Should the US Regulate Broadband Internet Access as a Utility?

Exavior

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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.

Or when a little guy tries to move into your area don't say "fuck you new ISP, your speed is slower and your prices are higher than the larger guys that I hate"

pay more for the slower speed for that company to start to earn money, be able to split the operating cost among more people which in time hopefully should being the cost down and should give them money to afford to push higher speeds out. Not everyone can be google and jump into the game with really high speeds. they have to start low and work their way up. But nobody wants to see that. They want 25 new guys coming into their area offering 1Gbps for $4.95 a year and are pissed that it isn't happening.
 

SGA76

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We don't regulate utilities.
Hell, the first year of deregulation when I was a kid my parents' utility bills increased 3x for natural gas and 5x for electricity the SAME MONTH it was deregulated.
How do I remember?
My father went on a rampage, cut the temp in the house (in winter) down to 50f and turned off all the lights and cursed, stomped around and swore for 6 straight months. We sat in windows trying to do our homework and ate dinner with a single light bulb in the dinning room while in winter coats and took cold baths and showers because we "couldn't afford the damn gas."
If you ask me, natural gas, electricity, water, sewage, landline phones, cable and internet should be regulated. If there is no competition and the government MADE IT THAT WAY, then regulate their asses.
God bless Ohio Edison and East Ohio Gas (at the time).
The whole time the companies fought for deregulation all we heard was "Lower prices, more options" and all we got was screwed over.
 

MisterHipster

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Yes, it should be a public utility. We use it more than telephones and it is just as critical at this point.
 

Godmachine

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Yes. The Internet is no longer a "fad" or "bubble" or "secondary" requirement. People require it to work , to interact and to access and add content.

Its obvious that the ISP's are incapable of doing a fair job (big surprise) and now its gotten to the point where everything will be split into demand sectors and every ISP will be using the flash term "Free Marketplace" which is a total red flag for anyone with a brain. The greatest excuse of modern times is the "free market" for everything when in fact its nothing other than an excuse to divide the marketplace and deny access to those less capable.

We should get an Internet "Bill of rights" and clear cut guidelines should be drawn on what ISP's can and can not do in terms of fair practice. Local municipalities should be granted total access to explore community based solutions (Fiber and so on) without bullying from giant corporations in the form of ISP's. States shouldn't be allowed to make blanket deals that deny communities their own private service provider of choice.

Until these new requirements are met we are forced into monopoly's and given no real effect towards any choice. You either pay up or get shut off. This is the very kind of establishment that this country fought against hundreds of years ago and its (among other issues currently) are rotting this country from the inside out like a series of parasites.
 

gordon151

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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?

There doesn't need to be direct government intervention. Just end the stranglehold on the infrastructure by the major providers that is being enforced by government themselves. I don't know how people can call the broadband industry free market when its such a distinctly monopoly driven economy. Especially when much of what built that monopoly was paid for by the very people its being forced on.
 

Gavv

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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.

Lots of words there, but without choice there is no competition and the prices tend to be what the corporation sets. Higher prices for the consumer, and less service, be it speed, content, or bandwidth.

When you have only one company that can do the lines, due to the rules, then something is wrong with the system. The fault of that is with the ISP and with the entity who wrote the codes as such that it makes it damn near impossible for anyone else.

There is no competition. The game is rigged and broken, and the consumer is losing.

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.

Agree with you on this.
 

sfsuphysics

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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

I think you can go halfway, make it 100% illegal for any service to "make deals" with local government. Thanks to the Supreme Court you can't prevent them from "freely speaking" (aka $$$) at the lobbying level, how ever if you simply make it illegal to "cut deals" or get "exclusivity contracts" in a city/region then they can "speak freely" all they want. And I'm talking wipe the slate clean, no god damn "grandfathered" deals or any of that shit.
 

Spazturtle

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Just make it so that if they want to put the cable under a public road they have to give access to that cable to anyone else for a reasonable cost, that's what we do in the UK.
 

kac77

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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.

