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$6 Billion Proposal For High-Speed Internet Grants 280

Posted by timothy
from the gentlemen-gentlemen-there's-plenty-to-go-around dept.
witherstaff writes "House Democrats have proposed $6 billion in Internet investmentsas part of a sweeping economic stimulus bill that the full House is expected to vote on next week. The $6 billion is considered a down payment on efforts Obama will make in this area over the next several years. Of course let's not forget the $200 billion broadband scandal that the large telecommunication companies have been paid but never delivered on."
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$6 Billion Proposal For High-Speed Internet Grants

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  • Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ian Alexander (997430) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:35PM (#26600733)
    As long as we get some return on the investment I'm all for it, but as the FS says: we've sunk a lot more than $6bn into this same thing already and got nowhere.

    Fool me once, shame on you...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wITTus (856003)

      As long as we get some return on the investment I'm all for it

      Like, say, protection from terrorists?

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        Even more basic than ROE...

        Where the hell are they going to get all this money from for all these programs?

        Geez..people were bitching about all the money the Bush admin was spending (Hell, "I" was bitching about it too, Bush never seemed to see a spending bill he didn't like).

        But, really...I thought the Dems. were supposed to go back to being Clinton-ian, and try to get back to a balance budget.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by crmarvin42 (652893)
          Now you see the difference between political Rhetoric and political Reality. They were only opposed to the spending b/c it was not being spent on their pet projects, and it was politically convenient to seem opposed to large expenditures, since it was going to happen anyway.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Now you see the difference between political Rhetoric and political Reality. They were only opposed to the spending b/c it was not being spent on their pet projects

            Here's what I see:

            (A) $12 billion a month to kill, destroy, and rebuild in Iraq to no discernible purpose.

            versus

            (B) $6 billion to start expanding the infrastructure of our own country for a competitive future.

            Not being Republican or retarded - large population overlap noted - I'll take (B).

            • Re:Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Pros_n_Cons (535669) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @09:53PM (#26603253)

              12 billion
              vs.
              6 billion

              thats some very bad logic bud.
              the point is to get out of iraq. Not compare it to something to spend more money.
              Thats like sayin hey honey we can afford this BMW its only going to be half of the mortgage amount

              • I'll grant you we may not know the final amount of money involved if the $6 billion is just to get things started...

                But what part of PER MONTH in GP's post did you not understand?

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by cayenne8 (626475)
                  But, before we go spending more money, shouldn't we WAIT till we're actually out of Iraq, and have a few years to pay down the deficit, before we start throwing money around again like a drunken sailor?
              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Oh right, I forgot that now that you are out of power you are all such concerned fiscal conservatives again. LOL

                The analogy is more like: Dad just pissed all our money away but if I take a college loan and use it wisely I can still have a prosperous future.

                The $6 billion is 1/100th of what has been spent on the war, not including the 1.5 trillion yet to come in military medical costs, equipment replacement, etc.

                There is plenty in the stimulus plan that can be justifiably labeled pork. Considering the impo

        • Re:Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ian Alexander (997430) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:21PM (#26601659)
          $6bn, as absurd an amount as it is, is a drop in the water compared to some of the things the last President put through. At least that kind of spending is starting to get funneled back into the US as opposed to, say, across the world in military misadventures that are actively damaging our security.
          • $6bn, as absurd an amount as it is, is a drop in the water compared to some of the things the last President put through. At least that kind of spending is starting to get funneled back into the US as opposed to, say, across the world in military misadventures that are actively damaging our security.

            Whats going on here. How come so many people use the last idiot president as a reason to make it okay to spend aslong as you dont spend as much.. recession/depression you remember that being trumpeted for months? well we're not out of it. That means we're not suppose to spend like drunken sailors.
            we're in serious trouble if Bush is the one setting the standards of spending practices for the Obama administration.

            • Re:Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

              by SnapShot (171582) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @11:16PM (#26603787)

              Actually, according to Keynsian economics a recession / depression is exactly when you are supposed to run a deficit.

              The unforgivable sin of the Bush administration (or at least, one of the first) was taking the country from surplus to deficit when the economy was relatively strong. Remember, the first round of tax cuts for the rich?

        • by BCW2 (168187)
          All spending bills originate in the House of Representatives. The last 2 years of a Dem controlled House led you believe what?!

          New song, same as the old song.
      • Re:Subject (Score:4, Insightful)

        by darkpixel2k (623900) <aaron@heyaaron.com> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @08:35PM (#26602655) Homepage

        As long as we get some return on the investment I'm all for it

        Like, say, protection from terrorists?

        Like, uh...they haven't attacked us since we started 'investing' in it.

        As far as telco's go, we invested heavily in the 80's via tax cuts, and all those little $0.25 and $0.50 fees on phone bills. What did they develop with billions? ISDN. Yeah. 128k. No thanks. I don't need the government to take money from me at the point of a gun to give to a bunch of huge monopolistic telephone companies to squander.

        ...or auto makers for that matter.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by PitaBred (632671)

          Like, uh...they haven't attacked us since we started 'investing' in it.

          And I haven't been run over by a car since I started slashing all the tires on the cars on my street. It must be working!

    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:47PM (#26600829)
      If the taxpayer is doing the investing then the taxpayers (ie the government) should own the networks. The private telcos are free to compete and provide better services. If the taxpayers invest in private telcos then the taxpayers should have partial ownership of the telcos and profits should go back to the people (ie govermnet).

      After all, the big bank bail out is not by just giving money to the banks. The government has bought loans from the banks.

      • by j0nb0y (107699)

        The government didn't buy loans. The government bought preferred shares ie an ownership stake in the banks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by zxnos (813588)

          from what i understand the government is buying up troubled assets (TARP) from banks and whatnot to get them off the banks books. in return the government gets equity warrants which allows the government to purchase non-voting shares (which probably may or may not be preferred) in the bank from which it bought the troubled assets.

          this really all goes back to how our finance system works. normally a bank has 'x' dollars to lend out. once they lend out the 'x' they package up those loans and sell them to some

      • by znu (31198) <znu.public@gmail.com> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:18PM (#26601119)

        The most logical structure for telecom networks is to have the government own the physical infrastructure (which is a natural monopoly) and then allow any private company that wants to to provide services (Internet, television, phone, whatever) over that infrastructure. This would create an actual competitive market for telecom services, which is something we're never going to see otherwise.

        Of course the existing telecom companies have lots of lobbyists, give lots of money to both parties, and are quite happy with things just the way they are, so this is unlikely to ever happen.

        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Telecom is NOT a natural monopoly.
          • Half right (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Spy Hunter (317220) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:01PM (#26601973) Journal

            Telecom *services* are not a natural monopoly. Telecom *wires* are a natural monopoly. What we need to do is separate the service providers from the wire provider.

          • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:50PM (#26602315)

            Telecom is NOT a natural monopoly.

            This is true, but the intent of the original poster is easy to understand. It's a problem to put in lots of competing wires because every time someone digs they risk breaking already laid wires. Every time someone strings wires it reduces the reliability of all the others because the weakest wires fall first and damage others. Almost everywhere there are laws restricting the laying of wires to one phone one cable and one power because it does solve a lot of problems. It's not a natural monopoly in the traditional sense, but neither does it invalidate the point.

            • by Belial6 (794905)
              The OPs point is not valid. There are already multiple data lines going into most houses. So, the argument that the market can only support one data line going into a house is demonstrably false. The same goes for the engineering side of it. As for the fact that the laws restrict who can lay wire, that is exact the the opposite of a NATURAL monopoly. That is a government mandated monopoly. If it really were a natural monopoly, there wouldn't need to be laws to restrict it to a monopoly. It would hap
              • The OPs point is not valid. There are already multiple data lines going into most houses.

                Yeah, but only two with no more possibility of other competitors and one is highly regulated in one way and the other is moderately regulated in a different way.

                So, the argument that the market can only support one data line going into a house is demonstrably false.

                He didn't say the market couldn't support more than one and neither did I. That is a straw man. He said it was not the most desirable course and I explained the practical reasons of reliability and local laws which make that so.

                The same goes for the engineering side of it. As for the fact that the laws restrict who can lay wire, that is exact the the opposite of a NATURAL monopoly.

                True, but I don't think it was his intent to claim it was a natural monopoly. Rather, the nature of how lines are laid resu

        • in other words, have tax payers fork out the money for the infrastructure, and then let the telecoms charge the public to use the infrastructure that they "own"? that's pretty much what we've got now.

          if you want to harness the power of free market competition, then have private companies develop the actual physical technologies that would increase transfer rates, increase the reliability and range of wireless broadband, etc.

          but have the national government set up the trunk connections that connect the natio

    • ... fool me twice - can't get fooled again!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Fool me once shame on.. shame on you... eh.. um.. a fooled man can't get fooled again.
    • Re:Subject (Score:5, Insightful)

      by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918@nOSPAM.gmail.com> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:43PM (#26602261)

      As long as we get some return on the investment I'm all for it

      And I'm against it, even if we get some return on the "investment". The ends don't justify the means.

      But, then, what choice do I have in what is done with the money I earned? When a society puts mob rule above individual rights, its no surprise that people assume that whatever passes a vote passes as just.

