(but we can fix it)
February 26, 2014 9:48 AM   Subscribe

 
Metafilter is dead
posted by 0bvious at 9:51 AM on February 26, 2014


Long live Metafilter
posted by duffell at 9:53 AM on February 26, 2014


More like the internet in the US is fucked.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:55 AM on February 26, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yes, I was going to add "in America".
posted by MartinWisse at 9:57 AM on February 26, 2014


At first I thought this was going to be about IPv6 or DNS security. I do agree with the idea that data should be treated like a utility at this point, though. Of course, in the US where everything is privatized being a utility still isn't all that great of a solution.
posted by charred husk at 9:58 AM on February 26, 2014


C'mon, we have the best telecommunication regulators money can buy.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:58 AM on February 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


So the solution is regular users, without a lobbying firm, access or endless money, pressuring Congress to make changes which could result in reduced corporate profits?

That's rich.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:01 AM on February 26, 2014 [16 favorites]


It's especially rich when all the relevant activism takes place on the internet.
posted by Dr. Send at 10:03 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Anyone who didn't see this coming after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 please raise your hand so I can smack you upside your dense head.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:13 AM on February 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


Comparing slow and expensive internet access to reliable electricity or safe drinking water backfires for me personally and makes the whole issue seem petty.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:15 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


How to Unfuck the Internet [in the US]

Since 'net grassroots helped to block SOPA, taking a page from that playbook is in order.
• Contact FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler: Email him at tom.wheeler@fcc.gov. There are also the commissioners, Mignon Clyburn {mignon.clyburn@fcc.gov}, Michael O’Rielly {mike.o'rielly@fcc.gov}, Ajit Pai {ajit.pai@fcc.gov}, and Jessica Rosenworcel {jessica.rosenworcel@fcc.gov}, as well as webmaster@fcc.gov.

• Call the FCC: Dial 1-888-335-5322, at the prompt press 1 and then 5, and file a complaint with the agent once you're connected. Their FAX is 1-866-418-0232.

• Write them a letter of complaint: Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.
(Some of this was in the OP article but perversely rendered in an image instead of in easily copy-paste text form.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:17 AM on February 26, 2014 [19 favorites]


So the solution is regular users, without a lobbying firm, access or endless money, pressuring Congress to make changes which could result in reduced corporate profits?

Pressure the FCC, not Congress
posted by Going To Maine at 10:18 AM on February 26, 2014


That is, if you want cheap Internet 'n stuff, you gotta sing loud.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:18 AM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


The internet is just one of the things that are fucked because we have a bought government. Things haven't been this corrupt since the Gilded Age.
posted by deanklear at 10:22 AM on February 26, 2014 [12 favorites]


2bucksplus:
Comparing slow and expensive internet access to heating or safe drinking water backfires for me personally and makes the whole issue seem petty.
That is some hyperbole but just because the internet isn't essential to life doesn't mean it isn't important enough at this point to not be treated as a utility. At the least it is becoming important to education - the school my wife teaches at has been having to rely on internet assignments due to all the snow days. There are a few kids without internet access and they're at a real disadvantage in their education.
posted by charred husk at 10:24 AM on February 26, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'm with 2bucksplus, actually. Although I think this is a critical issue, putting it on a level with water and power is misleading. It's more on the level of providing a functional police force or fire department, or public transit, or basic education. It's a public service that should be expected.

The thing is the amount that should be expected. People are complaining that Comcast is slowing down Netflix packets. That's a good problem to have; until recently, streaming movies and TV at high def was a distant dream. What people need is basic access - enough to do banking, download and upload pictures, and chat or email with others. A fraction of a megabit (how big a fraction will have to be determined) will do quite well for that, is easier to deliver to the millions without access and those distant from hubs like cities, and is also a realistic thing to require from the companies that provide connectivity.

I think the "internet should be cheap and fast by now" argument is not correct. I feel like we've decided that we're okay with paying $50-80 (some more, some less, but by and large) for connectivity — and instead of asking to pay less money for the same thing as capacity grow, we've decided rather to pay the same money for more. That is to say, we still pay the same amount we paid 10 years ago, but we get more for that money.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:33 AM on February 26, 2014


I think the "internet should be cheap and fast by now" argument is not correct. I feel like we've decided that we're okay with paying $50-80 (some more, some less, but by and large) for connectivity — and instead of asking to pay less money for the same thing as capacity grow, we've decided rather to pay the same money for more. That is to say, we still pay the same amount we paid 10 years ago, but we get more for that money.