Thought about it and it sounds fantastical to think that "the market" is going to somehow magically create competition when the barrier to compete is in the billions. No one is going to pop up tomorrow and compete with Comcast.

There's all sorts of things in your daily life that are regulated like water, or phone service and guess what? The world didn't combust. Neither of those are expensive and in the case of water (at least my water) doesn't have shit floating in it. The amount of regulation that exists to ensure that the home that you are responding from doesn't disintegrate into some shanty town has everything to do with regulation.

The problem isn't regulation, nor is it government (I have a feeling the forefathers of this country knew what they hell they were doing when they created this one).

The problem is corruption, greed and narcissism.
 

kbrickley

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I think you can go halfway, make it 100% illegal for any service to "make deals" with local government. Thanks to the Supreme Court you can't prevent them from "freely speaking" (aka $$$) at the lobbying level, how ever if you simply make it illegal to "cut deals" or get "exclusivity contracts" in a city/region then they can "speak freely" all they want. And I'm talking wipe the slate clean, no god damn "grandfathered" deals or any of that shit.

How would you do this legally without violating the rights of the States and cities though ... we can't arbitrarily make local ISPs the domain of the Federal government (and our constitution would certainly make this outside the domain of the Feds if it went to SCOTUS) ... The Feds can try to pass net neutrality, or they can try classifying the ISPs as common carriers (which would allow them to be regulated), or they can offer them performance incentives (Grants, Tax Breaks, etc) ... there is not, however, any legal precedent to regulate how many local ISPs are acceptable or whether the local cities can regulate who may operate in their environment (at least not at the Federal level)

One other consideration, people are throwing out the common carrier rules as an example of how to regulate them ... the common carrier rules have essentially created a duopoly for mobile phones (ATT and Verizon control about 70% of the market between them) ... so given the current distribution of ISPs in the USA I don't think common carrier rules will affect much other than the net neutrality aspects, perhaps
 

mullet

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Like more regulations and bigger government ever solved anything. I will stick with greed and narcissism at least they know how to make money vs government blowing money out their home sick asses.
 

Semantics

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Like more regulations and bigger government ever solved anything. I will stick with greed and narcissism at least they know how to make money vs government blowing money out their home sick asses.
Greed and narcissism doesn't make money, governments make money by creating an environment to which business can be done on equal footing and giving a solution to complaints outside of just shooting each other. Greed and narcissism corner markets and stifle competition, you know what's easier than competing with others? Removing them altogether from the picture.

Wonder why all these weak government, unregulated countries are whipping the EU economic zone, USA, Japan, China in the world markets. Oh wait they aren't.

Dogmatic idiot think in black and white and are blind to real solutions because of it.
 

Jagger100

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Like more regulations and bigger government ever solved anything. I will stick with greed and narcissism at least they know how to make money vs government blowing money out their home sick asses.
Because monopolies are like a little slice of government. Can't be fired. Make up their own fees. How are they any better motivated to serve their customers than government.

The solution here would be to restore competition to the field. Make the hard wire a utility, but make the ISP a competitive purchased service. Even that has a flaw in that the hard wire utility could be manipulated. But its unlikely you'll ever get a second set of wires laid in most places. And that's not enough because an oligopoly isn't much better.
 

Jagger100

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How would you do this legally without violating the rights of the States and cities though ... we can't arbitrarily make local ISPs the domain of the Federal government (and our constitution would certainly make this outside the domain of the Feds if it went to SCOTUS) ... The Feds can try to pass net neutrality, or they can try classifying the ISPs as common carriers (which would allow them to be regulated), or they can offer them performance incentives (Grants, Tax Breaks, etc) ... there is not, however, any legal precedent to regulate how many local ISPs are acceptable or whether the local cities can regulate who may operate in their environment (at least not at the Federal level)

One other consideration, people are throwing out the common carrier rules as an example of how to regulate them ... the common carrier rules have essentially created a duopoly for mobile phones (ATT and Verizon control about 70% of the market between them) ... so given the current distribution of ISPs in the USA I don't think common carrier rules will affect much other than the net neutrality aspects, perhaps
Firstly, municipalities derive their power from their State's laws. There is no constitutional split between muni & State. It's completely arbitrary.

And Most states are so deep on the government tit for one reason or another they would go along.
 

Spazturtle

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The EU recently passed net neutrality laws as well as banning roaming fees on mobiles and it is probably the largest movement on the planet.

Saying big government = bad is just scaremongering.
 

Lith1um

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All those cables are going through everyone's property, including those who don't subscribe. Makes it a public utility in my eyes. If it's not, then the companies should pay rent or an access fee to traverse someone's property.
 

kbrickley

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Firstly, municipalities derive their power from their State's laws. There is no constitutional split between muni & State. It's completely arbitrary.

And Most states are so deep on the government tit for one reason or another they would go along.

No, but there is a split between the federal and individual states ... Our founding fathers added the 10th amendment for a reason ... ISP regulation is a matter for the states, not the federal government ... Let's not give the Feds more power than they are constitutionally entitled to ;)
 

Retronym

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Greed and narcissism doesn't make money, governments make money by creating an environment to which business can be done on equal footing and giving a solution to complaints outside of just shooting each other. Greed and narcissism corner markets and stifle competition, you know what's easier than competing with others? Removing them altogether from the picture.

Wonder why all these weak government, unregulated countries are whipping the EU economic zone, USA, Japan, China in the world markets. Oh wait they aren't.

Dogmatic idiot think in black and white and are blind to real solutions because of it.

LOL
 

Talyrius

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The internet is just as important as any other public utility—it should be classified as such.
 

bastage

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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

Why shouldn't the cities pay for rural area's internet... The Rural Area's have to payu for the crime in the cities.
 

Exavior

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Lots of words there, but without choice there is no competition and the prices tend to be what the corporation sets. Higher prices for the consumer, and less service, be it speed, content, or bandwidth.

When you have only one company that can do the lines, due to the rules, then something is wrong with the system. The fault of that is with the ISP and with the entity who wrote the codes as such that it makes it damn near impossible for anyone else.

There is no competition. The game is rigged and broken, and the consumer is losing.

Agree with you on this.

Yes I have a lot of words in my reply (all of them actually). The thing is that in many places there is nothing stopping you from going into an area and doing your own build if you have the money. Look at Google, they pick a city, they go into said city and they build their own plant. The issues come from the fact that the existing companies have years and years of plant in the ground and equipment in the field. Who gives a damn if a city can't start up their own ISP, that is different than a private company trying to do so. Yes a city should be able to, but so many of you guys look at the fact that so and so city tried to do their own fiber and it was stopped by local ISPs. You overlook all the new ISPs that actually did get into an area. And they do where they can find it profitable.

I work for a small rural Telco / ISP. We hate the big guys as much as everyone else because they do get to have rules made that favor them while shitting on the smaller guys like us that only have 9000 customers. That said we had no issue going into a city serviced by one of the big guys and running 15 blocks of fiber. We are now servicing the local government buildings and a few other businesses. With more hearing that we are there with fiber while the local big guy is only doing DSL and are wanting our service. They also like that we are local, if they have an issue they are calling somebody a town south of them. The president of the company lives in their city.

This week I'll be at an event with people from hundreds or thousands of other Telco/ISPs from across the US. There are a lot more than just 3 or 4 companies out there. And that number grows all the time. People just don't realize it. If you have the man power and the money, there isn't going to be much else stopping you from putting in your own plant. It is just that people don't want to.

As for the price, as I started in a previous post, for your ILEC the price is set by the government now, not the company.

The internet is just as important as any other public utility—it should be classified as such.

