Ammon, Idaho you say?
*Packs bags, loads up the Beverly Hillbillies truck, sticks a rocking chair on top, & heads for greener pastures*
Fuck California, I'm gettin' me some free internets!
The city of Ammon in Idaho is now offering internet access for free... ish. Early this week, its mayor – Sean Coletti – proudly announced on Twitter that residents could get a no-contract, no data-cap internet service offering 15Mbps for just $1.88 a month. That was offered by one of three companies riding on top of a fiber …
As opposed to having all of your (verizon and att) traffic routed through Reston, VA (which is within the Washington, D.C. zone that means the government can monitor anything they want for any reason they want any time they want and there's nothing you can do about it)
Its the reason that the original fiber lines from Chicago to New York City crossed into Canada and back so that the government could use the 'border exception' to monitor them.
Seriously, configure your browser to only use recent ciphers and PFS (perfect forward secrecy) and your traffic should be safe (but it'll probably get you on a watchlist).
I always said that utilities (internet, water, power sewage, etc..) should have their physical access owned and maintained by the government - in the same way that you have federal highways (federal government) , state roads (state government), local streets (city?). Power lines, telephone lines, internet, etc should be owned by government. Providers then supply services to be delivered over those amenities.
After all, if you want to have something delivered by (say) FedEx, you don't first have to purchase a FedEx road to your house which also means that UPS (or USPS) can't deliver to your premises. So why are we allowing this with utilities?
I totally agree, and I consider myself somewhat of a (small l) libertarian. There are some things that are natural monopolies, and those natural monopolies that involve physical property like pipes and cables are best maintained by a government within a city limits.
Though offering competition for those utilities is a bit more tricky. You can't really support two competing sewage treatment plants because how are you going to route the waste to the one you choose without a whole separate network of pipes? Likewise with water, electricity, or gas.
The routability of data packets is the only thing that makes it practical for multiple ISPs to share the same city fiber network, it really is unique in comparison to other natural monopolies cities may provide.
"Though offering competition for those utilities is a bit more tricky. You can't really support two competing sewage treatment plants because how are you going to route the waste to the one you choose without a whole separate network of pipes? Likewise with water, electricity, or gas."
Come down to Oz, we regularly do it (at least for electricity and gas).
but we used to have that. Federal highways State roads and local council roads, State electricity generators and distribution systems. Mostly sold off in a country with no real anti-monopoly laws. No wonder costs are reaching monopoly levels. People are now dying because they cant afford heating. Current crop of bought pollies tried to sell off the Snowy scheme to donors not so long ago. I fully expect them to try again with usual promise of tax cuts. No mention that water costs will rocket further.
It is amazing that any decent Economics 101 mentions natural monopolies and monopsonies but the Oz government and its bureaucrats and policy advisors seem to blithely unaware. One wonders how they were bought or whether western cultural stupidity has become so endemic that foolishness has become normalized in the seats of power.
One wonders how they were bought or whether western cultural stupidity has become so endemic that foolishness has become normalized in the seats of power.
I think it was a lot of lobbying. So privatise everything because private enterprises can do it bigger, faster, cheaper! Or not, and just end up buying the monopolies, raising prices, loading debt, looting pensions etc etc. Support the free market! Support Comcast!
Which never really made much sense. Public infrastructure can be run at cost+ and profits shared between other public services. Cost of capital is cheaper given governments can usually raise cash for less, or just print it as in bank bailouts. And I've always liked the US idea of munis for funding public works. Downside I guess is if there are ever problems with repayment, bondholders could potentially end up with the asset. Or do the regulatory capture thing and convince the town it'd be better to privatise the service. Especially if it's looking profitable.
Like you say, privatisation and 'competition' clearly aren't working if the price of those services keeps increasing.
No, you don't. What you have is what we have in Georgia. One company (or a very small number) own the pipes and the billing software, and you buy your gas from whomever you like. What you actually get is simply gas that's delivered by the pipes. You don't get BP, or Shell or Joe's Great Gas, you just think you are because for all intents and purposes, gas is gas is gas. Even if your bill says you're being billed per Therm or KiloJoule for Joe's Great Gas, its 100% guaranteed that the gas that you paid for isn't the gas that was delivered to you.
tldr; You're being fucked by your politician the same as we are, so have a drink, bend over, and enjoy it if you can.
"You can't really support two competing sewage treatment plants because how are you going to route the waste to the one you choose without a whole separate network of pipes? Likewise with water, electricity, or gas."
In Texas, they deregulated electricity almost 20 years ago. It caused a bunch of competing "providers" to fight each other to give the best rates. The electricity itself is provided by the local TDU (Transmission and Delivery Utility), which is kind of like the government. They charge a very stable base rate, and the providers will usually pass that through plus a few extra cents for kWh to keep their business going. Ultimately, the provider just handles the "paperwork" side of things. If you have any trouble with the electricity, you contact your TDU.
All of this is not available for everyone (such as more rural areas), but it did greatly increase competition for many.
You can't really support two competing sewage treatment plants because how are you going to route the waste to the one you choose without a whole separate network of pipes? Likewise with water, electricity, or gas.
We're doing it now with electricity. The electricity you pay for isn't the same electricity you get. For every kilowatthour you consume from the grid, your ESCO is producing a kilowatthour *into* the grid. That's why there are separate production and transport costs on your electric bill.
"Fair" is a word that is massively overused and used in place where it doesn't apply.
Public infrastructure has been put in place to facilitate commerce. If FedEx, UPS and DHL all had to pay a ton of money extra, they might consider investing in another country and the US wouldn't be the market it is today. They also DO pay more from having to pay higher fees for their commercial vehicles along with fuel taxes that are supposed to go into supporting the infrastructure.
who said extra ? I thought the problem was getting them to pay any or a reasonable amount instead of small taxpayers having to wear costs. As it is, wealthy behemoths seem to enjoy asking for subsidies and spineless politicians race to bend over with taxpayer funds instead a jailing the CEOs and boards for extortion.
they might consider investing in another country
Let them f-off. Quite sure they will not, because uf they do there's some else else standing in the wings to take over
The same fallacy used to explain why rich people shouldn't pay too much taxes, because they would leave.
Of course they wouldn't leave, because rich people also like the benefits of a stable society. If they don't want to pay any tax they can move to places where they don't have to pay taxes.
Trouble is that the good places are full already and they wouldn't be ruch anymore compared to their neighbours or they'd need to live in a compound with 24x7 guards, no clean running water, no sewage system, no stable electrical net and no police that willl help out without taking a bribe first
I live in a super-rural area in the Appalachian mountains. Maybe 40k humans in the whole county, one stoplight in town (17 miles from here). Government is only a few people, we have around 1.5 cops on duty average...we outnumber the government and they know it, and they live here. They behave or we let them know, and then they behave.
I'm about as off-grid as you can get reasonably. Solar power, backup generator yes, no grid tie at all, get my own water and purify it (I have 5 springs + rain), have 40 acres and guard it myself, not that I need to - my neighbors are good folks, live fairly far away (they all have big places too, we can't be close), and believe me, what we have as a real community - not just a bunch of people living near one another - makes neighborhood watch look pretty tame. FWIW, most are farmers, it's the bible belt, most are armed and proficient - it's a tool for controlling varmints etc.
Since I'm so off the wall, and part of the "keep the county weird" program (not completely a joke) - I pay around $10/year per building for the 4 I've built in taxes...I charge my Volt off solar power. I burn more fuel in my lawnmower than anything else (no, I don't mow all 40 acres). Most people don't realize that if you begin with bare land, as I did - it's the power company (accurate name in more than one way) who has been delegated the power to control building permits and so on. Without them, hardly any taxes.
Surely that counts as part of costs.
Not only is it not more expensive...I have one bill, for phone and internet (which is slow at 4mbit but uncapped). I have to buy tags and insurance on my two vehicles, and find a way to eat.
Yes, it cost a bunch upfront, a lot is sweat equity (I built those buildings), but now that I'm retired and care a lot more - it was a very good investment and I'm effectively rich on a pretty puke government dole and a bit of savings.
I have more toys than I'll have life to play with.
