Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Businesses The Internet

FCC Admits Mistakes In Measuring Broadband Competition 130

Posted by Zonk
from the admitting-there-is-a-problem-is-the-first-step dept.
techdirtfeed writes "For years, plenty of folks (including the Government Accountability Office) have been pointing out that the way the FCC measures broadband competition is very flawed. It simply assumes that if a single household in a zip code is offered broadband by provider A, then every household in that zip code can get broadband from provider A. See the problem? For some reason the FCC still hasn't changed its ways, but at least they're starting to realize the problem. They're now saying they need to change the way they measure competition. Commissioner Michael Copps points out: 'Our statistical methodology seems almost calculated to obscure just how far our country is falling behind many other industrialized nations in broadband availability, adoption, speed and price.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC Admits Mistakes In Measuring Broadband Competition

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sure that in other places they count it the same way... or perhaps even worse.
    • by grahamsz (150076) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:09PM (#18804275) Homepage Journal
      In my parents postal code (in scotland) there are 11 homes, the exchange is less than a thousand feet from any of them so they all qualify for roughly the same speed of DSL.

      My zip code in colorado probably has several thousand homes. I have three broadband options (DSL, Cable, Wireless) but I wouldn't be surprised to know there were people in my zip who couldn't get any.

      If the FCC switched to using ZIP+4 then it would probably be a much more accurate and comparable method.
      • by AvitarX (172628)
        So they call everybody?

        That doesn't sound that reasonable to me at all.
        • by Copid (137416) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:21PM (#18804461)

          So they call everybody?

          That doesn't sound that reasonable to me at all.
          They should be able to provide a list of addresses or phone numbers to the broadband provider and have that provider say yay or nay. That's how you do it on the broadband providers' web sites as it is. All the regulatory agency has to do is give a more granular list for the provider to check against in their database, and then randomly sample the results to ensure that the provider didn't make a mistake or lie to them. That sounds pretty reasonable to me.
          • by AvitarX (172628)
            Damn, you are so much smarter than me. Thanks for pointing out that I am idiot.

            You are right, clearly the providers have a very goos idea of who does and does not have access (especialy DSL by phone number).
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Rukie (930506)
          I'm living in an area where there is intermittent access. There are two broadband corporations here, RoadRunner, and Charter. Neither of which encroach in each others territory, so both of them FORCE you to buy their entire package for broadband internet. With basic cable, phone (had vonage, but 5 bucks cheaper with charter), and internet, the bill is about 100 bucks a month. Its ridiculous. There is NO competition ANYWHERE near here, because the providers stay out of each others territories. Its like a fri
      • If the FCC switched to using ZIP+4 then it would probably be a much more accurate and comparable method.

        Well then, I can report 100% broadband penetration for my parent's home ZIP+4. (Seeing as their home ZIP+4 is exactly one address).

        I'm pleased also that my current apartment ZIP+4 seems to have 100% penetration (12 apartments)--I'm not sure about the other half of the building though, that's an entirely different zip+4!

        Long and short is that ZIP+4 does not cover a lot of addresses--can be a single address
        • by corsec67 (627446)
          That is the point, to make the unit of area for binning the % brodband capabilities smaller than many square miles, something smaller than counties that can be 10,416 km (4,022 mi) (Weld County, CO). I don't think Weld county is the largest county, it is just one that impresses me as being big, such that you could be 50 miles from the nearest big town, or near Denver, in the same county.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Moridineas (213502)
            But you're still missing the point. Ok, great, now you've got finer granularity, but it's still totally imprecise! One zip+4 can be an abandoned lot, a single household, multiple houses, or a highrise apartment complex. The data is equally meaningless except now you've got a lot more ZIP+4s to look at than you do ZIPs.

            i think it's much better at this point to measure who DOESN'T have broadband access. Let's do households, ACTUAL places where people live. How many residences don't have access?
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by amRadioHed (463061)
              No I think you are missing the point. The problem is that zip codes alone are too big. Someone one one side of a zip code may have access to DSL while someone on the other side may not have any broadband access. They are currently assuming that if anyone in a zip code has broadband access everyone does. I imagine the number of entire areas without any broadband is far far less than the number of zip code areas that just have spotty coverage.

