Ten Years Behind

Some member of Daniel Inouye’s staff asks a good question about the FCC broadband plan:

“The National Broadband Plan (NBP) proposes a goal of having 100 million homes subscribed at 100Mbps by 2020,” he wrote, “while the leading nations already have 100Mbps fiber-based services at costs of $30 to $40 per month and beginning rollout of 1Gbps residential services, which the FCC suggests is required only for a single anchor institution in each community by 2020. This appears to suggest that the US should accept a 10- to 12-year lag behind the leading nations.”

“What is the FCC’s rationale for a vision that appears to be firmly rooted in the second tier of countries?”

The rationale is that this is the best they can do with a legislative branch in the pocket of telecom providers. Those providers are more interested in milking current infrastructure and protecting old revenue streams (cable TV and telephone) than providing world-class Internet service. The FCC can’t regulate the current Internet oligopoly because our mobbed-up Congress will just slap them down while blathering about “free markets” and “intrusive regulation”.

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111 replies
  1. 1
    Michael says:

    American corporations wringing every last dime out of infrastructure? Surely, you jest.

    After all, just because they have better cell phone networks and internet service throughout the second world than we do here doesn’t mean anything. Break out the foam finger and chant “USA! USA! USA!”

  2. 2
    Comrade Darkness says:

    Just out of curiosity, what countries are in the 1st tier list? We travel a bit and home internet is a joke and a bitch everywhere, and if i tell people we have 25mb up and down at home on fiber they freak out.

  3. 3

    You are right. And it’s a shame.

    This is one issue that could influence life in the US for several years to come. It could influence how we get along with other nations and how we get along with each other. It is important that we include as many households as possible in the communications network.

    I appreciate the fact that the govt is trying to move ahead even though congress is not helping at all. But I am not sure how much they can accomplish.

  4. 4
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    Take that, inefficient European socialism! We are such lucky duckies.

  5. 5
    4tehlulz says:

    @Comrade Darkness: Japan, Korea, Sweden come to mind. At least 100Mb and their cell phone internet is insane.

    Australia is the shit tier of the developed world though. Makes the US look like Sweden.

  6. 6
    Peter says:

    @4tehlulz: Australia and New Zealand both. I know people from both countries, and the grousing about their internet service, it is unending.

  7. 7
    geemoney says:

    I want to agree with the sentiment here, but the truth of the matter is that we can all probably download pr0n fast enough at the moment. Yes, we’d all like it faster, but let’s ask ourselves, for a moment, what all that massive bandwidth is used to do. Are we all transferring gigabit mappings of the genome to one another, day in and day out? For me this is just another facet of what Michael@1 is saying, that we have to have the fastest, so that we can still be able to chant USA! USA!

    I don’t get the outrage here, and we should be realistic about what it will take to get a nation as area-massive as ours hooked up at those speeds. There’s a pretty good reason that Australia is where it is on the speed spectrum, and it has (mostly) to do with population, resources, and area to cover. The bastards that control the interwebs aren’t THAT powerful.

  8. 8
    Svensker says:

    Because even when we’re behind and backward, we’re still No. 1! USA! USA!

    Why do you hate America? Re-education camp for you!

  9. 9

    Jesus, the comments on that article are depressing. It was only a few years ago that I realized technology boards are one of the top resources online for stupid people.

    How in god’s name do these people not understand the mind numbing irony of getting on the internet to whine about “socialized government projects?”

    My favorite is the guy who just dismisses the point that Australia, with an equal land mass to the continental U.S., has accomplished building a successful internet project of national scope, and his response is “well Australia can choose to do a stupid failed system if they want to.” Umm… it’s successful. It’s like they don’t want to accept a government program can work on principle.

  10. 10
    Keith says:

    “Free market innovation” is just a fancy word for clever billing, and really has nothing to do with tech innovation. But then, we all know this from personal experience, right?

  11. 11
    4tehlulz says:

    @August J. Pollak: They’re just mad that government funding means that the proles got on the Internet.

  12. 12
    BR says:

    Eh, nothing to get worked up over. By 2020 we will be in the midst of an worldwide energy/credit crunch so severe that all plans be they 100Mbps or 100Gbps will have long been scrapped.

  13. 13
    TJ says:

    Can you say “cash cow”? I know you can.

  14. 14
    jwb says:

    OT, but 55% of Americans think Obama is a soshalist. These are the people who are going to be electing a new congress in November. We are so fucked.

    (reposted with misspelling to avoid moderation. FYWP and your dirty little mind.)

  15. 15

    What I also don’t get is how this is a long term benefit for those private telecoms. Okay, great, they own the Senate and are preventing a national telecom infrastructure. So… every other country on earth has a better system. Doesn’t that effectively make those companies useless outside the United States? This seems like the most moronic and shortsighted act of industrial isolationism I’ve ever seen. This is going to kill advances for next gen phones and computer systems. It eliminates the country from a market that will eventually rely on such a stronger infrastructure.

  16. 16
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @geemoney:

    Yes, we’d all like it faster, but let’s ask ourselves, for a moment, what all that massive bandwidth is used to do.

    Digital distribution of media on demand at any sort of reasonable speed. No really, we can’t download our pr0n fast enough.

  17. 17
    sparky says:

    while i agree with the thrust of this post, it’s marred by a non-trivial error. FCC commissioners ARE APPOINTED BY THE PRESIDENT. consequently while Congress can certainly enact new legislation much of what transpires at the AGENCY is a product of the APPOINTMENTS BY THE WHITE HOUSE.

    YOU KNOW, OBAMA.

    /stops shouting and foaming at the mouth.

    sorry to rag on you so much but you seem to be have lots of this sort of sloppy stuff happening in your posts. or maybe i am just now paying attention. maybe you should drop the “rational” post model and just swing away for teh crazeee. after all, there are plenty of models on this blog. :P

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @August J. Pollak: Um, have you watched how American business has short-sightedly focused on the next quarter’s profits at the expense of the long term health of the company? This is, quite simply, par for the course.

  19. 19
    keestadoll says:

    My question: Does hooking up the entire country to the internet or higher speed internet help or hurt sane discourse? Does one spend billions enabling mountaintop lunatics to spout their batshitcrazy with relative ease? The argument shouldn’t be one of comparing ourselves to other first tiers, it should be are we first tier, mentally, to justify the effort?

