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Old 08-11-2019, 05:58 AM
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"Public option" for internet.


https://youtu.be/wLSmsYWu-Co

( https://www.huffpost.com/entry/eliza...4b0d291ed0829d )

Since access to the internet allows everyone to learn or to be informed should the government step in and guarantee internet access?
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Old 08-11-2019, 06:21 AM
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America’s internet system is strange. In the UK, I can switch my internet provider to one of half a dozen alternatives with a couple of phone calls. However, in the US, the cable companies have divvied up the country like a cartel, so most people are basically at the mercy of whichever cable company “owns” their area. These companies therefore have zero incentive to provide decent service, which is presumably why ComCast is America’s least popular company.

Since the free market has proven woefully inadequate to the task of providing decent internet, and since decent internet access is becoming a more and more crucial part of people’s everyday lives, from banking to finding work, I think it makes sense for the government to provide an alternative.
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Old 08-11-2019, 08:05 AM
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We did have some sort of subsidized phone access for rural areas. Maybe still so. Anyone know the details on that?
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:14 AM
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I think it’s reasonable to think that the advent of proliferated commercial low earth orbit communications satellites in the next several years could render this debate totally moot. These satellites could provide high speed, affordable, worldwide coverage, and just totally change the game.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:21 AM
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Some countries do do it that way - Estonia I think was the first, more followed suit. It does make sense to treat broadband internet as a basic necessity like running water/sewage or electricity.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:23 AM
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Municipal broadband is a great idea but I don't understand how this would be anywhere close to constitutional:

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To enact her plan, Warren hopes to first pass a federal law preventing state-level restrictions that have hampered municipalities that want to pursue a public internet system.
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? Municipalities are part of the state, not a separate thing with their own separate rights (other than granted by state laws); if the state chooses not to offer a particular service (even if it's a good idea), what power does Congress have to change that? This isn't like a normal pre-emption, where a state is prevented from positively doing something, this would be an attempt to pre-empt the internal structure of the state itself.

The feds could build their own public broadband system in areas they judge to be underserved, similar to how they built a power grid in the Tennessee Valley. Or they could offer truckloads of money to the states so that they allow it, like they did with the Interstate Highway System. But I really don't understand how Congress could just compel states to restructure themselves on demand.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-11-2019 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Huffington Post
To enact her plan, Warren hopes to first pass a federal law preventing state-level restrictions that have hampered municipalities that want to pursue a public internet system.
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
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?
That's not what the quote says. The federal government would not be compelling the states or municipalities to provide broadband or any other infrastructure, but it would invalidate current state laws (usually passed after lobbying from the cable lobby) that prohibit municipalities from setting up their own broadband (which is a thing).
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:43 AM
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That's not what the quote says. The federal government would not be compelling the states or municipalities to provide broadband or any other infrastructure, but it would invalidate current state laws (usually passed after lobbying from the cable lobby) that prohibit municipalities from setting up their own broadband (which is a thing).
I know what it says. The big flaw is that municipalities are not separate from their states. They have no existence other than what state law, and only state law, says they do.

Where would Congress get the authority to say that when a state creates a municipality, it must endow it with the powers to operate a broadband internet utility?
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Old 08-11-2019, 09:49 AM
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As far as I know, this portion of Hunter v City of Pittsburgh is still good law:

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Municipal corporations are political subdivisions of the state, created as convenient agencies for exercising such of the governmental powers of the state as may be entrusted to them. For the purpose of executing these powers properly and efficiently, they usually are given the power to acquire, hold, and manage personal and real property. The number, nature, and duration of the powers conferred upon these corporations and the territory over which they shall be exercised rests in the absolute discretion of the state. [...] The state, therefore, at its pleasure, may modify or withdraw all such powers, may take without compensation such property, hold it itself, or vest it in other agencies, expand or contract the territorial area, unite the whole or a part of it with another municipality, repeal the charter and destroy the corporation. All this may be done, conditionally or unconditionally, with or without the consent of the citizens, or even against their protest. In all these respects, the state is supreme, and its legislative body, conforming its action to the state constitution, may do as it will, unrestrained by any provision of the Constitution of the United States.
I don't think there's ever been an "unless Congress doesn't want them to" inserted into this.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-11-2019 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:19 AM
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I'm using municipal internet right now. It came about when energy deregulation (remember that?) was all the rage, prompting the city utility to implement direct meter reading by installing a fiber-optic drop to every building in its service area. This created a lot of unused bandwidth which they offered to the cable company — a local company which was later assimilated by Comcast — which turned it down. So they created a cable TV subsidiary and franchised out ISP services. I pay about 20% less than comparable service from Comcast.

