is frowned upon. I actually work for an outsourcing company that contracts with SBC. We have agents in and outside of the US. There is much grumbling and consternation due to these scripts, much of the time we feel like our ha
    • Re:I've been (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Halthar ( 669785 )
      As a Speakeasy customer for the past 18 months. They are easily the best company I have dealt with, and not just for broadband service.

      As you have said, they aren't the cheapest out there, but I don't mind paying a higher price for the service speeds I get and the consistently good support I get from them. I have only needed to call them twice, both were for the same incident of my line was down, which as it turns out wasn't completely their fault.

      The providers apparently are given an out of date da
      • Re:I've been (Score:3, Insightful)

        Add me to the list of Speakeasy customers who would be absolutely pissed off if the FCC screwed with this setup. I gladly pay more for my DSL service from them and I've never been disappointed. I just laugh at the SBC Yahoos that call me trying to sell me their $19.95/month DSL service. No thanks. The simple fact that Speakeasy and others can exist at all even though they almost always offer higher priced DSL services than the telcos speaks volumes to the FCC.
    • I've been with Speakeasy for almost 2 years now, and I have to say I'm extremely happy with them. My previous experiance was with @Home that became Comcast. In both cases, I was limited to an extremely slow uplink (128k nominally, more like 100k) and a ton of rediculous restrictions in the TOS (yes, I SSH back home), and no option for static IP addresses. Their TOS didn't even allow you to VPN into work! It was complete BS.

      Anyway, when I moved I happened to be close enough to the CO to get DSL. After
    • I am a Speakeasy customer as of August 1st.

      Speakeasy outshines any service provider of any type I have ever dealt with. They are the standard by which all customer service operations should be measured.

      No need for PPoE, a static IP, no need for telephone service, a usage policy that doesn't get in my way and no need to waste my life with incompetent and unhelpful service techs.

      If you're not using Speakeasy for your Internet service but have the option to, then you are a moron.

    • Re:I've been (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shogarth ( 668598 )
      I don't want to breakup the SpeakEasy love-fest, but they are not the only Linux-friendly game in town. I live in a relatively small market on the central coast of CA and have had several broadband providers over the last eight (yes, since 1997) years. Here are a few observations in no particular order:
      1. Verizon has offered 768/768 ADSL (not SDSL) service in this market since '97.
      2. Verizon's focus on businesses with that service has made it unreasonably expensive if you wanted a couple of static IP's.
      3. Thir
  • I thought Lassiez Faire supported regulation to the point where there would still be competition? Monopolies are not only bad for the consumer, they are bad for the economy. With 2 or 3 competing companies, not only can prices fall to below $30 for broadband, but each of the companies creates jobs. Of course the FCC has been in bed with the telco industry for some time.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Laissez Faire Government is absolutley no inovlvement. We follow something calle Keynesian Economics where the Governement regulates as needed, the switch was made during the 1930's depression.
      • Keynesian Economics where the Governement regulates as needed

              Unfortunately now the government regulates as lobbied and not necessarily as needed. What is THIS model called?
    • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @11:05AM (#13249929)
      Competition isn't always good. Look at mobile telecoms in N. America. Crippled by multiple competing standards each touted by different competing companies. It retarded growth for years, whilst the rest of the world using GMS got on with the business of selling phones and services.

      Even now, I found it backwards and expensive here. I went to the UK recently (yes, I had to ensure my N. American GSM phone worked outside N. America because GSM here is on different frequencies here to everywhere else. GRRRRR!) and picked up a SIM card for a local pay-as-go account. They billed by the second instead of minute, and when I used up all my time, I could still receive incoming calls. Nice. Oh, it took me less than two minutes to get it all hooked up in the Post Office across the road from King's Cross railway station in London.

      A couple of weeks later I went to California and tried to do the same. It took them more 45 minutes to set me up on Cingular. And then USD$10 didn't even last me a week of very light usage. What a rip-off. I used a third of that with heavier usage in the UK. I think billing by the second versus minute is one of the biggest issues.

