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FCC eyes open access after backing away from regulation in 2001 and 2002

The state of the nationwide broadband infrastructure in the U.S. is certainly lacking compared to other parts of the world where much faster speeds are offered at lower prices. According to the FCC, part of what has allowed such robust competition in the global market is open access to carrier facilities.

According to the FCC, these open policies have helped other industrialized nations to develop competitive broadband markets. The FCC released a draft of a study that looked into broadband practices and plans this week with the aim of improving the reach and use of broadband in America.

Reuters quotes the study saying, "The lowest prices and highest speeds are almost always offered by firms in markets where, in addition to an incumbent telephone company and a cable company, there are also competitors who entered the market, and built their presence, through use of open access facilities."

The study is 232 pages long and was written by the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society. The study also says that, "an engaged regulator enforced open access obligations, competitors using these open access facilities provided an important catalyst for the development of robust competition."

Reuters reports that open access has been an issue not addressed by the FCC since decisions in 2001 and 2002 moved away from open access enforcement for broadband. The U.S. is not alone in earmarking stimulus funds to improve broadband access according to the study; several other countries are doing the same thing.

The FCC has appointed a task force that has announced estimates for a wireless and landline infrastructure for broadband in America. The task force estimates that the infrastructure will cost between $20 billion and $350 billion depending on the speeds offered. The FCC reports that most Americans have internet access at home with one third having access to broadband but not subscribing, and 4% having no access at all.

The FCC started discussing the definition of broadband in August; this is a key step towards defining the scope of the infrastructure needed in America.

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I liked what I read
By Shig on 10/16/2009 10:07:05 AM , Rating: 3
Agreed with everything I read, nice FCC, nice.

RE: I liked what I read
By FITCamaro on 10/16/2009 10:18:51 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with them as well.

Just disagree on how to make it better.

RE: I liked what I read
By drebo on 10/16/2009 10:25:29 AM , Rating: 3
While a small amount of regulation is good, I do not want to see the entire nation's telecom infrastructure become public property.

The biggest issue with broadband prices and speeds in this country stems from an age-old tradition of local governments to give geographic monopoly status to telecom companies. Remove this, and I bet you'll see much more innovation as companies struggle to have to keep their customers through service, rather than because there is no other option.

RE: I liked what I read
By Jellodyne on 10/16/2009 10:37:21 AM , Rating: 5
How do you feel about the nations roads being public property? Would you prefer tollbooths every mile?

RE: I liked what I read
By TechZeal on 10/16/2009 11:15:33 AM , Rating: 2
Nearly all roads are public. Your local roads are Municipality owned and maintained by that city, town or township. Your county roads are owned and maintained by that county. Your state highways or roads are owned and maintained by that state. And your Interstate Highways are owned and maintained by the Federal Government.

Your taxes (if you pay them) pay for all the roads and their upkeep. How do you think they fixed pot holes or repaved the roads... who paid for it? ;)

RE: I liked what I read
By TechZeal on 10/16/2009 11:29:02 AM , Rating: 2
Wow... I can not read today. Your analogy is correct and is a good example of how this could help. My follow up is unnecessary, carry on. :)

RE: I liked what I read
By FITCamaro on 10/16/2009 11:51:10 AM , Rating: 1
The federal government is given the power in the Constitution to collect taxes for the purpose of building roads. Please tell me where it is given the authority to take over the nation's telecommunications infrastructure which is owned by private companies?

I'll let you get back to me on that one.

RE: I liked what I read
By DarkElfa on 10/16/2009 2:04:30 PM , Rating: 3
What do you do for a living FITCamaro? Just a question, not a slander and I'm not looking for an argument, I'm just curious.

RE: I liked what I read
By Fnoob on 10/16/2009 11:23:38 PM , Rating: 3
FIT converts Marxists to BioDiesel for his GTO. It may not be a living, but it smells great.

RE: I liked what I read
By ipay on 10/17/2009 4:38:52 PM , Rating: 2
Man, that sounds like my dream job...

RE: I liked what I read
By invidious on 10/16/2009 2:24:35 PM , Rating: 2
This is a good point, the right to collect taxes to build and maintain roads is not a derived right, it part of the Post Office clause to the constitution.

I agree that the federal government should regulate the internet because frankly telecoms have been pillaging for far too long. But govermnent run broadband is not in the best interest of consumers and is contrary to the results of this study mentioned in this article. Government control does not inspire competition, it eliminates it.