(Interestingly, last time I looked Comcast was charging its customers in the utility's service area quite a bit less than customers outside the service area. I wonder why?)
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Old 08-11-2019, 11:26 AM
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America’s internet system is strange. In the UK, I can switch my internet provider to one of half a dozen alternatives with a couple of phone calls.
How does that work? I assume you don't have half a dozen different cables going past your house, so does one cable carry different providers' signals? Or does it all fundamentally come from one place, but the different providers buy and sell the right to send amounts of data through the common (or separately-owned) infrastructure.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-11-2019 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:25 AM
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I know what it says. The big flaw is that municipalities are not separate from their states. They have no existence other than what state law, and only state law, says they do.

Where would Congress get the authority to say that when a state creates a municipality, it must endow it with the powers to operate a broadband internet utility?
Could they use purse power?

"Sure, North Carolina government, you can continue to be massive douches in the pocket of Spectrum Cable, and forbid towns from setting up public Internet. Here's a list of federal grants and funds your state will be able to access again once you change your mind."
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:19 AM
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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?
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.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:21 AM
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I think it’s reasonable to think that the advent of proliferated commercial low earth orbit communications satellites in the next several years could render this debate totally moot. These satellites could provide high speed, affordable, worldwide coverage, and just totally change the game.
Not to mention, they'll create a pile of space junk.
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Old 08-12-2019, 07:33 AM
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Internet access is very similar to other utilities like water and power. You're best off having "pure" internet - any sort of customization of your internet access by your ISP, by restricting or fast-laning any content, worsens the experience. ISPs basically cannot value-add to internet access because anything they do is simply worse than having free, open, unmodified internet access.

So just like you'd want clean, pure water and clean, pure power, you're best off with clean, pure internet access.

As such, what do we need ISPs, with their conflicts of interests due to also being content providers, for at all? They're only useful because of their existing infrastructure, but that can simply be spun off and managed separately as a utility.

Wired internet providers basically engage in monopolistic behaviors for a captive audience because there's no real competition in most places in the US. They provide a basic service that pretty much everyone needs these days - access to the internet is not a luxury, it's pretty much a necessity for modern life. The best form of internet access is standardized, unmodified, "clean" internet access. All of the value that the internet providers actually provide is in the infrastructure, not the product or service. As such, they are pretty much exactly the definition of what constitutes a utility, and there's no good reason not to treat them that way. A "public option" run like a utility would basically amount to the same thing.

The current system does not serve any real purpose and is basically the result of corruption. Telecoms are, IIRC, the biggest lobbying industry in the country.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 08-12-2019 at 07:36 AM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 04:18 PM
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Relevant to the OP: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opini...e39_story.html

Possibly paywalled, but that shouldn't stop anyone who knows how to internet.
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Old 08-12-2019, 04:33 PM
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As such, what do we need ISPs, with their conflicts of interests due to also being content providers, for at all?
I just lowered my ISP bill and got faster service by noting that a competing ISP wanted me as a customer.

I’ve also done the same with my electricity provider, several times since consumer choice came to DC.

Why should I assume that a public monopoly on those services would give me better service and prices?
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Old 08-12-2019, 04:35 PM
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I'm probably the odd man out, but I'm personally for nationalizing (or preferably building parallel, state sponsored) industries that rely on natural monopolies and subsequent anti-competitive practices (like lobbying for the banning of Google Fiber).

I am worried about state controlled telecomunications networks because I don't want the state to have the option of turning off the communications of anyone they have cause to dislike, but that doesn't seem to be the immediate concern here... and it's not like they couldn't just order Comcast or AT&T to do it for them.
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Old 08-12-2019, 04:45 PM
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You do not want the government being your sole ISP. There will not be advancement of technology. You want 7G? Forget about it. There would be no incentive for the government to build out new technologies. If the government had taken over two decades ago, we'd still all be on dial-up.

Last edited by Omar Little; 08-12-2019 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:08 PM
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You do not want the government being your sole ISP. There will not be advancement of technology. You want 7G? Forget about it. There would be no incentive for the government to build out new technologies. If the government had taken over two decades ago, we'd still all be on dial-up.
And by an identical argument cell phones don't exist because land lines prevented their invention.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:31 PM
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And by an identical argument cell phones don't exist because land lines prevented their invention.
AT&T wasn't the government. It was a legal monopoly. Disruptive competition against AT&T is what spurred the advancement of cellular technology. AT&T continued to develop and innovate as they knew their position as a monopoly wasn't assured.

