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How corporations stole the high speed internet you paid for

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How corporations stole the high speed internet you paid for

Back in 1994, the phrase Information SuperHighway was getting tossed around a lot. Corporations loved to put it in their brochures because it made them look modern, technically savvy, and culturally hip. Telecommunications companies especially loved it because it was the buzz phrase that would net them over $200 billion in tax grants and incentives from the U.S. government, none of which they would spend on actually creating the highway. They used the bulk of those billions to buy each other out, pocketing the rest as fat bonuses for themselves.

What did the people who were promised fiber optics to every home by 2006, paying for it many times over with greatly increased telecommunications tax, get for their money? It's 25 years later, and hardly anyone has fiber to their home. If they do, it's not nearly as fast as it could be. And all that fiber under every urban street and most highways? It's owned by private corporations, silly! After all, that's the American Way, right?

Take a look at this article from Popular Mechanics, January 1994 (pages 28-33):

Now have a look at this publication from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration outlining what happened:

The Diss-Information Superhighway — Driven by the Clinton-Gore Administrations' desire to fiberize America, the entire country in the early 1990's went into a techno-frenzy for the “Information Superhighway”, commonly known as the "National Information Infrastructure", (NII). The Bells claimed they would deliver a fiber optic future. TELE-TV and Americast, the Bells’ billion-dollar lobbying effort, was designed to pass the Telecom Act of 1996 and allow the Bells to enter long distance more than upgrade America's networks.

What Was Promised? — Using the Bells own words and filings, by 2000, approximately 50 million homes should have been rewired with a fiber optic wiring to the home, capable of 45 Mbps in two directions, which could handle over 500 channels of video and was totally open to competition. About 86 million households should be wired by 2006.

By the late 1990s, when it was clear that the promised huge increases in size and speed of the internet weren't going to happen any time soon, the phrase morphed into the Information SuperHypeway, then disappeared altogether. The collapse of the bubble, inflated by people believing the promises the telcos had made, collapsed shortly after.

Personal note: Back in 1994 I'd already spent a decade working with the internet and other early networks, private and public, so I was quite looking forward to fiber connecting homes and businesses. I was part of a few companies and government departments that were scaling up to provide services for the coming superhighway. The fiber never arrived; internet speeds crawled upwards slowly over the decades as cable and phone companies offered only copper to homes, and saved the fiber for businesses which had to pay obscene monthly fees to use the infrastructure they had already paid for.

Quite a compelling case could be made that because of the obscene amounts of money these corporations received to build something they never finished, the internet infrastructure should be returned to the people who paid for it (many times over) - the public.

Canadians have fibre and very high speed cable modem near everyw


My 300/300 mbps fibre connection does cost me more than the cable modem plan I could have with a faster downstream speed (I could have 440/40 on small ISP and 500/100 on cable modem, but paying 20 dollars more for a symmetric connection is worth it. It was installed here in 2013, when one of the larger telcos from eastern Canada deployed cables into more provinces even Ontario. It was 50/25 at first but the speed kept augmenting for free until we hit 500mbps, by then they changed their plans and best we could have for our needs was 300/300 fibre. I'm not saying big telcos are not awful, but thankfully we have a lot of small ISP's that have been given the right by our equivalent of the FCC to use incumbents infrastructure and make the plans that they want. If I lived alone, I wouldn't pay for the fibre TV and be on that small ISP that has 440/40 cable and a landline for 80 a month. You were given a fast one by AT&T stopping to provide U-Verse fibre outside of many markets, same with Verizon's fibre is my understanding. The best gigabit internet for the price I've seen in the US was Cox cable, but cable companies have established maps of their monopolies over certain areas and none are infringing on the other's land, when it comes to big cable companies anyway. I got a friend in Nevada who has gigabit cable with Cox, not sure about his upload speed but he gets it for a decent enough price and Cox are nowhere as awful as Comcast. I feel sorry for people who's only choice of ISP is Comcast in the US, that shouldn't be allowed.

LA is a shithole but we have Fiber

AT&T is continuing their rollout, they're deploying up and down the state AFAIK and the area is actually also served by Spectrum (Cable). $70 for 1GBit symmetric and they throw in HBO.

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