Dick Durbin Reaches Out to RedState

A new way of legislating

By Bluey Posted in Comments (123) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Last week Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.) kicked off what was a first-of-its-kind experiment in legislating. The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate asked ordinary citizens and experts in telecom policy to share their thoughts and ideas about a national broadband bill that he would soon be writing.

Over the course of four days, Durbin sought feedback on the liberal blog Open Left. While I applauded his initiative, I also encouraged him to reach out to conservatives as well. It's not that the Open Left discussion wasn't open -- anyone could participate -- but I know how the blogosphere works well enough to realize that conservatives probably weren't going to trek over to a liberal blog to engage in the conversation.

Much to my surprise, the criticism was met with a positive response from Dubrin's office. His communications director acknowledged the oversight and offered to post on RedState to get input from conservatives. While I know some of you may be wondering why on earth we're inviting a Democrat to post on RedState, I see it as a good-faith effort to talk about an important issue.

Tomorrow morning Durbin will fulfill his promise. Then at 6:30 p.m. he'll make himself available to answer your questions. I know you may not like him or his politics, but he'd like our views on the subject of broadband policy. I hope you'll participate.

Read on ...

I don't see this as a Democrat vs. Republican issue. President Bush in 2004 called for universal and affordable access to high-speed broadband. Many conservatives welcomed his goal as a way to spur innovation, new jobs and economic competitiveness.

As for tomorrow night's discussion, I'd like to point you to a comment left by "bs" last week:

I would hope that if Durbin did decide to engage at Redstate, we would afford him some degree of respect and stick to the issue at hand. The problem comes in when some nimrod decides to start beating on him about something completely unrelated, and my guess is that is why we'll never see him here.

We will see him here and have an opportunity to share with him our thoughts on broadband policy. His experiment has been success so far. I hope you'll choose to engage tomorrow night.

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Dick Durbin Reaches Out to RedState 123 Comments (0 topical, 123 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

I will of course stay on topic and hope to see the internet opened to the masses as for me it has been the most incredible learning tool I have ever had. I know here in VA there are rural area's that of course have terrible exposure to fast internet access and of course it has kept me from moving further out and I find it wonderful that perhaps in the next 5 years or so that I could live virtually anywhere knowing that access will be everywhere.

Join the Win the War campaign, joshlevy@yahoo.com, www.win-the-war.com.
Our leaders waver, but we can give them the courage they need.

National Broadband is probably one of the few BIG Gov't programs we can support in a bipartisan fashion.

It's time for some infrastructure investment here at home.

While I can see advantages to broadband with wider availability, where would that take us? The next step I picture would be argument like: "It's unfair that everyone's tax dollars were used to create this network that only people who can afford a computer can take advantage of, so out of fairness we need to provide every household (heck maybe every person) with a free computer."

We built all them roads & stuff without buying everyone a car.

___________________________________
The CIA has better politicians than it has spies - Fred Thompson

heh...glad I have other plans. While this may be good legislation, it makes me hurl to hear anything positive about that man. He could, by himslef solve the Darfur problem and end world hunger, and still in my eyes be the biggest scumbag that ever went to Washington..... glad the Cubs are in town this week.

" in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abe Lincoln

I'm glad you have other plans too. Nobody here is contributing to his reelection, but some of us believe in giving credit where credit is due. Sen. Durbin is taking a risk by visiting a site like this to engage in a discussion about a matter of national policy. Nobody would have batted an eye if Durbin reacted the way that most politicians on either side of the aisle would have reacted by reflexively turning down the chance to have a policy discussion on a site run by and for the other party's base. Instead, he's not only posting on the site but will also be taking questions. Don't ruin the chance for future dialogue for the rest of us by acting like a jerk when a Democrat politician shows some interest in what we have to say.

www.republicansenate.org

that's pretty comical.

I'm sure it will be a very positive evening.....I look forward to learning more from the big risk being taken.

" in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abe Lincoln

type boycott, let's be friendly. Needless to say that goes double for me !!

"a man's admiration for absolute government is proportinate to the contempt he feels for those around him". Tocqueville

and thanks to Sen. Durbin (never thought I'd say that). May it be a productive session, free of douchebaggery.

______________________________________
"Our job is to bash the president"
Newsweek's Evan Thomas, on the role of the MSM

Keep the responses relevent and more importantly treat him with some dignity.

I look forward to engaging him on this topic where we might be able to share some common ground.

Much like the government is in charge of building roads and bridges - I think building a broadband infrastructure could be supported in "paving" the way for innovation.

treat him with some dignity

Now that's gonna be tough. I better just lurk or else hack off my fingers if I start to say anything about anything at all except broadband. Think: broadband, broadband, broadband.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.

Plenty of time and places to beat him up-I will be professional, or I will lurk with my white knuckles hovering over my keyboard...

heh

haystack's 12th:
Conservatives (and Presidential Candidates especially) shall offer no aid and comfort to the opposition in times of legislative conflict (and ensuing political campaigns).

As much as I hate to disagree with everybody, I don't like the idea of turning the government into an ISP. Once the government starts providing you with your Internet, I fear the slippery slope of censoring what comes over that Internet.

My only hope would be with helping build some sort of infrastructure on a massive scale which private companies might not be able to afford to do (especially with the way banks are stopping loans lately).

You are correct, though, in that it is something we may want to watch - elsewhile we might see some sort of fairness doctrine being applied to the internet.

It becomes a foothold then a stranglehold.

No matter the intentions, that which they touch is sooner than later regulated and taxed. They will determine "problems," and they will act to "solve" them.

Congress has no Constitutional power to do any of this.

These people can't help it.

I agree with you.

____
CongressCritter™: Never have so few felt like they were owed so much by so many for so little.

Try reading up about ARPANET sometime.

---
(Formerly known as bee) / Internet member since 1987
Member of the Surreality-Based Community

They'll just subsidize those who are willing to build rural infrastructure. That's the same thing we did with rural electrification and the rural water project (basically city water for rural people).
---
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

the REA.
____
CongressCritter™: Never have so few felt like they were owed so much by so many for so little.

Will he be willing to come back and debate the most ethical Congress in History?

The question is, do we need a national broadband strategy? It seems like our technology sector does relatively well on it's own.

I also recall Ensign and McCain introducing the "Broadband Investment and Consumer Choice Act", which I believe never passed? What monumentally compelling reason is there now to take up this bill?

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"
Contributor to The Minority Report

"do we need a national broadband strategy? It seems like our technology sector does relatively well on it's own."

"relatively well" is how my wood-fired microwave oven did. But I'm glad I traded up.

Broadband speeds commerce. And it moves faster than complacency, which in the world economy, is never a good strategy.

Broadband penetration in the US is currently over 80%. I am curious how a national strategy will improve that growth rate? Let's exclude subsidies and wasteful government oversight.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"
Contributor to The Minority Report

Marcus, you've already got some good questions for Senator Durbin. I'll be eager to hear his answers.
I'm curious to about the 'over 80% statistic. Where can I read more about that?

Unfortunately, we pay to get that statistic and breakdown. However, if you read Pew and Ipsos, you should be able to get some "free" statistics.

Don't forget to include numbers such as wireless, where the US leads the world.

"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"
Contributor to The Minority Report

About 80% would cover those in urban and suburban areas. The 20% are in areas that will probably never be served without some kind of government subsidy to build out the infrastructure. I imagine that will be the point of the legislation. Even plain ole analog cable TV service (and how long has that been around?) never got built in rural areas. The only reason electric and telephone did was because of government subsidies.
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

Your 80% number is probably misleading, as it requires a definition of how broadband penetration is defined. Here you see that the number is at 47% of adults have broadband access in the home, and that the US does not do well in broadband adoption compared to other developed countries.