Look at the USPS, that's not the model for an ISP.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:36 PM
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AT&T wasn't the government. It was a legal monopoly. Disruptive competition against AT&T is what spurred the advancement of cellular technology. AT&T continued to develop and innovate as they knew their position as a monopoly wasn't assured.

Look at the USPS, that's not the model for an ISP.
Wait, you're going to pick the USPS as an example of a public service that stifled competition such that "we'd still all be on dial-up"?

Last edited by begbert2; 08-12-2019 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:45 PM
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Wait, you're going to pick the USPS as an example of a public service that stifled competition such that "we'd still all be on dial-up"?
What a fucking tedious question. His point makes total sense.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:50 PM
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What a fucking tedious question. His point makes total sense.
His point was that the existence of the USPS has prevented private businesses like UPS, FedEx, and Amazon from shipping things separate from the national service, apparently. His point is completely delusional.

He's namedropped two examples: One where the governement gives a highly controlled exclusive contract to a company and comes this close to privatizing them, and it doesn't stifle development or competition, and a case where the services is straight-up run by the government and it also didn't stifle development or competition. If he wanted to disprove his own point I'm not sure he could have done a better job.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:55 PM
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So prove him wrong: name the government monopolies that you view as innovative success stories.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:01 PM
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You do realize that this thread isn't about government monopolies, right? It's about services. There's nothing about the power company that says you can't run a generator. There's nothing about USPS that says you can't start a shipping company. There's nothing about the library system that says you can't lend out your own books.

But yeah, I'd say that both USPS and the library system were both innovative success stories. Since you asked about something unrelated, and all.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:41 PM
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You do not want the government being your sole ISP. There will not be advancement of technology. You want 7G? Forget about it. There would be no incentive for the government to build out new technologies. If the government had taken over two decades ago, we'd still all be on dial-up.
There should be a public sector option as well as anti trust legislation against the Telecom companies who agreed not to compete in geographic areas.

My understanding is that a public sector fiber network is about $70/month for 1Gbps internet. Lots of people would love that as an alternative to private sector internet.

As was mentioned earlier, I wonder if satellite internet or low altitude balloons will add new competition, forcing quality to go up anyway.
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:12 PM
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You do realize that this thread isn't about government monopolies, right? It's about services. There's nothing about the power company that says you can't run a generator. There's nothing about USPS that says you can't start a shipping company. There's nothing about the library system that says you can't lend out your own books.

But yeah, I'd say that both USPS and the library system were both innovative success stories. Since you asked about something unrelated, and all.
SenorBeef raised the idea that commercial ISPs are unneeded, because all people need are “pure” services that could be better provided through the government.

He didn’t actually use the term “government monopoly” in that post, but you can’t pretend that the concept of a “public no-option” hasn’t been raised.
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:28 PM
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Yes, Ravenman, the concept of a government monopoly has been raised. By you. Nothing anyone said in this thread before that could by any reasonable measure be construed as advocating for a public monopoly. Yes, SenorBeef says that the government should run a pure ISP. That doesn't say anything at all about whether non-governmental ISPs (pure or impure) should exist.
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:43 PM
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So prove him wrong: name the government monopolies that you view as innovative success stories.
Fire departments.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:12 AM
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Yes, Ravenman, the concept of a government monopoly has been raised. By you. Nothing anyone said in this thread before that could by any reasonable measure be construed as advocating for a public monopoly. Yes, SenorBeef says that the government should run a pure ISP. That doesn't say anything at all about whether non-governmental ISPs (pure or impure) should exist.
Nobody mentioned commercial space-based ISPs addressing the problems of cost and availability until I did; but nobody seems so upset about that. I wonder why.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:09 AM
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Honestly, I feel like the important thing about a public option existing is that it sets a clear baseline - "you must be this fundamentally not-shit to exist as a valid competitor". It ensures that there can be no case where your options are "Comcast" and "eat shit" - at worst, your options are "government" and "eat shit", and that's a better setup, because the government is incentivized not by profit but by the public will (and let's be honest, Comcast is just gonna tell you to eat shit anyways). It forces private providers to up their game - and that's sorely needed at this point, given how shit private providers are.

