Saturday, August 20, 2016

The false analogy of comparing analog telephone service to Internet

Clinton pushing broadband growth as big part of $275 billion infrastructure plan - Brent Skorup, who studies broadband issues for the Mercatus Center in Fairfax, Virginia, told Watchdog the goal of 100 percent broadband usage is unrealistic because some people — largely skewing older — have no interest in internet access.
“It’s been 100 years and there’s still not 100 percent penetration of the phone market,” he noted.

This furthers the falsehood propagated by the incumbent legacy telephone and cable companies that Internet protocol-based telecommunications is solely about getting a "broadband" connection to a desktop or laptop computer. If people don't use a computer much, the so-called "digital adoption" logic goes, then they don't need "broadband" and can get along fine with 1990s-era dialup or first generation ADSL. Ergo, they certainly don't require a fiber to the premise (FTTP) connection and the current infrastructure will suit them fine for the foreseeable.

This is nothing more than a concocted justification for not modernizing telecommunications infrastructure from the metallic cable put in place decades ago to carry phone calls and cable TV signals to FTTP. The telephone was the first form of telecommunications to serve people in their homes, businesses and institutions. It broke new ground and had longer path toward universal acceptance and daily use.

Nowadays, telecommunications technology is widely adopted and used by nearly every address. IP is a multimedia platform that supports not only data but also voice and video. IP over FTTP is an evolutionary shift and not a fundamentally revolutionary development as was the telephone. The analogy fails.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tennessee's telecom infrastructure gaps not just a Tennessee problem. It's a national problem.

EPB Says Those Without Broadband Should Make Their Voices Heard - “Ultimately, Tennessee’s broadband gap is a problem for Tennesseans, and we need a Tennessee solution,” said David Wade, president of EPB. "We will continue to work with the growing number of state legislators and grassroots citizens interested in removing the barriers that prevent EPB and other municipal providers from serving our neighbors in surrounding areas who have little or no access to broadband.
I respectfully dissent. America's telecommunications infrastructure deficiencies manifest in every state, not just Tennessee. It's a national problem that demands a national solution. I elaborate further in this post from earlier this year.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Dismal state of U.S. telecom modernization enters new dilatory phase, prolonging infrastructure deficiencies

The dreary state of the modernization of America’s deficient telecommunications infrastructure -- already more than two decades tardy when it comes to the task of replacing metallic legacy telephone and cable systems with fiber optic to the premise infrastructure (FTTP) – is entering a new dilatory phase. Inspired by fellow blogger Steve Blum of Tellus Venture Associates, I’m dubbing it the “magic radio” phase. The goal: forestall FTTP infrastructure investment and instead experiment with various wireless technologies. As Blum correctly nails it, it’s based on “eternal hope that magic radios will appear one day and render wireline technology obsolete.”

It’s wishful thinking driven by the continued misguided reliance on undercapitalized investor-owned players like Verizon, AT&T and Google Fiber. All are looking into fixed premise wireless technologies, with Google Fiber the most recent, putting its FTTP builds on hold last week while it searches for the right radio magic. They all like the idea of employing wireless technologies for premise delivery because no one player has the many billions of dollars necessary to build out FTTP, spawning a search for lower cost alternatives.

The problem is the physics of radio spectrum are even more constrained than their finances. There’s only so much data than it can carry. Higher frequencies can carry significantly greater amounts. But only over such short distances that their use would require fiber to be brought so close to customer premises that the hoped for savings by avoiding FTTP deployment would be severely diminished. Not to mention the fact that higher frequencies are easily blocked and subject to interference without an unobstructed line of sight.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Extending incrementalism of current U.S. telecom infrastructure modernization programs won't acheive ambitous Clinton campaign pledge of universal service by 2020

Hillary Clinton's Broadband-for-All Plan Faces Hurdles: In seeking universal, affordable broadband access, the Democratic candidate is aiming to “close the digital divide,” according to her campaign website. Clinton pledges to deliver on this goal with continued investments in the Connect America Fund, the Rural Utilities Service program and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, and by directing federal agencies to consider the full range of technologies—including fiber, fixed wireless and satellite—as potential recipients.
These are existing programs that simply aren't big and bold enough to achieve Clinton's goal of universal advanced telecommunications service by 2020. They preserve the vertically integrated, investor-owned, closed access network and subscription-based business model that produces widespread market failure leaving too many American premises unable to obtain service. Two of these programs are aimed at rural areas and thus fail to address the fact that much of America's infrastructure gaps exist outside of rural areas as Clinton herself pointed out in an economic policy speech this week.

The programs cited by Clinton embody the incrementalist thinking that is part of the problem and not part of the solution that requires a radically new approach. Meeting her objective on telecom infrastructure will require a far more aggressive policy such as the National Telecommunications Infrastructure Initiative outlined in my 2015 eBook, Service Unavailable: America’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Crisis.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton gets it: U.S. does not just have a "rural broadband" problem

It's a well established management and planning axiom that effectively addressing a problem or issue relies upon a clear definition of the problem. When it comes to modernizing its telecommunication infrastructure and addressing infrastructure disparities, it's too frequently imprecisely defined as a "rural broadband" issue.

That papers over the fact the the United States suffers from very uneven deployment of advanced telecommunications infrastructure in all areas: rural, exurban, suburban and urban. In short, the U.S. doesn't only have a "rural broadband" problem. It has significant, widespread gaps and incomplete infrastructure everywhere in the nation. It's folly to define the issue purely based on geography.

Finally that realization is beginning to register with public policymakers and office seekers as illustrated in a speech this week by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:

You know, I happen to think we should be ambitious. While we're at it, let's connect every household to broadband by the year 2020. It's astonishing to me how many places in America not way way far away from cities but in cities and near cities that don't have access to broadband. And that disadvantages kids who are asked to do homework using the Internet; 5 million of them live in homes without access to the Internet. So you talk about an achievement gap, it starts right there. (Emphasis added)

Excerpt courtesy of Newsweek. Full transcript here.

Yet another pointless "broadband survey"

County looking for participants in broadband survey - Salisbury Post | Salisbury Post: There’s roughly one month left for Rowan residents to participate in the county’s broadband access survey. The survey was posed on Rowan County’s website roughly one month ago and has one month to go before it’s taken down. It’s purpose is to gather information about areas of Rowan County that are underserved by internet providers. It can be found on the front page of Rowan County’s website: Those interested can access the survey by clicking a link that states “Broadband Service Survey.”

Yet another pointless "broadband survey." U.S. landline telecommunications infrastructure is very uneven with numerous service gaps and disparities in all areas. We don't need more surveys to point up that fact.
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