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Providers don't want to be under FCC regulatory control

Part of the billions of taxpayer dollars that president Obama set aside to help the economy and improve the technology used in many parts of the government is allotted to greatly improving the internet infrastructure in America. Millions of Americans around the country have no access to broadband or simply can’t afford access.

One of the first steps towards overhauling the national broadband infrastructure will be the unveiling of a new broadband plan by the FCC on March 17. The FCC began working on the national broadband plan back in April 2009. The FCC is looking at multiple methods of funding a national broadband plan including reallocation of funds collected in the Universal Service Fund. Last week, the FCC announced that it is aiming for nationwide broadband speeds of 100Mbps, but ISPs are already saying it will be hard to hit that speed in the next ten years.

Reuters reports that the FCC's national broadband plan is set to be unveiled on March 17 to Congress. The plan hopes to bring affordable and fast broadband internet access to the 90 million Americans who lack service today. According to the FCC, the major barriers it sees to broadband adoption by more Americas are cost, digital literacy, and relevance.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement, "In the 21st century, a digital divide is an opportunity divide. To bolster American competitiveness abroad and create the jobs of the future here at home, we need to make sure that all Americans have the skills and means to fully participate in the digital economy."

Cost is one of the main barriers to broadband cited by the FCC. Subscribers to broadband access around the country pay on average $40.68 per month while those bundling with other services at about $37.70 monthly. The cost of getting a computer in the home is also part of the cost barrier to getting broadband for many Americans. The FCC has not yet said how it plans to overcome the cost issues to broadband adoption or the other barriers for Americans.

As the FCC gets ready to unveil the national broadband plan next month, broadband ISPs are speaking out against any new regulations form the FCC over their networks. The FCC has been urged to place ISPs under the same regulatory umbrella that telecom providers operate under by digital rights groups. A decision on an old case currently before the federal appeals court could possibly derail the FCCs plans for national broadband reports the 
Washington Post.

Digital rights groups urge the FCC to place the broadband providers alongside phone providers with regulatory controls. The FCC is waiting on the federal appeals court to offer a ruling on whether it has authority over broadband providers. The appeal if from a 2007 case against Comcast where the FCC found the ISP violated open-access guidelines prohibiting network providers form slowing or blocking websites.

AT&T and Verizon are two of the largest broadband providers in the country. Both firms penned a 14-page document along with trade groups arguing that classifying broadband service providers along with phone services would be to "extremist" and add too many onerous ruled for the broadband industry.

The paper written by the companies stated, "The proposed regulatory about-face would be untenable as a legal matter, and, at a minimum, would plunge the industry into years of litigation and regulatory chaos."



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It's about time
By dguy6789 on 2/23/2010 12:37:40 PM , Rating: 5
Greedy and lazy ISPs have held this country's internet speeds back for too long. It's about time.




RE: It's about time
By Oregonian2 on 2/23/2010 1:12:30 PM , Rating: 3
Thing is, Verizon and AT&T are two of the biggies and two that are against the FCC control of their actions.

I don't know about AT&T, but Verizon has not been greed/lazy as you pen. Verizon has been spending insane amounts of money in the rollout of their FiOS network, rolling it out probably as fast as it can be done short of using government tactics (going into death defying debt for the foreseeable future).

Despite having Verizon's FiOS, I am not someone who likes them generally due to their selling my state off to Frontier (still in progress) to get rid of their NON-broadband facilities. They're doing that so that they can concentrate their funds on their broadband FiOS initiatives, not having their slow wireline stuff drag down their sources of money for broadband. If anything, they're TOO aggressive in moving to expand their FiOS network.


RE: It's about time
By keith524 on 2/23/2010 1:19:42 PM , Rating: 2
Verizon has certainly been greedy. In my neighborhood Verizon came in and installed the fiber for FIOS 3 years ago. They even sent sales people around selling DSL saying it would be upgraded to FIOS in 3-6 months. Yet it has never gone live due to "Marketing Reasons." Their marketing reason is that they can still sell DSL for more than basic FIOS and still be cheaper than Comcast (greediest of the bunch). With no other competition Verizon has no incentive to turn on FIOS.


RE: It's about time
By Oregonian2 on 2/23/2010 9:00:12 PM , Rating: 2
That indeed doesn't sound very good at all. However it also sounds very un-Verizon like, and generally odd for a couple reasons.

One is that they can sell DSL for more than FiOS. That is VERY strange. FiOS (which I have) is indeed nicely priced, but it still was more than DSL which I had previously.

Another is that Verizon hates the copper wires going to one's home. They do NOT want to maintain them. They hate them. When FiOS is installed, they "disconnect" the copper and won't switch one back to copper (something I didn't like when I switched over).

