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The FCC Can't Help Cities Trapped By Predatory Internet Deals With Big Telecom

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the there-oughta-be-a-law dept.

Government 93

Jason Koebler writes: At least 20 states have laws that make it illegal for communities to offer local government-owned high speed internet access. Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler threw consumers a bone by suggesting that the agency could make it easier for cities to skirt those laws. That's a great first step — but many cities have locked themselves into telecom company-caused messes the FCC probably can't fix. The FCC's power becomes much less certain once you drill into the other major reason—besides state laws—why cities can't offer broadband to their constituents: local, long-term agreements with internet service providers.

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You make a deal with the devil (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233507)

And you're bound to get burned.

Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233513)

It's easy: Make franchise deals (cable *and* Internet deals) in cities and towns illegal to open up competition. Done.

Re:Easy! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47236217)

It's easy: Make franchise deals (cable *and* Internet deals) in cities and towns illegal to open up competition. Done.

Nothing easy at all about that. Franchise agreements exist primarily to regulate access to public right-of-way easements. So that you don't end up with an unholy mess of wires all over the damn place. And in order to make them illegal, you'd have to gut and re-work entire city charters and how State, Federal, and Local laws and powers work with/against each other.

And on the way, you'll have to dismantle Homeowner's Associations, and completely change how multi-unit complexes are allowed to operate. Because in many places, the city franchise is only part of the problem- many subdivisions, HOA's, apartments, condos, etc. have their own lock-in agreements with specific providers.

Not saying it shouldn't (or couldn't) be done, but it would not be simple, nor easy.

A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (5, Interesting)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47233539)

If the FCC is seemingly so impotent to regulate the industry, just what the hell are you guys paying it to do?

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (5, Interesting)

sexconker (1179573) | about 3 months ago | (#47233547)

If the FCC is seemingly so impotent to regulate the industry, just what the hell are you guys paying it to do?

Prevent breasts from being shown on TV.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233571)

This. Breasts on TV would be the end of American civilization itself.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233609)

This. Breasts on TV would be the end of American civilization itself.

You mock, but a child exposed to such things would be horribly scarred, psychologically. The economy would ultimately suffer as well from the burden of supporting them.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

theNetImp (190602) | about 3 months ago | (#47233653)

I really hope you're joking...

Re: A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234517)

How dare you think this is a joke!

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233675)

I advocate that we blind children at birth:
- it would prevent any trauma caused by wardrobe malfunctions
- it would prevent kids from seeing their own penis/vagina (and immature women from seeing their own breasts)
- it would prevent kids from seeing any and all the horrors of this world

(and if it works, I suggest we deafen them too so they don't ear all the swear words and heathen rethorics)

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234825)

that's what God wants, He told me.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47237723)

Also 4th trimester abortions. Like a lemon law, for children!

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 3 months ago | (#47233775)

Except for the all the countries where this is a normal everyday occurrence (Canada, Holland, England/UK, to name a few) and life just carries on like it's no big deal. Because it's not.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (2)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 3 months ago | (#47233985)

Yes, but they don't live the American Dream. Crushing debt for health care, lifetime fear of being told that you're not employable because of a non-debilitating chronic disorder, the opportunity to give up all rights to have courts redress grievances because you 'liked' the defendant at some point in your life, which mandated that you go through binding arbitration through lawyers paid by the defendant in a non-ethically questionable arrangement. After all, "That's the American Way!" these days.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about 3 months ago | (#47234071)

Yes, that's the American Way, not the American Dream. The American Dream is what gets crammed down our throats to make us accept the American Way. Please, don't confuse the two, as that only serves to further convince people that the two are actually, in some way, related.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#47234435)

Yeah, but you guys are Socialists.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

OneAhead (1495535) | about 3 months ago | (#47241761)

*wipes coffee off keyboard and screen*

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234549)

I never thought I'd see shills for baby formula on slashdot.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (2)

webnut77 (1326189) | about 3 months ago | (#47234583)

This. Breasts on TV would be the end of American civilization itself.

You mock, but a child exposed to such things would be horribly scarred, psychologically. The economy would ultimately suffer as well from the burden of supporting them.

We already have a way of supporting them. It's called a bra.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47246143)

This. Breasts on TV would be the end of American civilization itself.