RE: I liked what I read
By drebo on 10/16/2009 3:15:32 PM , Rating: 1
The Internet is NOT an inalienable right. It is a luxury. You do not need the Internet in order live or drive a car to and from work or take your kids to the doctor. Internet access is not a necesity of life.

The idea that anyone is entitled to anything that they have not themselves earned is counter to capitalism. People, no matter how poor, are not entitled to watch cat videos on youtube. If they want that, they can go out and get their own internet access.

RE: I liked what I read
By drebo on 10/16/2009 3:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure how this ended up here, it was supposed to be in response to the one below it.

RE: I liked what I read
By Fnoob on 10/16/2009 7:54:01 PM , Rating: 1
You are clearly a racist! Internet access certainly is a RIGHT of the people and the gov't should pay for it for everyone. In fact, it should fine people who don't have it. The people with really fast connections should be forced to give up some of their bandwidth to those with slower connections. People with more than one computer are simply greedy and should have the additional units seized by the gov't and given to those without one, even if they are here illegally.

RE: I liked what I read
By highlandsun on 10/16/2009 8:26:50 PM , Rating: 2
You're a moron.

The Constitution doesn't explicitly give you a right to breathe either. It doesn't have to, because it already states quite clearly that any right not explicitly granted to the State is reserved for the people.

That means that yes, unless some greedy bastard manages to pass a law making it illegal for you to have internet access, it *is* every citizen's inalienable right.

RE: I liked what I read
By highlandsun on 10/16/2009 8:30:15 PM , Rating: 3
Keep in mind - having the inalienable right to something doesn't necessarily mean you get it for free. You have the right to bear arms, but that doesn't mean you can go to the Capitol and demand they give you a gun. You still have to buy it with your own money.

If it costs someone else something to provide it, then it should cost you something to acquire it. But aside from that, no one can deny you the right to possess it.

RE: I liked what I read
By FITCamaro on 10/17/2009 7:47:04 PM , Rating: 2
You're calling him an idiot?

You have the right PURCHASE internet access provided you have the money to pay for it. You do not have the inalienable right to it no matter what. You cannot walk into an ISPs office and demand internet for free because it is your right to have it. Well, you can, but you'll just be laughed at.

That's like saying you have the right to a f*cking Ferrari.

RE: I liked what I read
By TechZeal on 10/16/2009 2:27:05 PM , Rating: 3
And the government has never taken over or gotten involved in anything not originally written in the Constitution... ;)

Besides, you can't honestly say that the infrastructure of telecommunications isn't approaching a similar level importance to the infrastructure of our roadways.

RE: I liked what I read
By geddarkstorm on 10/16/2009 2:42:17 PM , Rating: 3
The internet is a "road" in its own right. It's become that integrated and important in many areas of modern life as a road to travel on. Getting resources, doing business, work, shopping, communicating, all these increasingly require the internet, not simply at the personal level, but the business level. A credit card slot reader connects to.. what? The internet. Banks interact with each other rapidly instead of slowly over days due to.. what? The internet. It really has become a public interest and utility. Collecting taxes to give a better market for the internet sounds like an ok idea.

The government would just own the actual "roads", wires, and the private companies would sell all the service. This only makes sense, as deregulating the regional monopolies won't necessarily stop them, as they OWN the wires. So who's going to come in, dig up all the streets, and put in new wires just to offer competition? If the government did that, that would be a worthy use of our taxes, I think, vastly better than many of the uses it puts our money to! Also notice, that the government would not be taking away private control of the wires already there for phone and cable; whoever already laid the stuff, owns the stuff, the FCC just wants to put in new stuff and allow multiple businesses to compete over it instead of one business owning the "road" and all the services provided on it too -- which allows that business to charge whatever it bloody wants.

RE: I liked what I read
By drebo on 10/16/2009 3:19:51 PM , Rating: 2
No one NEEDS the internet. And, in fact, the vast majority of credit card terminals and ATM machines still operate as dialup devices over POTS circuits. But that's besides the point.

The internet is not a necessity of life, and it is not the government's job to make sure that everyone has access to it. It IS the government's job, however, to make sure that the companies that comprise the Internet and provide access to the Internet in the US behave in such a way as to not break other laws.

RE: I liked what I read
By Xavier434 on 10/16/2009 3:46:21 PM , Rating: 5
Technically, no one "needs" roads either but since there was a point in time where it was decided that the people relied on the roads a lot for so many things the government decided that they should own them. My point is that it isn't so much about what this country needs or doesn't need. It is about what the country relies on as well as how much they rely upon it.

