It is because Americans allow corporate pols control government---they deregulate, create monopolies---and capture Americans to no choices---bye bye competition. Europe regulates telecommunications and keeps monopolies away. It is this complete monopoly control that was super-sized these several years as what were US telecommunications were allowed to merge and go global. All of this is illegal----it violates Federal laws and US Constitutional protections-----
CLINTON NEO-LIBERALS AND REPUBLICANS JUST DID IT.
If WE THE PEOPLE keep allowing global pols to stay in office-----they will push Americans off the internet by allowing rates to climb and service become worse and worse as happens whenever we outsource public works and services.
We have protections against monopoly----we have regulations---we simply need to enforce them----Baltimore City can build it own telecommunications network as a base platform to make sure all citizens have affordable access----it doesn't happen because Baltimore City Council and Mayor works for a Wall Street BAltimore Development that does not want competition and wants to push citizens off the internet for only global corporate use.
Why is European broadband faster and cheaper? Blame the government
Rick Karr is a journalist and frequent contributor to The Engadget Show.
If you've stayed with friends who live in European cities, you've probably had an experience like this: You hop onto their WiFi or wired internet connection and realize it's really fast. Way faster than the one that you have at home. It might even make your own DSL or cable connection feel as sluggish as dialup.
You ask them how much they pay for broadband.
"Oh, forty Euros." That's about $56.
"A week?" you ask.
"No," they might say. "Per month. And that includes phone and TV."
It's really that bad. The nation that invented the internet ranks 16th in the world when it comes to the speed and cost of our broadband connections. That's according to a study released last year by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society on behalf of the Federal Communications Commission.
It's not surprising that we lag behind such hacker havens as Sweden (number one worldwide, according to the study) and Finland (number seven), nor densely-populated Asian nations like Japan and South Korea (numbers three and four). But the U.S. also trails countries that are poor by European standards: Portugal is just ahead of us in 15th place; Italy is number 14. (The full rankings are on page 81 of the study.)
By most measures, the U.S. has been losing ground. The UK, which traditionally lagged in international broadband rankings, is now number eleven, Germany, which has been slow to move to the most-recent DSL and fiber technologies, is number twelve.
I wanted to find out why we're doing so badly. So earlier this year I went to the UK and Netherlands under the aegis of the Washington-based Center for Investigation and Information to learn why broadband in those countries is so much better than ours. The project was funded by the Ford Foundation. (In April, my colleagues and I produced the first version of the story for the weekly PBS newsmagazine Need to Know; you can see that report here. Later this year, we hope to produce additional reporting for two NPR programs.)
We went to the Netherlands because it has one of the world's most advanced and fastest-growing fiber-optic networks. We visited homes there that get 100 mbps service in both directions -- they can upload as fast as they download -- as well as TV and phone for under $100 a month.
We chose the UK because it's racing ahead in global rankings. Over the past decade, average speeds increased by 25 percent between 2009 and 2010, while prices have tumbled. Broadband service comparable to what we get here in the U.S. is available for less than $6 a month. And no, there isn't a zero missing there. Six bucks a month.
So, what's the difference?
Our reporting suggests a one-word answer: Government.
Not government spending. The UK's administration hasn't invested a penny in broadband infrastructure, and most of the network in the Netherlands has been built with private capital. (The city government in Amsterdam took a minority stake in the fiber network there, but that's an investment that will pay dividends if the network is profitable -- and the private investors who own the majority share of the system plan to make sure that it will be.)
The game-changer in these two European countries has been government regulators who have forced more competition in the market for broadband.
The market in the UK used to be much like ours here in the U.S.: British homes had two options for broadband service: the incumbent telephone company British Telecom (BT), or a cable provider. Prices were high, service was slow, and, as I mentioned above, Britain was falling behind its European neighbors in international rankings of broadband service.
The solution, the British government decided, was more competition: If consumers had more options when it came to broadband service, regulators reasoned, prices would fall and speeds would increase. A duopoly of telephone and cable service wasn't enough. "You need to find the third lever," says Peter Black, who was the UK government's top broadband regulator from 2004 to 2008.
Starting around 2000, the government required BT to allow other broadband providers to use its lines to deliver service. That's known as "local loop unbundling" -- other providers could lease the loops of copper that runs from the telephone company office to homes and back and set up their own servers and routers in BT facilities.
BT dragged its feet and very few firms stepped up to compete with the telephone giant. "The prices were too high," Black says. "There were huge barriers to entry. The processes were long and drawn out."
When Black was named Telecommunications Adjudicator in 2004, he fought on two fronts to break the BT logjam. First, he used his own experience as a former employee of the telecom giant to push for change from the inside. When that wasn't enough, he used the bully pulpit provided by his government post to embarrass BT in public. He publicized the company's failure to meet goals. Reporters loved the story of the government regulator holding the giant firm's feet to the fire.
"Embarrassment works, you know?" he laughs.
When Black started work, only 12,000 British homes had multiple broadband providers. By the time he stepped down in 2008, about 5 million did, and today the number's closer to 6 million. "That's about a 500-fold increase in less than ten years," he says.
You can see evidence of the UK's competitive market on the streets of London: Broadband providers splash ads across bush shelters and train stations, touting prices that seem outrageously low by U.S. standards. Post offices sell broadband service; so does Tesco, one of the UK's largest supermarket chains.
Those providers target their offerings to users' needs. If all you plan to do is check you email every now and then, try TalkTalk's plan that goes for £3.25 a month (under $6). If you're a gamer and low latency is a key factor, buy a more expensive plan from Demon. (Bonus: Their customer service people are trained geeks who won't repeatedly insist that you reboot your computer and modem before moving on to help solve the problem.) Some London homes now have a dozen or more broadband providers.
Competition is spurring technological improvements. BT and its dozens of competitors realize that they're already pushing old-fashioned copper wires to the limit, and that speeds will increase only if homes are connected to fiber-optic cables. So right now, a consortium of competitive broadband providers is negotiating with BT for the right to use the phone company's poles and underground ducts to build their own fiber-optic network.
What's good for Britain is bad for America?
America's AT&T and Verizon are members of that consortium, pushing for faster service for British broadband users. Both firms back more competition in the UK and across Europe and fight to take market share from incumbent telephone companies there.
Yet both firms say the same policies they support in the UK would be a mistake here in the U.S. (You can see my questions to the firms here and here. AT&T's response is here, while Verizon's is here.)
Verizon told me in its written statement that it flat-out opposes the kind of local-loop unbundling that's reduced prices and increased speeds in Britain "for competitive reasons". Those regulations are "bad public policy and bad news for consumers", Verizon says, which "only benefit a few big phone companies, and those companies do not pass their savings on to consumers." Verizon also claims that "those competitors do not invest in their own networks".
Broadband industry insiders in the UK beg to differ.
AT&T takes a different tack: The firm says it supports competition, but notes that, "There is no 'one-size fits all' regulatory regime" that will work worldwide. AT&T cites two main differences between the UK and U.S. markets: First, more U.S. homes have the option of buying broadband service from cable companies. Second, the U.S. is more spread out -- the technical term is that those "loops" are longer.
But again, the facts in the UK suggest otherwise. Many homes in Britain's largest city -- London -- have cable access, but cable prices have fallen alongside that of DSL service.
Meanwhile, the size of the U.S. may be a red herring. Most of the region between Boston and Washington is as densely populated as most of Europe and the UK. So is the California coast between San Francisco and San Diego. And so is the region of the Midwest centered on Chicago. Those areas are home to about a quarter of all Americans. In other words, we live in a big country, but a lot of it is relatively empty space.
The argument that the U.S. is too spread out is nonsense, according to Herman Wagter, one of the Netherlands' most prominent evangelists for next-generation broadband. He thinks there's something else going on in Verizon's and AT&T's opposition to competition at home: They're afraid of it.
Standing next to an Amsterdam canal, Wagter used a historical analogy: Those canals were built and operated by private firms, he says. When they were built, they helped Amsterdam become the world capital of commerce and finance. But after a hundred years or so, a new technology -- railroads -- was proving itself to be more efficient. The new transportation system was helping Holland's neighbor to the west, the UK, race ahead of the Netherlands. When Dutch entrepreneurs petitioned to build a train, the owners of the canals "were screaming murder".
"They were saying, 'Oh, we can accelerate the boats a little bit, and convey a little bit more if you need more capacity'," Wagter says. The canal owners said the new railroads would "take away their business, and it was absolutely forbidden, and government shouldn't interfere."
Wagter says it's fortunate that the Dutch government at the time didn't listen to those arguments. Whether or not U.S. officials will make the same decision when it comes to next-generation broadband, he says, is "a matter of political will."
The American people know little about these critical discussions because in the US----and especially Baltimore----the press only makes vague reports about single-issues on the subject so citizens have no context of the big picture and goals...AS ALWAYS HAPPENS IN US CORPORATE MEDIA.
UNBUNDLING THE LOCAL ---- LOOP. Last century under social Democracy FDR and its public works program built all kinds of infrastructure including public telecommunications---public utilities for water/energy and it fell under Federal control ---everyone in---no one out -----prices were very cheap because there was no profit-drive. Of course Republicans needed to deregulate under the guise of competition and VOILA----all of what was built by taxpayers for the public was being privatized to corporations. We build it---they take it for profit. This is what happened with BGE-----as a public energy utility was consolidated and sold all our public gaslines and electrical lines slowly became controlled by larger corporations. O'Malley selling to Exelon made that more so. THE LOCAL LOOP is the remnants of this public infrastructure and in Baltimore we hear it when Baltimore City Hall talks about THE CONDUIT UNDER THE CITY. Charging rent to corporations wanting to use our public infrastructure. Monopolies like Verizon and ATT want all that infrastructure for its own use---so fight UNBUNDLING. They want complete control of the telecommunications conduit just as was given them by BGE privatization.
Social Democrats would want Baltimore City not only to keep control of this conduit------we would want the city to build a public telecommunications network for citizens to keep rates cheap----while renting space in these conduits to smaller telecommunications companies that would keep competition holding Verizon and ATT accountable.
Remember, these policies for telecom mirror what was done with our public electricity and gas with BGE---see how Exelon now has complete control and soaring rates?
'Verizon told me in its written statement that it flat-out opposes the kind of local-loop unbundling that's reduced prices and increased speeds in Britain "for competitive reasons".'
Why is there no Local-loop unbundling in the USA?
Reading this article
http://gizmodo.com/5830956/why-t... I was wondering: Why do Americans put up with the micro-monopolies of cable and telco companies, paying high prices for less-than-optimum cable/phone/internet services?
Stan Hanks, "This is United States calling, are we reaching..."
There was local loop un-bundling in the US as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. It created a huge number of market entrants offering DSL based Internet and to a limited extent voice services. They're all dead.
Unfortunately, while it was possible to acquire loops, it wasn't always possible to DO anything with them. The regulations addressed getting access to the copper, but to use it, you had to put something ON the copper, which meant you had to have space in - you guessed it -- the telco central office or wire center.
And there was no specific mandate on that, other than space had to be made available on commercially reasonable terms. The telcos always claimed their central offices were full, and they needed to construct new space for the competitors - which then had modern costs attached, plus a regulated rate-of-return, plus profit - making it super expensive. Even wen it was available, you had to deal with the most hostile environment possible, and it was always an uphill battle to get anything you needed into or out of the space. It was maddening.
Over time, the requirements shifted, and by 2008, many telcos were trying to de-commision big chunks of their copper plant "to save operating costs" which was really code for "so we don't have to lease the lines to our competitors".
There was never any requirement for un-bundling in the cable TV space.
'So right now, a consortium of competitive broadband providers is negotiating with BT for the right to use the phone company's poles and underground ducts to build their own fiber-optic network'.
If Baltimore City allows the monopolies Verizon and ATT control all of the conduit-----or if contracts between Baltimore City give too much power to these two monopolies-----then, under Trans Pacific Trade Pact------not if, but when these two merge to become global telecommunications corporations---could be this decade-----then TPP will have Baltimore City in global tribunal court making it TOO EXPENSIVE FOR BALTIMORE CITY TO CONTINUE TO KEEP THESE CONDUITS PUBLIC----AND FORCE PRIVATIZATION TO GLOBAL TELECOMMS.
Maryland under O'Malley has thrown citizens under the bus with BGE----and it poses progressive in trying to make it seem it is being competitive by sending out 'competitors' to Exelon and its access to our public gas and electric infrastructure....AND NONE OF IT IS TRUE. Maryland pretends it is getting local competitors to Exelon---but almost all are national and global corporations simply creating branch offices. As we see below----what is now happening to the British public telecommunications that opened its conduits-----now a global corporation (OFTEL) is suing for more access. This is what Trans Pacific Trade Pact does----it allows global corporations in the US to sue for loss of profit if we do not give them what they want.
This is what contracting our Baltimore City conduit out to these big guys will lead to------and knowing Maryland they will send in 'competition' that will not be local---but yet more national or global corporations with the goal of taking it all.
BT faces fines over local loop unbundling
Oftel appears to have had enough of the delays in local loop unbundling, and is proposing that BT starts paying compensation
By Graeme Wearden | August 23, 2001 -- 08:28 GMT (01:28 PDT) | Topic: Networking
Telecoms regulator Oftel has decided that it is unacceptable for BT to further delay access to the local loop — the part of its network that links individual homes and offices with a local exchange.
Under the proposals, if an operator requests access to a BT exchange to install its equipment, BT will have to pay £80 for every working day's delay. Once the operator has installed its equipment and has orders from customers, BT will face a further £10 fine for each day it delays connection of a single local loop. Each house will typically account for one local loop connection, but businesses could have several each.
Details of the proposals were released on Thursday as Oftel published its draft declaration on service level agreements for local loop unbundling. Interested parties have until 20 September to respond to the proposals, which are expected to come into force by 5 November this year.
The fines are unlikely to make much of a dent in BT's balance sheet, leading to suggestions that they will have little effect. According to Oftel, the intention is not to hit BT with punitive damages. "These figures are based on estimates of the likely loss to the operator," an Oftel spokeswoman explained.
In response, BT claimed that it was exceeding its current service level agreements with Oftel over local loop unbundling. "We're looking into the details, but we don't anticipate paying out huge sums," a BT spokesman told ZDNet News.
Oftel has been criticised in the past for the slow progress in local loop unbundling, but it seems to have decided that a more pro-active stance is needed with BT.
"It is clear that Oftel intervention is required to ensure that BT offers satisfactory service level agreements," said David Edmonds, Oftel director general, in a statement. "The revised contract I am proposing is designed to achieve this. Consumers will benefit because operators can now guarantee timescales for delivery of service and fault repair."
Local loop unbundling will allow rival telecom operators to install their equipment in BT's local exchanges. For example, it would let them operate their own broadband services rather than buying wholesale ADSL capacity from BT. BT has been accused of slowing down local loop unbundling in an attempt to ensure the commercial success of its own broadband packages -- something it has consistently denied.
Meanwhile, the other sources of TV----cable ----have allowed to create a super-monopoly AND allowed to tie cable to telecom corporations----ergo COMCAST----that will lead to COMCAST ending cable ----and going only with internet-----AND IT WILL BE THAT SAME VERIZON/COMCAST/ATT.
So, as they kill free TV by selling our airwaves to broadband corporations which will kill free TV because there is no profit in that----now they consolidated so cable TV is about to end as well---pushing all telecommunication control to Verizon/Comcast/ATT-----this is what wants to rent our Baltimore conduit----knowing next decade Verizon/Comcast will merge into one global corporation.
Getting Screwed by Your Cable Company
Filed to: Fixcable
You hate your cable company, right? Seems like everyone does. Cable television routinely scores lower in customer satisfaction than just about anything else—including congress. So why don't you just switch providers? Oh yeah, you can't. You're so screwed!
The sad truth is, most Americans don't have a choice of cable providers. Sure, there are a lot of cable companies out there, but odds are there's only one you can use. While no one cable company dominates the nation, there are a lot of regional cable fiefdoms. Live in San Francisco? It's Comcast for you. New York City? Time Warner. That matters because it translates into high prices and crummy service.
Nationally speaking, there's plenty of competition. But locally, that's just not true. For the overwhelming majority of us it's the local cable-opoly, or get bent. Which means we pay exorbitant bills, suffer four hour install time windows, and just suck it up when our cable provider throttles our download speeds or caps our bandwidth.
The only way this changes is with competition. When a competing cable company is present, your cable bill typically goes down by 15-percent, and service generally improves. But almost nobody has a competing cable company.
Simply put, you're paying way too much for Nickelodeon.
The cable industry is a patchwork of micro-monopolies. Or more accurately, natural monopolies: situations of little or no competition that doesn't break enough laws to get regulated. A natural monopoly occurs when it's so expensive to enter a market that it doesn't make sense for a competitors to come in. With cable TV, there's a massive fixed cost to enter a new market—putting in new cable lines. So, basically, whoever showed up first—or the company that bought them—has the legacy right of being the local cable company.
