said by G_Poobah":
The government subsidised UNIVERSAL phone service. Can you say that the internet is different? not really. Both were considered 'luxuries' when they started, but today you can't survive without a phone (except for some very rare obscure area's). In subsidizing phone service everywhere, the early adopters were forced to pay more to make up for the unprofitable customers. Do we want to do that again for broadband?
The problem is simply wires. It costs a LOT of money to run wires everywhere. Running fibre to obscure towns, obscure roads in those towns, and widely distributed houses on those roads would be a very very expensive proposition. But is it fair to them that they don't have it? I mean, the government gave the cable and phone companies HUGE subsidies to build out in the populated areas (i.e. right of way, etc). Doesn't that free subsidies give the companies a legal obligation to support EVERYONE then? I would argue yes, since the telco's and cableco's have gotten subsidized by the government, they have an obligation to run wire everywhere.
Here's a wild idea - you know that "Federal Universal Service fee", that most DSL subscribers get charged (cable is currently exempt, being just an "information service provider", not having anything to do with telephony)? Instead of the ILEC charging that (and not doing much with it) - why not allow for the possibility for the subscriber themselves to help assist in providing that "universal service", and in the process, obtain a credit that cancels out their having to pay that fee? What I'm suggesting is that - using Verizon DSL subscribers as an example here - customers should run their own WiFi "hotspots", on behalf of "universal service"-type benefits to their neighborhood and society at large.
Here's how it could work technically, in order to ensure that too much paying-subscriber bandwidth isn't used up, and that their own personal computers are protected: 1) first, rate-limit the (public) wireless connections in the router firmware, either in the DSL modem or the wireless router, and 2) allow the "public access" wireless connections, to use a secondary PPPoE session connection / secondary IP address, different than the customers, and from the POV of the customer's computers or the dynamic IP address that they recieve from Verizon as an authenticated paying customer, those wireless connection IPs would be just another random "outside" IP on the internet at large.
If Verizon were "nice" about this, they would even provision the DSL subscriber's lines for a small extra potential bit of bandwidth on their ATM network, such that only those (public) wireless users could use it, but the subscriber couldn't. So the customer still gets their 1.5Mbit or whatever, and if the line can support it, an extra 128-256Kbit for any potential passer-by wireless users.
Even *better* than that - I've been thinking recently about all of the possible uses for portable, WiFi-enabled "web pads" (and variants thereof). Verizon could sell WiFi enabled portable devices, that could be used to: 1) surf the web (say, a small 640x480 LCD / touchpad), or 2) place VOIP calls (kind of like a cell-phone, but WiFi-enabled), and 3) buyers of these devices, could use them in conjunction with public-access-enabled customer-run WiFi "hotspots"! (As well as potentially publically-run ones as well.)
This sort of joint private ownership of access infrastructure is easily possible, given the technology of today, and given appropriate safeguards, could be done in a way which does not technically nor legally "endanger" the private owners of this infrastructure.
It would be somewhat similar to those people that have their own power-generating equipment on-site, and in some cases, instead of drawing power from the "public" grid all of the time, sometimes they actually can contribute power back, and get paid a credit for doing so. I have no idea how common that currently is, but I've heard of that being the case in some places.
It would be conceptually similar to the telco installing a wire-line telephone to a private user, and also taking the opportunity to string a second phone line to the premises, and with the homeowner's permission (and proper credit), attaching a local-usage "mini cell tower" to the property as well. Shared joint ownership of infrastructure. It *could* work, should people be forward-thinking enough to accept it.
In fact, it's not a whole lot different than the current situations regarding publically-accessable payphones, and public postal-deposit boxes that you can place mail into. And better still, there is no "physical" issue with regards to security or access, with WiFi. As you as you have the device on and broadcasting a signal, that's all you need!