How do you decide that DSL isn't a valid competitor?!?! You don't get to dictate what is and isn't "broadband" any more than I do. It's just as valid as cable is. My dad lives upstate and gets 3mb...from cable! So am I to tell him that he's not getting broadband?
Anyone who has access to a wireless cell provider that offers 3G/EVDO/4G/Wimax has broadband options. I see Verizon's map on commercials all the time. Sure looks like they have a lot of coverage there.
Weren't you the same person essentially touting the iPad for the user experience because it satisfies the needs of many who simply browse and use email? Well, the iPad isn't going to be tethered to a landline cable. So are all these users going to suffer because they can't get broadband? Or is 3G broadband by your definition? This goes directly to your "can't have it both ways" argument.
May I remind you what you said? You said "<The iPad> is the perfect computer for the casual home user who just wants to consume media and surf the web and do light email and look at pictures... which is a hell of a lot of users out there."
So who are the masses that "need" this extra speed that the invalid DSL technology or even wireless can't support?
I'll say it again: There ARE alternatives to cable already in the marketplace. Because one technology can offer more bandwidth than another somehow invalidates the smaller pipe? By the way, I'm sure you know that by and large, DSL has a dedicated pipe to the consumer, whereas cable is frequently on shared nodes, meaning if my neighbor is downloading all his pirated movies/games, my cable speed most likely suffers. So, there are certainly pros and cons of both. But DSL invalid?
Now, onto the government issue. What people are failing to see right off the bat is that this whole exercise points out what we can expect if the FCC gets involved. They were slapped down because they don't have the <current> statutory authority to exercise over Comcast or any ISP. In other words, it was a blatant POWER GRAB. And this is exactly what happens once the barn door is opened. Lots of people love the idea of everyone playing fair and nice, etc., and that somehow regulation will ensure that. But it absolutely never stops there. What's to prevent the FCC from imposing content regulations on the American net? They do it with broadcasters now, so there's ample precedent.
All that said, Congress can easily bestow the power upon the FCC to do just what it wants to do. It can pass legislation to give the FCC the authority it wants now. If you read the court ruling (I did...what a slog!) they in no way said the FCC couldn't at some point be granted the authority to do what they've tried to do. That's for Congress to decide, however.
My views on government isn't part of some "mantra" passed down from any generation. It's my experience in life that dictates it, and it's just as valid as your view, thank you. So, can we refrain from characterizing it that way? You're entitled to your viewpoint about government's pros and cons. I'll expect that my own views will be respected on that score. Trying to marginalize them because you hold a particular ideology doesn't cut it.
Here's a question I haven't heard answered well yet: If the major ISP's (Comcast/TW/Verizon, etc.) are forced to open their networks to any/all who want to provide services on them at some pre-determined rates, what, exactly, is the incentive for Verizon to keep laying fiber, or for Comcast to keep upgrading its infrastructure? Who's going to foot the investment bill? Why would they? I'm guessing the only answer is that the government would have to fund it somehow, and we all know where that money comes from.
As for your comment about AT&T making back its investment, how about this from Verizon: (NYTimes article) "Everyone understood that the copper wires of the phone system were being left behind by the faster networks of the cable industry. But why spend so much money on new wires when cellphones are becoming ubiquitous and profitable? Verizon rejected cheaper alternatives and decided to build the fiber system at an estimated cost of about $4,000 for every customer." $4K for each customer. That's a pretty big nut to swallow, but hey, let them eat that cost and let anyone and everyone use their fiber at cheap rates! That will surely give them the incentive to keep wiring...
And lastly, I would bet you that I'm older than you are. I know the telecom history. The problem is that cable companies are not legally known as "common carriers". If that's to change, Congress needs to do it.