Infrastructure

Biden's Infrastructure Plan Would Redefine 'Broadband' To Justify Spending $100 Billion on Government-Run Internet

The Biden administration is manufacturing a market failure to justify spending $100 billion on municipal broadband and other government-run internet projects.

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As part of a $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, President Joe Biden is pushing Congress to spend $100 billion fixing a problem that mostly doesn't exist: widespread lack of access to broadband internet.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that there were about 14.5 million Americans, living in an estimated 4.3 million households, that lacked access to broadband internet at the end of 2019. That's a serious but narrow problem that's already being addressed by a combination of private and public efforts. New technologies like SpaceX's low-orbit satellites can beam broadband internet to homes even in far-flung rural places, and the FCC has already budgeted more than $9 billion over the next 10 years as part of what the agency says is the "biggest single step ever…toward closing the rural digital divide." The number of Americans without broadband access fell by 20 percent in 2019, according to an FCC report published in January, and it's likely that the total is significantly less today than at the end of 2019.

But Biden's infrastructure plan suggests a major change to what counts as "broadband" internet. As a result, as many as 64 million American households could suddenly appear to lack adequate online speed—even though nothing about their current services would change.

With a simple bureaucratic adjustment, the Biden administration could manufacture the appearance of a market failure where one plainly does not exist, opening the door for an expensive taxpayer-funded intervention to subsidize government-run internet boondoggles. Critics charge that Biden's plan will crowd out private investment in broadband infrastructure while steering money to parts of the country where residents already enjoy state-of-the-art connection speeds. Instead of targeting a small amount of funds toward the truly needy who lack access to fast internet, Biden could end up spending $100 billion only to make the digital divide larger than ever.

"It's not going to achieve the goal of bridging the digital divide in America," Deborah Collier, a vice president at Citizens Against Government Waste, a fiscally conservative nonprofit, tells Reason. "It's just going to throw more money at cities and localities that already have broadband."

***

To understand exactly why changing the definition of broadband matters, you have to first understand a little bit about how internet speeds are measured and what currently counts as broadband.

Since 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has defined a broadband connection as internet access with download speeds of at least 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of at least three megabits per second. In layman's terms, that's fast enough to stream a high-definition movie in the living room while three other people check Facebook, send email, or do some online shopping simultaneously.

A so-called "25/3" connection might not be fast enough for all households, but it is a standard that's meant to reflect the needs of most Americans. The higher download speeds relative to upload speeds are a reflection of what consumers demand—because the vast majority of internet usage involves downloading, largely due to the huge demand for streaming video. Even after a surge in upload demand during 2020—thanks to all those Zoom calls and everyone working from home—about 93 percent of all internet traffic involves downloading content, according to data from the Internet and Television Association (NCTA), an industry group.

The White House's fact sheet for Biden's infrastructure plan calls for "building 'future proof' broadband infrastructure." That term has a specific meaning in the broadband world.

"'Future proof' networks often means symmetric speeds," explains Jeffrey Westling, a technology and innovation policy fellow at the R Street Institute, a free market think tank. In other words, Biden isn't just calling for faster speeds, but equal speeds between uploads and downloads. Advocates for government-mandated "future proof" networks typically aim for a 100/100 standard—that is, 100 megabits per second in both uploads and downloads.

As a practical matter, those standards are just silly. A typical Zoom call uses about 1.5 megabits per second in upload bandwidth. With a 100/100 connection, "you could have ten kids pretending to do Zoom school but actually doing TikToks while you're in the other room pretending to work but actually watching Netflix, and still not run out of bandwidth," writes Scott Wallsten, president of the Technology Policy Institute.

Politically, however, defining broadband connections as "100/100" would mean two significant things.

First, it would radically change the number of Americans who currently have a "broadband" connection to bolster calls for government intervention in the marketplace. According to data from the Technology Policy Institute, there are approximately 4.3 million American households that do not currently have access to a 25/3 internet connection. But there are more than 64 million households—about 40 percent of the country—that don't currently have access to a 100/100 connection.

"If 100/100 Mbps or asymmetrical speed similar to this threshold was adopted as the minimum standard, more Americans living in urban areas that already have reliable broadband would become underserved," writes Will Yepez, a policy associate at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation.

