ATT And The FCC Clash Over Gaming, Broadband

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News Posted: Tue, Sep 15 2009 5:49 PM
The FCC has been particularly concerned about the Internet over the past six weeks, tasked as it is with the job of creating a national broadband policy. The FCC's chairman, Julius Genachowski, has gone on record proclaiming that spreading broadband across the country is a massive, possibly culture-changing event, on par with the creation of the highway system or the introduction of the electric light.Those are noble sentiments, to be sure, but the FCC has already slammed into conflicting viewpoints just by trying to define one word: broadband.

The problem between the FCC and AT&T reflect the priorities of each organiztion. As a business, AT&T wants to sell you as little as it can for the highest price you'll pay. The FCC, on the other hand, is tasked with mapping out a long-term broadband policy. It's a job no one is going to envy. Broadband is generally understood as "fast" Internet compared to dial-up (slow Internet). Now that cable and ADSL services have become common, it's no longer clear which devices are on one side of the line, and which aren't.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

The clash between the FCC and AT&T is over whether or not gaming should be considered a basic broadband need. AT&T would rather offer game services as an aspiration serve (translation: Pay to Play.) There's also questions concerning what percentage of an ISP's advertised speed should actually be consistently available. There are any number of factors that can affect or slow communication between the router and the ISP—the ISP isn't necessary at fault for that problem—but how much of the advertised speed would have to be available for the customer?

You'd think that a word so common would be easy to define, but in this case, it isn't. Broadband means different things to different people—all the government has to do now is decide what it means to the government, and by extension, all of the companies said definition would affect.

Good luck with that.
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Kyouya replied on Tue, Sep 15 2009 9:06 PM

I'll take the FCC over the CRTC any day. In Canada, the CRTC is allowing Bell Canada to cap resellers with a quota limit....which violates numerous antitrust laws.

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kid007 replied on Tue, Sep 15 2009 11:19 PM

Now the internet is going to he regulated, that is biggest load of crap for the love of God this not china!

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Lev_Astov replied on Wed, Sep 16 2009 10:22 AM

About half the providers do that here in the US, too. The FCC is getting progressively more harsh on them, though, so I think this could be going away in the not too distant future.

I'm really rooting for the FCC right now, actually. It's odd because I'm totally against the over-involvement of the federal government in things, but the ISPs around here have just been so bad, I want to see them get raped by the government, and hard.

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Joel H replied on Wed, Sep 16 2009 4:22 PM

Kid007: China regulates content. We're talking about defining a minimum standard for what a company can call "broadband." it has nothing to do with content, in any way whatsoever.

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ClemSnide replied on Wed, Sep 16 2009 5:59 PM

Phew! It's over terminology and improving the state of affairs for the consumer. When I saw that title, I was about to get all Pete Seeger on their asses.

When moving into my new house I had troubles getting broadband access. I tried some budget companies, including Verizon, but got some pretty bad service (lines dropped in bad weather, $3 charge to report obscene phone calls, 90-minute tech support wait times, etc.) so I dropped them in favor of a smaller company, Speakeasy, which gives you exactly what they advertise and has human beings who know what they're doing on the other end of the line.

So in this regard the FCC is just playing FDA, setting standards for what can be called "all-natural" or "high-speed." Good good good.


"I didn't cry when Bambi's mother was shot... but I cried when HAL was turned off."

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