back to article House Republicans introduce legislation for outright ban on municipal broadband in the US

House Republicans this week proposed legislation that would ban the creation of municipal broadband networks at a federal level, and shutter networks in areas where some private competition exists – purportedly to improve internet access across the US. Dubbed the CONNECT Act (Communities Overregulating Networks Need Economic …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    Anyone surprised?

    Anything that benefits the average American is just crazy socialeest commie talk!

    And why not screw the average American? After all, they have the worst Stockholm Syndrome in the world the biggest death cult! It's just stupid to leave money on the table, as the American saying goes.

    1. crowbuddy

      Re: Anyone surprised?

      The problem is that elections are financed by contributions from corporations.

      The solution is to change the law so that elections are financed by the federal government with contributions to candidates from corporations made illegal. You cannot get the existing legislators to implement this since they are already owned by the corporations (see first paragraph). The solution is to get 2/3 of the *states* to implement a constitutional amendment to get this accomplished. This is already in process - some states already fund their election candidates for state elections. It involves a lot of work but is *do-able*.

      See this site for the program to get 2/3 of US states to change the US constitution:

      https://wolf-pac.com

      1. runt row raggy

        Re: Anyone surprised?

        "The problem is that _electrons_ are financed by contributions from corporations."

        there, ftfy; or that's what i read. take your pick.

    2. Justin Clements

      Re: Anyone surprised?

      Screw the average American? Look at the price of water from municipal owned companies and it's far higher than private companies.

      We live on the edge of two districts. 1 mile over and we'd get water from the local county owned company for twice the amount we pay for water from a private company. Right now, we pay something like $12 a month. Our local water company has been offered millions to sell out, and when they do, first thing that will happen is our water bill doubles, and every one here knows that.

      The whole problem in places like Detroit was that our $12pm is closer to $60-70pm and a lot more if you actually have a family. Again, municipal owned. Not to mention Flint whose own municipally owned company poisoned them to save money.

      And check out electricity prices, privately owned companies here in Florida are cheaper than the municipal owned utilities. Just like water.

      So enough of this idea that a centrally publicly owned utility is somehow always cheaper and more beneficial.

  2. VicMortimer

    What SHOULD happen is a ban on private companies providing broadband service and nationalization of all ISPs.

    For-profit business should not be allowed to supply critical infrastructure.

    Of course what we need even more urgently is for that to happen to healthcare. The state of healthcare in the US is abysmal.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      For a country that seems to flinch at the mention of socialism, suggesting a ban on private companies providing broadband service and nationalisation of all ISPs seems extreme.

      What the US desperately needs is competition - two many cities and states are still stuck with telco/cable monopolies where informal agreements mean one of the options is either stupidly expensive, slow/costly to install or only offers the bare minimum speed so you are left with one provider. Force companies using those agreements to provide unbundled services to competitors (i.e. similar to OpenReach) to start to give all Americans decent Internet access. The OpenReach model isn't ideal (the UK is far too dependent on one provider) but its a damn sight better than paying for expensive bundles.

      This doesn't address issues in larger cities that already have competition but generally they will have a selection of high speed services available. Providing a viable operating model across the country rather than effective monopolies is a good start.

      1. oiseau Silver badge
        Stop

        What the US desperately needs is competition - two many cities and states are still stuck with telco/cable monopolies ...

        What?

        Surely you jest ... or drank the wrong tea this morning.

        They have been through that for the last what ... 50/60 years?

        Incentives, absurd tax breaks and all sort of political malarkey® have resulted in what is happening today and the net result is that they have grown larger, richer and more powerful.

        Enough is enough.

        Corporations have long ago set up camp in what is (and will always be) natural monopolies, communications is just one of many others, like public health. Look at the UK today: it is nothing but the poster child of the absolute failure of the private sector in public services.

        For the private sector, the only permanent objective is to expand and increase profits.

        And they have shown to be capable of doing anything towards that goal ie: no means to that effect are spared, only the inefficient ones.

        eg: can you be so naïve as to think that BigPharma gives a monkey's toss about saving the world from Covid? Or Telcos about improving broadband?

        Need to cite more examples?

        It's all about the revenue, always.

        Nothing else, the system was designed to work that way.

        Public services cannot/should not be in the hands of the private sector.

        In todays' world, any communication service is a Public Service and should be heavily regulated by the state and if municipal broadband, so be it.

        Unless these bastards are reined in ASAP, we're all (ie: worldwide) screwed big time.

        O.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        What the US desperately needs is competition - two many cities and states are still stuck with telco/cable monopolies where informal agreements mean one of the options is either stupidly expensive, slow/costly to install or only offers the bare minimum speed so you are left with one provider.

