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Networking The Internet

How Much Does a New Internet Cost? 446

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the someone-call-al-gore dept.
wschalle writes "Given the recent flurry of articles concerning ISP over subscription, increasing bandwidth needs, and lack of infrastructure spending on the part of cable companies, I'm forced to wonder, what is the solution? How much would a properly upgraded internet backbone cost? How long would it take to make it happen? Will the cable companies step up before Verizon's FiOS becomes the face of broadband in America?"
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How Much Does a New Internet Cost?

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  • How much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:43PM (#20288715) Homepage
    How much would a properly upgraded internet backbone cost?

    It will always cost as much as you are willing to pay, and the upgrade does not matter here at all.

    • Perhaps the question should be re-framed. As an iPhone owner, the most damaging aspect of the product is the AT&T service. Edge blows on this thing. As a consumer in Chicago, city-wide wireless would be an incredible benefit to business. But, our shortsightedness, or the effective lobbying by various groups, makes us focus on their business rather than ours. I am also a small business person.

      Whatever it is that we are being sold, it is ineffective at best and long-term incredibly damaging to education,
      • by Bluesman (104513) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:14PM (#20288895) Homepage
        "What kind of economy do we want? And, what do we need to achieve it?"

        Free market. End government supported monopolies to the extent possible.

        I don't see why a private company doesn't set up a city-wide 802.11 wireless network. Businesses and private owners would be likely to let the company use the very small space required for the equipment, since customers would find wireless access attractive. Vending machines operate on this kind of principle, and there is no shortage of those.

        It's nice to think that government could take care of the infrastructure instead, but do you trust the same people who can't fix potholes in asphalt with managing and maintaining a wireless LAN?

        I don't, especially since after the network is installed, there's no political gain for maintaining it. It's the same reason great sysadmins whose systems never fail are typically seen as unnecessary.

        • by tftp (111690) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:24PM (#20288953) Homepage
          I don't see why a private company doesn't set up a city-wide 802.11 wireless network.

          MetroFi [metrofi.com], actually, did just that - and I live within their coverage.

          The MetroFi's signal is decent, but they require a login before you can access any IPs beyond the registration server, so if you have equipment that assumes connectivity (like an IP phone, or even a PS3) then it does not work (since there may be no browser to do the login first.)

          • by blhack (921171) * on Sunday August 19, 2007 @08:57PM (#20289437)
            use a lin-box to spoof the mac address of the device that you need to "log-in"...then use firefox (or opera or whatever) to do the logging in...

            my dorms in college did the same thing (you had to get past cisco's clean access), and i used the same method to get my openwrt box on the network (cause the wireless signal strength in my dorm room was like -84dbm).

            hope this helps!
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by dreamchaser (49529)
              That's sort of what I do at times when I travel. I usually have 2 laptops with me (1 work, 1 play). Some hotels still charge up to $10/day for Internet access. I'm not going to use both at once, so I match their MAC addresses. I authenticate on one of them, do some work or play, then switch to the other. At the last place I stayed that did this I even asked if they minded if I did that. I got a blank look and a 'uh sure, you shouldn't have to pay twice...uhhh'. Fortunately more and more hotels have fr
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by MBGMorden (803437)
                Strangely enough it seems like the more expensive hotels are the ones who still charge. I was recently at a Hilton in Florida. Internet was like $8 per day, and then only in the LOBBY (they had a "wireless area" setup). On the flip side, I've been in several Days Inns with free access in the rooms, and just recently I was in a Ramada Limited where I had free access with BETTER ping times than I get at home. These days I just look up internet access as a major thing when searching for a hotel before hand
        • by simpl3x (238301)
          One would hope that WiMax would settle the technical issues.

          However, the "free market" that you advocate has been turned into a license for the entrenched "monopolies." Our government is us, or should be us anyway. I would expect any business where the management removes itself from the function would run that way.

          But, if a goal-oriented "internet" is off-topic, what can I say? It was established with a purpose, and will need to be reevaluated and continually rebuilt for purposes. These purposes will become
        • by hedwards (940851)

          I don't see why a private company doesn't set up a city-wide 802.11 wireless network. Businesses and private owners would be likely to let the company use the very small space required for the equipment, since customers would find wireless access attractive. Vending machines operate on this kind of principle, and there is no shortage of those.

          They do. Or at least around Seattle they do. Clearwire offers plans around here. Not as fast as DSL or cable, but the price is competitive and if one has a laptop or similar portable the service is available around town.

          I can't vouch for the quality or the value, but at least around here they represent an additional option. Also hughes offers satellite service as well. So yes there are other companies that have figured out how to get in on the action besides the DSL and cable carriers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lenolium (110977)
          The town that I'm in (in Utah) did one better.

