Can Someone Explain How Knowing What Broadband Providers Offer Will Kill Coffee Shops?

from the this-is-not-the-telco-regulation-bill-you-are-looking-for dept

The big broadband providers certainly are known for playing dirty when it comes to lobbying against any kind of regulation that forces them to be a bit more fair or honest. Remember when BellSouth threatened to move a local call center out of town and fire a bunch of locals, if it didn't get to keep a service monopoly in parts of Louisiana? That was fun. Sometimes they'll just say anything to try to get politicians to heed their will. We already know that they don't want to accurately report where they offer broadband and how fast it really is -- because that would highlight how little competition there really is, and how far behind much of the developed world the US is when it comes to broadband speeds. Instead, they prefer to just point to the bogus FCC stats that the Government Accountability Office has said multiple times are worthless and not at all accurate.

Apparently, the state of Maryland had enough of this and was proposing a bill that would require ISPs to say where they really offered service and what speeds were available. The broadband providers were quick to revolt, screaming about what an incredible burden it would be. It seems difficult to believe that these providers don't already have very detailed lists of where they provide service and at what speeds. However, where the argument truly gets bizarre is that the lobbyists for the broadband providers claimed that passing such a law would somehow put coffee shops out of business. How they get from point A to point B isn't at all clear, but when you've got yourself a regulated monopoly or duopoly, apparently you'll say just about anything to keep control. There must be something more to the explanation, because the idea that actually admitting what they offer would shut down coffee shop seems entirely disconnected. Perhaps there was something else in the bill that would make it seem more reasonable -- but so far, it's not at all clear. If someone has a better explanation for the reasoning, please let us know. However, whatever the reasoning, the strategy has worked. The politicians have backed off, apparently out of fear that they would be unable to get their morning coffee if the local broadband providers they regulate actually had to admit what kind of service they really offered.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Overcast, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 11:43am

    Can't politicians just leave the free market well enough alone?

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Colg, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 11:58am

      Re:

      Maybe...

      It would be even better if big business would just leave politicians alone.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 1:10pm

      Re:

      Let see.. why not leave free market alone? Hmmm.. Lets see..

      1 - Black Tuesday.. followed closely behind Black Thursday
      2 - Exxon Valdez (240,000 barrels) .. of course pales in comparison to Torrey canyon (919,000 barrels)
      3 - The FBI *ahem* .. i'm sure money is changing hands here somehow
      4 - Enron followed closely by Arthur Andersen
      5 - Bell South (see article)

      .. I could continue.. but I have a phone call..

       

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    •  
      identicon
      boost, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 1:40pm

      Re:

      It would be nice, but as most of us already know, the broadband/telecommunications market is not free. If it were free, they couldn't screw their customers out of money or service.

       

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    noncogitas, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 11:46am

    The US

    This is the problem with the United States today, and their companies. Our government is too much ruled by corporate interests.

    FIRST!

     

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      Les B. Labbauf, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:31pm

      Re: The US

      This is the problem with the United States today, and their companies. Our government is too much ruled by corporate interests.

      FIRST!


      You were not FIRST!

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 11:56am

    From an article that was source for the article this references:

    "Yet, at an Economic Matters Committee hearing, Verizon and Comcast representatives made charges that the bill would regulate the Internet, cost jobs, stop innovation and even close down coffee houses."

    Presumably, they meant cyber cafe's, where the coffee is served with a side of internet time. Presumably they argued that the regulation of the internet would shut such places down.

    I'm not sure that this is an example of politician's not just 'leaving the free market alone.' In this case, the politicos almost did something useful. Never fear, our friends at the telcos were there to ensure that we little guys didnt' get trampled on.

    Because after all, it's none of our business. Why should we be allowed to know anything about the products or services a company is able to offer. What are you, a shareholder?

     

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    Prae, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 11:57am

    Overcast and Noncogitas....did you even read the "story" or just saw politicians and jumped all over it?

     

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    Mark, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:01pm

    Maybe this is an opportunity...

    There are plenty of broadband speed testers out there, so maybe someone needs to create a "broadband speed rating" site (similar to any of the number of gas price websites). Let users test their connection, send the data to the website and then let the telcos spin in the wind when their offerings are picked apart by their users and/or competitors

     

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      Sanguine Dream, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:10pm

      Re: Maybe this is an opportunity...

      And if site such as that were to come about how long do you think it would take the telcos to sue the operators of the site into oblivion. I'm sure they could come up with some nonsense about copyright infringment.

      Telco lawyer: "By allowing people to test their internet speeds and allowing this site to archive the data is a servere infringment on our copyrights. In fact we should also be suing them for irreparable damages incurred by the archiving of this data."

       

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        Mark, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:15pm

        Re: Re: Maybe this is an opportunity...

        If it were me my reply would be: "I just run the website, I am not responsible for the contect put up there by my users!"

         

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        Luci, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:50am

        Re: Re: Maybe this is an opportunity...

        And if site such as that were to come about how long do you think it would take the telcos to sue the operators of the site into oblivion. I'm sure they could come up with some nonsense about copyright infringment. Telco lawyer: "By allowing people to test their internet speeds and allowing this site to archive the data is a servere infringment on our copyrights. In fact we should also be suing them for irreparable damages incurred by the archiving of this data."
        Umm... There are several of these sorts of sites, already. DLSReports.com, anyone?? I know there are others, as I've used them in the past couple of weeks. Look around, see what's already there.

         

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    identicon
    Matthew, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:01pm

    =(

    1: There is no free market when the local telco has a monopoly on the area.

    2: a: You weren't first
    2: b: No one cares

    I am really interested in this coffee thing. I hate coffee. It wouldn't hurt me to have them go away, but the logic is taking a huge jump to make this connection.

