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FCC Gets Go-Ahead For Plan To Expand Rural Internet Access 156

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-them-the-hinterlands dept.
The FCC's plan to use fees collected from big telecom companies to expand Internet infrastructure in rural parts of the U.S. was given a green light yesterday in Denver, by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Those telecoms maintained that the FCC's mandate did not extend to using the money to pay for Internet service, but a three-judge panel dismissed their challenge. From The Verge: "The FCC originally pitched the program as part of the Universal Service Fund in 2011, noting in a report a year earlier that approximately 14 million people did not have access to broadband. The Connect America Fund aimed to use a portion of customer bills in other areas of the country to build out broadband infrastructure, including cellular data networks in those areas. That would begin with $300 million at the start, and up to $500 million as part of an annual budget."
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FCC Gets Go-Ahead For Plan To Expand Rural Internet Access

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  • Yes! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jest3r (458429) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @07:20PM (#47084875)
    The FCC is soooo awesome for doing this!

    Finally they stood up to the telecoms and now I trust them completely to ensure that the Internet will be free, open and available to everyone.

    I've never understood the hate as of late.
    • The FCC is soooo awesome for doing this!

      To date, "Connect Americs" - type government programs managed to bring broadband Internet service to quite a few (though nowhere near a million) rural households... for an average of nearly $100,000 per household.

      Your tax $ at work.

      The intent may be good, but as usual, the government has fumble-fingered the whole operation, and made it cost somewhere around 20 times what it should have.

      • not your taxes. isn't the money from a surcharge on your cable/telephone bill....totally different slush fund.

    • by Bartles (1198017)
      I've been waiting for 5 years for the rural broadband initiative to reach me in my rural area. As far as I can tell, it didn't really help anyone and Barack Obama basically just gifted 4 billion in taxpayer money to the Telecommunications corporations.
      • by celle (906675)

        "Barack Obama basically just gifted 4 billion in taxpayer money to the Telecommunications corporations."

              The president doesn't give money, congress does. Blame them. Like during the Clinton era when congress gave billions to expand the internet to schools and the telcos gave themselves a big payday when they weren't buying each other and many rural schools don't have decent internet yet.

        • by Bartles (1198017)
          Lol. The president signs into law or vetoes every law that congress passes and then is responsible for it's implementation. Many of those laws, like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the President played a large role in crafting. The buck stops with him, even when he happens to be a Democrat, no matter how hard he runs from that responsibility.
    • by antdude (79039)

      They will have to prove it!

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @07:22PM (#47084889) Journal

    Fed: Here is some tax payer money. Now promise you will use it for rural Iowa where people pay $300 a month for a 640kb connection.

    ISP: Oh yeah we promise. Thanks Uncle Sam!

    Fed: Uh 3 years has happened where is the new infrastructure that the hard working tax payers paid for?

    ISP: NO! We do not want to spend it. Screw you! We gave it to the CEO and shareholders so we could keep our bonuses.

    Fed: What?! We had a deal. Why aren't you ...

    ISP: Oh look at that ... big Ku CLUNG and a huge bag of money lands ... I was wondering what happened with that money that the tax payers gave us. It appears to be on your desk sir

    FED: Oh then I see. Hmm perhaps we need a real expert to hear your case then. Someone with close ties and is on your payroll to tell us you need to steal more tax payer money?

    ISP: Ahh good idea. Hire me. I work as a lobbyest and as you know I am quite clumsy and keep dropping these bags of free speech everywhere I go too. Oh boy got to watch that.

    Fed: LOL. Ok we can't keep giving you money though. So what can we do

    ISP: I know lets rip off other people then. You see we charge too much as it is and we also charge people who want to host and stream. What if we tripple charge all over the place. Then more bags of free speech might just keep falling out if I am not careful.

    Fed: Praise Obama and worship Henry Reid so I can keep my job after 2014 and you have a deal!

