Linked by Howard Fosdick on Thu 24th Jan 2013 10:12 UTC
Internet & Networking In the past, OS News has discussed how U.S. broadband access lags many other countries in terms of cost, speed, and availability. Now, this detailed report from the New America Foundation tells why. It all comes down to a lack of competition among the carriers, which can be traced back to the days when cable companies were granted local monopolies. The report argues that "...data caps... are hardly a necessity. Rather, they are motivated by a desire to further increase revenues from existing subscribers and protect legacy services such as cable television from competing Internet services." The report's conclusion: don't expect improvements without legislative action.
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Look to the past...
by dnstest on Sun 27th Jan 2013 04:04 UTC
dnstest
Member since:
2006-06-11

It wasn't always this way. Although I don't miss dial-up Internet access, I am still nostalgic for the business environment that existed back in those days. I helped start a local dial-up ISP in the mid-90s. Back then there was healthy competition in the ISP market, and you had to provide good service to stay alive. We started the operation with a couple NT 3.x servers, a serial port multiplexer (my memory fails me on what exactly it was called), a bank of Supra 33.6 modems connected to POTs lines, all of which fed into an ISDN connection provided by another competing local ISP. We undercut the competition by offering unlimited access for about half the going rate. The service took off like crazy, going from a couple hundred users to a couple thousand within 6 months. Other than AT&T's obstructive practices (it was very difficult to get AT&T to run new T1s in a timely manner), things were great. We quickly moved to a direct T1 feed from UUNet (later upgraded to load-balanced T1s from UUNet and SAVVIS, then just multiple T1s from SAVVIS when the once mighty UUNet turned to crap) and multiple T1 trunks that fed our USR TotalControl modem banks. We also added PRI trunks so we could offer ISDN, and installed a separate Rockwell-based K56flex concentrator for clients who owned modems that didn't play nice with our USR gear. No other ISP in the area cared to invest in anything beyond the bare-minimum, and we quickly gained a great reputation in the area. I remember spending weeks tweaking various gear and servers so that we had much lower latencies, faster logon authentication, faster DNS lookups and gzipped/optimized local web content that loaded lightning-fast. I took pride in what we did, and rightly so. We maintained accounts with all competitors, just to make sure our service was top notch. We never oversold our bandwidth, and we paid attention to all the little things that our competition didn't. The future looked bright.
Like most independents at the time, we took for granted that we would be able to move into the DSL market as it started to emerge. We all know what happened there - a lot of us independent ISPs dumped resources into DSL, only to find out that we were cut out of the game by AT&T (or whatever the legacy telco was in a given area).
I don't know the answer to fixing the current system we have, but I do know first-hand that competition is the best thing we had going in the early days. It seems to me that the pipe providers and data providers should be decoupled. When you get into shared-mediums such as cable systems, I'm not sure if that is practical/possible though. Having been out of the industry for so long, my knowledge of the technical back-end stuff is not current whatsoever. But somehow, we need competition. Not just pretend competition from 2 or 3 providers, but real competition like we had in the early ISP days.
Just my 2 cents. ;)

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