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"Honest Policy Wonks" Prevented Net Monopolies
Monday, 11 April 2011 22:26

Ray_Tomlinson“Honest policy wonks can play a very useful role,” Prof Shane Greenstein writes http://bit.ly/fA3w6G, explaining why the Internet wasn't monopolized when it went commercial. He goes on to make an important point, that the information superhighway metaphor is “misleading for policy aimed at economic growth through broadband.” Far too many “studies” have only looked at positive effects while ignoring the many negative ones. (Bookstores closing, teachers being laid off, newspapers dying.) Shane makes the provocative comment


“The Internet is everywhere but the economic payoff is not. Urban leadership dominates the geography of economics of the Internet, as it did computing." He adds "Physical capital is not evenly distributed. The Internet enhanced what was already working. Prior investment tended to concentrate in major cities. Skilled human capital abundant in cities. There are Marshallian externalities for IT specialists, who are more abundant in thick labor markets in major cities. The returns to investment depend on finding specialists." Therefore the "Returns to Internet investment are higher in cities. Especially during the first wave of investment."
Last Updated on Thursday, 30 June 2011 15:18
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TI VDSL Class H Line Driver Claims 47% Power Savings
Wednesday, 16 March 2011 21:16
TI illustration
I've been hearing for a long time about the potential of Class H amplifiers to reduce power, so I'm reproducing below TI's announcement. I have not researched this and am not pretending this is an article from me rather than pr. However, since the product is already shipping and potentially important, I wanted to report it. In remote terminals such as AT&T U-Verse, power is a serious system limit. If this works as TI claims, it's an important advance. Readers - help me here with perspective, presumably off the record.
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 March 2011 13:08
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Ikanos Cuts Modem Power, Promises Vectoring
Friday, 04 March 2011 00:13
Ikanos_power_claimsBy going to 65 nanometer chips and improving algorithms, Ikanos' new chips for home gateways reduce power required significantly compared to their previous generation. European carriers are required to adhere to a "Code of Conduct" that reduces power usage. Ikanos's new generation also minimizes power when particular functions on the chip are not being called.  Samples are in customer hands today and volume available very soon.

     Vectoring, which in certain circumstances can double effective speed on shorter loops, is the hottest topic in DSL.  The new Ikanos chips were designed to be fully G.Vector compliant, but I am limiting my reporting anyone's claims of vectoring performance until independently confirmed in the field. Except in certain new builds - think Deutsche Telekom, Bell Canada and British Telecom - vectoring will take years to reach large volumes. However, I've been recommending anyone buying equipment from around now make sure the hardware will support vectoring when the time comes. It will be surprisingly cheap and already is in carriers' long range contingency plans. In particular, AT&T knows they will be facing 50 and 100 megabit DOCSIS with a system designed for 16 megabits and less. So far, U-Verse is holding its own surprisingly well. If cable starts pulling away, T's plan is DSL bonding + vectoring, bringing many lines to 50 meg and better.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 00:16
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iSuppli: VDSL Taking Share At Last
Thursday, 24 February 2011 11:40

isuppliLee Ratliff of iSuppli/IHS estimates new VDSL subscriptions were up 7.9M in 2010 to 23.3M. That figure strikes me as high but not impossible. The total net  DSL subscriptions were only about 30M, but a reasonable number of current subscribers at AT&T, DT, and BT were upgraded from ADSL to VDSL. In addition, as many as half the "fiber" subscribers in Japan are fiber to the basement and VDSL to the apartment.


    The trend is clear, as nearly all new builds today are "VDSL."  Ikanos is the lead vendor, with Lantiq and Broadcom finding market. Now, the remarkable RALINK/Trendchip has announced a VDSL chip. They've been the price leaders in the huge Chinese market,  building what they estimate is a 23% share of the worldwide market. Ratliff expects "a new level of cost competitiveness to the VDSL market," removing one of the obstacles to using VDSL. 


   Builds such as the 25M ports of AT&T U-Verse were VDSL from the start. Qwest, Century, Bell Canada, BT and others now are moving to VDSL from field cabinets at 25-50 megabits down. They need the speed for IPTV.  AT&T has startled everyone by proving that Microsoft IPTV + 6-10 meg data is competing well against the overpriced U.S. cablecos. The other carriers are hoping that works for them as well. 


