Should the US Regulate Broadband Internet Access as a Utility?

Jagger100

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Broadband is a SERVICE. The government needs to stay out of it. Period.

This should be true, if what was also true is that the anti-trust hammer had come down and broken Comcast and other ISP monopolies and oligopolies to bits.
 

kbrickley

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I'm not a big fan of regulation, even when it is for our own protection ... I think we should look at the laws in Japan, Korea, and Scandinavia (since they all offer fairly good performance in their respective markets) and consider a combination of the rules that work best for them ...

I also think we should not try for a one size fits all approach ... a lot of our regulations are designed to treat urban and rural folks equally ... I think we should look at regulations that will enhance internet penetration and performance in our urban and business centers and not try to find a solution that helps Ma and Pa Kettle at the expense of our cities
 

cageymaru

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Broadband should be regulated like the phone system so that all regions of the USA get access to the same services. Right now many parts of the USA simply don't have internet access and that's a travesty. Capitalism says that you have to make a profit to service an area with goods. Since these areas are spread out then they will never fit the profile for a high profit are by the internet companies. Same thing happened with the road system in America.

Thus the government should step in and make sure that everyone has access to the internet just like utilities such as running water, phone, and sewage. Otherwise those people and areas will fall further behind and cost the USA a lot more in the long run.

To pay for it maybe we just invade one less country in the next 15 years. :)
 

kbrickley

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This should be true, if what was also true is that the anti-trust hammer had come down and broken Comcast and other ISP monopolies and oligopolies to bits.

Monopolies are not illegal (nor should they be) ... no one has ever suggested breaking up Intel or Microsoft ... the abuse of a monopoly position or collusion with other companies (anti trust) are what is illegal and should be punished ;)
 

TMCM

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Monopolies are not illegal (nor should they be) ... no one has ever suggested breaking up Intel or Microsoft ... the abuse of a monopoly position or collusion with other companies (anti trust) are what is illegal and should be punished ;)


You must be pretty young to think that Microsoft and Intel have not been considered a monopoly and the anti trust investigations that happened back in the day
 

MarineCorps

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Monopolies are not illegal (nor should they be) ... no one has ever suggested breaking up Intel or Microsoft ... the abuse of a monopoly position or collusion with other companies (anti trust) are what is illegal and should be punished ;)

They almost did breakup microsoft during the anti trust suit......
 

kbrickley

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Broadband should be regulated like the phone system so that all regions of the USA get access to the same services. Right now many parts of the USA simply don't have internet access and that's a travesty. Capitalism says that you have to make a profit to service an area with goods. Since these areas are spread out then they will never fit the profile for a high profit are by the internet companies. Same thing happened with the road system in America.

Thus the government should step in and make sure that everyone has access to the internet just like utilities such as running water, phone, and sewage. Otherwise those people and areas will fall further behind and cost the USA a lot more in the long run.

To pay for it maybe we just invade one less country in the next 15 years. :)

I don't think the federal government has a role in the internet except on the anti-trust side ... encouraging equal internet throughout the USA in all 50 states would be a gross violation of federalism and state rights ... if Montana wants to install gigabit internet in their state to enhance their position against states that don't have it, that should be their choice ... same for cities

I definitely wouldn't want to see a massive use of federal funds to enhance rural internet ... provide a tax break for cities (if you want to encourage investment) and let the cities and states manage their own internet infrastructure the way they see fit ... there is really no role for the feds at the local levels
 

kbrickley

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You must be pretty young to think that Microsoft and Intel have not been considered a monopoly and the anti trust investigations that happened back in the day

They are monopolies and I worked for Intel for 14 years ... as long as they don't abuse their positions (and they were punished when they did) a monopoly has certain advantages with economies of scale ... I just want to differentiate from a monopoly (perfectly legal and acceptable throughout most of the world) and abuse of monopoly (illegal almost everywhere) ;)
 

Skripka

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I don't think the federal government has a role in the internet except on the anti-trust side ... encouraging equal internet throughout the USA in all 50 states would be a gross violation of federalism and state rights ... if Montana wants to install gigabit internet in their state to enhance their position against states that don't have it, that should be their choice ... same for cities

I definitely wouldn't want to see a massive use of federal funds to enhance rural internet ... provide a tax break for cities (if you want to encourage investment) and let the cities and states manage their own internet infrastructure the way they see fit ... there is really no role for the feds at the local levels

Sure there is a role for the feds. Making sure Comcast/Time-Warner/etc don't *bribe* the hell out of officials to back the pockets.