    • Of course, the best way to get fiber laid is to first give 6 billion dollars to a bunch of institutions whose main goal is to make a profit.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:36PM (#26600745) Homepage Journal

    ANYthing you pay to any private telco company, will be pocketed. pockets will be so deep that you wont be even finding a nickel when you plunge your hand in. Remember how did the money given to banks vanished just 1-2 months ago ?

    well. these are telcos. they have numerous times tried to scam/suffocate public in terms of cash and choices and even freedom of information before.

    it would be stupid, stupid to trust them with anything.

    • Remember how did the money given to banks vanished just 1-2 months ago ?

      That money didn't vanish . . . it's just went somewhere, where you can't see it.

      And whomever now has it, says, "So long, and thanks for all the fish."

      • if they had given it all to abba, at least we'd have some music now ...

  • And the oversight? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:47PM (#26600821)

    Any chance we could look to put some REAL oversight into this round of spending?

    If the oversight committee was a total of 5 people with backgrounds in actual accounting that ended up costing $1 million a year, but prevented the "loss" of billions in funding, I'd say it was money well spent.

    Obama, you could prove your salt here by putting some REAL Common Sense behind MY money.

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Because that's exactly what we need, a country run by even more bean counters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by peragrin (659227)

        why not. At least the pork barrel useless projects that every one and their cousin asks for will stop being built.

        Why should a sports stadium for a team that earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually be paid for by the state taxpayers? Why not simply pay the players less than a million dollars a year, and pay for it yourself? yet you will find NYS state helped pay for the Yankee's shiny new stadium.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Stephen Ma (163056)
        No, what the country needs is a bunch of honest bean counters. Enron's funny books should have been a memorable lesson, but we didn't learn -- and now we are $trillions deeper in the hole.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If the oversight committee was a total of 5 people with backgrounds in actual accounting that ended up costing $1 million a year, but prevented the "loss" of billions in funding, I'd say it was money well spent.

      Sadly, the government does indeed pay millions a year to CPAs and other professionals that actually find out where all the money is going and how much is lost each year. It's just that nothing is done about it.

      Posting Anon for obvious reasons.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:47PM (#26600827)
    So, okay, we got soaked for some two hundred billion in tax writeoffs. If the Feds really want to make good on that, just allow for actual competition in the national broadband market. No incumbents holding onto their last mile monopoly by hook-or-crook, make it clear that if you enter a region you must serve everyone in that region (outlaw cherry-picking) and see what these guys can do when forced to go head-to-head. Right now, for example, I'm in an area that was previously served only by Comcastoff. In fact, my townhome complex signed an exclusive deal with Comcast a couple years ago, ostensibly to get better rates. Of course that didn't happen: I ended up paying more for my service than people only a half mile away who were not in the complex. Something smelled there, let me tell you.

    So, now AT&T U-Verse is in the area (I'm switching: I'm about fifty feet from the local VRAD box and I'm shooting for the 18 Mbit/sec tier ... wish me luck.) Last Monday in the mail I received a postcard from U-Verse confirming my installation date, which was cool. Hilariously, there was also a postcard from Comcast boldly proclaiming that they had doubled my download speed FOR FREE! Really!!! Nevermind that I'm getting more speed for about half the price from U-Verse, for now.

    Don't let the FCC fool you ... competition is good for consumers and ultimately good for providers.
    • I have AT&T Uverse and it's a big upgrade from the crappy overpriced service I was getting from Comcast (who also have some exclusivity agreement in my city). My download rates are pretty good and the costs are relatively cheap. Comcast, like fools, keep acting like smacktards as AT&T started a media blitz with its new service. Then, when everyone on my street started switching they THEN decided to try their own media blitz. Too late, morons.

      While I like it overall, the cable box's guide is sl

  • by El Cubano (631386) <roberto.connexer@com> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @04:56PM (#26600917) Homepage

    The $6 billion is considered a down payment on efforts Obama will make in this area over the next several years. Of course let's not forget the $200 billion broadband scandal that the large telecommunication companies have been paid but never delivered on.

    I'm so glad that the Democrats are so generous with MY money. Of course, the Republicans before them were basically the same, as were the Democrats before those Republicans, and so on going back quite a ways.

    Seriously, why is the answer to mismanagement of money (tax payer or private money as the recent market troubles have shown) always to give away tax payer money?

    School run out of money? Here is more tax payer money. Spent too much building your pro sports team's venue? Here is some tax payer money. Make bad choices in the marketplace? Here is some tax payer money. When is this going to stop? When we've mortgaged how many generations' future earnings on today's ridiculous growth of government?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Carbon016 (1129067)

      I fully agree! Throwing money at the private sector with no accountability is a horrible idea. A great argument for nationalization (of those companies that can be nationalized) if I've ever saw one. ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        No, no, no. Nationalization solves nothing other than allowing the government access to more information about you and higher taxes. Just look at the patriot act (mind you, passed by BOTH republicans and democrats) and you can see why the government shouldn't run any ISPs. What should be done if we are going to make a national project (which, I honestly think is a bad idea) is give it to small, local ISPs to extend lines along with granting money to start-up ISPs who operate in rural areas. Basically, a nat
        • by znu (31198) <znu.public@gmail.com> on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:26PM (#26601183)

          The solution is to just have the government own the infrastructure (which is where all the monopolistic abuse occurs anyway), not provide any of the data services. The government would be completely out of the loop with respect to what content was flowing across the network. They wouldn't be your ISP, just your line provider. You'd probably even see services catering to the extra-paranoid, where the ISP would encrypt everything before sending over the government fiber to your home.

          Conceptually, think of this working the way Internet access used to work in the days before broadband. You'd dial into your ISP over the phone network, but the company that owned the phone lines was just carrying an electrical signal; they had no involvement with what that signal was. This would be the same thing, but with a government-owned packet-switched digital fiber network serving a role analogous to the analog phone network.

          • The government would be completely out of the loop with respect to what content was flowing across the network. They wouldn't be your ISP, just your line provider

            Unless they were fighting "terrorism". Similarly, governments are completely out of the loop for mobile phone transmissions, but as AT&T shows, if they are fighting "terrorism" the government can just rip apart the constitution.

            This would be the same thing, but with a government-owned packet-switched digital fiber network serving a role analogous to the analog phone network.

            You WANT something like that? Remember what happened whenever the government started giving grants to modernize

            • by znu (31198)

              You WANT something like that? Remember what happened whenever the government started giving grants to modernize America with phone lines? The AT&T monopoly was formed.

              That's exactly what I don't want. The government should improve telecom by investing in publicly owned infrastructure, not by handing money to private companies. That was bad enough when those companies were regulated monopolies. These days they're unregulated monopolies.

              • That's exactly what I don't want. The government should improve telecom by investing in publicly owned infrastructure, not by handing money to private companies. That was bad enough when those companies were regulated monopolies. These days they're unregulated monopolies.

                But then it similarly does the same thing, the government is going to lease the lines to whoever pays them the most which will only be the most established ISPs (Comcast, Time Warner) and smaller ISPs either have to start charging a lot more or merge in order to stay afloat.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              >You WANT something like that? Remember what happened whenever the government started giving grants to modernize America with phone lines? The AT&T monopoly was formed.

              Yes, I think we need another monopoly like that. Because basic research is a huge tragedy of the commons problem, you need a big monopoly that *is* the commons. When AT&T was, they were able to create one of the best research labs ever and invented the transistor which has accelerated human development at exponential speeds.

        • >Just look at the patriot act (mind you, passed by BOTH republicans and democrats) and you can see why the government shouldn't run any ISPs.

          Just look at the FISA domestic spying indemnity for telecoms who broke the law bill, and it is clear your argument applies to both government and telecoms. I really doubt cable companies would have been any different.

    • by anagama (611277)
      It won't ever stop till the whole thing fails. The US Government has grown so large, so complex, so corrupt, and so dirty, there is absolutely no way to cure it. It will continue on its projected path until it implodes.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Seriously, why is the answer to mismanagement of money (tax payer or private money as the recent market troubles have shown) always to give away tax payer money?

      Your mistake is believing this is an attempt to solve the previous mismanagement of money. That is not the case. This and the other public works projects are about wealth redistribution. Basically, the idea here is to take money from the few, incredibly wealthy people who have gained ever larger shares of the wealth, in order to move some wealth to the huge portion of the US that has none and save the economy from total collapse.

      I'm so glad that the Democrats are so generous with MY money. Of course, the Republicans before them were basically the same, as were the Democrats before those Republicans, and so on going back quite a ways.

      This election we did have a clear economic choice with the two parties. Both pa

  • by moniker127 (1290002) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:05PM (#26601009)
    When the government invests X billion into something, they should come up with a list of specific items to be accomplished by the investee, put it into the contract, and send auditors to check up on the progress on a regular basis.
    Anything else is just charity.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Anything else is just charity."

      "Charity" buys campaign support buys a second term.

      Nuffin' I cans do 'bout dat, but I better git MY forty acres an' a mule or I'm votin' fo' Massuh Jeb an' Miz Sarah come 2012!

    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @08:12PM (#26602473)

      When the government invests X billion into something, they should come up with a list of specific items to be accomplished by the investee, put it into the contract, and send auditors to check up on the progress on a regular basis.