But you don't have choice with utilities. You get 1 person that can charge you as much as they want because hey, who are you going to switch to.
 

raz-0

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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

One, networks are interstate, which means claims that the federal government has no say are pretty bogus.

Two, municipal broadband would be great. Whenever it is done, the local providers dumps tons of money on politicians and you get BS laws preventing it, usually with some kind of half assed "fix".

Take NJ, if you count the federal attempt, and the multiple state attempts, we've been taxed 4 or 5 times now to get universal fiber/broadband coverage to the curb from verizon. WHat did we get? CRAP. They blatantly didn't fulfill their obligation repeatedly, and this last time, they claim that since you can get LTE (not at 45mbit as the legislation says) or satellite (also not 45 mbit) from someone, not even verizon, they have met their obligation.

A bunch of municipalities tried installing their own broadband, and the handful of cable providers in the state got it preempted at the state level by claiming it would interfere with their roll out of universal wi-fi hot spots. Yeah they rolled out a lot of them, you can get super awesome speeds of about 300kbs with horrific latencies if you can connect at all. For a bonus, they are all now trying to force routers on you with a guest network configured by them to allow any of their customers onto your router. It gets you crappier service in your own home now too.
 

Sovereign

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All I can say is anyone who makes a straight-faced argument that the ISP market is competitive (lookin' at you, lobbyists) needs to have his/her head adjusted. Also ditto those who cry "free market" (where none actually exists 90% of the time).
 

Talyrius

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But you don't have choice with utilities. You get 1 person that can charge you as much as they want because hey, who are you going to switch to.
That's exactly what we have now... There is no competition.
 

bigdogchris

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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.
Contradictory post if I've ever seen one.

The benefit of having Internet service regulated as a utility is that laws would prevent companies that have a monopoly in an area from price hikes and most likely traffic throttling.

It doesn't make financial sense to have 5 different companies trying to run natural gas and electric lines down every street, certain types of natural monopolies are allowed to happen. I think Internet can fit into this. Rather than competing with each other within a small area that already has service, companies would be encouraged to add service in area's without coverage because only one ISP would be allowed per town. If you want to expand your business, your only option is to go where no one else is.
 

Retronym

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For some reason people seem to think greed magically goes away when you bring government into the mix.

I just prefer greed to have no authority. It makes more sense than giving carte blanche to the same people you are trying to reign in. You turn internet into a simple toll operator business, a company will be more than happy to comply with the regulation now that all their competitors vanished.
 

Aphex242

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He's totally right. Just because it doesn't fit with the world view you've been spoon fed doesn't make it wrong. Institutions allow business to exist. Without contract enforcement, intellectual property rights, entrepreneur protections (like favorable bankruptcy laws), worker safeguards, and a host of other regulation, innovation and entrepreneurship simply doesn't happen.

Business NEEDS government to flourish. To think otherwise is completely shortsighted and fantastically naive.
 

CreepyUncleGoogle

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A well-regulated Internet treated as a public utility is important because it allows the government to better maintain a system in which dissenters and other bad people who try to tell gullible citizens to think and do things that are disruptive can be more easily found, captured, and denied access to the system so their insane stuff doesn't mess up my e-mail and cat pics.
 

TastEPlasma

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A well-regulated Internet treated as a public utility is important because it allows the government to better maintain a system in which dissenters and other bad people who try to tell gullible citizens to think and do things that are disruptive can be more easily found, captured, and denied access to the system so their insane stuff doesn't mess up my e-mail and cat pics.

It really didn't require the internet to fall under heavier regulation for this to be true. The NSA told the corporations to cooperate, and they did, at least until they were outed publicly for it. It doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility that they still are cooperating, for that matter.

Common Carrier classification does not require that the government set prices for the services. Witness the tiers of prices available from UPS, USPS, FedEx, your local bus service, and other Common Carriers.

The important distinction of becoming a Common Carrier is that the ISPs wont be able to discriminate against traffic on their network or charge the customer and the content provider twice for the same content. This wouldn't even be an issue if we had genuine competition in the marketplace, instead of government enforced monopolies.