The Biden administration wants to argue that the $100 billion broadband effort is the 21st century equivalent of the federal government's electrification efforts during the 1930s, which helped bring power to wide swaths of the country. "Broadband is the new electricity," reads the White House's fact sheet on the proposal. That comparison looks a lot better if the Biden administration can say there are 64 million households lacking sufficient internet connectivity—even though almost all of them already have access to broadband-level speed.

Secondly, this maneuver would allow for a bit of political favoritism by prioritizing fiber optic internet services over the alternatives that have sprouted up. There are lots of different services that can offer broadband internet at 25/3 speeds: cable connections, fixed wireless, and even new low-orbit satellite systems like the Starlink service recently launched by Space X. But there's really only one way to deliver reliable 100/100 speeds, and that's via fiber optic cable.

Of course, fiber internet is also one of the more costly and difficult types of internet service from an infrastructure perspective. It requires digging trenches, laying pipes, and physically connecting each and every household. It's a practical impossibility for rural parts of the country and tends to be a more expensive option elsewhere. That's a problem if you're in the business of providing internet service to people as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, but it's an opportunity if you're looking to spend lots of government money on a high-profile infrastructure plan.

"It's actually going to harm areas of the country that do not even have basic, minimum broadband service," says Collier. "The funding is going to be redirected away from those areas and put into areas of the country that already have basic or better broadband service right now—just to upgrade those networks to 100/100 speed."

Put another way: if there are suddenly 64 million American households without access to "good" internet under the Biden administration's new definition, then broadband providers will focus their upgrade efforts on areas with dense populations. That will likely crowd out efforts to reach households that still lack even 25/3 connections and leave far-flung rural areas behind, again.

"Companies would be more likely to invest in these now more profitable areas rather than focus on those who truly lack reliable access to high-speed internet," says Yepez.

The Biden administration could end up spending $100 billion to accomplish the proverbial bridging of the digital divide—and then discover that the divide has only gotten larger.

***

A critic might point out that using the 25/3 standard is no less arbitrary than the 100/100 standard, and in some ways that's correct. The FCC has changed its definition of what counts as "broadband" on three occasions already. The first standard, in place from 1996 through 2010, required at least 200 kilobits per second upload and download speeds. From 2010 through 2015, that was upped to 4 megabits per second for downloads and 1 megabit per second for uploads. It's been six years since the 25/3 standard was adopted, so maybe it's time for another change?

"Any new definition should be based on evidence and take into account the tradeoff between the expected costs of achieving those speeds versus the benefits of the increase," says Wallsten.

The costs of the 100/100 switch are apparent—crowding out investment in non-fiber broadband, a huge increase in government spending to speed up already fast internet in many places—but the benefits are murky at best.

Keep in mind that close to 60 percent of American households already have access to 100/100 speeds, if they choose to pay for them. Most don't. Those that do rarely use that much bandwidth.

The Wall Street Journal and researchers at Princeton University and the University of Chicago teamed up last year to study the internet use of 53 Journal staffers—people who likely use the internet more heavily than most Americans. The eight users in the study who had connections with download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second used, on average, 7.1 megabits per second of their capacity.

"People who paid for even faster speeds still streamed video at about the same speeds as everyone else," the Journal concluded. The benefits of 100 megabit connections are "marginal at best, according to the researchers," and the evidence suggests that most Americans who are paying for internet connections that fast are being "oversold."

And that's just on the download side of the equation—the direction that 93 percent of all household internet traffic travels. It's almost impossible to imagine a scenario where an ordinary American would use 100 megabits of upload capacity.

Of course, the right internet connection speed is going to vary from household to household and user to user. For some people, paying for 100/100 connections might make sense. But there seems to be little evidence to support the idea that 100/100 should be the FCC's standard for what counts as passable internet access.

If broadband access is indeed "the new electricity," then Biden's proposal looks less like hooking up a power line to every house and more like a mandate that taxpayers fund the construction of a hydroelectric dam in every backyard.

There is one final issue here. Having access to broadband is not the same as actually using it. If there is a fiber optic cable running past your house or if you live in an area covered by fixed wireless or low-orbit satellite internet, your household is counted among those that currently have access to 25/3 broadband. That's not the same as actually paying to use it—something that many Americans either can't afford or choose not to do.