      They often do. The problem is, if the government gives a company a few billion, it is cheaper for them to spend a small amount of that on paying lobbyists to basically bribe politicians to do away with those items, than it is to accomplish those items. So long as we let corporations lobby, this will probably be the norm.

    • But...but...that's more intrusive government regulation and we all know regulations are socialism and socialism is evil! Better to let the Free Market take care of it.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:11PM (#26601065)

    You know how FiOS is just about everywhere along the east coast? Well, everywhere except Boston.

    Why? Because in MA, each town decides if it wants to grant a franchise for cable TV. Not internet- just TV.

    Verizon doesn't like that, but the burbs are the best customers- they have lots of HDTV sets, they like the packages, and they don't do annoying things like share their Wifi connection to 6 other people in a apartment building.

    Well, guess what? Verizon has been rolling out FiOS to damn near everywhere in the state, even west-nowhere places like 500-person towns out near Worcester nobody has heard of...yet still no FiOS for anyone in Boston. It's even been in the papers- THREE YEARS AGO- about how Verizon was cherrypicking. A year ago, someone asked Mayor Menino what the fuck was going on, and he pointed the finger squarely at Verizon. Not that I trust him, but in the meantime, some hick represetative from the western end of the state gave Verizon tens of millions of dollars to roll out services in the western end of the state...with no requirements that they provide service to the city.

    Meanwhile, we're stuck with really crappy DSL offerings, Comcast's throttling and misleading advertising (go on, try to find the real speed, not the "powerboost" speed which you get for all of about 10MB of transfer), or RCN's overall shittyness. Worse still- Comcast has just started getting really nasty about incoming SMTP and HTTP; they've shut me off twice, despite best efforts to sneak under their radar. I suspect they're enforcing their ToS to try and catch small/home business owners saving $50/month (yes, you read that right- $100/mo for internet service for businesses.)

    • by Migraineman (632203) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:08PM (#26601567)
      If it makes you feel any better, they're cherry-picking FIOS deployments in the DC-metro area. I live almost exactly 1 mile from my local CO, which translates to about 7000 wire-feet. I know, because DSL is the best thing I can get. I live in a fairly urban suburb of DC, and I can't get FIOS to save my life. Why? Because I live in a single-family neighborhood that was built in the mid 1950s. Putting fiber on the poles would be expensive. They'd much rather do build-outs in new communities where the builder passes last-quarter-mile connection costs onto the new homeowner, and Verizon only has to hook up to the community pedestal. If you live in town houses or condos, you have a much better chance of getting FIOS because the connection-density potential is higher.

      As noted in another post, the physical plant (fiber, copper, wet string, etc.) shouldn't be a sanctioned monopoly, but should rather be a municipal resource. If you can't stomach that, then require universal access for services. Enforce that. If you're offering FIOS in the state, Verizon should be obligated to deploy it to *any* customer who orders it. If Verizon squeals, tell them to stop using the government-mandated right-of-way access through private property.

      A final note - one of the reasons this issue torques me so much is that Verizon has run fiber through my yard. They're more than willing to expect right-of-way through my property, but they steadfastly refuse to provide me with a service I'm more than willing to pay for. The State mandates that I allow this, so I don't have any recourse short of getting elected Governor. And before you comment that I get indirect benefit from the fiber, no I don't. The fiber in question isn't a backbone, it's a last-mile bundle installed to service another community.
    • Cry me a F*ing river (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Haven't lived in Western MA in roughly 6 years, but as a former "hick" from the "western end of the state" I can feel confident that my family still in the area would like me to tell you to go F*ck yourself.

      Western MA has been getting screwed by Boston since before there even was a United States of America.

      Western MA, didn't want to ratify the consitution so the politicians in Boston redrew the district lines.

      We footed the bill for the majority of the MA turnpike and had to fight for 5 years to get th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ion.simon.c (1183967)

      Worse still- Comcast has just started getting really nasty about incoming SMTP and HTTP; they've shut me off twice, despite best efforts to sneak under their radar.

      This is what amuses me as a slightly miffed Comcast customer. That little residential service ToS document that you agree to has (for at least the past five years) carried language that says "You _cannot_ run servers. Not even SSH or RSH." and "If you use too much of the network, we _will_ terminate your connection.".

      WRT excessive usage:
      Comcast's recent quantification of "too much" is a *really* good thing (Even if I think that "too much" is *REALLY* not enough). It removes any ambiguity... you now *know* w

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Be happy, they've just started to install it in Washington State. They were too busy wiring up redneck-ville before getting around to the second biggest tech company state in the country.

      Not only do we not have FIOS, where I live there still isn't any dry-loop DSL. Say hello to my little landline. (I refuse to give Comcast money, and Clearwire while THANK GOD they exist at all, has terrible latency at my home.)

  • The is no doubt a direct result of intense lobbying by representatives of Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner et al. Don't think for a second that this type of spend directed at a specific industry happens unless those folks are doing some heavy-duty knob-polishing.

    It's sad that it's that easy for our government to spend BILLIONS of our money with that little oversight, process, or public input or debate. People really deserve the type of government they receive.

  • Full House (Score:5, Funny)

    by suffix tree monkey (1430749) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:16PM (#26601107)

    Full House, eh? Three Democrats and two Republicans?

  • /not complaining. Sorry.
     
    It's been "live" in the Dallas area and suburbs for at least five years now, I know seattle just announced it too. Stringing fiber might not be that complex, but it's more complex than stringing electrical wires and underground coax.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Fiber has far more capacity than 20 Mbps. WTF are they doing? Sharing 100 people on one fiber? 20 Mbps is enough for 1 or 2 HD program streams, and then it's used up. Ultra definition TV will be coming in about 15 years, and that will need about 40 to 50 Mbps for one program stream. What if different members of a family want to watch different programs? We need something that will grow. 100 Mbps in 2010. 1000 Mbps in 2020.

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Well they stream your TV, internet and phone over that fiber. In theory fiber has almost infinite bandwidth potential, I think it's mostly that Verizon doesn't want to have to pay for the pipes to connect everyone at 100 megabit to the rest of the internet. Buying more Fat Pipes for 3+ million people between the fiber link at home and the internet backbone isn't cheap. I'm sure throughput will go up as the infrastructure improves over time, just like water pressure and electric amp capacity to the home has

  • by nester (14407) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:26PM (#26601187)

    As if the economy isn't in bad enough shape, let's redirect billions towards another thing that's completely unnecessary. Who cares, we won't have to pay for it, our grandkids will. Since reckless spending and investment was the problem, let's do even more of it see how well that works out. /sarcasm

    When will people learn there is not an endless supply of money for the government to spend? There are limits to how much you can steal from the future.

    • by coryking (104614) * on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:43PM (#26601307) Homepage Journal

      Nobody in the private industry seems to want to open their pocketbooks. Consumers aren't in the mood either.

      Somebody has to do it... the only entity that really can is the government. Would you rather they do nothing and let our economy sink into a huge downward spiral?

      I'm curious what your idea is to get our economy moving?

      • Nobody in the private industry seems to want to open their pocketbooks. Consumers aren't in the mood either.

        Agreed. After they've been holding them upside down and shaking them for years, I guess their arms got tired! Seriously, this is what we get after letting things get out of hand (e.g. mortgages).

        Would you rather they do nothing and let our economy sink into a huge downward spiral?

        You're implying that if they do their something (effectively print money), then the economy won't sink into a huge downward spiral.

        I'm curious what your idea is to get our economy moving?

        My suggestions would be (1) avoid letting things get out of control in the first place, and (2) stick with sound basic economic principles. Too late to do the former. The latter incl

      • by crmarvin42 (652893) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @07:06PM (#26602013)
        How about spending that money on infrastructure that actually belongs to the government. Roads, bridges, etc.

        The 2 main bridges in my home town were build with money from the New Deal. Both have been needing replacement for the last 3 decades. We've finaly replaced one and are still 3 years away from opening the replacement bridge for the other. Every town I've ever lived in has at least a couple of old bridges from the same era that need to be replaced. That's the kind of infrastructure that lasts entire generations.

        Paying to build out network infrastructure and then handing over the reigns to private industry will just mean that the industry makes major proifts off of the backs of the tax payers.
        • How about spending that money on infrastructure that actually belongs to the government. Roads, bridges, etc.

          How about not taking the money to the federal level in the first place and allow local government, far closer to the citizen's pain, decide how to spend it.
      • by symbolset (646467)

        You could give 200B to the incumbent providers, like the story says, and get not one job out of it, nor one mile of fiber. Well, they might hire an extra masseuse to work the Information Infrastructure symposium they hold in Aruba to "educate" lawmakers. Like the fine summary states, we have already tried that.

        Maybe instead of bailing out the ridiculously profitable incumbents we could try something new and encourage Public Utility districts to hang fiber on their poles with the electric wires - They sel

  • by wkk2 (808881) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @05:44PM (#26601317)

    We need to get the providers out of the last mile. Any new housing developments, larger than 20 homes, should be required to star wire single mode fiber to all homes from a common equipment vault. Let the providers give access at that point and contribute to a local maintenance pool.