For decades, cable operators were allowed to set up exclusive regional franchises. A cable company would come into an area, and more or less tell the municipal area in charge of franchising that it needed an exclusive for the next, say, 12-15 years if it was going to build out lines. That ended in 1992 with the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act, but the damage was done.
Cable companies had already divided up the nation like Europe colonizing Africa. By the time regulation arrived, the land grab was already over.
The last reliable statistic shows that a mere 2-percent of American markets had a choice of cable providers. That's from 2003, the last time the FCC produced a statistic. (At least that they could supply us with.) You may be surprised to learn that the FCC doesn't have anything to do with cable franchising. Nor does the FTC. An FTC spokesman told Gizmodo that "we don't look at industries considered common carriers, like airlines, phone companies and utilities."
Throughout most of cable's history, it's been regulated at the local level. Counties and cities were the agencies responsible for allowing cable franchises. That is changing, slightly. More than 20 states now have franchise authority, due largely to intensive lobbying by telcos like Verizon and AT&T.
You know you're fucked when you're relying on AT&T to make things better.
Ultimately, this patchwork of local regulation means cable companies themselves are often more powerful than the body overseeing them. And as long as none of the micro-monopolies grows too large nationally, it can continue to control the local weather.
But what about those second cable companies that some people have? They're typically overbuilders, a company that builds new lines in an area where one cable company already exists. They tend to be quite small. The best known, for example, is probably WideOpenWest Networks, or WOW. WOW has just 410,000 subscribers. And that's because it's really, really hard for a second company to come into an existing market.
While everyone has a right to access the poles, the same isn't true of the wires that hang from them. In short, if you're an upstart cable company coming into a new area, you have to run your own lines. It's very expensive, and it also means you can easily be crushed by the existing monopoly.
One cable industry insider, who would only speak on background, explained how it works:
First you have to overcome a mishmash of local regulations. You have to get a permit to come in, which can be a legal hassle, with a wait time of many months just to get approval. Then its time to build.
To build a new network and make it price-competitive, you have to reach 100-percent of customers in that area. Which means building an extensive network of lines, all the way to the door. If you're very lucky you may capture 10 to 20-percent of the market. You do that by offering steep discounts on bundled services. This gets you new customers, but at a loss.
Then, Comcast, or Cablevision, or Time Warner—or whichever provider is dominant in the area—comes along behind you with sweetheart deals for any of its customers who were leaving. They offer discounted packages and teaser rates. Poof. They're gone. That's five percent of the market. Now you've spent a fortune on new lines and infrastructure, for very few new customers.
So there's very little financial incentive for a competitor to try to build. It's just too damn hard to build a customer base. To do that, you need to be a giant company to begin with. Like, say, a telco.
If you're lucky, you may have the option for Verizon FiOS or AT&T U-Verse. But probably not. Verizon only passes (cable lingo for is available at) 15 million premises nationwide, and has just 3.7 million video subscribers. AT&T is even smaller, at 3.4 million. Comcast, by comparison, has 22 million video subscribers.
What's more, there's no evidence that telcos are having a positive effect on pricing. In fact, in some areas where AT&T managed to get the laws changed, like Michigan, prices have gone up.
But wait! What about satellite? Doesn't satellite fix everything? No.
According to the Government Accountability Office, satellite services have little-to-no effect on cable prices. (And besides, satellite service is terrible. Who doesn't want to watch TV when it's overcast outside?)
Ultimately what all of this means is that consumers are left with little recourse. Because there's plenty of competition nationally, nobody is looking out for you locally.
All this week, Gizmodo is going to take a long-hard look at the cable industry, and how to improve it. We want to fix cable, and we need your help to make it happen.
We want to hear your horror stories of bad cable experiences, and your ideas of how to make things better. We'll collect the best of these and publish them on Friday. Tweet us with the hashtag #fixcable, email us at email@example.com with #fixcable in the subject line, or just fill in the form at the bottom of this page.
Come on. We are totally going to do this thing.
This is where I may touch a nerve for my Verizon union friends but we really need to stop moving because of jobs, jobs, jobs----and think about the future of ALL CITIZENS and their ability to access internet.
Below you see one side of this telecommunications debate------people don't know that the debate extends to our Baltimore City conduit and rules of 'renting' space.
FIOS does redline and it is not coming into Baltimore because too many citizens cannot afford the high-end internet/wireless services. The city cannot possibly subsidize FIOS as it does hotels in the city......although it would if at all possible. What FIOS is doing behind closed doors is demanding as above control of BAltimore conduit to keep small business competition away and to set the stage for using Trans Pacific Trade Pact to take that conduit private with no say from city hall. Remember, not too long Verizon/Comcast will merge---so what runs through our Baltimore City conduit will be ONE BIG GLOBAL MONOPOLY OF YET ANOTHER VITAL PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE----ALL OF OUR TELECOMMUNICATIONS.
While tech groups and unions are pushing to get FIOS into Baltimore----they are not thinking or knowing what that looks like just a decade or so down the road.
April 29, 2010
Verizon to Baltimore: "Verizon does not redline. We never have and we never will."
I attended last night's City Council hearing, where our elected leaders queried Verizon as to why they have not yet rolled out their next-generation broadband Internet service, FiOS, in Baltimore, while launching it in counties around the city.
There seem to be at least two camps in this debate: those who question Verizon's motives for not expanding FiOS in Baltimore on moral and socio-economic grounds. And then there are those who argue that as a for-profit business, it's really Verizon's call on where and when they roll out their services, based on market conditions.
Here's what I learned last night -- and my own still-unanswered question is at the end of this recap:
* The City Council wants Baltimoreans to know that they are not doing anything to block Verizon's FiOS service in Baltimore. Our council members are irritated -- to put it mildly -- that there is a public perception in Baltimore that city leaders have somehow taken steps to block or make it difficult for Verizon to roll out FiOS in Baltimore. That does not appear to be true in any way, according to Councilman Bill Cole and others.
* Councilman Cole and others insist the city's leaders are not beholden to Comcast in any way; Comcast does have a cable franchise in Baltimore. He recounted an encounter with a Verizon salesperson who told him FiOS wasn't in Baltimore because Comcast was friendly with elected officials because the former councilmember, Ken Harris, who was killed in a defenseless murder in 2008, worked for Comcast. Cole called that allegation "beyond insulting."
* Councilmembers Jim Kraft and Helen Holton kept hammering Tabb Bishop, Verizon's regional vice president of government affairs, on the company's FiOS advertising in Baltimore. They want television and print ads to make it clear that Verizon FiOS is not offered in Baltimore city because the company has chosen not to offer it to city residents.
Again, it may sound like semantics, but these City Council members appear to be tired of getting blamed for a lack of FiOS from constituents.
* Councilman Kraft, in talking about Verizon's coverage area for FiOS in the Baltimore area, said the city was the "hole" in the Verizon FiOS "donut." Meaning: FiOS is all around the city, but not in the city. (MMmmmmmm, did someone say donuts?)
So what did Mr. Bishop of Verizon have to say in response to the questioning? Here's a synopsis:
* "Verizon does not redline. We never have and we never will." Verizon is obviously sensitive to any accusations that they're targeting products to exclude poorer minorities. Bishop talked about the responsible corporate citizen that Verizon has been in Baltimore; it donated $1.2 million to projects in Baltimore last year, he said.
* He said Verizon offers a very high-tech fiber-optic service for businesses in Baltimore.
* "We understand it's an exciting service, but we can't be everywhere at one time," Bishop said. In 2004, when it was launching FiOS, Verizon set a goal of reaching 18 million households with it, in many states across the country. They're currently at 15.5 million. Bishop basically said Verizon thought it was time to stop the expansion and assess how it was going, and focus on growing the service in the markets they were already in, rather than continuing to launch in new ones. Other markets they're not in include Boston, Albany, Syracuse, and Buffalo.
THE QUESTION REMAINS:
After talking with Tabb Bishop myself last week by phone and listening to him speak last night, I realize that the basic question of "why not Baltimore" was asked but never really answered.
We still have not heard Verizon's rationale for avoiding Baltimore and heck, while we're at it: Boston and Buffalo and Syracuse and Albany, too.
Specifically, by what standards did Verizon choose who would get FiOS and who would not? Did they throw darts at a map of the United States?