A third reason is that FiOS costs Verizon a LOT of money to put in. Not just the line from the street to the home, it costs a LOT of money to install the fiber infrastructure to that connection point near one's home -- it's all newly underground dug installation. Having that money spent and not installing FiOS (which carries Internet, TV services, and POTS) to pay for it would be VERY uncharacteristic and something the opposite of greedy. Spending big bucks and wanting no return on it at all.

I'm of the opinion that there were some marketing lies being told. Don't know if they were first-party or third party ones, but I think they're being told.

I don't believe that FiOS is available for installation to those who are being sold DSL (or the sellers of DSL, even if over Verizon lines, wasn't Verizon doing the selling). What I mean isn't that they won't install it, but that there isn't the newly and expensive installed fiber running in front of those people's homes from which installation could possibly be done from.


RE: It's about time
By Oregonian2 on 2/23/2010 9:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - What Verizon tries to sell here isn't the "basic internet connection". They heavily push upscale selections with emphasis on triple-option plans (TV+Internet+phone) for maximum revenue. Something the cable guys do as well (for the same reasons).

Although FiOS was "in my neighborhood" for some time, it wasn't actually at my house proper for several years after that, and once "here" it took only a few months before being orderable (although TV wasn't available at first). I still get snail-mail mailings from them at least once every week along with newspaper inserts trying to get me to upgrade to a higher revenue selection.


RE: It's about time
By Ammohunt on 2/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: It's about time
By Solandri on 2/23/2010 2:52:20 PM , Rating: 3
Thing is, the government already gave those companies billions of dollars in the 1990s to build the infrastructure needed to meet future and rural broadband needs. The companies gladly took the money, and did little or nothing with it. They instead fought to have the definition of "broadband" lowered or held steady, so that their pre-existing networks qualified as having satisfied the terms for receiving the money. It's why the definition of "broadband" in the U.S. is a ridiculous 768 kbps, while most of the rest of the developed world is working on 5+ Mbps and in some cases 10+ Mbps network speeds.


RE: It's about time
By JediJeb on 2/23/2010 4:14:46 PM , Rating: 2
This is true, if it were not true I would agree with the post above about the cost, but since they took the money and are now complaining about the cost almost 15 years later I do not feel sorry for the broadband providers. Most of the money if I recall went to AT&T and the Bell splitoffs from them.

Where my sister lives here in Ky, there is a small local Telco that has provided more or less FioS service that is broadband internet, telephone, and Digital TV all over one wire to towns of less than 1700 people. They are now working to spread it out to the rest of the rural parts of the county. The same company was also one of the first to offer cell service outside of the larger cities in the state and still dominates at least 1/3 of the state in cell service. If a small private company can do something like this, there is no excuse what so ever for a company like AT&T or Verison to do the same.


RE: It's about time
By HrilL on 2/23/2010 6:39:26 PM , Rating: 2
that small company might not be public and doesn't have to do whats best for the share holders. Problem with the big ISPs is the CEO isn't going to do anything revolutionary. Big companies stick to the status qua and try to suck as much out of their customers while giving them as little as they can.


RE: It's about time
By Omega215D on 2/23/2010 11:38:09 PM , Rating: 2
So I'm guessing you work for the government as it seems you would like us to all run in place and never get ahead because it just might not be worth it.


RE: It's about time
By Ammohunt on 2/23/10, Rating: -1
RE: It's about time
By Chiisuchianu on 2/23/2010 6:51:24 PM , Rating: 2
They should allow for competition in broadband access, which will most likely skyrocket our speeds and lower our costs. Not spend all our money to wire up rural America. We have 4G satellites for that.


RE: It's about time
By inperfectdarkness on 2/24/2010 3:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
additionally, there's no differentiation between speeds >56k. technically, everything >56k is now referred to as "high speed".

the FCC can help a great deal by creating tiers of speed and labeling them exclusively. there is no rational reason 128k dsl should be labeled with the same "high speed" moniker used for verizion FIOS. perhaps:

<or=56k = "low speed"
<1Mbps= "normal speed"
1Mbps-10Mbps = "high speed"
10Mbps-25Mbps= "very high speed"
25Mbps-50Mbps= "super high speed"
50Mbps-100Mbps= "ultra high speed"
100Mbps+ = "ludicrous speed" (i kid, i kid)

this, in of itself, would probably do a great deal to push us forward. if, for instance, only sustained speeds > 50Mbps were allowed to be labeled "ultra high speed"; it the marketing alone would allow relatively uneducated customers to differentiate between different priced offerings. no longer would ISP's be able to skate by on shoddy offerings labeled "high speed" as though being offered by snake-oil salesmen.

here's to hoping that something like this goes into effect.


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