back to article American cable giants go bananas after FCC slams broadband rollout

A big fight has broken out between ISPs and their regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in the US. The FCC's annual Broadband Report will be published shortly, and late Thursday, chairman Tom Wheeler put out a "factsheet" about its main finding: that broadband is "not being deployed in a reasonable and timely …

  1. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "FCC's fault"

    Oh most definitely. I haven't seen any FCC trucks around here laying network cable...

    I'm hoping the ISPs get beaten soundly multiple times with a very large stick.

    1. lone_wolf

      Re: "FCC's fault"

      i can just about guarantee the main 2 ISP's are ATT and Verision. ATT is purposely pushing people over to it's way overpriced wireless plans. And basically has not done a major broadband roll out at least in my state in probably years.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "FCC's fault"

        AT&T, Verizon and ...? What about Comcast?

        mind you, accorting to my friends over there, Comcast is 10 times as bad as the worst ISP here.

        1. MondoMan
          Big Brother

          Re: "FCC's fault" & Comcast

          At least in my area of Seattle, Comcast has been quite reliable and relatively high-speed in its normal-level home offering. Certainly, over time they have nickel & dimed the customers to slowly but consistently raise effective rates, but their customer service has been friendly and helpful, and their service reliable. In all those aspects, the municipal garbage, sewage, and electricity services (all city-owned) have performed much more poorly.

          1. Mikel

            Re: "FCC's fault" & Comcast

            Comcast was behind the telecoms investment protection act that banned new municipal Internet in Washington. They also funded Seattle's current mayor, who displaced one who was actively getting gigabit fiber deployed in Seattle. The new mayor put a stop to that literally on his first day. That is why they have gigabit fiber to every home in Moses Lake for 15 years, but not in Seattle today.

            If you live in Seattle fiber is not coming. Ever. And Comcast and Centurylink are why.

            1. MondoMan
              WTF?

              Re: fiber in Seattle

              You are misinformed on the situation in Seattle. The previous mayor did sign a deal with a company to bring really fast speeds, but it turned out the company didn't have funding, so it went bankrupt and still owes the city tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills. That mayor was a notoriously bad manager, so that was perhaps par for his course; he took no other action to bring gigabit internet to the city.

              I'm not sure what you are referring to regarding the new mayor's actions. He did act promptly to change a local ordinance that effectively blocked fiber-to-the-block, and Comcast's competitor, Centurylink, is now bringing gigabit internet to large areas it had previously served only with slow DSL.

              Given Seattle's recent status as one of the most expensive cities in the US wrt rental and housing prices, the cost of internet here is becoming a moot issue.

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            2. Curtis

              Re: "FCC's fault" & Comcast

              I can't speak for Comcast, but Centurylink has 1Gb/s fiber in some areas of Seattle.

            3. BitDr

              Re: "FCC's fault" & Comcast

              That act should be renamed the "status quo" preservation act.

          2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

            Re: "FCC's fault" & Comcast

            Where I am is primarily Comcrap. As bad as they are, they are not pushing a cellphone plan down my throat. The speeds are more than adequate for my usage.

            1. asdf Silver badge

              Re: "FCC's fault" & Comcast

              >Where I am is primarily Comcrap. As bad as they are, they are not pushing a cellphone plan down my throat. The speeds are more than adequate for my usage.

              Yeah where I am at for me its Century Link DSL which is slow at 15 down and less than 1 up but its also less than $40 a month outside of a bundle so I don't complain too much. I would love faster but sure don't want to pay triple for it (what top cable data plan costs) I do hate how they charge a $2 a month fee for network maintenance added on to the $35 a month rate they advertise which is one thing most ISP do and one big thing the friggin FCC should clamp down on.

      2. joed

        Re: "FCC's fault"

        Having just assisted today someone with with ATT's "broadband" I can't refute FCC's assessment. While for the few (like me) slow is a choice (and arguably still overpriced) majority is just getting screwed with the level of service they get for more money.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: "FCC's fault"

      "I'm hoping the ISPs get beaten soundly multiple times with a very large stick."

      I hope they have that very large stick put where the sun don't shine.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: "FCC's fault"

      "I haven't seen any FCC trucks around here laying network cable..."

      very true!