    ISP: Got it ... shakes hands

    • by celle (906675)

      "ISP: NO! We do not want to spend it. Screw you! We gave it to the CEO and shareholders so we could keep our bonuses."

      FED: -:FBI/Swat arriving:- -- In response to the previous and on-going investigations and your current response you're all under arrest. Your business and all your wealth(including personal/family/close friends/mistresses) is confiscated. Your corporate charter is revoked. And when the courts finish ruling the way we tell them to and running roughshod over your o

      • Uh that didn't happen.

        We actually *did pay* ISPs to offer broadband for rural communities.

        They stole the money and then refused unless Net Neutrality was over turned. We caved in and hired a lobbyist to watch itself and now they are caving in 3 years later after they got their way.

        You doing it? Yes, you are not rich and would be arrested as since you are not a job creator you are not important and do not have the big pockets of free speech to have the FBI treat you differently

  • "Well, we said it, but we didn't really MEAN it! I mean - come on, just think of the incredible 0.0001% loss of profits! How can I justify that to my stock holders?"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Socialism !! Wont any one think of the capitalists! Isnt being able to read the bible every night by whale oil lantern enough?

  • The lawless market has spoken!

  • Why be hypocritical? We have a government that regulates every aspect of it, and occasionally is itself in the business of providing the same service that companies are. It's a fascist wet dream; just call it what it is and be done with it.

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @08:33PM (#47085131)
      When our telecommunications WERE "nationalized" (i.e., when Ma Bell was a regulated "natural monopoly"), we got very good service as a whole, with reasonable rates. When it was all land lines, that is.

      That was anything but a "fascist wet dream". Today's pretense of a market is, though. Obviously I prefer an open, competitive market but that's not what we have.
      • by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @08:52PM (#47085217) Journal

        we got very good service as a whole, with reasonable rates

        How old are you? Are you old enough to remember the concept of "long distance"? Of paying $0.10/min - $0.25/min for the privilege of calling your friends and family across the country? Rounded up of course. Don't tell me Ma Bell had "reasonable rates". Their rates were highway robbery even with the technological limitations of those days.

        Innovation and regulated monopolies don't go hand in hand either. The theoretical underpinnings of what we now call DSL were well known in the 50s and workable technology was field tested by the 80s. It went nowhere because AT&T saw it as a threat, we can't sell dedicated data lines if we bring data and voice in on the same pair. That technology was left to collect dust on the shelf until DOCSIS was on the horizon and they realized they had a competitor.

        • How old are you? Are you old enough to remember the concept of "long distance"? Of paying $0.10/min - $0.25/min for the privilege of calling your friends and family across the country?

          Yep. I sure do.

          At the time, did YOU bother to check what the rates were in other countries where there was "competition" in the landline phone markets? It cost 3 times as much, and sometimes you couldn't even call your neighbor because they were using a competing service that wasn't electrically compatible.

      • by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @08:56PM (#47085229) Journal

        When our telecommunications WERE "nationalized" (i.e., when Ma Bell was a regulated "natural monopoly"), we got very good service as a whole, with reasonable rates. When it was all land lines, that is.

        Memory is often viewed through rose-tinted spectacles. Do you remember that SNL sketch, with the line "We're the phone company and we don't care"? Today, we have crony-capitalism, which isn't any better than fully regulated. The FCC rolled over when incumbents made it impossible for CLECs to compete. If the FCC had had some backbone then, there might be a competitive landscape now.

        On a related note, I don't understand why the broadcasters (NBC excepted, of course) are not up in arms about the proposed Comcast/Time Warner merger. The merger will give the combined entity more negotiation power against the broadcasters.

        • Memory is often viewed through rose-tinted spectacles. Do you remember that SNL sketch, with the line "We're the phone company and we don't care"?

          Yes, I certainly do. But what my memory is "viewed through" is University economics courses back when landlines were still the norm.