    • Interesting idea (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jaypifer (64463)

      However, I don't see the benefit. If everybody is responsible for the access point then nobody is. If there is no ultimate responsibility, the finger pointing would be staggering.

      • by wkk2 (808881)

        Obviously rules and standards would be needed. Fundamentally it just moves the demarcation point from the side of the house to a common spot. Installation might be the connection of a patch cable to 1 of N providers. The vault side might be a 10GB Ethernet switch. Hopefully, the customer premises side would be a high function commodity adapter. POTS is going to be history. Already, there is movement in the market to catch up to cell phones.

  • Stimulus? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drik00 (526104) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @06:54PM (#26601909) Homepage

    I've come to terms with the fact that our government has no conscious about spending ever increasing amounts of taxpayers' hard earned money. What I don't understand is how this could be considered economic stimulus. Sure, it'll help in certain marginal ways, but the only thing that can fix the US economy is if the government quits taking half of what everyone earns and lets the earners of the money figure out the best way to spend it.

    If you give tax breaks to the lowest earners, they buy more tv's and mcdonald's... give the tax breaks to the middle and upper class, and they end up investing in new business and current business expansion. If the greedy bastards in DC would quit thinking of tax revenue as their "income" and just cut taxes across the board, including corporate and capital gains taxes, I'd bet you a non-free beer that you would see IMMEDIATE stock market growth, followed by strong GDP growth, dropping unemployment, and REAL opportunity.

    The govt can't grow the economy by spending tax revenue on infrastructure (the most deserving of tax dollars). If you allow more of those tax dollars to stay in circulation, the private sector CAN create real, sustainable growth.

    J

    • Re:Stimulus? (Score:4, Informative)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Sunday January 25, 2009 @11:50PM (#26604025)

      What I don't understand is how this could be considered economic stimulus. Sure, it'll help in certain marginal ways, but the only thing that can fix the US economy is if the government quits taking half of what everyone earns and lets the earners of the money figure out the best way to spend it.

      Actually, that is exactly the opposite of what they need to do. The recession is happening for the same reason the great depression did. If you don't progressively tax the wealthy, the wealth condensation effect pools larger and larger shares of the wealth into fewer hands. Eventually those on the bottom have nothing and live on credit, until that too collapses. That's where we are now. It's not that the US is poor, it's just that the bottom 50% has a net worth of zero. With no money they can't invest and pay huge amounts of their income paying interest just to get by. It's like a tax on being poor that goes to the wealthy instead of the government. When all the wealth consolidates the economy becomes unstable.

      The solution to this is to take more of the taxes from the very wealthy and less from the very poor, ideally while creating jobs for the unemployed. It doesn't help the unemployed if you don't tax the income they don't have, you need to create jobs in the US. Public works projects are a traditional way to do this and spending money on broadband can create a lot more jobs than in other areas because it enables new telcos to form and existing internet businesses to expand, if it is implemented well anyway.

      If you give tax breaks to the lowest earners, they buy more tv's and mcdonald's...

      The low earners are already not paying any taxes because they have no income or not enough to count.

      ...give the tax breaks to the middle and upper class, and they end up investing in new business and current business expansion.

      Tax breaks to the middle help. Tax breaks to the upper class, not so much. That's what they've been trying for the last 8 years. It's called "trickle down economics" and even the die hard supporters are admitting it is a failure. Everything they invest is a tax write off anyway, so taxing them less does not really motivate them to invest more and lot of what they invest in creates jobs overseas instead of in the US.

      If the greedy bastards in DC would quit thinking of tax revenue as their "income" and just cut taxes across the board, including corporate and capital gains taxes, I'd bet you a non-free beer that you would see IMMEDIATE stock market growth, followed by strong GDP growth, dropping unemployment, and REAL opportunity.

      It's been tried historically and it did not work. The problem is wealth disparity more than anything else. Tax cuts across the board do nothing to redistribute the wealth, so it will continue to consolidate and we'll have continued instability.

      Tax dollars spent on infrastructure do stay in circulation. They go to pay wages to people who are currently unemployed. Bill Gates pays a thousand times less taxes than I do (as a percentage of income). He can afford to pay a much, much larger share and still eat and live normally and if he has to that money can do a lot to solve the debt problems of the very poor so they don't lose their houses and so they can have jobs building infrastructure that grows the economy overall. It helps the US economy a lot more than letting him give it to Africans and invest in creating more jobs in India.

      Basically, I don't think you've really studied the economics of recession and the great depression specifically. There are some good books out there that are informative and entertaining. You might want to check one out.