If the Biden White House was interested in ensuring that more Americans could use broadband—as opposed to creating phantom justifications for spending huge sums of money on municipal broadband—one way to do it would be to subsidize the cost of internet access for low-income households. That's what some major broadband providers have been urging the White House to do in recent weeks, which both spares non-fiber broadband companies from being declared obsolete and expands their customer pool.

It's right to be skeptical anytime an industry says that the solution to a social problem is more subsidies for itself. Still, the broadband providers are at least asking the right question. Namely: How do we get more Americans connected to the existing broadband infrastructure that's already built and available for use?

The Biden administration, meanwhile, is trying to spend lots of money to solve a different problem—one that doesn't even really exist, at least not in a way that demands $100 billion in new federal spending—and already seems to be setting itself up for failure. The White House's fact sheet about the infrastructure plan says it "prioritizes support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, nonprofits, and co-operatives," because those providers have "less pressure to turn profits."

That seems like a clear indicator that municipal broadband operations will get to move to the front of the line when the Biden administration starts handing out piles of cash to solve the broadband connection problems that don't actually exist in most places. But municipal broadband has been a major boondoggle in many places where it has been tried—the Taxpayers Protection Alliance has a list of more than 200 taxpayer-funded internet projects that are deep in debt or have been abandoned. Even if municipal broadband didn't have an established track record of failure, it seems completely unnecessary for the federal government to prop up new competitors to existing broadband providers in places that already have fast internet service.

In some ways, this coming debate over the definition of broadband is likely to mirror the broader debate over what, exactly, should count as infrastructure. The Biden administration and its allies are pushing the idea that everything from health care programs to job training to child care is infrastructure—while only about half of Biden's $2.25 trillion spending bill is aimed at traditional infrastructure priorities like highways, bridges, rail, and pipelines.

Everything is infrastructure. Nothing is broadband.

The Biden administration should focus on the few remaining pockets of the country where high-speed internet isn't available, rather than futz with the FCC's definition of broadband in order to justify spending billions of dollars so residents of urban areas with already fast connections can stream 10 movies at the same time.

NEXT: Biden Brings Back Plan for Free Community College

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  2. ohmygawd! (D) policies are authoritarian and costly who knew?

  3. I have 100/100 broadband at home; I got in as an early tester for AT&T’s fiber service. It’s nice and all, but I don’t know if there’s any sort of actual noticeable improvement on the day-to-day sort of stuff.

    1. “any sort of actual noticeable improvement”

      Try Hughs Net [satellite internet]; trust me, you’ll change your tune [it sucks]

      1. I’ve had satellite internet before. Ping times and lag were terrible.

    2. That’s completely irrelevant. Never look at what the stated intention of the policy is supposed to accomplish. Consider the larger long-term picture and where the money goes.

      1] Another bill paid for by the government, redistribution of income, and another entitlement pushed by race-baiting. [Necessary to give POC a fighting chance and you’re a racist if you don’t like that.]

      2] Government now has something at stake and therefore unlike other attempts to intrude the government on the Internet cuz sumpin might happen, actually has a leg to stand on. Add Internet to housing, food, healthcare, education, commerce, energy, etc. It’s the same argument used by Chavez to take over the Venezuelan oil industry. Citizen equity and a promise of .12 per gallon for fuel.

      Instead of simple bold and noticeably radical move of nationalizing business, the government becomes a stakeholder and that stake gets larger and larger and regulations become intrusive to the point where “ownership” becomes irrelevant.

  4. So based on this new definition my gigabit service is not considered “broadband” because its only 40mbit up.

    So basically all the urban broadband companies will take the money, and just change the limits of their top tier plans to 100mbit upstream and claim they “improved the infrastructure” when really all they did was change a number in a piece of software, while all the underserved rural areas remain underserved

    1. If you believe that much will change. For those of us paying for service, who gets the actual service you bought? So long as all speeds are theoretical, even I know how to double your “service” and take a political win for doing so. Your actual individual experience not withstanding.

    2. Thats not really how it works.
      Dont mistake me as a supporter of goverment owned broadband networks, cause Im definitely not, but if they could just change a setting and charge you more, they would. There are probably technical limitations to their network. They dont have to even provide the advertised speeds, so if they are advertising 40, that is probably the absolute best they could possibly pull off.
      If your gigabit broadband only has 40 up, thats terrible.

  5. I live in a small town (400 people) in rural Idaho and my internet is just fine thank you.
    It’s ironic that the Democrats want to beef up access at the same time they’re trying to limit conservative speech on line.

    1. Got to get the propaganda to everyone

      1. Now that Big Tech has shown everyone how easy it is to censor speech and how half the country is okay with that, how hard is it to imagine that the service providers will do the same, particularly when they could get and lose lucrative government contracts as service providers? But it’s okay because they are private businesses. Anything that flows over their channels is subject to “correction”, supervised by the Ministry of Truth.

  6. Big Tech will be joined by Bigger & Incompetent Tech

  7. And this broadband will ban non-leftists and Reason won’t care despite this actually being the fucking government this time.

  8. Market failure is whatever the government says it is.

    1. As is “infrastructure”

  9. “…there were about 14.5 million Americans, living in an estimated 4.3 million households, that lacked access to broadband internet at the end of 2019. That’s a serious but narrow problem…”

    No, that’s a trivial and narrow problem. An example of a serious problem would be the government using mass hysteria as an excuse to destroy civilization.

    1. And a problem that will be completely solved by the introduction of Starlink and any other competing satellite constellations that actually make it online.

      Starlink is currently $500 upfront for equipment plus $100 a month for what is advertised as eventually being 100 MB service. So once they are fully deployed, anyone not in a position where they can get cable or fiber internet because of physical limitations of their location will be all set. No need to spend a trillion dollars on that. Heck, we could buy the internet service for 5 million households outright for less than they are talking about.

      1. You could, but I don’t think you’re factoring in billions going to campaign fund aggregators like the former Solyndra and the original designers of the original but failed Obamacare website who just happened to be Michelle Obama’s long time friend. Cronies must crony.

  10. Is it still the same websites and other crap? Doe it have a Libertarian site?

    1. There are no true libertarian sites.

      It is known.

  11. The misinformation superhighway

    1. And porn; don’t forget the real reason for having the internet

      1. Once upon a time, “high-speed” internet meant you could download pictures of naked ladies in less than a minute, now it means you can watch movies of naked ladies. Virtual Reality Interactive porn is going to take a shitload more bandwidth.

        1. Or, you could just get a girlfriend.

          1. Jerryskids and Jerrysalimony suggests VR is a better financial choice.

            1. While you may have a monthly internet bill there, VR substitutes are rarely demanding at Valentines’ Day and Christmas and they never have “something to tell you” or ask you if you think her sister is pretty.

              1. The proper response to that question is, “Kind of and her pussy is tighter than yours. It is time for anal or I’m leaving you for her.”

          2. My first wife convinced me that often isn’t the cost saving move.

  12. Biden is doing exactly what we Koch / Reason libertarians hoped for when we overwhelmingly endorsed him — making billionaires even richer. He could spend $100 trillion on government-run Internet, and I’d be happy as long as our benefactor Charles Koch is rapidly accumulating even more wealth.

    #InDefenseOfBillionaires

  13. https://twitter.com/RyanLEllis/status/1387428227627499527?s=19

    President @JoeBiden is out this morning with a monster list of tax increases. Here they are in a thread for your convenience. 1/

    The top personal income tax rate is raised from 37 percent to 39.6 percent. This affects all taxable income north of about $550,000 for singles and about $650,000 for married couples. /2

    The IRS would get an annual report on the money deposited and withdrawn from every bank account in America. The IRS would literally be snooping on all your banking activity all the time. /3

    The top individual tax rate on long term capital gains and dividends would increase from 23.4 percent today to 43.4 percent, a new record high. Bye, bye stock market gains in your 401(k) and IRA. /4

    The Biden plan creates a second death tax on top of the existing one. Assets held at death would be taxed on their built-in capital gains at 43.4 percent. There would be a $1 million-ish exemption, but this new death tax kicks in much earlier. /5

    It’s important to note that this new Biden Death Tax is ON TOP OF the existing death tax. Once the Biden Death Tax is paid, the regular old Death Tax also has to be paid. The taxes cascade to a federal total of 66 percent, before states get their cut. /6

    This new Biden Death Tax will mean that millions more families will have to pay a death tax, something that decades of tax relief from both parties have exempted them from. It will surely affect families making less than $400,000 per year. /7

    The new 43.4 percent capital gains tax also means that “carried interest” gains are taxed at this level. But the plan goes further by ripping these out of partnership law entirely. This could have unintended consequences for “sweat equity” ventures. /8