Now, I am not 100% certain if the country relies on the internet enough these days to basically turn it into a utility, but what I do know is that the tremendous rate of increase that Americans rely on high speed internet access over such a small amount of time is enough to convince me that eventually (probably much sooner than later) this country will be relying on the high speed internet like we do roads and other utilities.

It is going to happen. The dumb pipes will become a utility eventually whether you like it or not. It is simply a matter of time.

RE: I liked what I read
By Alexstarfire on 10/16/2009 4:01:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm 99.9% positive that we have roads, well at least the interstate highways, thanks to Eisenhower who wanted them for strictly military purposes. Seems it's pretty much because of him that the roads are set up the way they are today.

RE: I liked what I read
By MrBungle123 on 10/16/2009 4:33:19 PM , Rating: 2
How about instead of the transmission lines being owned by the goverenment, the telephone poles and access tunnels for underground lines be owned by the government? Then companies can get permits to run lines through said tunnels and across said poles.

There ya go. Cable company still owns cable lines, phone company still owns phone lines, both use the public poles to transmit thier signals, and private industry is still responsible for upgrading as competition demands.

RE: I liked what I read
By Jellodyne on 10/16/2009 7:20:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'd love to get back to you on it. Article I section 7:

> The Congress shall have Power ... To establish Post Offices and post road

How does the majority of our modern 'post' travel? On a real road? Or an electronic one? Actually, I'd say that these days the constitution makes a better case for broadband infrastructure than it does for ACTUAL ROADS.

Now that I've neatly solved your little constitutional dilemma (or not, if you don't buy my 'activist judge' take), I'd like to point out that there never was one in the first place. I never said the Federal government should do jack. In fact, I think local government would be the ideal level for open, public as in roads, competitive, free market accessible and free market enabling municipal broadband.

RE: I liked what I read
By Reclaimer77 on 10/17/2009 8:49:20 AM , Rating: 2
Please tell me where it is given the authority to take over the nation's telecommunications infrastructure which is owned by private companies?

Lot's of things are happening these days without legal authority.

A few miles from my house, in Charlotte, is Bank of America headquarters. Where Obama's "payment Czar" has decided the Ken Lewis will not get a severance package from the company for stepping down as CEO.

I did a double take when I heard that one. I can't believe what's happening in this country. Where in the hell is it written that one man, answering to nobody but the president, has the right in this country to step in between a CEO and his company and decide what bonuses he should be given ? That is NOT Democracy, that is NOT "checks and balances", it's not American. This is outrageous. It's unimaginable...and yet it's happening and nobody cares.

RE: I liked what I read
By Oregonian2 on 10/17/2009 1:38:57 PM , Rating: 2
Where in the hell is it written that one man, answering to nobody but the president, has the right in this country to step in between a CEO and his company and decide what bonuses he should be given ?

I think it's written on the back of the US Government check that the bank cashes to save their rear. In the fine print.

I think the owners of the company have some say in terms of the CEO payments, and the US Government is one of those.

RE: I liked what I read
By mikeyD95125 on 10/18/2009 11:48:43 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. While in ordinary circumstances it would be outrageous for someone in government to tell a company not give a CEO of bonus; these are not ordinary circumstances.

People these days love to banter on about how awful socialism is. But did we have another option? I don't hear about the group of private individuals willing to invest hundreds of billions into our collapsing banking system. I think it is better that our government owns GM and the banks then China. The point is that these industries will be able to re-privatize again.

If anyone had a better option than government investment I didn't hear about it.

RE: I liked what I read
By Headfoot on 10/18/2009 11:55:53 PM , Rating: 2

We could have just let them fail and the more conservative banks would have survived (ie Wells Fargo etc).

Socialism was NOT warranted.

How can you ever think putting trillions of dollars of debt onto the shoulders of our children is worth it to save bad business????

Please dont vote.

RE: I liked what I read
By MrBungle123 on 10/19/2009 11:53:55 AM , Rating: 2
People these days love to banter on about how awful socialism is. But did we have another option? I don't hear about the group of private individuals willing to invest hundreds of billions into our collapsing banking system.

Yes we did have another option... Let them go under.

