Broadband battle hits rural areas

  • Article by: JIM SPENCER and LARRY OAKES , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: August 13, 2012 - 9:50 PM

Cable and Internet providers, who see unfair competition, oppose government initiatives such as Lake County's.

  • 15
  • Comments

  • Results per page:
stanhkAug. 13, 12 9:56 PM

Back in the early to mid-90's the cable industry filed suit against the major telecom's to prevent them from offering TV and the emerging internet technologies over the phone lines. "Too much power in the hands of the telecom's" they said then. The government obliged, and protected the cable networks.... Now, the cable companies control most of the media.... and once again they run whining and screaming to the Government for protection. Enough already... it's time the cable companies get a little of their own medicine. Mediacom, and Charter etal are monopolies in every sense of the word, and we the customers are taking it in the shorts. Time to bust em up! Through whatever means necessary.

47
1
SammyBoyAug. 13, 1210:01 PM

This is an example of the "ugly" side of the free market. In a true laissez-faire market, these areas won't be served except at price-points far in excess of similar services found in suburbs and smaller micro-politian (like St. Cloud) areas. Since no business in their right mind would run hundreds of miles of copper or fiber optics just to get a few thousand customers, the only other solutions either involve ignoring these areas or hoping that technology creates a solution in the meantime. Unfortunately, neither are really solutions. While you could claim that people who live there "chose" these limitations, or the summer-campers want to be "off the grid," that ignores the simple fact that many of the folks who live in these areas were born there, something none of us had a choice in. To deny the ability of an entrepreneur the chance to make the next big thing (or even a small thing that's profitable) just because of where they were born is the pinnacle of elitism is a conceit that only those born in the city or "wired" areas could hold. There is no monopoly on good ideas or good execution by those who live in urban areas. To deny that opportunity is to uphold the fake meritocracy that we currently live in.

34
1
antagonistAug. 13, 1210:02 PM

Here is what I know. Mediacomm does not serve rural Lake County residents. The cable lines strung on the power poles were removed 3 years ago from southern Lake County. Frontier is the worst company to deal with and could use the competition. Every change to my account has been followed by 6 months of phone calls before they get it right. Satellite internet does serve the entire area and is relatively affordable, equal to Frontier. With that being said, I would have rather the federal government spent $150 million to run natural gas to rural Lake county homes. Duluth residents using natural gas pay a quarter of what rural residents pay heating with fuel oil or propane. Affordable heat is more important than streaming movies especially for those on a fixed income.

8
15
pinky1933Aug. 13, 1210:36 PM

i've been intimately involved in USDA's RUS program for years and i can say, without going into the tedious technical/policy blather that these grants are administered/awarded veeeery carefully, using long-standing competition/market penetration models, and so on. the private carriers are just fighting this to establish precedent. basically, it's like the incumbent telecom operator's Universal Service Fund that you are obligated to pay for now. a certain amount of subsidized access is the only way to get networks to rural areas - aka "last mile" connections. now that data is basically an "essential facility" it should be treated/implemented similarly. yes, at some point new technologies and "facilities-based competition" should mitigate the need for subsidized networks but that takes investments that the private carriers will fight to the end. in the meantime the "pumps need to be primed." to quote a start-up ISP/telecom provider i once knew in the Caribbean: "i hate telecom monopolies unless i own one!"

24
0
fwallenAug. 13, 1210:39 PM

Media com is missing an opportunity to be a long term player in rural Minnesota. This story is just one snapshot of how they provide minimal acceptable service and work hard to keep out any competition. In Itasca county they have been an early provider of cable and as such have a significant installed base. But it will erode quickly as competition finally comes in. Media com charges rates similarvto other locations but fails provide a similar number of preferred stations. The biggest complaint up here is no Big Ten Network which they provide to their other customers At no additional charge in other locations. Why do they do this? Because they can get away with it. But the chickens will come home to roost as soon as a competitor comes in. And I'll be the first to cancel as soon as I can. You'd think the high priced members of the state PUC would look at this, but I guess we are out in the sticks.

19
0
shimbumAug. 13, 1210:50 PM

My business is internet based despite real world meetings around the world, which then need 'net access to complete. I can get on a plane and go to rural Japan, Taiwan, China, India, most major cities in Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. and have better and cheaper cell service and passable - do business with 'net. I can drive 4 hours to northern MN to visit family and cell drops and 'net is slower than a 3rd world country. Now, there are some good arguments for density of people etc. etc. However, I've seen parts of the world with lower incomes and almost as low population density that are better served by various modern communications equipment. It makes me wonder when those countries will become considered 1st or 2nd world countries and we will truly be 3rd world, if we aren't already but no one will say so in polite company.

26
0
antisuburbsAug. 13, 1210:56 PM

If they want to price gouge their customers while refusing to do any sort of updating of their systems, then they should reap what they sow (lost customers). People want faster internet, and if you don't give it to them, someone else will. The only thing that makes this different is that the government has to do it. Either give your customers faster internet to compete with the government service, or shut up!

29
0
mchristiAug. 13, 1211:09 PM

The problem is that we still basically run broadband on model that allows companies to provide service only where and when it suits them (usually to maximize profits), rather than with a policy that seriously seeks to provide universal access, as we did with telephones during the 20th century. It's time that our policies and regulations move toward universal broadband access, treating internet services as common carriers and telecommunications providers.

21
0
darkelfAug. 14, 1212:26 AM

there must be some cosmological law that states that cable companies must suck royally, because its always been true. we'd be better served by having government own the wires, and letting the market compete to provide service on those wires.

15
0
pinky1933Aug. 14, 12 1:08 AM

you are correct, shimbaum. emerging markets often have more robust networks/service but that's often because they don't have legacy systems to interconnect/compete with and their regulatory frameworks are more conducive to modern network build-outs, which are also cheaper. the FCC and mishmash of state regulatory bodies/policies are lousy models of independent regulation because they're basically not - i.e. they're effectively owned/run by the major carriers, from which all "roads" lead to.

8
0

Comment on this story   |  

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT