Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kovacs is right: FCC reclassification of Internet as telecommunications service creates uncertainty. And it's about time.

Kovacs: D.C. Circuit's net neutrality ruling poses danger to edge providers - FierceTelecom: The D.C. Circuit's affirmation of the FCC's Open Internet Order creates enormous uncertainty for companies in all parts of the internet, not just for access providers. It invites edge providers to contort their services to attempt to evade classification under Title II. Thus, it threatens innovation and investment throughout the internet ecosystem.

So writes Anna-Maria Kovacs, a financial analyst and consultant affiliated with the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy. Kovacs has a valid point. Classifying Internet as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act is a major shift in regulatory policy. But the real uncertainty was sown by the FCC in 2002 when as then-FCC Commissioner Michael Copps recently noted, the FCC chose to classify Internet service as an information rather than telecommunication service.

How so? At that point in time, the Internet was well along the way toward becoming a de facto telecommunications service and on a global scale. Yet the 2002 FCC turned rolled the calendar of progress back a decade and kept it there for 13 years until the FCC reclassified in 2015. That created a enormous collision between the natural progression of telecommunications and federal regulatory policy.

Of course that's going to foster uncertainty for legacy telephone and cable providers and disrupt their business models based on the 1990s strategy of selling "broadband" as a premium add on to legacy voice telephone and cable service. That strategy can still be seen in 2016 as they and other ISPs continue to market "broadband" rather than telecommunications service with price tiers tied to bandwidth.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Google Says It's Very 'Serious' About Gigabit Wireless | DSLReports, ISP Information

Google Says It's Very 'Serious' About Gigabit Wireless | DSLReports, ISP Information: Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt told shareholders during the company's annual meeting on Wednesday that Google Fiber is extremely "serious" about using fiber as an additional avenue to deliver additional broadband competition to stagnant markets. "To give you an idea of how serious this is," Schmidt stated the executive had a "lengthy" meeting on Tuesday with Alphabet CEO Larry Page and Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat to discuss the company's wireless ambitions.Those ambitions include testing the viability of millimeter wave technologies and 3.5 GHz wireless broadband as part of an ongoing trial in Kansas City. "There appears to be a wireless solutions that are point to point that are inexpensive now because of the improvements in semiconductors," Schmidt said. "These point to point solutions are now cheaper than digging up your garden and so forth."

Fixed premise wireless IP certainly costs a lot less to deliver telecom services to homes and small businesses. But it's no magic bullet and there's a cost tradeoff involved. The physics of radio frequency spectrum impose a natural limit on throughput as more premises share the available spectrum. That means Google Fiber will have to push its fiber relatively close to premises to feed lots of microcells in order to offer quality service that won't degrade like that of a busy coffeehouse or hotel when lots of guests are on the establishment's WiFi service. Higher radio frequencies like the referenced millimeter wave technology can carry more data. But the tradeoff there is they are easily obscured by buildings, flora and terrain, constraining its viability as a premise IP delivery technology.

It will be interesting to see how Google Fiber negotiates the tradeoffs if it continues to pursue this.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Report: Wireless Still Not a Serious Fixed-line Competitor

Granted 5G wireless could ultimately let AT&T and Verizon compete more directly with cable broadband, but with the standard still not finalized, serious deployment won't be likely until 2020 or later. And given AT&T and Verizon's tendency toward premium pricing and usage restrictions on wireless, it's not all that likely that these services will be seen as a real alternative to cable either (especially as gigabit speeds are deployed via DOCSIS 3.1).The reality is that even should 5G technology be a great alternative to fixed service, the cable and wireless industries will likely work to avoid competing seriously on price, much as we've seen throughout the DSL/cable duopoly era.
Via https://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Report-Wireless-Still-Not-a-Serious-Fixedline-Competitor-137115?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

The limited carrying capacity of radio spectrum would require telcos to push fiber far more deeply into their networks to backhaul small cell sites in order to use 5G wireless as a premises service delivery technology. In that regard, it faces the same ROI constraints that limit legacy telco build out of fiber to the premise architecture and is thus highly unlikely.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Alphabet's Eric Schmidt nails it: Incremental thinking holding back progress

