A long-awaited US report studying access to online information was released Friday. One of its recommendations is that the government radically step up its efforts to ensure broadband access to all. The report, Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy in the Digital Age, was developed in a partnership of the John S. and James …
What a load of crap.
"Broadband internet access has become a necessity rather than a luxury."
"News, a shared popular culture,"
So-called "News" is entertainment, not education.
Reading text and ticking boxes works fine at 2400 baud.
Show me a single student who is capable of taking in information that is relative to what they are studying at more than 9600 baud. If you are talking video clips, sound, and etc., why do you think that so-called "broadband" is the only medium capable of getting that information to the student?
Ah. Follow the money ... The light dawns.
" - if you don’t have access, you’re relegated to second-class status in the US culture, economy, and educational system."
Only because the current US culture, economy, and educational system is a product of the "I want it now, but I don't want to work for it" attitude brought about by the Nintendo Generation who can't see past "the next level", and is willing to cheat to get there ...
Some of us can see past the multimedia bullshit. Hopefully we will eventually convince the rest of the USofA that basic building blocks are more important than "::click:: WOW! Porn!" I'm not holding my breath.
Socialism not required. Pretty much everyone in the US has access to electricity and the telephone, which was brought about without state ownership of the companies providing the services. Government incentives may well have a place, but that does not need to reach the level of government ownership or control.
In Britain, we had actual socialism in the telephone service and abandoned it. This was a good thing, although British Telecom still displays some of the faults of a monopoly state supplier, as it hasn't been properly broken up in the way that the commercial giant AT&T was in the USA.
The government can add funding or tax incentives for social purposes without taking control. They do it all the time, even in capitalist countries, This route is probably less efficient than leaving capitalism alone. In Britain, we over-regulate, so that service providers fear that any investment they make will be negated by new rules after the fact. Why put money into infrastructure when the bureaucrats are poised to snatch your evil profits from you as soon as it is finished?
You say that the report makes many recommendation, although some are not as clear as others, yet you focus on only one recommendation, which you support.
Surely, that is Fascism.
I'm with Jake
Broadband is not a necessity.
You could just as easily argue that people living in the Stix are too far from the nearest freeway, school, hospital, supermarket or nightclub - or that people living in cities don't have enough open spaces or trees and live with too much pollution.
This is a lifestyle choice - if you choose to live in the quiet countryside with fresh air, trees and open space, you have to accept that being away from civilisation means being away from things like hospitals, shopping centres, high speed Internet and a larger choice of employers.
Alternatively, you can pay for a leased line from your own pocket. Country dwellers aren't about to subsidise my more expensive and meagre city accomodation - why should I subsidise their Internet access?
"British Telecom still displays some of the faults of a monopoly state supplier, as it hasn't been properly broken up in the way that the commercial giant AT&T was in the USA."
Would this be the AT&T that has been allowed to re-morph in to one huge oligopoly like the 2nd generation Terminator in recent years?
The same AT&T that wants to impose internet filtering, network priority for its own money-making services, etc?
"Alternatively, you can pay for a leased line from your own pocket. Country dwellers aren't about to subsidise my more expensive and meagre city accomodation - why should I subsidise their Internet access?"
Because living in a city in a civilized country is a lifestyle choice? Feel free to fuck off elsewhere.
Horses and drinking, and the new Dawn of AT&T
I could not help but stumble across these points:
* Complete a national broadband strategy aimed at bringing Americans low-cost high-speed Internet access, including wireless, everywhere they want and need it.
I have to find this report that I know exists, it was quoted a few years ago, and I am sure it is still relevant. Again, how quickly we forget Sprint's ION service and its abysmal failure and massive losses. Anyway, the report queried a large number of Americans, found that the overwhelming majority of those who did not have broadband went without because they did not want it. Period. Dial-up is good enough for them and it is frankly good enough for content delivery. The fact that content services want to tart up their stuff with flashy Flash advertisements and shit like that should not be the driving force for broadband. People whine about how bloated Windows is, well let us turn that gaze onto web pages.
And then there are also city and county libraries where people can access the Internet as they please. And what about municipal WiFi services which keep getting shot down by regulatory services, or ones which never see the light of day or simply fail due to, wait for it, disinterest. "Want and need" takes on a large relevance here.
* Establish a national target for household broadband access at speeds sufficient to support video transmission at a level of quality comparable to the household video services now delivered through cable and satellite television services.