          What it has is a city run fiber-to-the-house system. Basically, it works in that just about any provider can signup and provide service on the network, so you get your choice of internet providers while operating on the same network. You can checkout the background here: http://www.utopianet.org/ [utopianet.org] . The service also allows for more than just internet, you can run IPTV and VOIP services over it as well, on separate chunks of bandwidth so your phone doesn't drop ou
    • Re:How much? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:07PM (#20288859)
      I never realized how pathetic American Internet services were until I visited South Korea. It's like night and day. While we're paying out our asses for lousy service often not topping 256 kbps, on the low end they've got 20 Mbps fibre connections to individual apartments! My friend there had a 60 Mbps connection in his apartment, and each month he was paying (after currency conversion) just over 2/3 of what I was for my 128 kbps cable connection!

      And he doesn't worry about caps or any of that bullshit. He transferred some Linux ISOs to a friend who lived across the city, and he was actually maxing out his 60 Mbps connection. It probably helped that his friend had an 80 Mbps connection, although he paid a fair bit more for it.

      Now, I know there will be people who say I'm full of shit. I would have thought so, too, until seeing it with my own eyes. Coming back to the American Internet experience, I felt like I'd stepped back decades. I often wonder how great our Internet infrastructure would be had the money spent on the Iraq War debacle instead been put to better domestic use. Maybe we'd be comparable to a nation like South Korea.

      Thankfully, I've since moved to Canada, where we get excellent service at a very reasonable price.

      • Re:How much? (Score:4, Informative)

        by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:31PM (#20288989) Homepage
        I know what you mean. I use ADSL here, and get about 1200KBPS download or so. I've house-sat for a friend a few times who's on cable, and I was appalled by the poor service he gets: about a third of what I get at home. Now, I'm not saying all cable is like that; I know better, and he's just stuck on a busy segment. I can imagine that coming here from Korea is to you like hooking up at my friend's is for me, if not worse.
        • Re:How much? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by blhack (921171) * on Sunday August 19, 2007 @09:00PM (#20289453)
          Just to let you know, I live in phoenix (well, a bit north of phoenix actually), and really do get my full 8mbps. Luckily for me there is a usenet service hosted in town (easynews, which i found by always using their mirrors on sourceforge, so easynews marketing peoples, hosting a sourceforge mirror is working!). I can peg my cable modem on its limiter. I could also peg my cable modem when i lived in des moines iowa, using another usenet service.

          Just saying, cable doesn't suck everywhere..
      • Re:How much? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sedmonds (94908) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:43PM (#20289067) Homepage

        Thankfully, I've since moved to Canada, where we get excellent service at a very reasonable price.


        You must live in a different part of Canada than I do. I am fortunate enough to have a choice between cable and dsl.

        Rogers throttles the shit out of the connection, imposes monthly bandwidth caps, and won't sell me service with a static address or the ability to run "servers". Gibbled service from Rogers costs about the same as cable in the US.

        Bell has monthly bandwidth caps, and I get frequent disconnects and piss poor sync rates because even though I'm in a residential area of a half million person area (Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge) that they say will get 3-5Mbps I'm 6.2km wire distance from the CO that's 3km away. It took 3 months for them to figure out that my connection blows because of the wire distance. Bell will give me an unstable piece of shit line with static address and ability to run servers for $99/month. Other DSL providers use the same copper, and so provide an unstable piece of shit line, for around $30/month.

        Excellent service at very reasonable prices? Not here.
        • Out west in AB/BC it's slightly better. In MB and SK it's much better because the local telcos are province owned. Over here it's about $45.95 for a 6mbit connection with TELUS or $50.95 for Shaws 10mbit service. Although both services depend on area and are both urban areas only. Both also have some variance at how much and have upper limits. Also the same old ADSL vs Cable limitations apply. From experience it seems shaw tends to be more draconian about their caps then TELUS. TELUS is 60 gb and Shaw is 10
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Ouch...

          Rogers throttles the shit out of the connection, imposes monthly bandwidth caps, and won't sell me service with a static address or the ability to run "servers". Gibbled service from Rogers costs about the same as cable in the US.

          I agree. Don't use Rogers. ;-) Although, I'm quite keen on what they offer in Mobile Phone Service.. at least, compared to the other provider in my area.

          Bell has monthly bandwidth caps, and I get frequent disconnects and piss poor sync rates because even though I'm in a

      • Re:How much? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sqrt(2) (786011) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @08:03PM (#20289177) Journal
        Compared to S. Korea, the continental USA is a big motherfucker. You have to think about that too. You think the distance from one end of Seoul to other is long way? Imagine maintaining those speeds between LA and NY. For a couple hundred million more people too. Internet access doesn't scale so nicely. The USA is a country where you can literally start driving in one direction and go for days, or at least hours without even crossing a state border, and we've got FIFTY of those. If we took all the money we spend on infrastructure and packed it all into one of the smaller states, yeah we'd all have speeds so fast that your HDD becomes the bottle neck. But we have to spread our resources out over VAST distances because you might want to access things more than a few hundred miles away.
        • From what I've heard from people in South Korea (and if there are any here, please feel free to correct anything I'm repeating), it sounds like the grandparent was in Seoul. Once you go elsewhere, the standard of Internet connection available drops considerably. That said, there's not really any excuse for somewhere like New York City, for example, not having the same standard of Internet connectivity as Seoul.
        • Re:How much? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sedmonds (94908) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @10:19PM (#20289873) Homepage
          I frequently see the argument made that the US (and/or Canada) is big, so internet coverage just won't work. That doesn't explain why you can't get a connection in Los Angeles, or New York, or Chicago, or Toronto that, at least within that region, which is as connections within Seoul. These are all densely populated areas, so there should be excellent telecom here. That just doesn't seem to be the case.
          • Re:How much? (Score:5, Informative)