  • 1.Force any provider wishing to service a given region to service every customer. Regions would be defined by the government and the FCC. (so it might be "all customers in " or "all customers in ")
    There would be an exemption for co-ops (e.g. a group wanting to run a fat pipe into one members shed/barn/etc and then run something from there out to the rest of the co-op). Municipal efforts run by a local government would be required to service the entire local government area.

    2.No provider (cable, DSL, fiber,

    • by j0nb0y (107699)

      If you set the minimum speed at 1.5Mbps, the network will be outdated by the time its built. Set the definition at least to 10Mbps, and even that is pathetic compared to other first world countries. Why not 50? 100? The technology exists...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Garrett Fox (970174)
      What legal authority would you invoke for all that use of force? I notice that this plan involves not just forcing corporations into things, but even state and local governments.
  • Where in the Constitution does it grant Congress the power to do this?

  • I have no problem with the idea itself, what I do have a problem with is what will actually happen to the cash. The major teleco's are going to snap it up and we know where the money will end up and it is not in infrastructure. Internet access in even most small towns is not a issue, you get out into the countryside and that is another story all together.

    I work with a small wireless isp and he is the only available option in the rural area's in which I live. I would like to see grants given to these last mi

  • I can appreciate that many rural areas do not have access to broadband internet, and I certainly don't prejudice rural residents, but I don't see the dire necessity of faster internet where it already exists. Is this the time to be spending $6B on supplementary services which otherwise are not economically viable?

    I can tell you why previous financial incentives did not achieve the intended results - they have better things to spend the money on! So does the US government!

    • I can appreciate that many rural areas do not have access to broadband internet, and I certainly don't prejudice rural residents, but I don't see the dire necessity of faster internet where it already exists.

      This is about making a system that will bring both faster and cheaper internet to all US residents. Those residents save money and get better services which opens up new business opportunities. It's pretty hard for NetFlix to get customers in paces where there is no high speed internet. Ditto for Amazon and for tons of new businesses. A small investment in infrastructure can result in new telecos offering access and expanded markets for all those businesses. This is good for citizens (because they have bett

  • by BCW2 (168187)
    It didn't work last time, let's just throw more money at it.

    Your Thundering Herd of Dumbass (Congress) at work as usual.
  • Dear Politicians (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nuintari (47926) on Monday January 26, 2009 @12:37AM (#26604299) Homepage

    Dear Politicians,
    I work for a small, but growing, ISP, so bear with me, as this subject annoys me to no end. Not every problem can be solved by simply throwing a bunch of money at it and hoping for the best. All the wrong people are going to end up with that money, either corrupt individuals, or large carriers who are more interested in squelching small competition so they can continue to shaft their customers left and right. They don't want to improve, improvements cost money, big cable wants to maintain the status quo. Either way, none of this money is going to be used to service undeserved areas. Keep the money, please, don't give anyone a single dime.

    You say you want to see internet delivered to the undeserved? Have you looked around? Some of us are doing just that. We are using part-15 spectrum to deliver 5+ megabit service to residents with no cable or DSL service available. Do you know what part-15 of the spectrum is, in reality? It is the useless chunks of the airspace that no one else wanted, 900 mhz, 2.4 ghz, 5.8 ghz, and a few others. Despite the severe limitations imposed on us all by the FCC, we have delivered magic to customers and businesses in these so called undeserved areas. We have used the crap airwaves no one else wanted, served the customers that big telco called profitless, and we are financially solvent. Keep the money, we don't need it, and the big companies don't deserve it.

    So, I hear this tremendously useful band of data is going to be free from use soon, and that its fate is largely undecided. I have already mentioned that we have taken some of the worst air space in existence, and delivered an amazing service to our customers. What do you suppose would happen if you let us use that band to deliver broadband? Interference free, crystal clear transmissions of a massive amount of data to every nearly home that wanted it, Keep the money, give us the spectrum.

    So you want to see the entire nation lit up on the broadband map, who do you think is going to do that? Verizon? Comcast? AT&T? If they could have, they would have done it by now, lord knows, you have thrown enough cash at the big players already, and I still get phone calls from happy new customers, glad to have service, because no one else offered it. No, broadband is going to come from the small business, there are thousands of us out there, we call ourselves WISPs, and we are doing what the Bells have told you cannot be done: We brought broadband to rural America. We have delivered affordable, quality service with a smile, with the worst tools we had to use. Now, imagine what we could do if we had 700 mhz. I am not asking you to give it to just me, I am not asking you to hand it over to only small companies, no, let all internet service providers have a fair crack at 700 mhz, and watch us deliver. Let Capitalism rear its blind, careless head, and watch the strong survive, and the weak fall. I already know I can win my own spot in the national broadband market, because I have been beating the telecom giants at their own game for 5 years, and winning. Keep the money, give us 700 mhz!

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