     VDSL2 by design falls back to ADSL over longer distances or when connected to an ADSL modem. That now works with only a minor performance penalty. Back around 2005, industry leaders like Behrooz Rezvani believed the industry would rapidly shift from ADSL to VDSL. It would work fine with existing ADSL modems and offer improved performance with VDSL modems at short reaches. I had that wrong as well. All the early VDSL2 modems had serious performance shortfalls at the longer ADSL distances. When Deutsche Telecom tried VDSL2 DSLAMs, the homes with ADSL modem saw an unacceptable drop in performance. Since VDSL2 DSLAMs ran hot and had fewer ports per rack, few converted, especially with a large price gap. 

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 February 2011 20:31
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Extraordinary Access to the Broadband Data
Thursday, 17 February 2011 14:52
Developer_APIs_National_Broadband_Map

The FCC and NTIA have done a remarkable job making most of the data available, whether you're a consumer just looking for your neighborhood or an analyst extracting trends. At broadbandmap.gov, you can see your county, state, metropolitan areas or even local census tract. Just input your address. You can add demographic data for analysis. You can get answers on a map or a web page. You can download the data in several common formats, including to take right into a spreadsheet. You can even send it via Facebook, Twitter and more. 

I extracted a state-by-state chart which is turning out to be interesting. http://bit.ly/fRAvNE

 

The overall project is a model of how to present data. They offer three dozen "RESTful" APIs at http://www.broadbandmap.gov/developer so you can extract almost anything you want. The raw dataset has 25,000,000 records and you can download the whole thing if you want it. Michael Bryne of the FCC was very proud they had done all the work with open source tools. Everything is running on Wordpress. Computech deserves kudos for the programming.

 

If only the politicians weren't spinning the conclusions.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 February 2011 15:50
 
Surewest Looking to Life After Home Phone Business
Wednesday, 09 February 2011 17:07

Roseville Telephone Company was a sleepy local phone company outside Sacramento, California that decided a decade ago to lead the way to fiber and triple play. They changed their name to SureWest, overbuilt nearby SBC/AT&T territory and were a high-flier during the boom. They now have 50,000 homes passed. In early days, they were the third largest fiber network in the U.S.


       Now, only 15% of their revenue comes from residential voice. 51% comes from residential broadband and the rest from business and wholesale. The transition has been tough - they lost money in a few quarters - but Chris King of Stifel believes they now will remain cash flow positive and may be undervalued. 


        Cincinnati Bell thinks Surewest has the right idea. They've passed 79K homes with fiber, about 10% of their territory in two years. 27K have already signed on despite the short time and ARPU is $115. The results are strong enough they are speeding up the deployment to 70K more homes passed in 2011.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 03:01
 
Why Auctions Likely Fail for Unserved Areas
Sunday, 30 January 2011 22:19
Sotheby's_auctionThe $7B stimulus failed the unserved so abysmally that neither RUS nor NTIA is willing even to estimate how many unserved homes they reached. Many, probably most, auctions to reach those "unserved" with broadband will have poor results because there are rarely more than one or two likely bidders. Most will be more like "sole-source" contracts, which require a totally different and more complicated strategy.

Auctions for extending broadband are different from the auctions we normally think of, with plenty of bidders. Ivory tower economists assume auctions are always best. Policy folks like to believe them because auctions are far easier to set up then thoughtful planning, purchasing and negotiating.

"Unserved" homes are rarely clustered in towns of 500 or 5,000 that might make sense for a new entrant to serve. Most are in clusters of a few dozen and only the local phone company and only the local telco has facilities in place. 96% of homes that can get cable TV service can get modems as well, so only occasionally will a cableco be a second natural bidder.
Last Updated on Monday, 31 January 2011 21:31
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Telefonica Losing DSL Customers, DOCSIS Gaining in Spain
Wednesday, 06 April 2011 19:29

Spanish_broadband_sharesTelefonica totally dominated Spanish broadband until a few years ago but actually lost 23K DSL customers in February. Since January 2010, alternative carriers have added 667K while Telefonica gained only 138K. The cause is no mystery; the CMT finally revised the unbundling rules to give the competitors a better deal.

    In the first four months after launching 30 meg and 50 meg DOCSIS 4.0, Ono Cable signed up 128K subscribers (bandaancha.eu.) Some were upgrades of existing customers, but Ono has net adds of 65K since last September and Telefonica only 13K. Ono, like Numericable in France and Virgin in Britain, has severe financial constraints and is limited in how effectively it can compete.