With negative or nearly interest rates and similar returns on investments, I frankly smoked most of the world markets doing this. Luck? Maybe. But it doesn't matter now - it IS.
But they aren't paying enough to pay for the wear and tear they do to our roads. Damage does not increase in a linear manner with weight, the average semi is 4.5 times heavier than the average car but does 410 times the damage.
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This is a case in which I completely applaud capitalism. US citizens have been pawns in the hands of greedy oligarchs for way too long. It is nice to see that The People are waking up and getting back their freedom.
Good on Idaho, but what is better is that the dominoes are now starting to fall and Idaho's example will be repeated elsewhere. I agree that utilities should be under local control in any case, be it city or state. That prevents a good lot of situations where you have to wait for some enormous conglomerate to bother dealing with your problem. It mostly means that you don't have to go that far if you need to go and chew someone's desk out to get things moving.
I applaud your optimism, but US telcos have proven more resilient (and generally less desirable) than cockroaches.
The telco charm offensives in other locations already suggests they are fighting back to avoid losing the infrastructure battle.
As for the comments around smaller ISP's fighting 25Mbps Internet - I know this sounds absurd if you come from a well connected part of the world, but in some of these locations the options are triple play services bundling a high-speed service with phone/TV packages for a significant monthly fee or dial up. So the locals choose dial up. They aren't after a minimum service speed, they're after affordable pricing for their locations without the unwanted extras.
They've been fighting for a long time, and mostly winning laws that prevent municipalities from building out their own networks.
This is more an example of the tide turning, as more and more cases like this can be pointed to to prevent more laws like that and repeal existing ones. Their excuse was always 'the gov will wind up costing more and ripping you off" compared to the telcos. Now we have some neener neener examples of, nope, they do much better - in fact the weight of evidence is now in favor of this.
Yeah... heard at&t's excuse before. The other part they won't mention, that $40 a month in California is probably also in the few areas with serious competitive forces. It might also be an introductory rate (I.e. it goes way up after some number of months.). The tendency in the past among their like is a) try to legally block and lobby against competition. B) whine that the competition will put them out of business (ignoring that this is basically tough sh*t if they are uncompetitive...) and whine about how it's no fair for competition to get taxpayer money (ignoring that they've gotten huge taxpayer funds over the years specifically for rolling out broadband...) c) once competition comes in, all of a sudden they can massively cut prices while still turning a profit.
US consumers generally get two options - a cable TV provider and a traditional telco.
Outside of the bigger cities, either local government, state government or the companies come up with deals to ensure the locals pay as much as possible and that services are poor.
To avoid claims of a monopoly, one of the two providers will require either expensive packages of services or just uncompetitive pricing.
"a cable TV provider and a traditional telco."
That's not the case where I live in the US. Technically, if I moved a half-mile down the street, then I could have a telco option. If I moved across town, I could have wireless options. But where I actually live, my only option is Comcast.
(I live in a medium-sized city, not in the boondocks.)
I'm one of the lucky ones out here. I get high speed internet, 7Mbps service. Most are still on dial-up. My service is "Up to 10Mbps" which is 7 for me. Another gets the same service but only achieves 3Mbps at their home. With a discount mine is $43 per month. $34.95 for the service, and the rest tax. I own my modem. just fyi.....
I get a 70mbps service, which I have tested and according to the testing software it more than delivers.
But the only reason I have 70 is because that's the entry level. If I could drop to 10 and pay half then I would do that because 10 is more than fast enough for me.
Nice plan. Openreach will donate their poles and cabinets to the other parties for advertising space, ensuring that the public vote for the people they are told to and we get to keep our existing infrastructure instead of, err, "wasting huge amounts of money on unnecessary fibre".
Once "the right people" have won, and we keep established professional standards in place, we can check the donation contributions declarations made by the parties (if the brexit party won they would scrap this "red tape"). This will tell us how many poles and cabinets were loaned to each party, and the financial value of the donation. Then, competing providers offer to rent pole space at the listed price... if openreach refuse and try to charge more, criminal charges for electoral fraud all round!
We get FTTP, from third party providers... and we get a, presumably lib dem government. (Apparently labour and the conservatives are unelectable even with huge amounts of advertising space). And, I get to legally buy my medicinally required (I, err, have a sore finger due to extensive keyboard usage) cannabis!