You mock, but a child exposed to such things would be horribly scarred, psychologically. The economy would ultimately suffer as well from the burden of supporting them.

We already have a way of supporting them. It's called a bra.

Or hands...I'm pretty sure there are many people willing to support breasts. They are of large importance to both child development through their production of milk, and that essential need transitions to something that carries through the rest of life.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47236843)

That might explain the horrors of the world, especially in areas where unnatural breast feeding runs rampant!!! After all, our ancestors were all bottle fed!

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 3 months ago | (#47234599)

Well, let's hope it's a happy ending..

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 3 months ago | (#47233613)

And avoidence of 8 words to not be heard.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233717)

And avoidence of 8 words to not be heard.

The Federal Communications Commission is big business's whore.

Are those the 8 words?

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

OutOnARock (935713) | about 3 months ago | (#47233873)

...and its George Carlin's 7 dirty words

Shit

Piss

Fuck

Cunt

Cocksucker

Motherfuck

tits



and tits doesn't even belong on the list.....sounds like a snack.....yes I know it is....Tater Tits

Re: A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234523)

I don't know about you but I enjoy suckling on those tater nips on occasion.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

darthgnu (866920) | about 3 months ago | (#47235469)

Is the 8th word "Net Neutrality" ?

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 3 months ago | (#47237403)

it's NSA

Unfortunetly, they're the only ones listening to us.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#47233839)

Prevent breasts from being shown on TV.

Stop people from saying "shit" on the radio

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 3 months ago | (#47234965)

Uhm.

Prevent womens breasts from being exposed on TV after men rip their tops off.

TFTY

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47235197)

... after men rip their tops off ...

I was thinking you meant some gay grope so it took a minute to remember Nipple-gate. In the interests of equality I accept both. Of course only one of these examples reveals swollen, pink sexual organs so it's not really equality.

Aside: The problem with the battle of the sexes is too much fraternizing with the enemy.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 3 months ago | (#47235859)

I thought it was a reference to Game of Thrones. There's a lot of be-toppings on that show.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 3 months ago | (#47235441)

Prevent breasts from being shown on TV.

Not quite. An completely isolated breast or two is just fine as long as long as the slasher with the bloody knife soon loses interest and finds a better target.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

Rrraou (3655889) | about 3 months ago | (#47247131)

That's a bug, not a feature.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 3 months ago | (#47233569)

As with many things in the U.S., it boils down to the complex relationship between different levels of government. Telecom is regulated largely at the national level, but in part at the local level. The right to sign monopoly deals with local providers is one right that is delegated to local government, under current law anyway. So if a given local government actually signs such a deal, they're stuck with it.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234051)

I wonder, if it is possible at election time, to totally dissolve the current local government and then establish a new one? One that is not burdened by the stupid decisions of the previous.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234119)

yes, except for school boards in texas. The libertarians took over a few school boards, and the parasites at the state changed the law to prevent that from happening again.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

techesq (1669562) | about 3 months ago | (#47235221)

I misread that line, and said to myself...How nice, librarians took over the school board. They must have grown tired of all the shhhhhshing, dewey decimaling, and restacking. They have finally risen in revolt wielding the charred remains of card catalog cabinets and horn rimmed glasses sharpened and honed into deadly shanks. The eyeglass chain lanyard turned garrote, used by the rampaging librarian death squads with great effect, is a testament to the fact that you can raise an effective army .05 and .10 cents at a time. In fact, the librarians have finally stockpiled enough glue from the envelopes of overdue notices that the NSA suspects a chemical weapons plant is in the works (and has the Israeli Mossad report to prove it). MI6 could neither confirm nor deny -- actually, they weren't sure if they themselves existed. The librarians assert that the glue will be used only for peaceful purposes, and they are well within their rights to stockpile and develop the resources they need to maintain librarian sovereignty. But alas, I digress. Librarians. Rise. Rise up and take what is rightfully yours..... The local school board. The sweet, sweet, school board -- and a bonny prize she is. Well I hope those librarians whoop them school boardians real good..... Oh wait, it's libertarians? Nevermind. P.S. There is a difference between sharpening and honing. Really. It's on the internet, see: http://lansky.com/index.php/bl... [lansky.com]

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47234369)

Anyone ever think about the tragedy of the commons (see wikipedia)? Free internet only last so long before it's overgrazed?