        I kind of disagree. The US is where it is partly as a result of the breakup of Ma Bell that created regional operators and monopolies. Then competition created mutiple operators fighting over the most lucrative areas. Or sometimes service provision being blocked by regulation, a bit like in the UK where Hull kind of exists in it's own mini-muni-monopoly. Or the UK's cable TV industry, where licences were awarded by region, then were promptly assimiliated into Virgin.

        But this has lead to situations where there's pretty much a de-facto monopoly in services due to an incumbent being there first, or massive overbuild where multiple operators chase the same customers. Which then leads to fun given telco services being newest, so given the shallowest burial layer, which means roads covered in a layer of ducts, making servicing gas/water/electricity layers more fun. So more backhoe-fade.

        Or just large amounts of money being wasted through overbuild. Or because of constant roadworks leading to disruption, 'stops' put on roads so they can't be dug up for X years for new provisions.

        And then there's fun around USO (Universal Service Obligations), which are a tax/fee levied on connnections that's intended to support/subsidise rural provision, but often doesn't. Or can mean small rural/muni operators that create their own local monopolies and consumers might still not get a great service.

        But such is politics. Personally, I've long been a believer that broadband infrastructure is/should be a natural monopoly. Which is kind of like Openreach. They lay the fibre, then wholesale it to providers who run services over the top. Then it's one butt to kick & regulate, and/or award USO money to to do the rural provision. Which isn't always perfect, eg we ended up with the BBC holding a large purse due to DSO costs being lower than predicted.

        So personally, I really like muni-networks. Going through the planning & civils stuff to provision a customer a 1Gbps IP-ish service is expensive, time consuming and a general ball-ache. But it's allowed me to create traffic jams. Munis have responsibility for stuff like roads, bridges and other public utilities, so why should broadband be any different? It would be cheaper & less disruptive to add ducts as roads are resurfaced or improved, and if that means I could order a 1Gbps Ethernet-ish, I could provision customer services across it faster than if I had to lay my own fibre.

        Regulation would be relatively simple, ie mandate G.984 compliance, competition at the services layer, and cost+ or LRIC pricing. Ok, not entirely perfect given some aspects of G.984 being a bit vague, but technically, that doesn't matter too much if the line interface is Ethernet and the services are via a router. Some years back I looked at doing this on Martha's Vineyard, which was doing some major road resurfacing & improvements. Muni broadband made sense given it's an island.

        But basically it seems a more sensible and capital-efficient way of solving broadband provisioning challenges like the high costs involved in rural provision. And if munis can do it for water & drainage provision, why not bit-pipes as well?

        1. Gary Stewart

          Re: AT&T breakup

          All but two (if I remember correctly) of those regional operators were bought by another regional operator, Southwestern Bell. Which then, with enough irony to rebuild civilization as we know it, renamed themselves to AT&T.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: AT&T breakup

            Which then, with enough irony to rebuild civilization as we know it, renamed themselves to AT&T.

            Students of history will know that the Empire always tries to rebuild the Death Star. Or as Ash knows, the undead will always try to re-assemble themselvs, no matter how many limbs you lop off. But that's also been part of the problem for the US, ie various M&A activities have required some divestment, which hasn't always helped competition. Telcos are often quite happy to divest low margin/expensive infrastructure, as long as they keep more lucrative services.

            (Which in a 'net Neutrality sense, is also part of the problem, ie lots of competition for service revenues frequently isn't translated into infrastructure upgrades or expansion.. But that's a whole 'nother can of political worms.)

        2. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

          Fortunately in many places we don’t have Outreach monopoly, or broadband will be shit everywhere.

          I am with Virgin and in my area you can choose between two - OpenReach infrastructure and Virgin media infrastructure.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            ... yes but Openreach allows others like Zen Internet, Sky, Talk-Talk, Vodafone etc with LLU and reselling.

            If your Virgin performs more like a work out old scrubber are stuck and they don’t allow any competitor ‘equivalence’ access.

          2. NeilPost Silver badge

            Or perhaps some Mobile Broadband from 3/BT/Voda/EE with a MiFi and Unlimited SIM if your 4G Infra is ok.

            1. Caver_Dave
              Megaphone

              Doesn't help us who have to use WiFi calling onthe mobile at home, because of no mobile coverage.

              This is despite the claims of the mobile industry that we have excellent coverage and their refusal to come to the Parish Council and demonstrate it working.

              They lie at such a level that they may have political aspirations!

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "I am with Virgin and in my area you can choose between two - OpenReach infrastructure and Virgin media infrastructure."

            The difference is that Openreach will likely provide a 24Mbps ADSL/76Mbps VDSL service (and maybe more) to compete with the various Virgin offerings.

            In America, if you find one of the lucky locations, you'll have 2Mbps ADSL or the cable offerings. In towns and cities. It's even worse in rural areas. Remember dial up and 14k4 because the line doesn't support higher speeds? Mobile data it is then...

          4. Adelio Silver badge

            We have the same, but citry fibre seem to be close to opening up for business in Huddersfield. Main ducking is in and around us they have just blown in the fibre. Hopefully sometime this year we will start getting leaflet drops about their "fantastic" deals. I use Virgin Phone and broadband, works quite well 200mb. City fibre, if i used their phone looks like they require me to have a new number (NOT HAPPENING)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "But this has lead to situations where there's pretty much a de-facto monopoly in services due to an incumbent being there first, or massive overbuild where multiple operators chase the same customers."

          The majority of the issues lay in states where there "appears" to be agreements in-place between cable companies and the telcos - areas where the telcos only off sub-2Mbps DSL and all "high-speed" offerings are from the cable companies. It isn't a case of over build - the telco has left their infrastructure at late-90s level investment and let cable companies charge whatever they want. And there is usually

          In other areas, you have city/regional agreements where competition is kept out to allow the telco or cable company to recoup their investment from the 1980's/1990's.

          I'm not against muni-networks, my point is more in the "have not" areas where the telcos/cable companies are still ripping people off.

          Note: this is based on operating multiple 50+ US office WANs in the US. In the major cities you are generally spoilt for choice aside from the usual issues you hit globally (difficult access to buildings/overcapacity issues pending an upgrade/landlord or other restrictions on getting new services into a building). When you have the choice between $100/month for 50Mbps cable, $100/month for 50Mbps cable and a free mobile phone or $250/month for 2Mbps DSL with no committed install date you've found one of those areas.

          According to EFF there are around 500 such regions in the US and its not just a geography issue.

      3. ThatOne Silver badge

        > the US desperately needs is competition

        Unfortunately that's just the US illusion of "simple competition cures all". While it does help in theory, in reality competition is never simple and never healthy. It does require regulation, simply because businesses will naturally always try to go the path of the least expenditure, and that usually means killing the small competitors and signing non-aggression pacts with the ones you can't kill. Why compete when you can rule, it's so much more profitable.

        The result is very well illustrated in the US telecom market, where the big actors have carved up the country, distributed the juicy parts among themselves and thrown away the least interesting pieces, and will henceforth try to block any newcomer from establishing himself - even if he doesn't really compete with them. Just in case.

        That's exactly what's happening here, the telecom industry's henchmen are trying to pass yet another law to make sure nothing might eventually one day disturb their masters' unchallenged reign. In the name of free enterprise of course, because Americans are trained on catchwords.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      nationalization of all ISPs.

      I assume you didn't live through the period in the UK when phone service was provided by the nationalised GPO? No investment, party lines, 300bps modems as standard and illegal to connect your own equipment? The one thing worse than a private monopoly is a state-owned monopoly.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Indeed. My Aunt and Uncle lived in the USA for a while and when they moved back in to a new build house in the 70s were quoted anything from 6 months to never to get the phone line connected. It took letters to the MP to get them connected "promptly". To this day most ISPs take little to no responsibility for faults, instead blaming Openreach (Looking at you TalkTalk).

        On a similar idea as suggested above of the Openreach model (infrastructure provided and maintained by one body but used by another) I'll refer you to the disaster that is Network Rail. They are of course far from the only issue with the current franchise system but every TOC pretty much agrees that separating the infrastructure from the companies that actually use it is a bad idea.

        1. Barrie Shepherd

          "but every TOC pretty much agrees that separating the infrastructure from the companies that actually use it is a bad idea."

          Well they would wouldn't they - anything to detract from the shambles of franchising and their own management failings.

          NR have to manage multiple TOCs (and freight) on shared infrastructure historically starved of investment, by privatised Railtrack, and undersized for todays expectations. Openreach rose from the private entity British Telecom who were directly responsible for starving the countries telecoms infrastructure in favour of Dividends.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            in favour of Dividends.

            Businesses have various ways of raising money for investment, they can borrow from a bank and pay interest, they can sell shares and pay dividends, or they can be nationalised and be financed by raising taxes. There's nothing inherently wrong in paying dividends to investors who have risked their money, and arguably it's a lot better than paying interest to bankers.

            BT also decided not to pay dividends this fiscal year, due to the economic climate. Try telling your bank that you've decided not to pay their interest charges, and see what happens.

            The real question is what they spend the money they raise on, and BT's investment and profit figures aren't that different to other companies of its size. Unlike some of the venture capital-financed unicorn companies they actually have a valid business model.

      2. CuChulainn Silver badge

        when phone service was provided by the nationalised GPO

        Part of the problem in the UK, though, is that BT's origins go back to the mid-1800s, and encompass the GPO, along with a multitude of other brands under nationalisation.

        The theory - which worked fine once upon a time - is that there is one super-provider for the entire country.

        In reality, though, cracks appeared, and competition - initially with Mercury - came on the scene. However, much of the UK is still reliant on BT's (and all it's previous incarnations') infrastructure, and that's what the likes of Mercury were stuck with. A lot of people would like not to be, but even if they go with Sky or anyone else, it's still the BT cables they're channelling. BT is just too big. And many an El Reg commentard has had stories to tell about the runaround they get as a result of that.

        I get the impression that on the left side of the pond, they have similar issues at a State level.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          much of the UK is still reliant on BT's (and all it's previous incarnations') infrastructure, and that's what the likes of Mercury were stuck with

          They weren't "stuck with" anything, those companies were fully entitled to install their own infrastructure. Some did, for example working with the railways to take advantage of existing wayleaves, and Mercury bought the London Hydraulic Company so that they could use their pipes to run fibre, but in most cases it simply wasn't commercially viable to build a separate network so they chose to rent from BT. Various governments forced BT to rent infrastructure at cost price to them, to prevent them from blocking competition. Companies like Virgin do install their own networks, repurposing their cable TV services to offer internet as well, but not many are big enough to do that.

          1. CuChulainn Silver badge

            but in most cases it simply wasn't commercially viable to build a separate network so they chose to rent from BT

            That was precisely the point.

            If you can't afford to build your own network, and have to rent from the endemic network provider, then you have been 'stuck with' that. It was ultimately a major reason why Mercury failed, since it meant users had more complicated procedures to make a call - even though the same wires were being used - and people merely stayed with BT.

            It's also worth remembering what the economy was like at the time in the early 80s.

            Like it or not, the sheer size and scope of the BT network is a major stumbling block to competition. It certainly was in the early 80s.

      3. Warm Braw Silver badge

        I'm not quite sure why this was so heavily voted down - I did live through that period and the service was terrible and the prices were eye-watering. And not just comms. Water companies were largely locally or municipally-owned and were still almost universally dumping raw sewage into bathing waters while local worthies had comfortable sinecures on their boards.

        On the other hand, the reason Post Office Telephones came about in the first place was that the skies of major cities were becoming invisible owing to the festoons of wiring of competing private telephone companies. And the reason for municipal water companies was to deal with cholera and similar public health emergencies in increasingly crowded cities.

        There's always going to be tension between public utility and private profit but we do really need both. The problem is 'established interests' - whether political or commercial - and in particular attempting to enshrine them in law.

    3. Dimmer

      Rural connectivity.

      My experience with rural connectivity:

      Governments manage, they don’t build

      A local government entity has $100s of thousands granted to them to create the method to create the information on how to determine what broad band is available. They have been at this stage for 7 years.

      Big telco / cable will not build. Not enough profit in it.

      Federal grants are never used for the last mile. Only city to city fiber where there is already connectivity.

      Co-ops work great, IF you have the right ones running it.

      So the current and best solution is created by us, the readers and posters of this form. We built the damm thing ourselves. We put up towers, use everything from 900mhz to 2.5ghz. What ever it took and we did not see a single penny from any government entity. So as far as I am concerned, they can just leave us alone and they can build their own if they think they can.

      I am looking forward to Elon’s planetary shield / LEO internet satellite service. The government is not building that one either.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I just ran a speed test

      This is what I pay about $110 a month for (includes landline phone) at my home in rural northern Illinois. Other than satellite, this is the only game in town

      Internet speed test

      Megabits per second

      .

      1.30

      Mbps download

      0.26

      Mbps upload

      Latency: 12 ms

      Server: Chicago

      Your Internet connection is very slow.

      Your Internet download speed is very low. Web browsing should work, but videos could load slowly.

      I have a business across the state line in Sharon, Wisconsin. Most of rural Wisconsin is in the same boat, except this town has one of the last privately-owned phone companies in the Midwest. They have used state subsidies and grants to lay in fiber throughout the area. Blazing fast speed at $49 a month for internet only connection. I download what I want to watch from Amazon Prime there, and watch it offline at home. Would I use their landline service? No, that is relatively expensive, so I have a cell phone that is my business phone, from the ONE provider that actually gives a reliable signal in this small town (another story).

    5. Robert Grant Silver badge

      This is what you need to do when there is no more progress to be made. New stuff can't compete if current stuff is mandatory.

  3. The Kraken

    The Republican Party seems to be composed of idiots.

    Key state-owned utilities including water, electricity, railways and transport must have their own private communications to ensure they can continue to operate the infrastructure during (say) a state-wide loss of power (as happened in Texas). Otherwise the results can be ugly - and catastrophic:

    - fresh water stops flowing to urban residents,

    - sewage systems fail and overflow (every thought about what could go wrong in a tower block of apartments ?)

    - the signalling systems to operate trains, trams buses fail, and the vehicles stop.

    - electricity networks unable to be reconfigured to prepare them for when the power is restored;

    What's more when utilities lay fibre invariably they install a huge number of spare cores (the cable is peanuts compared to the cost of ploughing the ground) and lease the spare capacity to telecommunications carriers - to offset the cost of installing and maintaining their private network.

    TVA is one such example, there would be many more in the US.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      see Texas private electricity

      Texas electricity system is free market:

      "As Texas deep freeze subsides, some households now face electricity bills as high as $10,000"

      https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/deep-freeze-subsides-texans-now-face-electricity-bills-10-000-n1258362

      "Griddy's prices are controlled by the market, and are therefore vulnerable to sudden swings in demand. With the extreme weather, energy usage has soared, pushing up wholesale power prices to more than $9,000 per megawatt hour — compared to the seasonal average of $50 per megawatt hour."

      So, people buy their electricity from a private market seller, Griddy, and Griddy charges whatever the market prices it at, currently 180 times the normal price. Enron mk II.

      If you want to fix it, you have to fix the easy-to-rig paperless voting machines that keep electing scum like Ted Cruz. You have to stop their voter suppression methods, e.g. one ballot drop box for 2 million people in an inner city that votes Democrat / only old people can vote by mail / polling stations only accessible to people with their own cars, and many many other vote rigging tricks.

      Remember that $1 trillion infrastructure bill Republicans killed, a couple of years back? See those dams that are structurally unsound? Its inevitable. Yet it's like the 8th most urgent thing that Biden needs to fix right now. Texas and its failed third world electricity grid are perhaps the 30th most urgent Republican failure to fix.

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: see Texas private electricity

        If you signed up for a spot-market price plan for electricity in a deregulated arena, you had better know what you are doing. They didn't know what they were doing. I think this is called a marketing success for Griddy!

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: see Texas private electricity

          If you signed up for a spot-market price plan for electricity in a deregulated arena, you had better know what you are doing. They didn't know what they were doing. I think this is called a marketing success for Griddy!

          Yup. The UK has it's own versions, eg Octopus's spot pricing. Sometimes consumers win, sometimes they lose. But given the potential losses, something that should probably be better regulated. Texan businesses will no doubt be looking at similar large bills unless they hedged.

          I suspect it'll be a growing problem, especially as politicians seem to love the idea of 'flexible' tariffs and demand management.. Which is most easily done via those flexible tariffs. And also potentially very profitable. But 'competition' in utilities has always been wierd given it's usually just competition for billing. If I switch water, gas or electricity supplies, the origin of the stuff in the pipes doesn't change.

          But such is politics. Utilities are (or should be) natural monopolies and despite decades of 'de-regulation', competition hasn't really benefitted customers. So prices continue to rise, not fall.. Probably with the exception of telecomms, ie competition to route voice traffic did lead to pretty dramatic call cost reductions. But that's technically a simple shark-infested swamp to compete in.

          1. Pseu Donyme

            Re: natural monopoly

            Indeed, the physical network (at least the part reaching the end users) is very much a natural monopoly (like electric networks, waterworks, sewers, roads, ...), a waste of resources to duplicate even in densely populated areas, never mind rural areas. Hence the only sensible way to build and run such infrastructure (which, moreover tends to be rather critical infrastructure) is to run it as a public utility. This usually means having some public body responsible for building and mainlining it. This could be a municipality, especially where the "last mile" is the problem. The actual work can/should be outsourced to private companies, which - done right - would bring in some competition to that part as well. Also providing services over the physical network can/should be under competition; the Swedes did something along these lines: the fiber network itself is public, but the ISPs offering service on it are private (which I understand has worked quite well with the desired result of combining universal availability even in rural areas with reasonable overall cost).

          2. Adelio Silver badge

            Re: see Texas private electricity

            But it also means that the markets can and have been rigged by the producers. Which should NOT be able to happen. But then this is Texas!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: see Texas private electricity

        You also have to apply the same standards to the recall that's currently in progress for CA governor Newsom. Good luck with that.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Quote:

      "The Republican Party seems to be composed of idiots."

      No it isn't, its composed of some very clever people bought entirely by the corporate lobbies

      hence bills like this.

      How do they get the votes in then? easy... use words like 'freedom' 'patriotism' 'flag waving' 'evil socialism' , 'low taxes' , "support our troops" and then claim the democrats are going to enslave the population in gulags, force everyone to worship <insert whatever is seen as evil of the week>, and kill all our babies.

      1. Gary Stewart

        Re: House Republicans

        You forgot the real biggie, "take our guns"!

      2. Citizen of Nowhere

        Clever people bought entirely by the corporate lobbies

        Don't the lobbyists just write the bills themselves these days? Thus obviating any requirement for the politicians to display even minimal levels of "clever".

