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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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RE: Cost
By Oregonian2 on 2/23/2010 1:18:56 PM , Rating: 3
When I went from 768K to my current FiOS (20M/5M), most things didn't change much. The email, etc sort of things. Even video from sources like didn't change as much as one might hope for (I think they limit to DSL speeds). Certainly, somethings are wonderfully faster, but the difference from 0.768->20 Mbps was much less dramatic than going from 56K->768K.

RE: Cost
By barjebus on 2/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: Cost
By bldckstark on 2/23/2010 2:42:49 PM , Rating: 5
I don't agree with your analogy. Latency would be the equivalent of how fast you can open the valves that send the water down the pipes. Decreasing his latency would increase responsiveness as you said, but it is not the limiting factor of internet download speeds.

What you are talking about is server side speed limiting. ESPN360 only allows you to download at a certain rate, say 5Mbps. That means his 20M pipe is only 1/4 full.

On the other hand, he can download 3 more videos from different servers at the same time and maintain full speed of the download on all of them, effectively filling his pipe with water.

RE: Cost
By barjebus on 2/23/10, Rating: 0
RE: Cost
By Alexvrb on 2/23/2010 9:21:58 PM , Rating: 2
It was a poor analogy, but more importantly he *did* reduce his latency. FiOS has significantly lower latency than your typical DSL/cable connection. His new-ish 20/5 FiOS plan soundly beats his old 768K DSL plan in both latency and speed. I have much lower latency with FiOS than I could have dreamed of with the DSL and Cable connections I have used in the past.

Oh, and latency is generally not the limiting factor for raw download speed. Even a satellite connection is capable of 5mbps (given enough money) and that has unbelieveably bad latency - far worse latency than even a decent dialup connection.

The fact that he doesn't notice much of a difference only means that he is under-utilizing his FiOS connection. I use the heck out of mine. The difference in performance becomes even more apparent if you have several people sharing the same connection and using it heavily.

RE: Cost
By Oregonian2 on 2/23/2010 8:38:45 PM , Rating: 2
Latency is the sort of thing that ping measures and is an attribute of path and delays within, and it'll vary quite a bit depending upon whom I'm connecting to. I can ping across (metro Portland, OR) to a particular server and get much higher latency (delay) than pinging a particular Seattle site (of course the cross-town ping may have passed through Florida on the way, I didn't check).

In terms of being able to have high transfer rates, my windows (having to do with ACK/NAKs, not uSoft) are nicely optimized and I get close to the 20/5 rates on various test sites, and even cross country I'll usually get at least half those rates.

As to and my comments there, when I've used a monitor to see how fast I'm getting, it was a lot slower than 5Mbps and why I gave my DSL speed comments. If you've ever used ESPN360, the image size is very small and it's of relatively poor quality -- getting downright horrible if one puts it into full-screen mode.

As I mentioned, for sites that allow it, my 20Mbps download is great, and some sites even peg at that speed. But that doesn't happen very often, at least with my patterns of use. It's sites like where I do use it often to watch my former school's games where I wish they'd crank up the resolution and needed net speed (now that I've got it).

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