This is unnecessary. TV over the Internet is neither a requirement nor a national right. Cable television service is not available in all areas, so will Cox, ComCast, TCI, and their ilk start receiving money of out my paycheck to expand services? You see, this is how our market system works: when a service or product is not available in a given area, another steps in to take its place. Cannot get cable, then go satellite, or OTA TV using one of the digital receivers for which you were already "given" $40 (each for two, no less) in tax payer money.
* Adopt public policies encouraging consumer demand for broadband services. [and] Continue to use financial incentives to help spur broadband deployment in areas where it has lagged because of market conditions.
And just what public policies are these? How do you drive consumer demand by policy? How do you reconcile this with "want and need?" If market conditions do not encourage broadband expansion, then investment into the build-out of infrastructure may sound good, but the long-term maintenance would still have to be covered by someone. A company may not have to worry about the ROI on a roll-out; it most certainly has to worry about the I-part of that for supporting it.
Electricity and water services were initially not required for living. They still are not in some places I have visited; the people get along just fine without one or the other, or both in some instances. Broadband is not only the same in this respect, but also differs in that there is little way that it will become a necessity without which one cannot live.
I see the ultimate factor here being to control the flow of information, essentially to push information into the faces of the people. To what end? Just like other issues being pushed into our faces, the push for change is predicated on false assumptions of "want and need," when the real wants and needs of the people are being completely ignored, because the people "do not know any better." It does look too much like the apparatus of the State when the talk is of the State itself pushing the information carrier forward. Perhaps we just might see the day when power switches on the telly are illegal.
As for AT&T, this is the Dawn of the New Age of AT&T, indeed. The AT&T of old had a rich history of service and innovations, though I would say in some instances it should have reigned in its legal department better. There was even a year during which the government took it over to find pricing increase 10-fold and customer satisfaction decrease just as much. It was a company which hired non-white-folk who were qualified for the job, regardless of popular opinion of the time, and without the need for affirmative action. But the reborn AT&T is definitely something sinister, for reasons stated prior, causing massive thumb-pricking.
Paris, sinister pricking.
What has this got to do with socialism?
Speeding is against the rules - whatever your income. This is not socialism.
The armed forces are there to defend the whole of our society. This does not mean that they are a bunch of lefties.
Most of our roads are free for use and many prefer it that way. Does this smack of communism?
In the same way, after it has been decided by some that (very) basic broadband is now as important as electricity & drains, what's the difference?
(I am not convinced that it is as vital, but that is a separate question.)
with @jake, @Neil 5, @John G, @just about everyone else...
My father is in agriculture and has a farm in South Dakota. You're lucky to get a single bar of cell coverage, but they can pipe long distance DSL to anyone with a landline. Ya, it's 1Mbps, but it goes to prove that if people out in the sticks are willing to pay for broadband, it will be provided. You don't need the government to to shove it down their throats.
More than just access
East of the Mississippi, rural population is dense enough that we could satisfy this initiative by subsidizing rural telcos to place DSL transceivers in their central offices, and maybe lay some new lines. Then each household just needs: a DSL modem; a computer strong enough to run the programs and show the content that is newly available; a person who can keep the computer running; a person who would benefit from the new information pipeline; enough free cash to pay for the Internet service; reliable phone and power; the brains and will to hold it all together.
Poverty and ignorance make people second class citizens. Maybe there are some, or even many, people who would use such a program to lift themselves out of both. But, as a country dweller, I can assure you that most of the beneficiaries of such a program would use it for trivial purposes, or not at all.
"Pretty much everyone in the US has access to electricity and the telephone, which was brought about without state ownership of the companies providing the services."
Read the history of:
Tennessee Valley Authority
Rural Electrification Act
I like that analogy at the end
Comparing broadband to the interstate highway system is an excellent point. Of course, people only appreciate government services which they personally use (everything else is socialism) so it will never work.
Worst idea ever
All the government needs to do is ensure a competitive market place, then everything will take care of itself. Bigger government giving more money to already big corporations will make this WAY worse.
They baby bells have grown up, and need to be broken up, and our government needs to be castrated. It has grown far to large an influential. The US economy is now more centrally planned than China.
In fact, fuck it, I'm moving there.
"Because living in a city in a civilized country is a lifestyle choice?"
Internet access itself is hardly a necessity for life. So-called broadband is a luxury on top of that. To suggest otherwise is roughly the same as saying owning an automobile is a necessity, so everyone should drive top-of-the-line sports cars.
I personally use a 9600 baud dial-up connection about 7 days a month (our place up in Fort Bragg is roughly 14 miles from the CO, and I hate Satellite connections). When it rains or is foggy, I'm lucky to see 4800, and 2400 is common. About the only thing that I do differently up there than down here in Sonoma is my choice of Web browser. Up there, I use Lynx, down here I use Firefox. The end result is pretty much the same.