              Also this is just as problematic when gaging competition. Just bec
              • Yes, I understand that perfectly. What I am saying is that whether you say "95% of zipcodes has broadband" or "83% of ZIP+4 regions has broad" still doesn't tell me how many people have/don't have access to broadband. Going by residences would be more complicated, but would be more accurate.

                The ISPs seem to already have this info--i mean, you can go to their website and type in your address--not your ZIP, not your ZIP+4--and find out if there is availability. Let's just have that info reported to the govt.
              • The FCC is on the same boat as the cable companies. You'll hear them say "We have a slow ass network", but nothing will ever be done about it. It is fact. This the like the 600th article on this subject.

                We are useless sheeps shelling out $40 a month for broadband. It will remain this way for the next few years until they jack our price to $70 a month. At that point the cable companies will send you an email for upgrading your speed from 380K upload to 500k upload.
            • by c_sd_m (995261)
              Forgive my lack of American knowledge but would there not be someone somewhere who knows what these ZIP+5 codes correspond to? Perhaps in the public domain or hands of the government? If I look up a Canadian postal code I can get the list of addresses corresponding to it. Surely finer granularity coupled with information like "number of units" would give a better, although still less than ideal, estimate? IMHO, this problem is just begging for a decent geographic information system (think database with
              • You can buy, either from the Post Office or from numerous other information retailers, huge databases that cross-reference street addresses, ZIP codes, and ZIP+4s.

                The information is built in to many other programs, too; if you type a street address into Google Maps, for instance, it will pop out the address in USPS standard format, which includes the ZIP+4. I assume that you could run the information in the reverse direction too, if you had access to the database. (There's no way on Google Maps to type in a
            • an abandoned lot, a single household, multiple houses, or a highrise apartment complex

              In each of these cases, if one person in the ZIP+4 qualifies for broadband then there is a very very high chance that all people in the ZIP+4 will qualify for broadband.

              The current system takes each ZIP that has broadband and multiplies with the number of people in the zip to get an estimate of people with broadband. If you do that with ZIP+4 and people in the ZIP+4 then you'll get a much more accurate result without havin
          • Oddly enough my original example zip code does fall partly in weld county and partly in boulder county.

            I didn't realize we were even close to the biggest county.
      • by madhattr (179377)
        I live in a very urban area of N Portland OR (15 min bike ride from one of the main exchanges for Portland). This area in called the Silicon Forest. Intel, IBM, Veritas, and OSDL are here to name a few. I only have Cable, and dial up access in my area. At 7PM at night it is so slow. I called Quest to inquire about possible DSL in my area, and they have told me that I am too far away from the CO, and they have no plans to upgrade my area. My co-worker lives in Gresham and has Fios. My other coworker l
      • Just use this U.S. zip code map to see how large one zip code can be:
        http://www.usnaviguide.com/zip.htm [usnaviguide.com]

        Places in the plains, or less populated states have especially large zip-codes, and places like Wyoming just have weird zip codes.
      • by palmpunk (324912)
        Zip codes are for mail delivery. Zip+4 tells the sorting machines what order to put the mail carrier's stacks of letters in. No part of zip codes have to do with geography or really even population density. It is purely for the mail sorting machines.
      • by bhalter80 (916317)
        In my parent's zip code DSL became available no later than 1998 but that was a very small section of the town, they weren't able to get anything past 26.4k dial up until 2002 when Comcast got their act together and offered 3Mbit service. The surprising part is that this was in an affluent suburban town about 20 miles from Boston.

        The telcos can tell me as a matter of fact if they can provide me service and to what level immediately when I call to order service, why doesn't the FCC require this level of deta
    • a Bush Appointee, does that tell you anything?
      • by unitron (5733)

        Every commissioner is...a Bush Appointee, does that tell you anything?

        Well, maybe, but (because of the way the law splits things between the majority and minority parties) two of the five are Democrats (and one of them celebrated his appointment by jamming on harmonica with one of the Chambers Brothers on C-SPAN:-).

    • by telso (924323)
      Some countries have a national statistics agency [statcan.ca] that is in charge of setting standards for methodology for things like this [statcan.ca]. Some countries statistical agencies regularly get rated as the best statistical agency in the world [wikipedia.org]. And some countries get a patchwork of statistics, completely non-standardized across departments and set up by partisan appointees in the pocket of big business. Thank God you guys believe that the Federal Government can't do anything right (I'm not implying they can).
    • I thought it was Australia who was falling behind? Maybe it's all of us? Just who's in charge of setting the speed of that rabbit all us dogs are chasing?
      • Australia is getting better competition these days with ISPs rolling out their own ADSL networks.

        We can get ADSL 2+ (24Mbit) in some areas.
        They dont cover my suburb atm but they cover the suburb next to me. :(
  • Seems eh... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Adambomb (118938) * on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:02PM (#18804175) Journal
    So, that would make them the most naive member of the FCC they had? or is she just good at acting surprised...

    I look forward to the restructuring of the FCC after this where they purge the evil and the misguided statistics....because i'm absolutely sure that will happen.

    and no, i'm definitely not being sarcastic. at all.
    • by Adambomb (118938) *
      Gah, s/she/he/


    • ...Copps is a Democratic commissioner in a Republican administration. Which means there's very little he can do about it (although his position has improved considerably after the midterm elections). Copps has been railing about this problem for years. The news in this story is that Kevin Martin, the Republican FCC chairman, finally admitted that the data the FCC has been collecting is worthless.

      I look forward to the restructuring of the FCC after this where they purge the evil and the misguided stati
  • Plan B (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:05PM (#18804197)
    Switch to Area Code
    • The state I live in has 2 area codes, Clark County (702), and The rest of Nevada(775). I think that would be worse.
    • Area codes can be huge. The whole of NZ South Island is one area code.
    • by Duggeek (1015705)

      So, I'm in the Metropolitan Denver area, where we have no less than two area codes for the entire Metropolitan region. (303/720) We have to dial 10 digits for every call. (aaa-ppp-xxxx) There is no geographical distinction between them, so how would they make the survey any more accurate?

      Add to that, the distinctive phenomenon where folks are living land-line-free. Not just owning a mobile phone, but using it as their only voice communication service. (myself included)

      Let's get the FCC to bite the bullet

    • by jbo5112 (154963)
      If they used the area code and the prefix (second set of 3 digits) that would work better, but you're still left with some problems. Rural areas would still have a large amount of land covered by the same prefix, not all of which would be within range for DSL, and cell phone prefixes have little to do with your location. Also, fiber has to be run all the way to your door. There isn't any pre-existing infrastructure that can be used.
  • one problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805)
    If they handle broadband internet monopolies like they do Microsoft it won't matter if their methods are flawed.
    • Sounds like they're doing just that.. slap them on the wrist then give them more big contracts without even demanding they stop doing what was bad!
  • Mobile Broadband (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tofystedeth (1076755) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:06PM (#18804231)
    from TFA

    mobile broadband is only allowed for very limited applications (no video, no streaming, no downloads, no VoIP, etc.)
    What else does that leave? Http? I mean, when you get rid of all the stuff in that statementm, and account for a few more with the '.etc', there isn't much else you can do. I suppose maybe telnet? That is of course ignoring the fact that simply saying "no downloads" completely eliminates most everything.
    • by jhfry (829244)
      You can supply personal information (uploads) to telemarketers who will then call you on your phone!

      Maybe, the government could even use it to spy on your calls!

      That's what we really need broadband for anyway right? Our own protection from terrorists?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Oh stop whining. This is no problem at all as long as you only send UDP packets with forged headers so there's no return traffic. Plus, since I'm charged by the number of bytes transferred, effectively disabling the ability to receive data saves me a lot of money each month! In short, disabling downloads is actually a benefit to the consumer of the fine and generous services. I don't know what you're complaining about.

      I hope you're not insinuating that maybe the company doesn't know what's best for you?!!
  • so yeas (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    To answer your question, your agency does suck donkey balls...
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:10PM (#18804297)
    There should be a service provider olympics. Winner is the one who does best in most events, subject to drug testing.
  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:11PM (#18804319)
    The FCC should definitely be restructured and be given a refresher course of its mission... it was originally created to govern communication frequency allocation, and that's where it should stay. It should not be acting like an unofficial censorship bureau and/or advocate to the MPAA; it should be neutral on those issues.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @05:12PM (#18805181) Journal

      The FCC ... was originally created to govern communication frequency allocation, and that's where it should stay. It should not be acting like an unofficial censorship bureau
      Their job is to regulate the spectrum in the public's interest. If the public complains about [sex/language/violence/other] on the public spectrum, then isn't it the FCC's job to regulate [X]?

