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  #51  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Cheesesteak View Post
Not everyone is best served by the *same* dumb pipe. You can have different rates for different sizes of dumb pipe, or switch between this small dumb pipe and that big dumb pipe at certain times to maximize your price/utility curve.

However, making the pipe smart, having it know where you're going and change the type of service you're getting based on your destination, that is where the trouble lies.

This is having to go to the electric company to buy the "GE" package because the refrigerator you want isn't on your current package, and won't work if you plug it in. You could save some money by switching to GE lightbulbs so you don't have to get both the GE and Sylvania packages at the same time, or get an LG refrigerator, since they have a cross honoring agreement with Sylvania, and are serviced in the same package.

The thing about electricity (or water), is that regardless of all the options you suggested, it's very very dumb, EXACTLY what internet should be.
I still don't agree.

You're basically saying that there can't be any gains from bundling internet (or other utilities) with other services/devices. And I don't think that's true. A counterexample

My mom loves watching stuff on Netflix. So much so that she sometimes goes over her monthly internet data limit. This is a major hassle for her for a few reasons. One reason is that all of a sudden all her internet stuff stops working, which means that she pretty much has to stop whatever she's doing and call the internet company to fix it. What she'd really like is an internet service that gave her a relatively small amount of "whatever" data and an agreement that all Netflix data was included. That would be great for her. It would be simple, it would do what she wanted, and even if she ended up paying a slightly higher price than average, she would never end up in a weird state where her internet doesn't work.

Highly technical people who like to parse rate tables and figure out how to optimize their electricity consumption or internet usage or buy some third-party service that handles it for them might prefer dumb pipes. Most people really like bundled services because they're simple and don't require coordination or detailed knowledge of how various things work.

Your imaginary example makes bundling a hassle and more complex system, but that's exactly the opposite of how most people perceive it. The current system where you have to manage multiple services on a dumb pipe is more complicated and confusing than one where you just pay $x more a month and Netflix is covered.

Now: is there opportunity for abuse and monopolistic behavior with these types of bundles? Yes. But that's not the same thing as saying that people would rather have dumb pipes or that there are no advantages to more specialized service bundles.

Last edited by iamthewalrus(:3=; 08-14-2019 at 07:05 PM.
  #52  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:09 PM
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It was a dumb idea for the government to get into the food distribution business, because we already have a private-sector food-distribution infrastructure that works just fine, and there's no need to replace it. It's a good idea for the government to get into the internet-distribution business, because the private-sector internet-distribution infrastructure we have sucks, and should be replaced.
  #53  
Old 08-14-2019, 07:44 PM
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It was a dumb idea for the government to get into the food distribution business, because we already have a private-sector food-distribution infrastructure that works just fine, and there's no need to replace it. It's a good idea for the government to get into the internet-distribution business, because the private-sector internet-distribution infrastructure we have sucks, and should be replaced.
23 million Americans live in food deserts.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/theweek...s-food-deserts


25 million Americans lacknbroadband access.
https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-i...rve-americans/

So if you want to call the first statistic a smashing success of capitalism and the second a horrible failure of capitalism, I would suggest you're being overly dramatic.
  #54  
Old 08-15-2019, 12:49 AM
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The infrastructure still needs to be built and that is always going to be expensive. The people who know how to do this already work for the cable companies so the government would have to offer some incentive for them to come over to ISP.gov in excess of what they are already making. Once you have the people, you need the fibre and the drops and the amplifiers and the access rights and the right weather because there are some parts of the land that are frozen solid for eight to ten months out of the year. I am not saying it shouldn't be done, just noting that it will not be easy and it will not be cheap.

Satellite internet makes me laugh. It costs $10,000/pound to shoot something into space. The only reason Elon Musk can do this is because he has more money than common sense.
  #55  
Old 08-15-2019, 01:17 AM
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Because that infrastructure allows Americans to conduct interstate "Commerce". If the Americans living in these municipalities need improved access to the internet, the Feds have a place at the table to ensure these Americans aren't denied access to an important avenue of commerce with other States.
Yes, there are lots of things Congress could do to regulate and improve Internet access and promote municipal broadband due to it being a means of interstate commerce. Simply decreeing that states must have municipal broadband systems of their own is not obviously one of them. It could, as I said, create federally-owned local broadband systems, or offer lots of money to states in exchange for their allowing it. But I really don't think it could just mandating that states have to because they say so.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-15-2019 at 01:20 AM.
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Old 08-15-2019, 01:23 AM
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Oops, "could just mandate."
  #57  
Old 08-15-2019, 05:47 AM
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Satellite internet makes me laugh. It costs $10,000/pound to shoot something into space. The only reason Elon Musk can do this is because he has more money than common sense.
Actually, the recent launch of the first Starlink smallsats would have a per-pound launch cost of half of that figure, and possibly a third.