      "I'm hoping the ISPs get beaten soundly multiple times with a very large stick."

      as much as many of us would like to think that it's an evil monolithic monopolistic top-heavy company that grossly overpays its execs and whatnot at the expense of customers and blue-collar technicians, but in THEIR defense, let's go back to the REAL problem here: GOVERNMENTIUM

      Now, I've been having a LOT of trouble with my DSL. I have DSL because it's the cheapest solution that gives me the unfiltered static IP address that I need for various reasons. I've had too many hair-pulling events with the ISP tech support in India, but they do what they do properly when their gear is working and the phone line isn't damaged.

      Lately, due to El Niño weather in Southern California, my phone line has been really bad, and my internet flaky and unreliable [with audible noise on the line - again]. I've had internet problems about 6 times in the last 6 or 7 months [including this one], one of which was ISP-related, 5 of which were phone-line related. Yeah, it stinks.

      The biggest source of the problem, however, is ANCIENT COPPER handling the traffic. San Diego has a BUDGET FOR UNDERGROUNDING THE LINES, however. Problem is GETTING IT DONE.

      Back in the day, the phone company would just get permits and DO IT. They didn't have to go through environmental review. They didn't have to go through a political-correctness process of "not doing the rich neighborhoods first and ignoring the ghettos" even though they weren't necessarily DOING that. So the phone company can't do "an entire area" in an economically feasible and time-efficient manner. Oh, no no no! They must *BALANCE* a ghetto neighborhood with the upper-middle-class single family dwelling neighborhood they just did [ even if THOSE houses were built in the 1960's like the one I am in! ] Granted those houses sell for more than $500k and rent for $2k but it's not like I need GHETTO LEVEL phone and DSL service because the lines were last replaced in 1980. But that's my PUNISHMENT for not being one of the 'politically correct class' I guess [even though I'm *NOT* rich, and I rent the house, not own it].

      So let's look at what GOVERNMENTIUM is doing to slow down the adoption rate of high speed internet, or even RELIABLE INTERNET at affordable prices, before we point fingers at the cable company or the phone company. And I think we'll find that, as the author pointed out, "FCC's fault" may not be that far off.

  2. K Silver badge
    Pint

    Please can we borrow him

    I'd like to nominate Tom Wheeler as the next head of OFCOM (the UK telecom regulator)

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    2. joemostowey

      Re: Please can we borrow him

      Wheeler and crowd talk a good show- But that's all it is, a show. This article, with the cable providers screaming and moaning and the FCC making threats reads like a WWW commercial- The bad guys threatening, the good guys threatening, the whole shebang a done deal. the fix is in, one team takes a dive in the third round.

      It's all smoke an mirrors.

      Example: Cox Cable in Virginia strings their cable on the public right of way for free, no fees, no rent, nada! The right of way adjoins to and crosses my sister's land. 150 feet from my sisters doorstep, the poles that cross her land have 2 fiber optic cables strung between them. No road separates the cables from her house, the land is flat and unwooded. Cox wants $15,000.00 - That's right, fifteen thousand dollars,- to string a cable from these poles to her house. The state of Virginia says that's cool. The FCC say's that's reasonable.

      So, if the FCC passes a mandate saying The cable companies have to give us broadband, Cox can simply price the connection out of your reach, all quite legal.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Please can we borrow him

        I may be mistaken, but the high price may be due to the need to install a cabinet at that junction (branching out fiber optics isn't always as simple as installing a splitter; the last mile in my Cox neighborhood for example is still copper). If neither she nor anyone else on her street has already signed up for the fiber, then that means infrastructure additions much the way Virginia Natural Gas doesn't run through my neighborhood because no one was interested in ponying up for the pipe (I use propane instead). Now, as it so happens a Verizon FiOS cabinet happens to be in the easement next to my house, so if I wanted to, I can switch (indeed, Verizon has sent many an offer). But since that means boxes throughout the house, the bottom-line price isn't good enough yet.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Please can we borrow him

          "...branching out fiber optics isn't always as simple as installing a splitter..."

          You're correct, and of course they're not going to tap into a main trunk fiber just to connect 'Betty'.

          But there is a lovely all-passive technology branded FibreOP. It can put 16 or 32 homes on ONE fiber with passive optical splitters. It's about the cheapest FTTH technology that I've heard of.

          We live in a very low density enclave of multi-acrea properties, and the cluster is a good mile from anyone else. It's essentially rural in the larger suburb. We have Gbps available if we want. It was rolled out at lightning speed. It's not clear why everyone isn't following the FibreOP example.

          Key point. It's a phone company that can now offer 'cable TV', which helps explain the investment.