But we don't have an open and free market, and there are government laws enforcing the situation. And the ISPs are actually greedy and stupid enough to want to charge twice for data on their networks.

Making ISPs Common Carriers only adds government regulation in the sense that ISPs will, in legal writing, no longer be able to discriminate against the type of and origin of traffic on their systems.

It's not about (or at least it shouldn't be) making internet a public utility. It's about wagging a finger at the ISPs and saying "Stop being such a dick."

Regardless of your opinion, if you actually care about this issue, make a public statement at the FCC:

http://www.fcc.gov/page/fcc-establishes-new-inbox-open-internet-comments

Also, now is a great time to put pressure on Senators and Representatives, with mid-terms coming up:

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
 

Retronym

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He's totally right. Just because it doesn't fit with the world view you've been spoon fed doesn't make it wrong. Institutions allow business to exist. Without contract enforcement, intellectual property rights, entrepreneur protections (like favorable bankruptcy laws), worker safeguards, and a host of other regulation, innovation and entrepreneurship simply doesn't happen.

Business NEEDS government to flourish. To think otherwise is completely shortsighted and fantastically naive.

I love that you are openly advocating IP law with innovation. Thank you for the laugh.
 

Retronym

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A well-regulated Internet treated as a public utility is important because it allows the government to better maintain a system in which dissenters and other bad people who try to tell gullible citizens to think and do things that are disruptive can be more easily found, captured, and denied access to the system so their insane stuff doesn't mess up my e-mail and cat pics.

Hey everybody, watch this:

Everything the state says is a lie and everything they own they stole.
 

teh_chem

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The regional natural monopolies that cities and municipalities gave to early pioneers of internet infrastructures should be revoked (perhaps a government buy-back of the infrastructure), and then that hardware infrastructure should be leased, at a small but fair profit, to a controlling entity that allows virtual ISP's whereby giving competing services to areas. I don't see this happening, but I think that's what should happen. I also don't want the government meddling in the internet. The last thing I want is for the government to decide how and if I can access data I want. All this recent net-neutrality bullshit is a problem because people don't have many (or even any) choices for ISPs in their area, so ISPs have gone power-drunk. The industry needs more competition. Not government regulation.
 

kbrickley

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Just a reminder, "the 9 scariest words in America are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help'" ... Is the current system flawed (certainly) ... Does this mean we should abandon the 10th amendment and allow the Feds to interfere with the state regulation of their ISPs (I don't think so) ... Regulation can control price but it can't force the companies to upgrade ... Google's entry into the ISP market shows that it isn't closed (as long as cities are willing to accommodate the new ISP company) ... Tax breaks and incentives will be much more effective than new and illegal federal regulations ;)
 

TechLarry

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I hate to say it, as I hate the government being involved, but I DO believe the internet should be treated as a utility.

The internet is no longer a fad. Not a toy. Not a 'nice to have' thing for disposable income to be used on.

It is a necessity.

So much has moved to the internet. Certain things, like dealing with Drivers Licenses, Taxes, county governments, CC permits, you name it have been moved to internet processing. Actually going to a government building to do business is damn near impossible sometimes.

To me, that makes internet just as much a utility as Gas, Water and Electricity.

Then again, I think PayPal should be regulated as a bank and shut down until they meet the requirements of a Bank, but what the hell do I know...
 

mdburkey

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This is an irritating issue -- and one that I really don't know which way to go.

The problem is that, at least in this area, they already are pseudo-utilities and have near monopolies -- basically, you get internet service in one of three ways: from your telephone provider (i.e. DSL), from your TV provider (i.e. cable), or from you wireless provider (i.e. cellular).

And, in a lot of this area, cellular service is at best 3G and heavily overloaded already -- if you can get faster than about 768K downstream in the afternoon, you are VERY lucky. And, you have data caps in the 2Gb-5Gb range before you pay extra -- and that isn't much data.

