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View Diary: Close the Broadband Gap? Phone and Cable Giants Just Say 'No' (56 comments)

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  •  Opinion vs. Educated Opinion (0+ / 0-)

    I guess it's a good thing that so many people are interested in the topic, but it would be much better if everyone did a little reading or asked the pertinent questions before forming opinions on it.

    If it were me, I'd ask, "Why are these companies considering fiber and isn't that a lot more expensive?", rather than saying -

    As for fiber, that is the next generation and currently about the same speed as cable (varies by market and technology).  I think I am absolutely against government paying to lay fiber optic lines to rural communities when most suburbs and cities still do not have the technology.

    Fiber is not the same speed as cable, in practical terms.  (speaking of throughput here)

    Here's the latest on fiber vs. copper -

    "The material, labor costs, and skills required to install and maintain copper cable supporting 100-Mbit/s transmissions have increased, while costs for fiber cable installation and maintenance are declining," says Dan Orband, senior program administrator at IBM. "As a result, a fiber plant capable of supporting up to 1-Gbit/s transmissions can be designed and installed for prices within 30 percent of 100-Mbit/s copper systems," Given that price difference, the decision to install wiring with a fairly limited shelf life doesn't make much sense.

    If you are going to install something where nothing previously exists, then it makes no sense to go with copper.

    Now this...is just so far out there it's hard to even respond to it:

    Alternatively, is it good to maintain a sizable rural population beyond what is necessary for agricultural and mineral production?  That is would the nation be better off ecologically and economically if 90% of our population was anchored around one city or another?  Obviously not something we can achieve this even if we answer in the affirmative, but if the current trend towards city living is a good development then perhaps we shouldn't artificially slow this process down.

    The US census from 2000 showed that roughly 40% of our population does not live in urban centers of 200, 000 or greater.  Are you suggesting that 40% of the population should be encouraged to move to their nearest urban center?  I'll agree with you that this will never happen, but I'll disagree that it's even a desired outcome.

    By your logic, we could also save a lot of money on high-speed rail by eliminating all these widely spread urban centers and making everyone move to one big city.  That way no one would have to travel anywhere.  We could put it right in the middle...Kansas or someplace like that- one big 500 sq mile anthill ought to do it.  

    Yeesh.

    There's no reason not to do broadband expansion AND high-speed rail as part of the stimulus.  Suggesting that either one or the other project can happen but not both is somewhat of a strawman.  So far, stimulus money has largely been spent on repairing roads.  That needs to be done, but it's nothing that will provide jobs or a sustained economic lift.  The stimulus funds for expanding broadband are also available to urban projects, by the way.

    There's a project in Maine that recently received 25 million in stimulus money.  That's not a lot of money.  With it, they are going to start a project called Three Ring Binder.  This project will lay a backbone of 1100 miles of fiber, and enable last-mile providers to begin service to 100 rural communities, including 110,000 households, 600 community institutions, and 38 government facilities.  Now compare this to a 64 million dollar grant to upgrade plumbing and ductwork in the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in NYC.  Both are useful projects, I imagine, but claiming that high-speed rail will have to be jettisoned because of the broadband expansion projects is really a stretch.

    I think what's happening is that you are using your own personal experience of the world to formulate your arguments, but that your own experience and observations fall short of the data needed to make reasonable statements on the topic.  You need to broaden your understanding of the environments under discussion, the technology, and the economics involved if you're really interested in the topic.

    •  Down with strawmen. (0+ / 0-)

      I think what's happening is that you are using your own personal experience of the world to formulate your arguments, but that your own experience and observations fall short of the data needed to make reasonable statements on the topic.  You need to broaden your understanding of the environments under discussion, the technology, and the economics involved if you're really interested in the topic.

      Well yes I am.  How many comments have you read (ever) that are not formulated using one's personal experience?  And this is why I am asking the questions.  I felt the diarist skipped over the "is this necessary" and "is this a good idea" to move straight into "outrage!"  The questions I'm asking may not betray where I personally will eventually fall on my own insignificant support / lack of support for this project, but they still need to be asked.  That is how one broadens their understanding.  Worked for Socrates and it's working pretty well for me.

      Here's the latest on fiber vs. copper

      I actually have a substantial knowledge base on this argument, and let me just say that anyone who believes it is absolutely clear which is "better" are fooling themselves.  Right now it appears that long term fiber should offer higher speeds, but the replacement/maintenance costs will (for the foreseeable future) out pace copper.  Right now, in many markets, copper beats fiber in speed, and the maximum capabilities of copper have not yet been tapped despite those more likely than not being slower than fiber.  That being said, you have an excellent point about putting in fiber as it has the future capability to be faster provided that we're not duplicating copper lines.  But therein lies the problem -- what percentage of households receive cable already and what would be the costs of extending copper to significant unserviced communities be versus running (in some parts) entirely new infrastructure for fiber.

      is somewhat of a strawman.

      Strawman is definitely the word most in need of being banned on DailyKos (seriously it's more over used, and usually improperly, than umbrage was to the '08 primaries).  I did not make the strawman argument that you created.  I never said it was one or the other.  What I did ask was whether, since you get more bang for your buck on these mass transit projects and since stimulus money is finite, shouldn't almost all of it should go to things that create the most jobs like mass transit.

      The US census from 2000 showed that roughly 40% of our population does not live in urban centers of 200,000 or greater.  Are you suggesting that 40% of the population should be encouraged to move to their nearest urban center?

      Since you're using 2000 Census data, it is probably important to note that 200,000 is not the figure the Census uses to define urban areas (strawma-- no, I won't).  According to the Census, in 2000, 80.3% of Americans lived in metropolitan areas.  But that doesn't tell the whole story, 9.1% of that 80.3% are classified as rural areas of the metropolitan area -- so lets exclude them from our calculation.  Now of the 19.7% of the people living in non-metropolitan areas, 8.1% still live in an urban area and 11.6% live in a rural non-metropolitan area.  So according to the 2000 Census, absent your artificial 200k modifier, 79.3% of Americans live in urban areas.

      What does this mean?  Well I see a few ways of slicing the data.  First, we can safely assume that the non-rural metropolitan area people already have access to broadband (71.2% of Americans).  Now how do we interpret the remainder of the data?  I would assume that at least half of the urban non-metropolitan areas already have access.  And again I would assume that a decent percentage of the rural metropolitan areas have access.  

      All this shakes out so that I think we can make an educated guess that roughly 80% of Americans have broadband access (or the means to obtain it even if they do not have the money/need/desire for it).  Indeed one of the sources linked to in the diarist's article stated that only 20-million people lack a single broadband provider -- which is roughly 6.5% of America, so perhaps my assumptions are overly generous.

      Now you cited to a program in Maine to bring the backbone of broadband to 110,000 households (with an average Maine household of 2.39 people that is 262,900 people).  That program cost $25-million.  At that rate it would cost $1.9-billion to bring the backbone of broadband to those who lack it (according to the diarist's numbers), or $5.8-billion to bring it to all rural Americans (or substantially the same to bring it to all non-metropolitan Americans).  

      What is the point to all this?  Well first, that we're not talking about 40% of Americans.  We're talking about at most 20% of Americans, and even then we're likely talking about 6.5% of Americans.  Yet we're still talking about billions of dollars to bring broadband within 1-mile of this 6.5%.  Further, I'm willing to bet that a substantial percentage of this 6.5% does not need broadband for education or business -- which further reduces the number.  Additionally, if rural America continues to shrink then the value of this investment also decreases.  

      Given all this, the question I asked was while this is a noble goal, to be sure, is it worth it?  Or are the funds better spent on other projects that may create more jobs or alternatively subsidizing the costs for the poor who already have access, but cannot afford it.  It's a good question to think about instead of dismissing as a strawman argument.

      A call for government to "simply" do something, simply means you don't get it.

      by DCJackass on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:39:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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