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

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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  • 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.
  • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Strangely Familiar ( 1071648 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @09:25PM (#47085353) Homepage
    You can't dig a hole in the ground to provide an internet connection, the same way you can with water and septic. For electricity, you could always buy a generator, although that is a much inferior solution than a grid connection. But you can't buy an Internet. The nature of a "net" is that it is cooperative and shared. It makes sense that millions of people would collaborate to connect themselves to the Internet, rather than taking an every man for himself approach.

    The telecoms lack even one electron volt of shame. Don't you think the main issue is that these telecoms filed a lawsuit to prevent millions from getting broadband connections? That their image is already so blackened, they don't worry how this might appear? How did rural folks become the bad guys for you in this story?

  • Re:Yes! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2014 @09:36PM (#47085401)

    I get the worst of both worlds. I live in a rural area (average one house per 10 acres) on the very edge of a county that is considered part of the DC Metro area. I pay the relatively higher property taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, have to get emissions tests on my car, pay high property tax rate on my cars etc. AND I have one cell tower in the area that gets me about 1 bar of signal, well and septic systems, my own propane tanks, power that is a single set of lines for miles that just ends at the last house with no redundancy. I couldn't get DSL because of the distance. I did finally get access to Comcast internet and I average over 100 down even at 8pm. I guess the node or whatever they are are not being shared with many people. If I lived 1 mile further down the road (same zip code still), I would be in a rural county and pay about 1/2 the amount in taxes. My own fault.

  • 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.

  • Re:Yes! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday May 24, 2014 @10:43PM (#47085597) Journal

    97 percent of farms in the US are family owned and operated. 2.2 million of them.

    [Citation Needed]
    Your link just goes to an agricultural interest organization that doesn't cite anything.

    I found another random agricultural interest group that claims 60% of family farms are "hobby" farms that don't contribute meaningfully to the market.
    But you know what, it doesn't cite its sources either [] (PDF), beyond "USDA"

    Either way, my understanding is that family farms are increasingly shifting towards contract farming, which effectively makes the "family" aspect a meaningless distinction.

  • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Sunday May 25, 2014 @12:45AM (#47085871) Homepage

    ... the important part is to pick the metric that you like:

    First, we have our possible definitions of 'family farm' :

    1. Farms operated by indvidual families
    2. Farms owned by individual families
    3. Farms owned or operated by individual families that produce agricultural products for sale
    4. Farms owned or operated by individual families that aren't incorporated. (might be a death tax dodge, might be a huge corporatation that's tightly held)
    5. Farms owned an operated by individual families that qualify as a 'small business'.
    6. Farms under a given acerage.

    And we can further modify what we're analyzing:

    a. ...only those farms that produce agricultural products for sale.
    b. ...only those farms that produce food.
    c. ...only those farms that produce food intended for human consumption. (no sod or flower farms, feedstock for biodiesel)
    d. ...only those farms that produce food that contributes to the human food chain. (so allow hay, alfalfa and animal feed if grown for cows, but if the cows are to be dog food).
    e. ...only those farms that 'contribute meaningfully to the market'.

    Then, we have our metric, selecting the definiton of 'family farm' that's most advantageous of what we're trying to show, comparing "family farms" to either "corporate farms" or to "all farms":

    1. Percentage of the count "family farms"
    2. Percentage of the acerage of "family farms" 3. Percentage of the acerage used for farming in a given year.
    4. Percentage of the products produced by "family farms" (in tons)
    5. Percentage of the products produced by "family farms" (in dollars)
    6&7. Percentage of the food produced by "family farms" (tons / dollars)
    8&9. Percentage of the food sold by "family farms" (tons/dollars)

    Some of these, I'm not even sure which way the selection bias will be. (family farms might sell at farmer's markets and get a better price per pound ... or they might focus on herbs and things typically sold at higher margins that don't tend to be grown on a massive scale).

    But like anything, you run all of the different combinations, and pick the one that gives you the answer to support whatever argument you're trying to make.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen