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Oregon judge rules AT&T must open cables 110

Cygnus v1 writes "This story on ZDNN gives some hope to those of us waiting for our local cable companies to get on the Internet-access bandwagon now or let third parties do the work. A Portland judge ruled that AT&T, who owns a local cable network, must allow third-party ISPs to do business over their network for a fee. Some argue that AT&T's rights are being violated, but I believe that since most of the cable infrastructure was installed in cooperation with local authorities they have some right to determine how the utility will be best able to serve the public. "
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Oregon judge rules AT&T must open cables

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  • If you think that open access is such a public good, then you should lobby for the government to provide socialized bandwidth paid for by tax dollars. It is simply ridiculous to make a private company take 100% of the risk of failure on an infrastructure project while letting everyone else participate in the upside if it succeeds.

  • That's an interesting point. Local monopolies and state regulation was actually sought by the utilities themselves. AT&T in particular was glad to trade a little regulation for monopoly status at the turn of the century. They were very effective at manipulating the regulators and earning above market returns. Most people think that governments acted to restrain greedy corporations when in fact the corporations themselves manipulated the process for their own gain.

    wrt the history of telephone regulation, the Cato Institute (a libertarian think tank) has a paper someplace that talks about how AT&T did this.
  • Access lines are end user telephone connections. The LD companies control virtually none of that. LD prices are way down. I pay 9 cents a minute 24 hours a day. Ameritech (my local phone company) charges 8 cents a minute for a 15 mile call within the Chicago area - 19 cents a minute if it goes to Indiana! That's the real monopoly. And even the 9 cents would be a lot cheaper if 20-40% of it weren't going to the local telephone monopolies as access charges.
  • Does AT&T have a contractual monopoly in Portland? Most modern franchise agreements are non-exclusive. If a municipality is stupid enough to sign an exclusive one, that is their fault. There are lots of competitive cable companies out there. Plus there is satellite if there isn't one. (I think a few million people actually have those 18" dishes now). Cable companies have competition in every market/line of business they serve.
  • The editorial comment accompanying this piece is just wrong. The cable infrastructure was not installed "in cooperation" with the local government. It was installed 100% by the cable company. In fact the only role of the local government was to extort franchise fees and free cable access channels out of the cable company.

    This "open access" provision is simply a sop to AOL, which is a multi-mega-billion dollar company that could easily afford to invest in its own infrastructure if it desired. Indeed, Microsoft has done this by investing billions in cable companies. AOL just wants a free ride. It want AT&T to spend billions to replace their old cable infrastructure with new high capacity data grade fiber and then sell access to them at wholesale prices. Of course if cable modems flop or are destroyed by DSL, AOL will lose nothing and AT&T will be left holding the bag. How fair is this? AOL wants the upside for themselves and the downside for AT&T.

    People will say that phone companies are required to resell access to all comers, which is true. Cable is a vastly different animal for many reasons which I've outlined before but will be happy to do so again if people need a refresher.

    BTW: I do not work for AT&T or any other cable company or ISP.
  • Most cable contracts are NOT exclusive these days. The franchise agreement only gives the cable company access to public rights of way. Many, many communities have granted competitive cable franchises. Here in Chicago Ameritech has many competitive franchises in the suburbs and a company called 21st Century is wiring most of the north lakefront with competitive cable.
  • Many of you seem to be forgetting that AT&T and TCI are corporations. And when corporations of a certain size wish to merge, the state has the right to refuse to allow that merger, or place conditions upon it, if that merger would harm the consumer.

    Like corporate taxes, that's just part of the price that the owners of AT&T and TCI, the shareholders, pay for a very special privilege that the state has granted them: the privilege of limited liability. If I invest a thousand dollars in AT&T, then no matter what AT&T does, no matter how much debt it racks up and cannot pay, no matter how many fines it finds itself subjected to, I am at worst out a thousand dollars. I can never be held civilly or criminally liable for what AT&T has done with my thousand dollars.

    The granting of limited liability is what enables the vast pooling of capital that makes the monopoly possible. Since this beast, the corporation, is a creation of the state, the state has both the right and the responsibility to impose whatever conditions it deems fit to keep it under control.

    If you want to be a monopolist, try doing it without limited liability and see how far you get.
  • Posted by wtr:

    Bzzt! Wrong.

    AT&T did not buy TCI because they wanted to regain their monopoly, they bought it so they could get direct access to end customers to sell them PHONE SERVICE (as well as other services) without going through the local phone company.

    This was a VERY smart move, and should lead to lower local phone service prices in the long run.

    Right now I am VERY irritated at both the local phone company and cable company. Here I am, in the heart of Silicon Valley and I CAN'T GET DSL or cable modem service. Fscking pathetic.

    All this noise about local phone co / cable co opening up the local loop is masking the real issue. We need to upgrade our entire data infrastructure in this country. We need fiber into the home and a switching system that can handle it.

    @Home CAN be deployed in a way that gives everyone the bandwidth they want / need, but because it's VERY expensive to do so, they usually cut corners and end up throttling anyone that actually USES their service. DSL actually has the same issue - it depends on how the system is deployed - not the technology itself.
  • Posted by Sir_Twist:

    Ahh.. but you can't really say that PG&E is a true monopoly now that the government is saying that PUC's are required to divest. I worked for PGE - OREGON, not CA, throughout its divesteture and merger with Enron Corporation and saw a number of GOOD and VERY VERY BAD things happen.

    One of the good things was the allowance for private parties to get in on the bandwagon. The bad parts are the managers all wanting to keep using the private resources....Or how PUC'd DON'T have to purchase power back from existing clients any longer. And you're right.. even though PG&E and other PUC's aren't regulated any longer, it's going to be a long long time until you - in a rural area - have the option of which power co to go with.. and it's going to be the same way for those in cities for a while.

    Oh well.. the worlds a mess... What's new.
  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    Word is that the FCC is thinking of similar measures as they go about approving AT&T's other cable purchases. The thinking is that if AT&T can build enough of a private network, they could exercise monopoly power for the first time since the Baby Bell breakup.

    Oregon's just ahead of the curve on this one. And really, it won't matter much to AT&T. Sure, if they have a proprietary network that no one else can access, they have all that revenue from the captive audience. But if they have to open up the network to third parties, they have all that leasing revenue.

    Either way, they have a lot of revenue. So don't cry for AT&T. They'll do just fine either way. Just make sure they're providing the services that people want and need.

  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    Maybe....but consider that AT&T doesn't have a monopoly yet. If they fail to learn from the RBOCs' (Regional Bell Operating Companies) mistakes, then they deserve to be screwed on their lease costs.

    But AT&T has a smart management team. I think they'll be able to cut themselves a much better leasing deal than the Bells did, and the revenue will cover at least the maintenance costs, if not more.

    On the other hand, my crystal ball's in the shop, so who knows? We'll see how it plays out.

  • Cable companies have monopoly franchises, in most cities. Now, all of the sudden, they're concerned about the government getting involved.

    When you bargain with the devil, you deal with him on his terms...

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here []!

  • Lubbock is, to the best of my knowledge, the only spot in the US that still has competing power companies. Not the California-style provider selection/deregulation, but two separate grids & sets of wires.

    Is it coincidence that they also have lower power rates than comparable areas? (supposedly, you can chart the increase in rates as a function of distance from Lubbock).

    Similar things happen with cable. It is now illegal to grant a monopoly franchise. Guess who gets better prices & service, towns with multiple providers or towns with just one?

    My father in law waited years for cable in a rural area. The county granted a second franchise, and the first cable company finally called, offering to install it the next week. For some reason, he said no, and called the second :)

  • supporters
    past polls

    The TCI dealThe TCI deal
    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @01:42PM EDT
    >The FCC told ATT that it must open its pipes >when ATT was buying TCI. ATT's reply was if >we have to open up then we will walk away >from then deal. In an effort to have compition in >the local telephone markets the FCC aggreed >not to force ATT to open up its pipes. I believe t>his was written into the contract, I am not sure.
    >This judge does not have the juristiction to >make this ruling, ATT was given permission to >close its pipes by the FCC. The ruling will be >overturned.

    Sorry no.. The FCC issue has little or nothing to do with this case. It's basically an issue of local cable regulation.

    Do us all a favor and actually read the court case next time, ok?

  • "We don't want to be barred from using a pipe just because someone else owns it."

    Can you say Rearden Metal?

  • I don't believe that this is bad. I think in this particular instance it is a good thing. For instance, witness that AT&T has bought TCI the cable company that serves Oregon, California, and Washington. AT&T has made a deal with Microsoft (a mistake) and you can well imagine what kind of OS they will be supporting for @HOME cable. In this case, AT&T and Microsoft can pretty much control the access to the Internet. If you want high bandwidth you will have to go through them.

    Coupled with the fact that DSL rollout by GTE has hit a snag. The newer neighborhoods in Oregon are all on multiplexed lines. DSL doesn't work yet with these multiplexed line so if you want high bandwidth you'll have to go with cable modems. Like I said, at this point AT&T and Microsoft call the shots. Thankfully, Multinomah County got a clue and moved to make sure that everyone will have fair access to the ISP of their choice.

    I wouldn't cry for these phone or cable companies as it is they make substantial profit from all of us. If you remember, these utilities have been unregulated for awhile, but teh prices seems to have gone up. Sure they provide more channels these days, but really they are probably getting some profit from giving out those new channels.

    All in all, I think this is a big win for the people.

  • by mattdm ( 1931 )
    I'm not sure what the availability of more than one channel has to do with it. The equipment still needs to support bidirectional communications, you still need routers and switches and servers.


  • This is bad, for several reasons.

    First, the cable infrastructure isn't there yet. It's possible that your local cable company isn't offering internet access because they're an evil monopoly. But it's more likely because they have a old one-way network which would require significant upgrades. Significant COSTLY upgrades. Before there's any incentive to actually do so, there has to be some guarantee that it's going to be worthwhile. Now, it looks like as soon as they've got it built, AOL will zip in and steal customers. Great. So your local cable company is now much less likely to bother with the necessary upgrades.

    Second, this is going to add a lot of costs. Right now, the cable 'net companies basically have private networks, and all the existing infrastructure was designed with that in mind. How is this change going to be implemented? Multiple different DHCP servers? Complicated routers and filters to determine whose traffic goes where? Will the alternate providers share the same upstream bandwidth?
    The other possiblity is that there will be no actual changes to the network -- you'll just get a different home page and your bill will come from a different company.

    Which brings me to my final point: this doesn't benefit high-end users in any way. If it's just a matter of changed home page, that might be exciting for AOL people with no clue, but otherwise isn't even interesting.

    And if it is a matter of actually providing seperate IP services, what would you gain? I have MediaOne RR, and they have plenty of upstream bandwidth and good outside-world connectivity. I've never had problems, but people who have complaints usually are complaining about their connection the M1's network -- not the internet at large. So with an alternate provider, you still might have these problems, but probably you wouldn't be able to contact tech support directly -- you'd have to go through your provider, who would talk to the actual cable people. The other potential problem with cable internet is overloaded shared nodes -- again, not something that's helped by alternate providers.

    And of course, this is very unlikely to actually cause cable internet to become available where it isn't already.

    In a few years, the situation will be different,
    with more infrastructure in place and wider competition from DSL. At that point, this should be re-evaluated. For now, it's not any good for anyone except AOL.


  • Normally I'd hate to see a lot of govt. intervention, but in the case of AT&T, they're just so darn GREEDY it seems regulation really is the lesser evil. And via leasing, it's hard to see how AT&T can truly cry too much if they have to share.
  • This is a typical example of the government getting involved where it shouldn't.

    Its one thing for the government to require competitive access to a company's network if that network's installation was subsidized by the government. Requiring a telco to share its lines with CLEC's and things like that is okay -- because taxes payed for a lot of the copper.

    There's not a dime of government money that goes to pay for these networks. ATT payed for it, ATT should be able to do whatever they please with it.

    Now, I live in an area where my cable company has upgraded their system to fiber. I can get digital cable and all that. But no Internet access. None planned (so they're saying.) Would it be nice if another company could force Comcast to open their lines so I can get it through them? Yes. Certainly. But if Comcast knows BEFORE putting the network in that they have to do that, and can't recoup the costs of the upgrade, why would they do it?

    Sure, digital cable is a nice plus, but there's no competition here or in most of the country for cable service. They upgraded the system because of the added services BEYOND cable they can offer. Initially those will probably be more pay-per-view channels and the like, and someday will be Internet access and other stuff.

    Local telephone service has been a charity most of the century. Cable isn't. Unless the government is going to subsidize these networks and regulate the industry again, how can anyone expect a ruling like this to help the majority of the country that hasn't gotten upgraded networks?

  • Correction: When will some of you get it through your head? Not all cable systems are 'shared bandwidth' that you are thinking of. While the pipes running around the nodes have their maximal bandwidth (typically somewhere between 8 - 15 Mbit) and _a lot_ of the cable modem people are selling their services on a 'full open' pipe to the customer (a la 'here's a ten meg pipe, use it') there are plenty of other companies (notably those on Terayon Cable Systems and SOME of the road runner systems) that do not sell the big pipe for all to share. These newer setups sell a piece of pipe (in 56k increments) to the customers and can guarantee bandwidth (if they want). While it is up to the provider to ensure they don't oversell their bandwidth, they are not letting a couple of wares leeches steal all the bandwidth. And don't confuse this with metered usage either. (the example is that most of the people I know with cable modems here have a 128k connection, 128k down, 64 up or some similar thing - and while the entire pipe is shared, they (the ISP) has not sold 200Meg worth of use (they still have not reached a point where it's a concern))
    So, you're not all at the mercy of the two or three warez pirates on the cable modem system. Let's keep up here people.

    Bad Thing. And I predict will be overturned. To expect AT&T or any other cable company to just rollover and turn over all the infrastructure they've been pouring billions of dollars into is ridiculous. And, if the decision stands, how quickly do you think that these cable providers will be upgrading the out of date systems to handle two-way data. I can tell you, plans will grind to a deafening halt. If there's no pipes to run through, they can't share them, can they?

    The FCC, in it's recent comments, has decided that it will not interfere, or allow interference in, the internet industry, at least not while William Kennard is in charge. Once all the infrastructure is in place, that will be the time to allow other peopel to use it, but let the cable companies get things built and running first. This is a Bad Thing that's been done.

    OK.... flame retardant clothes are on...

  • "If there is one place that should have a monopoly standing is the cable/telephone/electrical wire infrastructures. Otherwise we would have wires all over the place."

    Much of the regulatory structure we have in place today (in the US of A) stems from exactly that fact. Go back and look at some pictures of the electrified areas of New York City in the 1890's - poles, wires, insulators, and ditches everywhere. In some places the wires were so thick you couldn't see the sky. Or read some accounts of the growth of the underground cable networks in NY, Boston, and Chicago - utility crews digging up streets in the middle of the night, and battling it out with pickhandles when they met crews from competing utilities.

    Finally the residents and business owners got fed up with these goings on, and this is one of the reasons monopoly right-of-ways were granted (yes, I know there were other reasons {not least the desire of the big bosses to grab, I mean tax} and that this is oversimplified). I would absolutely like to see competition in cable and telephone service, right down to the infrastructure. But I _don't_ want 20 cables on the pole behind my house, and I suspect most people don't want that either.

  • I personally feel that ISPs are dinosaurs -- their primary reason for existing is to provide the 'other end' to your point-to-point modem connection. What happens when your computer is "directly connected" to the internet? There are only a few things that I can think of:

    1. DHCP -- they give you an IP address. I would argue that DHCP will go away as IPv6 becomes more prominent.

    2. Mail server -- why can't this be just any company on the internet that you want to contract?

    3. News server -- ditto.

    4. Web hosting -- ditto.

    As far as the 'competition' argument goes, I'd argue that if you can also get internet service over power lines or DSL, then you have competition.
  • Hmm... on one hand, it looks bad. On the other...

    what would happen if anyone who provides telephony or data over cable tv networks to "open up" their networks? The obverse also has to happen.

    Say AOL wants access to @Home users as part of a "choice". Fine, @Home feels screwed over. But, AOL has a big network of dialup access points. @Home then needs to figure out how to use AOL's private stuff for their own advantage.

    If I had a laptop, and wanted to check my @Home e-mail from some remote location, it would be way cool to have the list of AOL dialup access points for me to call into for the cost of a local phone call, or ATT GlobalNet, or whatever...

    Everyone is seeing it as a one-way street against @Home (@Home is not owned by AT&T, btw. AT&T, by way of purchasing Comcast & TCI, now has a good share of @Home stock, but so do several other cable companies...). The Common Carrier law isn't supposed to be a one-way street, right? We'll see how this one will play out.

    It does force @Home, etc., as content providers, to now stand on their own two legs...

    Are us cable Net customers paying subsidized prices for our network connections via cable?

    Wouldn't it work the same way it currently works with multiple local telco service providers, where you still get a bill from the local telco monopoly to pay for your connection (or that local connection cost is included as a line item on your local telco provider's bill)?

    Fine, I (foolishly) subscribe to AOL via my cable modem. I still pay Cox (or TCI or whatever) the cost for the network hookup and probably modem rental. What is that cost going to be? Will that cost be the same whether I subscribe to cable or not?

    Will this aid other xDSL providers besides the local Bells, like Covad and Northwave, who usually have to have you pay to have another phone line activated to your home because the local telco won't configure your existing POTS line for xDSL since you're not going with their xDSL service?
  • Cable monopolies are bad, and it's time open access happened. Let's open access the _TV_ side also... I'd like the see LittleJoe Cable compete with TCI and charge half as much for more channels. TCI adds tons of shopping channels but can't add real channels due to 'lack of space' HA. It's not physically possible to do this. They add the shopping channels because they get good money for it FROM the shopping channels. You cannot get around the impossibility of sending two different signals down the same pipe.

    My parents live where TCI is *finally* upgrading the plant from 37 channels. No more silly rationalizing dropping The Weather Channel by saying that there is enough "local" (i.e., Bellingham) coverage from Seattle & Vancouver TV stations and radio. The one quasi-local Bellingham station, KVOS-12, blows.

    It allows stupid things like Trinity Broadcast Network from putting in a low-power UHF transmitter at the fringes of a broadcast area ostensibly to "serve" that small footprint area, but with the real, but unstated, intent to take advantage of the law that forces cable cos to transmit their signal on cable *without* the local broadcaster having to pay for that access (another double-edged sword). So, in the Seattle area, TBN gets away with paying for a low-cost low-power UHF license (compared to what the other broadcast stations pay), low-power equipment, and on cable TV from Federal Way to Edmonds! I'm sure that's the way it is in other areas (but not here in San Diego... They're only on cable 5 hrs a day, at night (good thing...don't want my kids watching that CRAP. I don't care that it's Xtian. It's that it is *so* BAD and CHEEZY!))

  • The local govment provides the franchise. The local govment can modify the terms of that franchise. It is theirs, *not* the cable cos.

    Can local municipalities modify "national" building codes? They sure can and do. Can local municipalities have stricter laws than state or federal? Sure can.

    Don't like it? Then vote them out.
  • Actually, where I live, the poles are the responsibility (I'd say property, if I were 100% certain) of NSP, the electric company. USWest and MediaOne simply lease pole space from them.
  • So, is the fact that our cable company in town not only owns the actual lines but also the service a monopoly? It seems like it, but who knows (NAL)? If not, then why is a Telco that owns both telephone lines and the telephone service a monopoly? I've seen some here say that this is because of the government subsidization of the phone lines. However, shouldn't the DOJ split up monopolies even if they have nothing to do with the government directly? I guess I should learn something about anti-trust. ;-)
  • He's saying that if local authorities allowed *any* company to offer phone, cable, cable modem, electricity, etc. then there would be a lot more competition. I think that's a good idea. Where we live, due to government regulation, there is only *one* power company--this is a government sponsored monopoly. Another company tried to get our local government to deregulate the industry so they could compete in our area but no such luck.

    So, in this case, the government is forcing a bad deal on consumers--not the other way around.

    Also, I believe a privately owned business *does* indeed have's private property of a citizen.
  • I *think* I understand the arguments against it: the cable companies *own* the actual lines privately (as opposed to phone lines which are subsidized). However, you're right about the competition. As I said elsewhere in this thread, our local government is sponsoring the monopoly on cable (as well as phone and electricity). The government regulation is actually causing *less* competition. Then, they try to undo their own regulations with more regulation! Oh well, I guess that's politics for you.
  • by gddavidson ( 7855 ) on Monday June 07, 1999 @06:38AM (#1863643)
    The Oregon court has made a very smart, forward looking decision. It is absolutely critical that ISPs have access to both the Cable and DSL infrastructure. Bell and the rest of them dream of the day that they will *force* their cable and dsl subscribers to look at _their_ portal ... and _their_ ads. They will force everyone through _their_ proxy server. They will choose what sorts of email servers they will support. And which sort of IP packets they will let through.

    It is important that people wake up and realize the value of competition. Persons using dial-up access now have CHOICE. If you don't like your ISP, you can choose one of the other 15 that service your area. This competition has resulted in improved service, as each ISP strives to add the bullet points that another ISP may currently have and to fix problems that may be causing customers to complain.

    Local Loop (the physical medium that connects a home or business to an ISP) and the IP Services provided by the ISP are two different animals. Bell is using their monopoly on the one (high speed local loop) to gain a monopoly on the other (IP Services.)

    Let's hope that other states follow the lead of Oregon.
  • I am shocked at the fact that this ruling will pass. I don't think that the government should have the power to "force" companies to "play nice". Competition is a good thing only if the companies competiting are doing so on a level playing field. In this case, AT&T bid for and won a cable company, they didn't have the government "give" them the company. All other companies such as AOL and other ISP's could have bid for the company themselves. If an ISP was too small to bid, they could have formed a alliance with many small companies or a large one, such as AOL to compete with evil and greedy AT&T.
    Free enterprise is not about allowing companies to share in investments and infrastructure that they did not put anything into, and if I have a business, I should have the right to sell my goods and services to only those I choose to. Remember, the primary "job" of any company should be to make money and as much of it as they can. If this "job" is taken seriously, the customers will make their opinions known by taking their business elsewhere.
  • >I don't think this is the issue. I don't think >the would-be competitive ISP's want a wire all >the way to your house anymore than they do today >with your phone line.

    >What appears to be at issue here is that the >data/video cable service is bundled with the ISP >service the way that local/long distance service >used to be.

    This would be no problem if the local ACCESS provider did addressing, routing and DNS properly. My shaw@home service doesn't even follow the RFC's when it comes to forming host names out of DHCP-generated IP numbers. Just IP numbers with routing are enough, and please either produce proper names or don't do any DNS at all...

    Permanent IP numbers are much to be preferred, but long-lease DHCP isn't provided the names are static or at least RFC-compliant. Seems to me outfits like @home don't hire knowledgeable netadmins...
  • Anonymous Coward spluttered:

    > OK give me one reason why your hostname being affects anything. It doesn't. (snip,snip)

    First, it's bogus. Periods are not allowed in hostnames. On the other hand, xx-xx-xx-xx...
    is OK. Other ISP's replace the dots with dashes, so why not @Home?

    RFC 1101 is quite explicit about the bogosity of the prepended dotted IP form:

    "The new syntax expands the set of names to allow leading digits, so long as the resulting representations do not conflict with IP addresses in decimal octet form. For example, 3Com.COM and 3M.COM are now legal, although is not. See [HR] for details."

    Second, it breaks sendmail and other things.
    The trouble is that to use multiple mail accounts on @Home, with reasonable usernames, you have to use a Windoze or Mac binary Netscape plugin. I use Linux, with multiple accounts on it, a concept which @Home seem to be unable to conceive of. However, I prefer to use SMPT directly rather than POP3 or IMAP, since after all it comes up running by default after a typical Linux install. Sendmail wants a proper name in /etc/HOSTNAME.

    Anonymous Coward further muttered:

    "Static hostnames are also something that is definitely not needed. The service isn't for running your little servers. This is the only reason why you would want such a thing. Wasting their time on something as trivial as that would truly be stupid."

    What crap! Why should I want to use a dumb server when my Linux box is perfectly capable of handling everything without cumbersome client-server protocols? I don't want my kids' e-mail residing on some distant server. A permanent IP and name would solve all the problems.

    Anonymous Coward further whines:

    "Oh yeah, in case you hadn't noticed, your comment has nothing to do with what the previous person was articulating. I'm sorry, I'm just tired of people setting up their little home and small business IP networks and deciding they should tell nationwide providers how they should run their networks."

    The arrogance is so breathtaking it hardly deserves a response. Troll stuff. The point is that the cable service comes to a home, and all that I want is access to the Internet, just like I've had in my office for a dozen years. All I want is DNS and routing. I want no server or portal foisted on me by the local monopoly, especially when that monopoly wants to force me into using a proprietary architecture. That's not what the Internet is about.

    This Anonymous Coward is just a corporate troll.

  • A ruling like this makes it possible to select a high speed provider that will humbly give me a dynamic IP and NO OTHER CRAP.

    Exactly. Too bad the @Home service around here screws up the hostname contrary to the RFC's,
    as I explained in the "Boy, what a mess" thread.

    A valid static name would be highly desirable to make SMTP work properly. None of this cumbersome host-client POP/IMAP stuff for me.
  • I personally feel that ISPs are dinosaurs ...

    1. DHCP -- they give you an IP address. I would argue that DHCP will go away as IPv6 becomes more prominent.

    Yup. But DNS will have to be efficient.

    2. Mail server -- why can't this be just any company on the internet that you want to contract?

    There is no need for a mail server if you run SMTP and your computer stays up a lot. E-mail is such a light load on a local network that bandwidth issues are insignificant. The permanent name is important here.

    3. News server -- ditto.
    4. Web hosting -- ditto.

    Yup. These two are heavy traffic generators, and most providers probably won't let you host them at home; also, there is a lot of difference in what different ISP's provide for these services. I can just imagine the "censorship" very large cable providers would indulge in if they were your only source for Usenet, etc. We need freedom to choose.
  • Corporations have no rights, only priviledges. By the good grace of the American people shareholders are given the gift of limited liability, which protects them from criminal charges when the corporation does something illegal. So, when corporations start to screw around with consumers, the government has every right to do something about it.

    Corporations do not have rights, but individuals do. Specifically, when I say that something is owned by a given corporation, what that means is that it is owned by the shareholders of that corporation. I don't see what limited liablitity has to do with this at all. Are you saying that there would be nothing wrong with the government confiscating all of AT&T's assets? After all, AT&T is just a corporation... It can't own anything.

    Think about it.
  • AT&T has made it very clear that they intend to become a monopoly again. They plan to start offering cable telephone access (have tried it in CA) and are going to fight tooth and nail to keep any outsiders out... If you want cable telephone, you will HAVE to use AT&T Long Distance. If you want Net access, you HAVE to use AT&T's @HOME.

    AT&T is acting like a phone company, but doesn't want to be regulated like a phone company. The Telecomunications Deregulation Act of 1996 stated that ALL phone companies have to open their networks to competition.

    - My thoughts

  • And isn't MCI/WorldCom also trying to regain the monopoly that AT&T once had?

  • An interesting comment, to be sure, almost edging on flame-bait. Are monopolies dead? Do we really want them to be dead?

    As a resident of Southern California, I voted to open up the electrical power market to competition. But that was two years ago and no one has stepped in to compete with SoCal Edison. I can only buy my water from the City, my local telephone is GTE and my sewers... And frankly, I don't want or need these choices. It's just something I don't give a damn about. Can you imagine having to choose which company to buy sewer service from? I'll give you that cable and cable internet is a little more important, but to say that you're "an advocate for freedom of choice for the consumer" is just a little bit of an overstatement. Monopolies are far from dead, and really, we don't want them dead!

    Is AT&T foolish? NO!!! The desire to be a monopoly is the American Company's dream. Every company who wants to stay in business must have the desire to become a monopoly as their top goal. That's what business is. It's the desire to be so good that everyone else is driven out. That's why we have anti-trust laws: to protect us from the unfairness our own better business instincts. Is AT&T foolish?

    Oppening cable lines IS a good thing. But to over-generalize and say that all competition is good and AT&T is foolish for trying to keep its monopoly is deeply wrong.
  • by DHartung ( 13689 ) on Monday June 07, 1999 @10:26AM (#1863653) Homepage
    I don't understand where the monopoly-defenders are coming from on this issue.

    For starters, the local government most certainly has the right to ask for this, since cable companies work for the interests of the municipality, which is why they were originally granted local monopolies. Especially in the absence of an FCC ruling, I'm glad to see that there are leading-edge communities trying to define the new era before it gets built at the pleasure of the corporations.

    And make no mistake -- AT&T would love to have this monopoly. Not only would they own the only big pipe to your house, you would have no choice but to use their designated ISP/portal. You would be limited as a consumer to choosing what's already connected to your house -- or who's built into your neighborhood. This is the dream of the new "content monopolies" -- own the pipe, own the website, own the music, own the TV shows. No thanks!

    I want the pipeline provider to be a utility, and the content providers to be in lively competition. This is exactly what phone service is like (yes, Aaron ...), and this is exactly what cable should be like too -- at least the data portion.

    Lots of people don't realize how incestuous the phone industry is, in secret. Go to telco A and say "I want a T1 to Fargo", and telco A says sure! But maybe telco A doesn't actually own a land line to Fargo. No problem -- they strike a wholesale deal with telco B, who does, and sell you that T1 just as if it were their own. Telcos are flexible like this only because they don't sell you content. It has nothing to do with infrastructure issues or who pays for what -- because the lease fees cover it in the end.

    The only reason somebody like AT&T wants a monopoly on cable, when they don't on phones, is because they want to sell you their content. Or, put more correctly, they want to sell you to advertisers just like a TV station or other mass medium. The debate being sidetracked by equipment issues is good for them because it obscures the content angle. The content angle -- selling audiences -- is how they expect to win the lottery when the dust settles. Don't let them lock in audiences given them in a monopoly phase when they offer no benefit in return! Don't let them give you 500 cable channels -- that they all own (see, that's another thing they're trying to circumvent). Make 'em compete with the rest.

    Of course, there is a Devil's Advocate position here. Cable monopolies are GOOD for DSL! If there's a monopoly like AT&T wants, then the reduced incentive to build a new cable plant will increase the incentive to build DSL access onto the existing phone network -- which is already regulatorily welcoming. (Since I side with DSL over cable, I like this, but that's just me.)
  • I agree with you that a business should aim to be so good that no one else can compete. However, I don't see how AT&T forcing subscribers to buy from @Home only is really doing that. If @Home is so great, AT&T should allow subscribers to pick any ISP that they want, and @Home will end up with all the business. It seems to me that AT&T wants to build a monopoly the wrong way - not by providing better products, but by restricting consumer choice. There are good monopolies and bad monopolies, and it seems that AT&T would like to become a bad one.

  • Um, how can I say "get a clue" nicely. We have plenty of choices here in Portland, Oregon. Bill Gates is not interested in wiping out Linux and couldn't do so even if he tried. Paul Allen, not Bill Gates, is making the big investments in cable systems these days.

    I offer you these Free Clues in spite of the fact that
  • One problem: AT&T isn't being expected to just turn over the infrastructure. All they're being required to do is sell access to it to anyone willing to pay for it, on the same terms as they sell it to themselves. If, for example, AOL wants to access AT&T's new cable network, AOL will have to buy the bandwidth from AT&T and foot the cost of co-locating equipment at AT&T's cabling center. All that's being required is that AT&T seperate the transport bandwidth from the ISP services and sell bandwidth to any ISP that wants to pay for it, nothing more.

    Think of it in terms of the phone system. The local loop was severed from long-distance service. The local telcos must give any long-distance company access to the local loop, but they are not obliged to give it away for free ( see the RBOCs' screams about the fees they have to pay CLECs for access to the CLEC's local loops for a prime example ).

  • If the cable companies are willing to allow competition in cable tv then they would own the complete rights to the cable. However, since most cable franchises are monopolies granted by the local municipality and are adamantly opposed to allowing anyone to string cable in their territory, the legal arguement about access has to model the phone company, which mandates mutual access to the existing infrastructure.

    The flip side of this, which no one has pickedup on yet, is that this ruling may open the door for competition in cable tv suppliers! Maybe we'll get some real choice instead of more religious, pay-per-view, and infomercial channels.
  • Glad to here it - I'm stuck in TCI's wasteland - Grand Rapids, Michigan. We have the cheapest cable they could install - and the worst selection. My old home town of Northbridge, Mass. just negociated a new contract (last year) with Greater Media that included wiring all houses in town with fiber to the house over the next five years - the wire in the streets was already fiber throughout the entire town. But they still had exclusive use. I had only know of New York City as having true competition.
  • If you look closely on each pole, you will see a metal tag. This tag identifies the owner. Usually, whatever service an area needs first determines the owner - eg if the electric company comes in first, they put up the poles. All other users of that pole pay rent for using it - including the local fire department (those red cross bars on the pole). After a storm or accident, which ever utility gets there first, replaces the pole. After a major storm, the utilities often coordinate who works in which area, depending on who has what resources available where. There are even times when the town will replace the pole - some towns have their own power company, others have their own cable companies.

    Today, that also holds true for both electric lines and telephone lines. If there are more than one supplier in the area sharing distribution lines, they may each be paying rent (or access fees) to the other for one batch of lines and collecting for another.

    As for who owns the lines in the first place, the cable franchises were given exclusive rights to provide service to the town for a specified length of time in exchenge for wiring the town. At the expiration of that time period, most contracts specify that the town owns the rights to the cable if the contract is not renewed.
  • This seems like the best level to respond; yes, I have read some of the comments further down.

    The main issue I have with your post is right here:

    • "The cable infrastructure was not installed "in cooperation" with the local government. It was installed 100% by the cable company. In fact the only role of the local government was to extort franchise fees and free cable access channels out of the cable company.
    You only missed one thing. For many, many years, TCI and many other cable companies paid local governments literally billions of dollars to insure that there would NOT be competition within a given municipality, thus preserving high profit margins for extremely poor service. (I should know, I lived in several TCI only cities where customers were treated like dirt.)

    Secondarily, the reason ATT bought TCI and other cable companies is only partly related to Internet Service. It's also the only way they could get back into the (currently) more lucrative side of the telco industry --local phone service after the breakup that created the RBOC (Regional Bell Operating Companies). Without the ground local loop, ATT's wireless doesn't stand a chance against the Sprint PCS and Ameritechs. So ATT had to do something just to survive, and buying the right of way and copper for the cable systems was the method they chose.

    Now then, I'm not a great defender of AO-(HEL)L, either, because of their complicity with Microsoft in taking Netscape down, and their own poor service record. But I think this judge's decision is good for all of us in the long run, because if it sticks, more communities will follow suit, and that will ultimately bring high speed line access to more of us at non-monopoly controlled prices.

  • The real problem here is the fee that companies have to pay ATT is usually far below the actual cost of usage. Thus ATT has to raise it rates, losing even more market to some random startup company.

    It is the exact same problem Bell Atlantic and other RBOCs face from the CLECs, having to let the 3rd party company use their switches and hardware, below-cost.

    They are even being required to allow the customers who switch to the CLEC to keep their same phone number, at a very high cost to the RBOC, for an incredibly small fee.

    Thus all current Bell Atlantic customers are faced with a small fee, tacked on to regain some of the money lost. It's nominal for now, but still causes more and more to switch to the CLECs prices, which can only compete with the RBOC because of the "deals" the FCC is imposing.

    We get a lot of junk here of people yelling and screaming about every seeming injustice to them, without considering what others may be going through, or the motivation for the move.

    If people would just look around a little, do a little research first, instead of yelling "revolt" whenever they feel wronged, this page would sound a lot more intellegent.