You apparently have signed on to this idea that the system must survive and that if it goes down there will never be anything that can ever hope to replace it in the future. But look at who is feeding us this drivel; bankers, politicians, CEO's that are now in bed with the administration... the very people that would lose billions or have been exposed as the thieves they are if the whole thing had come crashing down.

Why do we keep listening to them? The great unwashed masses take their word for it and end up paying for it, and the real beneficiaries are the bankers and politicians that had risked it all, lost, and used the evening news to say that if they went down they would take us all with them... you know what... screw them! They've already dragged every man woman and child down this road for $116,000 and we've got nothing to show for it. Even after all the bailouts this house of cards can’t stand forever. It’s going to fall… we might have bought ourselves a little extra time but the pain is coming. We as a society need to man up and do what we should have done when this whole mess got started… Let the people that took too much risk, borrowed too much, or got tied up in too many shady connections go down. Is it going to mean that a lot of innocent people lose their jobs and their lively hoods? Yeah probably. Is it going to be a long painful ordeal? Yup. Is it going to mean the end of western civilization and America as we’ve known it? Absolutely not! We’ll rebuild, except next time with all the phony paper assets in ashes the wealth created on the other side will be on something that has substance to it. The grim reality is that there is no way out of it so we might as well get it over with… The more debt we rack up with bailouts then the longer we’ll be in the bottom of this recession because we can’t truly come out of it until the debt is under control.

RE: I liked what I read
By Fnoob on 10/16/2009 8:00:11 PM , Rating: 2
Really too bad they aren't applying the same philosophy to healthcare. More competition good. A single player should not dominate a market, no matter what market.

I live in an area with only one option for broadband (other than satellite) - the cost, customer service, etc are horrible.

Broadband is an essential service
By Jellodyne on 10/16/2009 10:35:19 AM , Rating: 2
Broadband is like roads, sewers, streetlights and garbage collection. Its too important to allow a shrinking number of megacorporations to monopolize access.

Cities need to run fiber to the curb of every house and let the free market compete to offer ISP, cable TV and telephone service to the households. Not as in the companies should compete to see who can bribe the city council the most to the sole provider for the city, rather whoever wants to hook up their gear to the central network and offer services in a nonblocking manner should be allowed to.

THAT would be free market competition. The way we do it now where everyone has to run their own last mile is a huge barrier to free market competition. The fact that cities give away monopoly access to one cable company or one phone company is an antiquated, backwards notion. It made sense back when there were no network protocols or insufficient network bandwidth to allow providers to share the wires. Now that we have, we deserve better.

RE: Broadband is an essential service
By FITCamaro on 10/16/2009 11:55:10 AM , Rating: 2
You can thank your federal government for that being the case today.

By Xavier434 on 10/16/2009 3:54:27 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, you can thank the corruption within the federal government for some of that being the case today. There are those in the federal government who intend to regulate properly and fairly in order to maintain proper opportunities for new consumer friendly competition to arise.

Ask yourself, who gains to profit from leaving the access closed? Who gains to profit from denying the new net neutrality rules? Is it the same people who oppose those things? Namely, the ISPs and the GOP? You betcha.

It is a case of classic Machiavelli who stated that anyone who profits from the old system will be the enemy of the reformer who intends to create the a new system.

RE: Broadband is an essential service
By HrilL on 10/16/2009 4:37:02 PM , Rating: 2
That may have been the start of the problem but local governments can end these contracts and allow competition. We're not seeing that happen... Verizon is fighting in many areas to be able to get access to offer its Fios services...

If the goal was to get companies to roll out networks then why are they now blocking companies to roll out better networks?

RE: Broadband is an essential service
By highlandsun on 10/16/2009 8:24:18 PM , Rating: 2
I think your comparison is flawed... I don't think anybody competes for your streetlight service, it's just a city department. Likewise your water and sewer service. At least, I don't have a choice of sewer providers in my city (Los Angeles, LA Department of Water and Power). Nor do I really want to think about a choice - keep it working, and don't bother me. Really, same with the roads - I pay my property taxes, I drive on the roads.

The key to this comparison is that if you really were to treat network access the same as roads and sewers, there would be *no ISPs* at all. And fundamentally, I think that's the way it should be. TimeWarner doesn't offer me any value-add at all for the money I pay them every month - I don't use any of their web sites, email accounts, software, or whatever. It's not that I want a choice between TimeWarner or Verizon or Comcast. I don't want to give my money to *any* of them, because they're all trying to sell me additional crap when all I want is a fat fast pipe and for them to get the hell out of the way.