My city has city-funded fiber all throughout the entire city laid down by the electric utility. We could have FiOS speeds. Why don't we? Time-Warner bribed the hell out of local lawmakers into passing a law making it illegal for public utilities to compete in the same market as private corporations.

Ultimately the voters get fucked with a hands-off approach.
 

maxius

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in the 21st century it can be a utility as most us families wont get to far with out it this will solve a lot of problems
 

Grebuloner

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Broadband should be regulated like the phone system so that all regions of the USA get access to the same services. (snip)
Thus the government should step in and make sure that everyone has access to the internet just like utilities such as running water, phone, and sewage. Otherwise those people and areas will fall further behind and cost the USA a lot more in the long run.

Wait, are you saying that I should have running water, phone, and sewage service? I don't have any of that here; well, not totally true, the phone wire is still there, but my neighbor tells me that it isn't very reliable any more.
 

kbrickley

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Sure there is a role for the feds. Making sure Comcast/Time-Warner/etc don't *bribe* the hell out of officials to back the pockets.

My city has city-funded fiber all throughout the entire city laid down by the electric utility. We could have FiOS speeds. Why don't we? Time-Warner bribed the hell out of local lawmakers into passing a law making it illegal for public utilities to compete in the same market as private corporations.

Ultimately the voters get fucked with a hands-off approach.

If they actually received a bribe then they should be prosecuted (since that is illegal and we don't need any new laws to do that) ... if they were not bribed (they received legal campaign contributions) then they should be voted out ...

as an engineer I prefer to fix problems at the root cause level ... regulation is containment only ... it does not prevent the root cause of the problem usually but only focuses on containing the effects ... if you translate our issue to a problem statement you would have something to the effect of, "The USA has insufficient access to high speed and cost effective high speed internet compared to other nations of similar economic development" ... regulation can reduce the power of oligopolies but it can't force them to increase their performance ... pass tax incentives that increase with the number of users compared to their total base with access to speeds at the gigabit level (25% and you get 25% off, 100% and you are granted tax exempt status, etc) ... those kind of approaches would do more to enhance our global position than harsh regulations would (and since we have federal corporate taxes, this would not violate the sanctity of the states and cities to control their internet services the way they see fit) :cool:
 

Draktharbar

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"If cities want to spend tax dollars to improve Internet access, they should install "Dig Once" conduits under streets that any broadband provider could lease. That could make deployment 90% cheaper while adding just 1% to the cost of a road project."

This is what some other countries are doing, and it works wonderfully. It encourages competition, since the barrier to entry is much lower. And if we had proper competition, there wouldn't be any of this throttling crap going on.
 

[Tripod]MajorPayne

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Pretty sure the broadband problem and net neutrality could be solved pretty easily with two words: "common carrier".

Regulate Internet traffic as a common carrier just like the phone system, which protects the internet companies from prosecution based on the data that travels down their lines and protects consumers by providing an expected standard of service. It also forces providers not to discriminate about the type of traffic they provide, effectively causing net neutrality.

Also, I do like the idea of "dig once" conduit that any provider can lease to lay wire. That sounds like a great way to increase broadband coverage and allow competing companies to enter new markets. I'm happy with that, and would even be willing to pay the taxes that would be required to fund the additional costs of construction.
 

Jagger100

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Monopolies are not illegal (nor should they be) ... no one has ever suggested breaking up Intel or Microsoft ... the abuse of a monopoly position or collusion with other companies (anti trust) are what is illegal and should be punished ;)
Hope that was sarcasm.
 

sfsuphysics

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Broadband should be regulated like the phone system so that all regions of the USA get access to the same services. Right now many parts of the USA simply don't have internet access and that's a travesty.
No offense, but fuck that. If all regions should had to get access to the same service then everyone would get shitty service.
 