      Anyway, long gripe about a pet issue. The point is, the market often needs to be regulated in some way for the best all round results.
    • by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @11:28AM (#13250168)
      Telephone wires fall under "natural monopolies", where the investment and effort of creating a competing version of the thing for sale creates such prohibitive barriers that the market naturally tends toward monopoly. Phones, roads, sewers, power lines are all this type of situation.

      Deregulation can potentially improve some of these services (provided it is done in a careful and balanced way) by de-integrating the actual monopoly from the elements sold on top of it. In phones, that would mean that one market is maintaining and selling physical phone lines (this one being a natural monopoly and hence tightly regulated to ensure non-discriminatory access), and another is selling voice and data services on these lines. The dergulation of the voice and data services market is what can help - deregulation of the wires and poles market is a disaster in the offing.

      This proposal is the worst of both worlds - the telcos are allowed to keep their monopoly in the wires and poles market, as well as their vertical integration, but are having all markets deregulated. Look for rampant abuse, as well as distinct lack of competion or innovation.
      • First off, please turn in your /. username, as this is far too rational of a post for this place.
        Seriously though, you're correct, the problem which will be created by this is that the telcos who own the lines will be able to destroy all competition and then pillage their customers. If people think that Verizon DSL is bad now, wait until they don't have to compete at all.
        While I don't think it will ever happen, what I would like to see is for the control of the lines and providing a service on them to be
  • it's be an SBC-Yahoo DSL monopoly. SBC's not the only one benefitting.
  • FIOS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by doormat ( 63648 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:37AM (#13249625) Homepage Journal
    Didn't the FCC promise telecos that they wouldnt have to share Fiber lines with competitors? Why do they need this too? They have incentive to get to FIOS-like services and drop DSL completely. If anything, having to share DSL lines with competitors made moving to fiber more appealing to the big telecos. Sounds like telecos trying to make money through government intervention instead of being creative and bringing new products to market.
    • Re:FIOS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jandrese ( 485 ) *
      I'm betting dollars to doughnuts that the ToS on FIOS prohibits you from running servers of any kind, making it extirely useless to guys like me who don't want to just be a passive "consumer" of internet content. The thing that annoys me the most with major ISPs is that they treat Internet access like TV or Newspapers or other big Media. The company provides, you consume. "Consumer" produced content is a joke, don't even think about it, you like your company, stop thinking on your own, dammit!

      It wasn't
  • by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:37AM (#13249626) Journal
    Clearly SpeakEasy and Earthlink don't know how to properly bribe officials to keep themselves in business. It's their own fault, really.
    • Clearly SpeakEasy and Earthlink don't know how to properly bribe officials to keep themselves in business. It's their own fault, really

      Nope, it is clear they they do not have access to a war chest built by fleecing the public via "regulation" for several decades.

      When you are talking deep pockets, they do not get deeper then the ILECs. These guys are huge, and they own most congress critters.

  • by ReformedExCon ( 897248 ) <reformed.excon@gmail.com> on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:39AM (#13249648)
    This seems like one of those grand opportunities, like the building of the U.S. highway system, where the government could step in and provide universal internet access. Such a move would make it possible for people out in the countryside to get broadband and access to high speed internet services.

    The current problem is that the vastness of America means that private companies don't find it cost effective to hook up Ma and Pa Kent out in the sticks. But under a government system, those people would get the service.

    A lot of people don't want to pay for that, I'm sure. However, if you consider that the reason you have your broadband is because it just happens that you are lucky enough to live in a densely populated area. People who run farms and are otherwise far away from the crowds of cities simply can't generate enough demand to make it worth the broadband companies' while to hook them up.

    This deregulation is the opposite direction that the FCC should be taking. There are certain things that the government ought to provide, or ought to subsidize in large amounts, and one subset of those is basic utilities. The Internet is one of the utilities that will be key in the future of our country. It makes sense that we get a jump on it now and wire (figuratively speaking. Wireless would work as well) the whole country up.
    • Some years back I wrote a back-of-the-envelope calculation totalling how much Americans had paid for internet access since the very beginning, and then contrasted that figure with the costs of fibering every point and providing eternal high-speed access as a national governmental non-profit project.