Same applies to health insurance, mail, and any other given service - the government program exists as the baseline, "you-must-be-this-good-to-compete" rule. Is your service substantially better? Great! Good for you, you're probably competitive in this market. Is your name "AT&T", "Comcast", "Verizon", or similar, and do you suck more dicks than a glory hole quality assurance team? Good luck competing with someone who actually has a reason to care about their customers, you bloated, unhelpful shits.

Also re: innovative, successful government monopolies: the military, the space program, the interstate highway system...

Last edited by Budget Player Cadet; 08-13-2019 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:11 AM
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Municipal broadband is a great idea but I don't understand how this would be anywhere close to constitutional:
I'm getting tired of that argument. We can change the constitution and we SHOULD change it when it's current form gets in the way of the public good.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:02 AM
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Actually, I think that the interstate commerce clause argument is pretty strong, given that the Internet is a major venue for interstate commerce.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:45 AM
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America’s internet system is strange. In the UK, I can switch my internet provider to one of half a dozen alternatives with a couple of phone calls. However, in the US, the cable companies have divvied up the country like a cartel, so most people are basically at the mercy of whichever cable company “owns” their area. These companies therefore have zero incentive to provide decent service, which is presumably why ComCast is America’s least popular company.
What's interesting in this scenario is that, in areas where there is some competition, the market actually works pretty much like you would expect.

I recently moved from San Diego, California, to a smallish town in coastal eastern Connecticut, and I've seen different internet options in action.

In San Diego, I lived in a relatively new building (<20 years old) in a vibrant city neighborhood, one with above-average median income, and with dozens of restaurants and bars and other attractions a relatively short walk from my front door. I was less than 4 miles as the crow flies from downtown, and a 12-minute drive from the airport, and two city bus lines went straight past my building. And yet, in this pretty prosperous and thriving and desirable neighborhood, in the 8th-largest city and 17th-largest metro area in the richest country in the world, I had one choice for internet: it was Cox, or nothing.

Time-Warner operates in San Diego, but T-W and Cox basically split the city between them and agreed not to compete, leaving people south of the river with Cox, and people north of it with T-W. AT&T offers service in San Diego, but only some neighborhoods have their high-speed UVerse service. I would check with AT&T about once a year, to see if they were an option, but the last time I checked (2018), the fastest service they provided to my building was 1.5Mbps. These days, that might as well be dial-up.

Luckily, in the 11 years I was with Cox, they were great. Consistent connections, with very little downtime. But if their service had sucked, there was nothing I could have done about it, and when their prices kept creeping up I had to just bend over and take whatever increase they wanted to give me.

Here in eastern Connecticut, I have three options for internet: Comcast XFinity, Frontier, and Thames Valley Communication.

I ended up going with XFinity, and so far the service has been fine. What was really striking, though, was that when I started shopping for service, it was immediately clear that the presence of competing companies helps to keep prices down. I ended up with an internet and basic TV package that is identical to the package that I had in San Diego, and I pay exactly half what I was paying in San Diego.
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Municipal broadband is a great idea but I don't understand how this would be anywhere close to constitutional:
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Originally Posted by Cheesesteak View Post
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.
Yeah, given the amount of leeway that the federal courts have given to the interstate commerce clause in some of their rulings, I don't see how they could, with any consistency at all, deny the federal government the power to regulate a service that is, by its very nature, not only interstate, but international. Here's a piece from the economically conservative American Enterprise Institute titled "If any economic activity meets the definition of interstate commerce, it’s the internet".
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How does that work? I assume you don't have half a dozen different cables going past your house, so does one cable carry different providers' signals? Or does it all fundamentally come from one place, but the different providers buy and sell the right to send amounts of data through the common (or separately-owned) infrastructure.
I'm not completely sure about the UK, but my bet is that it's both, depending on where you are in the country. Some areas probably have sufficient density to justify building out more than one cable system, while others probably have multiple companies using a single set of infrastructure. Quite a few European countries (I know that France is one) have laws in place that require the legacy telecom providers to lease their infrastructure to other companies, which then resell directly to consumers. The idea of these sorts of rules was precisely to curtail the monopoly power of the established telephone companies, and promote competition, as internet became more and more popular.
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I'm getting tired of that argument. We can change the constitution and we SHOULD change it when it's current form gets in the way of the public good.
Sorry, but this argument is much more tiring and stupid than the argument about things being unconstitutional.