    Try the FCC web site, for one.

    As for the cable, the hardware does belong to ATT, and while other companies shuld be allowed to use it, if ATT agrees and a price is paid, we shouldn't force ATT to sell at a loss. This country has gotten pretty good at that, however.
  • typically,
    especially CLECs leasing from RBOCs,
    the usage fee is below the cost of maintenance.
    companies lose a lot of money on these forced deals.
  • AT&T, intending to require all customers to buy cable-based Internet service from its @Home Corp. subsidiary...
    AT&T is always trying to regain the monopoly they once had. As an employee of MCI WorldCom, the company that originally broke up the AT&T telecom monopoly, I'm an advocate for freedom of choice for the consumer. As a Cox@Home user, I must say I certainly condone a blend of technology and service. I don't hate AT&T, I respect them. I just think they are foolish.
  • This isn't a debate on business practices.
    I never said all all competition is good.
    I never said monopolies are bad.
    What I said (or meant) was that I don't agree with AT&T and their policies...primarily forcing long-distance customers to have @Home service.
    Monopolies are something every business owner would like, but can never have. Aren't we all here because we advocate the Open Source movement? Don't we all care more about Linux than Microsoft? Aren't we opposed to the monopolistic ways of Microsoft?
    Perhaps my previous title should have been "Monopolies are Illegal" ... not Dead.
  • It isn't fair that AT&T be screwed for upgrading their network but there is a compelling mitigating argument.

    I don't know how AT&T does things but those of us in Time Warner's fiefdom (through their Road Runner service) could benefit from this. Consider that they demand to install their crappy (AOL like) front end on your Windoze (not Linux!) system so that you can get their service. Their annoying front end is also based on IE so that it must also be installed. (Yes I know there are ways around this but it the principal!)

    A ruling like this makes it possible to select a high speed provider that will humbly give me a dynamic IP and NO OTHER CRAP.
  • "Stop.." the government interfered to begin with in order to keep the rates low and keep you TV junkies from whining about $100 / month cable bills for Basic Service (as it was first proposed). Now the Cable Suits guys see another market and they want the same rights they have had to deliver cable for _our_ cable...the land, the service, hell, even the concept of a "franchised utility" all goes back to the people and the communities...The states and feds had nothing to do with awarding the "franchises" in the first place...who else would have jurisdiction?...remember: "All government is local."
  • Just a point of info: 10-10-321 is MCI (Sprint?)
  • In a few years, the situation will be different, with more infrastructure in place and wider competition from DSL.

    Is this accurate? I thought it was the other way 'round: DSL is pretty much the only choice in most of the country, and the far-off pipe dream of cable is a distant but looming threat.

    Maybe my experience is atypical, but at work exactly two people have cable modem access, both live way out in the boonies. Everyone else (like I) has 384k CIR DSL, because that's all you can affordably get these days. [Nevermind that the CIR is complete bull. Everyone's hitting the 1.5M burst rate.]

    Welcome to California.

    Is the situation really reversed in the larger national context?

  • Now if only US West could hand out static IPs for something cheaper than an additional $14.95 a month. Cripes!
    Don't use US Worst as an ISP. My ISP gives me static IP as part of my $20 a month DSL connection to them... so US Worst only gets it's $30, not $50 (DSL + ISP).
  • As an Oregonian, I applaud this. TCI needs the competition, and AT&T fears it.. knows that they will lose.

    TCI lost me as a cable customer due to extremely poor service, which they admitted to but didn't care about... even when I told them I was going to switch to a DirecTV dish. They are too big to care, the loss of customers don't bother them, and customer service means nothing to them.

    AT&T buying them makes it even worse... the coming cable modems will be poorly supported (and yes, they have plans to install in my area this year) especially when it comes to linux/alternativeOS... hell, I couldnt get them to support my VCR (new Sony vs. the TCI 'digital' box), you really think they'll do better with something like Linux?

    I'm using US Worst for DSL, and after a few weeks of complaining on the phone, they finally got my DSL working... but it took that to get them to fix it all, calling every day, and waiting on hold every time. Thank god to independent ISPs who give decent support... I've heard horror tales about my ISP is fine, and I have freedom of choice.

    Cable monopolies are bad, and it's time open access happened. Let's open access the _TV_ side also... I'd like the see LittleJoe Cable compete with TCI and charge half as much for more channels. TCI adds tons of shopping channels but can't add real channels due to 'lack of space' HA.
  • Fine, let them rethink... that is the BEAUTY of this: Cable Franchise!!!!

    If they decide 'oh, let's NOT do this', the local cable boards will KICK them OUT of the market, and let someone else in. It may take a few years, but they will lose it all... Nobody is willing to toss out TCI over a channel or 3, but if they refuse to provide services they CAN, throw the bastards out!

    I look forward to whatever AT&T/TCI do... either way they lose, and the consumer wins. (and yes, I'm normally a libertarian, against government interference, but cable monopolies are a government created monopoly already.)
  • And, if the decision stands, how quickly do you think that these cable providers will be upgrading the out of date systems to handle two-way data. I can tell you, plans will grind to a deafening halt. If there's no pipes to run through, they can't share them, can they?
    If they stall upgrading, the local cable commissions can pull the franchise from them. Right now, local boards are loathe to do this over a matter of a channel or 2 of television. After all, the hassles of forcing the existing cable company out because some customers can't get VH-1 or maybe another 'adult' channel, doesn't seem worth it, but if AT&T or one of these major players is withholding internet access because they don't want to share... I suspect that will galvanize many of the board members to say "put up or get out" finally. Many local boards are disgusted with the 'public access' channels fiascoes (such as public access that isn't very public, requiring people to buy descramblers), and when they understand that 'internet' access is being withheld, I think that will be the straw that broke the camelcable's back.
  • >.primarily forcing long-distance customers to have @Home service.

    Huh? I thought the issue was that if you wanted high-speed cable internet access, you had to have @Home as your ISP - you can't pick AOL or Star-Net or others. Did I miss Something? I don't think LD service has anything to do with this, or did I miss something?

  • >Which solution will be picked, and what happens when the competition wants to use something different?

    I don't think this is the issue. I don't think the would-be competitive ISP's want a wire all the way to your house anymore than they do today with your phone line.

    What appears to be at issue here is that the data/video cable service is bundled with the ISP service the way that local/long distance service used to be.

    What I want as a consumer is to get broadband internet access speeds, but not be locked into a single internet service provider. Same way as today your choice of phone service and ISP are different. If I have Ameritech as my local phone company, I can use as my ISP or I can choose a different one like Star-Net.

    I want the same choice in my cable. Sure there are some technological hurdles as well as economic ones. This may or may not be feasible with the current technology/economics. I hope it is.

  • Yup, I'm kinda torn on this issue, but I hafta agree with your point.

    On the one hand I kinda side with AT&T that they (through acquisition of TCI) have laid out the capital for the network, and they need to count on a forecast return on the investment in the form of ISP revenues in order to make that investment profitable. IOW: they plopped down some $11 billion or so and will continue to spend to invest in the network infrastructure, and this was all planned out with the assumption of $xxx billion revenue over the next decade or so.

