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FCC Leaves Broadband Alone 93

DaPhreaker writes "As reported by The Industry Standard in this article. The F.C.C has decided to take a hands off approach on the broadband market. " While I would advocate opening the lines up, I think the FCC may have adopted the best position for the next six months - let things sort themselves out more, especially in light of the rising battle between DSL and cable.
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FCC Leaves Broadband Alone

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  • If they want whats best for the consumer, shouldn't they allow multiple cable companies to serve's our homes?

    oh FP
  • I don't really know if it would be in everybody's best interest for the FCC to butt out. Why? Because I want broadband and it's not available!

    I've checked in my area, and it'll be approximately two years before either cable or DSL will become available. This is ridiculous. The way I see it, the FCC could step in, run the lines, and then turn the business end of it over to the cable or phone companies. This wouldn't be the first time something like this has taken place. The governement helped to get electricity and telephones spread across the country. Broadband Internet access isn't as big a commodity as either of those, but it's certainly useful!

    Also, if the FCC were to run the lines, then monthly charges should be cheaper. That's because the phone or cable companies wouldn't have to have an enormous amount of capital to the the program off (or rather under) the ground. Then, broadband would become so much popular.

    The way I see it, if the FCC were to step in and take control, then the popularity of broadband would supersede that of dial-up. Then, the entire country's telephone lines clear up and become less suggested. In the end, it would save amazing amounts of money!

    Brad Johnson
    Advisory Editor
  • I can't agree enough with Hemos on this one. If the government took a under developed and growing industry as broadband access and shackled it up with restrictions, user fees would undoubtedly skyrocket (no longer do you only pay for the network owner's maintenance, research and expansion fees but also a seperate isp fee) and it would probably leave the country in standard-shift limbo (anyone remember "DVD will replace CD-ROM"?).
    "Perspective is lost in the spirit of the chase."
  • It seems that the Federal government is taking an increasingly hands-off position with respect to Internet-style regulation, in an attempt to maximize the growth possibilities of the Net. It's interesting to watch how they're doing this - first prohibiting ISP surcharges by phone companies, then mandating competitive DSL access, then letting things develop as they will in the Broadband market. It seems to me that their decisions are based primarily upon the relative maturity of the markets - the telephone market is old and entrenched, but other markets, like cable/broadband, are newer.

    I believe the FCC is taking the right approach here, but I'm completely biased, having operated an ISP and being involved in network research (and a general net-head). I'd be interested in hearing counterarguments to this - what are the reasons the government should regulate these new industries? I can think of a few:

    • Standards and interoperability
    • Fair access
    • Monopoly prevention

    Right now it seems like the markets aren't mature enough to determine what regulation is needed. However, I think that just like issues of pornography and illegal materials on the net, the way to keep the government OUT in the long term is by being good children from the get-go and sharing the sandbox. Hope some of the telecos and cable people are listening.

  • Like many of the people on /., I consider myself something of a libertarian. However I disagree (preemptively) with the replies I expect approving the decision as being hands-off. The problem is that, as far as I'm concerned, most of those lines aren't legitimate company property. Most of those lines were created under protected monopolies; improving bandwidth in many cases required threats and arm twisting from local towns In my opinion, lines created under monopolies benefited from public regulation, should be considered effectively public property, and therefore should be open to other providers. Note that this does not apply to networks built during competition; those are legitimiate private property.
  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @08:54AM (#1610648) Homepage
    To claim that a laissez-faire attitude towards Broadband doesn't in fact create fundamental shifts in the regulatory structure of network access is ludicrous.

    One of the prime factors of the Internet's ascent over the past few years has been the tens of thousands of people who chose to start up their own small businesses(guess what--not everything's a startup!) and provide Internet service to people.

    While AOL was falling over itself just to pick up the phone, those thousands of people gave personal, real, one on one service to people all across the country--the world, for that matter.

    Those of us in the open source world would do well to remember not all development comes from college students--ISPs fund development of critical infrastructure that's used today on an every day basis to keep things running.

    I don't know what kind of delusion the FCC is under that AT&T will give up and divest itself of its broadband operations if it is forced to provide copper services to other ISPs. I do know that thousands of ISPs going out of business because the FCC believed the threats of the country's most powerful phone company(of course, being chased heavily by that UUNet/PsiNet/WorldCom/MCI/Sprint behemoth; who needs trusts when you have mergers?) smacks of injustice.

    Nobody wants to regulate the net, meanwhile the entire concept behind failing to regulate the net is that self-regulation will occur. Self-regulation is presumed mainly in competitive environments where the failure of one party to "play by the rules" leads to a loss in market share to the gain of a competitor. ADSL and Cable companies are similar enough in corporate structure that both are likely to violate the same concepts that self regulation would be likely to solve.

    Thus, the war on self regulation takes its shape as a demand for freedom. Whose freedom, of course, has been muddled substatially.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • I see what you mean here but this would only benefit small companies. There is significant demand for high speed internet access so i'm absolutely positive many heavy hitters in and around the communications industry would be more than happy to pitch in to get these services off the ground so that they can start making money off of them.

    "Perspective is lost in the spirit of the chase."
  • But then that would necessitate that *I*, who already *have* DSL, would have to pay higher taxes in addition to my DSL charges, etc.

    Besides, the FCC has no authority to do such a thing. It's simply not in their charter. I'm glad of it, too, because I already pay quite enough in taxes, thank you very much.

  • > I can think of a few:
    > o Standards and interoperability
    > o Fair access
    > o Monopoly prevention

    I can think of a few reasons the government shouldn't regulate these industries. Funny thing is, they're the same reasons you give in favor.

    Standards and interoperability:
    The market will decide, by weight of demand, what technology will best serve the most people, and at the least cost. Everybody might not get an OC-192, but broadband will eventually make it to everyone.

    Fair access:
    I don't know what you mean here. Fair access, as in all people from all social strata may access the internet? It's that way *now*, if you can pay the price of admission (which is getting lower every single day).

