[telecom] Robert Reich: Living in a New Gilded Age

Date: Sat, 13 Oct 2018 16:18:23 -0400

> Robert Reich: Living in a New Gilded Age ... why does the United > States have the highest broadband prices among advanced nations and > the slowest speeds? > Because more than 80 percent of Americans have no choice but to rely > on their local cable company for high capacity wired data > connections to the Internet - usually Comcast, AT&T, or Verizon. And > these corporations are among the most politically powerful in > America. (In a rare exception to Trump's corporate sycophancy, the > Justice Department is appealing a district court's approval of > AT&T's merger with Time Warner.) >
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Contrary to Reich's claim, most of those 80% of Americans do indeed have choices other than the "local cable company":

--> In most locations, the local telephone company (DSL, FiOS, etc.)

--> In most locations, satellite networks (Dish Network and DirecTV), provided that the downlink antenna can be placed in view of the satellite signal.

--> In some locations, Google Fiber.

--> In some locations, municipal broadband.

The success of municipal broadband networks has been inconsistent.

--> Chattanooga, Tennessee's broadband network has been a huge success, currently serving some 82,000 customers.

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--> But Provo, Utah's broadband network iProvo has been a disaster. After numerous financial setbacks the city sold the system to Google for $1.00.

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As I've noted before in this space, most successful municipal broadband networks were built in cities that already owned their own electric power utilities. In these cities the city already owned the utility poles and underground duct systems needed for the fiber networks. That was certainly true in Chatanooga's case: the Electric Power Board already owned the power network and built the broadband network on the same infrastructure.

But even owning its own power utility didn't help in Provo.

In any case, my original statement holds: in most locations, the "local cable company" isn't the only option.

Neal McLain Brazoria, Texas

Reply to
Neal McLain
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There has been posted here many articles about people living in fringe areas that do not have choices. Also, many people in developed areas (like me) don't have choices either.

Verizon told a friend's community they had to have a minimum number of subscribers or they would walk away. Vz walked away, so the only provider is the cable. Happening to a lot of places.

DSL is increasingly inadequate for today's heavy duty websites. I wish that wasn't so, but websites have more and more bloat to them and a heavy-duty broadband connection is needed to access them successfully. (One also needs a newer computer to handle an up-to-date browser).

Many places, for whatever reasons, do not have FIOS access. I don't.

If you live in multi-family housing, you might not be allowed to put up a dish. Or, as mentioned (and a friend discovered), the antenna signal is blocked.

I think these are relatively rare.

In my area at least, Comcast has a lot of political power and would fight hard to prevent municipal broadband.

Reply to

Per Neal McLain:

Proposing DSL as a realistic alternative seems to me like a debater's point at best.

Last time I used DSL, it was maddeningly slow - and that was many years ago when web pages were nowhere near as complex/graphic-laden as they are now.

Even text email was no prize with DSL.

Here in the suburbs of Philadelphia PA, we have two choices: Comcast and Verizon FIOS.

I have FIOS and no complaints, but my #1 daughter-the-farmer about an hour west has one "Choice" and it sucks pretty bad - to the point where when I TeamViewer into her PC to troubleshoot something it's close to useless response-time-wise.

Reply to
Pete Cresswell

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