    Now if they have to sell network capacity to other ISP's at some FCC-mandated wholesale rate, their business plan kinda falls apart. A predictable response to this will be to reduce the capital investment so that the company's operating income doesn't nosedive and drag the stock down. This means you don't get a cable modem in your godforsaken town for another 5 years instead of next summer.

    But that is kind of their own fault. They seem to be gambling on this closed access thing and will probably lose. I'm afraid this might mean that high-speed broadband cable internet access may not get rolled out to everyone as soon as it might if AT&T could count on the revenue they built their business plan on.

    OTOH, the idea of not having any real choice in ISP because of this is not attractive (to say the least). You can let your imagination run wild at the prospect that once you are locked into @home and they do something you don't like (restricting access to certain services, charging you extra for multiple computers connected to the service in your home, etc), you have little recourse to do anything about it. You can't go to a competitor, they don't really have any reason to listen to your complaints because they know you won't go back to dialup.

    But how to solve this dilemma so that high-speed access gets built out for everyone and yet no monopoly in broadband ISP service is created?

    Umm, I dunno - I'd be in the telecommunications consulting business if I knew.... Wait! I *am* in that business!

    So, let AT&T keep going with the assumption they will get the $40 a month per sub that they plan on now by having exclusive ISP business. But hold the card up your sleeve that eventually you will force them to open their network to competitors. Otherwise you can only regulate the piss out of them to keep them from gouging the customers and/or introducing unfair service agreement terms to monopoly-hostage customers.

    (I know, but its kinda fun to think about doing it that way, isn't it?)
  • Cable companies are private, so what exactly did the government give them?

    They gave them right-of-way. Don't underestimate exactly how valuable that is. You (and their competitors) can't go planting telephone poles, or pur your wire on existing poles. You can't go trenching conduit all over town. Our government has a history of mostly giving away rights to large companies like this. We benefit, but we pay for the priveledge. That's why these companies are regulared as public utilities.

    Now, let's discuss what it takes to build a cable-modem network... at least, one that doesn't require a separate uplink channel (usually analog modem.) You really don't want a cable modem with separated uplink.

    TCI in California has a pretty nice setup. They use the Motorola "Cybersurfer" modems. It's Ethernet to your PC, and uses the cable for both directions. It's DES encrypted, and the modems do bridging. This eliminates the kids next-door from sniffing your communications, unless they happen to be RF engineers and can crack DES in a reasonable amount of time. I guess you're screwed if you live next-door to the guys who built Deep Crakc for the EFF. Anyway..

    In order to build out the cable network like this, TCI (Now AT&T also) had to upgrade to a fiber/coax network. The fiber is neccessary for things like Digitial Cable, and for the uplinks back to the head office. The traditional cable network is fairly one-way.. broadband repeaters tend to limit communications to away from the head end. The point is, a lot of work has to be done to make a cable network IP ready.

    Who is going to pay to build out a cable network? The competing ISP? Maybe.

    Now, there are no standards (yet) for cable modems. Right now, if a cable vendor wants to roll out IP service, they have to invest in a proprietary solution.

    Which solution will be picked, and what happens when the competition wants to use something different? Who wins? It's not simple like DSL, where you have point-to-point wiring, and mixing different DSL equipment is easy. The cable network is shared media, and that won't be changing. Possibly different frequencies will be used, but that presents problems as well. Typical broadband repeaters and splitters are only rated for particular frequencies.

    TCI has far outstripped their ability to support their cable network. My mom has TCI@Home, and it took them 7 days to fix their proxy server when it went down. It took them 9 days to respond to my e-mail (mom's e-mail was dead) to tell me yes it was down.

    Here's where a real ISP could be useful, for support. But, what if the problem is that the cable is out... what are they going to be able to tell you? "Cable is out. We called them." I suppose that's better than the cable companies, who you typically can't even get on the phone to tell you that much.

    As is typical, legislators seem ignorant of the types of problems they create with mandates like this. At best, one can hope that what they've accomplished is to motivate cable companies in other areas that haven't drawn the attention of the state government yet.
  • And how does traffic get back upstream?

    Do you realize just how little traffic you can get on one channel? For all users?
  • When I said "in cooperation", I guess I should have said "with the permission of". The cable was laid with the allowance of local authorities just as any other public utility is. Does the phone company own the land where a telephone pole is standing? Do they even own the telephone pole?

    My point is that if the company which owns the network is connecting it to the Internet but stifling public access to the service because they want to be the only ISP is doing a disservice to the public. One company can only handle so much demand, and not all ISPs are created equal.
  • Oh, you get a choice, But AT&T dosen't? Your defination of choice seems to consist of "I'll force other people to do what I want" The only way real choice can exist is EVERYBODY has a choice! Portland should have given AOL and Prodigy the choice of stringing a new cable system or shutting up. When you grant the goverment the power to demand what will be carried, so you can have a choice, you are also granting them the power to say what will NOT be carried, Robbing you of your choice. Go ahead give them the power to regulate the content of the Web, But don't start whining when they start limiting your choice. IMHO both of these choices suck. I can get what AT&T offers or I can get what a bunch of politicans allow AT&T to offer. End the local monopoly, allow any body to run a new cable net, then you will have a real choice.
  • by AaronW ( 33736 ) on Monday June 07, 1999 @07:43AM (#1863680) Homepage
    As a TCI@Home user I am quite pleased with the ruling. @Home has totally mismanaged things in my area. Packet losses of over 20% are not unusual. The mail server frequently crashes, and their tech support is totally unacceptable.
    It takes over 3 weeks to get a response from a technical question sent via Email, and hold times on the phone are measured in hours.

    What really makes me mad is the fact that @Home spends billions on companies like Excite, yet their internal infrastructure is totally inadequate. @Home is trying to become another AOL. I don't want AOL, I want a high speed Internet connection.

    Not only that, but my rates have gone up while my bandwidth has been capped.

    I have been an @Home user for 2 1/2 years, and during the last year the service has gone to hell. When I first joined, there were no hold times for tech support. The tech support people were sharp and knew what they were talking about. The performance was excellent. The uptime was excellent. They sent out email telling us ahead of time about downtime. They also emailed us our monthly billing info.

    Today the only email I get from @Home is spam. I don't get a monthly bill from them (except on my credit card). Downtime is never preannounced, and tech support always responds by saying "Clear the cache in your browser" as if that will fix the 20% packet loss.

    Oh, the packet loss is not caused by my connection to the cable company. The packet losses are due to the fact that @Home has inadequate bandwidth to the rest of the internet. The packets are always lost as soon as traffic leaves the 172.16.x.x routers.
  • If AT&T has to open up the cable infrastructure it paid millions for, what incentive does the company have to upgrade that infrastructure...


    The fact that AT&T has to open up doesn't mean it doesn't get money for it. It only means AT&T will not be the only one using that infrastructure. What AT&T wants to protect is monopoly not investment!

  • "We don't want to be barred from using a pipe just because someone else owns it." -Prodigy spokesman Marc Jacobson.

    While the details of such a case are complex and take into account government-enforced monopoly, I just hate it that a _spokesman_ for anything feels the climate of the country allows him to make such a statement without caveat.
  • Hey, as someone who's got some serious money into AT&T (ok, only about 1000 shares, and who knows how much of Redhat I'll get with the $100K, so for me it's not that big), I think this is a good thing.

    I still expect to make tons of cash from AT&T and I think that further competition will loosen USWorst's grip on the West and give us all real choices.

    Of course, even if I'm wrong, they all buy equipment from Cisco (another large chunk of shares), so it's not much of a prob for me.

    Will in Seattle
  • I'm starting to wonder if anyone actually read through the entire article. The cable networks will recoup what little cash they've spent on fiber upgrades through nominal fees they'll charge to ISP's borrowing their network.
    Maybe the Telecom Act of 19xx is coming to everyone's mind when they think about open networks. The Telecom Act forced Bell and other local telcos to open their networks to competitors for free. Did this fuel competition? You bet. Was it a bonus for us, the consumers (or end user as I prefer)? Absolutely, and the phone companies who owned the networks weren't hit too hard. You see, dinosaur monopolies like Bell South/East/Mountain/Whatever are fat slow companies who are loathe to upgrade anything. They have very little cost to recoup because they don't spend much. Once their network is in place, they rake in the cash. That was the reasoning behind the government forcing their lines open without charging a fee to those who used their network.
    Cable companies, on the other hand, actually DO spend a heap of money and ARE upgrading their infrastructure. They have to in order to provide 'the next generation of IP based services' or whatever the hell you want to call cable modem access and other digital services. They are able to charge fees to ISP's and others who share their network. I imagine there's a cap on this charge but nevertheless, their ability to recoup their costs is part of the bargain.
    After this is understood, you can see that opening their networks was a huge plus for you and I. One of @Home users' biggest complaints is lack of choice, and this will ensure that everyone gets a choice of ISP's. @Home pissing you off with packet loss and bad ping times? That's cool, switch providers. It's the same in the DSL world I believe. The cable company is still making their money and you are afforded greater choice. What better situation for us? It's a good time to own a computer.

  • However, since this ruling, AT&T is now re-thinking as to wether they will deploy, AT ALL, in Oregon.

    I'm using GTE DSL, no problems.

    When I had US West ISDN in Eugene, I had no problems either. (DSL was 900 feet out of range... :( )
  • However, the local government DOES have the authority to regulate LOCAL SERVICES. As an ISP or NSP, AT&T becomes a local service provider.

  • Corporations have no rights, only priviledges. By the good grace of the American people shareholders are given the gift of limited liability, which protects them from criminal charges when the corporation does something illegal. So, when corporations start to screw around with consumers, the government has every right to do something about it.

    Why don't you think of yourself for once and the benefits of competition instead of protecting some imaginary legal entity. Someone here had a really good quote a few months back...ah, yes..."Ayn Rand can blow me." Think about it.
  • Of course, this ruling will be appealed like mad. It probably should be. If AT&T has to open up the cable infrastructure it paid millions for, what incentive does the company have to upgrade that infrastructure to control for bandwidth-sharing problems that WILL happen on cable networks as more people get cable modems?

    Remember, Cable is a little like Ethernet, it's a shared medium. If everyone gets a cable modem, or even, say, half the houses in a neighborhood, you could be logging in at the same speed as your modem. There is NO incentive to upgrade the plant so it's always faster than a modem if AT&T has to both amortize the purchase price of TCI/Media One AND open the networks to competitors. It's not like the Bells, who have had ~50 years to amortize the initial construction costs and ~15 years to amortize the upgrade costs after the breakup of AT&T.

    IMHO, the government/state PUCs should negotiate a 5-year deal whereby AT&T (or any cable company willing to upgrade their cable plant) gets 5 years of monopoly over its cable networks, and after that is required to open 'em up to competitors. AT&T ought to be able to recoup the upgrade costs through 5-years of monopoly rents, and in the end we all benefit from both competition and better access. There is precedent with the various AT&T-FCC agreements of the past 65 years as well as the MFJ (the agreemen which broke up the Bell System).

    Just how I see it.
  • This rulling is just to keep the Bells from gaining power, which we the people have every right to do, not to keep them from making money, which we do not have the right to do.

    I think something similler needs to be done with intelectual property, i.e. anyone has the right to use it, but they have to pay you a fair price for it.
  • "In fact the only role of the local government was to extort franchise fees and free cable access channels out of the cable company."

    Bullshit. Local cable companies als get the unfair benefit of local governments *prohibiting* any competition for building the cable infrastructure.

    If a business gets government to hand it the whole enchilada, then I won't shed any tears when the local city council demands *anything* in exchange for the franchise.

    The problem, is that somehow we let local governments acquire the power to mandate cable monopolies.

  • Not that simple, kid. Rearden didn't go to the government to get them to outlaw his competition.

    This is a government-granted monopoly you're defending, not a business with which you are free to compete.

  • Thanks for the armchair legal analysis, but you're wrong. Enforcement of federal statutes is up to whoever the statutes says has standing to sue.

    In some cases, it's the DOJ. In others, it can be individuals like you and me. In still other cases, state and local officials are responsible for enforcement.

  • Is it just me or does it seem like they want to break up Ma Bell again to prevent a future monopoly? I don't agree w/ monopoly prevention (if the market flops then what?) but I can sorta understand their reasoning. However, I do think they should have given it a chance before they decide to regulate it.
  • Whoa there, who do you think let them use the land that they put there cables into. Except for the last few feet to the house most cables are placed on public land.

    If there is one place that should have a monopoly standing is the cable/telephone/electrical wire infrastructures. Otherwise we would have wires all over the place. Personally I think that the companies who own and maintain the actual wires shouldn't be allowed to transmit any content over those wires beyond that needed for maintence. All the bandwidth would then be sold on a commodity basis. That would insure a minimum of wires and provide access to anyone who wants to buy bandwidth.

    As for the problems associated with having a monopoly I still haven't decided if the best solution is close government monitoring, government ownership, or a two company duopoly like they have with cell phones in the US.
  • Thats a big step I'm not taking at this point. I'm all for the carrier companies charging for the use of their lines. Just that they can't use them for their own content services. A smart company would only install lines with a few long term contracts with service providers to pay off the install costs.

    Similar to the way long distance phone service is/was set up in the US. From the switch to the home phone there is one set of lines provided by one company which carry all the local telephone traffic. All the long distance carriers can pay to use those lines for calls through their service. But the local telephone companies were prevented from offering long distance on their lines.

    The point is to keep the product support and the product in the hands of different companies. Sorta like keeping the OS and application codes in different companies. This forces standards to be put in place for products to interface with their support mechanisms.
  • Who the hell do the locals think they are? They can't enforce federal anti-trust laws. The only 2 levels of government which can handle federal law (arrests and/or prosecution) are state and federal law enforcement. The locals can only assist in arrests/prosecutions of federal law. I wish these power hungry losers would go back to writing parking tickets, and the like. Last thing we need are self-righteous local idiots trying to bring about anti-trust related investigations
  • Being a native Oregonian (unlike many other people who live in the state...yes you former Califs), this ruling is a joyous victory for us.

    AT&T/TCI should not close cable access to ISPs (although I will soon be using DSL), mostly since cable access is the only way people can access the Internet. ISPs should be able to provide any feasable technology to their customers without having to go through hell and back with large Telcos and Cable companies.

    Not only was the government blindsided by the merger, but now they have to listen to all of the gripes, lawsuits, etc., that people are shoving into the government's orifices (and yes, there are many of them).

    Stop the ISP vs. AT&T/TCI insanity and allow complete access to the nerves of the Internet!

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"