    Monopoly prevention:
    Kinda like the phone companies, which are a government-enforced monopoly? I can't, for instance, have a different carrier than SWBell for my land-based phone lines (and DSL) because SWBell has the phone franchise from the government here. As a result, I pay $75/mo. for my land line. Competition in this arena would undoubtedly make this charge go way, way down.

  • take the buisness out of private industry, and give it to the government, n'est pas? There are a few fallicies in your logic:

    I. The government never does anything efficent and well. Just look at history, provate industry built this country, let's keep it that way.

    II. We still ahve to pay, it's just through invoulntary taxes instead of voluntary access charges.

    III. Ever think about where you live? Chances are there are bigger market somewhere else, the private industry will build there first, true, and so will the government.

    So actually, you don't get access any faster, cheaper or anything else. However, you do get regulation put on it, if the government owns the lines, it's not that hard to censor `indecent' content. This would just lead to the Big Brother tracking all of us and what we do.

    That's my $(2^4*3+1/7%3*2/100)
  • This makes me extremely pleased.

    The fundamental problem right now concerning high speed access is simply:

    We can't get anyone to sell it to us!

    In my area, which is far from the Boonies, we are not even scheduled to get anything until at least 2002. Regulations would slow this process down even further!

    While one medium gaining a larger share of the marketplace is a valid concern... we should get the technology out first! Your average consumer is not going to give a rat's ass whether they are using DSL, cable or whatever... they are going to jump onto the first one available to them (aas long as it is a reasonable price). I believe there will be plenty of competition between the different mediums to keep prices down and to spur further innovations.

  • by mochaone ( 59034 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @09:25AM (#1610655)
    Listen folks, the Republican congress is no friend of the consumer. They only care about aggrandizing big business. Remember, these are the folks who de-regulated the cable industries. We all know how well that's gone. Poor customer service. Rampant increase in cost in comparison to inflationary costs and investment in infrastructure.

    My cable company went from having 2 plans (basic or expanded) to a "tier" structure giving consumers 3 options. This was done, according to the cable folks, so that customers would only pay for the channels they actually wanted to view. The customers who wanted fewer channels would not have to subsidize other views, they told us.

    Here's how it really works. The cable companies have shifted a good majority of the cable channels that used to be part of the basic service to the top tier. This is all done under the guise of giving you, the consumer, more choice. More money out of your pocket. Cable companies don't offer a la carte programming. When asked why not, they never give a reason. Local sports programming that used to be included as part of basic service is now part of the top tier service.

    Opening up broadband will not weaken the cable companies any more than opening up the phone system to independent carriers weakened the local telephone monopolies. It's called competition. Not too many people in business want to compete anymore. And we all lose out.

    I decided to opt of the cable service. Unfortunately, I won't have that luxury with broadband.
  • Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that man behind the tree.

    *I*, who already *have* DSL, *do*, in fact, care about *your* taxes.

    I think *you* are paying too much in taxes, too! Do you really want to pay more in taxes, and then pay line and ISP charges on top of that?

    If high-speed internet access is so important to you that you would impose the cost of making it possible for you to have it upon me by way of taxation, then I would suggest to you that you have a problem. If it's that important, move to an area that has it or that will have it soon. I did.

  • by HeraldMage ( 50053 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @09:31AM (#1610657) Homepage

    While I agree that de-regulation has improved competition from the break-up of monopolistic groups, such as the AT&T breakup in 1984, and that the hands-off approach helps in many ways, I see one problem:

    The FCC also decided to take a complete hands-off approach to cellular phone standards. Each company was allowed to create or support whatever they wanted, and as a result we have PCS, GSM, and a host of other incompatible standards. The Europeans, who are usually much more pro-standards" than we are, are now years ahead of the US in cellular technology...because they were able to agree on using GSM.

    I have no problem with having the broadband market open, but it would be nice if there was a STANDARD so that I could take my broadband box/TV/whatever to some other state and sign up with a different company without having to worry that the damn thing won't work because my box uses FOO, but my new provider only supports BAR.

  • by Tau Zero ( 75868 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @09:38AM (#1610658) Journal
    Both I and others have made this point before, but I'll make it again:
    Most cable installations were created, and paid for, under a grant of an exclusive franchise. This is an inherently anti-competitive situation, and it should not be allowed to continue.
    Cable companies are infamous for acts such as getting rid of the channel you want and substituting something you have no use for, and accepting "deals" from content suppliers which require them to carry several channels of crap so they can get one popular one. Now these cable companies are suddenly in the ISP business. What does this mean for the customers?
    • Since the cable company has an exclusive on the local broadband market, the customer can expect to see useless "services" layered into their bill.
    • Access to other ISP's will be slower and/or more difficult.
    • Should the phone company roll out xDSL, these mega-companies can be expected to behave like the airlines: when one of them adds a "service" or raises prices, the other will too. Customer choice will all but vanish.
    The FCC should have bitten the bullet and kicked the cable companies (and the phone companies) out of the content business. Entities which supply bandwidth should not be able to tie that product to a particular brand of content; the customer should be able to go anywhere for pay content, or forego it entirely and only visit free sites. The only thing the monopoly cable/phone companies should be allowed to do is move data; everything else should be the province of independent, free-market suppliers.
    Deja Moo: The feeling that
  • > Fair access: I don't know what you mean here

    I mean a situation analogous to the current use of telephone fees to subsidize telephone access in extremely rural areas. I don't know if this is a good idea or not - but it does mean that people on farms don't have to pay $200/month for their telephone lines. It's a mixed bag, but I don't think it'll happen without some kind of enforcement, because there isn't a big financial incentive for it. It goes back to that, "Is access a right?" debate.

    > Monopoly prevention: Like the phone companies?

    Well, kind of - the problem is that many of the broadband carriers already have a monopoly in their area. Does that mean they should be able to extend their monopoly in physical access to a monopoly in network access? Again, I think the answer is "it depends", which is why I think the current FCC laisez-faire approach is a good one. In Utah, where I used to live, USWest provided the only DSL access, but you could choose your ISP. As a result, US West had to make their own ISP services competitive with the other ISPs to get any subscribers - this was a *good* thing.
  • Now these cable companies are
    suddenly in the ISP business. What does this mean for the customers?

    It means that we are going to have the choice of paying for our long distance, local phone service, internet access AND cable TV all in one bill.


    On the other hand... Do you really believe the cable companies are merely going to turn their backs on the ISP's? Seriosuly... no one is going to simply ignore AOL with 18 million customers! They will open up the lines to other ISP's... but they should be able to on their own terms.

    Also, AT&T did not pay for their cable empire with government money... and that is who we are talking about now (not the original owners).
  • by Jeff Knox ( 1093 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @10:05AM (#1610663) Homepage
    While I am against large monopolies just as I should be, there are other factors involved with the government just opening up the cable lines. Think of this analogy. You are a farmer, and you have spent years cultivating and building up your farm. Your soil is finally nice, and you are having abundance of crops. What if the government told you that you have to let other farmers use the land with you have nutured for the last few years. Its the same principle. The cable companies have spend many years and millions and millions of dollars to upgrade there networks. Why should they have to let others use there network, if these other people have had no part in building the network in the first place. Its a free ride for these companies that are riding other the cable companies years of hard work. Nothing was stoping these other people from building large fiber networks while the cable company were upgrading theres.
  • by Jordy ( 440 ) <jordan&snocap,com> on Friday October 15, 1999 @10:13AM (#1610664) Homepage
    This type of hands-off regulation really isn't good when it prohibits competition.

    The very idea that cable companies are the only ones which could install and upgrade the cable infrastructure to support cable modems is silly.

    If the cable industry was broken down like the telephone industry, a CLEC would be able to throw in their own hardware to support cable modems, be allocated a freq range and roll their own or at least have the cable company roll out the base infrastructure and backhaul the traffic back.

    Simply put, cable companies are becoming telecommuniations companies and should be subject to the same regulation that existing ILECs are. Several cable companies are even registered LECs.

    Personally, I think the cable industry has been upgrading their networks for digital cable because they are scared to death of DirectTV, not because they want to provide cable modem services. That was just icing on the cake.

    Then again, I don't see how any ISP can provide a quality service to customers for what is effectively, ~$15/month. It amazes me that DSL providers and other high-speed providers don't have riots in their parking lots from the oversubscription rate they need to maintain. :)

  • Right on.. I can't believe anyone would want the cable lines opened up. I don't need my cable connection slowed down by AOLers and small time ISP wankers trying to get a free ride! There is no incentive for cable companies to improve their networks if others are just going to leech off them.
  • While I hate government intervention, this may be a necessary evil here.

    I am so sick of reading news articles about the explosion of DSL and cable modems. Despite living in a well developed Denver suburb, I've been on US West's DSL waiting list for almost two years. When it finally became available, they can't install it on MY phone line. Cable modems aren't even available in my area.

    Screw AT&T/TCI and US West! I want high speed access now! More competition can only improve things. It couldn't possibly be worse from where I stand.

    - Necron69
  • What a fucking troll.

    Don't use your brain! No! Just rant and rave about "evil Republicans" and don't take a few minutes to actually _think_ about the way the government is structured. Oh, and _DON'T_ remind yourself that it is... say it with me... DEMOCRATS who run the FCC (yes, the FCC is an EXECUTIVE BRANCH agency).

    Got it? Good. Wanker.

  • The problem with the idea of opening access up to other content providers is this: It will cost more. If I subscribe to ISP x, and they provide the same content as CableModem Provider Y, I will spring for the cable modem provider. To say that CableModem providers must open their lines up to other companies that compete with them would be foolishness, as they would charge an additional fee. Here's the scenario as I see it:

    The FCC decides to regulate broadband access to the internet. They mandate that broadband providers must allow other ISP's to provide the content (web access). So my cable company decides to go along, now charging separate fees for the cable modem and the internet access. Someone gets the bright idea to lower the price to internet access and raise the price to broadband, or worse yet make the internet access free. Now people have a choice between buying a broadband connection that comes with free internet access, or buying a broadband connection and paying additional fees for the internet access. Which do you think the average John Q Computeruser, who doesn't know the difference between phone ISP number one and phone ISP number two is going to pick?

    Note: This strategy is obviously flawed for additional content providers, such as AOL, which let you access additional content that would not normally be available through another ISP. But, this is already available. The Bring your own Access plan does this.

    I would appreciate it if someone would kindly point out all the flaws in my reasoning, and thanks for reading my rant.

  • Well, what good is your DSL when the other end of the pipe (me) is stuck at 56k?

    A simple and silly example, yes, but the true benefits of these technologies, aside from downloading massive amounts of pr0n and mp3's, will not be realized until everybody (>85%) has it.

    It's like the argument; why buy John Carmack's Ferrari for $100k, when you're stuck in traffic behind a $10,000 Ford Festiva doing 5 mph below the speed limit IN THE LEFT LANE - hey move over buddy and let the rest of us who want to actually GO somewhere USE the road! The passing lane is for PASSING you idiot!!! (sorry).

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • While you are correct that nothing stopped other providers from building large fiber networks, government regulation and enforced monopolies have and continue to prevent those other providers (which DO exist) from offering these services to the public, since they can't reasonably reach every house.

    You might have a thread in a huge backbone fiber mesh running right along the street where you live, but you can't get any kind of access to that fiber because of government regulation. They legally *can't* bring it to your house.

  • This seems like a fairly appropriate place to ask..

    Why are the phone and cable companies taking so long to deliver high speed access to consumers? For example, my friend, who is 7 blocks from me, will have to wait at least 1 month longer than I before cable modems are available to him. People are not only willing, but are eager to hand over money to the companies to get faster internet access.

    Is the process of setting up the line more difficult than I realize? Or are the companies just being lazy slobs?
  • Personally I think that there is a place for regulation. I would prefer to have separate content providers from service providers wherever the technology makes this feasible.

    As a rule when service providers use their leverage to push their content, they manage to displace good, diverse content with poor quality, lowest common denominator crap. It is the case with cable TV, local newspapers, satellite TV (in Europe & Asia) and I have little doubt that it would be the same with cable-ISPs.

  • Do you dispute that the Republican Congress led the effort to de-regulate cable? No, I don't think so. This wonderful Republican Congress just played politics with the lives of the whole damn world by refusing to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. I am sickened to see these myopic, corrupt, pennyante suits pervert what should be a fine institution. And the fact that they wrap all of their bullshit up in nauseating pseudo-religious drivel makes my stomach churn.

    Oh, it may be in vogue to be conservative today. I say Fuck That. The idiots running congress are just plain idiots.
  • The answer, at least for cable, is that
    the existing infrastructure doesn't allow the
    high-speed access in most of the cases, and
    need to be upgraded. This takes lots of time and

    In case of DSL the situation probably the same
    even if DSL camp claims that the 'existing
    infrastructure can be used'. There is also a
    number of distance limitations.

  • I have to say that my cable company fucking sucks donkey balls (Charter Communications). Their signal sucks, their service sucks, their packages suck.

    I moved here (CA) two years ago from Glen Ellyn IL, where they were doing this test thing, Jones Cable was previously the only cable company, then they allowed AT&T to come in and provide competing service. We switched, and it got WAY better, especially the service, and the quality of the signal. Then, checking with friends who didn't switch, Jones had seriously upgraded their service too, and also had some non-retarded channel packages.

    Then I moved to a place where it was back to a Cable monopoly, and it's crap again, only crappier than Jones was when they had the monopoly. Competition is a good thing. People here are switching over to DirectTV in droves, and apparently, Charter doesn't give a rat's ass.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • "There is
    no incentive for cable companies to improve their networks if others are just going to leech off

    There's no incentive for cable companies to improve their networks if they have no competition either.

    I'm for the guy who said that bandwidth providers should not be content providers.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Opening up broadband will not weaken the cable companies any more than opening up the phone system to independent carriers weakened the local telephone monopolies.

    I completely agree with your sentiment. The breakup of the powerful regional phone companies (the Baby Bells) has not been as successful. Here in Denver (the home of US West), we cannot get residential phone service from anyone other than US West. Business customers do have alternatives, such as ICG Communications. US West keeps moaning that "they built the phone system, so they own it; therefore, they should control access to it." Given this, it is not profitable (yet) for companies like ICG to even try to provide access to residential customers.

    I am not sure if regulating competition and full access to the cable network won't cause the same result -- residential consumers are ignored for the sake of more lucrative business accounts.

    Finally, it is a matter of principal if you want the Federal Government to have to regulate every little thing in our lives! Personally, I want less government intervention. Remember who pays for this stuff? We do -- it is our taxes!


  • but...

    last time the FCC left something alone (namely, cellular phone service) for the industry to figure out, a bunch of incompatible technologies came out. All these delays in getting a singular standard out has pushed the United States behind the rest of the world in cellular technology.

    I don't know if this analogy is applicable, but its an example of the FCC butting out being a bad thing.

  • The current state of broadband access is shockingly incosistent. Consider the following:

    In my hometown of Hammond, IN, AT&T is offering cable Internet access, or at the very least the service is imminent. Hammond has _some_ commercial growth, but is far from being a booming metropolis. And 56k doesn't even work properly yet... we get better results not using it and connecting reliably at 28.8k!

    Our infamous neighbors, Gary, are also slated to get the same AT&T cable Internet "soon". However, I can't imagine who in that city could afford the $40 a month, and the equipment is liable to get stolen the day after you get it. (I may be exaggerating, but there is a definite poverty and crime problem there)

    Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, home of all things American (well, Miller beer and Harley-Davidson motorcycles anyway...) and location of Marquette, my university, AT&T simply says cable Internet is not available. That might have something to do with the fact that our cable provider is Time Warner and not TCI^H^H^HAT&T.

    But, it gets worse... Road Runner cable Internet service (I hope it's faster than their Web site) is not scheduled to be launched until sometime in 2000. In fact, we don't even have digital cable yet, while at my real home we've had it for a couple of years!

    It doesn't make any sense... How can a relatively insignificant place such as NW Indiana be more technically advanced than a large, important, All-American city such as Milwaukee???

    Oh wait... NW Indiana is in the Greater Chicago Area(TM), even though it's across the state line, so I guess it automatically gets all the benefits that Chicago gets. My bad.

    Still, I would not expect such a long delay between large cities getting these technological advancements. It doesn't make any sense!

    Can we point to the FCC's complacency as a root cause of this, or are the cable companies at fault?
  • Whether or not the Congress deregulated cable means nothing to me. I don't use it, nor do I care to. I think television, on the whole, is a waste of time.

    Did you happen to notice a glaring omission in the roster of adherents to this test ban treaty? Shall I give you a hint as to which nation was not on that list? Think big and red. That's right! It's CHINA!

    The Congress did the *right* thing. If only they'd have had the opportunity to put down the "treaty" that we're adhering to which is seeing us giving up the Panama canal.

    (FWIW, this "treaty" we're in the process of making good was more or less an executive order by Jimmy Carter, and was never ratified by our Senate - yet another Democrat giving away our national security).

    Not that the Republicans are any better. Hell, I'm very disappointed in the Republicans for their pandering to the left in this country, and failing to keep their promises. But, then, I'm not a Republican, either.

    I voted Libertarian.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    It depends upon your cable company and its existing wiring.

    In many communities, the wiring is still essentially coaxial cable. The majority of cable modem access that I've seen is being done either over optical cable, or a coaxial/optical cable hybrid. The requirement of rewiring and entire city is a large factor in the delay. To organize it, the cable companies set up grids, essentially defining which blocks get rewired at a given time. This can be one reason why one neighborhood gets access months before a neighboring area.

    Once the basic wiring is in place, they must still connect the various routers and other data traffic management. Again, to simplify the rollout, it's much easier to activate a single neighborhood grid at a time; trouble shoot problems, then move onto the next. If they switched on everyone at once and a problem occured, it could take much longer tracing the problem(s) down because the problems would be more widespread.
  • Uh, ever heard that not everyone lives in an house can go and hook a dish up on the roof. If satellite dishes were that easy cable would be on it's way out. Unfortunately there are quality issues with satellite dishes. If you don't have a a clear line of sight, you're out of luck. If it snows or rains hard, reception may deteriorate. Heck, if you don't secure the damn thing right a good stiff wind will mess your reception up.