            by rtb61 (674572) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @10:58PM (#20290075) Homepage
            The answer why you can't get better broadband is quite simple, existing telecom infrastructure holders will do everything they can to block it in order to inflate the value of their network. They will lie to the public continually, they will cheat in every one they can, they will corrupt every politician they can get hold of.

            It is all just endless streams of bull shit. Consider how much it cost to do the original copper telephone network, which contrary to the bull was far, far more expensive they any new fibre network and guess what the population has risen since then quite a lot in fact, so not only is copper tech more expensive but it had to be done with a far far lower population density, it had to be done with far more primitive technology, it had to be done using backward switching technology, telephone exchanges as major buildings and even the local was not a box but a whole building. Think each and every copper connection had to have it own line, it's own independent bit of wire, nothing like fibre at all with thousands of connections down the same line.

            Face it, it is just bullshit, more bull shit and yet more bull shit. Under the current corrupt political system you will not be getting FTH until such time as the copper network degrades to the point were it significantly impacts the US economy, let me see, hmm, lets say 2025 at a minimum, possibly as late as 2050, good luck.

            • Re:How much? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by bjourne (1034822) on Monday August 20, 2007 @02:00AM (#20290733) Homepage Journal
              It is all just endless streams of bull shit. Consider how much it cost to do the original copper telephone network, which contrary to the bull was far, far more expensive they any new fibre network and guess what the population has risen since then quite a lot in fact, so not only is copper tech more expensive but it had to be done with a far far lower population density, it had to be done with far more primitive technology, it had to be done using backward switching technology, telephone exchanges as major buildings and even the local was not a box but a whole building. Think each and every copper connection had to have it own line, it's own independent bit of wire, nothing like fibre at all with thousands of connections down the same line.

              Key is who built it. Building a network with 99.99% penetration isn't economically defensible, you don't make any money providing fibre to a single family 100 km from the nearest town. It is an investment that it takes 50 years to become profitable so no company would ever do that. However, a fibre network to each household benefits society in a number of ways, just like telephone lines do. Which is why it was state owned entities that built the telephone network. But in the US, it is somehow expected of the cable companies to provide a completely covering network. So strong is the American belief in Capitalism that companies are expected to do things for the greater good of society even if they cannot profit from it.

              The world just doesn't work that way. But in the US they have choosen the low taxes and each man for himself way and crappy infrastructure is the price they pay.
              • Re:How much? (Score:5, Interesting)

                by sjames (1099) on Monday August 20, 2007 @05:19AM (#20291345) Homepage

                Actually, in the U.S. the telecomm companies have so far recieved 200 billion in tax breaks and grants from the government to build out data network infrastructure and to compensate them for unprofitable build-outs. Unfortunatly, they proved themselvces to be con artists by pocketing the money and failing to provide the services.

                The only unreasonable part was believing that the telcos are honest companies that will actually provide the goods and services they are paid to provide. They should ALL be in court defending against criminal fraud charges. That's where the bribes and corruption come in.

                A few years ago, Bellsouth dug up my neighborhood to run new phone lines everywhere. Considering that the biggest expense in running cable is the digging, one might have thought they'd lay fibre in parallel while they were at it, but they didn't. Of course, they never bothered to bury the lines from curb to demarc at many of the homes. The line comes up from a pedistal, over a small pine tree up alongside the driveway, and to the back of the house. They left an extra 15 feet or so of slack laying in a big loop in the back yard. I guess it was just too hard to reach all the way to the toolbelt for the cutters or a zip tie.

                It is noteworthy that 10GigE is now a ratified standard and works perfectly well over the same single mode fiber already in the ground everywhere. The simple upgrade was a strong consideration when the spec was written. It is now easier than ever before to increase available bandwidth by an order of magnitude, so where is it?

                • by crovira (10242) on Monday August 20, 2007 @09:53AM (#20292915) Homepage
                  You have been getting bent over and done dry (and paying in surcharges, and surcharges on the surcharges,) for the last twenty five years.

                  And we have been replacing copper networks FOR OURSELVES during that time, but NOT delivering ONE INCH of what you've been paying for to you suckers.

                  We, the telcos, have been sitting on a growing pile of your tax dollars and using the latest and best technologies to our own benefit and WE'RE not about to stop doing so until a couple of CEOs get sent to prison.