    If they can't provide wifi, or better wifi than joe blow down the street then they need to improve or go under. That's the (North) American Way.

    The ISPs I've worked for knew exactly where their cables lay and what houses got what, but that was a very dynamic number week to week. A general report from them doesn't seem too hard to manufacture tho.

     

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    identicon
    They Are All Idiots, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:13pm

    I think I saw this on an episode of South Park...

    Step 1: Steal Underpants
    Step 2: ??
    Step 3: Make Profit

     

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    identicon
    Casper, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:16pm

    I call BS

    This is a joke. I worked with an ISP for a while that served customers over several TelCo's. That single ISP had maps and graphs for their entire coverage area that let us know what all the Telco's in the areas offered. They always kept us up to date on the speed changes, because that meant they could charge more. Even Quest, who every time you call them you get someone in India, could tell us what speed their lines were and where.

    This whole thing is no different then dealing with a spoiled child. The kid can complain and give random excuses, but in the end they just need to be put in their place. The question is, who has a paddle big enough to spank a TelCo?

     

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      Dosquatch, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:45pm

      Re: I call BS

      This is a joke. I worked with an ISP for a while that served customers over several TelCo's. That single ISP had maps and graphs for their entire coverage area that let us know what all the Telco's in the areas offered.

      What we need is a Google Maps mashup, showing color-coded coverage and speed.

       

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:21pm

    Wookie defense

    Is this just a proactive mutation of the reactive wookie defense?

     

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    identicon
    Bob, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:27pm

    There are enough big paddles but who(politicians) would have the cojones to use them on the spoiled little child??

     

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    undercast, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:37pm

    "Can't politicians just leave the free market well enough alone?"

    One of the fundamental conditions for a "free market" is that consumers and suppliers are informed about market conditions. This proposal enhances the free market by allowing consumers to know about service levels. Informed consumers need that information to make the market work efficiently.

     

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    identicon
    Vikodin, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 12:50pm

    There needs to be more research done on these topics befor stupid coments are made by uneducated people..

    1. if you want to know how fast your BroadBand is go to http://www.dslreports.com/tools (works with all internet connections) and run their tests. There is a archive already and comments about each isp, their customer service, coverage.etc.....
    2. As a former Internet Tech For Comcast, i did my share of Cable internet installations, there are so many factors that go into overall speed, like the amount of spyware reporting back statistics to their hosts that the acuracy could never be confirmed. They are i agree, Rediculous Benchmarks they provide but the actual spee is close, as long as you have a solid line conecting you to the internet. remember line condition outside your house you can complain about, but inside is your own problem and packet loss due to damaged coaxial cables is a very common cause, as is to many splitters on a line befor it reaches your computer modem.

    3. Welcome to america, all we do is cry and complain but we do nothing else. Politicians are bad, corporations are bad... WaWaWa WaWaWa cry me a river. Make sure your computer is running in peak condition before you complain about line speed...

    I have ATT dsl right now, ant they are a real joke, their line speed for 19.99 is a joke, but what do you expect for that price, infrastructure costs money. You get what you pay for...

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 1:37pm

      Re:

      It is not a very good company if they don't know what they can supply where. Plain and simple is they know what they can offer to the pole, what the customer gets in house is not in question.

      I lived in an apartment that could not be offered broadband due to cable company equipment not being upgraded, but we all counted toward the number. If it had been a building issue that would have been one thing, but Comcast would have had to upgrade the equipment as it was theirs and they did not want to. But my zip code showed 100% of cable subscribers could get broadband.

      This goes on constantly. My mom lives in rural Ohio, DSL is only available to roughly 25% of the people in the county, but Verizon touts 75% penetration of zip codes, due only to zip code overlap. That is those whose zip code differ, but have the same local exchange. What this means is that 10 people count for 100% penetration in that zip.

      How would you like to have emergency respone in your area available to 2 out of every 10 roads, but claim 100% coverage? Would that seem appropriate. You are arguing a point not in contention.

       

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    identicon
    Witty Nickname, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 1:30pm

    FIRST!!!

     

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    identicon
    Missing, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 1:41pm

    re: first

    on an amusing breakdown of the 2nd poster's name and situation, NONCOGITAS is probably meant to mean "UNKNOWN", but it can probably be translated into "DOES NOT KNOW"
    Just thought I'd share the irony in that one. ;)

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Dewy, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 2:04pm

    Free market rules

    I would guess that this would fall under some sort of "Freedom of Information" act that would govern how businesses can operate in a free market.

    Perhaps part of the "Digital Revolution" will be signs that read "FREE THE DATA" and "DATA TO THE PEOPLE".

    Damn shame Corps and Governments can't read the writing on the wall and follow suit. Money to be made here folks... votes to be won... just need someone willing to stand up and shout out loud "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH"!

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 2:42pm

    I just stood up and shouted "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!" I got a lot of funny looks.

    The guy who sits in the cube across from me said, "What was that about?"

    I told him that in Maryland the Broadband providers wouldn't say how fast their connections were in areas around the state.

    He said, "Oh."

     

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    identicon
    Nick Burns, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 4:05pm

    web site

    There are plenty of broadband speed testers out there, so maybe someone needs to create a "broadband speed rating" site (similar to any of the number of gas price websites). Let users test their connection, send the data to the website and then let the telcos spin in the wind when their offerings are picked apart by their users and/or competitors

    It's called dslreports.com. It's been around a long time.

     

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    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 21st, 2007 @ 8:14pm

    Re: Free Market

    Politicians can't leave the Free Market alone, because without ongoing regulation, it will not remain Free. You need laws against anticompetitive behaviour, deceptive advertising, fraud and so on, and you need to actively enforce them. Otherwise the whole system falls down.

     

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