As for the wireless market, the US is the largest national market by dollar terms, but I believe is already overtaken by China in numbers, and is certainly at a lesser state of advancement than the Japanese wireless market. None of that is shocking due to the population and population density factors, but what you are claiming is just not true.

If you have numbers that you can share that would be great, but numbers that can't be seen are useless since they come without context and definition.

-jb

"Let's exclude subsidies and wasteful government oversight."

What, Congress is all going to die?

Envisioning when all that is Left is the Right.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

we're satisfied with being 25th in broadband penetration worldwide (and falling).

The 80% penetration figure cited below is for "active Internet users," not for the population as a whole. That figure is a pathetic 53%.

In addition, the quality (speed) of our broadband is inferior to that in many other countries and costs more.

Yep, we're on track for a (third) world class system. American ISPs have failed miserably in living up to their promises.

See http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/

The United States has BY FAR the best network infrastructure in the world. A T1 in the US is about a 1/3 the cost of an E1 in the Western Europe and that is assuming best case for the European cities.

The problem is that we lag behind other countries in last mile service to homes. And the reason is because the United States is a very big place with some very sparsely populated areas.

As FIOS becomes more widely deployed those statistics will changed dramatically.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

My understanding is that it requires fiber all the way to the house. That's even worse than existing broadband solutions which transport over copper. At least with existing DSL technologies, a telco can run a fiber line to a neighborhood junction and run copper from there (the 14K foot limit to DSL only applies from the end of the fiber drop). The infrastructure buildout for FIOS will be huge if every house needs a new install. With DSL or cable, there is usually no need to monkey with wiring from the junction box into the home/business.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

Fiber isn't notably more expensive to run than copper. A little bit more but not much. The big costs in deploying fiber are access rights to get to the houses from the main fiber drops.

Verizon is currently rolling FIOS out to new neighborhoods. But once they get some decent penetration and real revenues they will roll it out to established neighborhoods.

FIOS installations will be amortized over 20-30 years which only a Verizon or an AT&T can do. So while they are expensive they can spread the costs over a very long period of time.

Not only that but Verizon will now be able to offer broadbands speeds beyond what PCs can handle PLUS provide TV service that will make the cable companies drool with envy.

They will also be able to add countless other services such as real-time movie downloads or live concert hookups in HD or video telephony to other FIOS users.

Fiber to the home will revolutionize consumer broadand.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

My point is that it just exacerbates the availability problem. Having to do house-by-house installs is painfully slower than simply upgrading a neighborhood junction box and transmitting signal across existing copper.

I suspect that at least part of the reason that Durbin is even talking about this stuff is the lack of broadband penetration outside medium to large cities. And FIOS simply does not fix that issue.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

does it say anything about a national broadband strategy? Exactly why do we need a federal national broadband strategy devised by the CongressCritters inside the Beltway?

The current penetration of broadband is not the result of a bunch of techno-weenies in DC, its the result of private businesses pursuing profit. When and if it becomes profitable to bring 6MB broadband to every house and hovel from sea to shining sea then they will do so.

John
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Why would God invent something like whiskey? To keep the Irish from ruling the world of course

does it say anything about NASA, or medical research, or....

I guess when it's profitable to go to the moon, some private business will...wait, we already went to the moon.

Fortunately, there were a few side benefits:
http://www.thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html

Rigid ideology can be a very snug straitjacket.

of the space program, it was clearly impossible for a private initiative to go to the moon and do many of the other things done by NASA. There is little business call for a space telescope so the public provides it. Besides, it waa a matter of national "image" to beat the Russians. Thanks to improvements in technology, some of which are a result of NASA, private ventures are moving into that arena.

On the otherhand, there is no shortage of private initiative, demand and capital in communications. Broadband expands as the technology inproves and as capital becomes available and demand allows for a profit. Germany may have twice our broadband penetration but it is worth remembering that Germany fits neatly inside Colorado.

What the feds mean by national strategy is taxpayer funded deployment, even if it makes no sense from a technical or business standpoint.

John
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Why would God invent something like whiskey? To keep the Irish from ruling the world of course

Building the infrastructure is never going to make any business sense. It's just too costly. So, the question is, do we want a universal infrastructure for broadband like we have for roads, electricity, and telephone? If the answer is yes, it will have to be subsidized. If the answer is no, we need to realize that some areas will never have any decent broadband options, even 20 or 30 years from now.
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

To say that building the infrastructure is never going to make business sense itself makes no sense. 10-15 years or so ago there was no such thing as DSL. If you wanted high speed access you got a T-1 or better and paid several thousand a month for it. Then some genius figured out a way to use a "dry pair" for very high speed data up to 18,000 feet from the Central Office. DSL is now available piggybacked on your voice line (if it meets the technical requirements) or as a dedicated line.

In addition to a dedicated loop DSL I have two voice lines at my home, one of which has DSL the other can't because of the loop configurations. The shared DSL/voice line has DSL at 6MBs while the dedicated DSL will not run over 2MBs. A friend of mine in California moved into a new development and has Verizon FIOS --- he gets 15MN DSL for $30.00/month.

In the intervening years the demand for high speed access, and the competititon to provide it, combined with ever improving technology, has driven the price of DSL down continued to come down as has the cost of T's --- a T-1 can now be had for under $400/month and better during a promotion.

There are places where wired broadband is just not going to be economical with today's technology but the key is "today's technology." If the demand is there is rural areas someone will eventually find a way to provide it. Some electrical providers are even evaluating methods of providing high speed data over long-span power lines.

The free market remains the best solver of these kinds of problems.

John
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Why would God invent something like whiskey? To keep the Irish from ruling the world of course

Is going to remove the infrastructure requirements. That infrastructure still has to be built.

We still need electrical lines, polls, and transformers to get power to rural areas. Technology hasn't changed that fact in 100 years.

We still need some kind of decent lines to get broadband to rural areas. Whatever they are (fiber, copper), they'll need to be buried in the ground, and that ain't gonna be cheap today or 20 years from now. The economics will never be right to pay for that... just as if rural electrification never happened, vast chunks of the US would still not be electrified. And if we depended on private industry to build roads paid for by user fees, certain areas would be very well served, while others would be completely without access.

It's not a technology problem, it's a construction problem. That problem will always be there. As technology improves rural options over jury rigged infrastructure, it will also improve performance over urban purpose-built dedicated infrastructure. The massive gap in performance will still be there.

The free market is the most efficient way to allocate capital, which 99 times out of 100 is a good thing, but there's always that 1 time out of 100 where we don't want the most efficient allocation of capitol. That's when government has to get involved. I'm not sure if this is one of those 1 out of 100 times, but if it is, government will have to be involved for it to get done.
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of broadband to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

That's good enough for me.

Envisioning when all that is Left is the Right.

I generally don't like government stepping in to business community on issues like this. Broadband is still rapidly expanding and I am extremely happy with my service. If there is a national campaign will that mean there will be bandwidth limitations, speed ceilings, etc. If you want to expand access offer cable companies tax breaks and other benefits to expand there service to rural communities.

What we could use is something akin to the Rural Electrification Act, except for broadband instead.

---
(Formerly known as bee) / Internet member since 1987
Member of the Surreality-Based Community

is a great question, and one that should be presented to Durbin. We don't have to agree with him. We should just be prepared to have a civil discussion with him. I seriously doubt that he expects to get 100% buy-in to what he's proposing, and I doubt he would even with the left.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

I applaud Senator Durbin and Redstate. He might not care one wit what Redstaters have to say, but at least he is acting like he wants to hear all sides of the issue.

We want this to be as productive as possible. No ad hominems, no red herrings, no distracting from what Sen. Durbin is coming here to talk about. We can debate and disagree all we want to, but if we want to start engaging the issues, that means that we keep a civil head.

Therefore, I (and I assume countless others) would be willing to stand behind a policy that puts you on, at the very least, a long forced hiatus if you can't keep your manners about you. Anyone can call someone a traitor. It takes class and intelligence to pick apart your adversary in a way to where they don't realize it. Furthermore, if we can show that kind of respect to Sen. Durbin, it could encourage a lot more congressmen from our side of the aisle (and theirs, even) to come here and make their case/rally the troops/just talk out loud.

Redstate, we're gaining ground and momentum. Let's keep it up, act in the manner of which we are capable, and show that we can have a cordial debate without resorting to namecalling (like some of our sites on the other side).

Vos can't ledo astrum si vos intentio pro clouds

Formerly known as ShowMeConservatism. For more common sense conservatism, visit the Show Me Conservatism blog.

Seems like people are debating here the merits of his idea - some are for it and some are nervous. Isn't that exactly what you'd want?

And anyway, is THIS the thread you're talking about? You said someone from the Durbin camp was going to post here, so that would be in a separate post right?

I seem to have a vague recollection of reading something in Godel Escher Bach (perhaps it was from Lewis Carroll) about a discussion related to "The name of the song is called..." where it went on about what the actual name is vs what that name is called. (Maybe you have to be a math nerd like me to see the humor in that.)

But, what I have seen in the past is three things, two of which should be avoided:

1.) People come in and debate the merits of the issue in a reasoned way.

2.) Trolls come in here and crap on the rug, leaving the moderators to pick it up.

3.) Honest RSer's get so bent out of shape over something that they sometimes lose their cool.

All I'm wanting is to see that everyone keeps their head about them so that we can build on this success and make Redstate even stronger than what it is today. If I said something that led you to believe I was questioning THIS thread or debate in general, I apologize.

Vos can't ledo astrum si vos intentio pro clouds

Formerly known as ShowMeConservatism. For more common sense conservatism, visit the Show Me Conservatism blog.

Something needs to be done regarding the broadband issue. To wit:

http://www.websiteoptimization.com/bw/0607/

http://www.livescience.com/technology/070510_us_broadband.html

Somewhere between 14th and 20th in broadband penetration.

Some of this is size of the country - notice that we still lead Australia, the other huge 1st world country - but the bigger issue is, there simply isn't enough incentive, at this point, for the carriers to cannibalize their own current business, which gives them a tidy profit, by investing and then selling access to newer, faster, broadband.

I'm still undecided about whether this should be public or private, some combination. While I would much much prefer private, how would the incentives be structured to actually WORK? Really, I'm not smart enough to spout off on "how" is should be done - - we just needs to see it GET DONE. We need to continue being nimble, as a country, and lead the world in internet penetration, services, and innovation.

And the carriers do have a lot of current incentive to put the brakes on. So change the incentives, in some way.

Just get it done.

I don't have a linky poo because I read it in the old fashioned paper, but on July 24, 2007, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed entitled Broadband Baloney that absolutely destroyed that study.

I'll only mention one thing cause this is a reply, not an article.

The OECD conclusions really unravel when we look at wireless services, especially Wi-Fi. One-third of the world's Wi-Fi hot spots are in the U.S., But Wi-Fi is not included in the OECD study unless it is used in a so-called "fixed wireless" setting. I can't recall ever seeing any fixed wireless users cemented into a coffee shop, airport, or college campus. Most American Wi-Fi users do so with personal portable devices...snip

In short, the OECD data does not include all of the ways Americans can make high-speed connections to the Internet, therefore omitting millions of American broadband users.

In my book, when I see a hole like that in any study, the whole crummy thing goes in the circular file. YMMV.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

use Wi-Fi hotspots as their primary broadband access?

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

I'd say just about zero.
---
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

How many people use public hotspots because they can't afford their own?

I'll certainly grant that it is greater than zero but it isn't a large number.

I use those hotspots all the time but I am probably one of the most wired people around. I have about 5 different means to access the Internet.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

I believe we are talking about availability, not affordability. There are certainly many people use wifi (and not necessarily public ones, either) because they don't want to pay for their own broadband. But I'd say the number that use wifi because they can't get their own broadband would be about zero.

Either way, I think we are in agreement that the study can't be faulted for not including the wifi hotspot at a NYC Starbucks (when broadband is available to anyone who wants it in that area). If you don't have broadband in an area, you don't have any wifi hotspots to use, either.
---
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

WiFi just extends existing high bandwidth capabilities.

I'm a little torn on the issue. On the one hand I believe that the Internet will become like our roadways. There might some nominal fee for it but it will be near free in the future. So I can why it might be sensible to start building for it now.

On the other hand I really don't see this as being that big a deal.

I am far more concerned with the fact that we are spiraling towards a duopoly for Internet service.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

As much as I am not a fan of government subsidies, this is a case where the infrastructure will simply not be built in a lot of areas if the government doesn't make it happen. If the infrastructure were there, though, they could certainly get companies to offer service over it. I'd have to say I'm glad we didn't take the libertarian hands-off approach when it came to electricity, telephone, and roads. Broadband could probably fit into that list.
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

Where's kowalski when I need him? I'm getting in way over my head.

This article was focused on wifi hot spots, but they are not one and the same with wifi. The way I understand it, hot spots are those people who provide wifi for free, using their internet connection (and sometimes accidentally - for failure to secure reasons - people you don't want to have your credit card information). Like Starbucks.

But wifi is available and boostable into areas not currently serviced by other means, which makes it possible for rural areas, though we would have to pay an access fee, just like city folks.

And the biggest problem to me is the unknown. Like how much innovation is currently in the pike that regulations will shut down? That number is unknown as well, but it might not be negligible. We have accomplished an awful lot so far without a whole lot of gov't interference, with the obvious exception of the military birthing the blessed thing.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

It works great for covering the inside of a starbucks and part of the parking lot. Not so much for covering somebody who is 5,10, or 20 miles from the nearest town. In large installations like office buildings, airports, and hotels, they use lots and lots of those access points to get total coverage. They have to, because of the very limited range.
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

WiFi by bs

is used to describe the short-range wireless that uses the 802.11 protocol families (.b, .g, .n). WiFi generally travels over a distance of around 50-100 ft, although more sophisticated antenna technologies can extend that considerably (although most normal users don't use Yagi antennae). WiFi "hotspots" are simply 802.11b-equipped access points that connect to the Internet via a publicly-available WiFi AP. Some are free (e.g. Panera), and others require a payment or subscription (T-Mobile in Starbucks, etc.) As someone mentioned previously, the presence of a WiFi access point indicates that some flavor of broadband services is available in the area. This could be a T1 or similar connection, rather than the commonly-available DSL or cable modem service, although that would be a very expensive alternative to those other, cheaper technologies.

There are wireless technologies that can be used beyond the range of WiFi. For example, wireless broadband is offered by most of the mobile providers (Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, etc.). This "3G" technology can provide near-DSL speeds within most major metro areas. Outside the metro "ring", there is usually no 3G coverage. I have a broadband card from Sprint, and when I'm at major airports, I can often get speeds of up to 700kb download. It depends how close you are to the cell tower.

Also, there are other wireless technologies that can be used across a medium distance. I'm not familiar with the exact technology employed, but several friends of mine who live in central IL subscribed to a wireless service that had a line-of-sight antenna on top of a tower or grain elevator and broadcast to an antenna on top of their house, and that signal was transformed into a cable/DSL modem-style connection.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

I'll bet you didn't know that, did you?

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

These 7.5 million people who use hotspots also have available broadband, by necessity, since those wifi access points have to be connected to the internet somehow to do any good. So how is this relevant?
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

I'll bet you didn't know that, did you?

p.s. see my next post further down. It was a little more serious.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

Seriously, Wi-Fi may yet come into play in a significant way in rural areas.

You may remember (and you may not) that I am one of the poor souls afflicted with low speed. I am currently flogging away with 19.9k. That's k. As in Kilo. As in not M. You are probably about 1,000 times as fast. You may even be faster than me in other ways as well, but certainly in your connection speeds.

On the other hand, I have followed it somewhat closely as it relates to my life. We will never get DSL. The phone co. already figured out that those lines are expensive and there are other services coming down the pike that are going to be cheaper and faster, leaving them with really nice expensive wire lying there under the ground doing nothing.

There is a movement to Wi-Fi in the rural areas using cell phone towers as boosters. This was coming to my little neck of the woods about a year ago, but lawyers got in the way, as they were unable to resolve liability issues with the towers.

Apparently, they were also having trouble getting the distance they wanted as the hills are not conductive to good wi-fi usage.

Maybe it would work better in KS.

However, a local electric co-op is making a satellite service available and I am evaluating it. Two of my neighbors got it and they love it. I called on it, and they want $219.71 to install the equipment and then $58/month to provide 512 kb/sec. If I want 1 meg/sec it would cost me $78/mo.

Back to the study though, the point is that they don't know, and they didn't count them. It may not be a statistically significant number, or it might be a large number, but to fail to address it causes me to ignore the study. As I said, YMMV.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

I am lucky enough to have wireless access in my area, but it it's not a WiFi hotspot. It's some fixed microwave setup. You need a metal dish with clear line of sight to the tower (which is on a grain elevator in this case). It's not that fast, only about 512kps, but it is always on and does not require a phone line. The range is only a few miles.

Satellite is a non-option as far as I'm concerned. Not only is it slow, the latency is horrible. It just takes far too long to go out and bounce off a satellite (twice). I don't see that ever improving, thanks to the physics involved. That makes it unacceptable for a lot of uses that require low latencies. I'd take dial up over satellite, unless all I did was download big files and never wanted to use a VPN or anything.
---
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

Once Verizon gets their FIOS really rolled out. They are going to absolutely crush everyone else when it comes to home broadband. They will be able to deliver gigabits of bandwidth.

AT&T is certain to get its act together in this regard soon as well.

Once that happens the rural users will be left in the dust as even the most optimistic over-the-air technologies can't touch fiber.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

BTW by zuiko

The guys who built those wireless access nodes did so during the dot com boom and then promptly went bankrupt after the bubble burst and they couldn't raise any more funds. My current ISP bought their parts of that infrastructure out of the liquidation. So I don't see this infrastructure being replicated all over the country.
---
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

I wanted wifi, but will gladly settle for satellite. Dial up is really just too slow. Unless you have DSL, which is not so bad, I guess.

And I guess I'm OK with the VPN problem, as I don't know what that is. :)

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

VPN by zuiko

A VPN is how you connect to a private network (say, your office) over a public connection (broadband internet connection). That is a requirement for me. If we are going to get a foot and a half of snow, I work from home instead of spending 6 hours trying to get to work and back. VPNs are a great thing.
---
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

and is the primary reason I live in "town" rather than out on a farm like I'd prefer to. I don't work in an office - I either work at home or I travel to customers. And when I work at home, I need very fast access and VPN. Satellite is a non-player for VPN, as you pointed out. The lack of broadband penetration effectively shuts out rural areas from growing in the "new technology" universe. If I wanted to do something like open a business office in a far-flung little town, I couldn't do it because of the lack of network infrastructure.

The parallel with REA is a good one. Telephony carriers aren't going to make big bucks providing broadband to towns with 500 people. So something else has to be done to bring the technology benefits to these areas.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

What about Wimax? I thought that has a range of several miles.

Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you. Washington Elected Elite

that has yet to be deployed to any great degree. It still appears to be in its infancy. I just did some research on it a few weeks ago, and it appears to still be a mishmash of competing standards, none of which has emerged as the standard. But conceptually, it would fix the "last mile" problem in areas that have coverage - and that's always the catch. Even with 3G wireless, coverage is restricted to metro areas, and I see no reason for WiMax to be any different in the foreseeable future.

It all comes down to business investment - how much does it cost me to install a tower and the accompanying infrastructure, versus the return in additional subscriptions and revenues that tower would bring? In metro areas, that equation is easy to close. But it's not so easy in rural areas. Should the fact that a particular area won't be profitable exclude that area completely from coverage? Again - that's one reason why the whole Durbin thing is under consideration.

Wikipedia has a pretty good WiMax overview:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiMAX


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

Wi-Fi as a last mile provider is very difficult to implement. The technologies involved aren't really designed to handle distances beyond a couple hundred meters.

However, 3G/4G wireless service could be the way to go. Currently that is still a nascent technology in the States.

Back to the study though, the point is that they don't know, and they didn't count them. It may not be a statistically significant number, or it might be a large number, but to fail to address it causes me to ignore the study. As I said, YMMV.

The study did address it. They said they counted fixed wireless users. And we DO KNOW that it isn't a large number because wireless access still requires broadband access in the area. Wi-Fi isn't realistically capable of providing last mile access to remote areas. As such there is no reason to include it when analyzing broadband availability.

San Francisco deployed a city wide Wi-Fi solution but it is so slow as to be mostly useless.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

Yes, I'll take 4G please.

No, I don't need it. But I'm sure I'd like it.

The way I understood it, the study was measuring people who had subscribed to broadband. I think that a larger portion of college kids than you think (and I know my brother-in-law who travels on business) uses hot spots for their internet access. You may have 5 ways of getting on, but you're a rich lawyer. If you were a college kid and your parents bought you a laptop and your school provided free access, I'll bet money you wouldn't buy it on your own.

And unless I'm mistaken, those people weren't counted as "connected".

The study did address it. They said they counted fixed wireless users. And we DO KNOW that it isn't a large number because wireless access still requires broadband access in the area. Wi-Fi isn't realistically capable of providing last mile access to remote areas. As such there is no reason to include it when analyzing broadband availability.

They did count those who were using wifi now in rural areas, and no, I don't guess it's a very large number. But my original point was that they didn't count college kids using hot spots as connected to broadband, and they absolutely are and I'm willing to bet that the number is large.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful 100 percent.

I can just see the headlines now. Durbin wins support by Right Wing Blog Site! LOL

It's a matter of scale/control. Government should help create/maintain conditions in the business community for broadband expansion. Giving government the keys or significant control over the process is not good news.

Chaska, MN near where I live was one of the first to do citywide internet access. Minneapolis has also launched a wireless network. I believe they hired private companies to install/maintain. I don't know how much control they have. It all depends on that.

Like most programs I'm sure the left wing input will want to force it into some sort of entitlement program.

Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you. Washington Elected Elite

Hate to be the disagreeable one, but - I can't agree with this whole 'peaches and cream' strategy with respect to Senator Durbin. He is a smart man. Do you not think he is expecting a pit of snarling wolves by agreeing to come here? We shouldn't automatically turn into a bunch of puppies now that he's actually deigned to show us a visit - I think we have more self-respect than that. THIS is how liberals always manage to trick us - by appealing to our conservative nature to be respectful, polite - you know, traditional values - and thus get us to unilaterally disarm. I guarantee if any Republican senator did the same thing over at MoveOn or DailyKos they would not treat him with respect or dignity! I think our job with Senator Durbin is to call him out. Tell him exactly why we think he is fighting for the wrong side in the War on Terror. Tell him that if he really thinks our soldiers are a bunch of Nazis, that we will volunteer to pay for his relocation to a certain war zone in the Middle East where he will have to rely on those "Nazis" to save his pathetic fat a**. Ask him why, if the war in Iraq is so unjustly immoral, he hasn't brought all of government to a screeching halt by sending bill after bill to Bush cutting off ALL FUNDS to the war, and that by NOT DOING SO, why he shouldn't be regarded as a moral coward, liar and hypocrite for tacitly supporting the war. Because we will earn no points by pulling our punches and being "nice". This is our ONE CHANCE. Do you really think Durbin is going to come back for repeat visits? No. This is our only chance to put him in the torture chamber and to extract some sort of confession from the man.