Do you realize how hard it is to amend the US Constitution under even the best of circumstances? It requires a two-thirds majority of BOTH houses of Congress, and then the approval of 38 out of the 50 states. (It can also be changed by a Constitutional Convention.) Think about the state of American politics right now. How likely is it, do you think, that two-thirds of the Representatives, and two-thirds of the Senators, and then three-quarters of the states, could come to an agreement on something? Given the current polarization of our political landscape, we'd have trouble amending the Constitution to make apple pie the national dessert right now, let alone for anything that significantly changed the relationship between the federal and state governments.

I agree with you that there are probably areas where we would, as a country, benefit from some changes to the Constitution. But to argue that a concern with constitutionality is tiresome because we can just change the constitution is, quite frankly, an incredibly silly way to approach a political issue.
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Old 08-13-2019, 11:18 AM
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Honestly, I feel like the important thing about a public option existing is that it sets a clear baseline - "you must be this fundamentally not-shit to exist as a valid competitor". It ensures that there can be no case where your options are "Comcast" and "eat shit" - at worst, your options are "government" and "eat shit", and that's a better setup, because the government is incentivized not by profit but by the public will (and let's be honest, Comcast is just gonna tell you to eat shit anyways). It forces private providers to up their game - and that's sorely needed at this point, given how shit private providers are.

Same applies to health insurance, mail, and any other given service - the government program exists as the baseline, "you-must-be-this-good-to-compete" rule. Is your service substantially better? Great! Good for you, you're probably competitive in this market. Is your name "AT&T", "Comcast", "Verizon", or similar, and do you suck more dicks than a glory hole quality assurance team? Good luck competing with someone who actually has a reason to care about their customers, you bloated, unhelpful shits.
Yeah, this. A public option would essentially serve as a standardized competitor, whose purpose would literally be to provide some competition that the telecom companies have managed to eliminate (doubtlessly through illegal collusion), with an eye to actually providing a service rather than fucking over people. Companies that actually provide better service would continue to function just fine - presuming their services were worth the money. Anybody who believes in free market forces should be all for this, because the introduction of currently-absent competition will kick the market into gear.

(The fact that it would provide service to people who currently can't afford it is a bonus, though admittedly not one that free-market types should be expected to care about. Supply/demand models explicitly operate on the principle of people being priced out of the market and that being totally awesome.)
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:59 PM
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Anybody who believes in free market forces should be all for this, because the introduction of currently-absent competition will kick the market into gear.
Don't make me laugh.

I think the government absolutely has a role to regulate business in the name of the public interest, and in some cases where competition is lacking, provide incentives for new entrants (like maybe sharing the cost of whatever new infrastructure is needed to have other businesses compete against entrenched and poorly performing ones.

But the government starting up ventures in order to undercut private business? That's a last resort. For example, having the government guarantee affordable education and health care? 100% yes. Work to undercut Comcast because some people have to stay on hold for too long? No. Access to healthy food is a way bigger problem than your Internet bill, but nobody is suggesting that Massachusetts needs commonwealth-run grocery stores.

And as has been mentioned, public ISPs are probably at higher risk of coming with garbage restrictions, like you can't google "abortion doctors near me" in certain states. Forget it, terrible idea.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:10 PM
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Don't make me laugh.

I think the government absolutely has a role to regulate business in the name of the public interest, and in some cases where competition is lacking, provide incentives for new entrants (like maybe sharing the cost of whatever new infrastructure is needed to have other businesses compete against entrenched and poorly performing ones.

But the government starting up ventures in order to undercut private business? That's a last resort. For example, having the government guarantee affordable education and health care? 100% yes. Work to undercut Comcast because some people have to stay on hold for too long? No. Access to healthy food is a way bigger problem than your Internet bill, but nobody is suggesting that Massachusetts needs commonwealth-run grocery stores.

And as has been mentioned, public ISPs are probably at higher risk of coming with garbage restrictions, like you can't google "abortion doctors near me" in certain states. Forget it, terrible idea.
I suppose I should have said "Anybody who ACTUALLY believes in free market forces should be all for this."

As has been noted, in America competition between internet providers has been largely eliminated, likely (in my opinion) due to illegal collusion. This means that the "free market" has been essentially destroyed. If the type of internet that the government came up with managed to "undercut" private business, that means that the private businesses in question are hot garbage that are completely unfit for the marketplace and which would have been eradicated had the market been actually functioning.

And, as has been repeated stated and ignored, if the public ISP starts implementing bullshit restrictions, then private companies can certainly rise up and fill the gap. Similarly if people just think the public option is slow private companies can step up. Happened with USPS, can happen here.

As for arguments like "Food also sucks; you have to worry about every single other problem simultaneously before you can do anything about any problem," I would give them the response they deserves, but this forum doesn't have a poop emoji.
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Old 08-13-2019, 03:22 PM
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Any site that supports Unicode has the poop emoji: ��

And the bit about food would be a good counterargument if there were a monopoly on food in Massachusetts. So far as I know, that's not the case: There are still multiple grocery stores serving the same areas, and people can choose which one to shop at.

EDIT: Hm, maybe this board doesn't fully support Unicode, after all.

Last edited by Chronos; 08-13-2019 at 03:23 PM.
  #40  
Old 08-13-2019, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
If the type of internet that the government came up with managed to "undercut" private business, that means that the private businesses in question are hot garbage that are completely unfit for the marketplace and which would have been eradicated had the market been actually functioning.
While I am 100% on your side, I have to nitpick this point. The government is a giant in terms of negotiations and can leverage all sorts of facilities that agents in the free market can't. Absolutely, massive corporations can achieve similar resource levels compared to what the government would allocate to what is effectively a pet project, but tiny startups could not. It's definitely possible for a perfectly valid business to be unable to compete against the government just because of economies of scale.

In this specific example, a startup internet company might be able to find the funding to build infrastructure for a neighborhood and, absent any giant competitor, charge a high fee that allows them to funnel funds towards expanding said infrastructure to reach more customers, gradually expanding across the nation and lowering the costs to each individual customer and making up the necessary funding on volume. Conversely, the government could easily just borrow enough to build the whole network and repay the costs later, all while charging each customer pennies on the dollar since government debt is "safer" and therefore less expensive to repay.

Again, I don't think that applies to Comcast and their anticompetitive bullshit, but I have to nitpick the principle that appears to underline your statement. The government can kill legitimate business, but I totally grant that in this particular case said business ought to be long dead.

Last edited by etasyde; 08-13-2019 at 03:53 PM.
  #41  
Old 08-13-2019, 03:55 PM
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While I am 100% on your side, I have to nitpick this point. The government is a giant in terms of negotiations and can leverage all sorts of facilities that agents in the free market can't. Absolutely, massive corporations can achieve similar resource levels compared to what the government would allocate to what is effectively a pet project, but tiny startups could not. It's definitely possible for a perfectly valid business to be unable to compete against the government just because of economies of scale.

In this specific example, a startup internet company might be able to find the funding to build infrastructure for a neighborhood and, absent any giant competitor, charge a high fee that allows them to funnel funds towards expanding said infrastructure to reach more customers, gradually expanding across the nation and lowering the costs to each individual customer and making up the necessary funding on volume. Conversely, the government could easily just borrow enough to build the whole network and repay the costs later, all while charging each customer pennies on the dollar since government debt is "safer" and therefore less expensive to repay.

Again, I don't think that applies to Comcast and their anticompetitive bullshit, but I have to nitpick the principle that appears to underline your statement. The government can kill legitimate business, but I totally grant that in this particular case said business ought to be long dead.
I sorta thought it was explicit that I was talking about the government killing existing businesses by rolling into town, so I would indeed have been talking about Comcast and their ilk.

Who I would believe would survive the introduction of a government competitor, by the way. Their profits would decrease some, but I think they'd make it.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:04 PM
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Internet access is very similar to other utilities like water and power. You're best off having "pure" internet - any sort of customization of your internet access by your ISP, by restricting or fast-laning any content, worsens the experience. ISPs basically cannot value-add to internet access because anything they do is simply worse than having free, open, unmodified internet access.
I disagree that this is true in general. There are in fact a lot of different variations and features that you might want for all of these services.

Some people need drinkable water at normal residential pressure. Some people need water for irrigation, which doesn't necessarily have to be drinkable. Some people have a water tower on their property and would be happy getting lower pressure water because they have their own pumps to provide the pressure they need.

Some people need steady electricity at the same price at all times. Some people would rather have time-based rates. Some people are willing to pay a lower price for electricity service that's less reliable (they're the first to have it cut off when the supply is insufficient for all)

Internet is the same. It is absolutely not true that everyone is best served by a dumb pipe.

Last edited by iamthewalrus(:3=; 08-14-2019 at 02:05 PM.
  #43  
Old 08-14-2019, 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
Some people need steady electricity at the same price at all times. Some people would rather have time-based rates. Some people are willing to pay a lower price for electricity service that's less reliable (they're the first to have it cut off when the supply is insufficient for all)

It is absolutely not true that everyone is best served by a dumb pipe.
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.
  #44  
Old 08-14-2019, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
As for arguments like "Food also sucks; you have to worry about every single other problem simultaneously before you can do anything about any problem," I would give them the response they deserves, but this forum doesn't have a poop emoji.
Except that this is not what I am saying.

I did not say that society can only solve one problem at a time. I'm saying that the government starting a competition with the private sector should be reserved for really big problems, and lack of nutritious foods is a far bigger problem than one's Internet bill.

If nobody takes seriously that the government should open up businesses to address poor food equity, then it is hard for me to take seriously that government should seek to compete against ISPs, which is a less serious problem.

Plus, keep in mind that we have a system that seeks to address hunger in the U.S., namely by giving direct assistance to those who need help obtaining food. And when Trump proposed the stupid idea to replace credits that can be used at grocery stores with the government taking over the distribution of some basic foodstuffs, this message board generally laughed at what a dumb idea that was. Some of that criticism touched on the importance of leveraging private business to achieve social aims, rather than the government seeking to displace private business that isn't achieving those goals. I heartily agree with that analysis when it comes to food stamps and Internet access. First, let's try giving direct assistance to expanding Internet access to underserved areas, and see how that goes.

Last edited by Ravenman; 08-14-2019 at 03:09 PM.
  #45  
Old 08-14-2019, 03:49 PM
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Except that this is not what I am saying.

I did not say that society can only solve one problem at a time. I'm saying that the government starting a competition with the private sector should be reserved for really big problems, and lack of nutritious foods is a far bigger problem than one's Internet bill.
Oh, excuse me, I didn't realize that you meant "Food also sucks; you have to worry about every single other problem simultaneously before you can do anything about any problem."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
If nobody takes seriously that the government should open up businesses to address poor food equity, then it is hard for me to take seriously that government should seek to compete against ISPs, which is a less serious problem.

Plus, keep in mind that we have a system that seeks to address hunger in the U.S., namely by giving direct assistance to those who need help obtaining food. And when Trump proposed the stupid idea to replace credits that can be used at grocery stores with the government taking over the distribution of some basic foodstuffs, this message board generally laughed at what a dumb idea that was. Some of that criticism touched on the importance of leveraging private business to achieve social aims, rather than the government seeking to displace private business that isn't achieving those goals. I heartily agree with that analysis when it comes to food stamps and Internet access. First, let's try giving direct assistance to expanding Internet access to underserved areas, and see how that goes.
As you note, there's already a functioning government assistance plan in place for food that works fine, that Trump-types oppose for the sole reason that it's not evil and punitive enough.

What would "internet stamps" look like? Well, that would be the government paying people's internet bills for them. (And avoiding paying for it for people with money for some reason, I guess.)

But before we talk about the government dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the various ISP's bank accounts, it's worthwhile to ask what the government would be getting for its money. Regarding food they get the use of a large existing production and distribution system, so that's worth something. With the internet they get...the wires. Half of which are their own damn phone lines. And some end-of-line hardware, which they could hand out basic versions of and leave higher end models to the private sector.

It makes no sense whatsoever for the government to pay the ISPs to provide the service of giving the ISP corporate officers bonuses.
  #46  
Old 08-14-2019, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
Some people need steady electricity at the same price at all times. Some people would rather have time-based rates. Some people are willing to pay a lower price for electricity service that's less reliable (they're the first to have it cut off when the supply is insufficient for all)

Internet is the same. It is absolutely not true that everyone is best served by a dumb pipe.
I agree with you.

I take advantage of two programs from my electric company. One is hourly pricing. It's almost always higher during the day, when businesses and factories are running, and the afternoon when air conditioning is used more often. The second program I use is "air conditioning cycling" where they have the ability to remotely disable the outdoor unit for 15 minutes in a 1 hour period on the hottest days of the year. It only happens three or four times a year, and I get a small credit on my electric bill for it. Works for me.
  #47  
Old 08-14-2019, 06:22 PM
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Oh, excuse me, I didn't realize that you meant "Food also sucks; you have to worry about every single other problem simultaneously before you can do anything about any problem."
Are you deliberately distorting my position?

It is more like a surgeon saying, "Yes, I will do surgery to fix your bad hip problem. No, I'm not going to deal with your sore knee, you need to do other things to try to deal with that before resorting to surgery." You can't just go back at the doctor and say, "I didn't realize you won't deal with more than one problem at a time! I want to speak to your manager!"