    As for whining, I'll stop when you stop acting like a schmuk. I don't think your mommy and daddy can nail anything to the side of the house to fix that.

  • Hmmm, "necessary evil"? There are those who would argue that there is no such thing.

    In either case, high speed access is available to you NOW. Frame-relay, T1, etc. You just can't afford it.

    Is someone holding a gun to your head and forcing you to live where you live? No. If low-price bandwidth means that much to you, MOVE.

    This is a (mostly) free country, and I think we'd both prefer it to stay that way.

  • Whether or not the Congress deregulated cable means nothing to me. I don't use it, nor do I care to. I think television, on the whole, is a waste of time.

    Good for you. Some of us more uncivilized folk actually do regress from time to time and watch TV. Maybe we can all aspire to your enlightend approach one day.

    Did you happen to notice a glaring omission in the roster of adherents to this test ban treaty? Shall I give you a hint as to which nation was not on that list? Think big and red. That's right! It's CHINA!

    Whoop de damn do. We (USA) outnumber China by 35-1 in terms of ICBM's. They don't scare me. Unlike you, I refuse to respond to the Republicans attempts to paint China as evil people. Big deal they spy on us. You'd be surprised how much damn spying we do.

    The Congress did the *right* thing. If only they'd have had the opportunity to put down the "treaty" that we're adhering to which is seeing us giving up the Panama canal.

    Hah. You are something else. So I guess USA should have appropiated the Panama canal because we can? That sounds like the actions of a totalitarian nation. Surprising views coming from a self-styled "libertarian".

    (FWIW, this "treaty" we're in the process of making good was more or less an executive order by Jimmy Carter, and was never ratified by our Senate - yet another Democrat giving away our national security).

    I'm going to let you in on a little secret. The United States has thing, see, called separation of powers and checks and balances. So what happens is there is a guy called the President who leads something called the Executive branch. Are you following me? Then you have a thing called Congress, right, which leads this other thing called the Leglislative branch. The last branch is led by a bunch of geriatrics called the Supreme Court (I think) which is in charge of the judicial branch.

    Based on the secret documents that I have seen, this president guy is in charge of foreign affairs. This loosely means that he deals with foreign nations. Sometimes he proposes things that he would like other countries to do or observe because he believes that this is good for not only the USA but world too. These things are called treaties.

    The guys hanging out in congress typically have to decide whether the president has done a good thing. There were times in our past when these congressmen would actually make that decision based on issues like the truth and whether it indeed was good for the country. People say that those days are gone.

  • DSL is great (so far) even through Bell Atlantic.
    The setup was pretty staight forward, just setting up two NIC's with IP and routing info provided by BA. Pretty consistent throughput too, though it's not near the 640kbs maximum.

    Hey, at least I can't browse my neighbor's computer. :-P

  • Question: What good is MY DSL with your pipe stuck at 56kb/s?

    Answer: Perfectly good, thanks.

    If you had something of value at the other end of your pipe (information, commerce, web-based services), and you could only afford a 56k connection then there MIGHT be a problem.

    As is the case with MOST internet users, there really is very little of value at their end of the pipe. As a result, their limited bandwidth does not deliteriously affect my internet experience.

  • Okay, I guess I was being too subtle again;

    If only a select elite few people have "broadband" (I hate that term) connections, and "the rest of us" don't, then nobody's going to offer "broadband" services (like video on demand, teleconferencing, etc.). At least at reasonable mass-market prices. So then, DSL becomes pretty much exclusively for downloading pr0n and mp3's.

    So yes, right now, there's not a whole heck of a lot of value at the end of the pipe. Build a bigger pipe (that reaches more people), and there's instantly enormous incentive for people to PUT value on the other end of the pipe.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Actually these modern small dish things are digital, so if it rains or snows the reception does _not_ deteriorate, although if it rains REALLY HARD it'll lose the signal completely. And line-of-sight is less of an issue because there's only one satellite you need to be able to see, instead of a bunch. True of course, not everyone has a house.
  • Why do people seem to think that the government is some sort of wonderful problem-solving organization? As if ANYTHING would be solved if the government just took control of everything. HELLO??? Yes the government has done some things right, and others wrong, but there's definitely no reason to believe that FCC control would do better than big stupid corporations, and it would almost certainly cost more.
  • If you live in a well developed suburb of Denver I suggest you pay attention to the issue on the next ballot about renewing AT&T's cable charter for the city. Also, check out Covad, they are providing service in Denver, and in many cases can get it to you much faster than US West
  • Whether the signal is digital or analog has nothing to with the quality of the signal. If there is obstruction bewteen the satellite and the dish (and yes, clouds filled with snow and rain will obstruct the signal), the quality of reception degrades.

    Line of sight is an issue if you live in a house and your neighbor across the street has a 50 ft tree right in your line of sight. Doesn't matter whether there is one satellite or not. If you don't have 100% line of sight (sorry, branches will fuck it up),you're shit out of luck.

    Any other questions.

  • Exactly my friend. Not only that but opening up cable markets to ISPs creates a competition which != better service! The cable company will still have a monoply of the physical layer. I don't know how many times I have tried to tell people this but I guess I will just have to repeat myself untill I am blue in the face. Competition for the IP address is all that will be accomplished from opening up the cable networks. And who really gives a whoot where you get your ip address from. It is physical layer that is important. If there is no competition in the copper customers will see no effect from opening the network. With one exception, current customers will see their bandwidth fall from a raging river to a tiny little stream. As I had put it in the original story post, which Hemos so graciously removed, the consumer broadband market is in an infantile stage. It is way too young to be getting mucked with by the government.
  • I know you're thrilled at the idea of getting cable, but will you still be thrilled when they tell you that to get & stay connected you have to run Win98SE? Terms of service, contracts, stuff like that.

    Their cable, their rules (even if they put it in with a City charter). We're still doing 56K.
  • So -- wouldn't want to misrepresent your position -- you'd be OK with the local 'phone company only providing modem service to their own ISP subsidiary?
  • Well, you see, there's a little problem with the picture you've painted. It's called the Constitution.

