Chaining the Future


Traditional phone lines based on miles of copper wires are expensive, especially in rural areas, and becoming obsolete. What's a regulator to do? Answer: Tax internet-based voice chat to subsidize the outdated system! Declan McCullagh comments:

It's not clear why programmers like Silva and companies offering commercial voice software must subsidize rural telephone companies. By that logic, Congress should have forced Henry Ford to pay for horse troughs. It should have also extorted cash from laser printer manufacturers on behalf of the dying manual-typewriter industry.

NEXT: Trainwreck Spotting

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  1. Current natural gas regulation (at least in my state) is still pretty dumb. The utilities can only buy every two weeks (every other Thursday, I believe). As a result, the wholesale price of natural gas spikes every two weeks. Bastards.

  2. ol,

    Its still better than what was created backed in the 1930s. Hell, the “energy crisis” was in part created by that old regulatory system!!!

  3. My understanding is that in the third world a lot of people who never had phones before are skipping technological generations and using wireless because installing antennas here and there is cheaper than running copper wire to every house. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong about this.

    Maybe rural politicians should try being as innovative as the third world instead of insisting on subsidies for outdated technology. Or at least request that the subsidies go to a more modern system.

    I guess that would make too much sense.

    Oh, and once again we see that rural areas can suck at the public teat just as much as urban areas.

  4. Yes, its true that wireless is growing rapidly in up and coming third world countries ( those about to be considered second world) but they do not have the same POTS (plain old telephone service) standards. Wireless can be notoriously unreliable, unless it is made up of small clusters of redudnant systems (i.e. very expensive equipment). So at 1 million dollars a mile because of its capacity, laying fiber can be worth the investment. Most truly rural areas have some kind of microwave link for intra-LATA calling. given that density of customers versus the geographical area that must be covered this makes sense. You won’t realize the QOS (quality of service) your local phone service offers until you switch to somebody like voice service from your cable company or try to make a long distance call from Botswana. So once again instead of trying to actually enter into to fair competition the phone companies used there immense power in DC to stifle it

  5. It would be one thing if they were using the tax money in order to update the old rural lines (though clearly a lot of people would oppose that as well) … but this another issue entirely. Indeed, this is one of the dumbest regulations I’ve ever seen (if what the blurb states is true), almost as dumb as natural gas regulation before the 1980s.

  6. “Oh, and once again we see that rural areas can suck at the public teat just as much as urban areas.”

    I would say even more so, with their fucking farm subsidies, bailouts, and buyouts.

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