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[Discuss] data caps

On 01/08/2013 03:13 AM, Tom Metro wrote:
> Lets move on from DRM and GPL to another topic we all love - data caps!
> The clips and commentary below became too long, so I'll provide a tl;dr
> summary up top, and pose a question for discussion. Here's the premise:
> data caps are not about solving network congestion, they're about
> increasing revenues and staving off competition from other content
> providers; data delivery has gotten increasingly more profitable for
> ISPs as their delivery costs have dropped and their investment in
> infrastructure has shrunk; the lack of competition permits this to happen.
> Read further below if you want to see the articles that support the above.
> Given this, if you were choosing a broadband provider, and you didn't
> want to reward companies that follow these practices, who would you
> pick? While you can currently avoid data caps by selecting a
> business-class service, you're still rewarding the same companies with
> your business, and what's to stop them from introducing caps later?

It's also the case that outside of Boston/Cambridge, it's usually 
impossible to even get business-class service in a residential 
neighborhood (I've tried w/ Comcast and Vz).

> In the sub-$200/month price range, there doesn't seem to be an
> alternative to cable and telco fiber, unless you are willing to slow
> down to DSL speeds, or happen to be in one of the few areas where there
> is a fixed wireless provider.

The ability to get DSL supposes your copper hasn't already been cut...Vz 
is trying very hard to obsolete the old POTS infrastructure because 
there's so much regulation (specifically, forcing them to share their 
infrastructure with re-sellers) on it versus FIOS.

 > ...
>    To make this happen, though, the U.S. needs to move to a utility
>    model, based on the assumption that all Americans require fiber-optic
>    Internet access at reasonable prices.
> Utility model - yes, but not necessarily a government owned and ran
> utility. What we seem to be missing is a government defined framework
> for a "last mile" company, which would be carefully designed to align
> the incentives with serving the consumers of a last mile service.
> If you really expect to reach near 100% coverage of households,
> inevitably you would still need government funding for areas where the
> population is too sparse. That still doesn't necessarily mean government
> operated fiber. It could be in the form of a zero interest loan to a
> provider for the up-front installation costs, or the government could
> pay for the installation, own the last mile, and lease it to a provider
> to operate and maintain it.

I've been a proponent of this for a long time.  The municipality should 
own and operate the "last mile", and when you sign up with a "service 
provider", you're negotiating for "from the municipality's hub to 
everywhere else".  That's really the only way to have competition, even 
among the big players.

It's worth noting that there are already subsidies to Vz and other POTS 
providers to provide rural service.

> There are still some glaring holes in this approach. It doesn't achieve,
> or even encourage, competition in the last mile itself, which could
> stagnate, if it is too tightly regulated.
> Ultimately, any such scheme would require displacing the telco and cable
> companies in their exclusive grip over the last mile, and lower the
> barriers for content competitors, which means they'd funnel all their
> profits into lobbying against any laws that set up new last mile rules.

Honestly, I think if you really want to start ramming some common sense 
into our broadband infrastructure, the one thing that really needs to 
happen is a hard separation between the "pipe owners" and the "content 
providers".  Until the that happens, our 'pipes' will be artificially 
constrained according to the desires of "content owners" (and by that I 
mean mostly the major TV networks, but there is a fair amount of 
hollywood in there too).

Until you have companies whose sole interest is to provide good 
broadband service, and not to protect revenue models of existing 
"content owner" mega-companies, then nothing will change.


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