    Yes, the President is in charge of handling foreign affairs. But, by the decree of the Constitution, the Senate must ratify all treaties, or they're invalid.

    That's the legislative branch's check over the power of the President.

    See how simple it is?

  • There are several fundamental problems with the strong "the free market will self-regulate arguments" put forth by many on /.

    First, if we are going to criticize M$, we might as well start criticising the Baby Bells and (expecially) AT&T for trying to put small business out of business. Consistency folks.

    Here's my dilemma: I want broadband access. I want to use the cable pipes, but alas, I'd have to give up my local ISP, who have always been wonderful. I also have no way to get the several static IPs that I want for my home network. I can get that with DSL, but the catch is that because I have phone service with a small non-baby bell company, I can't get DSL access over the lines, even though it is technically possible. I'd have to get another phone line that I don't want from USWEST as well as my phone company just to get DSL, which COULD operate over my existing thrid party phone lines (because in my apartment building, the phone lines are leased to USWEST from my phone company). But that won't happen because there are no regulations that FORCE these companies to interoperate. It's not the little companies such as my local ISP or my smaller 3rd party phone company that are not cooperative, but the big companies who already have monopolies - they are going to be putting small businesses into bankruptcy and giving the consumer headaches. What is technically possible (innovation) is actually crushed by the free-market in favor of what is profitable for big biz, not the consumer.

    Libertarians and some conservatives royally piss me off when they argue for a hands-off free market approach, because they often times end up screwing over the consumer, the undervalued employees of this world, the environment, etc.

    I have an idea: if we are going to have the FCC not regulate, lets have the EPA and OSHA not regulate workplace toxins; let's also have the EEOC not regulate under Title VII of the Equal Rights act of 1963. While we are at it, let's allow gun-toting psychos with concealed weapons into churches and elemetary schools because they have permits. And to finish up our reign of terror, let's support the Microsoft lobbyists in the riteous quest to slash the DOJ antitrust budget.

    My $.02 for right-wingers ignorant of any kind of political philosophy and applied ethics, Sean

    Disclaimer: I work for a subsidiary of one of those evil large telecom companies

  • by DaPhreaker ( 33196 ) on Friday October 15, 1999 @01:12PM (#1610706)
    Here I go again, this is basically a repost that I have posted at least 20 times about this issue but I guess I will have to keep syaing this over and over and over. Cause people still don't get it.

    First thing Tau, content doesn't have jack to do with anything here, we are talking about bandwidth. I don't pay Time Warner for their pretty little pictures. I pay them for my 800kbps downloads. And secondly who paid for the copper at this point is irrelevant (sp?), the fact is cable companies control the copper. For all practical puposes it is thiers. Besides when you are talking about the grants, those didn't include switches, routers, and hubs. That came from the cable companies pockets. And that is quite a pretty penny. But even that doesn't matter because the competition that your advocating will amount to absolutely nothing.

    What people don't realize here is that allowing ISPs to terminate connection across the cable companiy's copper is not going to create the competition that will effect the level of service people recieve. The cable company will still run the show when it comes to the physical layer. Understanding that, any logical person will come to the conclusion that the cable company will still have controll on your level of service, no matter who you are paying for your IP address. You will still pay the cable company for the connection, and then you will pay you ISP for the ip address. The cable company is still gonna get your cash for the bandwidth. The only competition that is taking place here is for the ip address. It would be exactly like a dialup. You have bad line noise on your phone and can't hit a 56k connection? Your ISP can't do anything about it. This will hold true in an open cable network. You have extreme latency on your neighborhood segement? Your ISP can't do anything about it. The only compititon that will effect your level of service is competition of the PHYSICAL LAYER!!!!!!!! Open access advocates are trying to fix a glass table with sledgehammer here. Wrong tool, it won't get the job done. Open acces will do nothing for anbody except shoot the consumer broadband market in the foot. I had put this with my orginal post but Hemos took it out, (I am sure most people are getting sick of me saying this but)The consumer broadband market it too young for the FEDS to be muking around with it. Case Closed, End of Story.
  • We are talking about bandwidth. Big difference. I don't deny that cable companies pretty much suck when it comes to content ov TV channels. But that is not what is being debated here. We are debating if the cable companies should be forced to allow ISPs to run service over ther data connections.
  • Open Access BAHHH!!! Letting ISPs terminate connections across cable networks will do nothing for us consumers. Only competeing cable comapnies can rectify the problems that are happening
  • Cellular will converge with IMT-2000 (aka 3G, aka UMTS). It is unclear if it would have converged sooner. Also the U.S. is an exceptional case in cellular, with a big, well kept, and cheap copper land-line infrastructure, and lower land-line costs than in Europe or Japan. We also have recipient-pays, so cellular usage patterns in the U.S. are peculiar compared to most of the rest of the world. GSM does exist in the U.S., it just has nada for market penetration, in part because it costs too much. Mandating GSM here might not have had a very good outcome.

    Similarly, it is even less likely that standards and regulated boundaries between services and providers will work in Internet access. The whole notion of an ISP might become outmoded. How voice and broadband Internet access fit together technologically or in the market has not been worked out. The question of whether multimedia delivery other than over IP will exist on DSL has barely been asked. To me, it is a good bureaucrat who can say "I just don't know enough to act yet."

  • No wonder you post anonymously. It is very very easy to do. All you have to do is have a few cable pipes coming in to your office (you could do it with one pipe but bandwidth would disapear real quick). Hell, I can setup an ISP in my own living room with my cable modem as the backbone. But I like my bandwidth TOOOO much to let some one else use it. Don't believe me? Ask me. I tell you exactly how to do it. Using Linux as the server of choice of course. Try not to make
    yourself look stupid in public, it is a bad thing. ;) Open acces is wrong though see my other post on this subject and you will learn why it is really flawed. Technically impossible, sheesh where do these people come from.
  • If you've ever seen one of those things during a rain storm, you know that the quality does not degrade at all until right up to the edge. Then you get obvious visual defects, then nothing.
    And duh, line-of-sight is still an issue, but it's LESS of an issue. Read.
  • Civics lesson: Part 1, for the tinfoil hat right wing: Yes, the President can do a lot in foreign policy without the Congress's say so. Part 2, for the kneepad-wearing left: Because treaties involve giving up soveriegnty, the President must get 2/3rds of the Senate to go along with the idea.

