CenturyLink Won't Provide DSL, Wants To Block Competitor From Getting Fed Funds To Offer Wireless

from the if-we-won't,-no-one-can... dept

It's no secret that many ISPs prefer to have a monopoly. We've seen it over and over again in efforts to block competitors from getting into the space, while at the same time they lobby the government for more rights of way and other benefits. The latest example is CenturyLink (a combination of CenturyTel and Embarq) in North Carolina. The company has made it clear that it won't provide DSL to certain "low density" areas. And if that's what it wants to do, fine. But, it shouldn't then try to block those who do want to offer broadband, such as Electronic Solutions Inc., which Broadband Reports notes has applied for federal broadband stimulus funds to offer wireless broadband services in those areas. Yet, CenturyLink has filed a complaint with the government saying that because it offers broadband in "some or all" (see what it did there?) of the areas ESI wants to provide service in, CenturyLink is suggesting that the feds shouldn't give ESI the money it's asking for.

Now, this is a case where accurate data on broadband penetration might be helpful, but when Connected Nation keeps winning contracts to provide such maps -- and Connected Nation is set up by the same broadband incumbents who don't want competition, guess how accurate those maps will be?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 28th, 2009 @ 11:44pm

    Nice!

    I wonder what else we can twist with the "some or all" trick. how can you not be sure if a competitor is going to be operating in "some or all" of "your" territory.

     

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      identicon
      Danny, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 7:04am

      Re: Nice!

      Just add "some or all" to the list of:

      "up to"

      "one size fits most"

      "virtually"

      "priced for less than x" (where the price is x - $0.01)

       

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    identicon
    racking, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 1:24am

    http://www.t-racking.com and http://www.racking-shelving.com

    that's very help to us

     

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  •  
    identicon
    face it usa is fucked, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 2:31am

    LIKE the USA is screwed get over it

    your all pwned and slaves of the corporations there your votes mean nothing you DO WHAT YOUR told and like why bother what is all the talk doing to fix crap.
    ITS GETTING WORSE NOT BETTER
    haha
    what a sad country and yea i know canada aint far off
    but at least with multi party ability we can have real change.
    NOT THE SHAM you have down south

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:34am

      Re: LIKE the USA is screwed get over it

      Hateful much? Don't you realize that learned discourse is the first step towards building an enlightened society? Of course we have to stomp the old government into the mud, first...

       

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      identicon
      bill, Oct 2nd, 2011 @ 8:44pm

      Re: LIKE the USA is screwed get over it

      This, coming from a person whom lives in a "commonwealth" (read as: subject of the queen) nation?
      Get real, bud... at least we have a chance to get there.

       

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    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 3:47am

    Am I the only one with a problem

    Fundamentally why the hell is the federal government giving my tax money to and local ISP? Federal money should go to pay the deficit not build private industry.

    I deal with this crap all the time. Some halfwit comes along and writes a grant letter and is handed a huge some on my tax money to build a business to compete with my business.

    I've worked hard and invested heavily my own money in building my buisness, and some halfwit is handed tax money that was extorted from me to then turn around and compete with me. I'm sure this company has the same problem.

     

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      identicon
      Jake, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 4:19am

      Re: Am I the only one with a problem

      What's the matter? Scared of actually having to exert yourself to keep your market-share?

       

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        Chargone (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 4:42am

        Re: Re: Am I the only one with a problem

        whether he is or not, if you stop and think about it it does seem pretty suspect.

        'course, sometimes there's good and logical reasons for such things...

        but when it comes to the USA, the more i read, the more i figure that when that sort of thing comes up, someone fucked up. or got bribed. or both.

        (that said, in my own country I'd assume it's because the current service is either provided by a monopoly shown to be harmful to the public, or the current provider is unable to meet new standards or current demand, and if it's standards, somehow fails to qualify for assistance in doing so. That said, the NZ government isn't so prone to throwing money at corporations to fix it's problems. (it prefers to waste the money itself ;-) )

         

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        Michial Thompson, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:51am

        Re: Re: Am I the only one with a problem

        Not afraid of competition at all, I have a problem with paying for my competition to compete with me which is essentially what is happening when my tax money is given to them to subsidize them developing a competing product.