Retronym

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They say broadband is so crucial and the industry so concentrated that it needs stricter oversight.

This is the most retarded fucking logic.

Lets see:

Its important. So demand is there.

Its concentrated. Uh-oh. Thats bad.
Better have the feds only allow a smaller swath of providers.
That should fix the supply issue we've been having.

At least these companies will feel compelled to please customers now.

Wait....
 

gordon151

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Broadband is a SERVICE. The government needs to stay out of it. Period.

That's what the telephone companies keep telling us after they scammed everyone into paying for massive fiber lines that they charge us an arm and a leg to use a small portion of. Of course they got the power to do all of that by lobbying state government about all the good it will do, especially for competition as other companies would get to use the fiber lines too. That last part didn't pan out so well.
 

undercoverDrunk

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Broadband is a SERVICE. The government needs to stay out of it. Period.

Politicians have already defined it as a basic right. Especially when we are judging other nations.

Ignoring are elected officials? Fine then. Electricity is a service. Roads are a service. Purchasing food is a highly regulated good. Potable water is a service. Sanitation is a service.

Let's use roads, as it is my favorite analogy for protected service. Now you don't need roads. You can drive or pave your own land then pay use or tolls to use other people's land. Or farm. The road service you use could be unsafe with potholes and speed suggestions of 300mph into a hairpin turn. Let's get government out of our lives! It is a luxury service that is being provided through taxes, fees, and is regulated to provide safe transit between citizens. Keep the government out of my social security!

Telephones are far less important in modern society than the internet and we regulate the he'll out of that. Is that wrong too? Nice try Comcast.
 

Scythe

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Next thing, someone is going to say broadband is a right. It's not.

IF the government starts to regulate broadband access, it will become more expensive. Then, because poor people cannot afford it, it will be taxed at a higher rate in order to pay for theirs. When it's regulated, then it becomes controlled. When it's controlled, then access becomes limited.

Think about it.
 

Scythe

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Too late. Undercoverdrunk just did in one of the most asinine ways possible.

Thanks for the hyperbole.
 
S

shade91

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Broadband should be regulated and Comcast should be broken up as a monopoly.
 

Exavior

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Broadband should be regulated like the phone system so that all regions of the USA get access to the same services. Right now many parts of the USA simply don't have internet access and that's a travesty. Capitalism says that you have to make a profit to service an area with goods. Since these areas are spread out then they will never fit the profile for a high profit are by the internet companies. Same thing happened with the road system in America.

Thus the government should step in and make sure that everyone has access to the internet just like utilities such as running water, phone, and sewage. Otherwise those people and areas will fall further behind and cost the USA a lot more in the long run.

To pay for it maybe we just invade one less country in the next 15 years. :)

The problem is that they basically do that now. There are grants and loans out there for people to go to low / under served areas. That is what pissed off people about 4G service being able to be called broadband in NJ because that was good enough for the government. Those fees that you pay on your phone bill, one of them goes to a pool and that is now being given out as loans for people to build out their networks to areas that do not yet have 4Mbps down / 1Mbps up.

So they have already stepped in. The problem is that they aren't doing a very good job. Because you have a few different groups involved with some of them not realizing how the real world actually works. I don't recall which group it was (congress I think) that didn't realize that people still had any landlines. They thought all the lines had been removed and replaced with cell phones and thought all internet service was wireless since everyone now uses wifi.
 

Kor

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The internet is a utility, no two ways about it. It's borderline impossible to function in modern society without it.
 

Ducman69

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The internet is a utility, no two ways about it. It's borderline impossible to function in modern society without it.
I can't go back to fapping to victoria's secret catalogs arriving by snail mail, I just can't do it.
 

niconx

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The internet is a utility, no two ways about it. It's borderline impossible to function in modern society without it.

I remember reading an old archived newspaper article from my hometown before it had a power plant. They described the power plant as a "potential boon for business." Potential. What kind of crazy ways could electricity be fundamentally important? Same goes for the internet. The internet provides certain fundamental functionality that you absolutely need to operate, just like electricity.
 

Gavv

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It's a toss up.

Free market and all if it is working properly, however, I don't believe it is. When a city of 60k only has one viable broadband provider, there is something wrong.

I don't like the thought of another government anything, but at the same time, it is obvious the playing field isn't on the level either.
 

Exavior

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Next thing, someone is going to say broadband is a right. It's not.

IF the government starts to regulate broadband access, it will become more expensive. Then, because poor people cannot afford it, it will be taxed at a higher rate in order to pay for theirs. When it's regulated, then it becomes controlled. When it's controlled, then access becomes limited.

Think about it.

That is part of the issue right now which is what people don't understand.

The prices that you are charged by AT&T, Centurylink, whoever your local telephone company are for your DSL and phone service are not set by them. That is set by the government. This stuff is already regulated. What changed is that in 96 the Telecommunications act of 1996 went into effect. This created two different classes of service. ILEC and CLEC. ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers) are the companies that were already in place offering phone service. They had their areas set out of where they would offer phone service and have been offering it for years. On the flip side you have CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carriers) which are companies that are able to go where they want and offer services. This is where we got places like EarthLink, NetZero, Prodigy, Comcast and all the rest. Now for ILECs they are still under regulations. So the government tells them that you will charge $X amount for local phone service, and that you must charge so much for DSL service. Not only that but there is one price set for people within a certain distance of your equipment and another for those further out. most probably just charge the further rate to make it easier. All of this money is broke up and goes to different government bodies. One of which takes the money and redistributes it amount the smaller guys. This is to help ensure that AT&T and the rest don't decide that they are going to start using some standard that nobody could afford. This way if they want to start using a new switch or standard, they have to ok it with the group. The group then makes sure that others can get the equipment and the money from the pool is used to give people back what they spend on equipment over a 10 year period. Same happens for some of the DSL and other equipment. They are able to recover some of the cost of that stuff from the group. Which since they are putting money in they are just getting their money back, and in some cases some of the money from the larger guys to help level the field. On the other side you have CLEC which don't get any of that and instead they have to pay for everything, but can also set their own prices and get to keep 100% of what they make. For an ILEC they don't see much of the money from the actual customer as that goes to the pool which they then recover from. That is why Comcast and Google can and will be cheaper than AT&T or somebody like that as they aren't held by the same rules. Just like Vonage, their service can be cheaper because they don't have to cover all the taxes and fees that an ILEC does, nor is their price set by anyone other than themselves so they can make their price as cheap as they want.

So if people want to complain about how much a phone cost, or how much it cost to have DSL with slow speeds. That isn't the phone company setting those prices, that is the bodies that are regulating the services that are setting the tariffs that are setting the prices for the services. If all companies were to start being controlled again and Comcast and the rest fell into the group then the prices for everyone would go up as they would have to start charging the higher prices required by the governing bodies. So what you said is true, it would just increase the prices for everyone.
 

serpretetsky

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I recognize the importance of the internet in the modern age, but surely there are better methods than direct government regulation.

What are some possible things that the government can do to help faciliate competition in the ISP business?

Why is it that in our current state of affairs we have just two major internet providers?

Is it because they own the physical connections? Can the government help install and maintain new communication lines and lease them out to whoever wants them. Or can the government help by providing subsidies to companies specifically looking to upgrade the communications infrastructure?

How can we help promote competition in the ISP business?
 

fdiaz78

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The problem is local municipalities making deals with ISP's and developments. Laws and regulations should be passed allowing multiple options for ISP's. I have that I only have two options here. Comcast or Century link.
 

CounTDookU23

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When I signed up I remember the ads yelling to me...... HIGH SPEED INTERWEBS!

I did not see

**well sorta high speed, we deem it our right to decide when you have the right to have high speed internet

**your monthly fee for high speed does not mean you will ever come close to or sustain any advertised speeds, ever

**when our greed grows we reserve the right to throttle your "high speed connection"

** do not even try to leave us.... we already bought out all competition in your area, paid off your elected government officials and do not give two wet shits about what you think about our company and our policies
 

Exavior

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It's a toss up.

Free market and all if it is working properly, however, I don't believe it is. When a city of 60k only has one viable broadband provider, there is something wrong.

I don't like the thought of another government anything, but at the same time, it is obvious the playing field isn't on the level either.

that is it working though. How do you force somebody to spent billions only to lose millions a year?

Look at it this way, what if 40,000 people in your city of 60K all started up house cleaning service and each hired 5 people each. Could all 40,000 businesses stay open and afford to pay their employees off the jobs they would have? So what happens? Well some just close, others decide to merge. In time you get down to maybe 10 still around. you are looking at the same when it comes to internet. You might want 300 choices but in a free market that will never work. People help push out ISPs into areas by doing fixed wireless at speeds of 4 - 10 Mbps if lucky, why? Because it is cheap, fast, easy and you don't have to worry as much about take rate as you aren't putting anything into the ground. Look at DSL or FTTH. you have to get a location for the equipment, and power, and bury lines, and buy equipment. You can be a few $100K into the hole before you even put any cards in to do any service. So you then have to hope that you get a lot of people to help cover the cost. in a rural area it can cost you about $50,000 per mile to bury fiber, in a city it can be more about $95 a foot which comes out to about $501,600 per mile. Would you want to spend half a mil to put in 1 mile of fiber if you didn't know for sure you were going to get a lot of customers? that is also only the cost of fiber, you are missing the cost of electronics and everything else. lets assume that you charge $70 for fiber connection and without knowing actually cost lets guess that of that $20 goes to recover the cost of fiber. So 1 customer takes 20080 months (2090 years) to recover. I think that is a poor business choice, Lets say you get 1000 customers, now you are down to just over 2 years. Little more reasonable, but also means you better have the 1/2 million to sit on for 2 years to recover it. At the same time, how many people are in your 1 mile of fiber you just buried? you are saying that your city is 60K people, bet that it needs more than 6 miles of fiber to cover every person. Plus we are only looking at one provider for all. If we try to put 20 different companies into your city of 60K, you are now cutting each one down to only 3000 customers (if an even split between all companies). Assuming that you could get to everyone on a 6 miles long fiber, with your 3000 max customers you are looking at about 4.18 years to recover your money, but at the same times also means that you are sitting on 3 million for putting in 6 miles of fiber. This is why you don't see 20 companies in a city, you might see 5 or 6 with most of them being some type of wireless solution. Which people don't want to count as being a viable solution, but from a business standpoint it is much more cost effective.
 

dgingeri

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...because it has gone so well with electricity, telephone, and natural gas.

Government should stay out of it. They'll only make it impossible for regular people to have any control whatsoever.
 

Madoc

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No government agency at any level should be able to make exclucivity agreements with an ISP. This is what has killed competition in so many markets. Guys like Comcast ink a deal with a city government, and everyone else is shut out by law.

The question, IMO, is whether the above situation has made it impossible for new companies to thrive should the agreements be terminated. If the current players are now too entrenched, then making this a government service might be the only answer. I would've *preferred* it if our current situation had been prevented from the get-go, but that didn't happen, and considering the money and power weilded by a few groups, I doubt very much that our current situation is going to change anytime soon.
 

Retronym

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competition being hard does not give government any moral imperative of any kind

everyone is brainwashed
 

kbrickley

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they can't force competition through regulation ... if anything, it could make it harder for new players, given the nature of previous regulatory efforts ... if people want better performance and more competition then the government can offer incentives (that might improve things) ... a highly regulated environment would likely slow things down and possibly make them worse, not better
 

JaiWebb

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We'll get fucked either way. Either by the too big to have morals corporations or by the too big to pretend to give a shit government.

Choose your most comfortable position, it's about the only say you have in the matter, if that.
 
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