      I assert that "no regulation" isn't a viable option, so what's the alternative? Non-government regulation? How is a non-government organization accountable to the people?

      What's your alternative?
      • by jidar (83795)
        Assertion failed: ("no regulation" isn't a viable option), from slashdot.org/comment.c
      • by Viewsonic (584922)

        Their job is to regulate the spectrum in the public's interest. If the public complains about [sex/language/violence/other] on the public spectrum, then isn't it the FCC's job to regulate [X]? I assert that "no regulation" isn't a viable option, so what's the alternative? Non-government regulation? How is a non-government organization accountable to the people? What's your alternative?

        No, it's to allocate and partition out the spectrums, not what it carried through them. If the public has a problem with X, the public simply needs to not tune in X. "No regulation" is a viable option. It falls in line with free speech and pretty much everything this country is supposed to stand for. If you don't want to hear what someone has to say, then don't listen. Pretty simple, yeah?

      • Changing the channel.
      • by sjames (1099)

        Their job is to regulate the spectrum in the public's interest. If the public complains about [sex/language/violence/other] on the public spectrum, then isn't it the FCC's job to regulate [X]?

        Only if it is truly in the public's interest. For every complainer about X on TV or radio there's one who doesn't want it all hacked and slashed out or covered with [BEEEEEP].

        Of course, at this point I'd be happy if the FCC to even try for the public interest rather than simply helping a few large corps to carve

      • Their job is to regulate the spectrum in the public's interest. If the public complains about [sex/language/violence/other] on the public spectrum, then isn't it the FCC's job to regulate [X]?

        The FCC should be smart enough to figure out that if 90+% of their complaints come from a small incredibly vocal minority that does not mean they should implement global policies that affect the rest of us who are just fine with how things are run.

        The Parents Television Council is ruining TV for the rest of us. Check

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MaceyHW (832021)
      Only on /. would this comment be regarded as 'insightful' in a discussion of the methodologies of determining broadband penetration.
    • by SonicSpike (242293) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @07:51PM (#18806927) Homepage Journal
      The FCC is a bit sticky because really it isn't authorized to exist in Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution. Legally all RF spectrum management should be reserved to the States. However I do realize that would create utter chaos, and I might could see how RF spectrum management might be able to be stretched to fit the "interstate commerce clause".

      Nevertheless, the ONLY function of the FCC would be spectrum management. And by this I mean deciding what services are on what freqs etc ensuring the local radio station doesn't trample aviation or military communications etc. The FCC should NOT be involved in any content decisions, telcom decisions, land-line anything, or anything that is not directly involved with the RF spectrum.
      • Actually, I would think that the FCCs existence is constitutionally authorized by whatever treaties established the ITU. Also, the nature of telephone and telegraph communications means that many of them will cross state lines and even national boundaries, putting their regulation squarely within the purview of the federal government, should such regulation be deemed necessary.

        Although I agree with you in principle that they IS, but they OUGHT NOT. (in general. We do need someone to manage spectrum alloc
        • Well, the Interstate Commerce Clause (ICC) says that Congress has the duty to 'regulate interstate commerce'. That seems straight forward but back in the day when that was written, the language is not the same. During that time period and in that context "regulate" meant 'to make regular'. If you remember your American history at the time all of the states were having money problems, inflation, different fiat standards, trade wars, etc. The entire point of the ICC was to make commerce regular or uniform in
  • but why do they even measure these things at all?

    I'm not trying to troll. I just don't see the point.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Moridineas (213502)
      For slashdotters to whine about :-)
    • Some of this is pure ego-rubbing (We've got the biggest cars, aircraft carriers,...), but I suspect this is mostly used for lobbying purposes and used as "evidence" to underline some irrational argument.

      Our kids are falling behind in math. Well, what do you expect if there is such low broadband? Lets start "No kid left on dial up"!

      If US had huge broadband uptake, it would be bandied about to show that current policies are working.

      The facts are unimportant. They are just anchors for the spin.

    • Some of this data could be used for oversight purposese. Remember the law which gave telecomms $ in order to bring broadband to rural areas?

    • but why do they even measure these things at all?