    3. Rich 2 Silver badge

      Republicans

      What I find staggering is the constant and open way the Republican Party goes out of its way to shaft the American public. They really do go out of their way to fuck up anything that may be vaguely beneficial to the country as a whole. Whether it’s preventing health care, preventing internet access, preventing any kind of inherent right of privacy, etc etc etc.

      And they do it so openly and brazenly. And people STILL vote for them!!! It’s one well fucked-up country.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Republicans

        And they do it so openly and brazenly. And people STILL vote for them!!! It’s one well fucked-up country.

        But the fruits of other people's labour are the sweetest. And it's not just a red/blue thing. All US politicians seem to love pork, and the Dems are as bad, if not worse. See the mulit-trillion $$ plans for the 'Green New Deal'.

        1. Jim Mitchell

          Re: Republicans

          There is a distinct difference between pork and banned municipal broadband.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Republicans

            There is a distinct difference between pork and banned municipal broadband.

            Not really. There are huge barrels of pork being prepared. One's the current 'Covid' budget package, which is about 10% spending on Covid stuff, the rest of the $1tn or so for other purposes. Then the proposed 'Green New Deal', which is many trillions for infrastructure build/rebuild. And calls for 'broadband for all', which is a good thing given being offline rather limits what people can do.

            But broadband is a public good. So Covid's meant schools closing, and education switched to remote learning. Obviously there's a dependency on kids having devices & connectivity, otherwise they're excluded from the education system. Which is problematic for the poorest part of the population. If they can't afford remote learning, their education will suffer, and thus any job prospects. And it's not just kids given there's a huge amount of adult educational stuff online as well.

            There are also improvements that could be made to things like USO given AFAIK in the US, that still only applies to phone lines. So people switching to broadband don't pay into the USO fund(s), so less money to support/subsidise rural services.

            But there's also the argument that it's not something munis should be doing, or they should just award local monopolies to mini-ISPs that might not provide a good service. But at the state & local level, PUCs have quite a lot of power. They mostly own the road, planning regulations & permitting, so have an ability to drop in quad polypipe ducting for fibre. That would take a while given not every road is worked on every year, but eventually it'll all come together. It's also pretty much how Level3 came about and some other providers, ie initially road construction/civil engineering outfits that morphed into telcos.

            But such is politics. States and counties already have the powers to do muni/state-wide solutions, and can also override/ignore (some?) Federal edicts. Not entirely sure how that works, but seems to have been a thing States like Alaska have been doing to err.. Trump Federal gun control laws. So again, I think muni-networks are a great idea, providing they're built to national standards, and open to competition. It would also have potential benefits, ie states or counties could subsidise basic broadband for low income household (or trailerholds) and hook that into some distance learning packages.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Republicans

              If the education suffers, they will be more people ready to accept the jobs that are currently filled in by filthy Mexicans!

              A huge WIN for National-Capitalism!!!

              1. Adelio Silver badge

                Re: Republicans

                Watched a program today about California and temp workers in fields.

                Land owner said they set up a site to encourage Americans to work in the fields instead. they got millions of hits, only 4 people turned up and there were none left at the end of the day.

                So "americans" do not like the idea of being paid apallingly bad wages and doing many hours of back breaking labour. And then they complain about people taking american jobs!.

                Well if America had a decent enforced minimum wage that people could actually live on. But hey, that would take money our of the poor corporations/farmers pockets.

                But then if America had reasonable healthcare and internet and utilities....

                1. Graybyrd
                  Trollface

                  Re: Republicans

                  So "americans" do not like the idea of being paid apallingly bad wages and doing many hours of back breaking labour. And then they complain about people taking american jobs!."

                  Unless, of course, they are Americans age 50 yrs or more who are engaged in the new American retirement plan: living in camper vans, enrolled in Amazon's "Camperforce" program, doing 12-hour warehouse shifts stowing and retrieving holiday sales stock. They are the new "migrant labor" resulting from the American 401K retirement system and the collapse of the Middle Class since the 2008 "oops" moment in American Capitalism.

      2. AK565

        Re: Republicans

        Part of the problem is that the Republicans know that they can say almost anything and it won't be questioned. As in, they don't even have to make any sense or be factually accurate. OTOH, the Dems are saddled with having to make at least a modicum of sense and some degree of coherence to sell themselves/their platform to their electorate. Republicans have no such worries.

    4. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      The Republican Party seems to be composed of idiots.

      Hmm ...

      Seems?

      The Republican Party seems to be is composed of idiots.

      There, fixed it for you.

      But they are not all idiots.

      A great many of them are just millionaire delinquents living comfortaby inside the deep pockets of corporations.

      O.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        A great many of them are just millionaire delinquents living comfortaby inside the deep pockets of corporations.

        That's a bit unfair. Hunter Biden and Chris Heinz are just ordinary, hard working Americans..

      2. AK565

        You should see when Republican congressmen have to actually explain or debate something. More often than not it's clear in two minutes they know nothing about the topic in question. TBH, the Dems often aren't much better. However, that ' not much' is usually enough to make them look stunningly well informed in comparison.

    5. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      - sewage systems fail and overflow (every thought about what could go wrong in a tower block of apartments ?)

      Or offices. I was in a 45 story tower, doing some of nature's business and pondering plumbing. So if the building was 300m tall, and 1 atmosphere is 10m of water(ish), and there was a blockage then failure of any back-pressure valve.. How large a dent in the ceiling might some poor unfortunate make on a ground floor cubicle ceiling?

      Some people watch YT on the khazi, I ponder engineering challenges..

    6. Dimmer

      Electric company network

      Oncore has their own internet. Look at a high voltage power line - the top ground line has fiber in it. They also lease bandwidth, but it is not as reliable as carriers because red neck hunters get bored and take pot shots at the ground wire.

      Other Swepco has towers for point to point.

  4. Blackjack Silver badge

    Great way to lose voters

    Taking away people Internet is not something poor Republicans will forgive.

    1. John Savard Silver badge

      Re: Great way to lose voters

      I don't think that this is a particular concern. The phrase "poor Republican" almost qualifies as an oxymoron.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Great way to lose voters

        I think it was a typo, "poor profitable Republican"

      2. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Great way to lose voters

        Look at the list of what groups voted for Trump and say that again.

      3. Boo Radley

        Re: Great way to lose voters

        The vast majority of Republicans are poor, but they constantly vote against their own interests just they can get their way on abortion, "religious freedom" and hurting all non-white and non-straight people.

        1. genghis_uk Silver badge

          Re: Great way to lose voters

          And guns... don't forget the 2nd Amendment rights that Dems would rob them of (without any evidence that they would)

          There are a lot of poor Republicans - look at Trump's 'base'. Unfortunately, they are also the least educated and least likely to understand that they are being mugged by their politicians.

          I saw a program at the start of Trump's presidency where the guy living in the woods with his wife and kid was praising Trump for the tax break. He was a few dollars a month better off and didn't care that millionaires were significantly better off - the handful of dollars made a difference to him so he loved Trump. You can't fault the guy's logic but the fact that his education and living standards were awful as a result of politicians failing his family and others like him did not register. Ignorance can be bliss I suppose

    2. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      "Taking away people Internet"

      Who needs internet when you can fill your closet with guns and rifles? That what matters to the average rural Republican - you know, in case you are assaulted by Geronimo, Billy the Kid, some zombies, Darth Vader... try to stop them with your FTTH router!

  5. John Savard Silver badge

    Pity

    ...that the United States Constitution might stand in the way of the Democratic members of the House and Senate passing a bill prohibiting any attempt by any State to restrict or prohibit municipal broadband.

    1. Pseu Donyme

      Re: Pity

      It seems this might have quite a bit to do with regulating interstate commerce though?

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Not the Constitution

      but the GOP controlled SCOTUS

      The same SCOTUS that has sat on the appeal by Trump against the court order to turn over his tax returns for over 4 months. I suspect that they'll keep it on the back burner until the Statute of limitations on his 2016 Election Campain grift runs out i.e. when he paid Michael Cohen around 1st Aug 2017 money to keep Stormy quiet.

    3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Pity

      Would the Constitution prevent passing a law forbidding Republicans to subscribe to municipal networks?

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Pity

      Uhm... what?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why municipal?

    If congresscritters really wanted to foster competition, they'd propose some laws that banned local governments and municipalities from granting regional monopolies to ISPs.

    But what it don't understand is why so many people want municipal ISPs? The popular demand is clearly there, so why don't a group of local residents (or several such groups) just get together and set up a local ISPs as a private corporation - co-op, non-profit, public-good, or whatever form suits them best?

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Why municipal?

      I suspect it comes down to investment. It costs a lot of money to set up. And no matter the good will, poor areas just won't be able to afford it.

      1. hoopsa

        Re: Why municipal?

        Yes, probably. We used to live in a remote part of Scotland with no adsl, and got a community group together to install a satellite link and local antennas to provide an adequate broadband service.

        It wasn’t cheap, and without a grant we couldn’t have done it.

        Then BT promised to bring ADSL to the area and under the terms of the grant we had to knock it on the head. Took them two years to follow through too, the bastards.

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Why municipal?

        I suspect it also comes down to wayleaves. Local authorities are in a unique position in that respect.

    2. Adelio Silver badge

      Re: Why municipal?

      Some people have, just in a very small way. As said. it usually costs a lot of money, more than most individuals can afford.

