Force the Telecommunications Industry to fall in-line in the US and remind them who is really in charge

Bring the US back to the top 10 countries of the world in terms of Internet connectivity. Force the phone companies to stop gouging us on broadband access over slow and antiquated xDSL technology. Take the "dark fiber" sitting in the ground and use it. Bring fiber to the "last mile" and up to the doorsteps of everyone, not just the big companies who can afford to put their own in. And offer high-speed internet for free or extremely reduced rates (depending on your yearly income) so that everyone can benefit. Force emminent domain and make the phone, cable and other companies with tons of fiber in the ground in public property to open it up and allow access to it. Use the existing infrastructure to bring FTTH and more high-speed non-copper xDSL based internet access to the home, inside and outside the cities.

Remind the telecommunications companies that they made a promise to Congress and the American people a long time ago about bringing high-speed fiber internet access to homes across the nation is the industry was de-regulated and they were paid. Force them to honor this promise.


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Similar Ideas [ 5 ]


  1. Comment

    Doesn't have to be fiber. I disagree that promoting broadband deployment should restrict the solutions allowable. In many cases, fiber to the home will not be the best approach, and the government is not the best equipped at figuring this out.

  2. Comment
    olivas ( Idea Submitter )

    I started this as a thinking point on something that could be done.

    While it doesn't have to be fiber, if you plan for the long term, putting such an infrastructure into place now will help a lot later.

    Of course, you would make the network modular in the sense that the core would have more capacity than the outer edges.

    The cost of this is the biggest thing that people focus on when arguing about it, saying that copper based xDSL or other means of delivering connectivity is better since it is more cost efficient.

    This is fine, except for the fact that you are merely putting a bandage on a problem that in a few years will raise its ugly head again.

    With the predictions that connectivity will become increasingly more important in the future, IPv6 rollout that can handle a ton more of nodes via it's almost (for now) limitless address space, and the proliferation of "smart" devices in the household and business, you need a system that can handle an increasingly large load. Data hungry applications, consumers, etc. will just add to the problem.\

    Fix it now, so you won't have to fix it later (when it is already too late).

  3. Comment

    Olivas is very correct in stating that the telecom companies had made a promise to provide fiber to every home in exchange for exclusive contracts to cities. The government did its job and these companies have exclusive contracts to most cities--i.e. no choice for cable to most customers. Most cable companies now offer broadband to some cities, but not to rural areas. However there is no competition, or the same company creates a subdivision with a different name, lulling the consumer into thinking that the two "companies" that now offer broadband are competitors when in fact they are not. The telecom companies have forgotten that the airwaves belong to the people of America and not to the company.

  4. Comment

    Cable companies and telcos deploy fiber closer and closer to homes now, or even all the way to the home, when they deem it cost effective. They don't need any exclusivity agreement from any local government to do this. They only need the economics to be right.

    For example, cable companies have been adding fiber and shortening the coax in their "hybrid fiber and coax" plants around the country to better support services like broadband Internet and video on demand. It makes sense for them to take this approach. And Verizon, with its FiOS system, competes against the cablecos even for TV program distribution. FiOS, a newcomer in this area, brings fiber directly to the home. But who cares? They did this only because they didn't have the wideband coax plant already in place. Had they had such a broadband system already in place, they too would have tried to keep it going as long as possible.

    But where the economics do not work, in areas of very low population density, I am opposed to any government program that mandates *a* solution. Much better would be government incentives to provide a SERVICE, and let the communications companies figure out the right way in each case.

    I don't know about this "promise" to bring fiber to homes, but whatever the case, it is silliness. Bring the best solution for braodband, don't get hung up on yesterday's simple-minded hype.

  5. Comment

    The spirit of the law passed by Congress more than 10 years ago should be followed--and that is to provide every home with access to broadband that is affordable. Right now, the cable companies have not honored their promise, and are doing everything they can to reduce the possibility that they will have to face competition in rural areas. There are many small companies in rural areas who will provide cable to a few unincorporated areas in cities because the single cable company has an exclusive contract with the city. Other proposals here suggest a disconnection between the infrastructure (cable, transmitters, etc.) and the service provided. This would definitely help increase competition and force the broadband access to be more affordable.

  6. Comment

    Broadband in rural areas is simply more difficult to justify economically. If entrepeneurs want to compete against telcos or cable companies, they need to be able to implement the most cost-effective solutions possible.

    Fiber in urban or suburban neighborhoods is deployed in so-called "passive optical networks," or PONs. This makes it cost effective. The active electronics only exist in very few locations, compared with how many homes are served by a PON. You can't use this approach in rural neighborhoods. Distances are just too great. Even if you have a high speed trunk line "close" to your rural home, this does not translate to a cost effective fiber hookup for you.

    So again, let's not get hung up on *a* single technology solution. It is counterproductive to do so. There are viable wireless alternatives that may be the best answer. And it doesn't matter at all whether a cable or cell company tries to prevent competition. Let them try. Give potential competitors the right options, and they will play if it's works economically.

    The telecom act of 1996 did not work out as hoped, exactly for these reasons. The government tried to force a lot of silly sound-good ideas on businesses that did not make business sense to them. So it ended up slowing down broadband deployment. You can't force a telco to invest on installing ADSL service over his network, for example, and then take the ISP role away from the telco and give it to anyone else. That's just dumb. The guys who poured millions into improving their own cable plant would not be able to benefit from their investment? So of course, the telcos were in no hurry to deploy ADSL.

    This broadband initiative will not work if every idea out there is just "let's try to stick it to the communications companies," or "let's just create another black hole down which to pour tax payers' money."

  7. Comment

    I would have to agree and disagree with you.

    I agree that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was severely flawed, which is what I think olivas is trying to point out.

    I would have to disagree that not focusing on one or two viable technologies that would allow future expansion is the wrong thing to to.

    Wireless is, in many ways, not the best answer for everything despite all the hype it gets. Having been involved in large scale wirless deployments over a large area, wireless as a means for providing access to everyone has its own unique and challenging issues. Wireless may be an option for those isolated areas where satellite is used and doesn't meet the demand at a low cost.

    The areas in the city where extensive infrastructure exists, fiber won't be that bad of an idea. And it allows for future expansion.

    Economics will always play into something. When the communications companies promised that they would deploy fiber and still are promising it in the near future while at the same time getting breaks in regulations and extra money the argument concerning economics turns into pure greed.

    This is an interesting place to find out some things related to this

    And economics is also not a good argument when of the original "baby bells" that once existed, after all the buy-outs, mergers, name changes, etc, you only have 3 carriers left that do not compete with each other except in the case of wireless services between two of them.... again this is another example of greed and fleecing of the public.

  8. Comment

    Here are more claims of "economics" concerning the promised rollout of high-speed (i.e. non-cooper based) internet service to homes across the US. Notice the trend. AT&T is promising 100% fiber by 2014 now.

    a) AT&T already promised 100% broadband in their 21 states by 2007 as part of their AT&T-BellSouth commitments -- never happened.

    b) When SBC announced U-Verse and Lightspeed in 2004 so it could merge with AT&T, it claimed it would have 18 million homes by 2007 --- oops.

    c) SBC, when it merged with Ameritech, claimed it would compete in 30 cities outside their region and promised to spend $6 billion on 'Project Pronto', replacing the copper wiring with fiber optics-Never spent the money, didn't do the build outs.

    d) Past History -- Broadband Scandal 101. Almost every state, from CT and CA to IL or Texas, pitched a statewide broadband plan that was never executed but the companies collected billions per state.

    e) Mergers harmed broadband. When SBC took over Pacific Telesis, Ameritech, BellSouth, SNET and Southwestern Bell, the company closed down all deployments, including cable networks. The merged companies claimed it would spend $33.6 billion on 12.5 million homes. This was supposed to include, in most states, schools, libraries, government agencies and even hospitals.

    f) ALL of the AT&T companies made commitments to deploy ISDN, the first poster-child for broadband, and they never supported the product even though states gave the companies funding, including "TeleKansas", "Telefuture2000" (Missouri) or "Education First, by Pacific Bell, to supply ISDN to all California schools by 1996. ISDN Is now referred to as "It Still Does Nothing".

    AT&T is at it again with a promise to go 100% fiber by 2014. Sounds like we can add another bullet to this list of failed promises for widespread broadband deployment.

    You say don't focus on one technology. I say why not? The telecos are in their ad, marketing and lobbying campaigns.