I totally agree that broadband should just be a municipal utility, and the entire commercial aspect of it needs to be completely removed from the picture.

I'm not sure that flat rate or unlimited bandwidth is a good idea. In reality, bandwidth is finite. Might as well meter it, the same way water and electricity are metered. But the price should reflect the actual cost of providing the service. Right now the price is set according to what a for-profit corporation thinks it should be, and that's inflated way above the actual cost.

On a slightly related note - I pay the cable company a subscription fee because I want a particular service from them. I pay them to get something for *my* benefit, not for their benefit. If they want to push advertisements at me, they should be paying *me* for accepting something that is for *their* benefit. Otherwise, kill the ads and just give me what I paid for.

By Headfoot on 10/19/2009 12:00:16 AM , Rating: 2
Except its not that simple.

Why do you have to pay for truck drivers driving on the roads. They cause about 90% of the wear on a road over its lifetime. But they don't pay 90% of its cost. You do.

The same thing will happen if they socialize telecomunications. Certain people will (ab)use the internet more than others, and people who don't even use the internet (older folk) will be stuck footing the bill.

what about that 4%
By HighWing on 10/16/2009 12:43:18 PM , Rating: 2
I used to live in that 4% without any broadband access and it sucked. What was even more upsetting was when I found out that Verizon had a station not even a mile away that was pumping out DSL. But because it was across a state line, they claimed they could not connect me to it. WTF! And just as an FYI this was in the rural parts of MD only 45 min from Baltimore!! not some big wide open western state.

If this would help me get access out there, then I would be all for it. Obviously I understand the problems of getting broadband out in some of the western states, but we still do not have it past the outreaches of major cities. Something needs to be done about that too!!

RE: what about that 4%
By drebo on 10/16/2009 3:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
They couldn't connect you to it because of the way telco areas are broken down. To have connected you to a DSLAM in the other state would have made all of your voice service go through that other state. That means that every call you made to your next-door-neighbor would have been an inter-state phone call. Expensive. Additionally, if the LEC in your town was not Verizon, they would not even have had a way to drop a circuit in your home anyway. Further, there probably was not a direct line from that DSLAM to your house.

There are lots of reasons why they could not provide you with service, even though you were close.

RE: what about that 4%
By Alexstarfire on 10/16/2009 3:59:45 PM , Rating: 1
In other words, stupid bullshit.

I can actually understand his plight a little bit. I live just out side the city limits, like it cuts our neighborhood street in half. Because we aren't technically in the city we can't get DSL. So half out neighborhood can get DSL while the other half can't. It's really stupid. Of course for us it doesn't really matter cause Comcast is, or at least was last time I checked, better in every way: more reliable, cheaper, and faster. Though they have the cap now which I'm sure DSL doesn't have. It's w/e ATM, but we'll see what they say after this month. I'm bound to go over with the 100+ GB of anime I downloaded at the beginning of this month.

RE: what about that 4%
By HighWing on 10/19/2009 3:00:33 PM , Rating: 2
I realize all that, but the funny thing I forgot to mention was that Verizon does and does not at the same time. Even now I can goto their DSL check website and it will say I could get DSL in that area... But it says that because of the distance from the sub station across the state line. When you call up to inquire about getting it, they then go and test the line and can't figure out why I can't when the system said I could. And eventually they realize there's a state line there. Did that more then once just to check for sure.

Thank you Captain Obvious
By nidomus on 10/16/2009 10:08:44 AM , Rating: 2
No, really? I could have told you that without an expensive study.

RE: Thank you Captain Obvious
By muIIet on 10/16/2009 11:51:43 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, it is obvious.

Golden Rule = "The one with the most gold makes the rules".

Open broadband access
By rpgman1 on 10/16/2009 1:25:44 PM , Rating: 2
I was thinking about yesterday when Finland's government decided that broadband access is a right for every Finland citizen. The U.S. should be able to do that if the companies are allowed to compete instead of being what is essentially a monopoly. In metro Atlanta, I have three broadband providers: AT&T, Charter/Comcast, and Clear. Too bad the performance/price ratio isn't that good. Japan's being doing this for a long time due to government intervention and ISPs even give you free stuff if you sign up (like handhelds, consoles, checks, etc).

RE: Open broadband access
By Headfoot on 10/19/2009 12:02:32 AM , Rating: 2
More like their country is smaller than our states and therefore significantly less infrastructure is required.

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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