                  Screw you,

                  -the telcos
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Jose (15075)
          Compared to S. Korea, the continental USA is a big motherfucker.

          hrm, I wonder how much dark fibre there is in the US? from what I understand, there is tonnes of it. to/from large cities at least, the US most likely has the potential to up speeds quite a bit. They just need the incentive to do it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by uhmmmm (512629)
          But that argument only works for traffic that has to go over the internet infrastructure itself. If I've got a cable connection, and want to transfer to someone else down the street, or even across the same city who's on the same provider, that traffic never has to leave the cable company. And no matter how limited the cable company's connection to their provider may be, or how limited the infrastructure out there may be because of being spread too thin, the cable company can definitely handle the traffic
    • Too Much. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fatal67 (244371)
      A) It's not the backbone that is having issues. It's the edge network. The line that actually connects to your house is where the bottleneck is. Not the backbone.

      B) It costs a lot. In the case of a fiber drop, it can be 3-5k per house, if they use the cheaper PON solutions.

      C) The time cycle to build out a new network is longer than the technology cycle that drives the bandwidth demands. By the time it is finished, the bandwidth demand will be 10 times what the estimated it to be. Unless they are one of t
  • by Saint Stephen (19450) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:46PM (#20288731) Homepage Journal
    Whenever I move somewhere the first thing I do is call and get a new internet. It used to take about 6 weeks but now it only takes a couple of days. I'm living out here by the lake now so my internet got installed by some redneck but he did an okay job, my internet is fast enough.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Lordpidey (942444)
      Wow, a redneck? I thought rednecks were only interested in trucks. And the internet is not a truck. Its a series of tubes.
  • by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:47PM (#20288737) Homepage Journal
    Where's the bottleneck? In the fiber link between Chicago and New York? Or in the connection between Comcast's IT offices and their customer loops? Or is it in the customer loops themselves?

    I've heard countless stories about how the Internet was going to be choked, but it's been a long time since I've heard widespread complaints about over-subscription on a particular cable loop. And I haven't heard anything specific about data not getting from Chicago to San Diego fast enough, or from New York to Europe.

    Instead, all I've heard are complaints by ISPs and industry bloggers saying that ISPs can't push all the data they're being paid to. I haven't seen any real evidence in a while. (But then, most of my tech news comes from Slashdot...)
    • by drmerope (771119) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:25PM (#20288955)
      Yes, considering the insane amount of dark-fiber between major cities and business districts, I'd guess that the problem is not there. Obviously it takes money to light that fiber. I have to say that technology is being driven very fast right--and its being driven by the likes of Google.

      Google is pushing vendors for very fast, high density interconnect. 10Gbps from the server to the mesh. An IEEE study group just green lighted work on a 100Gbps ethernet standard. The target market for this is in metropolitan networks.

      An OC-192 fiber connection is worth a mere 622.080 Mbps. Layer-3 switches can operate at roughly 240Gbps.

      The noise is all about the business model not about the fundamentals. The backbone providers are becoming something of a commodity service. This would be okay if the tax structure let them provide their service + pay dividends. Instead every company has to be a 'growth company'. Ergo, they have a problem. There is no revenue growth future in what they are doing--unless they can dig their teeth into a new revenue stream--e.g., by raising the rents of content providers.
  • by exploder (196936) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:49PM (#20288743) Homepage
    As long as they can get away with offering sub-par connectivity at premium prices, what incentive do they have to rock the boat? The only thing that can induce these telcos to make costly infrastructure upgrades is competition, which is in pretty short supply currently.
  • Tell you what... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gozu (541069)
    It'll cost a hell of a lot less than the war on Iraq.

    If that much money had been spent on internet infrastructure, we'd probably have 99% wireless penetration and 10Gbps fiber to the home for $30/month.

    Yeah, the cost of that war is *that* ridiculous.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, but then the poor bastards in Iraq would be without FREEDOM!
    • by jombeewoof (1107009) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:55PM (#20288779) Homepage
      If the money was not being spent on the war it will have been spent on something else, certainly not the internet backbone.
      • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @08:00PM (#20289155) Homepage
        So in other words, spending money on something stupid is ok because it would have been used on something stupid anyway? I realize trying to stop the government to spend money on useless think is an enormous game of whack-a-mole, but even I usually don't get that depressive.
        • by Bryan Ischo (893) *
          He didn't say the money would have been spent on something stupid. He just said that it would have been spent on something else besides the Internet infrastructure. Which is absolutely correct. Probably it would have been distributed across a bunch of government services.
      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        If the money was not being spent on the war it will have been spent on something else
        Maybe, but then Bush would have had to declare it in his budget (during a period in which he was claiming to balance things) which would have blown up all the rosy forecasts.

        Emergency Military spending has been the name of the game for Iraq and Afghanistan military spending.