       Spain is finally getting some fiber home. 9,000 signed up in January and February, to a total of 66K. Telefonica has made some extravagant promises to fiber the country, including all of Madrid in a few years. The actual build is much slower as Telefonica has diverted investment funds to the faster growing - and more competitive - markets in Latin America. 

       Before we praise CMT, the Spanish regulator, they need to explain why they want to raise the access charge by 7 percent, to €8.32 a month. (NYT) If regulators want fiber, the right move is obviously to reduce the return on copper. Matthias Kurth got that one right, cutting Germany's access charges.

    Update 14 April Telefonica presented to investors a dismal prospect for its business in Spain and up to 6,000 layoffs. That's one way to make the numbers work for a few years but only a temporary solution. 


Last Updated on Thursday, 14 April 2011 17:22
 
AT&T's Siegal: Our DSL Network Sucks. He's Lying, I Believe
Sunday, 13 March 2011 17:55
Randall does what Ed wouldn't dareMark Siegal, AT&T's top flack, hung up the phone on me when I said his comment to the Wall Street Journal was apparently a lie. It's prohibitively unlikely their DSL cap "is to ensure the quality of the customer experience" necessary to solve "congestion in certain points of the network and interfering with other people's access." I'm certain that far less than 1% of the time do AT&T DSL customers have any impact from congestion. I'm pretty confident it's less than 1/10th of 1% and probably less than 1/100th of 1%. My sources that wireline congestion on AT&T is minimal include statements from two CTOs of the company. Cheng, now a veteran in D.C., knew the comment was misleading at best. A mantra in D.C. is "wireline may not have congestion but wireless is different." It was Sunday and perhaps hard to factcheck, but he'll easily confirm the problem on Monday.

      AT&T has long maintained they have a more robust network and cable is the one with "bandwidth hog" problems. But Comcast's cap was 60% higher than AT&T and Comcast has said they will raise it. T has gone 13 years without caps on their DSL network because they said they didn't need them. Traffic growth is actually down slightly (Cisco, Odlyzko) so there's only one reason to impose caps now: their video service, U-Verse, has become a $5B business. They don't want people to be able to cut the cord and watch all their video over the net. 150 gigabytes is 40-80 hours of U-Verse quality TV, far less than the average U-Verse user watches.

    Mike Powell, conservative Republican deregulator, hit the ceiling when AT&T (then called SBC) wanted to limit user's video choices. Here's how I reported it then:

"SBC does not plan to give meaningful preference (in terms of bandwidth allocation) to any particular video service or video content provider. We don't plan to limit access from computers or give bandwidth preference to content."—Michael Coe, speaking for SBC on the record.

SBC's commitment to an open network, above, may prove the most important two sentences ever published in DSL Prime. This story goes beyond business and technology, to the heart of freedom of speech. Mike Powell's finest moment was when he affirmed, "consumers should have access to their choice of legal content." I pressed SBC for a clear statement, because the WSJ reported, "SBC and EchoStar plan to restrict the box's Internet access to just a few movie and music sites." Almar Latour, Andy Pasztor, and Peter Grant made the issue clear "Giving subscribers broad access to the Web could make it less likely they would pay extra for premium channels such as HBO and Showtime sold by Dish Network." The same Journal article infuriated the highest levels of the FCC, I learned at the PFF Aspen conference.
 
Last Updated on Monday, 21 March 2011 21:58
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Bellheads 22-23 March Best US Telco Event of the Year
Tuesday, 01 March 2011 20:34
Some people thought Matt Bross of BT was a madman for wanting to "turn off the phone network" and convert everything to IP as quickly as possible for huge savings. I became a believer at SUPERCOMM years back when Bill Smith of BellSouth led a discussion of four Bell CTOs that concluded Bross 21st Century Network was the way to go. Ross Ireland of AT&T agreed and was plainly unhappy that his CFO Randall was holding back the funding that would need.
    All this was at the special once a year event where the  top engineers of the Bells would come together for a public discussion. The official speeches came from the pr department, covered policy and were predictably boring. But when the engineers started answering questions and exchanging ideas sparks would fly, especially in the informal press conference that traditionally followed.
red_book      ATIS at CTIA Orlando is reviving the tradition.John Donovan, AT&T CTO, is joined by his peers from Qwest, Verizon, Clearwire, Spring, T-Mobile, Metro PCS, Telus, and more. Matt Bross is back, now CTO of Huawei. Key suppliers like Bob McIntyre of Cisco join in. I learn from people like this who solve problems every day.
     Where do correct ideas come from? Social practice.
Last Updated on Saturday, 05 March 2011 09:59
 
U.S. State Broadband Data Implies 4-5% Can't Get 3 Meg, 2% Not Even 1.5
Thursday, 17 February 2011 17:46
States_worst_broadbandFrom the Broadband Map, some state data [added 2/18] that calculates to 4% of the U.S. not able to get 3-6 meg advertised.  From another NTIA chart http://bit.ly/eEaLRp, I see that about half of those can get 1.5 meg and that by the NTIA data about 98% of the U.S. can get 1.5 meg. There are anomalies in the data that need explaining before any of this is used for policy about the unserved.
   I put this together trying to understand the data and there are some surprise. In particular, in 2007, California did a fairly careful study and found 96% broadband coverage. The NTIA map shows 91.7% in 2010. While some of that may be that the federal map has a 3 megabit cutoff, there are very few broadband providers that offer less than 3 megabits. Cable is listed as not serving 18% but that figure is almost certainly too high. If it were accurate, some major cable operators submitted fraudulent SEC reports. I'm researching more.
    Indiana, with 6M people, seems the worst served of the larger states at a measured 72%. Wisconsin at 88% and Virginia at 93% are the other two large state with issues. Puerto Rico at 46.5% is below much of Latin America and other countries far poorer than the island.
    Below, the states and territories from broadbandmap.gov, both total coverage and cable modem only. It's clear from the low percentages they believe have cable coverage in many states that the figures are simply in error.
Last Updated on Friday, 25 February 2011 14:53
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"Teenage Octopus" TalkTalk UK Down 25k to 4.224m; Sky +204K, BT +188K
Sunday, 13 February 2011 23:17

mid-Moving_Octopus_Vulgaris_2005-01-14.oggAs DSL growth ends in developed nations there are losers as well as winners. Sky, on the other hand, had a record quarter with 204K net adds and BT added 188K.  CEO Dido Harding has a colorful description of what went wrong. TalkTalk, she said, resembles a “teenage octopus. Like companies that have grown very fast . . . we don’t have control of our arms and legs, like a gangly teenager. And we have a lot of arms and legs. The teenage octopus will take a while to grow up.” (FT) 


    One primary problem was severe customer service problems after they took over Tiscali UK. "Customers ... have had a pretty rotten experience," Harding says. "We have described buying Tiscali as being like a snake that has eaten a goat. We are busy digesting an enormously complicated business." 


    One promising fact is that they have 85% of customers on their unbundled network. They are well along on a plan to unbundle 93% of the British population. Their network is now dark fiber and Gig-E, dramatically lowering their cost per bit. That allows them to include "unlimited" bandwidth in their $25/month service, which typically is 8-15 megabits (up to 24 megabits max.) Voice line required.

   The problems at TalkTalk have been pretty bad. They achieved "the dubious distinction of receiving the Daily Mail's wooden spoon as Britain's worst organisation for customer service. Our readers complained of rude, insensitive staff, calls not being returned and emai ls unanswered. Some TalkTalk customers were even pestered by debt collectors  -  after bills had been settled or contracts cancelled." Dow Jones adds OFCOM has launched a second investigation into their customer service. Harding insists it will get better, but that won't be easy after she just fired 590 people. 

Last Updated on Friday, 18 February 2011 17:36
 
Theory of 2 Gigabit Triple-V DSL
Tuesday, 08 February 2011 16:31
They doubted when John Cioffi outlined in 2004 how four wires could deliver a gigabit one day. In 2010, Alcatel and others demonstrated 700+ megabits. Now, his ASSIA colleague Ken Kerpez shows a path to two gigabits. It requires 300 MHz, four wires and goes only a short distance. Presumably it's many years away. But Triple-V could deliver 2 gig to Jennie's 9th apartment from the basement. France Telecom is looking for an alternative for buildings they hope not to run fiber to each apartment. My mother in her old neighborhood and 20 attached homes could receive a gig and a half.

     ADSL originally used only the first megahertz of spectrum and was limited to 6 megabit service.  In VDSL2, as much as 30 megahertz is used and 100 megabits practical. Full DSM including vectoring doubles that speed to 200 megabits/copper pair, close to the 250 megabits John envisioned. Engineering to reliably modulate 30 megahertz of signal was a challenge initially but the chipmakers have solved it.