This is a good debate. Do we want to be "tricked" like Madeline Halfbright was or like Charlie Brown getting the football pulled away, by taking the high road? Or do we slash and burn and declare WOL. There are good arguments on both sides.

History shows Dems snuggle up when they want something but look out from behind once they get what they want.

Ask not what you can do for your country, ask what your country can do for you. Washington Elected Elite

Let's just turn Redstate into the right-wing version of DKos. That would be just lovely. GMAFB.

One of the things that differentiates RSers from the KosKidz is the civility that is generally afforded here. As long as one sticks to the subject at hand and provides a well-reasoned argument that can be supported by fact, then they are welcome.

To invite Durbin here and then blindside him with a bunch of crap unrelated to the issue at hand would be wrong. The guy is a senator. I don't care what you think of his politics, he deserves some respect and courtesy.

I can see the blog-headlines now: "Snotty smarta** kids turn away Durbin at Redstate". "Durbin Ambushed by Conservative Wingnuts" ... etc.

Just because the KosKidz act like dipwads doesn't mean we have to also. Grow up, pal.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

you are right on with the fact that RS is special because of the civility shown here. Because of that fact, there should be no reason why he couldn't answer other questions outside of Broadband...he'll be respected, right?

So let's get this straight...he never would have engaged RS had Bluey not pushed the issue...and now we embrace a guy that has said stuff in public that had he blogged at RS, would have sent hime to the pile in record time...all because of legislation that might be good?.....

" in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abe Lincoln

Comparing a United States Senator to some anonymous blog poster?

I think it is a pretty reasonable thing for him to do. Having a bunch of anonymous posters blind side him with questions that are likely to be very skewed would be a great disservice to RedState and blogging in general.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

crap that man has said was mean, hateful, untrue, and damaging to others. And this site prides itself of not tolerating that.....and it's bizarre that for the sake of a piece of proposed legislation, he is going to get VIP treatment....

I never realized that the Broadband issue is such a pressing concern....man, I hope Ward Churchill doesn't get behind this ...Not sure if I could be civil to him.

" in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abe Lincoln

has nothing to do with this legislation. It has to do with respecting a United States Senator.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

when I'm walking to the beach, and see a piece of crap on the ground, I don't wonder if it came from a poodle, a basset, or Franz the Prince...I know its crap and I avoid it.

Senator, Congressman, blog moderator, whatever....respect is earned...

I'm tired of this stuff...RD will not doubt be treated well here...and for RS that is a good thing. How about asking him back to field a broader range of questions?

" in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abe Lincoln

And your first paragraph is exactly why he would never field a broader range of questions. Instead of being asked questions about current bills being proposed or his support for the White House's foreign policy he would get questions like "Senator Durbin, why do you think that American soldiers are no different than Nazis".

Believe it or not it is RedState that needs to earn respect in this regard, not a sitting United States Senator. RS needs to show that it can be mature.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

rules are rules. But how the heck is making someone accountable for their actions and words immature?

I sure as heck won't in this instance push it, out of respect for RS...are you saying under no circumstances I should be allowed to ask tough questions?...

" in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abe Lincoln

given the right environment.

But also remember that a lot of the tough questions bandied about here are based on snippets of information.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

If you really want these guys to engage in meaningful conversation, you shouldn't expect to get the whole enchilada at once. Just bite off this one, innocuous topic right now and show the guy that we're not just a bunch of right-wing Kos-like idiots. Have a decent, civil conversation about the matter at hand without threadjacking it six ways to Sunday, and maybe the guy (or his Dem peers) might be willing to come back and try something a little more daunting.

Is it too much to ask to have a civil, non-confrontational interaction with a U.S. Senator? He doesn't owe us anything by coming here. The least we can do is be hospitable.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

The world must be coming to an end...

;-)


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

Flyer isn't all bad....most of the time.. :P

" in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Abe Lincoln

He knows that none of us, even if we live in Illinois, are going to vote for him in any capacity. So why should he really care about our opinions on broadband policy or anything else for that matter? I suspect the only reason he is coming here is so he can include the label "bipartisan" on his final draft of his broadband bill that will be 99.9% big-government statism but will contain the tiniest nugget of conservative thinking on the matter that WE will have offered to him. Again this is how liberals trick us - by appealing to our fidelity to rational discourse. To us, "bipartisan" means "compromise". To them, "bipartisan" is the name of a weapon.

that must be covered somewhere in the penumbra of the constitution.....

It's going to be a discussion about broadband. People will need to act accordingly. If you don't think that you can handle that, save yourself a lot of trouble and do not engage in the thread. Slamming him for spouting those inane Nazi equivalences will not do anything useful. Calmly and rationally demolishing his arguments for a national broadband strategy (should you not believe in one, or at least not in his) will.

I personally have no intention of writing a word to the man.

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC. I've been usurped!

Because I have no interest in any dialogue with a man who wears "Hug Me I'm A Lying, Backstabbing America-Hater" underwear.

It's war -- so when can we start shooting back at the enemy Democrats?

No sense in criticizing the Democrat speaker regarding his past comments...that would be mean...! Anyway, he didn't mean that anyway...

Formally known as Deagle... "Golf is a way of life..."

We are aware of the reaction that many of our readers will have towards this, and we are doing it anyway, and we are insisting that a certain tone be maintained.

If you can't handle it, don't participate. Simple as that.

The Fuzzy Puppy of the VRWC. I've been usurped!

we really do need to engage them one at a time if we want to stop them from deciding on a completely stupid broadband policy.

lesterblog.blogspot.com

Is he trying to get near 100% penetration of broadband service to every home and business in America? Does he want to mandate some basic level of service (something like, for example, the basic service that enables emergency communications over voice telephony)? Does he want to buy votes by having business users subsidize home users?

Let's let Durbin tell us what he thinks the problem is before we get any farther.

The really brutal problem I see in all this is that there are two very different kinds of businesses that supply broadband service: telephone monopolies and cable companies. And they operate so differently from each other, and from most normal businesses. Anything you do to help one is going to elicit screams and howls from the other to give them an "equivalent" benefit, so as to avoid unfairly favoring one over the other. The problem is that there's no clean notion of "equivalence."

I'd like to see the phone companies get an accounting rule change so they can accelerate their expensing of the cost of expanding service. You might also give them a break on their cost of capital. One of the reasons we have by far the best network infrastructure on earth, except that it happens to suck in some important ways, is because the regulated monopolies are required to amortize their infrastructure investments over decades. That induces them to use their powerful status as quasi-government entities with deep influence over Congress to make sure that no innovation ever comes along that might compete against them as long as they're still working off the costs of their existing investments.

But of course the problem with that idea is that you can't really give the cable companies any kind of an equivalent benefit, and it'll be a huge mess.

The point is often made about connectivity to rural users. Does anyone know if all those rural localities have cable television now? Or do they use satellite dishes or just read books at night?

And I would question just how important it is to guarantee broadband access to all of those "remote, rural users." This is a very different country now than it was when the REA was established. For one thing, a great many people who live out in the boondocks don't spend all day farming. Rather, they drive 80 miles to work in an office. With a broadband connection.

Nope by zuiko

Does anyone know if all those rural localities have cable television now?

Never been wired for cable. The capital expense could never be justified. That's why cable isn't offering broadband in rural areas. And telecoms aren't offering DSL because the cabling and switches out there are so bad the connection is barely adequate for voice calls, much less something like DSL. So they are back to almost square one on that... they'd have to replace the cabling and switches to get anywhere.
---
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

My wife is from a town of about 1200, and a number of her family members still live out in the boonies. In towns of more than 1000 or so, CATV is usually available, but many of those small companies do not provide broadband service. Most farmers who live outside city limits use either external TV antennas or satellite (satellite TV was much more popular in rural areas when it first emerged than in cities where CATV and over-the-air broadcasts already existed and were high-quality). Just drive through a rural area and note that virtually every home has either a tall TV antenna and/or a satellite dish.

Yes, the population of city commuters who now live in rural areas has grown. Western MO is full of people who live 50 or more miles from Kansas City and drive into the city to work. However, that is far from the norm. Some small towns are fortunate enough to have telephone companies that do provide broadband, and some (including the one I am VERY familiar with) provide a very robust service with great performance. But that is the exception.

With the restrictions that employers have placed on Internet use in the office, one can hardly count at-work broadband access as an acceptable replacement for home access. Internet access is fast becoming (and in some homes, has already become) more of a staple/requirement than access to TV or radio. Schools assume easy access to the Internet for homework and related assignments, just as they assume access to computers. Information on products and services is ubiquitous on the Internet, and companies use that as their medium for releasing information instead of publishing manuals or other publications.

Is "broadband" mandatory? No, I suppose one could still use a POTS modem. But have you tried that lately? Low-speed web access is virtually impossible now, with the bloat that has occurred in web authoring, banner ads, and the other mishmash of graphics-loaded eye candy that makes up the WWW. Broadband is almost a necessity. Almost.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

I'm inferring from your and zuiko's responses that you both believe the problem that needs solving is how to get broadband access to every rural farm and homestead across the fruited plain.

I can see the argument in favor of this: we potentially stand to gain a great deal as a nation if we pull everyone up to the same level as regards access to information. It's a similar argument to the one used to justify public spending for education. And for universal healthcare.

I can see the other side as well: people who want the advantages of life in remote areas ought to recognize that there's no free lunch and they should ante up themselves.

Interesting problem.

should just pack it in and move to the big city?


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

I guess no one has ever heard of DirecWay from DirecTV. All they need to do is pay the bill.

Poor performance and extremely high latencies are deal breakers for a lot of uses. The latency probably is not fixable. It takes a lot of time to go into space, back to earth, back to space, and back to earth again, so your roundtrip packet times are very long. I'd take dialup over satellite, unless all I ever wanted to do was email and web browsing.
---
Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

I'm always pretty hostile to a government solution to anything, but I can definitely see the arguments in favor and having that infrastructure available across the country could pay off in the long run. I think the capital investments that made things like universal electrification, telephone, road service, and mail service possible have paid off. I think broadband has that potential as well.

Of course, we could all just move into rent controlled downtown lofts in sustainable urban communities and take public transportation everywhere, letting the rural areas turn back into swamps and forests. That would probably make some people happy. :D
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

In this entire thread, I haven't seen anyone state what this proposal would cost the taxpayer, and what program, if any, would be cut to pay for it?

for tomorrow. Why don't you ask Durbin yourself?


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

(This may actually be my first RS comment...)

In skimming through the first third or so of the comments thus far, it appears that a general misunderstanding exists regarding the broadband legislation to be discussed.

It is not about a "national broadband strategy" per se, but rather, it is primarily about net neutrality: ensuring that large broadband providers do not block or restrict services from other, competing providers.

That may be something of a sacrilege. I'm sure it's an unpopular position to take. It seems that, whenever the subject's broached -- regardless of the ideologies of those you discuss it with -- people favor net neutrality.

I can certainly understand why. But the private property absolutist in me generally pulls me back in and reminds me that what net neutrality really is, when you get right down to it, is one more instance of the government telling a private property owner what they must do with their property.

If I've paid oodles of money to build a network, why shouldn't I be able to operate it in the way I see as best serving my needs? Now, my customers may not like me restricting access to competing providers. And, if so, they can pressure me into changing my policies or otherwise leave my service (if I have competitors -- which is, admittedly, an issue in many places.

Telling a broadband provider that they must, under penalty of law, provide equal rights to all others on their network -- even their competitors -- is not much different than telling McDonalds that it has to serve Burger King's food alongside its own at its restaurants.

As I mentioned above, the telecommunications industry is still rife with monopolies in many areas. And, as such, I understand that this isn't cut and dried. And I also understand the popular allure of net neutrality.

But I think we should all consider this matter with an eye towards private property rights.

Telling a broadband provider that they must, under penalty of law, provide equal rights to all others on their network -- even their competitors -- is not much different than telling McDonalds that it has to serve Burger King's food alongside its own at its restaurants.

Net neutrality isn't about giving equal rights to all others on their network. It is about providers not restricting what the users can and cannot access through their network.

Consider this scenario. Say you have a Cablevision broadband connection. And you just love to go to Foxnews.com to get your news. Cablevision, however, makes a deal with Disney to "prioritize" Abcnews.com. All of the sudden, you notice that foxnews.com is unbearably slow. You're a typical user so you blame foxnews.com and go elsewhere for your news and since ABCnews is blazing fast for you, compared to the others, you suck it up and go to ABCnews.com eventhough you hate it.

And if you don't think this sort of thing can happen, you are utterly mistaken. The big ISPs have already mucked around with consumer access. A couple of years ago comcast came up with the bright idea that they would block VPN access for their consumer users in order to push them to their much pricer business grade product. Luckily it was an idea before its time and Comcast experienced serious public backlash for this antic and they turned it back on.

Cable companies and telecoms are essentially duopolies in their respective markets. Virtually every competitor still is required to use their copper/fiber to reach the consumer. This is not a very good deal for consumers.

Net neutrality is a big deal.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

As somebody who has been knee-deep in the telecommunications industry (and in the form of a CLEC, I might add...lest you think I'm pining for the Bells or CATV monopolies) for some years, I understand this issue from every angle quite well.

It's actually pretty simple. Net neutrality says that if Broadband Customer A decides to subscribe to, say, Vonage's VoIP service, their broadband provider can't throttle the Vonage traffic to give favor to, say, the carrier's own VoIP service.

With a neutral net, Vonage is able to leverage the network assets of the broadband carrier without any payment in the way of reciprocity. Telecommunications networks have historically not worked this way -- because of the realization that carriers need to be compensated by other carriers for the use of their networks.

For instance, if you have long distance service from Sprint and your local phone service is with Qwest and you place a long distance call to a customer of Comcast, you pay Sprint their X cents per minute for the call and they're required to pay both Qwest and Comcast a per minute fee (origination and termination, respectively) for the use of their networks to complete that interexchange call.

Well, Vonage's service doesn't work without the use of a carrier's network. And neither the customer of both the broadband service and Vonage nor Vonage itself owns that network. The broadband carrier owns it, maintains it, etc.

Ostensibly what you have here, in this case, is the Vonages of the world building their own virtual network on the back of other peoples' property. Because, contrary to public opinion, the Internet is not some public asset -- but, rather, a massive series of privately owned networks that are all interconnected. It doesn't just exist in some mysterious ether. It consists of millions of miles of fiber and copper cable, millions of optical switching devices, routers, etc. And that stuff costs money to install and maintain.

So, if you're asking me whether I think that a broadband provider should be able to give favorable preference to packets from ABCNews.com over packets from FoxNews.com (which, frankly, this isn't the issue...it's actually about voice and video services), I'd say "Of course they should be able to. It's their network and they should be able to engineer it as they see fit."

Granted, the monopoly or duopoly issue matters -- as I made clear. However, probably 85% or more of American citizens have a wide array of options for getting broadband services. There are no longer monopolies or duopolies in the top 100 or so markets.

So long as consumers have choices, then the government should stay out of it and allow the market to work it out so that everybody is treated fairly and equitably.