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47236883)

I disagree with the part about if a government signs a deal they are stuck with it. Seems like that does not apply to my pension nor to my social security.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47237151)

So if a given local government actually signs such a deal, they're stuck with it.

Abuses of contract law are every bit as common in the USA as abuse of tort law (or patent law, or copyright law, or even property law). It's all part of the huge problem the US legal profession has with ethics. Unfortunately, the US press is too dumb to understand ethics issues, so the public is largely unaware of how bad things are.

The large amount of anti-lawyer humor, and the fact that people respond well to this humor, shows that people have some feeling for what is going on, at an intuitive level, but few really understand the details.

In principle, contract abuse generally involves violations of fundamental rights arising under the 9th or 10th amendments, which all legal professionals swear oaths to uphold when they swear oaths uphold the Bill of Rights. In practice, who watches the watchmen? Law is far too important to leave to the legal profession.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (4, Informative)

alen (225700) | about 3 months ago | (#47233601)

a town or city signs a deal with a company to provide services to citizens with all kinds of conditions to protect both sides
what is the FCC supposed to do about it? any town or city can pull out of the contract, they just have to pay up, lose revenue or whatever the contract says the terms are

now this comcast/verizon vs netflix issue, that's a different story

FCC - what it does (4, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | about 3 months ago | (#47233643)

Title 47

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/te... [ecfr.gov]

I don't particularly want to understand the FCC's area of authority, so here is Title 47.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233661)

We pay it to violate the first amendment.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233695)

i violate your mom every night and she doesn't mind

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233737)

Not a stupid query at all really. Over the past few decades the U.S. has seen a regressive shift in power. A relatively miniscule segment of the population composed of fundamentalist conservatives and libertarians have gamed the system to become the decision makers, in essence our very own 'Fifth Column'. Public opinion has an almost non-existent, diminished role in public policy matters and any government oversight is viewed as 'evil' as opposed private enterprise being our benevolent protectors. Of course the problem with public or private can always boil down to the human factor -- we're much more ignorant than we can ever admit.
So while it seems absurd that just a handful of corporations can control entire cities and even counties, a growing libertarian movement is making states' rights an even more complicated issue. In the meantime, the FCC will continue floundering (and hopefully Tom Wheeler will soon opt to leave and return to his very, very lucrative private sector beginnings) and the commons will continued getting screwed by situations we've created for ourselves.

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233863)

a growing libertarian movement

Please, please tell me you're not referring to the Tea Party (Note: doesn't have the balls to be a real party. See: Republican faction) when you say that?

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

Livius (318358) | about 3 months ago | (#47233773)

The FCC is there to regulate *consumer*, not industry.

It's a free market so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47235727)

Those cities will die, following Darwinism principles, other cities based on creationism don't need internet access, as it's counter productive to well whatever....

Re:A Question from a Stupid Foreigner. (1)

sudon't (580652) | about 3 months ago | (#47282643)

A lot of the "teeth" have been removed from many regulators over the years, in order to prevent their "interfering" with Big Business. That also helps explain part of the recent financial crisis, as banking regulators were carefully de-fanged over the last thirty years. Also, what Trepidity said.

This is how it should be.... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#47233549)

When you get to this level, it's not really the FCC's mandate anymore. It's the FTC's mandate, as it has become a federal trade/transport issue. When a municipality can't transport data to another municipality because of a contract with an infrastructure provider who is interstate, that's FTC territory.

Plus, I think you'll find there's only one state where this is illegal; in all the other states, it's just legislatively prohibitive (following the laws, it would cost too much to provide to the community).

Local government mismanagement (2)

Kohath (38547) | about 3 months ago | (#47233649)

Your local governments made sweetheart monopoly deals to get cable money. Now you think the solution is for your local government to make a different kind of sweetheart monopoly deal for municipal internet access?

Open up local wired infrastructure to competitive use instead. The wire is in the ground. End monopoly access to it. Let companies compete for subscribers.

Re:Local government mismanagement (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 3 months ago | (#47234011)

Nah, I think the local government should review the contract to confirm that the provider is meeting their obligations. If they are not, then a simple contract cancellation due to non-performance of the provider should be all it takes to clean up the mess.