I support municipalities getting in on the action, because it drives the price consumers pay down.
The problem is when the tax to pay for the services is universal. Currently, the only internet I pay for is though T-mobile. So, I’d be paying considerably more each month for a service I don’t use.
The reality is, I’d get me some gigabit internet and reduce my cell data usage. But, you can see what they’re doing isn’t clear cut.
I would rather do nothing, and wait for 5G then say F’yall to cable companies... and not face additional taxes.
There is an easy solution to wireline monopolies. Simply pass regulation stating that the companies which provide wireline connectivity from a central office to customer premises, CANNOT provide ANY services over those wires. And these companies of course can be heavily regulated, since there is limited space on the poles and in the conduits. Then, the carriers who provide services (voice, video, data, etc) simply build out to the central offices and purchase the last-mile from a company they are no longer competing with. Problem solved, with regulations placed only on the part that needs it.
There's no money in that. Problem is converting existing copper wireline (including cable) to fibre is a massive expense. Then there's the maintenance, ie replacing poles, having linemen in Wichita and elsewhere who can climb poles and fix kit when there's storm damage, accidents or rural types taking potshots at it.. And regulation can make that worse, ie letting a competitor have access before you've recovered costs.
Which is why the Idaho model makes sense. It recognises it's a big investment and only really makes sense if you can treat it as a common/public good, ie subsidising the remote/rural connections. Towns have some flexibility given they get to upgrade their own telecomms infrastructure for all public works & services and save money not renting that off various telcos.. But it's not perfect, ie I have an up to 80Mbps GPON connection here in the UK, but 10Mbps is a lot more than a lot of US 'broadband' consumers can get affordably. And it makes it easier for a forward-thinking muni to do more e-government stuff and services.
Or just promote the benefits of Idaho living.. Why spend $4,000 a month renting in SF and putting up with Comcast when you could move to Idaho, enjoy a more relaxed and affordable life, and still Skype friends on the West coast.. Which may also mean attracting more businesses who find it hard to attract & retain staff in the big cities.
I have to, at least partially, disagree about rolling out fibre is too expensive. I live in Atlantic Canda and here there are basically two physical wire service providers. One was the tradition phone company using twisted copper pair and the other the cable tv using coax.
So, as Internet speeds and tv programs increased in bandwidth requirement the coax provider was kicking the ass of the twisted pair provider. The twisted pair provider decided to run FTTH damn near everywhere in Atlantic Canada and are now the prefer provider in the area. They run fibre past 90-95% of the population in a largely rural and harsh environment. To hear other ISP/Telco/TV providers say it's too expensive seems to me to be a lie. Keep in mind that Atlantic Canada is also, typically, the most economically depressed area of Canada.
Atlantic Canada taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Canada
"The population of the four Atlantic provinces in 2016 was about 2,300,000 on half a million km2. The provinces combined had an approximate GDP of $121.888 billion in 2011. "
sorry, replying to myself to add comparisons:
The State of Maine from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine#Population
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the population of Maine was 1,338,404... on 35,385 sq mi (91,646 km2).
The country of England from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/England
Area 130,279 km2 (50,301 sq mi) Population 2017 estimate 55,619,400
That so many don't have fibre run past them is a function of corporate greed. One might even consider that a little collusion might be thrown in.
Collusion? Kinda, or just politics. So Canada's duopoly of Bell Canada and Rogers. Some historic, some regulatory capture by controlling or awarding cable & telecomms licences. Then throw in some tradition, ie cable being TV and TP being telephony. Cable operators had it good given they'd get content deals in exchange for subscriptions. Theoretically creating a virtuous circle where revenues fund expansion and upgrades, and everyone is happy.
Then along came Netflix and other OTT services that shoved a large spanner in the business models and meant that consumers unbundled services. Pay Bell or Rogers for broadband, pay Netflix etc for 'TV', and subscriptions paid directly to OTT providers don't go towards funding that access infrastructure. So traditional providers get faced with shrinking revenues, and rising costs. And saying this is perhaps not right raises the spectre of 'Net Neutrality', which is a lobby group with very deep pockets. Mostly the OTT providers. Funny that.
