Trump's New Rural Broadband Executive Order Doesn't Actually Do Much Of Anything

from the Comcastic dept

You have probably noticed by now that the biggest problem in the U.S. broadband market is a lack of vibrant competition in many areas. This lack of competition over the "last mile" is the core reason for the majority of the problems in the sector, from privacy violations to net neutrality infractions. And while lawmakers from both parties adore paying empty lip service to making broadband faster, cheaper, and more available, very few have the courage to stand up to AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast and actually implement policies that improve our competitive options.

More often than not, government's "solution" for the broadband market involves first ignoring that there's any real competition problem whatsoever, then hyping "broadband expansion" efforts that fail to truly address the underlying problems.

That's usually accomplished via programs with "goals" that would have been accomplished anyway. Like when Obama promised in 2011 to ensure wireless broadband reached 98% of the public (ignoring the problem of high prices and usage caps, or the fact this coverage was going to occur anyway), or when Obama's former FCC boss Julius Genachowski promised a gigabit ISP in each one of the fifty states (also something that would have happened without government involvement). Such efforts usually comically ignore how limited competition and high prices are the biggest problem.

Keeping this proud tradition alive, President Trump this week held a rally to hype his purported dedication to the nation's forgotten rural areas. This dedication, according to a breakdown by Reuters, will involve "making it easier for the private sector to locate broadband infrastructure on federal land and buildings":

"U.S. President Donald Trump was expected on Monday to sign an executive order to make it easier for the private sector to locate broadband infrastructure on federal land and buildings, part of a push to expand high-speed internet in rural America. Faster internet speeds in rural areas have long been seen as key to addressing the economic divide between rural and urban America, but the costs have so far been prohibitive."

But if you bother to read the actual order, the "new efforts" cited within are nothing new. They're simply part of a concerted effort to speed up construction and placement of cellular towers and other essential gear on government property at the behest of AT&T and Verizon, a priority at the FCC for several years now. In Trump fashion however, the President took ample time to insist this looming surge in "great, great broadband" was exclusively thanks to his leadership and the creation of this new executive order:

"Those towers are going to go up and you’re going to have great, great broadband,” Trump told the annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "Farm country is God’s country,” he declared..."Oh, are you happy you voted for me,” he added. “You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege."

While faster cellular tower placement is great and all, it doesn't solve the real problem in the sector: a lack of competition. FCC data indicates that two-thirds of American homes lack access to modern broadband (25 Mbps) from more than one ISP. Instead of addressing that problem, the Trump FCC has been actively working to undermine how broadband is measured in a blatant attempt to hide coverage and competition gaps. Trump's FCC has also started taking a hatchet to programs that help bring broadband to the poor, an increasing problem given that incumbent providers refuse to upgrade countless poor or rural markets.

Reuters' and other mainstream coverage of Trump's EO also ignores the countless problems that will be caused by the Trump administration's attack on net neutrality, elimination of consumer broadband privacy protections, or industry-backed efforts to gut nearly all meaningful oversight of entrenched telecom duopolies, something that history repeatedly tells us only makes service worse and more expensive. Unsurprisingly, reports fail to note the fact that the Trump FCC has taken steps to protect the entrenched monopoly at the heart of the cellular backhaul and business data services (BDS) markets, ensuring competition there remains tepid and cellular connectivity remains expensive.

Here's a tip: you'll know a politician's "broadband plan" is worth anything if it makes Comcast, AT&T and Verizon lawyers, lobbyists and lackeys angry. Any plan worth its salt would drive competition to the sector, eroding revenues for duopolies all-too-comfortable nursing the status quo. If they approve of it, it likely doesn't actually tackle the heart of the dysfunction that is the American broadband market.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 9:09am

    "Oh, are you happy you voted for me,” he added. “You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege."

    Inflated ego full of nothing. He would be the world's laughingstock if he didn't have so much power to screw up everything. I mean, he already is but there's the sad part following it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Donald, 10 Jan 2018 @ 10:36am

      Re:

      "Get Up"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Machin Shin, 10 Jan 2018 @ 10:45am

      Re:

      I never really liked the guy, but I like him less and less every time he opens his mouth. How in the world did we end up with a grown man who talks like a snobby 12 year old girl?