Re:Local government mismanagement (3, Informative)

Rick Zeman (15628) | about 3 months ago | (#47234177)

Nah, I think the local government should review the contract to confirm that the provider is meeting their obligations. If they are not, then a simple contract cancellation due to non-performance of the provider should be all it takes to clean up the mess.

LOL, you must be new to this country. [consumerist.com]

Re:Local government mismanagement (1)

rusty0101 (565565) | about 3 months ago | (#47235777)

Nah, that's what I think they _should_ do. Nothing in there that expresses any expectation of local governments actually implementing such a practice.

Re:Local government mismanagement (2)

DaAdder (124139) | about 3 months ago | (#47234033)

How about doing what has been done in the US, and is being done successfully all over the world:

Let the local government own the network.

Either the local government makes their own infrastructure company for maintenance and development of the network itself, or let an established company do it.
The point being of course, that everyone can buy access and then sell services in the network. Whoever runs the network publicly document costs, and charges everyone the same, cost based, non-profit fee.

Meaning you have close to the perfect competitive environment, in a future proof network environment that will benefit the consumer/citizen AND corporations alike, no matter what the current size of the corporation happens to be.

It's proven successful, easy, fast and functional everywhere it's been tried. Why not try it yourselves?

Re:Local government mismanagement (2)

sir-gold (949031) | about 3 months ago | (#47234277)

If the wire was used entirely for broadband, instead of 300 channels of crap nobody watches and 10 million phone lines that nobody wanted, it would be enough bandwidth to make the entire fiber-optic debate moot (for another 30 years anyway)
 

Re:Local government mismanagement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47236039)

Those 300 channel of crap are multicast (only 300MB/s on an average of 8Mbit/s/channel) and there is no reserved bandwidth for 10^7 phonelines (76 GB/s considering 64kbit/s channels).

Local government mismanagement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234997)

""The FCC's power becomes much less certain once you drill into the other major reasonÃ"besides state lawsÃ"why cities can't offer broadband to their constituents: local, long-term agreements with internet service providers.""

Yes and you know what these moron politicians arguments or PR spin was with these deals! "This will bring new business to our city, and JOBS"
So people have no one else to blame but themselves (the arrogant/ignorant ones, not the ones that see past bullshit) so bitching and moaning over an unconstitutional "federal" government because they do absolutely nothing other then aide in creating monopolies, and propaganda to make numerous things illegal, or putting approval on products that are unsafe, since they do not do the testing (and even if they did they would just be bought off to allow it on the market).

Sorry for the rant, but my point is they do nothing. And the Federal Government is illegal itself, so why you would expect them to enforce their regulations. They create regulations only to be bought off, or to have lobbyist or corporate insiders running Federal agencies that go opposite to what taxpayer Jane/Joe want. And they put wide open loopholes in those regulations so companies can get cheap and quick approval.

Welcome to the American dream ... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233657)

Private corporations holding government over a barrel, to the detriment of the populace.

This is pretty much exactly what the Tea Party is looking for, even if nobody has ever truly appreciated that fact.

Thanks, assholes, for exporting your ridiculous oligarchy and concept of economy ... the rest of the world won't be far behind when TTIP [opendemocracy.net] comes into effect.

America has been exporting this drivel for years, and I'm glad you're starting to feel the pain of it.

politicians put the public over that barrel. Tea p (4, Insightful)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#47233715)

The local governments, the politicians, made those deals because it gave them what they want (campaign money). They aren't over a barrel, they are perfectly happy with the arrangement. When a citizens' group ASKS them what they think about the public getting screwed, they'll SAY they don't like it. They made the deal willingly, though. It's the public that they stuffed into the barrel.

I'm not a tea party member, so maybe I shouldn't speak for them, but I'm pretty sure they are AGAINST having the government outlaw competition like this. I think the Tea Party way would be that anyone who wants to offer better, faster service should be allowed to do so, and the government shouldn't stop them. Currently, local governments outlaw competition. I don't think that's what Tea party people want.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233739)

The tea party wants whatever Fox and Rush tell them they want.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 months ago | (#47233947)

I'm not a tea party member, so maybe I shouldn't speak for them, but I'm pretty sure they are AGAINST having the government outlaw competition like this.

