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Waiting For Better Broadband With Too Few Choices

Waiting For Better Broadband With Too Few Choices

 

It is certainly debatable if today’s children will know what a CD or DVD is, much less a videotape or cassette tape or a record (33 rpm, 45 rpm and 78 rpm: What are those?). YouTube, Spotify, streaming, the Cloud: Why on earth would anyone ever have needed to have an actual physical object to stick into a hard drive or CD/DVD player?

To watch all those videos and listen to all that music and chat on Facebook and play whatever online games you please,  people need more and more amounts of broadband at home and at higher and higher speeds. Many have become accustomed  to unlimited bandwidth and balk at the idea of it being pay-per-use. But as the New York Times puts it, while “the broadband era began with the expectation that Internet connections were like buffets” of the all-you-eat, whenever-you-want variety, users are now having to think about how much they are “consuming” and they’re not liking the “diet” broadband providers are putting them on.

In south Texas, Time Warner Cable customers have been provided with a “usage tracker.” The “light” plan gives you 5 gigabytes of broadband a month (just enough to download two high-definition movies) and a $5 discount a month if you stay within limits. If not, it is $1 for every additional gigabyte. Other broadband providers are also implementing usage-based billing, charging users more for higher speeds and more broadband use.

Comcast already caps Internet usage at 250 gigabytes per customer a month, though few users exceed that.

The change to metered broadband is one that users will surely not welcome. Neither do companies such as Netflix, which provide videos via online streaming.  The US Justice Department’s antitrust lawyers are investigating whether internet provider companies like Comcast have engaged in anticompetitive pricing; whether there is simply not enough competition in the industry so that prices are kept high and many households are without access.

The issue of metering out broadband is not only due to home entertainment. “Along with news and entertainment, the futures of entire industries — commerce, health care and transportation — are being built atop a broadband foundation,” notes the New York Times.

The United Nations has decreed that the Internet is a “fundamental human right” though not everyone agrees. But should access to broadband and to higher speeds and greater quantities of gigabytes be equally a right or, at the very least, more readily available to all? Are there too few providers so that not only is there tiered pricing, but disparate levels of Internet access to information, knowledge and opportunities?

 

Related Care2 Coverage

Canadian Government Makes It Harder to Find Jobs or Access Internet

UN Declares Internet a “Fundamental Human Right”

Google VP: Internet Not a Human Right

 

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15 comments

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8:35AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

stop the monopolies.

9:01PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

@Fiona D. "Too little competition, too little access. Rural areas really suffer because the big tel & cable companies don't see a profit in adding the lines. "

ComCast stops 0.5 miles from my house and refuses to come closer. Two years ago, they were 0.6 miles from my house and refused to come closer, but the nearest neighbor applied and "sure, that's fine".

There are four MORE houses between the end of the line and my house on that side of the road; two more on the other side.

But ComCast has decided they simply won't bother.

DSL is out. Satellite is expensive and slow by comparison.

Not enough competition. Or ComCast would be jumping to add another seven clients.

We almost got BroadBand Over Power Lines, but the project fell apart when the provider went out of business.

We actually HAVE optical fiber running right down the road but it's proprietary.

A Stimulus Project is running more optical fiber through the nearest town.

MAYBE some third-party will find a way to get it to us by WiFi, but my previous experience is that CB radios swamp the 800 Mhz signal by sheer power.

We'd need our own radio tower.

7:47PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Who cares? People need to get a life. Get away from all this electronic shit and get outdoors with your kids or just by yourself. Lets get back to nature. Take walks, play outside with your kids. Does anyone even remember playing tag, jumping rope, hide and seek or hopscotch? Kids these days don't know what they are missing. They are missing the great outdoors. They are missing just being kids. Now they have to be technical experts. That's so wrong. Let them be kids first, then later experts in electronics.
I pity the kids of today and the future, they will never know what being a kid is like.

3:23PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

thanks

3:17PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Thanks Diane P! Right back atcha :-)
I feel your pain. When I fist moved here, all we had was a slow dial-up and one of those big 10-foot TV satellite dishes. Unfortunately many folks here STILL don't have access to anything except dial-up!
In Asheville, for several years, a non-profit org ran a wireless internet service as an alternative to the big corporations and in an effort to extend broadband into rural areas as a public service.
That service recently died, because the owners of the cell tower (the city of Asheville) who were providing rental space for the wireless dishes cancelled the lease because the non-profit could no longer afford the tens of thousands a year in rent.
If these guys fought the hard fight and lost, even after years of planning, development and providing a valuable public service, I have no idea how to get through to the powers that be!
Our national economy is suffering because of the lack of internet infrastructure that reaches "everybody". We don't call it the internet highway for nothing! We need a national consensus that this is just as important in the 21st century as the highways were during the Eisenhower administration, and start putting some "backbone" into it.

12:48PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

thanks

12:46PM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

They want to limit us so they can charge the heck out of us and that is the only reason they want to put limits on. Unlimited is the only way to go.

10:33AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Oh, how I wish for unlimited broadband! We can't do videos, movies, or even much You Tube. Satellite is all I can get and we have been limited for years on how much we use the internet. Still, it's slow, slower, slowest.

10:00AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

I am finding that people, even at this point in time, are not learning the basics because of the technology. People type the word "past" instead of "passed" for example. There are many words like that. I find it difficult to read some of the posts because of this. Then people don't proof-read what they write because they have spell check. I have news for them. Spell check isn't the answer. In the example above spell-check wouldn't have picked out either of these words, because they are spelled correctly. Spell check only checks the spelling, not the context. People are not learning the basics that they need to survive in this world. If I were going to interview someone for a job and got a resume with such an error, I would file it in the circular file. Technology is wonderful, and I fully utilize it in my life, but one has to have an understanding of the basics before they can use technology effectively.

8:59AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Our government has allowed these monopolies to exist. No one has enforced the Sherman anti trust act since the break up of AT&T.
This law is on the books, but with "Citizens United" no politician has the guts to do anything about it.
Monopolies are controlling our government instead of our government controlling monopolies.

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