      2. ClanArmstrong

        Re: Please can we borrow him

        Man that stinks. Fifteen Thousand for 150 feet of cable !! Can you hook up a little wireless transmitter to the line and hopefully go unnoticed. I remember in 1962 we were living in Thunder bay Ontario and my dad somehow swiped cable from the upstairs tenant. Am I understanding you correctly.

        1. joemostowey

          Re: Please can we borrow him

          $15,000.00 is correct. Cox has never surveyed the area to see if customers want cable, and those that inquire are advised to go elsewhere. If the telephone service of the last century had done that, Telephones would still be a novelty. Not much point in owning a phone if there is no one to call.

          As a monopoly, the stock only looks good if you can have fewer customers, paying the maximum for the least amount of service and infrastructure- maximization of profits- Data caps is another way to keep your customer/service ratio kept to an optimum.

          With the cable company utilizing the property of the owner, as well as the public property for free, there should be SOME benefit to the public as well as the property owner for the use of this real estate.

          As to installing additional equipment, tapping into fiber optic lines is not an expensive undertaking, or they wouldn't keep upgrading the service area in response to the phone company's upgrades, which stopped when the pone companies, in response to a bill the general assembly passed freeing them from having to connect anyone that wanted to connect to the landline service if cellular service was available .Hence no more maintenance on the copper lines and no more installing fiber except in the high profit, heavy population dense areas.

  3. HighTech4US

    Thanks FCC

    Because of the "Minimum downlink rate" update I now am getting 50 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up at the same price of $34.99 from Time Warner that I was getting for 15 Mbps down / 1 Mbps up.

    The upgrade happened with no trucks rolling. Just a flip of a switch and bingo 3X speed improvement.

    This would not have happened without the FCC.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/29/fcc_sextuples_broadband_speed

    Now remember if you vote in the Republicans they will roll back all these improvements because Republicans are bought and paid for by Corporate America.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Thanks FCC

      An if by some chance the GOP get their man into the Whitehouse, that man will probably be Mr Trump. The same Mr Trump who things that Paris is in Germany.

      Hillary and despite all her faults looks like the only choice.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Thanks FCC

        "Mr Trump who things", well he certainly doesn't think.

      2. TimeMaster T

        Re: Thanks FCC

        "Hillary and despite all her faults looks like the only choice."

        Not the only choice. Bernie Sanders.

        Remember: The only way to "throw your vote away" is to NOT vote. Don't like the candidates listed? Then write in who you want, even if its your pet hamster. Every voted counted that isn't for the wining candidate means they can't claim to represent a majority of the American people as easily.

      3. CarbonLifeForm

        Re: Thanks FCC

        http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/07/does-donald-trump-think-paris-is-in-germany/

      4. CarbonLifeForm

        Re: Thanks FCC

        http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/07/does-donald-trump-think-paris-is-in-germany/

        Doesn't seem to be the case... Not a Trump supporter mind, but this does seem like a Twitter artifact. He referred to Paris, then Germany.

    2. ma1010 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Thanks FCC

      Perhaps on some alternate Earth in an alternate universe, the Democrats are not also bought and paid for by the same Corporate America. Unfortunately that is not the state of affairs in this reality, I'm afraid.

      I really do hope the FCC can make the mostly scumbag corporations that control the networks actually do something about rolling out broadband to everyone, and perhaps even in a fashion that it would be competitive, with at least two choices available to everyone. And maybe then price of decent broadband will even come down out of the stratosphere. But I'm just dreaming, no doubt.

      1. matchbx
        Facepalm

        Re: Thanks FCC

        The FCC doesn't really have to make the scumbag corporation do anything.... They, the FCC, just need to end the geographical monopolies that are currently allowed.

        The main reason, IMHO, you have this disconnect with speed and availability is one company can not come in offer service on another company's turf.

        this is because the cable companies lobbied congress and congress allows this bullshit to take place......END THE MONOPOLIES and let the real competition begin.

        1. joemostowey

          Re: Thanks FCC

          A-MEN!

          While the cable companies may own the cable, the land it is placed on is PUBLIC - and the get to use it for free! What farmer or rancher or apartment dweller wouldn't love a sweet deal like that? Fees? none. Rent? None. Obligations to the owner? None.

          Congress, and the politicians at the state and county level, not to mention the judges and legal system are all in the pocket of the cable and telcos. When one has a legal monopoly, one can rule the rulers.

          Democrat? Republican? Independent? If you are a politician in the USA, someone owns you and you do their bidding.

          Teddy Roosevelt knew the power of corporate monopolies and feared it enough to pass laws regulating them. Today, after Ronald Reagan killed off regulation, and with 30 years of deregulated power, the Monopolies in the USA have become a true shadow government.

          They win, we the people, lose.

        2. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: Thanks FCC

          The geographic monopolies are not a matter of national policy, but rather local franchises granted by pliant city councils, augmented by laws in a few states that disallow municipal communications services.

          State and local governments are far easier than the federal government to lobby successfully.

    3. Fred Goldstein

      Re: Thanks FCC

      The FCC did not force TWC to raise your rate. Speeds are not regulated, and many ISPs offer slower plans. The FCC is only doing a statistical report on the highest rate offered to Americans, not what they sign up for. TWC chose, as a competitive matter, to raise the rate at a given price. The FCC under both Bush and Obama has however gutted most competition, which held up the rate at which companies felt the need to do that.

      As to the article's alleged requirement that the FCC must act, the actual law gives them rather little authority to do anything, and since it's all voluntary private investment (except for subsidized rural carriers), they can't make anyone invest any more. All they can do is tweak rules that are supposed to be "barriers to investment", and mostly that means throwing consumers under another bus.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Thanks FCC

        It was not the FCC which gutted competition.

        You can thank state regulators for that. Telcos were repeatedly given local monopoly concessions and merger permissions in exchange for promises of infrastructure investment. Those promises were repeatedly broken.

        Statell regulators then gave even more concessions and merger permissions in exchange for more infrastructure investment promises, WITHOUT enquiring into why previous promises had been broken, or requiring them to be made good.

        The end result is that there are virtually no CLECS left in the USA, ISP over DSL is a telco monopoly and AT&T has been reassembled without the pesky universal service obligation and in a structure avoiding repeats of the 1930s antitrust prosecutions.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Thanks FCC

      "Because of the "Minimum downlink rate" update I now am getting 50 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up at the same price of $34.99 from Time Warner that I was getting for 15 Mbps down / 1 Mbps up.""

      We went from 1Mbps down and 0.3 up to 5 down and 1 up. Same reason. at&t.

      1. Where not exists

        Re: Thanks FCC

        I'd sure like to get 1M down and .03M up...

  4. Gray
    FAIL

    No surprise, really ...

    First, the FCC raising a complaint about broadband service in the US smacks of the butler complaining of living conditions in Downton Abbey; most all US agencies, including the FCC, are thralls of the corporations they supposedly regulate.

    Second, the state of broadband access and cost pretty directly parallels the state of health care access and cost in the US: about half of what other civilized nations enjoy, at about twice the cost.

    Anybody surprised? Not really.

    Expect any change? Not in this lifetime.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: No surprise, really ...

      "...most all US agencies, including the FCC, are thralls of the corporations they supposedly regulate."

      You have problem with Corporate Communist Capitalism©®™, comrade?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More theatre

    Just like they did with the latest FCC take on allowing capping to continue, this is just an excuse to pack Wheeler up for a weekend with corporate linguists to learn how to say everything is fine and dandy with broadband rollout. Give it a week or two. This is a one - two punch. The first punch makes it sound like justice will be done, while the second is just more of the same.

  6. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Joke

    It's an anti-terrorism measure...

    The slow rollout and slow speed means that terrorists can't use it to plan attacks in the US.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: It's an anti-terrorism measure...

      "This is for protection, citizen."

    2. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: It's an anti-terrorism measure...

      Not only that, it keeps teenagers from looking at internet porn as only adults have the patience to wait for it to load...

  7. Jim O'Reilly
    Holmes

    Time for some competition

    Many states have ridiculous laws (paid for by the ISP lobbies?) to limit cities from offering infrastructure. all of these should be struck down as impinging on Federal rights to regulate communications. Then the cities could solve the fiber problem and offer a la carte services across the wire...now that's real competition!

    1. Preston Munchensonton
      FAIL

      Re: Time for some competition

      That may be real competition, but the wire-sharing exercise does little to offer incentives to the ISPs to expand their networks in an attempt to compete. In other words, the regulatory system reinforces the status quo, which is really the state of most regulation in the US, i.e. the regulations safeguard the incumbent industry leaders from any disruption from the new guys.

      Adam Smith would certainly be looking for a noose to hang himself, with all this history repeating itself (think mercantists and trade unions).

  8. Borg.King

    Back Story

    FCC raised the minimum spec and now punishes those who didn't jump to their call. Fine them perhaps?

