How about the fact that there’s usually only one choice. Or that Internet that everyone wants can be force-bundled with ridiculous things no one wants (like a home phone line and minimum TV bundle), that we tolerate because there is no option. Or prices that go up forever with no improvements, except when they all magically found a way the day after Google Fiber was announced. These companies abuse their positions and need to be checked for that in addition to privacy.
All that said, I'm hoping wireless solutions change this scenario. Effectively, if I can run a 5G (or w/e) hotspot connected to my router, the latency/throughput is good enough, I'm pretty much cool ditching my wired options. A monopoly on the wireless side is still possible (spectrum can be a limiting reagent), but I think it's much less likely to devolve into our current ISP dynamic. I'm certain there are plenty of technical issues with going all wireless but it doesn't seem insurmountable.
This is not the case for 4g since the much lower frequencies (with much lower data rates) go much further meaning that the given last mile monopoly in an area has less of an effect on the 4g service.
If a cell phone carrier builds all of its own infrastructure to supply bandwidth to 5g towers, they are subject to all the same difficulties and delays as existing ISPs. This means that build out of 5g as fast as home internet will take decades and many areas will have only one or two options (same as the situation is with home internet).
The waters are muddied by the fact that carriers use “5g” to refer to what will be a wide range of service levels, but right now are only hyping the fastest possible imagined deployments.
It’s more than that, but even there you’re talking about covering 9 houses for the cost of wiring up one. The fan-out math kills you for FTTH.
In the case of regular cellular service, is the IP publically accessible, or is it behind a NAT of some sort? I always assumed that it was behind a NAT for some reason, but I don’t know for sure.
I like to be able to host my own services for personal use.
Maybe in rural areas it is easier, but within any suburban area, you probably have to spend a few hundred thousand simply to draft and get an agreement signed...before building a single thing.
I'm sure there was a reason to do this, but it effectively stops all but the big corporations from entering into agreements.
Google has counsel in house to cover a that more or less for free, and still essientially failed. There's deeper issues at play.
Google refused to build Fiber in places that imposed most of those conditions. It demanded the opposite—free use of municipal resources for fiber huts, etc. and it absolutely rejected any attempt to impose one of the most common franchise stipulations: build-out requirements that require universal coverage of neighborhoods.
Google failed because even with all that special treatment, building fiber is not profitable compared to selling ads.
The secondary issue is that all of the broadband providers have a bad habit of "accidentally" cutting the other provider's wires. It happens enough by real accident that it is impossible to prove in any particular case. But it also happens enough that providers have a pretty legitimate reason to ask that the next provider not be allowed to install wires.
It seems like this is a common-sense solution to that problem. The cost of digging, drilling, and laying building materials is centralized with the municipality that owns the land, who can coordinate maintenance and future drilling with street maintenance that they need to do anyway. It's future proof - if someone invents a great new communication/energy/electromagnetic technology in the future, the last-mile infrastructure to deliver it to residences is already there. New telecom providers need only run wires, a task they already have to do. They don't do digging or have the opportunity to clip each others' wires. It encourages competition.
You couldn’t replicate that in say San Francisco just by separating the infrastructure, while still requiring everything to be buried and look pretty, and requiring unprofitable neighborhoods to be served at the ISP’s expense, etc., and all of the roadblocks places like San Francisco throw up to development. All with San Francisco municipal government types overseeing everything and San Francisco NIMBYs protesting and filing lawsuits over the color of the fiber distribution hubs. It wouldn’t work.
Complicated to say the least. NTT doesn't just offer its own Internet service, it has three different subsidiaries all competing to offer their own Internet services
This argument strays into racism, or a circular argument. Either the Japanese are uniquely genetically capable of building public goods cheaply, or their continued success is a result of how they have structured their society.
If it isn’t genetic (how could it be?), this is an argument for emulating the uniquely Japanese cultural aspects that led to the success.
The Japanese take pride in infrastructure and development. Americans try to figure out how to abuse environmental laws to keep it from being built. We turn every development project into a civil rights battle or a rural/urban battle. We hate paying for development with visible taxes, but love creating invisible taxes by attaching mandates as riders to projects. “You can build that apartment building, but only if you widen that public road and build a school. You can build fiber there, but only if you also build fiber in this place where it makes no economic sense.” That often makes development unattractive altogether, but that’s okay because we hate development anyway.
fiber vault with a manhole you get to test your shocks on
trench, with its somehow always shitty pavement repair
This means more to people in some jurisdictions than others.
It's the internet, it drives innovation. Let's stifle it by making a bazillion rules that everyone needs to follow and pay to play. Let's make sure that like most utilities, change and improvements happen at the slowest possible pace, because I like T1 and isdn, ever since they rolled back net neutrality I been stuck on these dial up lines.. Plus, making it a utility, we can ensure that none of these 5G providers can enter the marketplace.. I guess it's cool for everyone to be a socialist now, count me all in..
(In general, I perceive that many of our cities are run better than the states they are in.)
1. Latency. 600-700 ms RTT is typical on satellite, and it's bounded by the speed of light. This makes a lot of real-time services, like voice chat and video games, essentially unusable.
2. Bandwidth. The satellites you're communicating with have a limited capacity, and provisioning more capacity is nontrivial. As a result, most satellite services have very low data caps, typically 10 - 100 GB/month.
3. Physical concerns. Satellite connectivity requires an antenna with a clear view of the equatorial sky (e.g. south for northern hemisphere). This is often unavailable in cities, apartments, or hilly areas -- if there's a tall building or a mountain between you and the satellite, you can't use their service.
This should fix all three of your problems, except maybe total bandwidth.
I think that's a slight mis-wording - you can't beat the great circle distance over the surface unless you go underground, but you can definitely beat a packet-switched, zig-zagging network running through the ground with a more or less direct point-to-point mesh running 100km above it.
Most streaming services can also degrade gracefully. Granted, we don’t have actual hardware to examine for these internet services, but many satellite uplinks already work fine in bad weather with at worst some loss of bandwidth.
They are no different then Comcast, ATT or other biggies who abuse their power.
#1 is the universal coverage requirement — anyone receiving a local monopoly from a municipality has to agree to make service available in the entire city. Many poor or low-density neighborhoods are not profitable for even a single company to serve, much less multiple companies. Overbuilders have no such requirement to even provide the potential of service in low-income areas, so none do. A side effect of this is that overbuilders can’t approach the level of efficiency that the monopolists can (see #4) and none can be much more than a nuisance to the incumbents as long as they remain overbuilders.
#2 is that in the wealthier / denser areas of a city that can support more than one provider, there are typically 2-5 providers offering speeds of 100+ mbit. The local monopolists therefore rely on the profits from the wealthy areas to cover the losses from the poor areas.
#3 is that it’s really hard to get investment to overbuild unless it’s a wealthy area. Telecom rollouts are expensive and require taking on significant debt. For every additional overbuilder serving an area, your ratio of [households served] / [households subscribed] and the amount of overhead you have to recoup for each customer goes up. Investors will not loan you money if they think you won’t make it back.
#4 is that telecom services are a scale business where you need vertical integration to be viable. TimeWarner Cable had their backbone network with TimeWarner Telecom. That was fine until both companies split and the infrastructure was owned by two different companies. TimeWarner Cable then had to build their own backbone — which lowered their credit rating, which made every subsequent debt offering more expensive. They were trapped in a cycle where they needed to invest badly, their network was slow so they couldn’t raise prices much, but borrowing was so expensive for them it turned into a death spiral. And that’s how the #4 cable provider in the country was able to buy the #2 provider — Charter was simply more vertically integrated through Liberty Media and had a better balance sheet.
The “take rate” (how many households of the total subscribe to broadband internet — directly correlated with household income) of a neighborhood largely determines how many companies serve the area. The overall take rate of the wealthiest cities is sufficient to support at most 3 broadband providers serving a given household; in the poorest cities the government has to subsidize access for even a single company to serve the area.
Capitalism and abuse of position go hand-in-hand. I would argue that abuse of position is the fundamental driving force behind capitalism.
(These rules largely do not apply to wireless.)
If they can’t find money to repair the roads and subways, a muni broadband network is going to get even less funding / oversight.
That said, I think it’s total BS when laws are passed that prevent the establishment of municipal broadband networks. It probably works for some cities, but it definitely would not for many.
My city's track record isn't quite as awful as yours, I think -- but even if it were, I'm not sure that would be any worse than what I have to put up with right now from Comcast.
At least if the local municipality is in charge, you have some amount of ability to reform any mismanagement. With the private sector in the absence of real competition, you have none.
This is not true. Manhattan, for example, had multiple cable providers for a very long time, until they were merged/bought.
Chicago currently has multiple cable providers: Comcast and RCN. Possibly a third.
There is no requirement for a city to give all of its territory to one company other than poor negotiating skills.
The goal with these rules is to make sure being wealthy isn’t a prerequisite to having access to communication services. If we didn’t have these rules, forget about broadband in poor neighborhoods (much less rural areas).
Edit: capitalism overall isn’t broken; but it is broken in some industries with unique market features (health care, telecom, etc). I don’t think it’s a contradiction at all to have some industries more or less socialized while maintaining a capitalist economy overall...
As for me, I find it interesting that the most regulated industries always tend to be the ones that are the most dysfunctional. Your example of health care is a perfect poster child.
Health care needs to be more or less socialized — the sales pitch for any non-emergency medical procedure is effectively “pay me or stay sick / die”. There is no way to price discriminate that maximizes profits without introducing moral hazard by withholding treatment from people who can’t afford it.
Now you say, "Hey guys, allowing people to not be medically treated is immoral, so let's force people to provide a service because that is totally moral."
In both scenarios, you're trying to argue for something but you're not being consistent with your logic. You're picking and choosing data points and circumstances without being consistent across the board.
If you think it's so very important that there be more than one already-installed terrestrial or directional radio broadband provider in the middle of nowhere; you are perfectly welcome to find out what that will tend to cost, and start a charity to subsidize it.
The government can not force private individuals or businesses to provide new services to any random location in the United States that anyone could technically choose to live. That's a good thing, in my view.
As somebody who intends to live further away from urban centers, and knows what distance does to the cost of providing telecommunications services, it is my responsibility to entice others to do business with me, not anyone else's.
If somebody is actively conspiring to prevent new business in this sector, that's one thing; but if the local government, geographic, and economic situation of some place is just such that it's not worth extending ISP services there, that's not in the FTCs purview.
I can tell you that there are plenty of places in which the only option is a false option between the large carriers. In Houston, for example, my choices are: get fucked by AT&T, get ripped a new one by Comcast, or get laughed at by Windstream.
All of this from companies that have taken tax money and actively fight against community-operated broadband services.
So, maybe it's a duopoly, but the privacy stuff breaks it for me. Though I'm sure someone's going to point out that Comcast likely isn't any better…
So, I'm highlighted at "3" but really the answer is charitably 2, maybe 1.
Also, you've linked to the map highlighted at 10/1; but my understanding is that the FTC definition of broadband is presently 25/3.
That's part of your problem; there is a third competitor and you didn't even try to do business with them, because they weren't one of the famously screwy companies you've heard of.
I don't envy your big two choices there, but I guarantee it'd be worse with just Comcast or (shudders) just AT&T.
A family member has a small cottage where just under half of the building is on the other side of the county line. We can only get one fixed provider there, and it's satellite, but over the county line they have Comcast and a couple other terrestrial ISPs. the situation is hilarious.
> Also, you've linked to the map highlighted at 10/1; but my understanding is that the FTC definition of broadband is presently 25/3.
Sorry! I pulled up that search from a bookmark (10/1, excluding satellite), and didn't switch the bandwidth setting back to the default.
Google search: comcast http injection.
Results from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 ... all of them seem "surprised" about Comcast modifying HTTP stream data...
Comcast even published an RFC for it: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6108
Comcast even goes so far as to claim that it's "more" secure: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc6108#section-10
In my area, it says I have 6 different options. In reality, I have one.
Comcast, at up to 400mbps.
CenturyLink, at up to 3mbps, and "for most homes, 1.5mbps".
Comcast, cable. 2gbit down, 25mbit up.
Centurylink, adsl, 40mbit down, 0.7mbit up.
(In case you wanted to actually know who was named.)
Edit: Both CenturyLink and Cox were also exluded.
learning about those vulnerabilities can be done by watching public CCC and other similar conference talks
You may not realize how many there are total because most of them are regional. Things like Spectrum or Charter or Verizon or Cox or CenturyLink are all broadband carriers that were never available where I am, so I only heard about them through others online. Meanwhile, neither you nor this announcement mentioned my ISP.
As many of those are not part of this inquiry, presumably the FTC is not worried about the privacy practices of those ISPs at this time, and just targeting ones it has specific concerns about.
So sonic.net doesn't service your area? They were a great CLEC/ISP when I was in the bay area, mostly carried over AT&T lines so you could get it anywhere AT&T did DSL.
Thankfully, ATT just rolled fiber down my street last week, and I was on Sonic's preorder list the day after they announced it for my neighborhood. No timeframe, but I'm ecstatic to be using a local ISP again, not to mention symmetric gigabit with no caps for half of what comcast charges me.