And when we are talking about rural broadband, the government grants to run cable to distant places has been averaging about $2,000 per house. Thatís about $50 billion in expected infrastructure costs.

In comparison, SpaceX estimates (to be taken with big grain of salt) is $10 billion for 12,000 satellites. For worldwide coverage. Of course thatís an attractive value proposition! The question here isnít cost, though, itís technology. There are good questions here on what itís going to take to get it to work.
  #58  
Old 08-15-2019, 05:51 AM
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Simply decreeing that states must have municipal broadband systems of their own is not obviously one of them. It could, as I said, create federally-owned local broadband systems, or offer lots of money to states in exchange for their allowing it. But I really don't think it could just mandating that states have to because they say so.
That isn't the question at hand. As you said in the post I was responding to:

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How can the federal government directly compel states to allow their own subordinate agencies (municipalities in this case) to build and operate a particular form of infrastructure?
There is a vast difference between telling states they cannot bar their individual municipalities from building something, and telling states they must build that something.

If my town, Montclair NJ, believes they can create a municipal broadband service that would offer better service than the current providers, the law in question would guarantee my town's right to try. The law in question would not require my town to offer municipal broadband, it just prevents the NJ state government from interfering.

And Broadband is Interstate Commerce. It doesn't take some twisted reading of the Commerce Clause to get the idea that my ability to contact a company in another state, to buy goods or services from that state, to be delivered from that state to my state in exchange for money sent from my state to their state, involves Interstate Commerce. So, it is absolutely constitutional for the Feds to weigh in on any state's management of internet service.
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Old 08-15-2019, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
Yes, there are lots of things Congress could do to regulate and improve Internet access and promote municipal broadband due to it being a means of interstate commerce. Simply decreeing that states must have municipal broadband systems of their own is not obviously one of them. It could, as I said, create federally-owned local broadband systems, or offer lots of money to states in exchange for their allowing it. But I really don't think it could just mandating that states have to because they say so.
Emphasis mine.

As Cheesesteak suggest, that is NOT what anyone has been advocating. The question of state involvement in this issue has emerged precisely because some states have been passing laws FORBIDDING local governments from providing a public internet option. Elizabeth Warren's proposal, as made clear by the quotation that you provided in post #6 of this thread, is to prevent states from getting in the way of municipal decisions on this issue; it is NOT to force states to get involved in the internet business.

Last edited by mhendo; 08-15-2019 at 06:37 AM.
  #60  
Old 08-15-2019, 12:46 PM
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23 million Americans live in food deserts.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/theweek...s-food-deserts


25 million Americans lacknbroadband access.
https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-i...rve-americans/

So if you want to call the first statistic a smashing success of capitalism and the second a horrible failure of capitalism, I would suggest you're being overly dramatic.
The numbers line up in a pleasing way, but I'd say that these statistics are not usefully comparable for a few reasons.

For one, the definition of a food desert is sort of arbitrary. It's a mile for urban areas, but 10 miles for rural areas. If rural people within 5 miles of a good grocery store manage to eat healthfully, why is the limit for urban people 1 mile? Urban poor are less likely to own a personal vehicle, but not that much less likely. And you can easily carry several days of fresh groceries on a bicycle or bring a handcart on a bus, which should expand the reasonable grocery radius to more than a mile.

I live within a mile of a grocery store, but I almost never go to that grocery store. It doesn't feel to me like 1 mile is a very good measure of food privation.

And it's quite possible to eat healthfully using mostly shelf-stable staples and frozen fruits and vegetables and meat. A twice-a-month trip to a farther away grocery store means you get fresh food that spoils more quickly (soft fruits, lettuces, etc.) half the time and more hardy things that will last 2 weeks in the fridge the other half (frozen foods, cabbage, root vegetables, apples). Etc.

I don't want to gloss over the issues that poverty plays here. Obviously it's harder to do that if you don't have a vehicle you can haul things in, or if you don't have a fridge that works well, or if you have to work 70 hours a week. But the primary problem there is poverty, not the location of grocery stores.

None of that applies to internet. The broadband definition isn't arbitrary; if you don't have broadband you simply can't participate in normal commercial activities on the internet. You can't do video calls. You can't create and upload media. You can't learn math Khan Academy because you can't get the videos to load in a reasonable time. etc. And you can't make a weekly trip to stock up on bits, either.
  #61  
Old 08-15-2019, 01:01 PM
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Some of your points are well-taken, and I don't want to divert this too far into discussing healthy eating, its impact on our healthcare costs, etc.

As far as your points on Internet service, let's just take a step back here and define the problem. There's several possible criticisms of the way things are today that are not actually being discussed in this thread. For example, poor rural access to broadband; poor people not being able to afford broadband; and people who have broadband but dislike their ISP/how much they charge/etc.

Each one of those issues has totally different solutions. The first, I hope technology can address, but otherwise I think government spending on infrastructure is a decent backup plan. The second I think can be addressed through better local regulation, like basically mandating a barebones service at low prices that are affordable to all, while raising prices on plans that have faster access for people who just have to have streaming 4k video or whatever. The third, for the most part I dismiss as first world problems.
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Old 08-15-2019, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
Highly technical people who like to parse rate tables and figure out how to optimize their electricity consumption or internet usage or buy some third-party service that handles it for them might prefer dumb pipes. Most people really like bundled services because they're simple and don't require coordination or detailed knowledge of how various things work.

Your imaginary example makes bundling a hassle and more complex system, but that's exactly the opposite of how most people perceive it. The current system where you have to manage multiple services on a dumb pipe is more complicated and confusing than one where you just pay $x more a month and Netflix is covered.
I think you have this backwards. The current market standard for bundling is cable TV, conveniently by the same companies who provide the vast majority of broadband services. This poll suggests that the clear majority (77%) of Americans would rather get cable TV a la carte than bundled.

This doesn't surprise me because bundles suck. You always pay for things you don't want and don't get things you do want, unless you buy yet another bundle filled with things you don't want.

A la carte is simple, and a dumb pipe is simpler still. I just buy the service I want, when I want it, from whoever sells it.

You know what you get when the cable company controls your access to content? You get me missing an entire year of Yankees baseball because Cablevision was pissed of at YES network for taking the games away from their MSG network. You don't even have to stretch the analogy for this to turn into Comcast telling their customers that they can't have Netflix anymore because they are in a contract dispute.
  #63  
Old 08-15-2019, 04:34 PM
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I think you have this backwards. The current market standard for bundling is cable TV, conveniently by the same companies who provide the vast majority of broadband services. This poll suggests that the clear majority (77%) of Americans would rather get cable TV a la carte than bundled.
I believe that is mostly because they mistakenly think that instead of buying a bundle of 200 channels for $100 a month, they'll just get the 10 channels they watch for $5. But that's not how pricing works.

When you give people the actual chance to buy television a la carte, say by buying individual episodes of television shows on iTunes, they mostly don't like it at all, because the prices are way higher than the bundle.

A few other bundles that people seem to really like: Netflix, which is like the biggest cable bundle ever, and people mostly love it.

Amazon Prime, which is a crazy multi-industry bundle of shipping, streaming video, music, file storage, grocery discounts (check back later this week to add more things to this list).

It's not bundles that people don't like, it's overpriced bundles. People are "cutting the cord" because $100/mo cable is a very bad value proposition compared to $15 for Netflix.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman
Each one of those issues has totally different solutions. The first, I hope technology can address, but otherwise I think government spending on infrastructure is a decent backup plan. The second I think can be addressed through better local regulation, like basically mandating a barebones service at low prices that are affordable to all, while raising prices on plans that have faster access for people who just have to have streaming 4k video or whatever. The third, for the most part I dismiss as first world problems.
I'm generally in favor of socializing internet infrastructure and more regulations on ISPs. I do disagree that net neutrality (forcing all ISPs to be only dumb pipes) is necessary, but that doesn't mean that there aren't lots of useful regulations that can be made. The other way that you can see that our internet is a real problem is by comparing it to what's available in other similar countries. We've fallen way behind.

And while it's easy to say that streaming 4K video is a luxury that isn't important to subsidize, if you can't stream 4K video, you probably also can't be a remote knowledge worker.

Increasingly, if a location doesn't have good high-bandwidth internet, it's going to be left in the dust as knowledge workers disperse. When I'm considering where to live, being able to get 100Mbps internet is an absolute necessity. Not because I want to watch HD video on Netflix (although I do want that and will do it), but because I can't do my job without it.

Imagine that the government invested in high speed internet backbones to rural areas, with the caveat that entertainment would be second-class users of it. Sure, if you want to watch Netflix and there's spare bandwidth, 4K full ahead. But if someone is working over that connection, they get priority. That's obviously not a dumb pipe, but it strikes me as a reasonable tradeoff to make. It might be hard to implement for practical reasons, but that's not the same as saying a dumb pipe is actually a better solution.

"All bits are equal" is a nice rallying cry, but it's just not true, societally. Some bits are more valuable than others! If you're a rural area that's losing population to nearby cities and you want to entice some industry back, even in the form of remote employee outposts, you'd be much better served by investment that lets you get necessary fast internet to people working than one that requires maybe 5x as much investment so that the network is sufficiently provisioned that everyone can watch 4K video streams.
  #64  
Old 08-15-2019, 04:47 PM
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Though we are not on the same page at the end of the day, you make a lot of sense.
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