        Emergency money is not part of the 'normal' budget.
    • by MightyYar (622222)
      Congratulations! You've managed to bring the war in Iraq into a discussion about the cost of internet infrastructure.
    • by rob1980 (941751)
      You actually believe that's where the money would have gone? oy vey!
    • by starkravingmad (882833) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:23PM (#20288943)
      As my economics professor used to say, we could have dropped washing machines on Vietnam and achieved the same result, and probably killed fewer people.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iminplaya (723125)
      To us it's the "cost of war". To the profiteers and pirates, it's the business of war. A very profitable business. Much more profitable than selling internet services.
    • by blhack (921171) *
      Okay, did we just pull a big switcheroo with the reddit mods or something? This is one of the most blatant political trolls i have ever seen.
  • Theoritically (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JamesRose (1062530) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:53PM (#20288767)
    All you need to know is the cost of the fastest connection material per metre, the cost of decoding stations, the cost of laying cable per metre, cost of building decoding stations. Then all that would be need is to take the area you want to rebuild, map out where you want to cover, and it would be prettysimple assuming you just use a simple back bone spidering out to smaller and smaller areas untill it goes to each individual home. Unfortunately, this would only work on smallish scales, because while you could with a bit of work figure out how to rebuild a state, or maybe at a push a small country, in reality you'd be talking about possibly continents rewired. Plus of course you want to be future proof, so would you want to put breaks into the backbone connections, it would cause lsightly more latency, but if you don't, and you need to add a connection onto the backbone, that could severely damage backbone structures for several hours and slow connectivity by huge amounts during the time.

    Then of course do you want backups- do you want to protect california for example, against earthquakes, possibly by wireless, or by several backbones running perpendicular to each other.
  • by Baumi (148744) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @06:56PM (#20288785) Homepage
    An internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Unfortunately, they didn't tell me how much they paid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by plover (150551) *
      According to Google products [google.com], really cheap tubes are about $0.10 per foot. Of course, those can get all tangled up with your own personal internets. It's not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck.
  • Infrastructure (Score:2, Insightful)

    Hey, I'm still waiting (been over SEVEN YEARS now) for AT&T to deliver DSL to my home. I've been using Comcast/Time Warner (expensive but relatively high bandwidth) for the last five. Cable companies have already spent billions to upgrade their infrastructure, only now are they running out of bandwidth. AT&T spent billions on acquisitions and millions on lobbiests to lock in their monopoly on the final mile. And I'm still waiting.
  • Interesting question (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:19PM (#20288925)
    To bring some outside perspective, in France we had a huge problem due to the monopoly and then quasi monopoly of the original state operator. Prices were pretty high and nothing seemed to move. We had a really great phone system thanks to the state-operated France Telecom and the amount of cash the state spent building it, but prices and choices were not that great.

    At some point arrived an operator named Free. They offered a no-contract, local call (no more expensive than calling your neighboor) RTC service that was a huge success (along with e-mail and web-site hosting).
    When came the time of moving to DSL (able never was a real success in France), again the prices were high and the choice scarce. Free deployed its own equipments and offered a low-cost 512 Kb Downstream ADSL access (30 EUR a month, about $40, when others were more easily around 60 EUR).
    That proved to be a nice example of how competition pushes the market in good directions for the most parts).
    Ever since, Free upgraded their access to 1 Mb, then 8 Mb. Today 25 Mb is available if you are lucky enough to be in the right zones (and to leave almost in the DSLAM, since DSL is distance dependant), with free national telephony (and free calls to a bunch of other countries like the US, landline or mobiles) as well as TV. All of that for the exact same amount of 30 EUR a month.

    Let it be said, they might have invested a bunch in laying down the equipment. But they made it big, and customers saw right away where they should go.
    Granted, there are issues with Free (poor hotline support, poor coverage for rural zones, accusations of violating GPL license in their terminal which seem to be true...), but they did bring the market to where it is today in France. At this point, Free is busy trying to bring fiber optic into buildings (no word yet on the price or speed for this future service).

    No, laying down equipment and upgrading it to support faster delivery speed does not seem to require a "price upgrade" if the business model involves selling what customers are ready to purchase. Investment is not about hitting the customer, it's about planning what return you expect of it.
    • by isdnip (49656) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @10:20PM (#20289875)
      France is an example of how different public policy decisions produce different outcomes.

      France is pursuing, roughly, the public policy that the US adopted in the mid-1990s: Unbundle the local loop, permit competitive interconnection, encourage competition for services over the incumbent's old wire. That was, in fact, the gist of the Telecom Act of 1996.

      In 2001, the Cheney-Rove regime's new FCC executed an about-face. They decided that the Bells were to be the winners, And their competitors were not to be. Furthermore, the Bells saw the Internet as the real enemy, not local telephone competitors per se, so they were allowed to execute their strategy to knock off the ISPs while replacing it with their own marginal substitutes. The last stage, which has not yet happened, is to remove "neutrality" from their networks, replacing Internet access with a set of "broadband services" of their own, like kickback-selected shopping, censored "news", and pay-per-view "media" access. That could never happen with real competition. The FCC's excuse is that there's cable, and a duopoly is "enough" competition, especially with the imaginary "third pipe" that never really appears in any useful way.