Speaking at Bloomberg’s Breakaway conference Wednesday in New York, Schmidt also said Alphabet, the holding company that owns Google and other businesses including Nest and Fiber, will probably never break up and its job is to seek out transformative solutions. “There’s tremendous optimism around this next generation of scientists and thinkers,” Schmidt said. “There are problems that bedeviled us for centuries that can in fact be solved.” The government should play a role in accelerating these developments as they’ve done in the past, he said, pointing to initial public investment in Silicon Valley that allowed it to become the high-growth area it is today. Schmidt, who supports Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said the politicians and business leaders in the country have gotten used to accepting incremental solutions rather than taking bigger risks for the larger reward of innovative technologies and methods.“Government spends an enormous amount of money on the wrong things,” he said. “I would just like to have a little bit of it on these things which are moonshots, enormous-scale things that can benefit the country.”
Source: Google’s Schmidt Sees Genetics Advances, No Alphabet Breakup

When it comes to modernizing America's legacy metallic telecommunications infrastructure designed for a bygone time of voice telephone calls and cable television, Schmidt nails it when he points to incrementalism as a major impediment. 

As I wrote in my recent eBook, Service Unavailable: America’s Telecommunications Infrastructure Crisis, over the past two decades the nation has concentrated on achieving incremental increases in "broadband speeds" on legacy infrastructure rather than modernizing and replacing it with fiber optic connections for every home, business and institution capable of supporting the Internet-protocol based information, communications and services of today and tomorrow. In my eBook, I propose a crash federal initiative to build it given how far behind the nation has fallen. Google Fiber can't do it alone.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

America doesn’t have a “rural broadband” problem. It suffers from incomplete telecom infrastructure.

America’s telecommunications infrastructure deficiencies are often framed as a “rural broadband” issue and frequently compared to the lack of electric service in rural areas of the nation early in the 20th century. Both the description of the problem and the analogy are wrong.

They’re incorrect for a couple of reasons. First, landline Internet service more advanced than 1990s dialup can often be found in nominally “rural” areas. But typically some premises have access while others a mile or two down the road, or over the hill or around the bend do not. Even premises Internet service providers believe are connected are not, resulting in unpleasant surprises for new residents moving in under the impression service was available. That does not make for a “rural broadband” problem. The problem is partial, incomplete and highly granular landline telecom infrastructure.

By comparison, the lack of electrical distribution infrastructure in rural counties during the first few decades of the previous century was truly a rural problem. It wasn’t granular, with some communities and neighborhoods having power and others left in the dark. Entire rural regions had no electrical service, which was concentrated in cities.

The “rural broadband” label has an unfortunate aspect. It allows legacy incumbent providers and public policymakers to segment off and mischaracterize the problem as one affecting only thinly populated, remote regions of the nation and thus not requiring urgent action.

It does. The United States is a generation behind where it should be when it comes to modernizing its legacy metal cable telephone and cable TV infrastructures with fiber optic cable connecting every American home, business and public institution. If we continue to shrug our shoulders and insist on believing it’s a “rural broadband” problem, the United States risks slipping into third world nation status when it comes to its telecom infrastructure.

Virginia officials seek info about residents’ Internet service | WRIC

Virginia officials seek info about residents’ Internet service | WRIC: RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Virginia officials want residents to help them pinpoint what areas in the state lack access to broadband Internet service. The new initiative announced Tuesday by Gov. Terry McAuliffe is aimed at helping officials fill gaps in broadband coverage across the state. McAuliffe is asking residents to sign onto a new website RUonline.virginia.gov to let officials know the level of internet connectivity they have.
Policymakers have been doing this all over the United States for at least a decade. This strategy plays well for politicians since it makes them appear concerned about modern telecom infrastructure access disparities and is politically safe because it doesn't offend legacy incumbent providers. Sadly, it doesn't build a bit of needed infrastructure as the access disparities grow more urgent as time goes on.
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