      Have we all forgotten the debate over opening access to the local loop to competition for DSL service? This was supposed to be one of the premises of the 1996 Telecom Act. The FCC initially implemented this, unbundling DSL service, allowing CLEC's to compete over the incumbents' phone lines. But the incumbents fought tooth and nail in the courts and found a receptive audience in certain anti-regulatory judges on the D.C. Circuit Federal Appeals Court.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DeepHurtn! (773713)
      How can sound communication policy be formed without adequate information?
  • by Rick17JJ (744063) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:20PM (#18804437)

    Until recently 26.4 K dial-up was all that was available where I live. Neither broadband cable or DSL was available and even 56K dial-up was not available (just 26.4K). Then a few months ago DSL finally became available and I now can download at 1.5 MBs and upload at about 800 K. The 26.4K was such a pain when I was taking several college classes that had lots of graphics intensive online study material. Security updates for Windows and Linux sometimes took hours to download.

    I live in a small city in Arizona, but am not in a rural area. Most people in my Zip code did have cable and in some also had DSL available, but not where I live.

    • 1.)Buy WRT54G
      2.)Give to Neighbor.
      3.)Profit.
    • Security updates for Windows and Linux sometimes took hours to download.

      Hours? A new FC6 install can require 1.2GB of updates. That's > 4 days of always-on at 26.4 (as if you could keep a connection that long).

      Translation: you can't do it.

      Exception: yum is smart enough to resume updates if your dial-on-demand script reestablishes your PPP connection. At one point Windows was re-downloading anything that didn't get done in a transaction - I don't know the current state.

      Running an unpatched Windows box
  • In the world (or something like that), it seems that doing a statistically random poll is a more accurate representation than the way the FCC does it anyway. Why do Zonk, kdawson, and the rest of the mental midgets at Slashdot obsess about this issue anyway? It's not as if broadband penetration means much of anything, if those who want to use it can use it at work anyway.
    • It's not as if broadband penetration means much of anything, if those who want to use it can use it at work anyway.

      Uh ... what?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Paulrothrock (685079)

      This is a ridiculous statement. First, what does Nielsen consider "broadband." Under current US regulations, anything with 256kbps down is "broadband," but that's almost unusable for anything other than faster web surfing or email. Video on demand and VoIP are unusable on such a system.

      Second, our fastest residential broadband in the US is the minimum speeds for most of the rest of the world. For what I'm paying to Comcast right now for 6 Mbps down and 768 kbps up I could get a symmetrical 10Mbit connectio

  • Oh noes! (Score:1, Flamebait)

    Our statistical methodology seems almost calculated to obscure just how far our country is falling behind many other industrialized nations in broadband availability, adoption, speed and price.'"

    So? Does anyone outside Evil Marketing Overlords who want to push broadband paid content even care?

    Besides, I have 15 Mbps fiber at my house. Who cares what anyone else has. :)

  • Yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Znrch (966486)
    I'm from a medium-to-large sized agricultural city in California. While people within the city limits can get broadband fairly easily, it took several years of prodding to even get a technician/installer out to my parent's house. Their house, in the county, is about 50-60 feet off the street. They finally got a guy to come out, but the service is absolutely horrible. Someone mentioned doing it by area codes I think. I don't know what it's like elsewhere, but here area codes cover a larger area than zip co
  • Once we clear the issue of broadband providers up, can we move on to cell phones? The US market is even further behind the rest of the world there.
    • The US market is even further behind the rest of the world there.

      That's because we led the world in cabled-connections; we had land-lines everywhere.

      China (for example), when it started to build out its telecommunications infrastructure, was able to choose cellular because it hadn't heavily invested in anything yet.

      Expect to see a similar "falling behind" in the future when the next generation of communication comes out to replace cellular. Whomever has the least invested in cellular will rapidly adopt
  • Money money money (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @04:48PM (#18804811)

    I'm always amazed at just how much broadband costs in the U.S. No wonder the FCC thinks nobody wants it!

    I get ADSL from the phone company for $CDN 34.95 a month. They sent me a new DSL modem that's supposed to go twice as fast (the usual residential ADSL offering is 1.5 MBPS), but I haven't found any sites with big enough pipes to see the difference. I'm close enough to the central office to go a lot faster if I wanted to pay for it.

    I have family who live out in the country. Until recently they suffered through 56k dialup that rarely connected above 28.8. Now they have satellite broadband, and pay about what I do, per person (my Mum and my sister share a connection).