        I am a small 7 man shop, I have funded 100% of my R&D and Development out of my own money. No tax breaks, no grants, no free money from anywhere. When grant money is given to my competitors it creats a very unfair market place where they are given advantages that I have worked hard to earn.

        Compete with me with your own money and I welcome the competition, even from big corporatations. BUT compete with me with my own hard earned money and I have a real issue

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 9:21am

          Re: Re: Re: Am I the only one with a problem

          Are you the only broadband provider in your area? No? Then this doesn't even begin to apply to you, does it?

           

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      identicon
      DS, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:02am

      Re: Am I the only one with a problem

      True dat.

       

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      harbingerofdoom (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 12:23pm

      Re: Am I the only one with a problem

      fundamentally? because the majority of voters in the US are... well... stupid.

      if you keep electing the same idiots over and over and never hold them accountable, this is the kind of government you get.

       

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      Almost Anonymous (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 12:34pm

      Re: Am I the only one with a problem

      Are you really trying to suggest that Century(Link/Tel) did not get federal broadband funds? Give me a break.

      Now let's talk competition.

      I'm actually an unwilling customer of CenturyLink. I *want* to get DSL through AT&T, who has very reasonable prices, but AT&T doesn't "service" our area, it is only "serviced" by CenturyLink, so I am forced to pay their outrageously high prices for DSL. This is called anti-competitive behaviour and it should be illegal.

      And before you or anyone else gives me the old line about "you have other choices, blah blah blah": Screw that. I happen to want DSL for whatever reason. I should have a dozen choices of companies to choose from; instead my choice is CenturyLink or nothing.

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 2:14pm

        Re: Re: Am I the only one with a problem

        I'm actually an unwilling customer of CenturyLink. I *want* to get DSL through AT&T, who has very reasonable prices, but AT&T doesn't "service" our area, it is only "serviced" by CenturyLink, so I am forced to pay their outrageously high prices for DSL. This is called anti-competitive behaviour and it should be illegal.

        If you don't like it then move.

         

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      identicon
      Randy King, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 5:16am

      Re: Am I the only one with a problem

      Well, I'm the owner of ESI and I am not a half-wit but a company trying to bring broadband to areas of our county that are sparsely populated and will not have broadband unless there is financial help. We have built out our system and would go into these areas if there was a ROI. Most of the areas that do not have service are populated at 50 homes per square mile and the take rate is about 30% so if you do the math, you'll figure out that you can't make money there. Asking for government help for broadband is no different than the Co-op electric and telephone companies getting help in the early days to serve customers. The ultimate goal is to serve the un-served!

       

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    Sinan Unur (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:09am

    I do not have any obligation to pay for others' broadband access

    It is not competition when your "competitor" can cross-subsidize operations by using other people's money.

    The whole idea of providing people who live in rural areas with broadband access using tax-payer funds is repulsive. People choose where they live. All choices are about trade-offs. People who live in rural areas trade-off urban facilities for open spaces, nature, insulation from neighbors etc. That is a valid life-style choice. However, I do not have the responsibility to make their lives more comfortable.

    If the some ISP wants to offer DSL to three households separated by acres of wide open spaces, it should feel free to do it. On the other hand, this is clearly not socially optimal as the total cost of providing the service exceeds the total benefits potential subscribers would derive from the service.

    If it were otherwise, the ISP would not need subsidies to provide the service.

    If I were operating an ISP, and I saw someone set up another operation that does not have to profit (because, uhm, taxpayers all over the country are paying their costs), I would be more than a little miffed as well.

    Reminds me of the Kathleen Blanco spent something like $700,000 to bring POTS to 15 elderly people living in the bayou in February, 2005:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/01/national/01phone.html

     

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      Dementia (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:58am

      Re: I do not have any obligation to pay for others' broadband access

      It is not competition when your "competitor" can cross-subsidize operations by using other people's money.

      You would be correct if it was a continuing subsidy, and it might be in this case, I haven't looked into the details very much. However, if the subsidy they are looking for is to set up and start the ISP, not to continually fund it, then it is competition. Please let me know how many federally funded small business grants haven't led to some form of competition for someone.

