It had been run by British Telecom, a privatised government department who were originally the only phone provider. They were required to spin off infrastructure into a sister company BT Openreach.
That company is required to give equal access to anyone who wants to provide phone services, including DSL, and its resulted in a fantastic variety of providers across the country. You can get everything including near free 30Mbps services with data caps and an awful router, unlimited 76Mbps service, right up to bonded DSL over multiple backbones. There's also cable if you want a faster connection.
While it is in general quite good, it suffers from limitations in how it is regulated that means that BT is milking Openreach for profits and upgrading the network very slowly. The whole thing could do with limits on how much Openreach is allowed to pay out in dividend based on how much they invest in infrastructure upgrades.
BT was ready to roll out fibre to the home back in the early 1990s for the delivery of TV. At the time BT had some of the most advanced fibre tech in the world.
The government of the day, however, decided to ban BT selling TV in favour of opening up the market to foreign owned cable companies, Telewest and NTL.
Without wide scpread Internet use that killed the investment case for fibre (and the U.K. fibre industry).
Today we're at a situation where none of the other players calling for BT's break up want to invest nationwide.
If they do break up BT it'll be great if you're in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds but I don't expect much to improve anywhere else.
I think it's more likely that Vodaphone, Sky, Talk Talk will just try milk the existing infrastructure without further significant investment, as they currently do, and BT would be dis-incentivised from further investment.
What Comcast is doing here is steamrolling the Internet for their greater good and I can't imagine this working out well for them. They are the most hated company.. this surely isn't going to help and I'm glad to see Susan Crawford publicize this.
Hopefully others like John Oliver will jump in too to further publicize this outlandish let's kill the Internet for our greater good anti-competitive move. They need their asses handed to them!!!
Almost ... it's as if the airlines built the airspace and then owned it. It's as if Ford built the roads and then owned them.
DSL will start looking good.
At least on my ISP in New York, I can run a speedtest to the auto-selected server and see 330Mbps, but switch to a speedtest server farther away (requiring actual Internet transit), and see the rate drop to 10Mbps. So it's all very impressive that I am paying for a 300Mbps connection to the ISP's colo. But it would be better if I was paying for a 300Mbps connection to the Internet.
(Having a speedtest server hosted by your ISP is a great debugging tool, so I'm not asking them to stop doing that. It's great for figuring out if the bottleneck is my local link layer (WiFi, broken switch?), my Internet connection (broken router? squirrel chewing through a cable?), or simply the ISP's peering choices.)
So in the college example, they're getting (perhaps) .1/100/300
I think if we could just agree on a way to advertise it, we'd be ahead of the game. Net access is becoming like buying PCs: full of jargon and product differentiators meant more to confuse the buyer than assist them.
"Comcast 1 mbps with 250 mbps turbo"
Municipal fiber is very important to us and it's resulting in us focusing on places we didn't consider before.
Guess what killed it?
Competition. If you allow cables to be slung on top of rooftops / utility poles then soon you'll have a lot of cheap operators.
As part of this agreement Telstra had to provide equal access to its network, and had to charge the same price for all users, so that the cost of calls was the same for people in regional areas (even though maintenance cost more).
Most of the issues relating to Austrlia's internet relate to the cost of overseas transit of information. There are only a few cables between Australia and the rest of the world, and that is the large driver of cost or at least it was in the early 00s
I feel a bit sorry for him. He was forced into this by Tony "Shirt-front" Abbott, who knew nothing about technology (or how to run a country, for that matter). Now he's stuck with it - a millstone around our new Prime Minister's neck.
I guess the intense destabilization and white-anting now going on in the LNP will distract from this.
thats what unlimited 250/20 cable costs in civilized world, goes to show how "Usage-based-billing turned out to be not a complete disaster"
This is the legacy of our telephone and cable monopolies. When monopolists "compete", they do it by using every crooked trick in the book. The telcos and cable companies have a significant number of politicians and regulators in their pockets. All to keep services cheap to provide and expensive to buy.
And, we're losing ground. Things aren't getting better for consumers, despite the new spectrum opening up; our government made huge amounts of low frequency spectrum available to telcos (at a price, of course), on the assumption that they'd use it to improve service and lower costs. No mobile provider offers actually unlimited data anymore, at any price. I used to have two unlimited mobile data plans at $45 and $55. Now, I have two plans that cost more and are capped at ridiculously small amounts of data. Land line providers have also now imposed caps, and have, with increasing regularity, tried to sneak through legislation allowing them to regulate the Internet to their own advantage.
Imagine a situation where a cable company can rate limit NetFlix to the point of unwatchability...or maybe just enough so you can't get a nice clear HD picture. Conveniently, cable company will be happy to sell you HBO, which includes HBO Go, and they'll generously provide unlimited access to that data. This isn't a paranoid theory, this is actually what the legislation they've been pushing every year or so is all about.
And, it's been going on for longer than most people have been aware of the Internet. My first company built web caching devices for independent ISPs, back before the telcos and cable companies used their monopoly to utterly destroy the independent ISP market in the US. They used illegal and anti-competitive practices on a massive scale, but when you destroy your competitors fast enough and thoroughly enough, they won't have the money to wage a legal battle to stop it.
Not that I'm bitter or anything.
Unpopular opinion: I'd be happy to be capped at 10GB "fair usage" for a substantially reduced fee. Otherwise I'm just subsidising much heavier users.
The EPA mandates fuel economy standards for cars. Imagine if your ISP were held to a similar, ratcheting standard.
"Imagine if your regulators were not held powerless by those they supposedly regulate?"
Ok. It's hard for me to hold on to hope here.
If you are asking 'bout wireless....no, that isn't true.
For instance, TWC is quite profitable in my market with no cap and I've got a 100mbps in real-world usage most of the time.
Its also a technology question...until the past couple of years, the caps on the mobile wireless side were needed because they simply didn't have the capacity.
I think this definitely violates the spirit of net neutrality even in its current form. However, I don't see how they can move from streaming services which are sourced much further down the line than any internet traffic to dynamic traffic that needs total contact with the internet proper. From what I can tell, Comcast is arguing this service doesn't violate FCC regulations because it essentially works the same as on-demand cable. The media available for streaming is located close to the customer so it can be downloaded once from the internet proper and then streamed on demand without incurring any of the more valuable bandwidth further up the chain. I don't even think they need to prioritize the streaming traffic over regular traffic, since it is only eating into the much more plentiful local bandwidth.
If this distinction evaporates (as it would for telemedicine, business conference services, etc.), then they'd clearly violate the letter of FCC's net neutrality regulations. The fact that they used IP seems irrelevant; using anything but IP would require huge investment in custom hardware, so I don't see that as evidence of a future general internet services Master Plan (past the current streaming media Master Plan coming to fruition). To be honest, I'm somewhat on the fence about closing this loophole (though more towards the side of closing it) because it really is just like on-demand cable. It's clear that the data caps are being used in a predatory way, but I'm not sure that is the way to attack it.
I'm intrigued by the author's proposed solution, but it seems like something of a moonshot.
So, anyone want to kick around some ideas?
The right way to solve the problem is how Chattanooga, TN and other such places have solved it: either install fiber optics and maintain and bill them as a utility, or open the existing fiber lines and maintain/bill them as a utility. 
This solution is so good that incumbent telcos have successfully lobbied to make it illegal in oh so many places.
A second, decent solution is how -IIRC- either the CR or Romaina did it... string up a communally-owned wired network from building to building, expanding the wired network until you get enough "customers" that you can pool the cash (and have the influence) to get a good link to the Internet.
 This was more-or-less what the telcos were supposed to do back in the 1990s with the tax breaks and other incentives they were given. As you can see, they failed to live up to their promises.
But yes, you can do that if you are willing to spend $10k for a city block.
That said I do see that huge, gaping conflict of interest between cable providers and content distribution.
I'm actually OK with the idea of caps, as long as there is competition so they are reasonably high caps. Some overselling / bursty-ness of consumer ISPs is reasonable IMHO, and communicating that with caps is reasonably simple.
The biggest problem I have isn't the quota / data caps available, it's the fact I can't get any better than 2mbps upload speed, even if I switch from ADSL2+ to cable through Telstra.
Perhaps people are raging against usage caps because all hope of non-cable monopoly broadband in the US is lost.
The real problem is that there needs to be more competition.
As you say, the 20 or 30 GB user would pay less for using a reasonable amount of email-checking, occasional youtubing bandwidth. But that reasonable number is orders of magnitude higher than what the same user would have used 10 years ago. Innovation in improving user experiences has driven bandwidth usage way up, even for the unassuming customer. Artificially limiting that cap results in stifling innovation.
Why is that limit artificial? Unlike water or power, data transfer is not a reservable resource. Bandwidth is a shared resource, but unused data transfer capacity has zero value.
And as others have indicated in this thread, the largest providers are not on the losing end of the current service bargain. But they are losing their hold on unrelated services like broadcasting. Switching to a usage-based model from a rate-limited model in an industry where startup costs are enormous and providers make a healthy profit is strictly an anti-competitive strategy.
Either data caps need to be way higher, or they need to go away. I find it bizarre that mobile operators can still get away with 0.5-1GB plans as the standard.
Similarly, that's why Netflix and Youtube struggle to load their 5Mbps video streams, while Bittorrent works fine. Bittorrent will simply not get any data from peers whose routes take the packets through the congested link, but use all the others. If there's only one route to a service, that's more likely to hit congestion.
Anyway, if ISPs want to charge for bits transferred, they'd better be upgrading their peering links and charging you based on how you're increasing their costs. Otherwise they're just charging you Because They Can, which is the real reason behind data caps. (What are you going to do, switch to their competitor?)
this is how you get people not getting medical treatment
ISPs' costs are a combination of fixed costs (hardware, labor, facilities, etc) and peak bandwidth capacity. They bill us in pricing that's a combination of a fixed base cost, and upgrade tiers that correspond to different peak bandwidth capacity. That's closer to "pay what you consume" in reality.
Look at him, smirking because he's got millions of people by the balls and there's nothing anybody can do about it.
He'd be one of the first people in the guillotine if there were ever a revolution. Which there won't be because he also owns a large news and media empire that keeps people pacified or angry about the wrong things.