          I studied the economics of our "natural monopoly" phone system vs. other countries where they had "competition" in the landline phone business. And in comparison, ours kicked ass. (Nobody is claiming it was perfect. But relatively speaking, it was very damned good.)

          Then, later, in business law, one of our case studies was the breakup of Ma Bell. The whys and wherefores, a

          • by thejynxed (831517)

            They were that way, until telecoms lobbyists had it their way and got telecom providers/ISPs (who are often one and the same) delegated as "information services" with all of the accompanying lack of regulation forthwith.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        When our telecommunications WERE "nationalized" (i.e., when Ma Bell was a regulated "natural monopoly"), we got very good service as a whole, with reasonable rates. When it was all land lines, that is.

        Ma Bell charged ASTRONOMICAL rates, particularly for long-distance calls. They also rented out phones, the same way cable/satellite companies rent converter boxes, hard-wired them to your wall, and would sue you if you dared to connect a different phone to your phone line. That's why we had "acoustic coupler

    • Why be hypocritical? We have a government that regulates every aspect of it, and occasionally is itself in the business of providing the same service that companies are. It's a fascist wet dream; just call it what it is and be done with it.

      That sir is socialism! We in America prefer freedom thank you very much!

      Sincerely,

      Verizon CEO

  • The comment "build out broadband infrastructure, including cellular data networks in those areas." seems like a waste of money. Metered bandwidth is good for mobile applications but a home needs unlimited data volumes. While today, 30 gig a month is fine for most and 100 gig /month should suffice for the next few years, the concept of caps will be a bucket of cold water on continued innovation. Wireless is not in itself a bad technology for the rural build-out, but it is unlikely that Verizon and AT&
  • by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium@@@yahoo...com> on Saturday May 24, 2014 @09:42PM (#47085421)

    We understood that the Commerce Clause [wikipedia.org] authorized Congress to construct interstate highways. The web is the interstate highway of the 21st century and the Commerce Clause authorizes Congress to invest in a functioning web for all U.S citizens just as much as it did for highways. The FCC doesn't have a vote.

    It is of the most fundamental importance that the United States should think in big pieces, should think together, should think ultimately as a whole. [dot.gov]

    • by fyngyrz (762201)

      Great read, thank you. Also, yes.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      What you said was totally correct but almost entirely irrelevant, the question here was the scope of FCC's mandate. Just because people start using email instead of snail mail doesn't mean the USPS's mandate changes. The ones who build interstates and manage cars don't automatically become the federal aviation administration when people started flying. I'm not in the US but the work I do is narrowly mandated by our parliament, sure they could change the law - actually it's an administrative provision pointe

  • Who builds it ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @10:03PM (#47085471)

    ... and what do they build (and run)?

    Back when the Universal Sevice Fund was created for rural POTS, that was a heavly regulated and well defined service. So when the government mandated redistribution of funds for the telecoms (actually only the one back then) to build rural systems, they knew what they'd be getting.

    Broadband Internet service is poorly defined. Lacking any sort of network neutrality (and other common carrier regulations), there is no telling what exactly will get built and once built, what people in rural communities will be able to do with it.

    They should name this the Take The Money and Run Plan.

  • Some people save money by moving to remote areas. Then others have to subsidise them by paying all kinds of fees to that they get access to stuff in their cheap, remote areas.

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      You can thank the Electoral College which gives rural states more relative power than populated states. Plus, rural areas tend to have older voters, who are more likely to show up at the polls because many are retired and have time.

  • plans to bring broadband to everyone years after years. You'd think it'd be finished by now. What happened to all the money ?
  • Is this the slow lane?

  • So the billions that were supposed to go to building and upgrading the network will now be given right back to the telecoms without upgrading the network.

    I'm so glad the FCC is looking out for the public interest.
  • General Alexander must have made a phone call to his good friend Jeff Moss.
  • Another waste of your money, brought to you by the brilliant people that run the US federal government... Idiots, most of them.

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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