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Comment Fiber not expensive? (Score 4, Insightful) 256

Installing fiber isn't that expensive. I live in a semi-rural area several miles outside of the nearest small town, and 25 miles from the nearest big town, ~50 miles from a city, and ~100 miles from a major metro area. And I have three fiber pedestals near my house, from two different cable companies.

Nice anecdote. By the way, have you ever trenched fiber for a local telecom? It's not cheap. Two minutes of Google searching gave me this neat data. A couple installs in Florida ran about $10,000 per mile back in 2013. Let's use that as a base cost. Wikipedia then tells me that Google needed 4,000 miles of fiber to setup in San Antonio. So, $40 million dollars, just for one city. And if there already was one or two other providers there offering services, able to price-cut their services to maintain their subscriber base, that would give me even less reason to start breaking ground.

I've spoken with two different telecoms about their fiber install over the last five years. Both of them say that there's a substantial initial investment, just to develop a core community of subscribers, which then provides the profits necessary to branch out into neighboring territories, especially in rural areas. (Both teleco's said that rural areas don't turn a profit. The urban areas subsidize the costs.)

No, it is expensive.

Comment Reasons (Score 4, Informative) 307

Decades of saltwater intrusion, subsidence and rising sea levels

No, that's not why the delta's disappearing. Here are the reasons why:

1) Levees and flood protections prevent silt from the Mississippi from depositing into the delta to maintain it, and
2) Oil drilling required dredging up the delta to permit pipelines and shipping lanes, destroying wetlands that help capture and build-up the silt.

Comment Very confusing article (Score 5, Insightful) 256

As a technology director for a public K-12 school, I'm very concerned about what I'm reading in the headline. But the "article" is an extremely biased report, citing just as equally biased an article, and neither article really gives me a clue as to what's going on here.

So, let's start at the source: Here is the actual FCC draft order specific to this change. Now, in the course of working on and completing E-Rate filings with the USAC to receive reimbursement for internet and network services for our school district, I've read a few 60-70 page FCC reports before. They're not fun, but they're necessary. That being said, I'm about 20 pages in, and already I'm disturbed. Here's why:

FCC reports that I've read in the past are boring, dry reads, but at least they're factual and unbiased. Not so with this one. Three sentences in, and we get this: "The FCC has historically subjected the provision of business data services by incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) to price regulations." And the spin continues..."eases the regulatory burdens"; "spur entry, innovation and competition in the vibrant business data services market"; "competition is robust and vigorous in the markets." And this is still just the first page. The draft order is littered with biased political spin, something that has not been present in my reading of previous FCC draft orders. Because of this, I can't even depend on a government document to give me an unbiased report of the rationale behind the decision, nor can I depend on it to help me determine what the consequences of the decision will be. So, I'll have to create my own... here goes.

Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) price regulations have been there historically specifically to protect subscribers from LECs that had monopoly or near-monopoly controls over their service regions. Most regions throughout the United States historically were not served by competitive broadband providers. Recently, this has begun to change, where some communities now have competitive service providers come in, giving subscribers a choice. The FCC began to look into this issue back in 2012, before Trump. According to the report, "In December 2012, the Commission released the Data Collection Order FNPRM, to collect data, analyze how competition, “whether actual or potential, affects prices, controlling for all other factors that affect prices,” and “determine what barriers inhibit investment and delay competition, including regulatory barriers." By not controlling pricing, the FCC claims in its report that LECs will no longer be limited entry into a potential market, where capped rates would not allow for a sufficient recovery of the investment necessary to build into a new market area.

But, here's the flaw in their reasoning: trenching fiber costs a lot of money. A lot. If service provider A already has fiber, service provider B is not going to install fiber if it does not believe that it can earn back their investment in a reasonable amount of time. Even if prices are artificially inflated by provider A, just because they can, if provider B tries to compete and trenches their own fiber network, both A and B know that A can lower its rates to a competitive level to drive out provider B. So, B has no incentive to trench, leaving A with the monopoly.

The easiest solution: make internet a utility. It's silly to think that it's a smart idea to run multiple fiber lines to a building. (I should know; our school has two of them, and both are dark.) It would be just as silly to have multiple electric taps, or multiple water pipes. But, that's not happening anytime in the near future.

And as far as what affect this will have on the cost of internet access for schools? Not a whole lot. Because, with E-Rate, everyone is reimbursing schools for the cost increase. (The reimbursement percentages vary, but our district is at 70% reimbursement rate. So, if rates increase 25%, we only pay 7.5%, and taxpayers pay the rest.)

Comment If only... (Score 1, Insightful) 262

"With so much focus in politics, the world is in danger of forgetting that so much of what really changes the future happens outside completely of politics. It happens inside the mind of dreamers, designers, inventors, technologists, entrepreneurs," he said.

Until the politicians ban, mandate or regulate the science, technology or business.

Comment Re:I find this thoroughly unsurprising (Score 1) 344

Agreed. Cell phones are too prolific... hands free tech should be in all modern vehicles. I will say that dialing should be made better. In my car, I click a button the steering wheel then with another button on the wheel I scroll and pick one of my 6 main contacts. If they aren't on that list, I can't be bothered with it. Voice activation is nice in theory, but never works for phone calls in my car the way it should. Strangely enough voice navigation works well enough to use.

What kind of car do you have? Hands free voice calling works great in my 2015 Ford Explorer, even with the cruddy Sync system.

Comment Dear Nintendo (Score 1) 104

I don't own an NES classic, but I grew up playing these games, and I love them dearly. Playing them periodically is a joy, both for myself and my young son. Shall I...

A) Enjoy my favorite NES games illegally on a PC emulator?


B) Enjoy my favorite NES games legally on an NES Classic Edition?

I look forward to your reply. Thank you.

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