    Small landlords, manufacturers, and family farmers will be hit by a tax increase that limits tax deferred rollovers of rental and business real estate to $500,000 per property. That’s yet another tax on the middle class. /9

    Finally, the Biden plan imposes a new “seniors and small businesses” 3.8 percent surtax on Social Security payments, 401(k)s and pensions, IRA distributions, and small business S-corp and partnership profits for those making more than $400k per year. /Fin

    1. The top individual tax rate on long term capital gains and dividends would increase from 23.4 percent today to 43.4 percent, a new record high. Bye, bye stock market gains in your 401(k) and IRA. /4

      It’s easy to forget which is the stupid party and which is the evil party, but in this case the Democrats are both in one.

      The Dumbest Tax Increase
      Biden’s capital-gains rate of 43.4% would reduce federal revenue

      The last resort of progressives is that raising the capital-gains tax will raise revenue. They are wrong on that too. As former Federal Reserve Governor Larry Lindsey explains nearby, a 43.4% federal rate will cost the government money. The Congressional Budget Office says the revenue-maximizing rate for capital gains is about 28%. Other economists say it’s lower, and many think the ideal rate is zero. No one outside the fever swamps thinks it is more than 40%, much less the 55% or more that would apply in high-tax states if the Biden proposal becomes law.

      The history of capital gains taxations bears this out. Selling an asset is usually a discretionary decision, so investors can decide when to realize a gain or loss. As rates rise, Americans tend to hold on to their assets longer, reducing realizations. CBO has found that for each 1% increase in the capital-gains rate, there is a 1.2% reduction in realizations. Raise the tax as much as Mr. Biden wants, and realizations will fall significantly. The higher rate will cost the government revenue.

      1. It’s ok. If revenue falls, they can just raise taxes.

      2. If it is a rental, the CDC will use its emergency pandemic powers to transfer it to the tenants. The now former owner will still be on the hook for the taxes though.

  14. As a practical matter, those standards are just silly. A typical Zoom call uses about 1.5 megabits per second in upload bandwidth. With a 100/100 connection, “you could have ten kids pretending to do Zoom school but actually doing TikToks while you’re in the other room pretending to work but actually watching Netflix, and still not run out of bandwidth,” writes Scott Wallsten, president of the Technology Policy Institute.

    I’m not sure of Wallsten’s overall stance or other stances, but I like the cut of his jib.

  15. The real use for symmetrical high speed internet connections is peer-to-peer file sharing.

    So apparently, the Biden administration wants everyone to be able to share pirated movies.

    1. The real reason for symmetrical high speed internet connections is Virtual Reality porn.

      1. Real-time porn across state lines is virtually sex trafficking.

        1. That is virtually funny.

          1. It would be interesting if policing were done more virtually. GPS and cellular metadata indicates you left your children at home unattended. No Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok for 6 mos.!

  16. “It’s actually going to harm areas of the country that do not even have basic, minimum broadband service,” says Collier. “The funding is going to be redirected away from those areas and put into areas of the country that already have basic or better broadband service right now—just to upgrade those networks to 100/100 speed.”

    A bait and switch? From this administration? Inconceivable!

    An end result of dumping money into urban/suburban areas is exactly what you would expect if you were to cynically boil all policy down on a “which interest group benefits?” mentality, which has been the Democratic Party’s stock-in-trade since its founding.

  17. Damn yeah it’s almost like we had a free market approach at the FCC and then suddenly we didn’t. something happened…

  18. Twenty-billion will be funded to a new initiative run by H. (Hunter) Biden, with instructions to just “Do good with this money.” “Thanks, Dad,” Hunter was quoted as saying.

    1. I’m sure it will go to an outreach program to ‘help’ young teenage girls.

      It will also go for crack.

    2. Couldn’t actually be more funny than reality, with him reportedly agreeing to teach a college class on fake news.

  19. i do not support the gov controlling the internet like biden wants, but i would like a better broadband connection. where i live comcast is king and you really have no choice. i can get a great service up to 1gb download speeds but the upload speeds are pathetic. i have 400mbs down and 25mbs up and i have no choice in the matter. i cannot increase my upload speeds even if i want to pay more money — the option just does not exist. i agree that true broadband is, by definition, symmetrical and i’d love the ability to buy a symmetrical service. i just don’t want the gov involved.

    1. The reason you can’t get a better connection and have limited suppliers IS the government. They control competition and limit the geographical areas of operation. But hey…. more government will fix what the government has already broken. Kinda like the reason all that government spending didn’t do the job is because we just didn’t do enough of it.

  20. Elect fascists, get fascism.
    Whodathunkit?

  21. So if the government runs the internet does that mean you can’t be banned or censored for wrong think?

  22. Easy solution for those rural folks who can’t survive without broadband……Move To The Freakin’ City!!!

  23. $100 billion to bring municipal broadband to the underserved? That sounds like a tailormade job for the U. S. Postal Srevice. I’m sure they can spend that efficiently.

  24. $100 billion? Well if it keeps Oliver and Lisa Douglas from having to climb that pole to get dial up, it’s a humanitarian bargain.

  25. The first step is to abolish use of the terms bandwidth and broadband in reference to internet speeds. Speed is measured in units of Hz. It’s a confusion that bandwidth is too. But they refer to totally different things. Bandwidth refers to the range of frequencies that an amplifier or transmission line effectively amplifies or transmits. In a stereo receiver, the audio bandwidth is usually 20kHz, meaning that it effectively amplifies frequencies between 20Hz and 20kHz, considered the range of human hearing.

    Fiber-optic amplifiers amplify and the cables transmit only a very narrow range of electromagnetic (radio or light) frequencies and so their transmissions are in no way “broadband,” but extremely narrow-band and high-frequency or high-speed. Thus the confusion in the usual discussions of high-speed internet of 100MHz.

    1. So what term should we use when we say we want to transfer lots of bits really fast?

    2. They use bandwidth, because speed isnt what is being measured. Contrary to what the internet told you in 2008, data transmission is more like water running through pipes, than a car going down the road. Data is flowing at the same speed all of the time (depending on medium). Throughput/bandwidth comes down to how much data can you move at that speed at the same time.

      BTB, bandwidth is the width of a band of frequencies that are used for the same general purpose. For example, the bandwidth of the FM band of frequencies 87.5-108MHz, is 20.5MHz. Not many people use the term that way. Bandwidth is also used to describe the amount of data that can be carried in a certain designated band.

      Signal carried on copper lines calls it that for the same reason. Fiber can handle much higher frequencies (cycles(bits)) than copper in addition to the cycles physically moving faster through the medium. The band isnt broad in the original sense of the word, but the throughput is similar to that of what were literally broad bands in days of yore (T lines).

      Bandwidth is more of a layman term, like cloud. CS/IT people call it throughput.

  26. Death tax on the rich to fund this? We can’t wait that long. Impose a wealth tax now, make it retroactive to 2017, and blame it on Trump.

    1. You want to see “the rich” virtue signalers who are now leaning towards a socialist economy find religion fast? Tell Gates, Soros, Bezos, Zuck, and the sports and entertainment elite et al that they are being paired down to a $300K house, a 5 year old Buick, and a Social Security income. They will find their missing capitalist roots before you can say “the truth hurts”.

  27. Universal broadband. I thought the holy grail of our overlords was Universal Interstate Bullet Trains.

      1. That episode was on last weekend. Oh, how I miss Phil Hartman.

    1. “…I thought the holy grail of our overlords was Universal Interstate Bullet Trains.”

      Which stop at every corner, still average 300MPH, don’t cost anything, and have no effect on the environment!
      I’m droolin’ Joe and I approve this message.

  28. “But there’s really only one way to deliver reliable 100/100 speeds, and that’s via fiber optic cable.”

    Starlink Download Speeds to Double to 300Mbps This Year, Musk Says

    Their intermediate goal is 1,000Mbps, and their long term goal is 10,000Mbps.

    I mean, sheesh, it’s like you don’t actually follow this stuff.

    I suspect the real concern here is that the NSA won’t have access to Starlink’s backbone, and persuading Musk to install Amazon/FB/Twitter style realtime censorship might be tough.

    1. Does anyone think Biden even knows what any of that stuff means, or is? Seriously. I’ll bet he’s still stuck on programming a VCR.

      1. VCR?! Try phonograph.

        1. Come on man! He’s still using carrier pigeons.

      2. I didn’t say WHO had the real concern. I pretty much figure that Biden is a puppet at this point, though a puppet that can get stubborn if he feels like it.

