Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Net neutrality controversy based on chimera of limited bandwidth

Netflix Reaches Interconnection Deal With Verizon - WSJ.com: Netflix had been at odds with broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast for months in a debate over who would pay for the huge volumes of traffic Netflix sends over their networks. Netflix has offered to pay for the cost of deploying equipment that will help deliver its videos more efficiently, but the biggest broadband companies have resisted, citing the heavy load Netflix traffic puts on the "last mile" of network infrastructure to their customers' homes.

This claim is utter hogwash and goes to the heart of the net neutrality controversy, which is based on this chimera. Internet providers have created the myth that the Internet is like the electrical grid and its capacity strained on warm days when people crank up their air conditioners. Too many Netflix-powered "air conditioners" are running and taxing our distribution system, ISPs maintain. Therefore we need demand-based pricing to finance upgrades to our last mile infrastructure to handle the additional demand being generated by Netflix and other core network providers that generate substantial bandwidth demand. And it's only fair as a big bandwidth user, Netflix pay a surcharge.

Baloney. Bandwidth is not megawatts or kilowatts and the Internet is not a consumption-based utility like electricity or natural gas. It's no skin off the noses of the ISPs to deliver big bandwidth. If it doesn't transport well over an outmoded and inadequate last mile landline plant to homes and small businesses, consumers and not ISPs pay the price in terms of a poor online experience. And those customers in most cases have no better alternative if they don't like that experience and their ISP chooses to pocket any extra revenues paid by core providers like Netflix to finance fat shareholder dividends instead of last mile infrastructure.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top Cable Lobbyist Argues Against Broadband as Utility - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com

Top Cable Lobbyist Argues Against Broadband as Utility - NYTimes.com - NYTimes.com: While the Internet and broadband systems were built “with the help of the government,” Mr. Powell said, “they have suffered terribly chronic underinvestment.” In 2002, when Mr. Powell was chairman of the F.C.C., the agency voted to regulate cable-modem broadband service as a lightly regulated “information service” rather than as a “common carrier.”
Mr. Powell, a former U.S. Federal Communications Commission chairman, correctly diagnoses the poor state of American Internet telecommunications infrastructure in characterizing it as suffering from chronic underinvestment. But oddly, he offers the wrong remedy in declaring the government should take a hands off approach and avoid treating it as a common telecommunications carrier like landline telephone service, available to anyone who wishes to order it.

That's been the status quo since the 1996 Communications Act become law, leaving about a quarter or more of all premises without modern landline Internet access, with some still offered only dialup service that most Americans were using since before the law was enacted. Powell's tortured logic would suggest that requiring Internet service providers serve all premises will somehow make that sorry situation worse. It simply doesn't add up.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Creating a Two-Speed Internet - NYTimes.com

Creating a Two-Speed Internet - NYTimes.com: Mr. Wheeler is seeking public comment on this option, but he is not in favor of it. Even though the appeals court has said the F.C.C. has authority to reclassify broadband, the agency has not done so because phone and cable companies, along with their mostly Republican supporters in Congress, strongly oppose it.

The incumbent telephone and cable companies want to do this because they want to keep alive the fantasy that the Internet is not a telecommunications service but rather a "broadband" or "information" service. It's the same old "fight the future" strategy they've employed for at least a decade.

In 2007, President Obama said one of the best things about the Internet “is that there is this incredible equality there” and charging “different rates to different websites” would destroy that principle. The proposal from Mr. Wheeler, an Obama appointee, would do just that.

Quite a damning indictment of the Obama administration's telecommunications policy -- or absence thereof.

Telehealth provider complains many consumers lack bandwidth to meet newly adopted telehealth guidelines

Model policy designed to guide state medical boards in regulating the delivery of medical services remotely via telemedicine (also referred to as telehealth) has drawn protest over its requirement that doctors and patients cannot rely exclusively on lower bandwidth applications such as texting, email and voice communications and instead must utilize higher bandwidth secure Internet videoconferencing.

“Not everybody has a video device or has access to the bandwidth” to make the standard useful, said Henry DePhillips, chief medical officer of Teladoc in remarks reported by Modern Healthcare. Even for consumers in an urban setting, “over 95 percent of the time, will chose the telephone, even if they have the device and the bandwidth,"DePhillips added.  

The Federation of State Medical Boards Model Policy for the Appropriate Use of Telemedicine Technologies in the Practice of Medicine defines telemedicine as follows:
“Telemedicine” means the practice of medicine using electronic communications, information technology or other means between a licensee in one location, and a patient in another location with or without an intervening healthcare provider. Generally, telemedicine is not an audio-only, telephone conversation, e-mail/instant messaging conversation, or fax. It typically involves the application of secure videoconferencing or store and forward technology to provide or support healthcare delivery by replicating the interaction of a traditional, encounter in person between a provider and a patient. 
The bandwidth adequacy concern raised by DePhillips has merit insofar as a sizable segment of American homes are located in areas that lack telecommunications infrastructure able to reliably support videoconferencing, while the pricing models of mobile wireless providers are designed to discourage the use of high bandwidth applications.

N.J., Verizon deal could leave Hopewell without broadband Internet | NJ.com

N.J., Verizon deal could leave Hopewell without broadband Internet | NJ.com

Apparently this New Jersey township will have to explore alternative business models to build premises telecommunications infrastructure given that Verizon will only offer it metered mobile wireless service.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

As AT&T and Google push broadband adoption, the feds are non-players - CIO

As AT&T and Google push broadband adoption, the feds are non-players - CIO: Both Google and AT&T clearly see the economic incentives of bringing video and other new Web services to a wider audience over 1 Gbps connections.