  20. 20
    jwb says:

    @keestadoll: I think I’ll take the risk of generalized batshitcrazy to the “all the news through Fox” cable filter thank you very much.

  21. 21
    cmorenc says:

    It’s not just on the federal level that telcos are doing all they can to use their influence with legislatures to sabotage any efforts to establish fast, inexpensive public broadband infrastructure. Here in North Carolina, a combination of legislative toadies in the pocket of the telcos and that-isn’t-a-proper-function-of-gubbmint it-must-be-left-to-private-enterprise wingnuts are pushing a bill that would make it illegal for municipalities to establish their own high-speed broadband infrastructure for their residents, as a handful of towns have already done. It remains to be seen whether they’ll succeed, but as is often the case with legislatures, you can never be sure bad legislation counter to the public interest is really dead until the legislature has adjourned and you sift through the pile of bills (especially the amendments) hustled through during the last couple of days of the session.

  22. 22
    jwb says:

    @jwb: Here’s the link to the poll, because I’m an idiot.

  23. 23
    RareSanity says:

    “What is the FCC’s rationale for a vision that appears to be firmly rooted in the second tier of countries?”

    Because it would hurt the shareholder equity? And, we all know that in this country, shareholder equity of a corporation must be protected at all costs. /snark

    I don’t get the outrage here, and we should be realistic about what it will take to get a nation as area-massive as ours hooked up at those speeds. There’s a pretty good reason that Australia is where it is on the speed spectrum, and it has (mostly) to do with population, resources, and area to cover. The bastards that control the interwebs aren’t THAT powerful.

    The outrage is because the internet has many secondary uses outside it’s primary role of streaming smut. The internet is first and foremost a network. There are zillions of network services that do not use an internet browser at all. It is all about the choices that the current players do not want people to have access to.

    It is about being about to choose arbitrary providers for any service that can be delivered via that network connection. If people had the bandwidth to download or stream 1080i HD video from any provider that offered it, how many do you think would continue to deal with companies like Comcast and DirectTV? How would you like some YouTube in its full 1080i glory? What about telecommuting? If people had 1Gb/s connections at home, access to corporate networks would be seamless. It would bring video conferencing into the home and possibly reduce highway traffic and air travel. How about music? With high bandwidth, you could download entire albums from iTunes or Amazon in seconds.

    Not to mention any of the other projects sitting on the “drawing board” because there just isn’t enough bandwidth to implement it?

    High bandwidth is definitely not a foam finger moment. It is about the US being able to continue innovation over the next century and beyond. The world is about information and data flow, this should be put on the same priority as the electrical grid, roads and sewers as an essential service, it is that important.

    The internet is no longer a commodity, it is as important as electricity to the country.

  24. 24
    Roger Moore says:

    @geemoney:

    Yes, we’d all like it faster, but let’s ask ourselves, for a moment, what all that massive bandwidth is used to do.

    No, that’s wrong. It’s stupid to say “we can do what we do right now with the speeds we have, so there’s no need for anything faster”. You could have made that argument when there was no Internet at all, or when most people were still on dial up, and it would have been just as true. The question to ask is what new applications would become practical with higher speed connections.

    As an example, Google currently leases on-line storage at prices that would make it reasonable for me to backup my hard-drive to Google’s servers instead of buying external hard drives. Unfortunately, my network connection is too slow to make this practical, even though I’m paying a lot of money for one of my provider’s fastest speeds. If I could get a 100 Mpbs connection that would start to look reasonable, and at 1 Gpbs it would be completely practical. I’m sure there are plenty of other applications that await really high speed connections- ultra HD video streaming, high-quality home teleconferencing, etc.

  25. 25
    jwb says:

    Oh, this is good. If your link has “soshalist” in it, you also get put into moderation. FYWP.

  26. 26
    aliasofwestgate says:

    @keestadoll:

    I’m pretty sure the same line was given when they set up Telegraphs round the country at least 150 years ago. And when radio networks were in their infancy after that, and tv networks later. Definition of ‘mass media’ means EVERYONE has access.

    Communication’s a big thing, and i like being in touch with the rest of the world. Whether it’s my family nearby or my friends across the oceans. Not everyone uses the information the same way, but all the same. I’d rather it be widely available and easily accessed. Which the way the ‘net is changing? Increasingly needs higher speeds to handle the crunch.

  27. 27
    James Hare says:

    Should we really invest a great deal of money into wired infrastructure when everything is heading in the direction of wireless data transmission? One of the reasons our infrastructures is older and less-capable than other nations is we are kind of unique in having developed the Internet in the first place.

    There is plenty of fiber buried in this country for the backbone. The last mile is where we’re behind. What needs to happen is faster development and deployment of wireless technology. As the explosion of mobile phones has shown, that’s about the best way to democratize technology. Focusing on legacy architecture like our last-mile cabling doesn’t make sense in that environment.

    Fourth generation wireless internet will compare reasonably well to most home connections in the US. It is already available in many American cities. I’m all for Comcast and all them failing because they don’t upgrade their networks — they’re terrible on customer service TOO. The only provider that does anything on the network side is Verizon, and their customer service isn’t exactly world-class.

    Just remember there are other reasons for us being “behind” than “teh corporations suck.” Their investments have lagged behind the rest of the world; however, they made investments long before most of the rest of the world. They’ll be forced to make those investments or disappear in the coming years.

  28. 28
    jwb says:

    @Roger Moore:”It’s stupid to say “we can do what we do right now with the speeds we have, so there’s no need for anything faster”.”

    Yes, I remember when I couldn’t imagine why anyone would need a 40MB hard drive.

  29. 29
    James Hare says:

    Also, too: the other end of your connection might not be prepared to offer 100mbps to every customer they have. Sitting on a 100mbps connection directly to the backbone, I often find that my connections to outside servers are much slower than I should get. Bandwidth costs money on both sides and companies are starting to throttle all kinds of connections to save money. Darn recession.

  30. 30
    steve says:

    anybody else having problems with balloon juice putting the ads on top of the content?

    here’s a screenshot:

    http://a.imagehost.org/0633/balloon1.jpg

  31. 31
    John Bird says:

    This goes straight to Alterman’s column about Obama, and this site’s writer’s response to it. Alterman thinks that the way campaigns are financed makes progressive legislation impossible; the response suggested that what we need is a handful more Democratic senators who are somehow pulled from areas that are currently Republican WITHOUT being in the pocket of business interests a la Lincoln and Nelson, which seems about as likely as comprehensive reform following Citizens United – barring a Constitutional amendment, of course.