Here's the 10 Senators who signed a letter to the FCC Chief [netdna-cdn.com] (PDF)
Republican:
Deb Fischer
John Barrasso
Pat Roberts
Lamar Alexander
Tom Coburn
John Cornyn

Tea Partier In Bad Standing:
Ron Johnson

Tea Party:
Ted Cruz
Marco Rubio
Tim Scott
Mike Enzi

FYI - Some of the Republicans on that list are being actively targeted by Tea Party groups in the mid-term elections.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (1)

guises (2423402) | about 3 months ago | (#47233959)

You were all right until this bit: "Currently, local governments outlaw competition." No local government outlaws competition. Deals can be made for several reasons, but they usually involve enticing companies to offer services where they wouldn't otherwise, or granting privileged build-out rights in exchange for promises of cheaper service or better service or service to less profitable areas. Nowhere do they ever outlaw competition, that would be ridiculous, but granting the privileged rights companies demand (and, to be fair, sometimes genuinely require) implies by their privilege that a competitor would at a minimum be at a disadvantage.

You are doubtless right that the Tea Party way would be towards greater anarchy. I've heard quite a few people lately just blanketly denouncing all regulation, apparently in the hope that the absence of laws will somehow lead to better treatment.

Google "cable franchise" (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#47234135)

Google the term "cable franchise". Most places have them. It is an agreement whereby the local government gives one company the EXCLUSIVE right to serve customers in that city . It is illegal for another company to come in and compete.

Re:Google "cable franchise" (2)

guises (2423402) | about 3 months ago | (#47234265)

In order to humor you, I have Googled the term "cable franchise." It seems to be exactly what I said: a grant of privileged status given in exchange for promises of particular service. Something quite different from outlawing competition. However, the legal dictionary had a result pertaining to cable television franchises: "The 1992 Cable Act ... abolished the exclusive franchise agreement."

It then went on to talk about how later deregulation (in 1996) has since led to cable consolidation, less competition, and higher prices.

where "privileged status" means "can have cabling" (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#47235047)

It's a grant of privileged status where "privileged status" means "allowed to run cabling". I guess technically it's not illegal to provide service, it's just unlawful to having cabling to run that service on.

Re:where "privileged status" means "can have cabli (1)

guises (2423402) | about 3 months ago | (#47235267)

It's not unlawful to run cabling, it's just really difficult. Making it easier for one company is not the same thing as outlawing other companies from doing it.

Re:where "privileged status" means "can have cabli (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47235775)

It's not unlawful to run cabling, it's just really difficult. Making it easier for one company is not the same thing as outlawing other companies from doing it.

You are grossly mischaracterizing the situation, where municipalities have granted monopoly right-of-way under the guise of preventing service issues due to cable cuts and the like.

Re:Google "cable franchise" (1)

mgcarley (735176) | about 3 months ago | (#47242049)

Are you sure? I've been reading a lot of franchise agreements lately from a few towns in and around the mid-west, and they all seem to say "non-exclusive".

Of course, that's not going to stop a cableco making up reasons to sue and/or preventing us from having access to poles or making it prohibitively expensive to do so, and it's not going to stop a town that already has 7 providers with fiber in the ground (none of which is open for lease by competitors) saying "no more fiber in the ground because what if we need to repair city utilities".

Of course, exclusivity may apply where you are but even in a town that is co-operative on the surface, franchise agreements are only a very small part of the puzzle.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47235117)

The competitor is at a disadvantage so great as to make their business non-viable.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (1)

guises (2423402) | about 3 months ago | (#47235299)

No doubt. Unfortunately, the way it works in the US is that almost everything, including a lot of infrastructure, is privately owned. So despite the fact that building out that infrastructure is so difficult that it can't really be done without assistance, thus precluding real competition, we have statements like these: "I think the Tea Party way would be that anyone who wants to offer better, faster service should be allowed to do so, and the government shouldn't stop them." And the guy is probably right. That probably is the stated ideal of the Tea Party, no matter how foolish it is.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 months ago | (#47235503)

I think the tea party borrowed that ideal from Objectivism. The tendency to idealise the free market as the solution to all problems, while being blind to the flaws of a free market approach.