      The whole idea of providing people who live in rural areas with broadband access using tax-payer funds is repulsive. People choose where they live. All choices are about trade-offs. People who live in rural areas trade-off urban facilities for open spaces, nature, insulation from neighbors etc. That is a valid life-style choice. However, I do not have the responsibility to make their lives more comfortable.

      Nor do the farmers who raise the food you eat have a responsibility to make your life more comfortable by ensuring your easy access to food, but they do it anyway. Why shouldn't they have access to the internet? It's not like they're asking to have free internet access, they will still have to pay their bill. Furthermore, although I can't stand taxes I have to pay them, as do you. That's where your responsibility ends. How the government uses the money isn't as open to your opinions, or mine for that matter, as you seem to believe. The point of the Broadband Stimulus funds was to develop more jobs by increasing the broadband infrastructure throughout the country. Seems to me like creating an infrastructure where one doesn't exist, or is very minimal, does just that.

       

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        Sinan Unur (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 6:03am

        Re: Re: I do not have any obligation to pay for others' broadband access

        Oh, please. I do not eat because people farm: People farm because I eat.

        People are free to choose not to farm. It might be hard to swallow, but no one is going to starve if all current farmers stopped farming.


        It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.


        And that has provided us with more food than was imaginable throughout the entire history of humankind.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 10:08am

          Re: Re: Re: I do not have any obligation to pay for others' broadband access

          Are you stupid? No one would starve if ALL current farmers stopped farming? Pray tell just where the food would come from, then. Please, enlighten us.

           

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I do not have any obligation to pay for others' broadband access

            Are you stupid?

            Name calling. Nice. Really establishes credibility, doesn't it?

            No one would starve if ALL current farmers stopped farming? Pray tell just where the food would come from, then. Please, enlighten us.

            From all the other people who would then become farmers in response to the market.

             

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            Sinan Unur (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 4:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I do not have any obligation to pay for others' broadband access

            Anonymous Coward asks:

            > Are you stupid?

            No I am not. It seems, however, you cannot read. I said current farmers. If all current farmers decided to stop farming, no one would starve because new farmers would take their places. This is pretty elementary.

             

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

      Re: I do not have any obligation to pay for others' broadband access

      The whole idea of providing people who live in rural areas with broadband access using tax-payer funds is repulsive. People choose where they live.

      Do you feel the same way about rural postal service? The post office could save a lot of money if they only served the major cities like they used to. But that changed with Rural Free Delivery in 1891. Repulsive, huh?

      And then there was the Rural Electrification Act. Just makes you want to throw up, doesn't it?

      But while we're talking about telco subsidies, don't forget about the HUGE subsidy the telcos receive in form of right-of-way access in cities (across both public and private properties). You think it's expensive to install lines in rural areas? That's nothing compared to what it would cost the telcos to actually lease all their urban ROWs from private urban land owners where land values are much higher. But I don't see you talking about that. For some reason, you only seem to be against rural subsidies while ignoring the urban ones. Funny, that.

       

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        Sinan Unur (profile), Dec 31st, 2009 @ 4:15am

        Re: Re: I do not have any obligation to pay for others' broadband access

        I do feel the same way about rural postal service (I do believe the USPS should not have a monopoly on anything).

        The same applies to the all other rural utilities.

        As I remind people, there were schools waaaaaay before there were government schools. People have a way of solving problems for themselves much more effectively than a distant government office.

         

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 6:30pm

      Re: I do not have any obligation to pay for others' police protection

      Just let me adequately arm myself and I won't need any wussy cop protection, so why should I have to pay for it? I don't have any kids either, so why should I have to pay school taxes?

       

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    OMAC1A (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:13am

    CenturyLink also plays unfair with its own customers. I have been an Embarq customer for 5 years now and have DSL through them. When I set up my Embarq account they told me I needed to have a landline in order to get DSL. They now offer a landline-free package for a lot less, but I am unable to get it. The only reason they have given is that 'my location does not qualify'. They give no other details. I would welcome competition in my area.