It's not enough to say "we can't be everywhere" -- I think people generally understand that. But why is Baltimore the hole in the donut, to use Kraft's analogy? Choices were made probably following a set of criteria. Verizon must have made a business decision (one hopes) on a set of facts, and the city wants more clarification on how they reached that decision.
Mr. Bishop noted that Verizon Maryland has been based in Baltimore since the late 1800s -- is it odd that the regional headquarters of this company hasn't rolled out its premiere service in its own city?
Verizon does not want to disclose proprietary information about its business decisions, but clearly, there was some kind of internal decision-making or scorecard that they used to choose where to roll out FiOS in communities across the country.
I think Baltimoreans and the City Council want to know the criteria, as complex as it may have been, they used to roll out FiOS and, thus far, to exclude Baltimore from the roll-out. What do you think?
Baltimore citizens are already watching as a global Exelon/BGE is already trying to hold the city hostage over the renting of conduit----WELL IF YOU CHARGE US MORE WE WILL PASS IT ON TO CONSUMERS. It goes from this---to making it impossible for the city to keep it public----we are forced to privatize just as they did with BGE when it was a public utility.
This is just the start-----even if they do succeed in forcing Baltimore to privatize-----consumers will still keep getting rate increases---so this has nothing to do with raising RENT rates.
Posted 06 November 2015 - 09:17 PM
I knew it!!!! Exelon/BGE is going to pass along the costs of renting Baltimore City's underground conduit system to the customers....
November 6, 2015
Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. on Friday asked regulators to approve rate increases so the company can recoup the costs of its smart grid program and pay for higher charges it faces for using Baltimore City's underground conduit system.
If approved, the rate increases would mean higher monthly payments for both commercial and residential customers. They would also mean hundreds of millions of additional dollars going to BGE.
The utility is asking for rate increases totaling $213 million a year to pay for the installation of smart meters and other investments it's made in its grid since 2010. BGE started putting in smart meters in the spring of 2012 and recently finished installation. But the Maryland Public Service Commission did not allow the utility to raise rates to offset grid improvement costs as meters were installed, instead requiring BGE to ask to recoup costs after meters were in place so it could prove they benefitted consumers.
Now BGE is asking for a 6 percent increase in residential electricity rates and an 11 percent increase in residential natural gas rates to pay for smart grid work. That translates to an extra $7.64 per month on electricity bills and $7.56 on gas bills, on average.
For commercial customers, BGE is requesting electricity and gas rate hikes varying by customer size. Small electricity customers would pay 2.6 percent more, larger customers would pay 2.2 percent more and the largest industrial customers would pay 1 percent more. On gas bills, most customers would see 7.5 percent bill increases, while large industrial and military customers on interruptable service would have their bills go up 2.9 percent.
BGE did not provide dollar cost estimates for commercial customers because their bills vary significantly.
This is the problem in Baltimore and I bring some community groups to being mad at me----but here we go again. The same groups that came out for the Baltimore School building bond all designed as a Wall Street scam on our schools--are coming out again for this FIOS issue. The people behind these groups and this issue---Johns Hopkins, Baltimore Development Corporation. They push these policies as progressive without educating so that citizens will know it is very, very, very, very bad policy to hand our public conduit to global corporations. These people do not know the end result will be NO INTERNET ACCESS FOR 90% OF BALTIMORE CITIZENS.
Below you see a rare look at what is a good policy from Baltimore City Hall------building its own network-----but Hopkins has non-profits out fighting policy that will force small business competition for local telecomm and pushing it all be handed to a soon to be global corporation VERIZON/COMCAST----to use Trans Pacific Trade Pact to take the entire telecommunications public infrastructure.
“The report says the city is going to do its own network. That it’s going to wire city government and libraries and try to wire new schools. Is this really going to happen? In this city they tell us has no money? People sitting in these communities can’t wait for this,” said Charly Carter, executive director of Maryland Working Families'.
I know all these grassroots activists have justice in mind---they just don't know the public policy around these issues------remember my earlier post from the UK-----where they are able to have super-fast speed with only small business telecomm businesses and do not want monopolies like VERIZON? We do not need Monopolies to have super-fast internet speed folks......
Activists call on city leaders to push Verizon to bring FiOS to Baltimore
Highlighting the equity issue, activists note that Verizon has wired the counties, but not the city, with high-speed broadband
Fern Shen July 30, 2015 at 10:46 am Story Link 57
Standing at the city line, Charly Carter, of Maryland Working Families, calls for elected leaders to pressure Verizon to bring FIOS to Baltimore.