In the case of internet, there's more of an issue with first-to-enter-wins. Whoever cables up an area first must make a huge investment, but they also get 100% of the market - enough to recoup their investment and then make a tidy profit. Whoever follows has to spend just as much, but by that point all of their potential customers have already signed up with the first entry - and it's very difficult to convince people to switch provider, as it does bring a lot of hassle. That means that there is little hope of turning a profit by building a network in an area where another is already operating, and so many areas have only one broadband ISP available. It's essentially a natural monopoly.

There's some prospect of things like wimax fixing that by greatly lowering the cost of network consturction, but the technology is just at a fundamental disadvantage there. A wireless connection can never be as fast or as reliable as a wired one, and will always have to deal with contention. It's inherent in the technology.

unless it's better. See isdn to cable to Gb fiber (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#47236089)

> In the case of internet, there's more of an issue with first-to-enter-wins.

Yep, and the phone companies were the first, since they already had both local and long haul cabling. So everyone used isdn and dial up. Until someone offered something better and cheaper (cable modems). Most people used cable modems until someone offered something better.

Local franchises (government enforced monopolies) meant that you weren't allowed to offer a better cable modem service, because the government granted one company the exclusive right to offer cable modems. It was under these franchises that new companies could come in only by offering a completely new technology. In a few areas, there are no such government restrictions and there actually are two cable companies competing with each other.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (3, Informative)

reanjr (588767) | about 3 months ago | (#47233989)

The Tea Party people want whatever the Koch brothers tell them to want. If the Koch brothers have a stake in telecom, I bet most teabaggers support these contracts.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 3 months ago | (#47235487)

The Tea Party people want whatever the Koch brothers tell them to want.

Yes, because they're our Vampiric Masters* and we cannot refuse their any whim. (Catches fly.)

Just remember that we're nice and good but they're pure evil. And the nice thing about that is: you print it out once and push it out everywhere!


* Vampiric Masters -- Ex: George Soros, Al Gore.
Suspected: Rush (Not the band.)

--

"I can call spirits from the vasty deep."

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (1)

odie5533 (989896) | about 3 months ago | (#47234099)

They are against having the federal government stick its nose in the business of local government. The FCC's only job should be to pass out enough rope to the local governments so they can hang themselves.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234423)

You are willfully blind to the obvious legal battles that many of the communities lost because they tried to install their own fiber. They were advised to sign the contracts to stop their communities from being sued .... again and again and again by corporations that have much much more money than they do.

Re:politicians put the public over that barrel. Te (1)

ADRA (37398) | about 3 months ago | (#47235243)

Yes, and tea party mentality says that once you have an incumbent service in place, let them bleed the populace blind until someone builds an entire replacement network out in order to compete. Eventually the prices will rise high enough to justify having 2-3-10 competing players! I mean hell, if it costs $1000 to connect to an important service, a lot of competitors will eventually pore in millions of infrastructure to fulfill it! Plus all the trickle down economics on hardware and fibre/copper producers, etc.. its like bonanza v2. Why didn't they think of this sooner!! Its not like these fixed costs are paid by tax payers as handouts to people capable of providing said services. They didn't spend one cent to contribute to their campaigns, and nothing ever goes wrong in this magical lolly pop land.

Root of the problem (1)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 3 months ago | (#47233693)

I wouldn't have expected the FCC to be able to do anything about this. They are mostly toothless when it comes to many of the problems with the Internet, which isn't necessarily a bad thing considering they have abused their power in favor of incumbents in the past. This is a problem that really needs to be attacked at it's source: telecom's ludicrous lobbying power. I hate to sound like a shill for Lawrence Lessig, but I really hope the May One super PAC is a success. American "democracy" really is pay-to-win.

screw tv and phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233699)

I think most of those deals are prohibitively expensive to go around because they involve tv and phone as well. I only care about internet access. I don't use traditional TV, nor a landline. Let me have fast internet and that's all I care about.

Re:screw tv and phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233889)

What?!? You mean you aren't a happy, shiny team player who's ready to "triple play"? Why do you hate America and the First Responders?