     

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      Danny, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 7:07am

      Re:

      I know right? Talk about getting gouged. I'm paying almost $90 a month for landline + (up to of course) 5mb internet.

       

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    Dementia (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:46am

    Don't get me started on a CenturyLink rant. Their service is below par in any rural area. When asked why they don't upgrade to fiber like many of the local co-ops have, their response is that the co-ops have access to considerably more money than they do. Hmmmm, investing profits back into infrastructure and increasing customer loyalty seems like a good way to use money. Of course the short term impact on profits makes that completely untenable, despite the fact that it would probably increase long term profits.

     

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      Sinan Unur (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:58am

      Re: I tend to leave it to the business to decide what will improve their profits

      If a business makes the "wrong" decisions vis-à-vis products and service, it will driven out of the market.

      ... Uhm, except, of course, if they are, a-hem, regulated and subsidized by the government.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

        Re: Re: I tend to leave it to the business to decide what will improve their profits

        "... Uhm, except, of course, if they are, a-hem, regulated and subsidized by the government."

        Even worse is when they are, a-hem, unregulated and subsidized by the government.

         

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    Skout (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 7:51am

    Wow

    Subsidies exist to spur development. This isn't YOUR tax dollars competing with you, Michial (and others), but OUR tax dollars stimulating an economy in an under-served market.

    And Sinan, while I understand your POV, why wouldn't we support a company with an idea to provide them with broadband which is not currently provided? Your mentality that they choose to be farmers equates to them giving up internet service is flat out stupid.

    In this case, ESI asked for $3M funding to construct infrastructure from government funds set up FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE. If you disagree with the government subsidizing infrastructure, well.. sorry about that, but that's what government does. They're not asking the government to pay for their subscription fees, or give them free cable tv - they're asking for funding to offer such services.

    In a perfect world, we might all like to see this sort of thing financed by third-party VC or loans, but in poor economies, one does what one must, and if approved, this WOULD create wanted services and jobs.

     

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      Sinan Unur (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 9:49am

      Re: Wow

      The economically relevant criterion is never whether this or that subsidy does any good at all. For everything, even heroin addiction, provides some benefits.

      The economically relevant criterion is whether the benefits from providing service to this area exceed the cost of providing that service.

      Please do read the story of the $47,000 land line (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/01/national/01phone.html). Of course, those people in the bayou now enjoy being able to call their neighbors. Was it worth it? Absolutely not.

      My experience and intuition tell me the $47,000 land line will be more representative of this whole broadband subsidy deal. There is no economically valid reason for there to be broadband access everywhere in the U.S.

       

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    Skout (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 7:53am

    RTFA

    One last thing, after reading the original article (which is to say, the article that this article reported on references yet another article (stopthecap.com) - it does say that the cable company and ESI are in discussions over the situation, trying to find ways to make the solution work for all involved. I didn't see that point covered here, so I thought I'd point that out.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 7:54am

    This says it all

    "So it seems that broadband applications that do not challenge incumbent providers are acceptable, but those that could expand the quality of service to those living with rural, slow speed DSL service are not."

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 10:17am

      Re: This says it all

      thinking about this for a little while, I would agree to the same thing, then turn around a couple months later and compete with them any way. ooops my bad ... we are just expanding our offerings

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:12am

    Has CenturyLink received any subsidies?

     

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    identicon
    karen, Oct 29th, 2010 @ 10:53am

    dsl with centurylink

    i have had the great experience of having dsl service with centurylink, I"M NOT INPRESSED we were always having trouble with staying connected i found out that about once a month a tech would have to change our ports , why i do not know, i really like socket internet we never have these type of problems, centurylink is not what is cracked up to be, i wish a great big company would come into the rural areas of MO. and get some decent service besides dial-up or nothing ,OBAMA SAID HE WOULD INPROVE BROADBAND SERVICE FOR RURAL SERVICES WELL WHERE ARE THE INPROVEMENTS AT,? IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 26th, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    It's now nearing the end of 2013 and CenturyLink still refuses to extend DSL service to many locations in North Carolina.

     

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