      It wasn't even close. We could have fibered every home and business in the US ten years ago at a fraction of what we have paid for "competitive" private business to do the pitiful job they do know. Capped uploads
  • Hopefully? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eric S. Smith ( 162 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:39AM (#13249653) Homepage
    and hopefully IP over power lines

    I wonder if their hope extends to hoping that broadband-over-power-lines magically doesn't spam the radio spectrum with interference. Last we heard, it did...

  • by Epistax ( 544591 ) <epistaxNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:41AM (#13249669) Journal
    Isn't that like saying only one company is allowed to make pencils, and another to make pens, and those two companies will compete? They fight with the marker company and the crayon company too?

    Is this what competition now is?

    • Isn't that like saying only one company is allowed to make pencils, and another to make pens, and those two companies will compete? They fight with the marker company and the crayon company too?

      Bad analogy. Pens and pencils and markers and crayons do similar things but not the same thing. Meanwhile, DSL and cable, from the (non-geek) customer's perspective, do the same thing. Therefore, from a market standpoint, they are direct competitors - they are both simply broadband services.

      Would it be nic

  • hopefully IP over power lines

    I've heard IP over power lines for local bandwidth delivery described as "Internet Fools Gold." Its an apt description -- so far everyone who has put money into it has lost their investment. Further, anyone with a basic understanding of radio should understand that a long unshielded wire is also known as an antenna. IP over power lines is fated to deliver unlawful "harmful interference" everywhere its attempted.
  • They were reaping huge profits when millions of households had second lines installed for dedicated lines to their modems.

    Now they cry foul when someone wants to use their line for something other than a dialup modem.

    I wish our government would get a backbone and do things like they did in South Korea. They went from barely any broadband to broadband everywhere in less than 10 years.

    • They also spent alot of money to do so that personally I don't think our government should be spending. Also, the cost of wiring the entire country up would cost-prohibitive considering the size of South Korea compared to US.
  • by BCW2 ( 168187 )
    Every time a heavily regulated industry is deregulated, it costs me more money. Like my cable bill that has trippled. It also causes catastrophic collapse, does anyone remember the savings and Loan crash in the 80's? How about the airline industry, that business model is so bad now that the taxpayers are keeping them all alive because the can't make money on a bet. Congress needs to get a clue. When they relaxed regulation of utilities my bills went up and service went down. This happens every time because
    • As someone who remembers how "long-distance" phone calls were once a rare and expensive thing to do, I think deregulation of telecommunications (and the breakup of the Bell system monopoly) were a really good thing for consumers.
      • I think it was the creation of competition that lowered the costs for long distance more than anything else. Remember when people used to freak out if you made a long distance call? Nowaways it's cheaper to call someone out of state than it is to call someone on the other side of the county.
    • Phooey.

      Your cable bill has tripled? Are you getting more channels than you used to? Why don't you switch to satellite if you're unhappy? Or, wait a couple of years for the telephone company to start providing TV.

      The Savings and Loan crash was mainly because the federal government wasn't charging enough for the FSLIC insurance -- normally you pay more for insurance on high-risk activities.

      The old airlines have been in trouble because they're having trouble comp
      • How is there a 'market' for DSL if the telco is the only provider? Competing with another market that happens to offer a similar service (cable, etc) doesn't count.

        In the UK, we have a pretty well-regulated telecoms sector, and I for one am happy about it. I have over 50 DSL ISPs to choose from, and there's a decent amount of competition.
        • That's not even remotely economically sound. DSL is a product, not a market unto itself.

          Nobody actually wants to buy DSL service -- they want to buy internet service. DSL and cable modems are competitors and are thus in the same market.

          A good test of whether you have the market definition right is to assume that there was only one provider of all the goods in the market. If that provider was able to set the price whereever it wanted, then you probably have the right market definition.

          DSL service does not
    • Congress needs to get a clue. When they relaxed regulation of utilities my bills went up and service went down. This happens every time because greed will always overcome intelligent business practices.

      Congress knows exactly what it is doing, and every congressperson probably understands those consiquences perfectly.