      France, in contrast, stayed the course. There are multiple ISPs sharing the old FT wire. So advances in DSL technology meant advances in available speeds, and reductions in DSLAM prices and backbone ISP rates meant reductions in DSL charges. It's not exactly peaches and cream for FT, but it's great for the economy as a whole.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cussin_IT (1143215)
      I'd like to add some outside perspetive. Here in New Zealand, we only have two non-dailup internet options thanks to a goverment sposored monopoly: ADSL and microwave. Thanks to our aging phone system, our ADSL is the same speed as good dailup in the US, and Dailup is on par with nailing ones own hand to the table. What the microwave providers have done is produce a resonable speed and price connection that is slowly crawling down the contry. The odd thing is that ADSL will magicaly 'apear' in areas that ha
    • A few things to add (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nicolas MONNET (4727)
      They are pushing a very aggressive move to FTTH, where they will provide 50Mbps symmetrical for the exact same price; they also intend to offer free "social" service, whereby unemployed people will get 64kbps internet, and free phone calls. Of course they do this last thing for a reason, but I'd rather have them do their lobbying that way than by buying junkets to politicians.

      "Poor rural coverage" is relative. They cover (I believe) most 50k+ cities directly. Below that you might only get slightly lesser co
  • by SECProto (790283) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:36PM (#20289019)
    Probably the cheapest solution is to kill a couple billion people. that will reduce demand for a fair bit of time.
    • by jon287 (977520) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:54PM (#20289123)
      Ha! Then the phone company would just claim that there aren't enough subscribers in your area to make a broadband deployment feasible, then ask you if you'd like to be put on a waiting list to be notified if it ever becomes available in your area!

      (Hint: There is no list, they just put your name on a giant board at the telco along with all of the other suckers on dail-up so everyone can have a good laugh.)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by hoojus (935220)
      Can we start with the MySpace users? That would free up a lot of bandwidth and then remove all bloggers....
  • by morari (1080535) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:37PM (#20289033) Journal
    Now if only those ham radio operators would shut up and sign off!
    • Believe me, if you put up BPL in my neck of the woods, I could pump out a pretty powerful HF signal and be perfectly licensed to do so. Those power lines aren't just radiating antennas, they'll also pick up my HF signal. And since the whole BPL scheme is based on a 'live with the interference' clause, guess whose packets will end up fragmented into noise? Here's a clue: not my morse code.
    • BPL is a red herring. Just think about what it's attempting: pushing broadband data over unshielded, unbalanced lines -- lines that are already carrying line current and are connected to all sorts of noisy equipment. You think that DSL is bad? At least those wires are designed for carrying information, and are wired in balanced loops, with circuits end-run to the DSLAMs -- and DSL sucks in most places already.

      Using power lines combines the worst of DSL, unshielded wiring (even worse, since it's unbalanced)
      • by Miamicanes (730264) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:04PM (#20290095)
        In America, at least, BPL is a political smokescreen. The REAL goal of power companies is to just hang fiber from the poles they already have. However, if they came out and said, "we want to run fiber everywhere our power lines go," the phone and cable companies would have gone berserk. So they pretended instead that they really intend to do something that would be utterly insane on both engineering and accounting grounds, in the hope that once they get the OK, they can roll it out, start interfering with radio (assuming they can even get the network part to actually work reliably), then when the complaints come rolling in, generously volunteer to ditch the whole thing and run fiber instead.
    • And FEMA, and various other Federal agencies, and the military, and ... the list of folks who would be interfered with by BPL is very long. The NTIA's comments to the FCC regarding BPL read something along the lines of, "Not only no, but fuck no!"
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:40PM (#20289055) Homepage
    This Ask Slashdot question makes the false assumption that there is one, and only one Internet backbone, and that the only way to upgrade is to replace it. As Foldoc [foldoc.org] shows, the so-called backbone is composed of a number of large-scale networks that interconnect. If you need more bandwidth, all that's needed is to add as much as you need and can afford.
  • That depends (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jon287 (977520) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @07:45PM (#20289079)
    on how much a session of congress costs. Keep in mind you'll be bidding against ma bell.

    They're getting a pretty sweet deal right now so a few hundred million in lobbyists, campaign contributions and other misc bribes is nothing. [muniwireless.com]

    The cost of the actual wires vanishes when compared to the munny-munny-munny nonsense of the political side.
  • Because people keep telling me that I've "won an internet" all the time.
  • "Socialize" it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 19, 2007 @08:04PM (#20289183)
    I had to quote that word because it's getting ridiculous how often it's thrown around now.

    Anyway, the government should make, lay, and lease the fiber to the service providers, or even create one themselves. It would provide a MAJOR employment boost for the people, most notably the linemen who would actually lay the fiber. The manufacturing of it isn't rocket science and from the top down you could hire people for it, from the designers to the janitors. Teams of men and women would go out and work on the network and that would probably be thousands of jobs, if only temporarily. Keep some on per region (or many depending on how hard it is to upkeep) and keep the manufacturing plants open to sell the fiber to businesses.
    Lay it all out like we did the highway systems, charge Verizon, Time Warner et. al. to use it. If it breaks, it's like a pothole, fix it.
    Make it a not for profit (as if the government wasn't already) take all money from it and put it back into the network, not into some bridge to no where.