So, that leaves DSL or Cable.

DSL is Frontier -- who is pricey, slow, and has very poor customer/support service in this area (the last time I had to call them it took 30 minutes on the phone before I found someone who even realized that they actually even PROVIDED service in this part of the country). Some areas in the county have AT&T (exclusively) and some have TDS (exclusively) -- but never more than one. From a phone standpoint, they are regulated as a utility and have a basic monopoly on the lines around here -- but their internet service is not. This makes it very hard for another company to enter into the area for competition as an internet provider.

Cable is Comcast. We have NO other option for cable in my neighborhood. Some parts of the area don't even have cable as an option -- and for some I know of, it's only because Comcast won't run the cable the last 1/2 mile to their subdivision. A few parts of the area do have a little competition between Comcast and WOW (formerly Knology), but this is maybe 1/10th of the county. Comcast does have the best internet service in the area (by far) and really good speeds -- but the price is super high, because the have very limited competition in most of the county. Similarly, for another provider to come in, they have to get permission and a license from the county to use the utility poles and conduit that already exist or to use existing utility right of ways for direct burial. The problem is, to get this license and permissions, they have to already agree to a ton of regulations and document a rollout plan and get it approved by the county -- basically, they have to agree to "eventually" provide service to the entire service region and to phase the rollout strictly by geographic factors and time. Unfortunately, when WOW (Knology) entered the area to compete with Comcast, they started phasing in their rollout on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis based on the number of premium service subscribers in the region and then skipping other -- i.e. they were cherry picking those areas that would make a good profit. Well, they got caught and I think the county tied them up in court (and I don't know if it was ever settled). So, ever since that happened, they haven't installed any new service into any more of the county -- and no other service provider has been willing to come in either -- but they haven't stopped WOW/Knology from providing services to those areas it already had rolled out. They also don't interfere with their rates.

So, right now, the internet providers around here are already getting a lot of the benefits of being a utility (i.e. near monopoly status) but with only minimal regulation of their business practices on the internet provider side of things. Basically, we have the worst of all possible worlds for the consumer.

SOMETHING needs to be done -- but which is better: it to provide easier access to the utility poles and conduits with less regulation and lower barriers to entry for new providers, or for the government to simply declare that the providers are utilities and that defacto monopoly ALREADY exist, and then regulate them according -- INCLUDING regulating their rates.

Of course, having them regulate rates isn't all it's cracked up to be either -- one of the local water utilities is a good example of this. Pretty much everyone I know feels they are a bunch of crooks. They can't raise their rates without county approval and they can only raise them to meet inflation, cost of doing business (water purification expense, etc), or for "system improvements". So, they have funded massive system improvement projects -- like a really big, nice new, multi-million corporate office building and running a new main line across MILES of empty land to provide service to a single subdivision (where, from what I understand, the developer had a relative sitting on the board of the utility company). So, they raised rates across the entire utility to fund these "improvements" and then, based on their costs (which were real -- just for no good reason), got them approved by the county. Once the rates go up though, there is no mechanism in place for bringing them back down -- they stay high and once the initial capitol outlay is complete the rest is gravy. So, they spend money on "improvements" that do not benefit 99% of their customers, but then make everybody pay for it. In the last 16 years since I moved into my current house, my monthly water bill has basically doubled.

So, utility monopolies aren't all they are cracked up to be.
 

Json23

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Aug 4, 2005
Messages
1,380
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. :)

Everyone does have access to the internet. Whether it is by satellite, DSL, dial-up, or cable. Not one spot in America doesn't have at least one of those options. By forcing it to be available to all as you say it will decrease the value of a product in some areas forcing everyone to pay for others.

No one wants to be in the middle of nowhere with broadband available more than me. But these companies are in it for the money and there just isn't that much money in the rural areas for fiber to be run. It would take decades to make the money back they would invest. The only option would be to nationalize the services and we have seen that FAIL in every country its ever been done in.
 
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