        I’m sure the gun control stuff is the real Biden shining through, he’s been a big time gun controller going back a long ways. The stuff that’s outside his usual obsessions is probably just being handed to him.

  29. This article is wrong. I own a cloud based Telehealth software business. Every day, we deal with hundreds of people who can’t utilize basic internet services because it’s not profitable for ISPs to provide adequate service to their home.

    The author is wrong about a 25 up / 3 down being enough. That’s only one metric. There are a LOT of other factors making basic internet services unusable (latency, jitter, interference, etc).

    So tired of ignorant Reason authors overlaying political libertarian ideals of top of topics they know nothing about. I love libertarian ideals, but this publication seems to be determined to make them look ignorant.

    1. This article doesn’t even overlay “libertarian principles,” it just assembles a straw man and fails to even make a good case against that. (25/3 is plenty! zoom only uses 1.5 up! Um… what if people have two kids? What is 1.5*3?)

      The author is trying to argue against spending money, which I understand, but pretending problems don’t exist to avoid spending money on them is really silly. I’d much rather see an alternate perspective on how to address the issue than an alternate reality where we pretend problems don’t exist.

      1. “…The author is trying to argue against spending money, which I understand,..”

        No, slaver, he’s arguing that if YOU want the service, YOU pay for it.

        1. To be fair, he doesn’t understand that either.

          1. That is probably true. ‘The liberal wing of libertarianism’: I want it so I get it ’cause!

    2. Let’s start by pointing out that you are full of shit, OK? Now:

      “This article is wrong. I own a cloud based Telehealth software business. Every day, we deal with hundreds of people who can’t utilize basic internet services because it’s not profitable for ISPs to provide adequate service to their home.”
      Tell them that no one guaranteed such when they moved there, such as no one guarantees state-of-the-art brain surgery in Snake’s Naval, ID. Don’t like it? Move.

      “The author is wrong about a 25 up / 3 down being enough. That’s only one metric. There are a LOT of other factors making basic internet services unusable (latency, jitter, interference, etc).”
      See above, slaver.

      “So tired of ignorant Reason authors overlaying political libertarian ideals of top of topics they know nothing about. I love libertarian ideals, but this publication seems to be determined to make them look ignorant.”
      So tired of asshole lefties claiming to favor libertarianism until their fave activity faces reality, and then they demand the rest of us pay for it.
      Fuck off and die, slaver.

      1. “Don’t like it? Move.”
        Ooops:
        “Or pay what it costs for the service you prefer.”

      2. “This article is wrong. I own a cloud based Telehealth software business. Every day, we deal with hundreds of people who can’t utilize basic internet services because it’s not profitable for ISPs to provide adequate service to their home.”
        Let’s point out yet further right here: You run a company and many of the people you sell to can’t get your service and, rather than YOU paying to make sure they can use your service, you’d prefer *I* pay to make sure that your idiotic business model be kept from bankruptcy?
        How can I contribute to the failure of your supposed “business”? You deserve nothing less than that.

  30. I’m not seeing a citation showing that “Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Would Redefine ‘Broadband'” or a a proposal for a “Government-run Internet” service.

    I see a proposal from 4 senators (none of whom are named Biden and none of whom are president) that the goal for new deployment should be 100/100 where geography, topology, or cost doesn’t make that unreasonable.

    Also, I’ve had 25/3 service before. If those were minimum speeds it would be ok provided you didn’t have more than one person in a videoconference at a time, but those are max speeds, not typical.

    Reason seems to be increasingly sliding towards “boo other team” articles rather than rational argument based on libertarian principles.

    And this is a prime candidate for libertarian solutions. The central problem is lack of free market competition. We should be looking at how to remove barriers to competition rather than making up nonsense that isn’t actually being proposed.

    1. “…I see a proposal from 4 senators (none of whom are named Biden and none of whom are president) that the goal for new deployment should be 100/100 where geography, topology, or cost doesn’t make that unreasonable…”

      If it wasn’t “unreasonable”, there’d be a company ready to sell it.

  31. They want everyone on 100/100 connections so the FBI and NSA can monitor everyone’s web cams without anyone noticing.

