- ISP announces 86% slowdown "in line with others": Altice wins the race to the bottom.
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ISP announces 86% slowdown "in line with others" (permalink)
The surging anti-monopoly movement has been greeted with skepticism from the left, some of whom suspect the whole thing is merely fetishizing competition for its own sake, irrespective of whether competing businesses produce value for their workers, communities and customers.
There's certainly an element of the economic world that sees competition and market forces as a cure-all, jumping through farcical hoops to push pro-competitive policies to the exclusion of safety, quality and labor regulation.
But sometimes, competition really does solve problems – and even more often, a lack of competition creates problems.
That's definitely the case for broadband, a "natural monopoly" that has been left to the private sector, who have colluded to avoid competition, allowing them to underinvest in capital expenditure and overcharge for sub-par service.
That's why America, the birthplace of the internet, has some of the slowest, most expensive broadband in the rich world, which was bad enough before the lockdown turned broadband into a lifeline for education, health, employment, family life, politics and civics.
Now, as the lockdowns lift across the US, there's credible proposals for public broadband infrastructure. In many places, public broadband will be the only service available, thanks to monopolists' neglect of rural areas and poor urban neighborhoods.
In other places, publicly provided broadband will compete with monopolists' offerings, forcing lazy, incompetent companies to up their game – both in hiring technicians and in providing good, fairly priced service:
Man, does America need this. To see just how cursed American broadband is, look no further than Altice USA, America's fourth-largest cable operator. Altice just notified customers that it is slashing its upload speeds by 86%, effective next month.
Altice insists that there is no operational reason for this: there is no upload congestion on its network, no problems created by allowing its customers to participate actively in digital life rather than a passive mouse-potato "consumer."
(Upload speeds determine whether you can be a Twitch streamer, participate in videoconferences, or produce and upload ambitious multimedia materials like videos; download speeds determine how fast other people and big corporations can shovel their ideas into your eyeballs)
So why is Altice slashing upload speeds? To be "in line with other ISPs." In other words, "The rest of the industry is fucking awful, so why should we be any better?"
This is jaw-droppingly perverse logic – and a neat parable about the problems of market-based service provision without competition. It's not always the case that competition sends corporations on a race to the top – but for-profit monopolies always race to the bottom.
As "Cowboy Economist" John T Harvey likes to say, competitive markets can be a tool to produce good outcomes, where they fit. The problem with neoliberal ideologues isn't that they think markets are sometimes good – it's that they think non-market systems are always bad.
An economist who thinks that any problem that can't be solved with markets should remain unsolved is as weird as a carpenter who declares that only screw-fasteners are righteous and that nailing materials together is immoral and should be prohibited.
Public broadband provision is a no-brainer, just like electrification and interstates – essential public goods that required large-scale, muscular government intervention to weld the nation together and propel it into the future.
The experiment of creating private broadband monopolies has been tried, and it failed. America is full of broadband deserts.
Even if you're lucky enough to get broadband, chances are it will be run by a perverse monopolist like Altice, who cuts service because they don't want you to get used to nice things.
This day in history (permalink)
#10yrsago Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice alleged to have choked liberal colleague https://web.archive.org/web/20110701214250/http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/06/wis_justice_ann_walsh_bradley_justice_prosser_put.php?ref=fpblg
#10yrsago RIP: editor and anthologist Martin Greenberg https://www.tor.com/2011/06/27/editor-and-anthologist-martin-h-greenberg-1941-2011/
#5yrsago Supreme Court strikes down Texas abortion law https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/supreme-court-strikes-down-strict-abortion-law-n583001
#5yrsago Snowden publicly condemns Russia’s proposed surveillance law https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/26/russia-passes-big-brother-anti-terror-laws
#5yrsago Shrill: Lindy West’s amazing, laugh-aloud memoir about fatness, abortion, trolls and rape-jokes https://memex.craphound.com/2016/06/27/shrill-lindy-wests-amazing-laugh-aloud-memoir-about-fatness-abortion-trolls-and-rape-jokes/
#1yrago Snowden on tech's Oppenheimers https://pluralistic.net/2020/06/27/belated-oppenheimers/#oppenheimers
Today's top sources: Slashdot (https://slashdot.org/).
- Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. Wednesday's progress: 251 words (7056 words total).
A Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. PLANNING
A nonfiction book about excessive buyer-power in the arts, co-written with Rebecca Giblin, "The Shakedown." FINAL EDITS
A post-GND utopian novel, "The Lost Cause." FINISHED
A cyberpunk noir thriller novel, "Red Team Blues." FINISHED
Currently reading: Analogia by George Dyson.
Latest podcast: Inside The Clock Tower https://craphound.com/news/2021/06/21/inside-the-clock-tower/
- Launch for Neil Sharpson's When the Sparrow Falls (Mysterious Galaxy), https://www.mystgalaxy.com/sharpson71021
- Big Tech Fix, Feet to the Fire podcast:
The ACCESS Act, Consumer Reports:
- "Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The Washington Post called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html
"How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59 (print edition: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism/9781736205907) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)
"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html
"Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1562/_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer.html.
- The Shakedown, with Rebecca Giblin, nonfiction/business/politics, Beacon Press 2022
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