    What the growing consensus seems to be is that our political system is utterly unable to provide us not only with the policies we need to avoid third-world status (broadband being one of them), but with basic human rights to bring us out of the 19th century (guaranteed health care).

    I’m not happy with the idea that we need to drastically change our political system in the U.S., and I don’t know how it would be achieved, but it seems that we either need to do so or begin to consider as individuals whether our families’ futures should lie within this country.

  32. 32
    John Bird says:

    @cmorenc:

    Yeah, that NC business is pretty wretched, considering how forward-thinking those municipalities have been. Towns and cities like Wilson know they need broadband as a public utility to keep up with the rapidly progressing state and the country; the state legislature’s campaign financiers, national and international telecom companies, don’t really care.

    So we’re left with a situation where legislators are held at gunpoint – well, that’s being a bit too kind to them – but they are being forced by campaign financing to vote down their own state’s chance at competing in the 21st century for the interests of companies that do not really care one way or the other about NC, even as a market. It’s disgusting.

  33. 33
    catclub says:

    @RareSanity:
    I’m not sure I want tubgirl in 1080 glory. And I have never actually seen tubgirl.

    But actually, you make all the right points.

  34. 34
    Zifnab says:

    I’d love to know the ratio of internet speeds to insistence on nationwide firewalls and other restrictive measures. Curious to know if the Great Firewall of China has a positive or negative impact on internet speeds. I’ve heard Australians were up in arms about their own country’s firewall attempts, and similar ideas have been floated in the US.

  35. 35
    John Bird says:

    @steve:

    There’s some recurring issues I have with different versions of Internet Explorer and this site; I suppose you may be in a place where browser choice is limited?

  36. 36
    RareSanity says:

    @James Hare:

    Should we really invest a great deal of money into wired infrastructure when everything is heading in the direction of wireless data transmission?

    Wireless networks cannot provide the reliability of wired ones. Not only that, the RF bandwidth required to deliver the kinds of speeds to multiple users simultaneously would require a complete restructuring of the entire FCC regulated frequency mapping…not gonna happen. Oh, and the amount of RF bandwidth to channel would be obscene. It’s one thing for Sprint or Verizon to try and accumulate enough bandwidth to cover just their customers, trying to cover everyone would be a fiasco.

    Focusing on legacy architecture like our last-mile cabling doesn’t make sense in that environment.

    It would be more reliable and cheaper to run last mile fiber than the effort it would take to develop the wireless technologies and carry out all of the frequency rebanding.

  37. 37
    John S. says:

    You can’t stop the signal.

  38. 38
    RareSanity says:

    @catclub:

    I’m not sure I want tubgirl in 1080 glory. And I have never actually seen tubgirl.

    I’m not sure what a tubgirl is, but it would be nice to be delighted/offended/disturbed/disgusted by whatever it is in 1080i!

    EDIT: btw, I am going to resist the urge to research what tubgirl is because, as my co-worker says, “What is seen, cannot be un-seen.”

    Advice I should have followed when I first saw the term “2 girls, one cup”.

  39. 39
    keestadoll says:

    @jwb: point taken and agreed to.

  40. 40
    TJ says:

    @August J. Pollak:

    You can argue whether our corporations are evil or just stupid, but one thing for sure is that they are not long-term thinkers. Not even medium term.

    And investment in infrastructure is a dirty word. Another thing you can thank the financial industry for.

  41. 41
    John Bird says:

    Civic wireless is a great thing, but it’s not a replacement for treating broadband as a public utility, and you’d be surprised exactly what we still need in terms of actual pipe.

    You can look at North Carolina as perhaps the best test case because of the vigorous debate going on there (and how tilted it is in favor of telecom companies). There’s plenty of places out there where towns are trying to update the outdated view of broadband as a mere luxury, and a lot of them are still under the heel of BellSouth DSL, if there’s high-speed access at all.

    On the other hand, you have places like Carrboro and Chapel Hill that are making big jumps in free wireless in downtown, but that’s because the school, town, and surrounding businesses are already matching cable to kudzu 1-to-1.

    Keep your eye on North Carolina if you want to see the future of much of America when it comes to these issues.

  42. 42
    Zifnab says:

    @RareSanity:

    Not to mention any of the other projects sitting on the “drawing board” because there just isn’t enough bandwidth to implement it?

    I remember when I ran out to buy my first 33.6k Sportster Dial Up modem and thought I was the shit because I wasn’t stuck on a crappy 14.4k like all my friends. That was in 1996.

    Before we go flipping a gasket over not having gigabyte internet access nationwide like that country over there (whose “nationwide” barely crosses some of our states), I think it’s fair point out that 100 Mbps access is still pretty fast, all things considered. We’ve made the transition from dial-up to broadband in a decade. And we’re in the middle of the transition from broadband to wireless.

    Yeah, there are dickhole service providers try to put the brakes on, but there are also a host of other companies leaping into the technological gaps. Clear Wireless, a service that provides wireless 4g for $40 / month city wide just blitzed Houston. Literally two weeks later, Comcast and AT&T rushed out ad campaigns and content to compete. Now we’ve got no less than 3 different options for wireless 4G networking, inside a month. The federal government didn’t have to lift a finger.

  43. 43
    steve says:

    yeah, john, work computer w/ only IE6.

  44. 44

    @sparky: I’m sorry, Sparky, but you are completely missing the point. Yes, the FCC members are appointed by the President (when he’s allowed to) but the powers granted to the FCC come solely from Congress. The whole reason the FCC is toothless is because the scope of their authority over the Telecoms is limited by the Senate, specifically. The NBP is not a bad one, when you consider that even accomplishing half of it will mean a fight tooth and nail with Telecom companies that own Senators that control your funding.

  45. 45
    sukabi says:

    “What is the FCC’s rationale for a vision that appears to be firmly rooted in the second tier of countries?”

    the answer is:

    “We’re looking ahead. In 10 – 12 years we will finally have achieved our full status as a third world country and we don’t want to upset our first world cousins.”

  46. 46
    Kryptik says:

    @Zifnab:

    100MBps may be fast, but it’s pretty likely that it might not be considered ‘fast’ or at least ‘fast enough’ come the 2020 deadline. And you still can’t argue that the whole issues with telecoms strangleholding internet access like this that the whole approach to the infrastructure sucks, for the same reason so many of our businesses suck now: prioritizing short-term profit over long-term viability. Mostly ‘cuz greedy fucks don’t expect to be around in the long term and can just jump ship with $15 mil. severance packages.

  47. 47
    RareSanity says:

    @Zifnab:

    Clear Wireless, a service that provides wireless 4g for $40 / month city wide just blitzed Houston.

    *Ahem…* <– this is a link, don't know why it is bolded

    Comcast and AT&T rushed out ad campaigns and content to compete. Now we’ve got no less than 3 different options for wireless 4G networking, inside a month.

    Comcast uses ClearWire’s infrastructure.

    AT&T can’t even handle the needs of just it’s iPhone users on 3G let alone any type of large scale 4G access.

  48. 48
    John Bird says:

    Yeah, I was chuckling at that characterization of AT&T too. I mean, there’s been a lot of news stories about AT&T’s current capacity, but they’re not about candy waterfalls and gumdrop YouTubes.

    For the record, I’m an AT&T customer by way of the Cingular buy and I don’t really have any excuses for that anymore myself, since I’m not about to switch to an iPhone. Verizon looks like the best bet in my area and I’m looking forward to my many wonderful interactions with AT&T’s customer service staff as I attempt to convince them that I do not want their service anymore over five separate hour-long phone calls in which I am offered houris and Brooklyn Bridges to stay with them.

  49. 49
    mclaren says:

    Because America is currently 16 years behind the rest of the world, and falling farther behind every day.

    If America can work its way up to being only 12 years behind the rest of the world, we’ll have achieved a broadband miracle.

    Example: in south Korea, free internet clocks in at 55 megabits per second down, 22 megabits per second up. In America typical internet (not free, typical home broadband) is 3.9 megabits. Free broadband in the U.S. is much slower, usually no more than 700 kilobits.

    America is currently in 18th place in the world for broadband speed and the average speed of broadband in the U.S. declined in 2009.

  50. 50
    randiego says:

    There’s a big difference between Japan/Sweden/S.Korea, and US/Australia. The difference is landmass/population density.

    Infrastructure costs are significantly reduced in high-population areas, so yes broadband is going to be spotty or nonexistent in places where there isn’t the population base to support it.

    You can rail on about evil corporations all you want, but right now the big telcos (AT&T and Verizon) are behind the curve and scrambling to keep up with the broadband demand generated in the last 3 years by smartphones. (Those networks have seen a 50x increase in demand in the last 3 years).

    It’s all wireless, all the time with them as far as I can see.

  51. 51
    Kryptik says:

    @jwb:

    I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you over punching myself in the face in rank depression over just how fucked we are. What a broken fucking system we have.

  52. 52
    mclaren says:

    @randiego:

    There’s a big difference between Japan/Sweden/S.Korea, and US/Australia. The difference is landmass/population density.

    This bullshit argument always comes up when someone points out America’s grotesquely slow broadband speeds, and it was bullshit the first time someone trotted it out, and it’s bullshit now.

    If landmass/population density determined broadband speed, Manhattan would have 10 gigabit broadband. In actual fact, Manhattan and Los Angeles have lower broadband speeds than Utah and Iowa. The fastest broadband speed in the United States is found in Sandy, Utah, a spithole in the middle of nowhere with a ridiculously high landmass/population density ratio.

    If you are looking for a fast Internet connection in the U.S., Sandy, UT and Iowa City currently offer the fastest connections.

    Source: Broadband Speeds Increase Around the World – But Not in the U.S.

    Stop spewing bullshit. America has slow broadband because the U.S. government has encouraged duopolies and monopolies throughout the length and breadth of America. No other first world country allows duopoly or monopoly ISP monopolization. None.

    @Geemoney:

    Yes, we’d all like it faster, but let’s ask ourselves, for a moment, what all that massive bandwidth is used to do.

    Run a 21st-century information economy. Get a clue.

    Shorter Geemoney:

    Nobody needs more than 640K of RAM.

  53. 53
    paradox says:

    The only thing I have to add is related to the excellent comment above@Roger Moore: Google currently leases on-line storage at prices that would make it reasonable for me to backup my hard-drive…

    Why use the hard drive for anything? Stay in the clouds, the only personal pc platform you’ll ever need is a browser.

    Google in fact has a pc os that essentially launches a browser and nothing else.

    Bye bye Microsoft. I have the new Windows 7 and it’s a disgrace, all that company has left is Office and Windows. If the internet ever really gets speeded up I see them as gone, they’re assholes with over-priced software.

    We shall see. I am tired of waiting.

  54. 54
    John Bird says:

    @paradox:

    A little bird told me that my state’s largest public universities are moving toward the clouds for every form of storage possible, starting with e-mail.

    Thank God.

  55. 55
    Corner Stone says:

    @RareSanity: This post gave me virtual wood.

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    @mclaren:
    “America is currently in 18th place in the world for broadband speed and the average speed of broadband in the U.S. declined in 2009. ”

    And Lance Armstrong is 18th in the Tour de France.
    Coincidence? I think not.

  57. 57
    RareSanity says:

    @randiego:

    Infrastructure costs are significantly reduced in high-population areas, so yes broadband is going to be spotty or nonexistent in places where there isn’t the population base to support it.

    That is the exact reason why internet access needs to fall under the same regulatory mechanism as ConEdison or Southern Company. It is just too important to leave to the whims of corporate execs chasing the market. They have failed horribly at every step to even meet the current demand of paying customers. Let alone extra investment now for future capacity.

    The answer to this is a “Manhattan Project” type of program from the Federal level to upgrade and update the wired infrastructure of the country. Including compensation to all of the telcos for relinquishing ownership of the current wired infrastructure within the borders of country. They can still be contracted by state and local governments for maintaining and operating the network. By which I mean that any company would be allowed to bid for maintenance and operation contracts, that would have metrics to measure performance and of a limited time.

    The telcos can keep their precious wireless networks. However, with ubiquitous access to 1Gb/s backbone, the number of WiFi Hotspots would skyrocket. With that, technologies that use WiFi would skyrocket and cellphones may only use the current cellular networks when it cannot find a WiFi signal.