    Next year they'll raise it higher, punish more and issue more fines.

    Conflict of interest anyone? - There's another story here, some political machinations to be sure.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Back Story

      How you get "conflict of interest" from a government agency at least trying to benefit the average person is beyond me.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Back Story

        It is a not a conflict of interest at all. It is purely agency action to enhance its prestige and power, along with that of its commissioners. I would like to see an example of any government agency, in any country, that did not engage in such activity regularly to the maximum of its legal authority and capability.

    2. thomas k

      Re: Back Story

      "A law passed by Congress in 1996 requires the FCC to "determine whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion" and take immediate action to speed deployment if the answer is negative." from Ars article

      Wheeler raised the min spec to insure the negative answer and thus put the FCC in position to take "immediate action". Maybe that'll include last-mile unbundling, who knows.

      The law is pretty specific in this case, it doesn't say "70% of Americans" or "90% of urban Americans", it says "all Americans", period. Blame Congress for including that "all" (probably because it sounded better - "All Americans - fuck yeah!"), not realizing it might one day come to bite the telcos in the ass.

  9. Mikel

    Comcast and Co disagree

    >"No one actually believes that deployment in the United States is unreasonable.

    So I'm a nobody now. Thanks for that.

    We should have had gigabit fiber to every home served with electricity as of Y2K. It should be illegal to fill in a utility trench before throwing fiber or at least conduit into it, likewise to touch a power pole without hanging fiber on it. Composite cable with both power *and* fiber should be required for all new construction. We should be on 40 gig now, not 40 years from now when that will be the wireless standard in Bangalore.

    1. phil dude
      Coat

      Re: Comcast and Co disagree

      Yeah, but artificial scarcity is the only thing taught at the MBA schools.

      P.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Comcast and Co disagree

        "Yeah, but artificial scarcity is the only thing taught at the MBA schools."

        GOT THAT RIGHT!

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Comcast and Co disagree

      "It should be illegal to fill in a utility trench before throwing fiber or at least conduit into it, likewise to touch a power pole without hanging fiber on it."

      Except the power company frequently has no relation to the cable/telephone company. Plus it's their property, meaning they can sue for unlawful imposition of costs into their operations. Plus recall that the US is a BIG country. Have you ever assessed the costs of running high-speed fiber from New York to Los Angeles--or longer, Miami to Seattle?

      1. Mikel

        Re: Comcast and Co disagree

        There is more transcontinental fiber already there than there will ever need to be. It was planted during the telecoms bubble of the late 90's. Technology advances have increased its carrying capacity 100 times, and will do so again in the future.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Comcast and Co disagree

          If that's the case, then why is no one using it while people clamor for more bandwidth? Any economist would see that as artificial scarcity to their detriment since someone else could come along and find a way to use the dark fiber to undercut them.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Comcast and Co disagree

        Power companies and railroads both run extensive comma networks for their own use and sell capacity to third parties as well.

        The cost of dropping fibre into a trench beside power line adds negligible extra cost and a lot of outfits are already doing it anyway. The bigger problem in the USA is legislated local monopolies - ie, potential competitors are prohibited from attempting to provide dial tone or broadband services by local ordinances or state rules.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Comcast and Co disagree

          That's assuming the trenches aren't already covered up. If they are, then that's an added expense. Remember, a lot of the infrastructure in America has already been installed. This is one reason New York is so difficult to wire up (200+ years of densely-packed existing infrastructure to work around).

          As for the local monopolies, that's basically a necessary evil. For these small, poor, isolated communities, it was basically take the sweetheart deal or stay in the dark, because NO company would be willing to plunk down to build out to the boonies without some assurance of RoI. If there were to be restricted by law, the numbers wouldn't add up and they wouldn't even try. Remember, wires in America are more often than not privately owned, and companies frequently reserve the ultimate option to call Leave It and declare No Deal.

  10. Mikel

    Tom Wheeler

    Ten years after he steps down as chairman of the FCC if it is found that he didn't sell us down the river to the telecoms monopolies he used to be the chief lobbyist for, and he hasn't gone back to work for them to get paid for it, then I will believe.

    Until then every single word, every turn of phrase, the placement of every comma needs to be held under a microscope and inspected for traps. Real objective results must be expected and achieved.

  11. ecofeco Silver badge

    The report MUST be wrong!