But we get more for that money because people other than Comcast have built a bunch of things using the Internet. I mean, the argument for net neutrality is at least partly derived from the fact that, now that people have built things that require lots of bandwidth (such as Netflix) Comcast is going to change the rules of the game.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:41 AM on February 26, 2014


But how much money?
In the UK, where incumbent provider BT is required to allow competitors to use its wired broadband network, home internet service prices are as low as £2.50 a month, or just over $4.
posted by MtDewd at 10:43 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Comparing slow and expensive internet access to reliable electricity or safe drinking water backfires for me personally and makes the whole issue seem petty.

How about air travel, then? It's a highly regulated market that has a stellar safety record and pretty good service (despite our gripes about the TSA and crowded runways) but barely ekes out profits each quarter.

And its performance is critical to the economy -- if Mexico had planes that went 3x as fast, you can bet they'd move Disney World there.

I probably won't move to a different country for better internet, but I wouldn't buy a house in an area with crappy internet. Just like I wouldn't move somewhere I have to drive five hours to an airport. I wonder if these battles will be fought on the regional level as people realize their property values are being affected.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:44 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm curious: The guy keeps stating "19 out of 20 markets". Anyone here have an idea who the odd man out is and why?
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 10:50 AM on February 26, 2014


Partly blame the users who treat the Internet as a broadband consumption utility. NetFlix is HBO 2.0 (if you remember the 80s) .. this is driven by the dumb and dumber pads and phones designed for point and click. The network mirrors what people use it for. If it comes down to it then a parallel internet will take off, there are already a number out there based on cheap wireless, there is nothing to prevent an entirely new network to be built for the 10% who actually care about net neutrality and the other 90% can use the existing internet like a fancy TV and pay the subscriber fees. Really the only reason these super high speed internet services exists something like 50%+ of all Internet traffic is porn and pirates.
posted by stbalbach at 10:51 AM on February 26, 2014


Good article, but I'm not sure about £2.50 broadband in the UK. I think that's going to be a whole load of intro 6 month offers, installation cost of at least 50 pounds, hidden costs, and also major limits on uploads, speed etc.

I pay around 20 pounds for 60Mbs and although I think a better deal could be found, changing provider is a fear when you work from home.

Where I live in London, I can go to the public library at any time of day and see all of the web terminals in use constantly by poor people. They are doing job applications, college applications, utility bill stuff, tenancy arrangements - all the daily crap that people need to do. If they can't afford broadband at home because the only meaningful service is approx 15-20 pounds, and the library shuts down (it's constantly under threat) then that's a clear case of discrimination against them.
posted by colie at 10:56 AM on February 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


NO NO NO NO NO. Please stop writing about things you don't understand. There are a lot of problems with current Internet governance, but the Comcast/Netflix arrangement is not one of them.

First, let's define what "peering" means. It means that one organization agrees to carry the traffic of another organization, often with some limit (such as they will not pass it further on to another 3rd organization). Up through the early 1990s, peering was negotiated as "settlement-free", meaning that nobody paid anyone, and we all simply met at a meet-me room. This is how things like MAE-East got started. Often it was actually at a University (MAE-West), but slowly as the Internet became more commercial, this began to change.

Around 1994 (when I worked for one of the largest ISPs as an engineer), things started to change. Prior to that, most Internet traffic was non-commercial. There were all sorts of arrangements with the NSF for bandwidth, etc., and it came with certain non-commercial requirements. Yes, people ignored it, but it was nothing like what you see today. Then, in the mid-1990s, this changed. Commercial organizations started to perform "e-commerce" on the Internet, and you started to see the concept of "hosting" begin. People started to have connection to their houses, and many ISPs started to have strongly asymmetric traffic patterns.

The concept of settlement-free peering was predicated on the idea that provider A sends provider B about the same amount of traffic as provider B sends provider A. Yes, it might change a little bit from day to day, but over a month, it should be approximately equal. This was almost always the case when someone like Sprint (who I worked for) peered with someone like UUNET (who at the time was #1). No money. Organizations like Comcast, or others who focused on end-user connectivity, could often have 10:1 asymmetric traffic. This was deemed unfair by many of the big providers, and so the concept of "paid peering" was created. It was dependent on the level of asymmetry.

So, Netflix is a VERY asymmetric model. I'd be shocked if it was less than 100:1, and might even be 10,000:1. It makes sense from a traffic engineering and business perspective that they pay for peering. Even 20 years ago, we would have demanded they either pay for peering, or buy bandwidth directly. The difference is really about how and where you meet up.

None of this is new. It's 20 years old. It happens all the time. Money changes hands to pay for "closer" access to an organization. There's lawyers now, where it was once just a hand shake with engineers (often at NANOG, or elsewhere), but it's the same idea.

The sky is not falling because of this. It may be falling because of other things, but overreaction to something that is not new is only a demonstration that those writing the article haven't the slightest amount of understanding of how large-scale Internet backbones work. It isn't like your Linksys at home. Comcast/Netflix has nothing to do with "net neutrality". If Netflix was paying for their traffic to be handled BEFORE Hulus, that would be "net neutrality". What peering guarantees is simply access to the edge of a network, but nothing through it. Net neutrality can be thought of as everyone getting the same crappy service.
posted by petrilli at 10:58 AM on February 26, 2014 [20 favorites]


I wish i had some sort of power, real power, but only for a day and only for one thing. I would call a meeting (this wouldn't affect my Arbitrary Power) of all the people who have the power to mess with the internet through laws and regulations. There would be a big a projection of some kind of abstraction of the internet and its workings. I would be standing below this big projection and the Powers That Be would be in the audience wondering "when is this hairy little normal person going to speak?" And then I would speak. I would get out a big, long stick and circle the projection of the abstraction of the Internet and say "See THIS?! You fuckers?! LEAVE THIS ALONE. STOP IT. You don't touch this!" and then I would try to throw the stick in such a way that it might fall on John Boehners faces because even if he isn't involved with this he might still be there and I just really don't like his face.
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 11:04 AM on February 26, 2014


stbalbach: Partly blame the users who treat the Internet as a broadband consumption utility. NetFlix is HBO 2.0 (if you remember the 80s) .. this is driven by the dumb and dumber pads and phones designed for point and click.

petrelli: So, Netflix is a VERY asymmetric model. I'd be shocked if it was less than 100:1, and might even be 10,000:1. It makes sense from a traffic engineering and business perspective that they pay for peering.

And yet in countries like South Korea and Estonia, Internet access is cheaper and faster. This probably makes usage patterns even more asymmetric in those places -- if high-bandwidth downloading is available, people will use it for streaming media. But this doesn't seem to be a problem for them.

The network works great in those places, and the reason is government regulation.
posted by my favorite orange at 11:04 AM on February 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


Partly blame the users

Ah, spoken like a true sysadmin.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:07 AM on February 26, 2014 [8 favorites]


No, the network works great in Estonia, South Korea, Great Britain, etc. because they are small, densely populated nations.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:11 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Comcast/Netflix has nothing to do with "net neutrality"

Comcast swallows more US cities' networks, rates keep going up, network service for specific sites (including Netflix) gets increasingly worse, until backroom deals are cut that raise prices for consumers. Comcast seems to be the main — perhaps, sole — reason consumers need the government to step in and maintain net neutrality.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:12 AM on February 26, 2014 [9 favorites]


No, the network works great in Estonia, South Korea, Great Britain, etc. because they are small, densely populated nations.

Then why aren't they great in New York or Chicago or LA?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:15 AM on February 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


Because they're Comcastic
posted by mike_bling at 11:25 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


No, the network works great in Estonia, South Korea, Great Britain, etc. because they are small, densely populated nations.

Unlike Sweden, Finland and Norway where network also works great.
posted by Free word order! at 11:25 AM on February 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Gosh, it'd sure be a shame if anything were to come between your streaming media service, which just so happens to be the only major competition of the streaming media service we own a third of, and your customers."

It's a shakedown, pure and simple. If the FCC won't step in, maybe the FTC should have a crack at it.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:32 AM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wait, but what about the bit where we stop surveillance?
posted by Apocryphon at 11:34 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Call the FCC: Dial 1-888-335-5322, at the prompt press 1 and then 5, and file a complaint with the agent once you're connected. Their FAX is 1-866-418-0232.

Seriously, do this folks. I was on hold for about 5 minutes and expressed simply my desire for the FCC to regulate ISPs as common carriers and they knew just what I was talking about. I got the impression from the person I spoke with that they actually appreciated that people were asking them to get some teeth on this matter.
posted by dgran at 11:44 AM on February 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


Free word order! beat me to it but adding to that is that broadband (inspired by Finland's move) is being considered a national right in developing countries as well.

Tanzania to develop National Broadband Strategy

The objectives of the NBS will include ensuring universal service and access to reliable, affordable and secure broadband services by all citizens prioritizing rural and underserviced areas,” he said.

“It has been proven that every 10% increase in broadband penetration in developing countries results in a corresponding increase of 1.3% in GDP. The broadband penetration in our country is still very low hence underscoring the need of having the NBS,” he added.

posted by infini at 11:46 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


God I hate Comcast. Just wanted to say it.
posted by eggkeeper at 11:50 AM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Really going out on a limb there, aren't you eggkeeper? Pretty gutsy move to brave the taunts and slander of the rabid pro-Comcast militia on here. :-)
posted by Naberius at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I wish I could agree that a utility is "A commodity that should get better and faster and cheaper over time," but the Alberta government screwed up most of the utilities here over ten years ago. If the Internet was a utility, my ISP would be selling net access rights to a middleman who'd charge me a 100% markup if I wanted to go online. Even the most basic net access would cost at least $80 a month, and that cost would go up or down every time the middleman added in some mysterious new fee.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:07 PM on February 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I did actually read the whole article (which tbh could be construed as mildly-moderately NSFW owing to 48-point block text graphic f-bombs, just so you're aware) but this is a good summary:
[T]he entire problem, expressed in four simple ideas: the internet is a utility, there is zero meaningful competition to provide that utility to Americans, all internet providers should be treated equally, and the FCC is doing a miserably ineffective job.

also this:

...[A]llowing these companies to get away with these antics has repercussions we’ve barely even begun talking about: a recent Pew survey found that 45 percent of the poorest Americans use a mobile phone as their primary internet device. Same with nearly half of all Americans aged 18-29, and particularly among minorities and the less-educated. Young, poor, not white: let’s definitely make sure we put them in the ghetto internet of corporate control.
this concludes your tl;dr services for today. I just called the FCC number and waited on hold for a surprisingly short amount of time (maybe 3 minutes tops?) and dgran is correct. The friendly sounding guy on the FCC end sounded honestly glad that Average Jane (me) was taking interest.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:09 PM on February 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Unlike Sweden, Finland and Norway where network also works great.

The US's average numbers appear to be better on that website.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:11 PM on February 26, 2014


What I'm really afraid of is that Comcast will find out about my audacity and disconn
posted by eggkeeper at 12:12 PM on February 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


I was going to start slashing the tires of every comcast truck I see, but I guess calling the FCC would work better.
posted by Big_B at 12:35 PM on February 26, 2014


Yes peering relationship need to be worked out so that the true costs of bandwidth are shared appropriately but Verizon, Comcast, the Deathstar, etc are double dipping.

They want to charge the content providers to get a higher tier of service so that the priority of Netflix doesn't get throttled to shit by packetshapers, etc. On the other end they want to charge the end user that gets that content some sort of enhanced cost per GB downloaded so instead of $x per GB usage per month you are paying 3x $x per GB per month because you actually want to get access to the content that Netflix Hulu etc are offering at $10 a month.

This is at a time where they aren't pouring any money at all into upgrading their old copper infrastructure at all because it's already paid off ages ago and every dollar they charge is like pure profit.

So we are stuck with shitty internet access in most markets and business consumers are being completely gouged for anything remotely good. God help you if you are heavily into research or anything remotely bandwidth intensive because your monthly costs are astronomical to the point where more and more larger organizations are going to have to seriously consider leasing or purchasing dark fiber to suit their needs.

If the carriers wanted to minimize their costs they'd just jump on the bandwagon of caching services all over creation so that end-users use the closest cached copy of resource X without having to go all the back to the netflix datacenter.

Shit is seriously crazy.
posted by vuron at 1:36 PM on February 26, 2014 [7 favorites]


DSL isn't competitive with cable most places? Here in Idaho, I can get DSL that's much faster and cheaper than cable (but that's comparing straight internet without any bundling in either option).
posted by straight at 1:49 PM on February 26, 2014


Pull it away from the telcos and give it over to the Post Office. They already have a mandate to ease communication to the most remote parts of the country, this is right in their bailiwick.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:53 PM on February 26, 2014 [5 favorites]


Most DSL is slower than snot compared most cable providers.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:54 PM on February 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, AT&T DSL here maxes out at 6mbps whereas Comcast provides cable internet with claimed speeds as high as 50 mbps. The catch is that both services have datacaps of 250gb and 300gb per month, respectively, before they start tacking on extra fees. Faster speeds means you are hitting that datacap that much faster.

That's really the rub. All the nonsense about whether the issue has to do with peering agreements or net neutrality is just a distraction that serves Comcast's interests. As vuron put it well, Comcast is double dipping by charging content providers and users for the same bandwidth, and they aren't providing any extra service for doing so. In fact, they are purposely degrading service in order to extract extra profit.
posted by arcolz at 2:20 PM on February 26, 2014 [6 favorites]


A question for the more internet-y engineer types: it seems like this could be in a large part solved with multicasting. I'm aware that multicasting is fairly tricky, and in my very uninformed understanding of the situation it hasn't been rolled out much as a result.

I guess I have a few questions relating to this:
-What is the current status of multicasting for media companies like Netflix?
-Realistically, how much does multicasting help?
-Are there multicasting technologies on the horizon that would improve things?
-What are the realistic barriers to more multicast deployments?

Sorry for the 20 questions style, just something I've been curious about and haven't wanted to take it apart and try to figure it out.
posted by yeahwhatever at 2:42 PM on February 26, 2014


The problem with multicast being a large scale solution is that ultimately streaming video isn't really geared for point to multipoint because people want to be able to watch on demand so you have to deal with how to add people to streams. It's great for some applications where live is the most important feature i.e. streaming sporting events especially if we start getting into 4k+ UHD streams.

What might be useful is if you could subscribe to content from a streaming provider so that everyone gets the new stream to their set-top box and it functions more along the lines of a DVR. You might even be able to do something like transmit the video prior to broadcast in some sort of encrypted format that can only be unlocked after a certain time-date stamp. That way you could in theory backhaul the multicast traffic during off-peak hours.

Combined with caching servers you could substantial reduce net bandwidth consumption but let's be honest this has never been about reducing bandwidth consumption it's about gouging consumers with arbitrary thresholds of service.
posted by vuron at 2:53 PM on February 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


So this is all about how the current providers are milking their power, but I wonder how Google (Fiber) fits into the picture. The article makes no mention of Google, despite recent news that they're planning to expand the fiber service from their Kansas City test-site to numerous other cities in the very near future.

It's no solution compared to government regulation, but I'm curious how Google entering the picture may or may not affect the competition. Any experts care to comment?
posted by p3t3 at 5:43 PM on February 26, 2014


petrilli: "So, Netflix is a VERY asymmetric model. I'd be shocked if it was less than 100:1, and might even be 10,000:1. It makes sense from a traffic engineering and business perspective that they pay for peering. Even 20 years ago, we would have demanded they either pay for peering, or buy bandwidth directly. The difference is really about how and where you meet up."

Comcast runs an eyeball network. They have as much room to talk about ratio as a KKK member has to whine about reverse racism. Moreover, Netflix has been (at least publicly) more than willing to hand off traffic at any mutually agreeable point. It's not like they're asking Comcast to let them hot potato god knows how many Gbps and bear the cost of carrying it cross-country.

On a completely different note, as others have noted, multicast is great for live TV (U-Verse linear channels are IP multicast), but pretty much useless for Netflix and Hulu's on demand model. I'm not sure if Netflix cache devices use multicast for their incoming feed, but I doubt it. Multicast over the open internet is worse than IPv6.
posted by wierdo at 7:05 PM on February 26, 2014


Related thread.
posted by homunculus at 10:50 PM on February 26, 2014




Tim Wu: Comcast Versus the Open Internet
posted by homunculus at 11:16 PM on February 26, 2014


Good article, but I'm not sure about £2.50 broadband in the UK. I think that's going to be a whole load of intro 6 month offers, installation cost of at least 50 pounds, hidden costs, and also major limits on uploads, speed etc.

Here in the UK, I'm currently paying £1.99 - $3.33 - a month for unlimited DSL from plusnet, at just under 21Mb/s. Yes, it's a special offer, for the duration of the 12 month minimum contract, at which point it goes up to a whopping £10 a month for a rolling monthly contract. The current special is £2.99 for the same deal. AFAICT its unthrottled, though they do theoretically do torrent shaping during peak hours. I don't download much via torrent traffic, mainly linux isos (really, I'm on ubuntu right now) but they didn't appear throttled either. HD Video traffic plays without a glitch. No installation charge, and the optional router was a fiver - and being a technicolor, it's actually got a really good broadcom DSL chipset in it, so I've switched using it as a modem in front of my really beefy router.

I switched from talktalk LLU, where I was paying £10 a month for a similar deal, but they were struggling a bit with certain types of traffic (iplayer mainly) at peak, though my local link was fine.

I should also point out I'm in a rural town with a small population. I'm relatively close to the exchange, but not more so than half the town.

I do also have to pay rental for the phone line itself, at £14.50 a month, which I'd still have to do to have a landline. So that's £16.49 a month all in.

Next month, fibre to my cabinet should go live. The exchange is 'taking orders', and there's a new VDSL cabinet down the end of the road. Then I can upgrade to 76Mb/s actual, again unlimited, for £12.50 a month - or pick any of a dozen other companies that use BT Openreach fibre.

And I point out again, this is rural england. Yes, we have a higher population density than most US states. But like the states, most of that population is clustered round the big cities, in our case, London. The population density is much lower in the rural regions - higher than US rural areas, but still lower than your average suburban US area.

France has the same population in twice the area, and their internet access is better and cheaper over a wider area than ours is (mainly because France Telecom invested in fibre back in the day, while BT stuck with copper too long). The biggest cost is the 'last mile', the cabling to houses. Americans HAVE that - cable - paid for in part by large public subsidies and land grants.

The big difference is that our monopoly telecom got split into infrastructure - BT openreach - with other parts for phone service, and BT Internet for the ISP. BT Internet gets the same wholesale rates from BT openreach that other consumer ISPs do (rates which are heavily regulated), and even the exchanges and other plant are open for ISPs to put their own equipment in and just rent the backhaul.

To rein in the monopoly powers of the US cable providers, they need to be either heavily regulated, or forced to open up their infrastructure to competitors at reasonable wholesale cost, so other ISPs can offer service over their lines. Ideally both. Even just forcing the internet arm to be split off from the content arm would be a great start for the handful of big cable companies that hold the most local monopolies would be a great start.

The US is not a special snowflake in infrastructure terms for the vast majority of people in urban and suburban areas. Isolated rural areas, yes, maybe, but there's no technical reason most americans couldn't have great, cheap broadband. It's a political problem where one party is in thrall to powerful media companies, and the other is in thrall to powerful media companies and also hates the idea of even having a government.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:18 AM on February 27, 2014 [3 favorites]


ArkhanJG: "The big difference is that our monopoly telecom got split into infrastructure - BT openreach - with other parts for phone service, and BT Internet for the ISP. BT Internet gets the same wholesale rates from BT openreach that other consumer ISPs do (rates which are heavily regulated), and even the exchanges and other plant are open for ISPs to put their own equipment in and just rent the backhaul."

Ours did as well, at least for the former monopoly telcos by about 1998. My particular Baby Bell started with a completely integrated network but was forced by the FCC to divest the "line" part from the "internet" part and allow third parties to take over the latter. I remember this well because the phone number I had to call to get people to actually activate the DSL line card on almost every install I did changed. "Somehow" (no, surely lobbying had nothing at all to do with it!) they convinced the FCC that their new VDSL2 (in retrofit areas) and FTTP (in greenfield developments) network was no longer under the FCC's purview, supposedly being all-IP, and thus do not allow third party ISPs.

What this basically means is that you can get 3-6Mbps from at&t or third party ISPs over the old DSL network (if and only if you've never had their VDSL product), you can use at&t's 30ish Mbps service (I'm the closest drop to the VDSL cabinet in my neighborhood and my modem would sync at 70Mbps when I tried it out, but they don't sell Internet service that fast), or you can use the cable company's up to 100Mbps service.

A couple of cable companies saw the writing on the wall and split their infrastructure and content businesses, but the FCC stopped moving in that direction after our 43rd President was elected, so that stopped with like two companies who fairly quickly gave up on the whole third party ISP thing.
posted by wierdo at 8:39 AM on February 27, 2014


Comcast Doesn't Give a F*CK
posted by homunculus at 6:41 PM on February 28, 2014








To be fair, Estonia is actually rather impressive when it comes to technology policy:

The Guardian: How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR's shadow to become an internet titan

The Economist explains: How did Estonia become a leader in technology?

Lessons from the World's Most Tech-Savvy Government: An Estonian shares his country's strategy for navigating the digital world, in the Atlantic
posted by KatlaDragon at 9:13 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]








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