What about the FTC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233865)

I can't find right now, but I read an article recently that suggested that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission for all those non-USians) might be a more appropriate agency to deal with these kind of restrictive, anti-competitive and monopolistic state regulations.

Break Contracts/Agreements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233903)

I haven't had to deal with contracts too often, but isn't usually possible to break a contract by buying it out or whatnot? If you take a contract to buy 500,000 widgets, and then you back out, you may need to pay a penalty. If you take a contract to provide X service for Y amount (say webhosting for 24 months) and you exit the contract after a year, you may be on the hook for the remaining 12 months.

Re:Break Contracts/Agreements? (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 3 months ago | (#47234775)

These contracts are for like 30-100 years of service (no kidding). The providers would have to get 30y worth of monopoly-based income (eg. a city may have 500k customers which they can now charge $60 more per month than if there were competition for 30 years amounts to a contract worth $10B).

California and taxes? (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 3 months ago | (#47233917)

These deals that provide a kickback to the municipality are effectively a tax. California restricts what taxes can be imposed without the approval of the electorate. Perhaps the deals could be challenged on the basis that they are illegal taxes?

Cities Trapped By Predatory Internet Deals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47233921)

Can we (public) have that list of cities trapped by big internet telecom deals? Are there any free lawyers out there?

What about the FTC? (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 3 months ago | (#47234027)

Since the cable scum have monopolies in their service areas, and they are clearly interstate businesses, there should be some other entity at the Federal level that can address this issue. I'm guess the FTC, but it not them, there should be someone else.

Oops, I forgot that we don't have any actual capitalism in the USA any more, because the regulators are all controlled by industry groups. Forget it. Your cable/phone/ISP bill is going to continue to go up far faster then inflation, and your service will suck even more. And there is nothing you can do about it.

Nothing to see here, move along. No capitalism, no competition, no democracy.

How about citizen owned IPS's (1)

future assassin (639396) | about 3 months ago | (#47234207)

Like say a Credit Union. Everyone signs up, pays a small amount for the share which is then used to start the company then once its rolled out each person in the city that signed up pays a certain monthly amount and has shares in the company.

Re:How about citizen owned IPS's (1)

mgcarley (735176) | about 3 months ago | (#47242093)

We'd be up for it. Strictly speaking we're for profit but as a non-American I may also have some socialistic or altruistic tendencies which might be advantageous for such a project.

The question is finding *enough* people & money to make it work. Geek-heavy sites like ./ and the like make it seem easy because for the most part we do care about our technology and our Internets, but talk to your neighbours 10-houses on either side and find out how many of them care as much about their Internet services as you or I do.

The main incentive for most people would be financial but the financial relief as compared to their existing service would have to be significant otherwise it gets chucked in the "too hard" basket.

OTARD not Net Neutrality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47234779)

What we need is a two-way right-of transmission similar to OTARD [fcc.gov] .

My HOA wanted to give grief over satellite forms. I told them to pound sand because their rules were unreasonable (I had to sign an "agreement" when the HOA is not allowed to bind me in such a fashion but only use justifiable restrictions, in place PRIOR to my dish going up, not after the fact - OTARD is very specific about what types of rules might be allowed - the HOA never bothered me after hearing the magic word, "OTARD").

OTARD puts the burden on the entity wanting to stop reception. We need the same thing for hard wires and EM spectrum.

Of course, the FCC is not fighting to give citizens more power. They are fighting to get more power so we have to thank them for every bit we receive.

I'm sorry so much energy has been wasted on net neutrality and last mile nonsense. Yes, installation costs are expensive but a mile of fiberoptic cable costs $1000, it is the BS that is astronomical in price. Not to mention we pay to have our data sent to the NSA (directly or indirectly).

Laws can change (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about 3 months ago | (#47235165)

Washington state used to have a law that made it illegal to sell distilled liquor in grocery stores. People voted on a ballot initiative and the law changed. Even if bought politicians stay bought, people can change the politicians. A city might find that a contract is void because the former politicians who made it were not acting in good faith with regard to the public's interest.

Breach of Contract (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about 3 months ago | (#47236901)

Weren't those contracts made with the promise that $telcom would provide decent internet access? Even if it was just a verbal contract. I think the cities should sue them for breach of contract, to recover those excessive costs and lost revenue due to having crappy internet connections.

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