Seeing The World Through Shill-Colored Glasses

from the opinions-for-sale dept

The same group that last week said net neutrality is theft is at it again, with someone from the think tank saying he has “a better idea” for net neutrality. As you may have guessed, his idea really is no idea. He says that instead of proactively moving to prevent discrimination by ISPs, the FCC should just react to complaints — but his argument is founded on two key mis-statements. He insinuates that companies won’t block traffic or applications because they haven’t done so in the past, which is way off base. Wireless ISP Clearwire blocked VoIP and streaming media, while selling its own VoIP service, and another rural telco got fined for blocking Vonage. Vonage also alleges some cable companies “price block” its customers by insisting they move to more expensive plans because of their VoIP traffic, and Canadian ISPs illustrate a potential future in this country with their use of traffic-shaping applications. So the statement that there have been “virtually no complaints that any network operator has actually engaged in any discriminatory conduct” is bunk.

The second, and bigger, problem is that the man keeps saying the broadband market is competitive. It takes more than the existence of multiple vendors for there to be competition, and the broadband market is a brilliant example of this. The phone companies keep talking about the choice consumers have, but in reality, the choice is typically between bad and worse. An FCC commissioner recently said the US lacks a broadband plan, saying penetration isn’t high enough, particularly in rural areas — a tacit admission that the current carrier-driven regulatory environment isn’t working. This think tank can act like it’s a given that if telcos start doing things to annoy their users and charge content providers for access, they’ll flock to their competitors, but if they’re referring to the cable companies, that’s far from assured. To say the broadband market is competitive, and to act like nothing detrimental to consumers could ever happen, is misguided, but it’s about what you’d expect from a group bankrolled by telcos.

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Comments on “Seeing The World Through Shill-Colored Glasses”

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Larry Lo says:

Preach Brother! Preach!

I really worry about the state of the internet, especially now after SBC/AT&T gobbles up Bell South…These guys are just plain nasty, their “business models” are nothing more than collective extortion. And just wait till the mobile providers get in on it…Verizon already FORCES you to use their value add services.

Lets see what the new FCC chair will do; I know come November, Net Neutrality position will affect my vote.

I can’t wait for some new technology to displace these guys, WiMax, Something…Anything!!

dani says:

Verizon now owns Virginia

For all you Verizon fans…

Now that the broadband market is becoming more “competitive”, the newly elected Virginia governer, Tim Kaine, passed new legislation
to expand the cable market competetiveness as well.

“The bill represents a compromise between telephone providers such as Verizon — which dominates the Virginia market — and cable companies.”

If the cable providers can offer internet service, why not let the phone companies provide cable?

Ray says:

I’m with haywood. I live in an area that might be considered rural by California Standards in that we are outside the city limits and the average lot size is larger than 10% more than the home’s footprint but we are within 2 miles of the city limit and 7 miles of downtown center and my only broadband “choice” is cable (satellite is no choice in my book).

In order to get broadband from the local cable company I not only have to pay $25 per month, the highest priced broadband service I can find anywhere, I have to either pay an additional $10 per month to use the cable. This fee is waived if I sign up for their cable TV offering but I left this cable company years aago for satellite because of poor service and customer support and I refuse to go back.

Meanwhile, I keep getting mail and phone calls from the DSL provider in the area promoting their wonderful service that is now available in my neighborhood for only $14.95 per month. However, it’s not really available in my neighborhood because we are 2000 feet to far from the nearest CO and there are no plans to upgrade the hardware because “there aren’t enough cable subscribers in the area to justify the cost of upgrading to compete.”

Frankly, I’m not holding my breath for WiMax either. There are maybe 3 spots in my house where I can make a cell call without dropouts and disconnects. And make sure you don’t move from those spots!

There won’t ever be real competition until the government regulating bodies stop selling out to the existing companies and making policies that stifle competition (Remember the ruling that the cable providers no longer have to allow other broadband services to use their connections to consumers). Let’s have a truly open market. Where access to the consumer is only minimally regulated and anyone with a service to offer is allowed to succeed or fail strictly based on the merits of their service.