    ...laura, well-connected Canadian Linux and Mac user

    • by Sentry21 (8183)
      I can second this. I've got cable internet through the cable company, running me $74.95 for 10 megabit (unmetered). My former roommate is working with a local ISP on rolling out ADSL2+, which would give 24 megabit (theoretically) for about $40/mo, give or take (depending on distance from the CO). Better than most prices I've seen in the US. I happened to check another cable provider (for another locality), and their best offering is 25 megabit for $93/mo, with 150G download limit. Not bad.

      My parents live in
    • I was on a chat site where someone frome SE Asia made a comment about the internet service they had: 100Mb Ethernet! For 5 years, I paid $50/month for 5Mb download and 384kb upload (aside from an occasional discount when moving)! After 5 years, I finally got moved up to 7Mb download and 512kb upload, and for another $10/month I can upgrade to 10Mb download and unknown upload. Woo Hoo :(. I'm sure they do bandwidth throttling on some sites because it's not unusual for me to have trouble streaming videos
      • by Shaman (1148)
        You have *not* paid for that bandwidth. It is a "best effort" type of bandwidth you pay for, and it is oversold. It has to be. If you are paying less than three figures for 5Mbps then you are not paying for dedicated bandwidth, plain and simple.
    • by ghyd (981064)
      "but I haven't found any sites with big enough pipes to see the difference"

      I've found quite a few moments when a high speed Internet is really welcome: fresh Windows install, torrents, graphic card drivers, updates, softwares, games (lets say you want to download albatross18 or trackmania, they have good servers), files on ftp servers, watching TV. I'm not yet eagerly waiting for fiber optics, but I already really love the TV via ADSL (because I don't watch TV that much, and via ADSL most of my favorite bro
  • What kind of crony does this Michael Copps think he is if he readily admits governmental mistakes. He should look to Roberto Gonzales for direction in how to be an unquestioning lap dog.
    • by unitron (5733)

      What kind of crony does this Michael Copps think he is if he readily admits governmental mistakes.

      The Democratic kind (of which there are currently two) which result from the rule that only three of the five commisioners can be from the same political party.

  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @05:01PM (#18805013)
    I blame RIAA, it members, MPAA, Disney as much for the collapse of WorldCom (all that *dark* fiber) and the re-emergence of the "baby" Bells and the other roads hogs. Some baby Bells, etc made state level agreements ~10 years ago that should have put them more on track for capacity and last mile if they had not reneged on the provisions of such agreements.
    Yes, like Clinton, the third George's reign has helped make the world, er, country safe for our brand of state capitalism.
    • Wait, what? I am not particularly fond of any of the three entities that you mentioned in your post, but I think you should expound on your belief. I can't really tell how the RIAA, MPAA, and Disney could have forced WorldCom to commit massive accounting fraud [wikipedia.org]. Believe me, I would like to see the RIAA, MPAA, and Disney, as well as quite a few others go away, but blaming them willy-nilly for things that they don't really have connection to is detrimental to the cause.
  • Our country is falling behind.. because of government sponsored telecom companies and the monopolies they are allowed to create.

    • by anagama (611277)
      Re your Ron Paul sig:

      From http://www.ronpaul2008.com/html/AboutRon_fx.html [ronpaul2008.com]:

      He was an unwavering advocate of pro-life and pro-family values.

      Code for just another religious right whack-job. When oh when will we get a socially progressive, financially conservative party -- one that believes in small government in all respects.
  • Post offices are build in population centers. The zip codes correspond to presorting for post office and route within it. They tend to be organized as one of the following:
    1) A patch with a post office (in the local town or village) at the center.
    2) A set of pie wedges centered on a post office.
    3) A set of patches surrounded by a set of pie wedges.

    So zip codes that include the under-served rural areas will almost invariably have a point, near the post office, in a city, town, villa
    • 1) A patch with a post office (in the local town or village) at the center.
          2) A set of pie wedges centered on a post office.
          3) A set of patches surrounded by a set of pie wedges.


      And perhaps an extra zip code for the postal boxes - which include a mix of rural and local customers.
  • Not so simple (Score:4, Informative)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @06:57PM (#18806457) Homepage
    Cable access is pretty simple. Either the provider offers it or they do not. For the most part, it is system-wide today and not a lot of areas have cable but no Internet connectivity through it.

    DSL is not so simple. You need an unbroken copper pair from the CO to the house. Most newer subdivisions in Illinois use a fiber connection to a vault and then copper from the vault to the houses. There is no room in the vault for a DSLAM, so no DSL. Especially there is no room in the vault for multiple DSLAM's so there could be at most one or two providers. This was a clear violation of the rules a few years back and the only way out was "No DSLAM period." So that is how it works in newer areas.

    Older areas are generally copper to the CO without any interruptions but you do have the maximum distance limit. Many homes have fine telephone service out past 17,000 feet from the CO - no DSL for them. Past around 12,000 you aren't going to get much beyond 512K anyway, at least without quite a bit of searching for a good pair.

    So cable is simple and DSL is complicated. To determine if a given address can get DSL you need to know both the distance to the CO, the facilities in the CO and the type of connectivity to the house. This is not easy outside of major metropolitan areas.

    ZIP code is about as close as you could get for an approximation. Anything else would be either block-by-block or individual homes. Maybe they could get this information into the 2010 census because that would be about the only practical way to collect the volume of information that would be needed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hazydave (96747)
      I spoke with one of the "fixer" guys Verizon sends out when their first repair guy can't solve your problem; he's done all kinds of DSL installations. The DSL board set can live in any local node, it doesn't have to be at the central office... he knew the precise board set and software revision for the local node that's less than 1000ft from my driveway, and promised that Verizon would NEVER support DSL there. Period. Thus, the 0.97m 2-way satellite dish on my roof, and a hefty internet bill.

      See, the telcos
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2007 @07:33PM (#18806769)
    US broadband speeds, directional balance, and legal definitions have been dumbed down to serve the interests of the incumbent telecom and cable providers and the entertainment industry.

    DSL and cable's directionally unbalanced bandwidths are legacy broadband and are technologically obsolescent. Real broadband is bi-directional and starts at about 1 GB to the home. That's what fiber is capable of providing and is what other countries are getting or building toward. A 1 GB fiber can provide telephone, Internet, and cable TV on a single connection, and should cost no more than about $50 a month for all three combined.

    In such a system, any subscriber can become a content originator. To prevent discrimination, providers of content, applications, snd services should be legally separated from providers of bandwidth.

    This dumbing down has a serious negative impact on US competitiveness. Innovators with real broadband can conceive of applications that US innovators wouldn't imagine because of dumbed-down broadband.

    Congress and the FCC still think that broadband starts at 200 KB and that broadband is reasonably provided as a means of delivering proprietary content. They need to get up to date.
    • by debest (471937)

      In such a system, any subscriber can become a content originator. To prevent discrimination, providers of content, applications, snd services should be legally separated from providers of bandwidth.

      "Should" and "will" have never been further apart.

      This dumbing down has a serious negative impact on US competitiveness. Innovators with real broadband can conceive of applications that US innovators wouldn't imagine because of dumbed-down broadband.

      No doubt that this statement is true. Unfortunately for us, thi

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @07:36PM (#18806783)
    FCC Admits Mistakes In Measuring Broadband Competition

    But I wish they'd admit to some more of their mistakes, and then do something about them. This one isn't even one of the most damning.
  • Oh, phleeze! Is it actually a requirement to be an idiot to work for the FCC.

    I'm one of those guys who can't get wired broadband, and I'll betcha they have me listed as "served" (it's ok, I have satellite, for about $100/month, that's delivers reasonable performance, unless latency is your big thing). I live in rural South Jersey, in a town covering about 45 square miles that's apparently too small to have its own zipcode. So we get to use a bunch of zipcodes from other towns... that's how zipcodes work, af
  • Not only is their methodology on zip codes flawed but their whole definition of what is "high speed" is way off. The FCC needs to update its definition. The minimum high speed should be is 2 MPPS upstream and 1 MBPS downstream. For other countries that would still be slow but we need to start somewhere. Even when we pay for higher speeds there is no consumer protection that requires providers to give you what you pay for. The only way for these issues to be addressed is a serious public policy encouragi
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Friday April 20, 2007 @09:21AM (#18811313)
    I live in Kansas City and I've moved around the metropolitan area about 5 times in the last 8 years. Some areas of the city must have some sort of exclusivity contracts since there's only one cable provider. Not coincidentally, these are the areas with the higher prices and unforgivably hideous customer service. I'd like to see some investigation into why cable providers are allowed to stake out exclusive territories in an otherwise homogenous metropolitan region.

No man is an island if he's on at least one mailing list.

Working...