      "Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart." "Oh, are you happy you voted for me,” “You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege."

      This seriously sounds like a snobby little girl that just got voted class president. Sadly though, it is a grown man who is our President. This is just embarrassing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 1:36pm

      Re:

      When I see a Trump quote like this, I always have difficulty determining whether it's real or satire. I guessed wrong this time. There must be some kind of drinking game based on the idea.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 4:00am

      Re:

      "He would be the world's laughingstock..."

      Would be? You might want to sit down, I've got some news for you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 11:20am

    Trump's New Rural Broadband Executive Order Doesn't Actually Do Much Of Anything

    But that's certainly not what his handlers have told him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 11:32am

    Trump's New Rural Broadband Executive Order Doesn't Actually Do Much Of Anything.

    That can be shortened down to "Trump Doesn't Actually Do Much Of Anything." and still have the same meaning...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 11:37am

    There will be great competition in america by the end on 2018

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 11:38am

    Wireless and fiber network operator, Hammer Fiber Optic Investments Ltd., a subsidiary of Hammer Fiber Optic Holdings Corp. (OTCQB:HMMR) announced today that the initial development phase of their advanced LTE fixed wireless system is concluded. Given the large amount of bandwidth the system can deliver and the high number of users it can connect, the company expects this latest innovation to help position it as a leader in future 5G technology.

    The system has been designed to build upon Hammer Fiber's already successfully deployed wireless technology suite, expanding it to fully support LTE Frequencies. This expansion will now allow Hammer Fiber to add ultra-high capacity cellular broadband applications to its product portfolio. This expanded product portfolio is expected to include wholesale services, such as backhaul support for cellular network operators. Hammer Fiber, in conjunction with its technology partners in Europe, have been running both laboratory and field trials on the live network of a prominent LTE mobile operator for the past 12 months and the results have surpassed expectations.

    Hammer Fiber now plans to deploy this Fixed LTE version of its successful DOCSIS platform in a pilot initiative in New Jersey starting in early 2018. The system has been developed to complement Hammer Fiber's core business of home residential services. Hammer operates a full service wireless network in the Atlantic City New Jersey area, with expansion recently announced for the greater Baltimore, MD area.

    "5G is the inevitable next step in the evolution of telecommunications, and we are proud to be on the front lines of developing the technology to support the vision of things to come," said Michael Cothill, Executive Chairman of Hammer Fiber. "We believe this system fits perfectly into our overall ecosystem and pairing this platform with our existing DOCSIS platform is going to expand our reach and extend our next generation fixed LTE initiative to include wholesale services to both the mainstream LTE operators and Competitive Carriers across the USA."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 11:39am

      Re:

      just for proof that competition is coming to all of america, things will be changing in the future.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 11:42am

        Re: Re:

        Hammer Fiber Optic Investments Ltd., a New Jersey-based wireless and fiber network operator and wholly owned subsidiary of publicly traded Hammer Fiber Optic Holdings Corp (OTCQB: HMMR) has teamed up with Go Long Wireless, Ltd. (GLW), a company based in Sarasota Florida that holds 12 GHz Multichannel Video Distribution and Data Service (MVDDS) spectrum in 49 U.S. markets, reaching a population in excess of 29 million. The partnership will enable Hammer Fiber to expand its successful business model of delivering a bundle of high speed broadband, TV, and VoIP phone service to these additional 49 markets, including targeting underserved rural communities.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          CrushU (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 12:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Oh, man. 49 US markets and 29 million people?

          http://lmgtfy.com/?q=population+of+US

          Huh. So it turns out they'll be reaching ~9% of the population. Yep. Real Competition®

          Other problems: You say GLW holds 12GHz spectrum in those markets. That implies wireless connectivity. We've gone into the problems with calling Wireless 'Broadband' in the past... Still, baby steps forward, I guess.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        An Onymous Coward (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 12:20pm

        Re: Re:

        So Hammer Fiber is going to compete with all of the incumbents everywhere in the US? You did say "all of America." That's great news! A duopoly is sometimes even better than a monopoly. Now all we need is a 3rd competitor and a strong dose of "I'll believe it when I see it."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 12:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          well they cant solve every problem, im just saying if one company is trying to break into the field and add more competition im sure there are others out there doing the same. Wireless broadband will hopefully be the future and open up competition in America. Im not saying they are going to serve all of rural america that's basically impossible but it shows things may be changing with now wireless broadband.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 12:15pm

      Re:

      Nice PR blurb...

      Doesn't change anything thats wrong in the market.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 12:52pm

        Re: Re:

        The only way change will come is with competition, hopefully there are more companies like hammer ready to finally create competition.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2018 @ 1:09pm

      Re:

      ...have been running both laboratory and field trials on the live network of a prominent LTE mobile operator for the past 12 months and the results have surpassed expectations.

      In other words this had nothing to do with Trump's EO. It was already in the works for a year before he got around to his show and pony dance.

      What we have here in the sum of this corporate blurb, is a dress up for 'we're gonna be able to charge you more than standard broadband would cost you'.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ryunosuke (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 1:27pm

      Re:

      the problem is that companies, gamers, and a hot of other services cannot work on a wireless network designed for phones. They need a fixed line internet, which is something that ISP's are increasingly refusing to build. You cannot play WoW over an iphone network, you just can't. So why are they pushing for it? Why are they willing to destroy an entire market, a successful market for the name of "broadband"?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:55am

        Re: Re:

        5G is allegedly more bandwidth better coverage building penetration.
        Putting up a tower that can serve 200 people is much cheaper than running lines to 200 homes.

        Trying to tether off of an iPhone is a bad way to connect, but they have been offering pretty good 4G hotspots (if you are in a good coverage area) so don't think 5G is the devil.

        Technology marches forward, it's getting the 3 telcos to use it that is the problem. Of course if 5G is this wonderous, it might let 'GoogleFiber' come to more towns & not need to wait to connect to poles.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 4:05am

      Re:

      When your argument is literally a copy-pasta'd press-release you've already lost.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 10 Jan 2018 @ 11:45am

    Trump's New Rural Broadband Executive Order Doesn't Actually Do Much Of Anything

    In a way, that’s a relief.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    michael, 10 Jan 2018 @ 11:47am

    Competition isn't necessarily the answer

    Lack of competition isn't what's hamping rural broadband. Just like rural electrification, rural broadband will NEVER be profitable for anyone to provide.

    The only way it's going to happen is with a broadband version of the Rural Electrification Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rural_Electrification_Act

    (Although it could happen via wireless towers, but only with *mandated* competition.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 8:52am

      Re: Competition isn't necessarily the answer

      The Ferengi are a fictional extraterrestrial race from the Star Trek universe.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferengi


      Some things are necessary regardless of whether there is a profit to be made. This is a simple concept to grasp, but many seem to be unable - it's weird.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dcfusor (profile), 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:35am

    Partisan?

    Hey, I can't remember when an administration didn't promise better infrastructure in the boonies for internet or whatever else was a concern, even before anyone cared about internet, and guess what? We still don't have diddly. Blaming decades of neglect on the current bunch of jerks implies time machine shenanigans. Get real. It's a problem, and your half of the fake divide in the uniparty isn't the answer.

    Pretending it's one side's issue and the other side would solve it totally ignores the fact that this has been around through N different administrations...and isn't solved yet.
    Are you really that dumb, or just a useful idiot?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2018 @ 9:53am

      Re: Partisan?

      "We still don't have diddly. Blaming decades of neglect on the current bunch of jerks implies time machine shenanigans."

      Yes, but you ignore the constant complains over that same time period from a few who were ignored and/or trashed politically for their stance. The present admin has done less than nothing about it but we are all supposed to just stfu because both parties suck? ... I don't think so.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 12 Jan 2018 @ 10:45am

      Re: Partisan?

      Third paragraph:

      That's usually accomplished via programs with "goals" that would have been accomplished anyway. Like when Obama promised in 2011 to ensure wireless broadband reached 98% of the public (ignoring the problem of high prices and usage caps, or the fact this coverage was going to occur anyway), or when Obama's former FCC boss Julius Genachowski promised a gigabit ISP in each one of the fifty states (also something that would have happened without government involvement). Such efforts usually comically ignore how limited competition and high prices are the biggest problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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