    So, I agree with the title of this post:

    "Force the Telecommunications Industry to fall in-line in the US and remind them who is really in charge" or should we change it to "Let's roll over and show our bellies again to the telcos and let them do what they want."

    After all, based on your argument, economics, free-trade, no regulation will ensure that the market itself will keep things fair and ensure access to all at a reasonable price.

    The re-occurring theme on this site, as you put it, is to stick it to the telcos. The reason why is that a lot of people feel that they have stuck it to us long enough.

    Black hole? Maybe, but when you let the market do as it wants, it will manipulate things in a way that is favorable to them, including no competing with itself and then crying for more money since it can't afford to fulfill it's promises.

    An alternative would be to nationalize the phone system like it is in many other countries -- or at least the core part of it - and then remove the barriers that the phone companies complain about. Force them to pay subsidies and rent the core infrastructure. If the telcos don't own it, then they can focus solely on competing with themselves, and then the government can force connectivity across to the board to allow everyone equal access at a set price.

    Sounds socialist to you? It is, but it is probably the only way to kick the industry in it butt and get it focusing on more than monopolies and profits.

  9. Comment

    Socialize the phone system? Sorry, we are not Europe.

    Economics does play a big part in anything including the US Government. If things are not cost effective for someone they normally are not done.

    Only those who are either bad managers, unable to grasp simple economics, or are too hard headed would continue to fund a losing venture.

  10. Comment

    Kumcgee, I certainly never said that fiber was a bad idea in cities or suburban areas. Read again my previous post, if that's what you thought I had said.

    I don't care a whit what the telecom companies "promised." Who makes these "promises"? It's the marketing and advertizing types. What do they know? All they are after is more accounts.

    Here's an example to illustrate what I'm trying to get across. You mention ISDN. ISDN was indeed the first semi-broadband idea, as you said, but it turned out to be too little and too late. ISDN so-called "basic rate" offered one 64 Kb/s voice line and one 64 Kb/s data line to households, and one 16 Kb/s signaling line. Usually, the two 64 Kb/s lines were aggregated into a single 128 Kb/s data line.

    But soon after ISDN was announced, regular modems used on regular telephone lines reached 56 Kb/s downstream. And people were subscribing to two telephone lines, to get data and voice. So ISDN just came too late. It wasn't enough of an improvement over POTS phone lines and it cost a LOT more.

    So whereas you interpret this as some sort of "breach of promise," to me it was simply a poor choice for the telcos to invest in. That's why ADSL was introduced. For the same price as ISDN, or perhaps even less, you got far, far better speeds. And better yet, the old analog phones still worked as they always had. And you only needed one phone line for voice and for this truly broadband service.

    So, let those who know decide what technolgies to deploy in each case. And dismiss the hype from the marketing types.

  11. Comment
    Michael Sullivan

    I'm not sure where this Internet meme came from that telcos promised to bring broadband Internet service to every home in exchange for exclusive contracts. I'm not aware of any such exclusive contracts, and I very much doubt they would be legal. I've never seen any documentation showing that a given cable company or telco has sought exclusivity in exchange for serving everyone everywhere in a territory. Where is this myth coming from?

    I realize that some of the Regional Bell Holding Companies made promises in connection with various 271 applications or merger approvals. To the best of my recollection, none of them agreed to extend broadband Internet access to every home in their service footprint.

    I will be happy to be proved wrong in that recollection.

  12. Comment

    This may sound like a good idea but it will not work. Not a lot of people understand how the digital divide got started and why it keeps growing.

    The start of the digital divide began in 1984 when Judge Green ordered the breakup of AT&T. Universal Service was at that time subsidized by the regulations which governed telecommunications pricing. The business model that made universal service feasible was a monopoly and is gone forever. I don’t believe anyone realized at the time how the divestiture of AT&T would come to affect the principle of universal service.

    The Telecommunications Act of 1996 authorized the FCC to create Universal Service Fund to compensate for what the AT&T monopoly used to do. The Universal Service Fund is administered by USAC (Universal Service Administration Company). Unfortunately it is not doing a very good job of providing universal service on three counts.

    1. It does not collect funds from all interstate phone service providers as the law states it should. Cable companies are the worst offenders.

    2. It was created before access to the internet became critical to getting homework done in the school systems.

    3. It is designed to provide universal phone service not universal internet service.