When I lived in Chicago, the building I was in with almost 700 units the only choice for internet was AT&T DSL which struggled to get to 3 Mbps, simply because the wiring in the building was old.
I know a business in Chicago that has to do everything on tethered cell phone connections because the phone lines are too old to handle DSL, and the cable company won’t run a line across the street to their factory.
The only other two that have much more than a million customers are Altice and Frontier. I think you can argue that those 8 server nearly every American.
What other companies get such hate? (excluding: Tobacco, Big Pharma, and Oracle)
Where did you get corporatist from?
This skepticism is the product of an administration that hires people like Ryan Zinke and Tom Price. None of his hires get the benefit of the doubt.
He was Director of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, and earned an FTC award of meritorious service.
> I'm skeptical that anyone in the Trump administration will exert pressure on Simon to run the FTC as an advocate for US consumers.
Agreed— I would just like to point out that his working in corporate law should have no negative impact on the outcome. If our administration truly wanted someone who wouldn't do anything to defend American consumers, they could find that in a wide range of candidates.
The only argument that would raise issue with him working in corporate law prior to this appointment would be to claim that he may give preferential treatment to those he previously defended. This is an entirely separate issue from Trump, and while possible, I would be very surprised if the government had no federal oversight of this position. This claim, if I'm not mistaken, would actually amount to a criminal level of corruption.
The removal of net neutrality took oversight from the FCC where it was Title II and essentially a utility, over to the FTC where it cannot be seen as a utility.
This action is just the FTC making it look like they are challenging them to try to defeat the net neutrality push and act like the FTC would do something about abusive ISPs regarding net neutrality and private data protections which were both removed in 2017 and put under the FTC from the FCC.
When the bill is defeated in the Senate, some members will mention that the FTC right now it looking into the ISPs/telcos but that is just for show.
Ultimately the FTC is a worse place to put net neutrality oversight since at the FCC it is a utility and the liabilities are greater for the ISPs, plus they can't throttle data or sell ads/private data as easy.
Both net neutrality and privacy protections  were removed at the FCC and put on the FTC which is only now suddenly doing something for show due to the movement of the new net neutrality push.
Jeff Flake initially pushed the removal of privacy protections  and it led to the net neutrality bill and both move oversight from FCC under Title II to the FTC under where all there are are fines and less liability after abuse.
> Under the FTC’s stewardship, our internet economy has become the envy of the world. The FTC helped by establishing clear standards and robust enforcement mechanisms that protect our sensitive information while remaining flexible enough to respond to our preferences as consumers.
> When it comes to federal regulations, to borrow a phrase from back on the ranch, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Unfortunately, the previous administration decided to search for a problem when we already had the solution.
> In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) undertook a unilateral power-grab by asserting jurisdiction over ISPs. This bureaucratic turf battle stripped ISPs of their traditional regulator, and could have thrown the entire internet ecosystem into flux. But it went virtually unnoticed by the media and activists who care about privacy.
> After more than a year of ad-hoc privacy regulation, the FCC decided to adopt its own rules. Instead of basing the rules on proven regulatory framework that applies throughout the rest of the internet, the FCC pushed through new rules on a party-line vote in the waning days of the previous administration.
> Now the FCC and the FTC can work hand-in-hand to enforce a uniform privacy framework for ISPs and the rest of the Internet. In an early sign of how successful this model can be, the major broadband providers have already updated their privacy policies to make it clear how consumers can opt out of targeted advertising.
The reason ISPs want to keep the FTC in charge is net neutrality and privacy protections can be broken and smaller fines can be paid if they are ever challenged. With the FCC they were liable under different Title II / utility protections that both actually prevented abuse and made harsher penalties for breaking it for ISPs.
This is quite a good show by the ISPs and FTC though.
if anything people are clamoring for censorship by wrapping it up under the mantra of fake news all the while ignoring the fact what someone declares as fake may not be truly fake, merely what they don't want you to believe.
industry moves best when regulations are light but the oversight is vigilant
I've seen just enough to surmise that there must be some serious power players a la Robert Moses  working behind the scenes to fleece the federal purse while enacting protectionist laws at the federal, state, and local levels.
I'm not sure that is the case. There will be something.
Start of an investigation certainly can be news.
This is not an investigation: no news.
Nothing has been concluded: no news.
Care to elaborate?
I can't figure out what you think the story is about.