    The report has to be wrong! Everyone knows that free market capitalism provide the best product and services! Even though the damn socialist/commie countries in Europe and Asia have faster and cheaper broadband, it's just a fluke!

    A fluke I tell you! Ignore the man behind the curtain!

    1. Fibbles

      Re: The report MUST be wrong!

      I think the problem is that actually, unlike in Europe and Asia, there isn't free-market capitalism. Broadband in the US is stymied by local monopolies.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: The report MUST be wrong!

        Monoplies ARE free-market capitalism. They're just the endgame: what happens when one company beats out all the others and becomes the winner (thus why I also call capitalism "winner economics"). Once you're at the top, you can use your incumbency to stymie challengers.

        Furthermore, utilities are a necessary eyesore. They have high upfront costs for infrastructure (meaning you needed a high customer count to spread the costs), AND that infrastructure tends to not sit too well with the customers (thus you rarely see more than one sewage or gas supplier--think two sets of pipes). Thus they only tolerate it as much as they need to due to NIMBY issues, thus utilities tend to be natural monopolies.

        1. ClanArmstrong

          Re: The report MUST be wrong!

          In the late sixties Westinghouse built a city called Coral Springs just outside of Ft. Lauderdale Florida. Westinghouse had the forethought to put all the power cables underground and we were spared the ugly power poles and wires from pole to house. However, as population went from 400 to over 100,000 they brought in big "High Tension" power lines that ran down main street but it still does not look to bad. They also planned ahead for telecom and cable with pipes that a person could walk or crawl around in to do repairs. The first cable company was Coral Springs Cable, but that did not last to long as Adelphia bought them out and then when the brothers who owned Adelphia robbed their company and were sent to jail Comcast picked up the company along with big tax breaks from the city and they barely had to do anything for infrastructure due to the forethought of Westinghouse. If cable companies are going to steal from us then we should put our skills to use and rob them blind.

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: The report MUST be wrong!

        "Broadband in the US is stymied by local monopolies."

        Yes, indeed. Most of them were granted for cable television distribution long before internet service became an issue, usually to the company that made the the best deployment offer to the local government, where "offer" was some combination of fees paid to the local government, restrictions on cable charges to the customers, and possible gray area side payments.

        It was noticed only later that cables can transmit data in two directions so that the TV cable could be repurposed as a general purpose communication channel and connected to the internet.

        Contrary to another post, these monopolies did not happen because the winner outcompeted others but because the monopoly was regarded as "natural" in the circumstances due to the large upfront costs. Similar costs apply now to any potential competitor who would have to deploy additional physical infrastructure to deliver service.

  12. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Headmaster

    A Page Out of the Government's Playbook

    They should phony up the stats and claim that the USA is number one. Well, actually number 2 behind China in phony records keeping.

  13. Wade Burchette

    A serious problem

    I know a business that is 2000 feet from an exit on I-95 and their only choices for internet are satellite or cellular. Meanwhile, 3 miles away and one exit down on the highway, the local cable company is offering 1 gig internet speeds. The point is, this business is not in the middle of nowhere. AT&T has a LTE tower that supports VoLTE within eyesight of this business. Yet Centurylink cannot be bothered to support DSL.

    I have many more examples of people who cannot get any highspeed internet unless it is from a dish or a tower. It is my opinion that before internet companies start to increase their speeds, they should fist focus on 100% coverage. I am also of the opinion that before mobile phone companies spend money upgrading to LTE that they should first cover the entire US, except in mandated radio blackout zones for things like radio telescopes, with voice support. I much rather be able to make a call in the middle of nowhere than to watch Youtube at home. But that is just my opinion, which is based on me quite frequently being in several dead zones by all mobile phone companies.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: A serious problem

      Have you ever considered that perhaps this one business near I-95 IS in a blackout zone? I personally know that I-95 can pass by some radio-controlled areas (such as military installations). So where exactly IS this business that can't get help from a cable company three miles down, and what is the cableco's excuse for not rolling out an additional three miles?

      1. Wade Burchette

        Re: A serious problem

        I think you misunderstood. The business is not in a radio blackout zone because their internet is cellular. As far as the cableco, the exit 3 miles down is the currently the northern fringe of their coverage zone. All their money is being spent upgrading to 1 gig through current coverage area. The next exit down has several industrial buildings, which is why 1 gig was installed early in their rollout.