    Treaties are dangerous and powerful. Most Presidents treat them very carefully. This President thought he could take a lousy treaty and shove it down the Senate's throat. Ir return, the Senate told him he is a lame duck with diminished credibility in foreign policy, the remaining area where a lame duck can act. No wonder Boy Wonder nearly went nuclear (and that's not neccesarily a figure of speech) at his press conference the other day. He deserves what he got.

  • long as the broadband carrier is a REAL ISP (like the incompentent cretins at RedConnect, and not like AOL) you'll be able to get access to whatever bits of the Internet you want, and ignore any proprietry(sp?) content that might be provided.

    There is no reason that the broadband providers shouldn't be able to recover their costs of installation, as long as they don't TIE you to their own content.

    Remember, an ISP is an INTERNET Service Provider. Don't pay for content you don't want/need.

    (Ok so I had a crap week at work, and I'm on my second LARGE V&O - I'm still allowed to rant)
  • I mean that we should be allowed to choose who our cable company is as induhviduals not on where we live, if they did that then I would bet that cable modem access price would be cut in half. Something like basic cable and cable modems for 30.00 total.
  • When it comes to "competition" where a monopoly service is "forced" to compete with smaller companies who don't control the actual network being used, it might be a good idea to look at your local phone service as an example.

    The "Baby Bell" companies (what are left of them) still physically control your local phone service. They are your de facto local service unless you choose otherwise, and they own and control every aspect of the physical plant required to connect your phone to the telephone network. (wiring, switches, etc.)

    The FCC has mandated that ILECs (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers) "unbundle" their access points from their service to CLECs (Competing Local Exchange Carriers) so that customers have a "choice".

    What's happened? ILECs drag their feet allowing CLECs access to their equipment (with good reason, one malicious person can cause millions of dollars of damage in seconds), and when there is a problem, the CLEC has to schedule repairs with the ILEC! The customer gets frustrated with the lack of customer service, and switches back to the local monopoly, accomplishing nothing. This might be why the baby bells still control the local telephone market despite "competition" over the last few years.

    Whoever owns your physical connection wins, period.

    What does this mean for cable broadband? As long as cable companies have a legal monopoly over the physical plant of your cable connection. A more drastic, but I think, effective solution may be to do the same thing to cable company wiring what happened to AT&T, force a breakup. Seperate the ownership of the cabling from the provision of service. Allow the consumer to choose the content provider.

    Obviously this is more complicated than a simple posting to /., but it's an interesting thought. :)

  • I must agree with the general sigh of relief that the FCC is taking the Hands Off approach


    I've had my cable modem (Century @Home) for approximately four months now.
    In the beginning I was extreemely happy with it's performance! My linux box has never been so happy! :)
    Then @Home decided to limit my upstream to 128k. Well, needless to say I was a bit unhappy. My first reaction was to simply cancel service. Then cognative reasoning emerged, and I realized that 128k up wasnt that bad, and regardless, it is better than 33.6!

    All of this took place within a month of my signing up. Now, three months later, the connection speeds have degraded so sharply that (at times) it almost would be worth my while to return to dialup! Unfortunately, DSL is not available to my residence (yet?) and even if it was, my limited DSL experience has shown me that it really isn't the answer I am hoping for anyway.

    So, I am left with @Home's severely congested network. I sure would like to see an alternative!

    I understand that it was @Home's money which paid for all of the equipment, but I would like to see some "allowed" competition. @Home uses only one channel of bandwidth. my cable company offers in neighborhood of 60 channels of programming. This leaves quite a lot of room for alternate services.

    Another (equally less likely) option would be for @Home to place the blame where it belongs. Perhaps some of you reading this know more than I, but this is how I understand it. Please correct me if I'm worng.

    Back in the early days of @Home, they engineered a network which was well designed, and very fast.
    They began offering services to select areas (East coast I believe) and everyone was happy. In fact the response was so overwhelming (and unexpected) that within a short period, the network was brought virtually to it's knees forcing @Home to make some decisions. A. Increase network capacity to handle to extra load, or B. limit bandwidth and continue using the existing infrastructure.

    I guess we know which option they've chosen. Publicly they have stated that this move is intended to dicourage those of us who run servers (Yes, I am guilty as charged! after all, it's a Linux box. what would you do?!?). However, this not only stops me from running a decent FTP/WEB/Whatever else server, it also prohibits me from sending small avi's (thats a relative term) of my son to my father because even though we both have "high-speed" internet access, it takes ages to send.

    Other Cable ISPs that I am aware of such as RoadRunner have no anti-server policy so long as you are not using it for commercial purposes. This seems like a real win-win for @Home. Not only can they bring on more customers with thier existing infrastructure, but they also can reap the benefits of forcing us to subscribe to @Work so that we can run our personal FTP/WEB servers. This seems unfair to me.

    Bottom line. I am happy to see what the FCC is (or isn't) doing, but at the same time I hope cable ISPs (specifically @Home) will start to provide us with better service by upgrading thier backbone and not placing the blame on those of us who really make use of thier services. Lets face it, while there are a lot of us out there who use the service, and utilize bandwidth, the vast majority of internet users are simply surfing the web and reading email, and dont know that the service they recieve may be "sub-standard". If we are ever to reach a point where the internet is cheaply available at acceptable speeds to nearly everyone (utopian society??) so that more and more users can experience the joy of videoconferencing and host their own websites etc., then competition will be necessary to provide higher quality of service at lower prices.

    Any Thoughts?

  • The entire Internet is a relatively elite pursuit at this time, which, in part, explains all the white male college educated conservative/libertarians in these discussion threads. It makes those Euro-trash poser student Socialists almost refreshing!

    Either broadband content will appear, or it won't. People create content for literary journals that huff and puff to get to 10k subscribers. Why do you think a bunch of guys who have clearly demonstrated the will to spend money on cool toys will go wanting for content? Buy DSL (or cable modem) and the cool stuff will come.