Photo by: Fern Shen
Saying that a mayoral task force report on broadband doesn’t go far enough, activists stood at the Baltimore City line yesterday and called on city leaders to pressure Verizon to invest in high-speed Internet that suburban residents take for granted but city neighborhoods critically lack.
A recently-released draft report of the Smarter Cities Task Force makes recommendations for creating a broadband network in Baltimore, but the activists said it fails to point out the fastest way to get Baltimore connected is to get Verizon to build the needed infrastructure.
“The report says the city is going to do its own network. That it’s going to wire city government and libraries and try to wire new schools. Is this really going to happen? In this city they tell us has no money? People sitting in these communities can’t wait for this,” said Charly Carter, executive director of Maryland Working Families.
Carter noted that four years ago, in February 2010, Verizon announced it was not going to be bringing FiOS to the city.
That decision prompted charges of redlining and sparked an aggressive campaign by the tech community and by neighborhood, civil rights and faith leaders to persuade the company to wire the city as it had neighboring counties.
In 2012, the coalition asked Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to join them in pushing the FiOS issue with the Federal Communications Commission when Verizon needed the agency’s approval of a marketing agreement with cable companies.
“Three years ago we came to her and said, ‘Let’s try and get something for the city from the FCC before they give them this thing they want,'” Carter said, noting that the mayors of Boston, Buffalo and Philadelphia agreed to join them.
“This mayor refused to join,” Carter said. “She refused to go up against her buddies at Verizon.”
The mayor’s communications office has not returned a request for a response from The Brew.
As Carter spoke, about two dozen people stood by Route 40 traffic holding up red signs that said, “Where’s the FiOS?” and “Inner cities ♥ FiOS too!”
Among the demonstrators were members of Maryland Working Families and labor and faith leaders, as well as one state elected leader (45th District Del. Cory McCray) and one City Council candidate (Zeke Cohen for the 1st District).
“It’s as if this task force has just accepted Verizon’s abandonment of the city as a done deal,” said Stacey Mink, communications director for Maryland Working Families. “The political leaders need to step up here.”
Members of Maryland Working Families and other broadband activists stand at the city line on the Route 40 median strip. (Photo by Fern Shen)
The demonstrators said the Task Force report includes some good recommendations.
Both the 27-page Smarter City draft and a separate report commissioned by the city from Magellan Advisors call building a digital infrastructure essential to make Baltimore an attractive city for residents and businesses, as well as economically competitive locally, nationally and internationally.
The Task Force calls for mapping all existing public, private and institutional fiber optics in Baltimore to identify gaps, leveraging public private investments (including schools, libraries and recreation centers) to improve community access to digital resources, and providing “technology-driven” city services that reduce costs and increase transparency and accountability. It also calls for the the creation of a broadband agency.
The Magellan report recommends a $16 million project to bring high-speed internet to all city schools and a “dark fiber” leasing program so broadband providers can lease access to the fast internet service from the city.
Question of Equity
But the activists said that pressing Verizon to bring FiOS to all city neighborhoods would be an acknowledgment of the urgency of the issue. In 2010, the company said their decision had nothing to do with race or income level.
“Verizon does not redline. We never have and never will,” spokeswoman Sandra Arnette told The Brew in 2010.
“It’s illegal, immoral and counter to our century-old legacy of providing good service to Baltimore residents,” she added.
Jane Henderson, executive director of Communities United, demonstrating in support of better broadband access for Baltimore city. (Photo by Fern Shen)
Yesterday’s demonstrators argued that the situation is a de-facto result of discrimination, with high-speed Internet widely available in the affluent counties and, with a few exceptions, not obtainable in a poor, majority-black city.
“It’s an issue of equity. It’s about making 21st century broadband available to kids, to working people, to ex-offenders trying to find jobs,” said Jane Henderson, of Communities United, standing on Route 40 and pointing to Baltimore County.
“People take it for granted they’ll have the Internet in their businesses or homes over there,” she said, again pointing to Baltimore County. “Meanwhile, in the city, 60% of the kids don’t have access to broadband.”
Standing in front of a “Baltimore” sign that activists had wrapped with red tape, symbolizing “a red line,” Henderson concluded, “It’s just one more way Baltimore gets shoved to the side.”