    Upgrade as necessary, keep the country moving forward, the internet is too important to the world to allow it to slow or crash (not that I fear a crash).

    My name is Anonymous Coward and I am running for President.
  • My father and I used to own and operate an ISP in our region. We sold it in early 2000 and last year my father finally contacted the phone company and had a tech come out to remove the hardware on the outside of the house. The tech recommended letting it there, as he said that in the next 2 years, Verizon plans on offering an equal connection and bandwidth of a T1 for 100 per month, dedicated. I haven't check into this recently for a follow-up but that alone sounds promising.
  • Given the recent flurry of articles ..., I'm forced to wonder, what is the solution?

    The solution: Stop reading the articles.
  • Why for f*ck's sake do private companies still own the pipes that come into my house?? Shouldn't these pipes be fiber optic and owned by my local municipal government? That way I can pick any ISP, Phone or Television company I want to run to my house at the same blazing fast speed.

    The Internet seriously went downhill after the NAPs were sold off.

    As long as the phone companies and cable companies own these pipes, monopolies will exist forever.

    Andy
  • How Much Does a New Internet Cost?

    And can you send it to me on CD?
  • We need an alternative to the current backbone with way more fibers packed together.

    We need fiber to the p(fttp) or FTTH.

    We need multiplexing.

    I am wondering about the limitations of digital tech and all this bandwidth. Maybe thats the bottleneck also.

    An analog system for mass high speed downloads?? A hybrid system?
  • Move to Japan... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kernel Corndog (155153) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @09:40PM (#20289665)
    Move to another country like Japan or South Korea. It would probably be cheaper.

    As an American living in Japan, the prospect of moving back to the US is quite dismal when considering broadband. Currently I'm paying about $50/mo. for 50 Mbps ADSL. NTT in the last couple of months has rolled out a fiber optic service for approx $90/mo. at 100Mbps. I don't live in Tokyo or any other big city you might think of when you think of Japan. I live in the boonies of Aomori Prefecture and it is available.

    Click and be jealous/angry (if you're american) http://flets.com/english/opt/charge_opt_hf.html [flets.com] (there is still an ISP charge on top of this number which is why I said ~$90 earlier)

    It's a shame and disgrace the US is so far behind... Verizon promoting their FiOS at 5Mbps as top-of-the-line is a joke. But hey, FCC says better deals/competition will come from all the telcom mergers... 10 years from now maybe the US will see 25 Mbps service!
  • by Zondar (32904) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @09:46PM (#20289703)
    The US DSL/cable/etc business model is built on a certain amount of oversubscription, just like (nearly) every network out there. I have worked for several companies, up to top 10 of the Fortune 500, and not a single one of them had a network that wasn't oversubscribed to a certain degree... even on the LAN (which is where it's the cheapest).

    Those of you that work in a corporate environment with any density (>20 users on a floor, more than one floor)... If you've got a gigabit LAN, go ask your network guy if they have a 10-gig uplink for every 10 ports on the floor.

    .
    .
    .

    After he stops laughing and realizes you're serious, ask him why they are running an oversubscribed network. If he's on the design side, he'll end up telling you that you don't build a network for that level of traffic if it simply doesn't use it (most don't). The most likely place you're going to see a fully non-oversubscribed network is one that supports a supercomputer with many nodes. Even then you might see some.

    It's just not economically feasible to build non-oversubscribed networks. Any of you know how much a card for a Cisco GSR that has just two OC-192 intermediate-reach ports on it is? MSRP is $585,000.

    $585K for two 10 gigabit intermediate reach ports. And to build a non-oversubscribed network for a small community with say 2000 users on 8-meg cable connections that cost $60 a month. Gotta pay for the cable plant itself (to a certain degree), the fiber to link the customer-facing nodes (how much it cost to dig/hang/lay the fiber), the routers in the customer-facing nodes, the cards in the routers in those nodes (more bandwidth = higher cost cards), the distribution routers that link all the customer nodes together (and their cards), core routers with higher-speed interfaces to tie it all together if you have any decent number of distribution nodes (and their cards), peering routers to your upstream bandwidth provider (and cards), maintenance on every router/switch (which runs ~20-30% yearly over and above the purchase price), spares of a few of your most commonly-failing equipment, datacenter space, AC, cooling, engineering staff costs, field maintenance staff costs, systems administrators staff costs, 24x7 NOC staff costs, 24x7 helpdesk costs, multiple layers of management (each of those fields has to have management in an organization of any size), training costs to keep up on the latest developments, staff turnover costs, taxes... and that's before we've paid for one bit of peering bandwidth or even thought about making a profit - or considered what Mother Nature, backhoes, or out of control drunk drivers do to the equipment and fiber that make up the customer-facing network that sits in equipment sheds on concrete pads on the side of the road. And don't forget to add another 100% or so to all of those equipment costs, for redundancy. Don't want the whole east side of the city down because one port/device/fiber failed, do you?