So the economics are tougher. To stick fibre into a premise, first dig your fibre. Fibre's cheap, the civils to trench, duct and pull it aren't, and vary based on distance, terrain, wayleaves crossed etc etc. Which is and always will be the problem with rural fibre. But then add $100 of tin for a NID/ONT and congratulations, you have fibre broadband. Civils may have cost you $20-30K, and you can now sell 1 customer a $40/month service.. Not great business.
Cable's a bit different given it is/was a multi-drop system where 1 coax loop could serve X properties. But geography also drives costs, ie in dense, urban areas you may get 200 subscribers sharing a loop and it's costs. Challenge with places like the US and Canada is plot sizes are typically larger than say, the UK so fewer subs/km of cable. And then your revenues decline if you can only sell your subscribers basic Internet.
That's where you get the challenges like '90-95% fibre homes passed'. The top 5 metros in Atlantic Canada contain >50% of the population, so cable those and call it good. Run a farm of live in a nice, remote coastal plot (damn you Canadians and your landscapes! (eh?)) and you might get an offer of that $20-30K connection charge.
So there's regulatory levers. Over 100yrs ago, cost of rural telephony was recognised, so mechanisms like 'USO' implemented as a levy (tax) on urban subcribers to fund rural services. But that's traditionally been on telephony, and expansion to include contributions from OTT providers have been vigourousy resisted, usually under the guise of 'Net Neutrality'.. Which doesn't result in any money to fund rural rollouts, so rural customers remain screwed (or Roger'd?).
Which leaves other options, like Idaho, or other towns that have done their own muni thing.. And given it's a civils issue in more than just the construction sense, is a public good. They control zoning, planning & permitting and are also large network users. So treat broadband as public works and a public good and JFDI. Collect revenues from subscribers, or leasing connections to other service providers and USO or other government subsidies and you've got a simple system where you can mandate fibre connectivity for new builds, and add infrastructure along with your road works. And probably save some money there not having multiple competitors digging up your nicely upgraded streets.
(and oddly, I'd looked at a semi-retirement project doing that around PEI a few years ago. The local government thought it was a good idea, but the finances less so. Now, with pressure from OTT and the likes of Google realising infrastructure provision is a PITA, there's probably more funding opportunities and less pressure from competitors. It's also not particularly hard given towns/states generally have all the resources you need from the planning/construction side, and can more easily see the benefits.)
Meanwhile, in Canada, our Bell telco is busy rolling trucks all over the place, installing fiber. In 2014 they rolled down our road at several kmh to offer service to a mere dozen house on a 1km stretch of road (multi-acre lots), over 1.5km (a mile) from the previous neighbourhood. That whole stretch didn't take very long to install. Conclusion: installing fiber onto poles isn't really that difficult.
Presently paying about C$160/month (~US$120) for 1.5 Gbps, a very lovely phone service, and a Fibe TV PVR box with 100+ channels that rarely gets used.
Get Pai on the phone and have him file an injunction against it ASAP! Isn’t that what we pay him for?
Call it the Internet Freedom and Competition Bill.
No, not the Internet Freedom Anti Competition Bill. And Competition. Must I do everything here, for a measly $20M/yr?
Joe Ceeheeho @ Big Corp
$50/mo for gigabit connections is about twice as much as it would cost if corrupt politicians in DC hadn't given away the networks and ruined the franchise system in place for cable TV. Running internet wires to houses is a natural monopoly just like running power or water lines. We don't expect to have two water utilities "compete", since most people only really have one decent choice and sometimes not even that. We should go back to allowing localities to award a franchise for internet service in their jurisdiction, then have everybody use the same network just like power or water.
Local govt wouldn't need to fork over money to build the network. Then TV, phone, home security, etc could all compete on equal footing. Unregulated monopolies are abusive, which is why everybody hates Comcast.
"Running internet wires to houses is a natural monopoly..."
With light-weight and very thin fiber optic bundles, it doesn't necessarily have to be. A wooden telephone pole could easily support multiple service providers.
The shame is that doing it three times in parallel would force fiscal efficiency.
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