    Ken's "Triple-V" proposes extending signal to 300 megahertz. He introduces it with a paper "Initial simulations of Very Short, Very Simple, Very Fast metallic access, 'Triple-V.'"
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 04:04
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4 Phone Calls Shut Down Egypt, 12 Would Come Close in the U.S.
Sunday, 30 January 2011 18:24
15_minutes_to_shut_down_Egypt"It can't happen in the U.S.," everyone's saying, after four official phone calls shut down Egypt's Internet in about 15 minutes. The U.S. is larger. It would take 13 phone calls and that would only shut down about 90%.
     Four calls - Comcast (17M), AT&T (16M + wireless), Time Warner (10M), Verizon (8M + wireless) - would take down 51M lines, 60% of U.S. landline and most wireless data. Four more - Century-Qwest, Cox, Charter, CableVision - would pull down 15M more, half the rest. A third group of four - T-Mobile, Sprint, Level 3 and Cogent - bring down most of the rest of wireless and the major backbones. All the major carriers have procedures in place for emergencies and designated federal officers they work with. Another two dozen calls would leave only a few percent of connections working.

    It might take an hour to bring down 90% and a few hours more to reach 97-99%.
Last Updated on Monday, 31 January 2011 00:54
 
Nikos on Calix: Not Really a Sell
Tuesday, 05 April 2011 07:20
S___ happens. Nikos Theodosopoulos, probably the best equipment guy on Wall Street, did not issue a rare sell on Calix early this morning. His Tuesday morning email said just that, but clicking to the report itself shows his actual opinion is "Valuation: Maintain Buy Rating, Raising PT To $23 From $20." The report goes through several hands before it's sent, and somewhere along the line someone made a mistake. I'm sure they are scurrying at UBS to correct things but I wanted to put this out immediately to prevent confusion as the market opens.
        I'll follow up later today. Researching pointed me to a 58% increase in the Calix stock price in about four months. They've had some good news, but that's a remarkable run. I'll let Nikos tell professional investors whether to buy or sell this one; for anyone without a strong tolerance for losses, I wouldn't put money, long or short, in wireline telecom equipment. It's a tough and declining market, and there definitely will be losers as well as winners.
        Calix's greatest strength is satisfied customers. Thay've now bought Occam, which also has excellent customer relations. Those are strong positives, but it's a tough market for all and caution is indicated.
        1:30 Tuesday The stock fell over $25M by 11 in an up market. It since recovered some. The only other visible news was that Goldman raised their "12-month price target to $21 from $19 based on a target P/E multiple of 19X applied to our new FY12 EPS estimate of $1.11."(Benzinga.com) That pattern is consistent with people initially misunderstanding the UBS report and then learning better. Alternatively, it may be that investors were hoping for even more favorable news and were disappointed. Or it could just be the seemingly random noise that often dominates stock prices.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 April 2011 12:39
 
Wireline Costs and Caps: A Few Facts
Sunday, 06 March 2011 20:27
one_dollarBandwidth costs in the U.S. are between 2% and 5% of what we pay for broadband, a very minor part of the cost. So when the Washington Post suggested "It's expensive to run a broadband network," as a legitimate reason to block Netflix and other video I thought to revisit the actual numbers. 
 
    Broadband is an extraordinarily profitable service. Top Wall Street analysts John Hodulik of UBS and Craig Moffett of Bernstein both report broadband margins of 90% based on official company filings. My own figure is more like a 75% margin because I allocate additional costs, but either implies running a broadband network is actually inexpensive in relation to the price charged. 
  
     Bandwidth isn't free. I startled my neutrality friends by writing in 2008 that Comcast's 250 gigabyte cap was fair. Three years later, Moore's Law has brought Comcast's costs down by half, so it's time for them to honor their promise to raise the cap. But even 250 gig is 10-15 hours a day of digital cable quality TV, 10 times more than even active Netflix customers.  Cable networks can inexpensively handle any likely load Netflix users will present. 
     Large European carriers have similar costs to the Americans. Smaller ones, without their own fiber backbone, are sometimes squeezed. Most of Europe has significantly more competition than the U.S. duopoly, including 4-5 carriers in most of France and Britain. The prices therefore lower, often by 30-50%, so margins are not as extreme. Broadband is a highly profitable service at almost all large telcos and cablecos.
    High backhaul and bandwidth costs in some parts of the world are important issues. Africa is just getting fiber connectivity and prices still have a long way to fall. Fewer than 10% of U.S. broadband provided by smaller and rural carriers but some of those face monopoly-like backhaul pricing. Several times at the U.S. broadband workshops carriers reported paying 10 and even 20 times more for bandwidth in some rural areas. The plan recommended solving those problems but so far the FCC hasn't taken action.
 
 
Here are some numbers:
2 cents to 5 cents per gigabyte. The actual bandwidth cost to a large carrier like Time Warner or AT&T, depending on how you do the accounting.
$1/month/customer. The industry standard figure for the cost of bandwidth. Fortunately, Moore's Law has been bringing down the cost per bit of bandwidth at 25-40% per year, allowing the industry to thrive as video drives usage. When fiber is in place, the main cost for additional bandwidth is upgrading routers, switches, wave division multiplexers and the like. They've become much cheaper at a predictable rate. Result: the cost per customer of bandwidth has been about $1/month since 2004 or so. Since broadband prices are $20-$50, that's 2-5% of the price charged.
 
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 21:43
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Germany's #1 Provider: Government-Owned NetCologne
Sunday, 27 February 2011 16:35

Cologne_14115,300 readers of Computer Bild voted NetCologne the best ISP in Germany, outpolling DT, several large competitors, and the many emerging cablecos. Across Germany, Bild reports, "DSL customers are still angry about lousy service. Not even one in two customers would recommend their provider." (Google translation) NetCologne, with 500,000 customers, was an exception, leading in both speed and service. 

    NetCologne is rapidly transitioning customers to their own fiber network. Their current lead offer is 35 euro - about $50 - for 50 megabit down and voice calls. That includes the much-liked Fritzbox from AVM for the home  network. They are offering service to other carriers and recently struck a deal with Vodafone. 

     Other cities on the Cologne Bonn region are clamoring to join because they want a great Internet. There's a myth in some circles, especially in the U.S., that government broadband is inevitably a failure.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2011 19:29
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Many "Unserved" Apparently Missed on Map
Thursday, 17 February 2011 15:47

Something like 1/3rd of the homes that can't get broadband were ignored by the Broadband Map. At least a million homes and possibly three million have very local problems that prevent them getting service such as out of date remote terminals. NTIA recognized this and the NOFA required bidders "to gather data at the address-level on broadband availability, technology, speed, infrastructure, ARPU, and, in the case of wireless broadband, the spectrum used, across the project areas."

 

    Everyone involved in broadband mapping realizes that specific data by address is required for accuracy. The major carriers have fairly accurate data in their "pre-qualification" database based on actual line tests. Somehow in the NTIA process this was lost and instead they worked with aggregated data known to have serious errors. 


    The giveway was how many areas on the map showed 100% coverageThere are almost no areas in the U.S. where 100% can get broadband. For example, Verizon couldn't offer DSL to about 10% of New York and AT&T had to say no to about 10% of Chicago. New York and Chicago are older, dense cities where nearly all homes are within DSL reach of a central office. If you make a DSL map based on distance/block data, nearly everyone would be served. It turns out a meaningful number of apartments in both cities are served by remote terminals that block DSL unless upgraded. The same is true in many suburban and rural pockets developed between 1975 and 1995. Other technical issues (pairgain equipment, bad copper) similarly prevent serving selected homes.


     Similarly, the cablecos do not offer service in the parts of their territory that have fewer homes. Residences within business and industrial areas also often aren't served. There's no way to accurately know the overlap without the data by address. 


     This was an obvious problem in the early maps such as Connect Kentucky. CK told me the prequal data wasn't available for their early efforts but they would get it from the carriers from then on. Because they clearly understood the problem and said it was solved I backed away from my criticism of CK's mapping.  Every expert in broadband mapping knows the issue well. 


    When you buy a computer from Dell or Best Buy, the seller's computer checks with the carriers prequal to see whether they can earn a commission by selling broadband as well. It's awkward and expensive to find out later that a customer sold service can't be reached, so the carriers make sure to have that data available. I'm guessing how many homes are involved. It's shared daily with thousands of resellers, but they've never provided an aggregate number of how many homes are involved. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 March 2011 11:19
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British Telecom Ordered to: Cut Rural Prices 10%-14%
Sunday, 13 February 2011 20:44
rural_BritainEd Richards of OFCOM required BT to lower wholesale prices an average of 12% in the rural areas where they have no competition. Across most of the UK, three providers offer DSL from the exchange. TalkTalk is on the way to 93% unbundled and Sky not far behind.  The result is broadband prices 20-50% lower than the U.S. duopoly. But prices are higher in rural areas not yet unbundled. Competition is strong enough most of the savings are likely to be passed on to consumers.

    Richards has allowed BT to raise the line rental to about $19, more than a complete voice service in much of the U.S. Virgin Cable only covers about half the country, leaving the other half no choice but to pay the line rental. The result is that British prices, while better than the U.S. or Canada, are typically about $10 more than France. The 12% cut is after an "inflation adjustment," which as far as I can tell is based on the overall price index. That's a naive mistake, because telecom inflation is usually much less. Many costs in telecom go down with Moore's Law, so any price increases should be based on the telecom inflation rate. 

    Richards, perhaps the best paid regulator in Europe, runs OFCOM as a "quasi-nongovernmental organization" or quango. David Cameron campaigned on a platform to cut back on quangos and singled out RIchards $500K salary as an obvious abuse. Some thought OFCOM would be incorporated into a government agency, but Richards proved how fine a politician he is by keeping OFCOM independent. 
 
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 03:52
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Conservative Canadian Harper Blocking Internet Price Rise
Sunday, 06 February 2011 00:04
openmedia416,000 Canadians signed the openmedia.ca petition and Prime Minister Steven Harper feared it would become an election issue. He personally jumped in and overruled Bell Canada's attempt to stifle competition. Bell had persuaded the CRTC to price independents out of the market with absurdly high price for bandwidth. Newspapers reported consumer outrage and Harper made "a populist move allowing the Conservatives to cast themselves as a champions of consumers." (Globe and Mail). It "would have spelled an end to unlimited Web access packages offered by smaller Internet providers. ... a powerful grassroots campaign against the ruling was so fierce it threatened to become a major political controversy on the eve of a possible federal election this spring." 
 
   Industry Minister Tony Clement tweeted that the government would reverse the CRTC decision if the regulator didn’t.  Van Flickenstein responded by postponing "usage-based billing" nominally for 60 days but probably indefinitely.  Von Flickenstein doesn't strike me as a shill, but he made a classic lawyer's error. He sounds reasonable until you check the facts.  It seems reasonable to say “We are convinced that Internet services are no different than other public utilities and the vast majority of Internet users should not be asked to subsidize a small minority of heavy users.”

     The Chairman is ignoring the cost figures, basic data that should be the beginning of his analysis. The total cost of data to a large carrier without a cap is about $1/month. That's based on Verizon, Comcast and Bell itself. So the maximum "subsidy" is dimes, with twenty cents a typical figure. If the proposed high bandwidth charge were a buck or three, that might be cost-justified. But Bell is demanding tens of dollars because weak competition makes it possible to charge more. Besides collecting extreme profits, Bell protects the video offering from their satellite.

     416,000 Canadians believe that.  
Last Updated on Sunday, 06 February 2011 16:09
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Let Them Eat Satellite
Sunday, 30 January 2011 14:56
The February 8 USF/ICC proposals set a policy that perhaps 1% of the U.S. should get satellite, I've inferred. I have not seen the latest drafts of the program, however. Fortunately, new satellites offer 5 megabit service and somewhat improved latency.

   Landline broadband to 100% of the U.S. would cost $20-35B, the planners calculated. Use satellite for 4/10ths of 1% and the cost drops in half. In that last half of 1% are many homes that would cost $10,000 and even $100,000 to connect. Unofficially, the planners decided that was just too much to spend, especially when the the new satellites can offer 5 meg service. They decided government money should go first to areas that could be served for a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. What everyone understood was that the more expensive areas would probably not be reached, but no one said that aloud. I expect the same will be true in the new USF/ICC proposals. The details in practice will offer only satellite to the most remote, but that won't be stated.  One policy expert thinks they will ultimately use satellite for 2% or 3%. If so, the cost of efficiently reaching everyone else by land will be under $5B
   
   Rural France, Ireland, Australia, U.S.: You Get Satellite I wrote a year ago  Australia's NBN decided to invest in their own satellite for that purpose, as has Canada. The Rural utilities service set aside $100M of stimulus money for satellite to 400,000 homes. If that's effectively delivered, it would be almost 10% of those who can't currently get broadband at $250/each and a very smart program.   
Last Updated on Monday, 31 January 2011 20:54
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