aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Why your broadband sucks II
Cable companies have always argued, and usually won, that they own their cables so should be free to do with them as they wish. They have another win this week:
The Supreme Court ruled [Monday] that cable companies do not have to allow rivals to offer high-speed Internet access over their systems.
In a 6-to-3 decision, the court said the law on the matter was ambiguous and that the Federal Communications Commission, not the courts, had the authority to interpret it.
The ruling is a blow to consumer groups who want more competition in Internet services and to the leading providers of slower dial-up Internet service, like America Online and EarthLink. The dial-up sellers have had limited ability to offer faster, broadband service because they have largely been shut out of cable systems, which have been the most popular form of broadband service.
Now the idea would be that, like long distance service, you could choose to buy your high speed Internet access from one of many providers offered over the cable system. And, like long distance, prices would fall and innovation would happen and the service would improve and spread.
So much for that.
But it gets worse. The FCC traditionally ruled phone companies had to share their networks and did so for DSL. Then in 2002 the FCC proposed changing those rules. Now it’s likely the change will go through:
Kevin J. Martin, the chairman of the F.C.C., in 2002 supported changing the D.S.L. rules for phone companies and was expected to now press for their adoption.
“As I have advocated in the past, we should treat D.S.L. provided by telephone companies the same as we treat similar cable modem services provided by cable,” Mr. Martin said in an e-mail interview.
Such a rule could have a significant effect on Internet providers, especially EarthLink, which has 1.5 million broadband subscribers, mainly through phone companies.
The United States lags behind the world in broadband deployment both in terms of price and speed. We were 13th in February. Meanwhile we’re protecting the cable and phone monopolies.
Some cities have tried to take action. Philadelphia has an ambitious WiFi initiative. In February, in Why Your Broadband Sucks, Lawrence Lessig told the story of Governor Ed Rendell of PA signing into law a bill prohibiting municipalities from offering free Wi-Fi. A former Philadelphia mayor, he grandfathered the city’s program in.
Today Lessig tells of a more hopeful story:
There’s a fascinating and important battle going on in Lafayette, LA. Citizens are pushing a referendum to permit the Lafayette Utility System to sell bonds to fund a project to “expand its existing fiber-optic network in Lafayette to everyone in the city.” The move is being fought by the telcos—who would rather bring much more expensive DSL and cable to everyone in the city. John St. Julien and Mike Stagg have been blogging the fight. There’s a great website explaining it. And today they’ve announced the winners in the ”Fiber Film Festival,” a film contest run to explain the benefits of fiber.
The fight is a tough one. The communications lobbyists will not rest. This week Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican in the US House (and former SBC exec) proposed a bill that would ban cities from running communications networks that compete against private-sector telecom companies.
These companies have a comfortable definition of competition that pits cable company against phone company, mano y mano, and keeps all others out. That’s not competition; it’s a duopoly.
United Church of Christ considers gay marriage
The United Church of Christ biennial national gathering is this weekend in Atlanta and they’re considering endorsing same sex marriage:
On Tuesday, Rev. John H. Thomas, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, called for passage of the same-sex marriage proposal, his first-ever public endorsement of the measure.
The church’s General Synod “should affirm the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons to have their covenanted relationships recognized by the state as marriages equal in name, privileges, and responsibilities to married heterosexual couples,” Thomas said during a speech at Emory University.
One proposal from the UCC’s Southern California-Nevada Conference asks the General Synod, the denomination’s highest deliberative body, to affirm full civil and religious marriage for same-gender couples. If passed, the UCC’s General Synod would become the first mainline Christian body to support gay marriage.
A second resolution offered by eight congregations from around the country asks the Synod to affirm “traditional” marriage as “between one man and one woman.” A third proposal, from the Central Atlantic Conference, calls for a time of church-wide prayer, conversation and study on the issue…
Debate on the three proposals is expected Sunday, with a vote on the measures coming as early as Monday morning. The 1.4 million-member church has a history of supporting gays in its denomination, dating to 1972 when it ordained an openly gay minister and established a gay coalition.
They have a UCC blog that should be interesting to watch through the weekend. Whatever the outcome, it’s great that they’re considering the issue and that Rev. Thomas has called for its passage.
Via Josh Marshall who adds:
Here’s a good post about how ABC justified running an ad by Dobson’s Focus on the Family after rejecting the UCC’s ad [celebrating their church’s message of outreach and inclusion of gays and lesbians]. And here’s another on the UCC president’s endorsement of a resolution backing gay marriage.
Orbitz says our plane’s on time—we’ll see. If I were a betting man I’d bet that thunderstorms in Atlanta will hold us up.
Breakfast at the Sullivan Diner, then pack up and move out.
Shrook‘s got days of data for me to catch up on on the plane.
Lots of blogging when I’m home this evening I’m sure…