 Substiute "personal form of transportation" if you prefer.
 Old cable plant and cracked, dusty wires make for a bad signal/noise ratio when wet.
 There are other arguably better text-only browsers, but my fingers know Lynx. That'll happen to a guy when he's been using software for a decade and a half or so ...
Al Gore school & library pact redux
But it is nice to see companies other than Blackwater, Goldman, Mobil, Northrup and General Dynamics feeding at the trough - it's like springtime in the government corruption industry again.
I'm forced to agree with some of the above, broadband simply isn't a necessity. Oh, it's nice to have and I'd miss it a bit if I didn't have it (my job sort of depends on it). How about we consider clean water, sanitation, health, shelter, freedom from criminal or state-sponsored violence and a reasonable amount of food as necessities, the rest is icing on the cake. Now show me the governments that provide all of the above to all their citizens and I'll show you those who have their priorities in the right order.
Education, access to work, good transport, telecomms of various types, etc, etc are good, and a modern, prosperous state should have a reasonable framework for providing such things, either directly or via the free market (it doesn't matter that much to the consumer, assuming they work well), but people can survive without them.
This article expresses the need to turn Internet access into a utility, like water, electricity and roads. Notice that all three of those utilities harbor no preference as to the content, or the source of the content. Water utilities collect and dispense water from any source that meets minimum requirements. Electrical utilities are now promoting "green" energy from any source that meets minimum requirements. And the roads? As long you comply with regulations, the road is neutral.
The point of this post is that we're going to have to separate the content sources from the content carriers if we want net neutrality. And the best way to do that is turn the Internet into a utility. Once Internet access is regarded as a utility, the government can assume the long term costs of maintenance and upgrades, just as they do with the roads and other forms of infrastructure. We will also have to turn all Internet access resellers into "common carriers" to complete the task.
The Internet as utility and infrastructure maintained by the government, or in partnership with the government, as so successfully demonstrated by Japan, is the best way to go. All we need to do is pry the infrastructure away from the hands of the content providers. Notice that Comcast, the nation's largest Internet Access provider, is becoming a content provider by purchasing companies like NBC. They already own several networks that are content producers.
The problem with this behavior is that it allows a "balkanization" of the Internet. This will set a very dangerous precedent and create separate networks rather than keeping it all together. Then again we will have a digital divide.
Turn the Internet into a utility, all access providers into common carriers and separate the content providers from the carriers. Then you will have net neutrality.
"Internet access itself is hardly a necessity for life"
Neither are roads, electricity, or a telephone. It all depends where you draw the line. Private enterprise has historically and will continue to be a complete failure at capital-intensive infrastructural projects unless operating as a monopoly - 30000 rural "broadband" cowboy outfits all using different-sized jack plugs is a surefire way to rollout a service second to all.
If the analogy is indeed accurate, then every house would have an Interstate exit to its driveway and there would be no dirt roads.
Paris, dirt road exit to her driveway.
M'name's jake, lower case. The upper case Jake is somebody else.
"Neither are roads, electricity, or a telephone."
Roads, electricity and the telephone are instrumental in saving human lives every day. Consumer-grade so-called "broadband"? Not so much.
"Private enterprise has historically and will continue to be a complete failure at capital-intensive infrastructural projects unless operating as a monopoly"
I don't disagree. But I also don't think broadband is a necessity. Let's get the existing infrastructure fixed first.
"30000 rural "broadband" cowboy outfits all using different-sized jack plugs is a surefire way to rollout a service second to all."
Don't be silly. USB.x and 802.x Ethernet, both wired & wireless, are the ubiquitous standards (I still use RS232 for a few things, but then I'm an anachronistic old fart.).
 One could also say modern transportation, electronics and communications are instrumental in the taking of many human lives every day, but that's a whole 'nuther issue ... on the other hand, once again consumer-grade so-called "broadband" doesn't enter the picture. Something to ponder.
A typical response from Large Entities.
They suggest splurging to replicate more of the high-cost infrastructure, rather than harnessing existing intellectual resources and creating cheaper and more efficient, software and hardware that is better able to exploit the existing infrastructure. Moreover, when this newly built infrastructure is no longer in style, they'll want to build new, different infrastructure, at an even greater cost, and so on and so forth.
Welcome to AOL Time Warner Taco Bell US Government Long Distance.