  7. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    This is an admission private sector ISPs are so inefficient they can't compete with the public sector. If they could offer better service for a lower price, you wouldn't need to ban the competition.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Not really. Just pragmatism. It's rather hard for a telco to justify spending $100k+ to dig fibre to a few farms or a small village, when revenue potential would be $20/month or less. And customers may be free to switch service provider after a minimum contract period is up. It's a much better investment case to run fibre to a block of 50 or 100+ apartments instead.

      (And of course apartment dwellers may find themselves being shafted by being tied into their building's service contract & limited option to switch.)

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        > Just pragmatism

        Well, one thing I've seen by traveling a lot, is that in Europe (Germany to be precise), they are apparently able and wiling to connect isolated houses in the boonies, far from any village, with fiber to the premises, even if the house owner did not want it, won't use it, and (thus) doesn't pay anything. Go figure - Apparently it can be done.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        "to justify spending $100k+ to dig fibre"

        Fibre can be deployed on poles too. It's funny in the past utilities could bring there roads, power, water, telephone but not fiber.

        Maybe Musk lobbied too to sell more Starlink contracts....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    follow the $

    "House Republicans this week proposed legislation that would ban the creation of municipal broadband networks at a federal level"

    Hmm.

    Now that Ajit is gone perhaps the telcos have extra money to spend for "campaign contributions" to members of the GOP?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    State's rights anyone?

    Ever notice how the Republicans scream about State's Rights until it doesn't benefit the paymasters? But it really doesn't matter, people will still keep them in office. Republicans have figured out the magic words to use to get people to vote against their best interests, time and time again.

    I've never felt more pessimistic about the future of the US as I do today. I had a rather sad conversation with my daughter the other day advising her to seriously consider moving to another country. I'm about done with my life and I'll deal with the decline (me and the country) on the way out, but she's got an entire life in front of her and I despair the future she and her family will face.

    We Americans love to tell ourselves stories. We pretend this will always be a great country. It hasn't been for quite a while, and it's only getting worse. I used to be a proud American. Now I'm just ashamed at what we've become and thankful that both my parents, who fought for this country in WWII, aren't alive to see how we've squandered their sacrifice.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crybabies have only themselves to blame

    All these loser Trumpoloon era Republicans, still all butt hurt their little fiasco of an insurrection to keep the fat one in office have been crying there's no place on the internet where their free speech is actually guaranteed, which is pretty municipal internet/cable with it's provided public access did, but oops, but they want to kill municipal internet at all costs. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

  11. msobkow Silver badge

    The amusing thing about the Republicans is every time you think they've sunk as low as they can go, next week they find a way to be even more depraved and greedy. It isn't a happy amusement, though, more of a sad head shake at the ignorance and foolishness of that lot. :(

  12. E 2

    Someone or some people got themselves a nice bundle of Bitcoins...

  13. Danny Boyd

    Extremely stupid move

    I wonder what prompted Republicans to come up with this idea? Lobbying from private providers? C'mon, those are small fish. Attempt to troll the Dems? Not at the cost of your reputation. Perplexing.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    It's what they do

    They are Republicans.

    The last four years have amply demonstrated what it is they do : shit on the Constitution, morals and the law whenever possible while favorising their billion-dollar corporate buddies.

    This is no longer a political party, it's a mafia.

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: It's what they do

      Please don't insult the Mafia - the Republican politicians are far worse.

      Even the worst of the Mafia were unlikely to deny health treatment to sick children, but the Republican politicians have done their best to deny cheap healthcare - all so that Big Pharma and the health insurance industry can get higher profits.

  15. HellDeskJockey-ret
    FAIL

    Don't you have an IT angle to the Ted Cruz "scandal"

    This bill was also introduced in the last congress. From looking at the history it is not going anywhere except to a congressional filing cabinet.

    Not even a good hit piece. Do better El Reg.

  16. Norman123

    Privatization has gone insane. Most privatized endeavors seem to cut corners, pass taxes to individuals, beg/force taxpayers bailouts (private profits/communist risk), fails to provide service at critical times (Texas blackouts/freez the latest fiasco), gouging consumers (again Texas price gouging 10,000%), are basically callous to human needs and life systems.

    Best to have critical services socialized, give private sector controlled profiteering before they destroy USA with never ending wars (transfer of funds to guns from bread while being the most powerful yet wasteful nation in history), destroy the planetary life system.....

  17. martinusher Silver badge

    Republicans -- the part of Freedom, Small Government and so on

    If you listen to the propaganda then you'll know that Republicans are in favor of small government, de-regulation, competitive markets and freedom in general.

    If you look what they do when they're in power you'll see that they're forever coming up with new laws to prevent people from doing stuff. There's the obvious -- abortion, contraception -- and bills like this that prevent competition to established interests.

    They're the party of hypocrites -- get the governmnet off my back unless there's a disaster when I need it to fix things for me (but don't ask me to pay for it).

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022