        When I mentioned radio blackout zones, it was to point out that I want complete voice coverage except for such locations. I was saying that it is my opinion that complete voice coverage is better than faster LTE speeds. Just like I believe that I believe everyone should have high speed internet before rolling out 1 gig internet. I do view it as a travesty that the cable company won't go 3 miles up.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: A serious problem

          What you describe demonstrates capitalism in action. Business customers draw a higher rate, can frequently be metered, and can sign longer-term contracts. These buildings probably agreed to chip in for the gigabit rollout to their area as part of the contract. For an area to get additional coverage (which means extra infrastructure which means additional costs), you usually need either connections (such as getting in on new construction while the ground's already torn up), numbers (if an entire neighborhood contracts to sign up for gas, internet, or whatever, the utility has better incentive to plunk down), or money (affluent areas can usually pony up if they want it badly enough).

          This has always been the problem with rural Internet coverage. They lack any of the three. They're sparsely populated, frequently of a lower standard of living, and as a result the community as a whole is lacking in capital. That's why many of them get tied up in sweetheart deals: it's the prime condition the companies will insist before they're willing to go out on a limb.

  14. jnffarrell1

    Fiber bundles to all county seats

    And High speed WiFi towers in every town. That's about 25 towers per county, with one near every public school.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Fiber bundles to all county seats

      All fine and dandy. Now who PAYS for all that infrastructure rollout?

  15. tempemeaty
    Megaphone

    New names old games...

    I got my own horror story with Cox Internet in Phoenix Arizona and their "Network Shaping" all streaming video here. It's just their nice new name for "Throttling".

  16. ClanArmstrong

    Free Internet

    The 1996 Telecommunications Act was supposed to increase competition and drive down prices but all prices do is go up double from the initial one year deal that you the provider gives you. Plenty of federal grants were and are still being given to service providers to lay fiber along I-95 and the "Florida East Coast Railroad". Providers also get grant money to buy computing and telecom equipment. Most homes have some type of phone line, so as long as you are paying for phone, why can't the providers just turn Internet on also. We are already maxed out with regard to advertising hogging up screen real estate. VOIP costs nothing when your phone calls are routed over the Internet so all it boils down to is an ISP using your tax dollars to purchase equipment and have brilliant telecom guys set up a NOC. However, businessmen who build an ISP have aspirations of becoming millionaires as they pay the regular employees the least amount possible and use the cheapest or minimum amount of equipment they can get by with. I feel that if the coax, fiber or twisted pair is already at the residence then Internet can be delivered right along side phone at zero cost regardless of speed. Comcast seems to have no problem delivering 100mbps for $64 and unlimited long distance over VOIP for $30. Internet should be free and available everywhere. We will need this capability as more schools move students to tablets rather than paper textbooks. Soon homework will be submitted to the teacher over the web and one tablet can contain all the books a student would need for a year of school. The day will come when libraries will be a lot smaller than they are now. It is inevitable and exactly what our government has in mind. Save a tree make the net free!!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Free Internet

      So what happens when there's a war or disaster and all the power gets cut. Tablets and networks don't work without electricity. And no too long ago, my neighborhood got blacked out for NINE DAYS by a mild hurricane. Say what you will about books, but physical media still needs to exist as a backup, capable of being used with nothing but manpower.

      1. ClanArmstrong

        Re: Free Internet

        Depending on what type of automobile you have there is maybe and usually some kind of power source to charge up your tablet. I do agree that we can't eliminate books entirely, but time keeps slipping into the future and as they say art imitates life so people running around with tablets to process information is just around the corner.

  17. AlbertH

    It's much the same over here....

    In the UK, we have one cable company. Just the one. "Virgin" - formed out of the ashes of two equally useless earlier companies. Their speed claims are (mostly) laughable, and their "fair usage policy" ensures that you can't download as much as a Linux distro without having your service throttled to one tenth of their already abysmal speed. Their much-vaunted "fibre" network is mostly ratty, cheap old coax, buried by earlier companies and generally suffering from various intermittent discontinuities and water ingress

    The other options are ADSL and VDSL - all provided through British Telecom down their twisted-pair local ends, though there are several "resellers" who provide the customer-facing end of the business. Service is mostly sporadic - I'm sure that there will be some British readers who'll claim "wonderful service" from Virgin or PlusNet or whoever - but the truth is that it's over-priced garbage.

    In central London, I get (at best) 80Mb/s down and 12Mb/s up - on a good day, in the middle of the night with the wind in the right direction. They charge me >£45/month for this and tell me that I'm getting great service, despite half the 'net being "off-limits" to "protect" me!. The bastards use all sorts of DNS abuse to ensure that I can't go to where they don't want me to go....