To all the disbelievers
High speed internet is not only not readily available, the idea that you just drop everything and trot off to your local library (shortened hours, cut budgets) is just a joke...as is your idea that "it's out there, they just don't want it." You couldn't be more wrong...same as the crooked pollsters who will generate whatever ATT, Verizon, or the cableco's pay them to come up with.
You people all need to DIAF.
At least your bothered!
Sandman - I think the Government your describing is Cuban.
We need a proper conspiracy.
In the United Socialist States of America (USSA) (an economy under written by cheap loans from China), with a fibre to every home, you longer need your schools (a bit violent anyway), you can share your cars (you know you need too), reduce the number of airports (over crowded), and shut your care homes - (not nice to visit). Fibre solves a lot of 'problems'.
The UK government has stated it cannot deliver on its repsonsibilities unless the connectivity is in place to support its service transformation and delivery projects - care, education, prisoner rehabilitation.
The US is implementing a Broadband plan because it looks a good idea. The UK knows it is a good idea, but cannot be bothered.
"In Britain, we had actual socialism in the telephone service and abandoned it. This was a good thing,"
Have you dealt with BT lately? I cannot imagine there is any conceivable way in which they could possibly offer a worse service to customers. They are an attrocious disaster of a company. Even NTL at their worst, who I was also a customer of, can't touch BT for sheer terribleness. I'm all for Telephone Socialism if it isn't what BT are now.
At the end of January this year, on this very website, I read a story (Most Americans Without Broadband Don't Want It) that said the so-called 'digital divide' was a non-issue.
Specifically, a survey was carried out in the US, asking those that didn't have high-speed internet access why they didn't have it.
A small proportion of those people responded that availability was the issue. And a large part of the non-internet users polled said that they would never get broadband, even if it was available.
I'm not sure how closely the two stories correlate in every aspect but they're worth comparing.
The socialists writing that report lied...
Satellite high-speed internet is available just about everywhere in Rural America. The problem is not availability, the problem is just the cost to a small segment of the population.
The Fascists, Socialists, and Communists are just trying to find a way to take over more private industry.
* GM = Government Motors (transportation)
* Nationalized Health Care (solve the problem of high numbers of people receiving Social Security)
* Nationalized Internet (which will carry everything from audio, video, television, etc.)
"But from where we sit, those billions would have far more impact than the inordinate amount of tax dollars spent on unneeded weapons systems designed for outdated modes of warfare."
The Federal Government of the United States is contracted by the Constitution to provide security to the individual States. This means, against Nuclear Powers to foreign Drug Gangs coming over the border from Mexico. When a nuclear bomb or an EMP goes off, all of those old weapons with no electrical circuits in them will fare quite well.
Different threats require different levels of technology. Got to have it all. There is strength in diversity.
Broadband in the US?
A lot of areas are waiting for decent telephone services and the remote possibility of mobile phone coverage. Thirty years ago there were plenty of homes with no electricity and magneto telephones with party lines with up to 99 parties on the same line Two turns of the handle for the tens digit, one turn for the units digit, three turns for CO (Exchange, or Operator, to the rest of us). Today the situation's better -- but not by much :-(. Out in the sticks in the US has a distinctly third-world feel about it. Other rural America is something like 30 years behind urban America. It's certainly very different from what you see on TV!
I've heard tell that in Maine 'broadband' is something you hit a moose with - sounds pretty vital to me.
@ Apocalypse Later
Quoth he: "Pretty much everyone in the US has access to electricity and the telephone, which was brought about without state ownership of the companies providing the services."
You, sir, are a vile historical revisionist. Have you never heard of the REA? The Rural Electrification Administration? Nor have you heard of the dams on the Colorado and Columbia rivers (among others) that generate large amounts of electricity and are most definitely NOT in the private sector?
In a very narrow, technical sense you may be right, but by any reasonable interpretation you are wrong-o.
@RW @Apocalypse Later
RW, "You, sir, are a vile historical revisionist. ... In a very narrow, technical sense you may be right..."
Sounds like the comment poster struck a cord that really shook RW to the core.
Perhaps that comment poster was not so vile or revisionist.
Um have you not heard of city run utilities. Santa Clara,Sunnyvale Ca run their own power/gas/and cable companies. All are cheaper then private companies.
@jake: on the nail
saved me the effort of writing it.
And this 'status' crap is for tree-dwelling primates. We need to leave it behind.
No, RW had it right, and just posted before me. The REA was critical in getting rural America electrical service. I'm not so certain that Apocalypse Later is a "vile historical revisionist", but if he isn't, then he is simply grossly ignorant.
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