And, I'm sorry, it's simply not equitable to tell somebody who has hundreds of millions or billions of dollars invested in a network that they must provide equal treatment of any and all other service providers to piggyback over their infrastructures.

That's treating the Internet as if it's a public resource -- and it isn't.

Vonage pays for a whole bunch of circuits into all sorts of different carriers.

I pay for a connection into some broadband provider.

Now you're saying that isn't enough. I, or Vonage, should also have to pay for the transit of traffic from the endpoints.

Why should my provider be allowed to say "I don't want you to go to service X because I provide a competing product and I want you to use this one instead"?

You're right that this is about voice and video. And it is about conflicts of interest. The cable and telecom companies are terrified that the Internet will destroy their core businesses, video and voice respectively. They wish to stop that from happening by whatever means available.

You wish to allow them to protect their legacy businesses because it's "their network". Well it is their network, built on the back of protective regulations ensuring their market safety.

A content provider can only receive as much traffic from an ISP as they have purchased. And if they purchase an OC-192 why shouldn't they be allowed to receive an OC-192's worth of bandwidth? Why should the ISP be allowed to artificially limit traffic going to a content provider?

This isn't about network congestion. It is about market penetrations and market exposures.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

First of all, as for "if you buy an OC-192, why shouldn't you get an OC-192", it's simple. You get what you buy under the terms of your contract. And the terms of the contract are agreed to by provider and subscriber. And if the subscriber doesn't like the terms, he can reject it.

As for their monopoly positions, that's actually not often true. Cable franchises have long been granted by municipalities and few municipalities have protected any monopolies on their licenses. So, while that argument holds true for the Baby Bells and other ILECs that enjoyed protected status for many years, it's not true for most legacy CATV providers.

It's certainly true that many of them were (or still are) the only game in many towns -- but not because the market was closed off.

I understand that this is about CATV providers and ILECs protecting their core businesses. I'm very, very well versed in the particulars of this issue. And, as I say, my own personal experience comes from the CLEC side of the business -- so I'm more sympathetic than you might think about the 800-lb gorillas throwing around their weight.

But one of the guys I've worked closest with for the past 6 years is a former top executive at one of the Baby Bells -- and I've heard his side of the argument too.

Yes, these companies have monopoly mentalities and all that -- and I'm not defending that, nor am I defending monopoly or oligopoly.

Rather, I'm defending the right of a property owner to determine for himself and with his customers the terms of use of that property -- as opposed to one more instance of treating private property as some kind of public asset.

Net neutrality sounds good -- because it's always easy to give away control and space on things other people have paid for....particularly if those people are actually huge multinational corporations with billions of dollars, etc.

But there's some principle at stake here, and this is why I'm wary of all the talk about setting policy which dictates how a private enterprise must run its business.

Net neutrality sounds good -- because it's always easy to give away control and space on things other people have paid for....particularly if those people are actually huge multinational corporations with billions of dollars, etc.

Just ask Hugo Chavez.

Hooray!

Granted, the monopoly or duopoly issue matters -- as I made clear. However, probably 85% or more of American citizens have a wide array of options for getting broadband services. There are no longer monopolies or duopolies in the top 100 or so markets.

You got some kind of source for this? Because it is a ridiculous statement. "85% or more of American citizens" don't even have the choice of a single broadband provider, much less "a wide array of options." And there are plenty of monopolies and duopolies on internet access (who all also offer their own voice and video services, by the way...) in the top 10 markets, much less the top 100.

Ostensibly what you have here, in this case, is the Vonages of the world building their own virtual network on the back of other peoples' property.

Except for the fact that Vonage pays huge access fees to gain access to that network. Their bandwidth isn't free. They're paying the big networks, just as the end users are, either directly or indirectly through their service providers. Nobody gets free bandwidth.
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

First of all, virtually every American citizen has access to satellite based broadband.

And an incredibly high percentage of American citizens live in the top MSAs. I don't have figures right in front of me now. But it's easy enough to calculate if you add up the population in, say, the top 150 MSAs. You'll find that it accounts for the lion's share of America's 300 million citizens.

I don't know if you live in one of these markets or not. But, if you do, you'll find that you will have plenty of choices for local telephone service (including IP based services) and at least one land-line based video service, 2 major satellite based video services, and a growing number of FTTP based video services.

Except for the fact that Vonage pays huge access fees to gain access to that network.

No, they don't. They pay access fees to the Internet -- they pay nothing for access into their subscribers' homes. That is paid for by the broadband provider. And that's precisely the issue.

As I said, in the classical voice world, IXC carriers like MCI and Sprint had to pay reciprocity to their customers' local service carriers in order to complete their service transaction. In fact, this is still the case -- although, obviously, the traditional IXC market has changed radically in recent years.

This was in addition to paying for the trunking services into local exchanges to trade traffic. So, the LD carriers not only had to pay a per-minute fee to get into both their customer's home/office -- but also a per-minute fee to get into the home/office of the folks their customers called....AND infrastructure costs of switching, network trunking, etc.

Now, this was regulated and, thus far, the VoIP market hasn't been -- thankfully. But what "net neutrality" is proposing is that, in fact, it does become regulated -- such that carriers who have access into peoples' homes/offices have to effectively allow other for-profit carriers to build their businesses without compensating access providers even one cent.

I really don't mind one bit if a carrier wants to offer a neutral service to their customers as a strategy. But it should not be forced by the government -- the only exception to that I could see is when there's insufficient broadband competition.

I'm not trying to protect monopolies -- I'm trying to protect private property rights.

No, they don't. They pay access fees to the Internet -- they pay nothing for access into their subscribers' homes. That is paid for by the broadband provider. And that's precisely the issue.

I guess I forgot the part where broadband providers aren't charging their subscribers anything. People are paying pretty steep fees on both sides. That money eventually finds its way into the pockets of everybody involved in getting the data from one party to the other. Vonage doesn't have to pay my carrier because I already pay my carrier. They don't have to pay the network my carrier connects to, because my carrier already pays that network (with the money I give them every month). There's no free ride for anybody involved.

First of all, virtually every American citizen has access to satellite based broadband.

Then you might as well include dial up, because the services is about as useful. We all have lots of choices of dial up service providers. More than 100 in some areas. (Too bad the phone companies didn't think of blocking the phone numbers of those other service providers so we'd have to use their service, or we could've been limited to a single choice there as well. I guess those commies that want to tell the phone company how to use their own private property would've made a big deal about that.)

But, if you do, you'll find that you will have plenty of choices for local telephone service (including IP based services) and at least one land-line based video service, 2 major satellite based video services, and a growing number of FTTP based video services.

That's not broadband internet access. The fact that I can use Vonage for VoIP doesn't negate the fact that I have to get my broadband internet access from either the telco (if it's even available at my street address) or the cable company. I know I got only one choice of broadband service providers. And I'm hardly in a unique position there. The vast majority of people have between 0 and 2 choices. Hardly a competitive environment.
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Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself. - Milton Friedman

LH,

Clearly you are approaching this from the switched voice world...

No, they don't. They pay access fees to the Internet -- they pay nothing for access into their subscribers' homes. That is paid for by the broadband provider. And that's precisely the issue.

Last I checked the broadband provider isn't paying me to give me access to Vonage. I'm pretty sure I am paying THEM.

As I said, in the classical voice world, IXC carriers like MCI and Sprint had to pay reciprocity to their customers' local service carriers in order to complete their service transaction. In fact, this is still the case -- although, obviously, the traditional IXC market has changed radically in recent years.

And herein lies the problem. This isn't switched service and it isn't toll rated. No carrier charges by the byte. They charge access charges. There was a material cost associated with making a switched call, albeit fairly small. There is no material cost to making an IP connection.

Now, this was regulated and, thus far, the VoIP market hasn't been -- thankfully. But what "net neutrality" is proposing is that, in fact, it does become regulated -- such that carriers who have access into peoples' homes/offices have to effectively allow other for-profit carriers to build their businesses without compensating access providers even one cent.

It was regulated because it was a complete monopoly for 60 years. And even after the break up of Ma Bell it was still a monopoly market.

Net neutrality is doing nothing to limit prices.

I really don't mind one bit if a carrier wants to offer a neutral service to their customers as a strategy. But it should not be forced by the government -- the only exception to that I could see is when there's insufficient broadband competition.

So you are fine with a carrier rate limiting traffic to "unfavorable" websites without the customers knowledge?

Rather, I'm defending the right of a property owner to determine for himself and with his customers the terms of use of that property -- as opposed to one more instance of treating private property as some kind of public asset.

Net neutrality sounds good -- because it's always easy to give away control and space on things other people have paid for....particularly if those people are actually huge multinational corporations with billions of dollars, etc.

One more time. This isn't about giving away control. It is about preventing monopolies from playing dirty pool in order to keep their monopoly businesses intact. Let's see them put these limits in their terms of service. They won't. They will simply do it.

First of all, as for "if you buy an OC-192, why shouldn't you get an OC-192", it's simple. You get what you buy under the terms of your contract. And the terms of the contract are agreed to by provider and subscriber. And if the subscriber doesn't like the terms, he can reject it.

Well I have signed many such contracts and I can tell you nowhere in any such contract are their stipulations stating "If you consistently reach x% of utilization we reserve the right limit your service". And there never will be. It sure isn't ever going to be on the customer side either.

But there's some principle at stake here, and this is why I'm wary of all the talk about setting policy which dictates how a private enterprise must run its business.

Principle and 2 bucks will buy you a coffee at Starbucks. I don't care one whit about principle. I care about real world effects. If we allow the big carriers to control where people go to we are essentially ensuring monopoly markets in Internet access, TV access, and Voice access.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

Last I checked the broadband provider isn't paying me to give me access to Vonage. I'm pretty sure I am paying THEM.

But you're not paying them to access Vonage. You're paying them to access the Internet. But they may or may not have terms which you don't like.

Consider, for instance, a hotel restricting access to porn sites, BitTorrent, or various other bandwidth hogs. Should that, also, be a violation of law? After all, they're providing the service to you and you're agreeing to their terms. But you're acting like full and open access to everything -- on their network -- is your right.

It's not. They can provide or block whatever they like...it's their network.

There is no material cost to making an IP connection.

This is just flat wrong -- and, trust me, I can attest to this as somebody who's invested quite a bit of money in overbuilds and long-haul networks. They run us anywhere from $15K to $40K per mile, depending on certain conditions. And that doesn't count entrance drops, CPE, marketing, head-end/CO infrastructure, etc.

Now, you may say that the *incremental* cost to provide a particular IP connection is negligible (ie, after you're already there and providing any IP connections). But, then, nobody who actually offers this stuff does accounting that way. There are gobs of up front costs.

Telecommunications is a very capital intensive business. And you're saying that people who invest that capital ought have little or no say how those resources are used by customers.

One more time. This isn't about giving away control.

Of course it is -- it's regulation. You just happen to think that it's sensible regulation. If a broadband provider cannot do what they like -- and endure the customer reactions as a consequence -- under penalty of law, it's about wresting control over private assets.

It is about preventing monopolies from playing dirty pool in order to keep their monopoly businesses intact.

But what if they aren't monopolies? Go up to Chicago sometime. Do you realize how many access providers of all kinds there are there? Or in Dallas? Most large cities have gobs of providers of voice, video, and/or data service. And most Tier 2 cities have at least a couple of each.

I've already said that I can see the sense in this in areas where there truly is a monopoly. But it's simply not the case in lots of places.

Look, nobody here is more attuned to the issues surrounding monopolies protecting their monopoly. It's an issue that has dominated my life for a decade.

But it's a false argument in this particular instance -- because there just aren't that many places where telecom is truly monopolistic anymore. Such places do exist -- and perhaps those who are monopolies should be subject to this regulation to open up competition.

And, frankly, I hope that carriers don't restrict access on their networks. But we are, after all, talking about their networks. Not mine, not yours, and not Dick Durbin's.

But you're not paying them to access Vonage. You're paying them to access the Internet. But they may or may not have terms which you don't like.

Nice moving of the goal posts. I'm paying them to access the Internet. Vonage is paying their providers to access the Internet. So let us dispense with your false argument that Vonage is creating a virtual network on the backs of other people's networks. Using that argument I am building a virtual network on the backs of other people's networks if I put a webserver on my machine to display my pictures.

Consider, for instance, a hotel restricting access to porn sites, BitTorrent, or various other bandwidth hogs. Should that, also, be a violation of law? After all, they're providing the service to you and you're agreeing to their terms. But you're acting like full and open access to everything -- on their network -- is your right.

The hotel is not an ISP. Also the hotel can set up rules for accessing their network as they see fit. A very poor comparison. Honestly I wouldn't have THAT MUCH of a problem with an ISP clearly stating in the ToS that they will restrict your access to sites at any time for any reason. Of course they won't say that because they don't want the bad press. Instead they'll just do it.

Now, you may say that the *incremental* cost to provide a particular IP connection is negligible (ie, after you're already there and providing any IP connections). But, then, nobody who actually offers this stuff does accounting that way. There are gobs of up front costs.

I don't much care how they do the accounting. Whether I make a connection to Vonage or myspace or to Redstate makes no difference to my providers network.

But what if they aren't monopolies? Go up to Chicago sometime. Do you realize how many access providers of all kinds there are there? Or in Dallas? Most large cities have gobs of providers of voice, video, and/or data service. And most Tier 2 cities have at least a couple of each.

Go find out how many residential locations have more than one telecom and one cable provider. You can count the number on one hand probably. Sure office buildings MIGHT have real competitive providers(not Type 2 providers riding the ILEC last mile to their POP) but even then you are usually talking about larger office buildings.

But it's a false argument in this particular instance -- because there just aren't that many places where telecom is truly monopolistic anymore. Such places do exist -- and perhaps those who are monopolies should be subject to this regulation to open up competition.

This is a pure myth. Virtually every viable competitor(and I don't consider satellite a viable competitor) rides on the ILECs copper to the home. That means they are ultimately beholden to the ILEC and the costs that the ILEC charges them, based on tarriffs. And in the next few years those competitors will be completely screwed unless Verizon and AT&T are required to open up their fiber to the 3rd party competitors. But according to you they shouldn't need to since there isn't a monopoly market to the home.

And, frankly, I hope that carriers don't restrict access on their networks. But we are, after all, talking about their networks. Not mine, not yours, and not Dick Durbin's.

Let me ask you this. Should an ISP be allowed to divert the domain www.google.com to their own search engine? Should they be allowed to shut off access to external VoIP customers(note that the Supreme Court doesn't think so).

I realize you are a Libertarian but private property is not an inviolate right in which you can do whatever you wish. Without government support and beneficial regulation Verizon and AT&T would not be the powerhouses they are today.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why ... I dream of things that never were and ask why not. - Robert Kennedy

If you read the articles that Bluey linked, you'll see that net neutrality was "one of the most hotly debated issues" but not THE issue. Many other items were discussed with respect to broadband policy. Many issues related to broadband implementation and how they affect both the public and business are up for debate.

Durbin is quoted as saying

"Today I'm writing to invite you to participate in an experiment -- an interactive approach to drafting legislation on one of the most significant public policy questions today: What should be America's national broadband strategy?"

at National Journal's Technology Daily. That's a pretty broad subject, and it includes all manner of topics including net neutrality, broadband access, frequency allocation auctions, etc.


...when they see me they'll say, "There goes Loren Wallace,
the greatest thing to ever climb into a race car."

 
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