    /Paranoid Conspiracy Theory

    1. The webcam feed is coming from INSIDE NSA headquarters!

  32. I see the lefty shits “question-marks” and “It’s Me” can’t seem to respond to the comments. And the calls on the obvious bullshit.
    Having some experience with lefty shits who somehow hope that their ‘business ventures’ will be supported by libertarians, it’s no great surprise that both of these lefty shits hoped that their bullshit would fly under the radar; lefty shits are not real bright.

  33. This won’t solve anything, but let’s not act like our internet doesn’t suck for a lot of people.

    My only real option is using my phones mobile hotspot, at a sweet 500 kb/s. It’s still better than my previous one, Hughesnet, which had a 50 gig cap a month

    1. Thank you. Biden’s money drop won’t work, but the “market” in the US for wireline broadband isn’t working all that great either.

      For some reason in my area, CenturyLink hasn’t been interested in running much fiber during the past decade. They have mostly run only tiny pockets of aerial lines. Which is a shame, because their fiber service is great, cheap, and has no data caps.

      The primary wireline competitor, Cox, will match CenturyLink’s prices, but only if the residence is passed by both providers. Everyone that only has Cox as the sole wireline broadband provider will pay 50-70% more, and even more than that if they want the data cap lifted. Subscribers just feet apart will pay radically different prices if one has access to CenturyLink’s fiber but the other doesn’t.

      Starlink’s waiting here stretches into late 2022. T-Mobile’s home internet offering has wildly varying speeds during the course of any given day. Maybe there is some hope for the future, but I thought that 10 years ago but nothing much has changed. Many densely populated areas here can pay Cox’s high prices for middling DOCSIS service, or get 6 Mbps DSL from CenturyLink. Yes, a lucky small percentage can get cheap gigabit fiber from CenturyLink.

      The market as it exists now (and during the past decade) can’t provide modern fiber service to many people that are willing to pay for it. Whatever the market is doing, it isn’t providing a quick solution.

      1. Yeah, there IS something weird going on with broadband.

        Way back when, I lived out in the country, and had 50kbs internet through an antenna on a tall mast on my roof, with an explicitly arbitrary data cap. (The cap wasn’t a specified number of MB, it was, “If we suspect you’re subletting your connection.”) It sucked, just less than dial up.

        Well, I was renting a spare room to a friend who was a bit of a techie, so he bought a Hughesnet dish and receiver off Ebay, and we went out and set it up. Within an hour we were getting pings off their satellite. It proved impossible to get Hughesnet to sell us the service! They just weren’t capable of dealing with a potential customer that had done all the work already, and just wanted to throw money their way to get a password.

        Today I’ve got a friend who still lives out in the boonies, right next to a new subdivision without broadband. The cable for it passes within a few hundred feet of his house. He contacts the cable company, says, “Extend that cable this way, and you’ll have a hundred new customers immediately!”

        Their response was, “Sure, if you give us $50K to do the work.”

        These companies are big and bureaucratic and almost completely unresponsive. SpaceX isn’t, my friend’s dish is due to show up in a month. And he’s going to pay for it by extending his wifi to some neighbors, because SpaceX doesn’t CARE what he’s doing with the data.

  34. Libertarian Quandary: sometimes “government intervention” can improve healthy competition, improve service and expand choices for consumer and lower prices against private monopolies/cartels.

    For example: some localities have public trash service to compete with private companies offering consumers more choices. The “public option” in the Affordable Care Act (aka: Obamacare) gives consumers more choices which creates healthy competition against private cartels inflating healthcare prices.

    In some rural areas, there is not sufficient market share for any cable company to offer service without government intervention. When local governments offer subsidies to private companies, it results in a monopoly or cartel market, which creates bad service for consumers. Years ago, the switch from analog to digital television especially harmed rural and mountain communities. These rural Americans once could receive analog TV but now are forced to buy cable to watch TV or buy a special digital antenna.

    Government can play a role to support healthy competition for consumers, offering more choices which creates better service and better products. Issues like property rights, women’s reproductive rights, equal marriage rights and freedom of (and from) religion are all libertarian values that both parties support.

  35. ” sometimes “government intervention” can improve healthy competition, improve service and expand choices for consumer and lower prices against private monopolies/cartels.”

    Private monopolies/cartels that only exist because of prior government interference in the market.

    These are government failures not market failures.

    Your local cable company is a monopoly because your local government decided that there should only be one cable company and that they should get to pick who it is.

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