      You erroneously assume your "representative" gives a hoot about you, the increast costs you bear, or the inherent unfairness and inaccessiblity of a monopoly marketplace.

      They don't. The care fa
    • That's not entirely true. What's required is thoughtful, gradual, and appropriate deregulation. Some markets function best with minimal interference, some very quickly end up with massive failures.

      For example, deregulation of the airline industry sped the commoditization of airfare. It was done a little carelessly (hence the lack of preparation for a commoditized market), though not as badly as the energy deregulation debacle in California. Any change in the regulatory landscape always present opportun
  • Everyone seems to be viewing these things from the point of view if the consumer. If you look at it from the telco's POV, they are have spent billions of dollars over many years to build and an infrastructure, then the government comes along and says "good job, you must lease that infrastructure to your competitors for $X".

    Capitalism isn't just about consumers, it's also about businesses. Telco's do have competition from cable and soon to be/hopefully wimax.

    Remeber, the who point of capitalism is that if
    • Fine, let them buy the land and air rights for all the places the local governments have let them put up poles and wires.

      Right now you have the cable companies with the fast lines but no servers allowed at home and the dsl companies with slower speeds that can increase and host servers if you switch to a business-level dsl. that's a duopoly and its not real competition.
    • Capitalism isn't just about consumers, it's also about businesses.

            And business is about making money, and fuck the customer oh sorry the consumer, right?
    • Oh, the incumbents will do everything possible to try to fuck up WiMax, you just know it. WiFi isn't a practical threat outside a few urban cores, yet they fight that too.

      Changing laws in the middle of the game isn't great, that's true. But that just makes it all the worse if DSL should be changed back to being more heavily regulated at some point in the future, but the FCC still decides to deregulate it now. DSL is a natural monopoly. DSL line owners should be forced to share [wikipedia.org]. Period.

    • spent billions of dollars over many years to build and an infrastructure

      Taxpayer's dollars.

      some other company will come along and find a way to provide the same or better service for a lower price

      If only this were the case. Any other company that wants to compete will find it difficult if not impossible to have access to the public rights-of-way in order to lay their own infrastructure. That is the reason that these regulations were originally put in place: an attempt to level the playing field, and make

    • Re:Unfairness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UnrepentantHarlequin ( 766870 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @11:10AM (#13249986)
      Remeber, the who point of capitalism is that if the telco's start to get greedy and turn up the prices too much, some other company will come along and find a way to provide the same or better service for a lower price. There's a natural equilibrium.
      The telcos were given, by the government, a monopoly on telephone service. They had government assent, and in some cases assistance, in installing their infrastructure. They had an advantage that no competitor could possibly have. This advantage raises the cost of entry to the market to staggering levels. A classic free market depends on that market being accessible to competitors -- and due to the required and pre-existing infrastructure, this one isn't.

      No company is going to be able to install the nationwide infrastructure that the telcos have -- it would be a multi-trillion-dollar investment if it was even possible given the amount of disruption to everyday life (digging up streets, etc.) that would be required. It was built piece by piece during the monopoly era, funded by a combination of tax money and monopoly profits, over a period of 90 years. The only way to participate in the DSL market is through the existing infrastructure.

      To anyone who thinks Bell Telephone was a benign monopoly, well, you're wrong. I remember all too well the days when you had one choice of long distance carrier -- AT&T -- and you paid whatever they felt like charging. I remember when a 3-minute call to a town 15 miles away cost $1.63 (my parents made sure I'd remember). I remember when you were legally prohibited from owning a telephone; you had to rent them from the phone company, and since they had a monopoly there, too, they had no reason to offer anything more than desk, wall, and "princess" styles, and a handful of colors (about 5), so they didn't. I remember when long distance calls were something you made on special occasions, birthdays and holidays, not how you chatted with your friends for hours. I remember when they required you to get permission before connecting so much as an answering machine, and argued that allowing people to plug in their own hardware would cause the entire national phone network to collapse. (funny, it's still there) The Bell monopoly was never benevolent.

      It is just mind-blowing that the federal government is redefining "competition" as "closing down multiple profitable companies competing in a given market and turning that market over to a single monopoly."
  • by cfulmer ( 3166 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:44AM (#13249719) Homepage Journal
    The FCC already classifies cable-modem service as an 'information service' under the telecom act. (See the recent Brand-X decision from the US Supreme Court.) If cable modem service is an information service, then I see no reason that DSL isn't -- they carry exactly the same thing.

    The real problem here is that there's not a whole lot of in-between: either you're an information service and barely regulated, or you're a telecommunications service and heavily regulated. To me, the scariest thing about the 'information service' classification is that it allows the carrier to decide what to carry and how to do it.

        For example, your cable company starts offering a VoIP service -- what's to keep it from degrading Vonage's VoIP service? What about when they degrade IP video feeds that compete with their own pay-per-view services?

        Antitrust law can take care of some of this problem, but it's a hard case to make.
  • In my area there is 1 cable provider, Adelphia, and to get a static ip from them you first need to "upgrade" to a business line which is $99.99 plus pay an additional $20.00 per static ip for 6000/768.

    Right now my DSL is $60.00 a month for 6000/768 and it comes with a static ip.

    The FCC should start regulating the cable companies and stop worrying about the dsl companies.
    • My DSL connection is 5000/512 and costs $60 a month also - I could have had it for less but refused to sign a two-year contract, as I figure two years from now 5MB will be a *slow* connection ;-)

      My ISP also gives me a static IP, has support guys who understand what I mean when I ask for a reverse DNS entry and doesn't care if I run a server as long as I don't exceed their rather generous bandwidth limit and they don't have to support the box.

      Wonder how many of these options I'll have available when the

  • I've been using a local ISP for several years now. While they've done some odd things (blocking ports without notice), it was great to have a human being to talk to with simply a phone call. I also have a static IP address so that I can run my own web server. The speed has been great, especially the latest no-cost upgrade to 1.5 Mb. True, cable is faster, but I've loved the flexibility of DSL.

    Sadly, if Qwest is no longer forced to cooperate with ISPs, my account will simply be closed and I'll be forc
  • I jest, but I really miss the old days of the late 90's where mom and pop ISPs were everywhere and the internet was independant of major corporations. I'm not as nostalgic seeing I have a connection 100 times faster what I did then on dialup but I feel that letting these companies create monopolies will only stagnate the technology and we won't "fiber to the curb" anytime soon.
  • My turn for a rant. I have DBC DSL in chicago. Originally, i wanted it on my house line, but SBC coudn't get my house line installed in time. I'm on call tech support, so work provided a second line with DSL on it. It was ordered a week after my main line, but still got installed before my main line did. Whatever, it's free. Fast forward 12 months, my work is no longer paying for the second DSL line. Fine, was nice to get it for free, but I can pay, no problem.

    1) I get to pay the switching charge sin
  • I remember the reasoning behind the telecom act of 1996. It went something like, "deregulating telecommunications will allow there to be more competition, therefore reducing prices."

    Yeah... right. That really happened. Is this then the deregulation of deregulation? It seems that this time the deregulation will reestablish the monopolies, but without government regulation. At least before AT&T was broken up, there was some regulation, and they couldn't gouge people TOO much.

    I guess I'll just continue usi

  • I don't really mind either way how it works, but I think there should be a level playing ground. Why should DSL companies be regulated as a non-information service when cable companies have escaped that regulation. Seems pretty silly to me.

    Change things one way or the other, but regulate or don't regulate both DSL and cable the same way!
  • by Malc ( 1751 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:53AM (#13249820)
    Don't you think that telcos might like third parties? It's easy money. They don't have to support end users, and so they get a fixed fee every month for very little continued effort.
    • Why rely on a big, greedy company with an infrastructure monopoly to allow fair use of 'their' lines when you can force their hand???
    • Because they're fixed on what they can charge, and when it's problems with the lines they end up having to go out and fix it anyway. You can't squeeze a company like Covad the way you can squeeze regular customers. Also, they're competition, pure and simple. I'm sure once they get the FCC to allow them to kick their competition to the curb they'll raise their prices in no time. History has shown that the only way to keep prices in check with these phone companies is to have competition.
  • by MeauxToo ( 644228 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:54AM (#13249826)