A Funny Guy / The Poison Pen says:

Re: Re:

Well Ray i somewhat stupid friend….. if you think $25 is expensive for cable internet…… well you would be wrong. Cable internet in North Carolina is about $50 a month… double what your paying….. Wish I had your problem.

In Charlotte, NC…. you would expect that any area in the city would have DSL. You would be wrong…. BellSouth doesn’t want to spend the money necessary to upgrade these 100 year old connection boxes in the neighborhoods where many people live…..

I find it insteresting that many of these areas are prodominately black and hispanic….. perhaps a case could be made for discrimination and racial profiling just so they can kep getting fatter and fatter and give nothing back to the community…….

Ah well….. like thats ever gonna happen…..

Sucks to be an American now….

Jake says:

Well put

This news item is a concise sumation of the problem in general. I’m not claiming any expertise on this issue, but it seems like the major problem with ISPs is that there is now competition.

The ISPs are the ones who lay the cable, and then have a very propietary claim to providing service. This, of course, is lucrative for telephone and cable T.V. companies, because they already have the equipment (conduit, poles, tunnels) and personel to lay the cable. If another ISP wants to compete in the same area, the first company isn’t going to just let them use their equipment, so they have to do the same thing all over. This does not encourage a competative market. Little to no competition is bad for consumers beacuse it means companies only need to keep the price low enough for it to be alluring.

There might be a different way. In a town I just moved from, Wenatchee, Washington, the local PUD decided to wire the city with fiberoptic cable. As the electricity provider, they had all the equipment to do so. They had no interest in providing service, but they sold portions (I think they called it franchising) of the bandwidth to different ISPs. This allowed a truly competitive market because if the price, service, or any other matter didn’t measure up to the consumer, they could go to another ISP.

I moved just after the program in Wenatchee started, so I really don’t know how the whole thing played out. There is a lot of talk on this website about business models, and I think the business model in Wenatchee, if it works, would be an interesting one to watch.

Michael says:

Out here, I have the choice between non-existent DSL (which, despite being non-existent, is still advertised to me 50 times a day), and broadband cable. However, due to a local cable monopoly, they require that I sign up for their $91/mo minimum digital package to get broadband.

WTF? I pay $91/mo for cable I don’t want just to share a 1.5 line with 500 other yokels.

I love America, but sometimes this country is asinine.

Anonymous Coward says:

You guys make me laugh

Stop your whining will you. What many of you are basically saying is that 1) comapnies should not be allowed determine on their own how to price and bundle services and 2) that the free market economy we live in doesnt work.

On the one hand you want to mandate choice and price control but i bet that the majority of you would go crazy if someone suggest raising taxes for a government takeover of the nations broadband pipes. Or maybe we should cap the profit of these companies and discourage them from building out better networks!

It should also be noted that things are not much better everywhere else as they are advertised. I was recently in Europe where they charge about $8 for 20 minutes of wi-fi access or over $30 per day. Sure this was at the hotels but it shows that pricing should be viewed for all services in a category or all the triple / quadruple play services and not on a one off basis.

RAY – so what you are basically saying is you should have the right to say F-you to the cable company for their video service but expect them to give you the same deal on data as a subscriber to a double or triple play offer. Why should they? They save money when customers sign up for multiple services and they pass that along – no multi service=no savings.

N_P – Googles rumor of taking over broadband pipes IMHO is completely off base. Sure they may be buying fiber but this is not last mile fiber but backhaul fiber. My best guess is this is to lower their backhaul costs that they pay to Level3, ATT or (darn I forgot the other player in this space)

emichan says:

Re: You guys make me laugh

What many of you are basically saying is that 1) comapnies should not be allowed determine on their own how to price and bundle services and 2) that the free market economy we live in doesnt work.

What people are saying, i believe, is 1) that pricing in a monopoly situation is unfair, and in such a situation, no, these companies that have been granted sanctioned monopolies should not be allowed to determine their own pricing and service bundles. And, 2) we don’t live in a free market economy because free market economies don’t work. In a true laissez-faire situation, the consumer has no protections other than the market, and this has proven time and again to be inadequate.

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