back to article Non-profits push back against Big Cable's bumpkin broadband blueprint for America

A group of 17 consumer and civil rights groups have launched a new coalition aimed at countering efforts by Big Cable to siphon off funds for rural broadband into their already deep pockets. Broadband Connects America is aimed squarely at policymakers that have grown increasingly conscious of the digital divide that exists in …

  1. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Frontier Communications as admitted in writing that it has no intention of upgrading its pathetic 2.5Mbps ADSL service to true broadband and that it will not apply for or accept federal grant money to expand true broadband service to rural areas. And the FCC. FTC. local state public utilities commission nor local state attorney general will do a thing about Frontier's crappy service or blatant false and misleading advertising.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is there clear evidence of this? And if so, why haven't the bureaus themselves been directly challenged for dereliction of duty?

  2. DJO Silver badge

    And if so, why haven't the bureaus themselves been directly challenged for dereliction of duty?

    Where the fuck have you been for the last couple of years?

    Their "duty" under Trump is to cosy up to the big cable providers and to soak up as much lobby cash as possible. Serving the public is now the antithesis of the role.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Their "duty" under Trump is to cosy up to the big cable providers and to soak up as much lobby cash as possible. Serving the public is now the antithesis of the role.

      Good to know this behavior only started under Trump.

      Get a grip.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Is "whataboutery" the only defence of Trump you can find, good grief, get a grip.

        Anyway did I say it started under the orange one, of course not but it is a great deal worse and far more overt under Trump than any previous administration.

  3. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Flame

    The US

    For sale to the highest bribe

  4. Drew Scriver

    Local governments often lack the required sophistication...

    In the US, the lowest tier of geographic government are the counties. Especially in the rural areas this can be a rather colloquial situation, although one gets the impression that they try hard to look official/important. The meetings can in fact be more formal than those of "the big boys".

    Having said that, this often results in contracts with ISPs that aren't particularly suited to serving the local population.

    From memory, the county I reside in (on the East Coast of the USA) has the following requirements:

    ISPs wanting to provide service in the county should (not: must):

    1) Service residential dwellings on rural roads if there are more than 20 houses on a linear mile.

    [Comment: there is no requirement to start counting at the first house. Therefore, a two-mile stretch of road with 22 houses could be regarded as two one-mile stretches with only 11 houses each.]

    2) Dwellings more than 300 ft (100 m) from the road are exempt.

    [This is very common in many areas, exempting yet more areas]

    3) Service does not have to be established if it would not be cost-effective to do so.

    [There is no requirement for the ISPs to disclose their calculations or provide justification, creating yet another huge loophole.]

    Of course the main ISPs are all too happy to agree to such a 'contract'. For now I have a 3 Mbps DSL connection. Our neighbors on one side (300 feet away) are getting 7 Mbps, but the neighbors on the other side are getting 1.5 Mbps. The rest of the road (another 30 houses along a 2-mile stretch) is out of luck. In addition, Verizon no longer offers new contracts in our area.

    There's a Comcast subscriber about half a mile away who has 3 Gbps service, but running cable to our house would cost around $72,000.

    It remains to be seen if things were different if the county had a real contract with the ISPs, but it is a fact that other counties (with more tech-savvy Boards of Supervisors) are able to negotiate much more meaningful services.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Local governments often lack the required sophistication...

      In many, probably most, areas of the US cable monopolies were established at the municipal (city, town, borough, village) level, not county. Providers from the cable and phone sectors mostly build, own and maintain their own infrastructure, leading to a lot of duplication and increased cost while creating barriers to entry by potential competitors. In NC, where I live, the problem is further exacerbated by a state law that frustrates local government efforts to provide competitive services. What should be done for rural areas is to fund regional, nonprofit co-ops that can own their own broadband infrastructure and service their members directly. The model for this would be the many successful electric power co-ops across the US (some of which who are beginning to provide broadband as part of their service packages). The telecoms were given a pile of cash in the late 90's to expand broadband and then just pocketed the money without making good on their promises. Their time is done. Time to try something new.

    2. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: Local governments often lack the required sophistication...

      @Drew Scrivener. In Illinois, there are townships, smaller units of government than counties. They have geographically fixed boundaries, unlike cities or villages that can annex and grow, the township I live in is six miles square. I would be delighted with 3Mbps, I pay for 1,75, but usually only get .75Mbps up, .3down. Welcome to the USA, the tech ghetto unless you live in a city. At least there are rules by you, it's a knife fight by me, with everyone saying "not my problem".

    3. dew3

      Re: Local governments often lack the required sophistication...

      "In the US, the lowest tier of geographic government are the counties. "

      "In many, probably most, areas of the US cable monopolies were established at the municipal (city, town, borough, village) level, not county. "

      I doubt either of these are correct. Different states in the US have different local government setups.

      I have lived in states where pretty much anything important is done at the county level, except in the biggest cities.

      Where I currently live is the other extreme, about half the counties have been legally dissolved as governmental entities, and most everything is done at the state or local municipal level. Smaller towns often pool services, especially schools, with regional agreements.

      While most towns/cities in my current state have individual municipal cable contracts, even here a friend in a very rural part of the state (with crappy internet choices) is working on a 12+ town regional agreement to create a tax-funded regional fiber district/agency. I'll also toss in - my small local (and not especially wealthy) town does not have any "monopoly" agreements - it has agreements with both Comcast and Verizon fios, and both require 100% residential coverage (My house is 50' from the road, but because Verizon screwed up when laying trunk lines, I have ~1100' fiber from the box on a pole on another road to my house.)

      So in summary I am skeptical of any generalization.

  5. vtcodger Silver badge

    Easy Answers

    While it's true that America's major broadband providers are, by and large, complete and utter scumbags, it's likely not true that there are easy answers. Take municipal broadband for example. Part of the story of Burlington, Vermont's bungled effort is at http://truenorthreports.com/lesson-of-burlington-telecom And Burlington (Population 40,000) is anything but rural. Heck, they even pave the roads there. Providing reliable, affordable, broadband service to rural areas where even power and POTS telephone service somewhat iffy is NOT a simple problem.

    1. G Olson

      Re: Easy Answers

      It's only a difficult problem when the carrier insists on front-loading the profit on the installation. Thus why a co-op is a better solution as they tend to agree to long term financial success instead of short term profits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Easy Answers

        It's only a difficult problem when the carrier insists on front-loading the profit on the installation.

        Back-loading their margin would not remotely resolve the logistical issues of installing and maintaining network infrastructure in remote areas.

        Thus why a co-op is a better solution as they tend to agree to long term financial success instead of short term profits.

        Just because the organization is formed as a co-op instead of a corporation does not resolve the inherent challenges with the actual creation and maintenance of an Internet service offering.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Easy Answers

        "It's only a difficult problem when the carrier insists on front-loading the profit on the installation."

        At some point the interest on installation costs plus maintenance will exceed any possible income from the service which means it will never be economically feasible.

        This is exacerbated by the fact that as charges must rise to cover costs, the number of subscribers will decline... causing a need for yet higher charges.

        The only reasonable out would likely be some kind of technology change, perhaps to an area wireless backbone / mesh setup.

        Microwave and higher frequency electronics should be getting cheaper all the time...

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Easy Answers

          But suffer diminishing returns, particularly once things get crowded. There's just no substitute for physical cabling.

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