    As a comparison: My flat in Singapore gets >1Gb/s for $15/month, with no throttling, DNS-abuse or anything else nasty. Just fast, reliable service at a sensible price, down a real fibre!

    Providing a proper interweb service isn't rocket surgery - it's just that in much of the world, the companies providing connectivity have no real incentive to actually provide anything truly useful, because they have no actual competition. The Telco monopolies exist everywhere. It's going to take massive political interference to get anything to change. In the meantime, I'll enjoy my proper web connections in Singapore and Hong Kong.....

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: It's much the same over here....

      It also helps that Singapore and Hong Kong are TINY. Try doing the same thing in the United States where there's tons of sparse population to consider.

    2. ClanArmstrong
      Big Brother

      Re: It's much the same over here....

      Wow ! I hear you. We really need to put a worldwide law together that politicians can't take contributions from anyone at all and in turn give them all the television air time they need at no cost. In the states we have the NSA creeping around listening or reading tons of communications. We went to Afghanistan and Iraq to protect our freedoms, but at home we need bring our military home to protect our rights. Start jailing these spooks.

    3. keithpeter
      Windows

      Re: It's much the same over here....

      ADSL, around 2.4 Mbits/sec early in morning, degrading to about 1Mbit/sec evening when the missus wants streaming content and fbook.

      I could live with this at a sensible monthly cost, but we have to pay line rental for a phone line that is only really used for broadband and then a broadband cost on top. At least I can use my own router and generic settings &c.

  18. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

    "It takes issue with the main finding. "No one actually believes that deployment in the United States is unreasonable."

    No one? Really? Apparently it has been living in a cave. On Mars. Under a rock. With its fingers in its ears, shouting "lalala I can't hear you!" at the top of its lungs.

  19. 404 Silver badge

    Fsck all of them...

    ... I've been on an AT&T DSL waiting list since 2007... So I pay $90/month for 15GB worth of satellite 'broadband' - already out of data and Exede can't explain why or show me logs of my internet traffic... Oh sure, I can show them mine, but won't show theirs...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Fsck all of them...

      Have you tried threatening them with a lawyer? Given your Internet is wireless, this falls directly into the FCC's purview (since wireless bandwidth has to come from the feds first), so unless they can show where the data use comes from, you can claim they're defrauding you.

  20. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Go

    Lazy, Greedy, Customer Abusing, Self-Destructive ISPs

    That's the summary at this time.

    Rave on FCC! Thank you for representing We The People against bad biznizziz.

  21. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Paris Hilton

    Delicious Pork

    The whole corrupt system has come to resemble a gigantic roast pork prepared by chefs who have perfected their skills over a generation. Their only concern is how thick they can carve for themselves and the size of their portions. The government prefers cuts from the 'power and control' bits while providers want the leanest of cuts.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In addition to the Feds and the ISPs...

    Local governments often fabricate some truly awesome barriers to the deployment of new or improved broadband. I live in Portland, Oregon, USA. We were on the very short list to be one of Google's "fiber everywhere" test cases. Our city and county leadership created so many political hoops, demanded so many concessions, and raised the cost of permits, licenses, and right-of-way so high, that Google simply gave-up and left. I believe that we are currently listed a "potential future" recipient of Google broadband.

  23. Darling Petunia

    I wish Wheeler and the FCC good luck in dealing with the smarmy crews diddling at the majority of ISP’s. Since early-on I’ve had the displeasure of dealing with the offerings from the evolving stew of U.S. ‘broadband” providers for both business and personal accounts. At present it’s with “Charter” cable internet and their high prices for mediocre performance, in an areas having the option of the fragile and very slow DSL from ATT, or Charter cable. Charter collects approx. $58.00 per month for 'broadband' internet for 15.28 megabit/s down, 3.17 up.

  24. PapaD

    Virgin media

    Postcode lottery then, as I'm using virgin media, have done since before they were virgin media - I'm currently paying for 152mb download speed, which, on an average day, I get (generally averaging 148mb to 152mb, close enough to not really matter)

    I have no throttling, no matter what I do (and that includes 100+gb downloads and uploads for work, whenever I've had problems (fairly rarely), they've been quick to respond and had engineers out (if needed), quickly.

    So, I'm guessing I won that postcode lottery, as did everyone else in my area (small town about 5 miles from Wolverhampton, 10 miles from Birmingham)

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