Both companies also seem to want to use their fiber-optic programs to help bridge the nation's digital divide and to bring free, or nearly-free, broadband service to underserved low-income homes for those who want it.

The question remains whether their private efforts and other programs from an assortment of cable companies like Cox, Comcast, Time Warner and carriers such as Verizon and Sprint are enough to improve the number of homes in the U.S. on broadband without a big infusion of government money.

About 28% of U.S. homes still don't have broadband service, which is defined by federal officials as download speeds of least 4 Mbps.
This is indeed the overarching question as the United States reaches an inflection point on next generation, Internet-based telecommunications infrastructure. Private providers have reached the limits of their triple play business models and thus aren't likely to bring fiber connections to those 28 percent of homes that have remained unserved for going on more than a decade and reliant on dialup and satellite and where available, fixed terrestrial wireless service.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

U.K.-backed FTTP builder plans first U.S. projects in California

According to the story in the Monterey County Weekly, SiFI Networks will construct fiber to the premise infrastucture in Pacific Grove using a mixed architecture apparently designed to lower deployment costs using aerial lines and existing municipal infrastructure: the sewerage system.

The Monterey County Weekly reports SiFi has London-based backers interested in U.S. projects and has targeted two California cities as the first ones.

Under the public-private partnership with Pacific Grove, the city is providing in kind services in the form of staff time for planning and permitting. SiFI Networks is seeking funding for the estimated $30 million to $40 million capital cost of constructing the network.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why U.S. state, local governments are exploring alternative business models for fiber to the premise telecom infrastructure

Larry Irving, who served as assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), writes in The Hill that he is having a difficult time understanding why state and local governments are interested in building their own telecommunications networks.

The answer is self evident. Mr. Irving need only look at the situation in Montrose, Colorado, described in this Daily Yonder article -- which is emblematic of much of the United States. Investor-owned providers can't provide all premises reliable wireline Internet service and do so at a cost that affords good value for the consumer:

Montrose, a city of 19,000 about 65 miles from the Utah border, is a typically conservative rural area, overwhelmingly Republican but with a populist bent. Like all of the Western Slope of the state, it is not participating in the robust economic recovery seen in the Front Slope cities of Denver, Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs.

Internet service here is currently a hodgepodge. Some of us depend on broadcast towers, some on DSL from CenturyLink and some on cable service from Charter. Service is generally at less than 10MB. It’s expensive, and customer service is erratic.

It became clear to the city leadership that none of the large corporate providers were ever going to invest in high-speed broadband for the area. And while some enterprising local startups have moved to provide high-speed fiber and tower broadcast, they are capital-limited and have to charge high fees to get even a modest return on investment.

That's why the citizens of Montrose gave their municipal leaders the green light to explore alternative business models that can bring fiber to the premises of Montrose residents. City leaders recognize that technologically, fiber is the future. But that future and its many benefits will be deferred -- perhaps permanently -- unless new business models are found to make it a reality.

Hats off to Montrose, Colorado. It is taking on one of the nation's toughest and most important problems. Former U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski called it the "critical infrastructure challenge of our generation."

Holy fiber, Batman! The Rainbow Rabbit may be leaping into Greater Gotham

Possibly sensing weakening commitment on the part of the dominant telco, Verizon, to construct fiber to the premise Internet infrastructure to serve the greater New York City area, a Multichannel News report this week suggests Google Fiber may have greater Gotham in its sights for expansion.

According to Multichannel News, Google Fiber is recruiting a sales manager for the region but isn't confirming -- for now at least -- that it plans a fiber to the premise build in the area.

Google Fiber could also see potential opportunity next door in New Jersey, where Ars Technica reports Verizon mounted an astroturf email campaign to get the blessing of Garden State regulators to wimp out of a premises infrastructure service commitment made more than two decades ago in 1993.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Broadband faces a fork in the road - Computerworld

Broadband faces a fork in the road - Computerworld: Experts who worked on the National Broadband Plan approved in 2010 recently warned that there is still a great need for connecting unserved homes, libraries and schools with even basic broadband at less than 4 Mbps. Most of these unconnected homes are in poor inner city neighborhoods and rural areas.
Not an unexpected outcome when a "plan" is essentially an aspirational expression rather than a concrete project plan to deploy Internet infrastructure. Also, it should be noted there are plenty of unconnected homes that aren't in inner city neighborhoods and rural areas. They can be found anywhere in the United States where residential density is non-contiguous, leaving gaps and pockets of homes redlined by incumbent telcos and cable companies.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Summers urges infrastructure construction to revitalize torpid economy. How about fiber to the premise?

The Perpetual Bubble Economy - NYTimes.com: “A strategy that relies on interest rates significantly below growth rates for long periods of time virtually guarantees the emergence of substantial bubbles and dangerous build-ups in leverage,” Mr. Summers wrote recently. “The idea that regulation can allow the growth benefits of easy credit to come without the costs is a chimera.”

A better route, Mr. Summers argued, would be to run deficits, perhaps indefinitely, even during economic good times. To help the economy right now, for instance, he argued for huge infrastructure spending, especially since money is cheap and so many construction workers are out of a job.
In addition to bridges and highways, water distribution systems and other public infrastructure, why not a public works project to bring fiber optic telecommunications service to every American home and business premise? Especially when 20 to 30 percent of them are left off the Internet grid?

New Telehealth Program Aims To Increase Specialist Care in Northern California - California Healthline

New Telehealth Program Aims To Increase Specialist Care in Northern California - California Healthline
Adequate Internet infrastructure providing sufficient bandwidth is identified as a major challenge to the implementation of the program, which would alleviate the need for patients in rural areas to travel long distances to visit healthcare providers.
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