    As a Speakeasy customer who relies on their static to get work done, I was greatly alarmed by this article on Ars when it was posted yesterday. So, I did a little digging, and found this article [com.com]. From it, I learned that the FCC is now only considering dropping the requirements that carriers must resell their finished DSL services, not the actual CLECs that rent the lines and have phsyical equipment in COs such as Covad. The following quote from the article illisutrates their evolving position:

    The commissioners have been behind closed doors trying to work out an agreement that both Republicans and Democrats can support, the source said. At least one of the Democrats--either Michael J. Copps or Jonathan S. Adelstein--are likely to agree with the change in the rules if certain conditions are met, the source said.

    Specifically, Democrats are looking for a transitional period where ISPs would still be guaranteed access to wholesale DSL service. They also want the FCC order to expressly state that deregulating DSL would only apply to Internet service providers (ISP) access and would not impact access to local loops from competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC).

    The current rules allow ISPs, such as EarthLink, to buy finished DSL services at wholesale prices. The ISPs then sell customers Internet services, such as Web access, spam filtering and specialized content on their portals using the DSL service from the phone companies. By contrast, CLECs such as Covad, only lease the copper infrastructure from the phone companies. These carriers provide the infrastructure equipment to create the DSL service.

    Since Speakeasy resells Covad services (or at least they do in my case), Speakeasy isn't going anywhere. Granted, no agreement has been met yet, but it appears that a block of the FCC Commissioners is looking out for us. It is a bit disturbing to FCC mucking with these rules in anyway. It is clear that they don't understand the degree of reliance folks have on these services for their livelihoods.

  • Speakeasy fills an important niche, but by and large opening the DSL networks has done very little for the consumer. If you don't own the infrastructure you can only compete on customer service, and generally this means you'll be offering a premium service.

    It's nice to have this as an option, but it really doesn't encourage innovation in the way that free markets are intended to. Having a lot of resellers working off the same network has not made upgrades to that network happen any faster, and may in fa

  • So, without competition over DSL and Cable, will consumers be "allowed" to have municipal WiFi, or will the monopolies still cry foul?
  • by Venner ( 59051 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @10:59AM (#13249876)
    What about areas where the is no competetion (with cable, etc)? It seems to me like this ruling will be ambivalent at best for people in large metro areas, but rural America - whose broadband infrastructure is still spotty at best, and often unavailable - gets screwed.

    I grew up and my parents still live in a small town (~1200 people) in northeast Ohio. Broadband cable became available from Adelphia - the only cable provider in the area - about 4 years ago, and the bargain price of $59.95/mo w/o cable TV. I convinced my folks to try it...it was only slightly more than paying for a second phone line and dial up. It was an improvement, but just barely. Terrible uptimes, slow speeds (lucky if a download broke 35kb/s), and other crap...but still not dial up.

    A couple of years ago, SBC took over the local telco, upgraded the equipment, and offered DSL to those lucky enough to live in town. 1.5m/512k service for $30 a month. I got my parents switched over and the difference is astounding. They're currently getting 3.0m/768k service for $26.95. I thought, "WOW! Broadband has become cheap, widely available, and fast!"

    Not so. I am heading back to college this fall to begin studying law. The local population near the school is about 10x the size of my home town, so i figured they had to have good broadband, eh? I called the cable company. They don't service my street. Ok. I called the telco. After initially telling me I couldn't get DSL, they called me back to say that I could, in fact, but that they had to manually verify the "rural" address by sending someone in a truck.

    In order to get DSL, I had to subscribe to local phone service. After much haggling over packacges I didn't want, I finally got them to give me *just* local service for $17/mo. 1.5mb/128k(!) will be $50/mo more; effectively, $67/mo for crappy broadband. I'm being bamboozled.

    After I had signed up for a one year commitment with the Telco, I found out that a local ISP offered DSL for $7 less per month. The moral of the story? ANYTHING that has the potential to reduce number of options available to consumers is bad. I had another choice I didn't know about...but at least it was there.
  • I've got mixed feelings about this.

    On one hand SBC has been refusing to turn up DSL in my area specifically because they've been waiting for this to happen. The hardware was in place and going through "final testing" five years ago when we first moved in. I heard this from both SBC and the town's tech guru. So if this goes through then maybe they'll finally turn us up and I can get off of dial-up.

    One the other hand, do I want SBC to have more of a monopoly then they already have?

    It wouldn't effect me so
  • Voice - Data - Voice - Data - Voice - Data... arggghhh! When will the regulators realize that it is irrelevant?

    The question is: Are companies that lay telephone lines considered natural monopolies [wikipedia.org]? If they are, then they should be regulated and should be required to lease their lines to third parties. If they are not natural monopolies then they should not be regulated and they should not be required to lesae their lines.

    Why is that so difficult? My theory is that people don't seem to understand that, i
  • Basically, this puts DSL under the same realm as cable internet. The FCC ruled that Cable did not have to be regulated in this arena and the Supreme Court upheld it. Of course I was severely dissappointed at that decision. For most of the country, there is only one cable provider per region. By not forcing it to be open, it put DSL at a disadvantage. Now the playing field has been leveled, but its not good for consumers. Sure, FTTP promises a lot, but what kind of competition will it have? Ok, so I c
  • This will hurt users in the short run, as it will reduce competition. In the UK, the incumbent has to give access, and alternative ISPs are falling over themselves to undercut each other and provide better service. This move will clearly reduce choice. Even the Russian market is more open than that proposed by the FCC - the local anti-trust regulator recently won a court case requiring incumbents to give access to alternative DSL providers.

    In the long run, though, this will hasten the implementation of W
  • by rabun_bike ( 905430 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @11:25AM (#13250144)
    If the FCC is going to deregulate DSL as a info service then the phone companies should be required to offer naked DSL. Currently, BellSouth requires all DSL customers to have a full service phone line. Other bells have the naked DSL option.
  • Take alook at the highspeed options in Asia and Europe, monopolies can provide more widely available service, at better speeds.

    The same is true of wireless. US wireless is feeble and disorganized compared to other industrial areas. Why? Because there are incentives OTHER than providing service to the customers. Vendors have "screwing your competitors" and "implementing your strategic partner's tech standard" as a non-customer-centric deliverable (eek).

    Non profit utility monpolies are a good thing. As a
  • legislation and politicians who don't give a shit about people, and will do anything they can to screw you over? I mean, time and time again, i see how normal people are trampled upon daily by corporations and yet people bend over and drop their pants to the tune of companies cashregisters.

    And before anyone starts talking about anti-Americanism etc, I live in this country and see these things on a daily basis. America is the country I know which has the least protection of it's people and the greatest pro
  • God no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZorbaTHut ( 126196 ) on Friday August 05, 2005 @11:47AM (#13250397) Homepage
    I use a DSL service that I love. They give me 1.5mbit/384kbit. Maybe it's not blazing speed, but it's fast enough. Ping times are low. The great things: I can run servers on my system. I get a static IP. And I get amazing support.

    Exhibit A: I called them up because an installation had gone wrong and I couldn't get online. Wanted to know whose fault it was. Turned out I hadn't released the DHCP properly, and it was waiting to time out, so they reset it on their end - and then I realized I hadn't written down any mirrors for my BSD distribution I was trying to get working, and didn't have any other working computers. So they tracked down a BSD distribution site for me and gave me the URL.

    Exhibit B: They have semi-supported IPv6 tunnels (in that the service is available, but is not *officially* supported - unofficially, it is supported.)

    Exhibit C: They have a server-side firewall to block incoming ports that tend to be problematical. It's configurable by the end-user. Yes, I have some control over *their firewall* on their end. (One of the options is "off entirely", for the curious.)

    How much of that would be preserved with Verizon? Fuck all.

    (Addendum: While digging through the config to see what the exact state of IPv6 was, I just realized I can change my reverse DNS entry for my static IP. Through the web interface. With full official support. I love these guys.)

    (sonic.net, for the curious.)

The following statement is not true. The previous statement is true.