  58. 58
    Corner Stone says:

    @catclub:

    I’m not sure I want tubgirl in 1080 glory. And I have never actually seen tubgirl.

    Is it anything like “obese pools of ACORN type booty”?

  59. 59
    John Bird says:

    @RareSanity:

    That is the exact reason why internet access needs to fall under the same regulatory mechanism as ConEdison or Southern Company. It is just too important to leave to the whims of corporate execs chasing the market. They have failed horribly at every step to even meet the current demand of paying customers.

    A-fucking-men. I can’t believe it’s taken an economic collapse for so many to come to the conclusion that I remember reading in an Atlantic story in high school (before they went 9/11-crazy): the market is one system, and it works great for some things, and poorly for others, and we need to pay attention to which is which, even if we rile up some folks’ fundamentalist religious beliefs in the market (and they are just that, in the vein of Politboro Marxism – that is, they’re carved in stone to our collective detriment until the powerful guy in question gets in personal trouble because of them).

    Can we point to a trend that is more worrying OR more heartening than that Americans have a more negative view of “capitalism” than they ever have in the history of public polling?

  60. 60
    Bootlegger says:

    Forget high speed internet, my nakid ladee piktyurs download fast enough. I’m pissed about my digital teevee signal, I’m trying to watch the Tour de Surrender Monkey and it “tiles” every couple of minutes and I can’t hear what those furriners are sayin’.

  61. 61
    RareSanity says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I must admit that I am quite conflicted about your response. On the one hand it is quite a compliment, thank you. On the other hand, the thought of provoking another man’s wood, real or virtual, make me a little uncomfortable…

    Ah, to hell with it…thanks CS! /laughing

  62. 62
    mclaren says:

    @RareSanity:

    The answer to this is a “Manhattan Project” type of program from the Federal level to upgrade and update the wired infrastructure of the country.

    Been there. Done that. It was called the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act and it gave the telcos 200 billion dollars of subsidies and tax breaks in return for upgrading America’s internet infrastructure.

    They took our 200 billion dollars and gave us…nothing.

    Source: The 200 Billion Dollar Rip-Off: How Our Internet Future was Stolen by the Telcos by Robert X. Cringely, 10 August 2007.

  63. 63
    Corner Stone says:

    @paradox:

    Why use the hard drive for anything? Stay in the clouds, the only personal pc platform you’ll ever need is a browser.

    For a couple reasons. One of them being my concerns over the whole “Amazon just deleted books from their users Kindles” thing.
    I control the hard drive and access to it. In the cloud, the provider controls access.
    In the extreme, if I need access to content and for some reason can’t access the cloud, such as a power outage, I can still access my hard drive.

  64. 64
    randiego says:

    Mclaren, first of all, go fuck yourself, or if not that, then at least dial it down a bit.

    Are you making the argument that all of Iowa and all of Utah has better broadband than Manhattan?

    Who’s spewing bullshit now?

    Broadband does require investment in infrastructure. Are you questioning that? Fat pipes leading to glass fibers everywhere with lots of expensive switches and routers. Who’s going to pay for that?

    Or is there some magical pony of inexpensive broadband that I’m unaware of?

    A government program, similar to sponsoring mass transit or the national highway system would be great and would create what you’re talking about, but in this political climate I doubt we’re going to see it.

    What’s left is big telcos investing in places where they can make money.

  65. 65
    Roger Moore says:

    @randiego:

    Infrastructure costs are significantly reduced in high-population areas, so yes broadband is going to be spotty or nonexistent in places where there isn’t the population base to support it.

    So why don’t our densest population centers have broadband speeds that can compete with those other countries?

  66. 66
    Corner Stone says:

    @RareSanity: I say if it feels good, then go with it. We’re all friends here.

  67. 67
    Lurker says:

    @geemoney:

    Yes, we’d all like it faster, but let’s ask ourselves, for a moment, what all that massive bandwidth is used to do. Are we all transferring gigabit mappings of the genome to one another, day in and day out?

    No, but here are three online services I use that could be improved with more bandwidth:

    1) RiffTrax sells burnable DVD images for $10-15. That’s cool, because a single DVD-R takes up less space in my cluttered apartment than a regular RiffTrax packaged in a clamshell case. However, purchasing a DVD image is not an impulse buy. It takes two to five hours to download a DVD image from the RiffTrax store over my DSL connection.

    2) Jungle Disk backs up data online to cloud storage on either Rackspace or Amazon. When my hard drive died last year, I got back all 7GB of data that I had uploaded to Jungle Disk. However, it took about six hours to download and restore that 7GB of data to my hard drive.

    3) Digital Tutors offers an excellent online video training service for graphics software. However, it takes about 3-10 seconds to launch each training video on my end.

    I have a fast enough DSL connection to use all three services, but I am tempted by AT&T’s fiber optic Internet service because of little lags like these.

  68. 68
    Corner Stone says:

    @Roger Moore:

    So why don’t our densest population centers have broadband speeds that can compete with those other countries?

    It’s the unions’ fault.

  69. 69
    Seanly says:

    100 Mbps would be a great improvement for most of us. How are they going to provide it though? Even newer subdivisions couldn’t handle that much from the street to each house, could they?

  70. 70
    mclaren says:

    @randiego:

    Or is there some magical pony of inexpensive broadband that I’m unaware of?

    Yes, it’s called market competition without monopolists crushing innovation and extracting extortionate rents for inferior services.

    Market competition explains why even the most remote village on the far ass-end of Japan gets 100 megabit fiber to the home. When Japan broke up the giant monopoly ISPs and forced competition into the Japanese broadband market, broadband speeds exploded exponentially.

    See Game Over: Why the U.S. is Unlikely Ever To Regain Broadband Leadership by Robert X. Cringely, 2 August 2007.

    Two weeks ago I mentioned, for example, that my friend Ira in Yokohama, Japan pays less than $30 per month for 100-megabit-per-second fiber-to-the-home Internet service. Well it turns out that in Japan such plans can cost as little as $10 per month, which is less than what our telephone companies claim it costs simply to maintain their billing infrastructure. If it costs $10 per month per subscriber for our telephone companies to stay in business without even pushing electrons over the wires, how can they charge that little for 100-mbps Internet service in Japan? What do they know that we don’t know? (..)

    What changed for Japan was a new government policy fostering competition…

  71. 71
    Catsy says:

    @paradox:

    Why use the hard drive for anything? Stay in the clouds, the only personal pc platform you’ll ever need is a browser.

    No. No. A thousand times, no.

    Clouds have their uses. Collaboration. Mobility. Streaming. What they will not do and should never, ever do is replace local storage.

    The fact is that companies come and go, policies change, hardware fails, and network outages occur. You fundamentally cannot rely on a cloud to be your sole point of access to your data. The first time that you can’t even launch your word processing app–let alone access an important document–because you’ve hit a dead zone or a local Verizon trunk has gone down, you will rethink the wisdom of this.

    Ask Sidekick users what they think about having their data in a cloud. The way to do it right is by maintaining a local copy of data stored in the cloud and syncing periodically. For an example of cloud computing done right, see the indispensable Firefox plugin called Xmarks.

  72. 72
    randiego says:

    Roger Moore – the quick answer is because the big telcos aren’t on the hook to provide it.

    Just because it’s cheaper in densely populated areas doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.

    There is more competition in the space than there used to be, but clearly not enough. Only someone coming along with a better faster solution will make the telcos follow suit. That’s why they oppose civic broadband initiatives at every step.

  73. 73
    mclaren says:

    @Catsy: Exactamundo.

    This “cloud” bvllsh|t is nothing but the old mainframe high-priests-in-a-glass-temple lording over your data and erasing it at the push of a button without telling you.

    Been there. Done that. It’s not 1969 anymore. Time to move on.

  74. 74
    RareSanity says:

    @mclaren:

    Been there. Done that. It was called the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act and it gave the telcos 200 billion dollars of subsidies and tax breaks in return for upgrading America’s internet infrastructure.

    That’s why I said the first step would be for the telcos to relinquish ownership of the wired infrastructure. They can maintain it, they can handle operations on it, they cannot however, own it. That way, if in my little town of Atlanta, AT&T can’t get the job done, then Verizon, or Sprint, or some conglomerate of local companies could step in.

    Like the pastor at my church says (the blue moon that I’m actually there, and awake), “Doesn’t matter who’s driving the car, only matters who owns the car.”

    I’m not sure who should “hold title” to the networks, but I would like to see it get as close to the county level as possible, federal wouldn’t give enough control to the people.

  75. 75
    suzanne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Is it anything like “obese pools of ACORN type booty”?

    Probably more like “pussy nasty hole”.

  76. 76
    mclaren says:

    @RareSanity:

    I’m not sure who should “hold title” to the networks, but I would like to see it get as close to the county level as possible, federal wouldn’t give enough control to the people.

    Yeah, really. Why not let each individual town run their own municipal ISP the same way they run the municipal water service? Everyone in town pays some minimal monthly fee in the same range as the monthly water bill, everyone gets gigabit fiber to the home.

    ‘Course it’ll never happen. Comcast is raking in so much cash from its extortionate monopoly that it’s buying NBC. They’re not going to just walk away from those monopoly rents.

  77. 77
    fucen tarmal says:

    @mclaren:

    ok in fairness a number of companies developed and begun to initiate last mile upgrades that would have, at the time moved us much further ahead.

    the flaw in the financing was that these companies ability to finance such a heavy load was tied to market eval. now mix in openly and convicted fraudsters competing with bogus earnings and fudged numbers, and the absolute requirement to keep up the short term divs and receipts, and the market’s love of ipo.com, biotech, and chip makers and fiber manufacturers(the cart before the horse) and you had viable long range plans scuttled in embarrassment that of course was heapingly mocked, in favor of fraud, and still to this day dark fiber…

  78. 78
    Mike G says:

    “What is the FCC’s rationale for a vision that appears to be firmly rooted in the second tier of countries?”

    Ooh, he asked a toxic question for the rightards, actually proposing an evidence-based comparison of the US with other countries.

    Everyone knows in MURKA, the only acceptable response to furriners is to beat your chest, shout MURKA IS NUMBER ONE and turn Rush up to 11. Anything less and you’re a dirty hippie commie traitor.

  79. 79
    Steeplejack says:

    @Comrade Darkness:

    What do you use to measure your speed? I like the test at Speakeasy, but I have no idea if it (or the handful of others I have tried) is accurate.

  80. 80
    John Bird says:

    Honestly, if you’re going to fight the journey to the clouds, you’re arrayed against academia, librarians, public info officials, private companies, and Silicon Valley gurus of all types.

    It’s gonna be an uphill slog. Personally, I’m a civil libertarian, and I know a lot of the upsides of cloud storage (from the aforementioned boosters), and few of the downsides beyond the obvious.

    This exchange here is pretty enlightening and has given me some things to think about.

  81. 81
    John Bird says:

    @fucen tarmal:

    There’s also the state legislatures playing Monopoly and then making big surprised faces when Grandma can’t get Internet. North Carolina, once again.

  82. 82
    Steeplejack says:

    @RareSanity:

    [. . .] this should be put on the same priority as the electrical grid, roads and sewers [. . .].

    That’s the problem. We do put it on the same priority, i.e., we don’t want to pay for them and we are letting them crumble around us.

  83. 83
    South of I-10 says:

    @cmorenc: I’ve posted about this here before, but my town just set up our own fiber to the home system. Cox Communications and AT&T fought it like hell. They managed to get a couple of bills through that made it much harder (and more expensive) but they couldn’t stop the project. I have 10 mbps up and down for $28.95. I could have 50 mbps for $57.95. Pretty reasonable. This blog has been set up since the project was in its infancy and has the whole history of the fight.

  84. 84
    RareSanity says:

    @mclaren:

    Comcast is raking in so much cash from its extortionate monopoly that it’s buying NBC.

    Comcast would not have to relinquish their network. The cable networks were, for the most part, privately funded and operated ventures. They can continue. Franchising agreements are another argument for another day. Although there are limitations to how much bandwidth can be placed on coax, even Comcast customers would benefit from the higher bandwidth. Comcast could just sign people up for IPTV packages running over the fiber networks…win/win.

    Only the telcos that got fat off of their anti-trust exempted, monopolies for over a 100 years…the Bells.

    They are what they are because of the American people via the Federal Government. It is now time for the American people to have a capital call on their initial (and continued) funding of the enterprise. Since there would be no way for AT&T to fairly compensate the country monetarily, we will accept the ownership rights to the domestic, wired network, and make assurances not to prosecute for the (numerous) violations of the Telecommunications Reform Act of 1996.

  85. 85
    RareSanity says:

    @Steeplejack:

    That’s the problem. We do put it on the same priority, i.e., we don’t want to pay for them and we are letting them crumble around us.

    Touche’.

    Well played, sir.

  86. 86
    Steeplejack says:

    @RareSanity:

    I couldn’t resist the snark, but I am wholly in agreement with your post.

  87. 87
    Persia says:

    And here’s an article from NPR on how access is even worse at Indian reservations. They estimate that fewer than 10% of American Indians are connected, and when you consider how many American Indians do not live on reservations…it’s pretty terrible.

  88. 88
    Sloegin says:

    Hey, free markets aren’t free ya know.

    4730 and counting.

  89. 89
    geemoney says:

    @jwb: You and RM are both correct; there’s a metric crap-ton that we could do with faster speeds. The question is one of how fast are we going to get there? I don’t think that it’s a question of whether or not we will ultimately get more bandwidth, but I agree with another poster that it will more than likely not be line-based, and is what will be needed for the area that the US covers.

    As far as some of the other issues that have been raised, it would really surprise me if bandwidth was the stopper for things like telecommuting. I figure that 10 years is about what it will take for the IT overlords in American companies to really loosen up and let people have access to all their work data from home. I think it’s highly disingenuous to blame it all on bandwidth.

    And let me be clear, I would love higher speeds, but pointing to other countries with smaller area and more dense population seems to be avoiding some of the important differences which we have to take into account here.

  90. 90
    geemoney says:

    @mclaren: See me @87, or read my first post a little more carefully.

    But let me go even further, actually, and say this: It will ALWAYS be too slow. All we’re arguing about is how long we want to bitch about how slow it is, until the next upgrade.

  91. 91
    Corner Stone says:

    @geemoney:

    it would really surprise me if bandwidth was the stopper for things like telecommuting. I figure that 10 years is about what it will take for the IT overlords in American companies to really loosen up and let people have access to all their work data from home. I think it’s highly disingenuous to blame it all on bandwidth.

    And I would disagree with you. Many companies already have an SSLVPN solution in place with layers of access for different scenarios. But when you launch Outlook or the document management solution and have to count seconds before a document will open it becomes tedious. Not to mention web based video for conferencing.
    Bandwidth, IMO, is indeed a real stopper at this point.

  92. 92
    Corner Stone says:

    @South of I-10:

    This blog has been set up since the project was in its infancy and has the whole history of the fight.

    That is one interesting story. Was not aware of it, thanks for sharing.

  93. 93
    twiffer says:

    storage is dirt cheap these days. there is no reason not to have anything stored in the cloud backed up locally. not when you can get a 1TB external hard disk for $100 bucks.

  94. 94
    geemoney says:

    @Corner Stone: Maybe with the videoconferencing, and in those cases good resolution can be critical, I agree.

    For the document thing, though, I agree it’s annoying, but given the size of the documents involved (that I have worked with, at any rate), my experience has been that it is the navigation of the security protocols that tends to slow that down. I don’t think that those are bandwidth limited, but I am open to being persuaded.

    I guess I just don’t see the rush for most users. There will always be exceptions, of course, and I don’t mean to get all paternalistic and dictate for people what they want/need, but like I said, the urgency escapes me, when we are still dealing with a basic lack of connectivity (in certain areas) in this country. So for me, it’s important but not urgent, and I think it’s OK that we are not #1 in this case.

  95. 95
    Admiral_Komack says:

    @South of I-10:

    I’ve put it in my “Favorites”; it should be interesting reading.

    Thank you.

  96. 96
    Roger Moore says:

    @John Bird:
    I don’t want to argue against using the cloud. I just want to argue against depending exclusively on the cloud. The cloud offers potentially great convenience and security, but my data is precious to me and I’m paranoid about protecting it. For me, that means that the primary copy of my data should always be on some medium that is in my personal control, with the cloud serving only for convenience and an extra layer of protection. That way I’m still OK if my cloud provider (or the internet provider who connects me to the cloud) is unavailable, incompetent, and/or evil. It also has some technical advantages, e.g. hard disk latency is inherently lower than network latency, which is a big advantage when speed is important.

  97. 97

    […] in Congress, Daily life, Obama administration, Technology at 12:51 pm by LeisureGuy mistermix at Balloon Juice: Some member of Daniel Inouye’s staff asks a good question about the FCC broadband plan: “The […]

  98. 98
    tootiredoftheright says:

    @4tehlulz:

    Well they certaintly lagged behind for quite a long time. Japanese video game companies like Nintendo abandoned internet connected or downloadable features for games since all previous attempts dating back to the Famicom game console fizzled out. MMOs didn’t take off in Japan for some reason while South Korea went crazy over them.

  99. 99
    paradox says:

    Well, I really don’t see it as a challenge to Google in fabricating an OS that has peerless backup mechanisms.

    The issue, as I understand it, is not elimination of the hard drive, but using the cloud as a relatively quick painless way to circumvent the Microsoft OS monopoly, plus a total assault on Office.

    Backup all your stuff, my all means. Just imagine a world where the OS license is $4.99 and no Office fee.

    [shrugs] I don’t know. I do know Windows 7 is a piece of shit, Richmond could still not get rid of that horrendous Hibernate option, though we can finally sleep like the Apple people can. Finally. Every time I see that hibernate function I see a company that cannot get its head outta it’s ass, please excuse me. Please get me out of this OS environment.

    [Would an essentially free OS make US production feasible for computers and fabs again? Could we actually employ American labor for computer production? Wow. May be.]

  100. 100
    Roger Moore says:

    @paradox:

    Just imagine a world where the OS license is $4.99 and no Office fee.

    You don’t have to imagine! Just download Ubuntu (or Fedora, Debian, etc.) and you can have an OS license, Office software, image editing, and tons and tons of other useful programs all for the cost of your bandwidth and the media you burn it on.

  101. 101

    […] July 9, 2010, 17:05 Filed under: Technology Over at Balloon Juice, Mistermix had a nice post today on how America is sadly falling behind in terms of broadband deployment. Pretty depressing. In my neighborhood, Verizon apparently won’t be installing its fiber optic […]

  102. 102
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Steeplejack: The trouble with fiber is the limiting factor is either our own WIFI or a downstream network outside your own provider. So if I use speedtest.net I get one number (18 down, 8 up), if I hook up ethernet and use Verizon’s test page, I get much closer to the advertised speed, but at the moment, I’m too lazy to find a cable and do that.

    I know that Internet in Spain, Germany and Italy are pretty much expensive and badly serviced (the last partly due to the chaos of opening the markets up to cross border competition. WEll, the EU, essentially.) I haven’t experienced England in a long time, but Scotland seems okay, but I wouldn’t put them on tier with Scandinavia. On the other hand Scandinavia kicks butt on a host of government overseen services, so it’s less a factor of Internet, per se, and more just government doing its usual thing.

    Boy, I’m writing like I’ve been drinking, which I guess means I really need to start doing that to catch up.

  103. 103
    Catsy says:

    @John Bird:

    Honestly, if you’re going to fight the journey to the clouds, you’re arrayed against academia, librarians, public info officials, private companies, and Silicon Valley gurus of all types.

    This is very flowery and sounds nice, but in essence boils down to, “it doesn’t matter if you don’t like cloud computing, all these other important folks like it”. It’s not an argument, it’s an appeal to authority.

    It’s gonna be an uphill slog. Personally, I’m a civil libertarian, and I know a lot of the upsides of cloud storage (from the aforementioned boosters), and few of the downsides beyond the obvious.

    I cannot think of many of the downsides that have a solution, technical or otherwise–they are problems intrinsic to the concept of cloud computing itself, and particularly to the insane way in which it’s typically been conceptualized as a replacement for the OS paradigm and local storage.

    In fact the sole drawback that has any kind of a technical solution at all is in the latency: there will come a point where the difference between local and network data access will be reliably negligible enough to suffice for all but the most demanding applications. That’s an engineering problem, not a conceptual one.

    The other problems–the fact that your data is not physically under your control, the fact that you cannot rely on a given company or resource to always be there, the fact that a network outage or dead reception zone kills any access you have to your apps or data–these problems are an inseparable part of the very concepts that define cloud computing. And the greater the level of dependency you shift to the cloud rather than local storage, the greater these problems become.

    It has its uses as a staging point for collaboration and data mobility, but only when combined and synced with local storage for when the network is unavailable. Beyond that it simply a bad idea. I’m sure there are plenty of other potential uses I haven’t thought of, but replacing the OS and local storage are not among them, no matter what the pie-in-the-sky brigade would have you think.

  104. 104
    Platonicspoof says:

    @steve:

    anybody else having problems with balloon juice putting the ads on top of the content?

    That problem isn’t happening at the moment for me, but I’m using IE 8, so I’m guessing IE 6 is the first problem.
    It has happened to me before at this site, and the problem was a googleads link (which someone else identified). IF you can access Internet Options and you can add to Restricted Sites on a computer at your workplace, that might be a fix. It was for me here at home.
    Considering the amount of criticism (e.g., security) of IE 6 and 7 that I’ve seen, just incidentally, I can’t imagine the rationalization for using IE 6, especially at a business.

  105. 105
    mclaren says:

    @John Bird 2010:

    Honestly, if you’re going to fight the journey to the clouds, you’re arrayed against academia, librarians, public info officials, private companies, and Silicon Valley gurus of all types.

    @John Bird 2002:

    Honestly, if you’re going to fight the forthcoming Iraq invasion, you’re arrayed against academia, librarians, public info officials, private companies, and Silicon Valley gurus of all types.

  106. 106
    foobar says:

    @randiego: I live in a Nordic, low population density country and get unlimited 100/10 Mbps service (with transatlantic speeds to match) for 20 euros per month, or something like 25 dollars (?) per month. And it’s entirely unsubsidized by the government, if you would be asking about that. There are dozens of providers to choose from, but mine happens to be sufficiently reliable for the task. Many of my friends have already a gigabit connection at home. I feel pretty much left behind. After all, I used to have a true hundred megabit connection already 12 years ago on the campus.

    What is so hard for you Americans to admit that you’re so completely a backwater when it comes to any kind of technological development that’d benefit regular consumers? Is it the illusion you have about being some sort of a world leader just because you have U, S and A as initials of your country name?

    Admitting ones’ weaknesses is extremely useful for solving the problems. Hiding head in the sand, well, usually is quite the opposite.

  107. 107
    Fred says:

    I live in an area where my only option is satellite and frankly the limits imposed make it useless. I was hoping this would get me some service. Alas our politicians and bureaucrats have failed me again.

  108. 108
    cmholm says:

    @geemoney: as others have hinted, the main thing that seems to be holding back US bandwidth is the exploitation of monopoly rents. AT&T and Qwest ran up a lot of debt when they bought out the other regional bell companies, and their executives previous statements made it clear they intend to recoup those costs and then some. Those buyouts were contrary to the intent of Congress in breaking up AT&T, but the previous Administration decided putting it back together was all right with them.

    As for why we’d want or what we’d do with added bandwidth, “can all probably download pr0n fast enough at the moment”? Frankly, we won’t know until we get there. I was one of the first DSL customers in HI back in ’99, and most acquaintances didn’t see the point. Now, they don’t know how they did without it.

  109. 109

    Technological advances and infrastructure upgrades inherently come in leapfrog jumps. During just under 60 years of professional experience, I’ve been in numerous situations where my (technically advanced) organization or location was an early adopter or developer of some new capability, and I got to use it for quite a while before it spread to other places.

    But then some newer or better capability emerges, maybe from elsewhere; my community and I have a major investment in building and learning the older technology (of which we may have been the early developers); and it takes us a while to make the (expensive and disruptive) switch to the “newest of the new”. Meanwhile, those who took longer to get into that area at all can start with the truly latest latest.

    The US is not “behind” many other places; we’re just “out of phase with them” in the inherently leapfrog nature of technological advance.

  110. 110
    Bummer says:

    Isn’t not making people swear the FCC’s primary mission? Then why this?

  111. 111
    Jimmy says:

    I think the FCC plan is targeting people who would otherwise be without and for them 100 will be fine, but those of who demand faster will just be subsidizing it for them.

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  2. […] in Congress, Daily life, Obama administration, Technology at 12:51 pm by LeisureGuy mistermix at Balloon Juice: Some member of Daniel Inouye’s staff asks a good question about the FCC broadband plan: “The […]

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