    There's a lot more than just a couple of Linksys gig switches and some cable RF converters that make up a cablemodem network. There's more than just a card in a phone switch that makes up a DSL network. The gear is very expensive, typically because there's lots of R&D that must go into the boxes to make them able to do what they do without having horrendous failure rates (which still happens sometimes).
  • by smchris (464899) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @10:07PM (#20289829)
    Quick Google says we're pissing about $12,000,000,000 - $20,000,000,000 per MONTH away on Iraq. Where the F*CK do _YOU_ think we could get the money for domestic infrastructure?

    Geez.

    You know, there are _real_costs_ to letting a bunch of monkeys run free destroying a nation this size and we're the victims of it.

  • by isdnip (49656) on Sunday August 19, 2007 @11:03PM (#20290089)
    For something as important today as the Internet, it's surprisingly fragile and primitive. It's amazing we've gotten this far; it's not clear that "more of the same" can happen.

    One obvious problem, at least in the United States, is the "last mile" or if you prefer "first mile" problem. In maybe half of homes it's a cable/ILEC (old monopoly phone company) duopoly. Most of the rest can get cable or telco DSL. A fair share can't get either yet. FCC statistics are intentionally deceptive about this, counting ZIP codes that have even one "broadband" subscriber as being served, even if most of the area isn't. And their 200 kbps downstream definition of "broadband" is pathetic.

    DSL is a mid-life kicker for old copper. Passive Optical Network-style fiber, as in FiOS, is also questionable as a long-term goal; like ADSL, it too is highly assymetric, and it's really too expensive. (I think Verizon is doing it mainly for political show, and will slow down. Besides, FiOS is bundled with Verizon Online, with its onerous rules and likelihood of draconian censorship in the mid-term future.)

    Still, I think it's premature to count out cable technology. Hybrid Fiber-Coax is an evolutionary path to bring optical fiber to the home. A decade ago, it was first being rolled out with maybe 1000 homes per node (optical transition node, where a strand of fiber turned to coax) and up to three analog coax amplifiers on the coax side. Modern builds have maybe 50-100 homes/node and no amplifiers. Thus far fewer users share the same capacity. DOCSIS 3.0, now being tested (CableLabs is very strict on compatibility certification), uses more than one 6 MHz TV channel at a time in order to boost download speeds. And while upstream is still a bottleneck, DOSCIS 2.0 tripled upstream efficiency over the original cable modems; as each DOCSIS 1.x modem is phased out, overall capacity can increase. There are also tricks for boosting upstream on a point basis by using the spectrum above 900 MHz as well as below 42 MHz, while cable companies can also just drop off fiber at a location that really needs it (not a house, but a business or multiple-dwelling-unit site).

    Next glitch: The protocols themselves. TCP/IP is from the 1970s, and while it's amazing how far it's gotten, it is really not designed for today's applications. IPv6 is the wrong approach -- tastes crappy, more filling. We really need an all-new protocol stack; it's not obvious how to phase it in though, or get consensus on a replacement. Remember TCP/IP happened because the government financed it for its own internal use (ARPAnet) and Berkeley produced open source code for it, so it became a de facto standard for multivendor corporate networks too. (This during the 1980s when OSI was supposed to be the standard, and most companies used their vendors' proprietary network technologies like DECnet, IPX, SNA and Wangnet.)

    Plus there's the business issue: It's hard to make money providing Internet service. The early public ISPs were subsidized by the 1990s stock bubble. Telco/cable duopolies are potentially profitable (actually, telcos may still be losing money at it, though cable does better) but pure ISPs have a tricky time meeting demand with the kind of prices people want. Since there is usually no price feedback, users have no incentive to not do things that cost their ISP a lot of money (streaming HDTV, lots of big DVD downloads, etc., especially from distant sources). ISPs prefer the proverbial little old lady who just uses the computer to check email and stock prices a few times a week. ;-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DaveAtFraud (460127)
      Not trying to be funny but this is why I would tell the OP that it will take an infinite amount of money to replace the Internet. If you can ever get agreement on the technical issues you will then be forced to also deal with non-technical isues like porn (Think of the children), spam, politically sensetive content (Think of the dictators), phishing (Think of the corporations), etc. You will never be able to get everyone to agree. The only reason the existing Internet has its current freedoms is that it
  • by porneL (674499) on Monday August 20, 2007 @01:01PM (#20295035) Homepage

    How about using existing resources better instead? Why a website having a million visitors should send copy of the same thing million times across the globe?

    Problem, for the most part, could be solved by developing a new delivery mechanism that's not endpoint-oriented, but resource-oriented (you don't care where you get your data from as long as you can be sure you're getting latest, unaltered copy of data you asked for).

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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