    Meanwhile you can download MP3s quite nicely, which just passed "sex" and the #1 searched-for word. Catering to the top two Internet content categories is not exactly product-positioning Siberia.

  • He doesn't have enough time. He has about a year left in his tenure. Right now he is fighting hard for low-power radio. The radio industry says it will interfere, minority groups (the ones who could now have radio stations) say that it won't with another set of independant tests. Kennard is also fighting with congress over ownership caps. Ownership of cable, which AT&T might be violating, and network coverage, both from the CBS/Viacom and Clear Channal/AMFM mergers (That's over a 1,200 radio stations/35 TV stations in the U.S.).

    Kennard is plenty busy to try and even BEGIN to tackle the Internet. Trust me, this will be a big issue. The next FCC Chairman will most likely tackle the 'Net. And, correct me if I'm wrong, the President appoints (nominates) the position. So VOTE, dammit.
  • The cable companies haven't exactly "cultivated" their resource. They spent as little money as possible on it, and made every effort to prevent competition. (Read: DSS and local stations)

    They did not invest money over time to develop their infrastructure, and continued to charge more money over time for reduced services.

    Their lack of efficiency and the guarantee of a monopoly provided no incentive to innovate the services or to provide improved content as their subscription base improved.

    Once built, their infrastructure had tremendous opportunities, but it has taken them 15 years to really do anything digital.

    Incompetence aside, they should not be able to control content.

    But, of course, the bottom line is practicality. They will have to have cache servers all over the place, so the equipment setup makes it easy to "control" the content...

    The only hope is wireless broadband. Lower infrastructure costs, ease of deployment, ease of expansion/upgrade.
  • Before they dropped the ball on cellular, there was the "let the marketplace choose how to do AM Stereo" which got us 5 different ways to do it, which meant you had to buy your receiver according to which method the local broadcaster went with, which I guess is okay if you only listen to one station and never move out of that area, but I haven't heard anything about anybody using any of the 5 in a long time.

  • In that case, why not buy your own computer, use your own money for a phone line or whatever, and use your own money for an ISP account?

  • Also, since there is not infinite bandwidth for all ISPs, who is to decide which ISPs get a partition and which don't?

    A cable provider that cannot expand their network to support more bandwidth can't extract any more revenue from their assets.

    The bandwidth crunch occurs whether or not a cable provider also doubles as an ISP. It's not like there's more bandwidth available if the cable company refuses to sell it to anyone else.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • Perhaps you've seen this URL...if not, please do go read it...the paper is long, but extremely good. I found the last paragraph on page 21 (I believe) of the pdf version very interesting. Essentially saying that not forcing open access on cable modems will screw ISPs trying to get decent Open Access to DSL service because the telco's have no incentive to be cooperative. The paper states this as a hypothetical, but its happening today. Anyone who's tried to get access to DSL via BellSouth knows this!

  • The FCC is just going to wait until it's technically feasible to do something interesting, and it's politically clearer what would be useful to do.

    Most of the routers being installed into big ISPs now have the ability to selectively drop IPs (or at least class C's)--the whole bandwidth industry is rapidly consolodating into a few big companies.

    In a few years there will only be a couple of big players, who will be happy to toe the line, and they will have installed equipment that allows them to implement whatever restrictions are wanted.

    By then the politicians will know what it is they want to restrict, and the FCC will suddenly be a lot less hands off.
  • There's no incentive for cable companies to improve their networks if they have no competition either.

    Yes there is. They are competing with other delivery mechanisms (modems, DSL, ISDN).

  • Eventhough I really didn't follow what you are getting at (try being a bit more clear with your points). I will tell you thhe equipment you would need:

    Well let's see I would probably use a 3COM Total Control modem bank (that would be my hardware)connected to lets say an Intel 10/100 switchable hub (again that would be my hardware)and the cable modem (which I went ahead and bought instead of leasing, soooo that too would be my hardware, hmmm it looks like it is all my hardware). Now, if you are talking about using someone elses hardware further down stream, that is what all ISPs do. Your typicall ISP owns all the equipment up to the gateway (where they tie into the the backbone)the rest of the equipment is owned by other people so in that context every ISP is a middleman.
    Sometimes it is necssary (sp?) to call people stupid in public when they obviously don't know what they are talking about. This way if someone reads your post, and they now even less then you do, they won't go away being less informed and worse off because they read your post. The only thing worse than no information is dis-information.
    Sorry not trying to be a troll here just being honest
  • By George I think he's got IT!!!!! What I explained to you was basically a reverse of what open access is trying to do. If I had a T3 or so for my bone I would be getting people in through the cable instead of phone lines. But the point was still the same. You can bridge the cable to telco with out many problems and achieve the size bandwidth with increase in price, but only for those who go with and another ISP. People not using another ISP will stay pay the same price for a cable pipe. People who go with another ISP are gonna have to pay for the cable acces and then the ISP. So in that sense your right the will be more of a cost. I do however totally agree with you when you say open access is wrong. And your right I didn't need the breakdown of the telcos but it reassures me you know what your talking about. It wouldn't be that difficult to get a straight route to the isp, it would take a new set of routing tables, but your talking 15-20 minutes a router. It wouldn't be that hard to implement open access.
    I have studied this too, I worked for an ISP for 4 years. And the fact is in a straight technicall sense it would not be that difficult and the difference in speed and cost would be neglegible.
    But.... that ain't the point. Open access doesn't create competition. The cable company will still own the pipe and consumers will be subject to their whims. And really I don't think open access is even good at heart it is just a bunch propaganda put out by AOL and every other ISP who saw themselevs losing customers and jumped on the bandwagon. I don't want the FCC jacking with my bandwidth just because some corporation is threatend by it. I agree with there are a lot of confused readers, most of them are programers, I am sure, and aren't network enginers or sys admins. It seams the majority of programs aren't that informed about the nuts and bolts of a WAN. Not all mind you but it seams like a majority.
  • If you expect competition, tell your local government not to grant monopoly cable franchises. After all, your local government officials are the ones being "paid off" to keep cable monopolies.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."