Quote:
What would "internet stamps" look like? Well, that would be the government paying people's internet bills for them. (And avoiding paying for it for people with money for some reason, I guess.)
For example, using state regulatory powers to establish that a bare-bones minimum broadband service (say, 10 or 25 Mbps) shall cost no more than $x, which should be low. And then spend billions of dollars to subsidize bringing broadband to rural areas, either by spending money on ground-based or space-based infrastructure/delivery systems.

Quote:
But before we talk about the government dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the various ISP's bank accounts, it's worthwhile to ask what the government would be getting for its money.
More people connected to the Internet. Frankly I'm not worried about people who get lathered up that they pay $20 a month too much for 300 Mbps service, or they are all jelly that some city a few states over has 1 gig but they don't yet. First world problems.

Quote:
It makes no sense whatsoever for the government to pay the ISPs to provide the service of giving the ISP corporate officers bonuses.
It also makes no sense to start a government run business to compete -- and let's be frank, for the sole reason of undercutting existing businesses -- before trying other, more logical policy options.
  #48  
Old 08-14-2019, 06:40 PM
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Are you deliberately distorting my position?

It is more like a surgeon saying, "Yes, I will do surgery to fix your bad hip problem. No, I'm not going to deal with your sore knee, you need to do other things to try to deal with that before resorting to surgery." You can't just go back at the doctor and say, "I didn't realize you won't deal with more than one problem at a time! I want to speak to your manager!"
In your analogy I'm both the doctor and the patient. I'm the one telling you that it's okay to fix the internet without fixing the food (more). And I'm also the one telling you that you're full of crap for pretending that the fact we're not fixing the food (more) means we oughtn't be fixing the internet either.

Give up, man. We don't have to fix the food (more) before we fix the internet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
For example, using state regulatory powers to establish that a bare-bones minimum broadband service (say, 10 or 25 Mbps) shall cost no more than $x, which should be low. And then spend billions of dollars to subsidize bringing broadband to rural areas, either by spending money on ground-based or space-based infrastructure/delivery systems.
Wow, that doesn't sound like food stamps at all. It's almost like you're trying to analogize things that aren't at all similar to one another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
More people connected to the Internet. Frankly I'm not worried about people who get lathered up that they pay $20 a month too much for 300 Mbps service, or they are all jelly that some city a few states over has 1 gig but they don't yet. First world problems.


I'll just ignore the deranged rambling there.

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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
It also makes no sense to start a government run business to compete -- and let's be frank, for the sole reason of undercutting existing businesses -- before trying other, more logical policy options.
Another apples/cables comparison, of course - but which policy options were you thinking of, again?

Let's suppose the goal is to get everyone who wants it and isn't in a remote mountain cabin or something internet access of semi-tolerable quality for absolutely goddamn free (as per the topic of the thread). What policy do you think they should adopt?

Last edited by begbert2; 08-14-2019 at 06:41 PM. Reason: typo
  #49  
Old 08-14-2019, 06:50 PM
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Why would price controls be preferable to state run competition? That's the worst of both worlds (command economics and free markets) with hardly the benefit of either.
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Old 08-14-2019, 06:56 PM
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In your analogy I'm both the doctor and the patient.
I'm the one telling you that it's okay to fix the internet without fixing the food (more). And I'm also the one telling you that you're full of crap for pretending that the fact we're not fixing the food (more) means we oughtn't be fixing the internet either.
Nope.

Quote:
Wow, that doesn't sound like food stamps at all. It's almost like you're trying to analogize things that aren't at all similar to one another.
Well, an ISP isn't a post office. What, it's okay for you to use imperfect analogies? I can understand that you mean that an ISP can be like the post office in some respects, but not all, and not seek to quibble with it. But if you're all out of good points, I supposed quibbling is the last arrow in the quiver. (I hope you'll overlook the fact that one's arguments are not like arrows in every respect.)

Quote:
Another apples/cables comparison, of course - but which policy options were you thinking of, again?
I just gave some in the last post, third paragraph. Be my guest and re-read it.

Quote:
Let's suppose the goal is to get everyone who wants it and isn't in a remote mountain cabin or something internet access of semi-tolerable quality for absolutely goddamn free (as per the topic of the thread). What policy do you think they should adopt?
I disagree with that policy in several respects:

1. I think in the next five-ten years it will be feasible to get fast Internet to everyone in the country, including the hermit in that cabin.
2. I do not think this service should be free. Even Elizabeth Warren doesn't agree with your policy here, as she called for making "sure every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford." Not free Internet -- affordable Internet.

So if you assert the topic of the thread is Warren's plan to make the Internet "free," you've been misinformed.
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