Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Lacking specific sum, does Hillary Clinton's infrastructure modernization plan dedicate enough for telecom?

Connect allAmericans to the digital economy with 21st century Internet access.
Clinton believes that high-speed Internet access is not a luxury; it is a necessity for equal opportunity and social mobility in a 21st century economy. That’s why she will finish the job of connecting America’s households to the Internet, committing that by 2020, 100 percent of households in America will have access to affordable broadband that delivers world-class speeds sufficient to meet families’ needs.
Hillary Clinton's Infrastructure Plan: Building Tomorrow's Economy Today

Per the above item from her campaign website, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is proposing universal Internet access that's currently required under the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's 2015 Open Internet rulemaking classifying Internet as a common carrier telecommunications (versus information) service.

What's new is Clinton's proposed federal funding programs to help finance the necessary infrastructure to make universal service a reality that would dedicate $275 billion over five years for infrastructure investment. A national infrastructure bank seeded with $25 billion would leverage private capital to generate an additional $225 billion in direct loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of credit enhancement along the lines of what Susan Crawford suggested earlier this year, renewing and expanding the Obama administration's Build America Bonds program. Crawford correctly asserts that there are boatloads of private capital sitting on the sidelines seeking better returns that could be leveraged to undertake the long delayed task of modernizing America's telecommunications infrastructure with fiber to the premise for the Internet age.

The caveat here is Clinton's funding proposals cover all infrastructure modernization needs, including transportation, energy and water systems, constituting an "infrastructure gap" that her campaign notes runs in the trillions of dollars. No specific sum is earmarked for telecom infrastructure. Without that specific dollar amount, the question is will there be enough for it?

Also concerning is Clinton defines telecom infrastructure not in terms of the infrastructure itself, but rather in vague terms of "world class" connection speeds. Connection speed is how the legacy telephone and cable companies define their Internet-based telecom services. It's a backward rather than forward-looking perspective and is central maintaining a paradigm of constrained "broadband" bandwidth that in turn supports high prices and minimal investment in modern infrastructure such as fiber to the premise (FTTP).

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. The constraints are explained by Google's Milo Medin in comments he made at the 2013 Broadband Communities Summit, excerpted in a post on this blog (See No. 2). 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, severely limiting 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.
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