Has Art Brodsky lost his grip? His posting over at Public Knowledge has to be one of the lamest lines of defense ever offered as a basis for over turning the Rule of Law. Kindness of Strangers be damned!
Mr Brodsky starts with using the Ides of March reversal technique –
Of course, the story isn’t all that simple, is it? Because the hidden story of Comcast’s glorious victory is that if Comcast were smart, it wouldn’t in the first place have brought the case, which challenged the FCC’s authority over the company’s high-speed Internet service. Some in the telecommunications industry, perhaps even huge companies with three letters in its name, urged (begged?) Comcast not to take the FCC’s ruling to court, because of the possibility that Comcast could actually win and, potentially, win big —which is what happened.
The reason that the Telcos like the arrangement Art is that it extended their LATA boundary relationships into the non regulated digital environment without so much as a legal skirmish. And what’s this dismissive alluding but not naming? Its AT&T, VZ, Sprint. Don’t be so damn coy.
But where is the standing on damages to the industry that Mr. Brodsky intones? He offers two — Depend on the Kindness of Strangers, and Waiting for Godot. In the former case he charges that depending on the big firms for telecommunications advancement has led us on a downward spiral in terms of global competitiveness. There is some truth to that but not the whole truth. For who is the hand maiden leading the spiraling down the drain but the FCC itself. Then in the latter case we have this –
We can’t depend on unelected bureaucrats to deal with topics as essential as broadband, because the result could be “excessive and burdensome regulation” on those humble, hard-working telephone and cable companies who unfairly change the rules without any reason at all.
And to you I say, NO we cannot trust bureaucrats with damn near anything including telecommunications. If for no other reason that the concept of the Lack of Sufficient Knowledge on a continuing basis.
But thru all of Mr. Brodsky’s missive is this gem –
… Practically speaking (even if there is a very slim legal opening), broadband is free from regulation – a nirvana that the telecoms industry might once upon a time have gratefully accepted as its due, but now looks upon it with some trepidation because now the door has swung wide open to a full-scale discussion of bringing Internet broadband access services back under reasonable regulation.
Two counts here. Brodsky’s ox has been gored by this ruling yet now the door has been swung open for reasonable regulation? By what variant of a pharmaceutical does he come to this conclusion? Its an election year fella. The chances of a Democratic Congress taking this up is slim to none. Plus if the tea leaves are right the Republican Congress next year won’t have the cycle time to touch it either. The second is under proper procedure, the FCC being a creature of Congress should make the necessary request for an expansion of its authority by the proper means, not some gerrymandered legal trick with a wink and a nod. But Mr. Brodsky the FCC DOES NOT possess the authority to overstate its intended alloted powers. Or do I assume you are willing to abrogate the rule of law to achieve your statist aims under the color of consumer protection. How Stalinist.
IBM has partnered with IBEC to deliver broadband over power lines to several communities in Alabama, Indiana and Michigan. –
According to IBM, $2.5bn of this is being allocated for rural broadband Internet services and is being dumped into the US Department of Agriculture’s rural grants and loans programs. IBM and its partner in broadband over power lines (BPL), International Broadband Electric Communications, waited until this week to make an announcement that they were delivering Internet services to 200,000 residents in rural areas in Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, and Virginia so they could ride the stimulus wave and perhaps capture a lot more business.
As previously reported, Palmisano and a Washington DC think tank with IBM’s intellectual (and perhaps financial) backing called the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation have been arguing for the economic stimulus to include $10bn in investments for expanding Internet service to the estimated 40 per cent of households in the United States that are suffering with dialup Internet or who have no Internet service at all.
Not only will bringing high-speed Internet service to underserved communities help spur innovation and do what is right by American citizens, President Obama has also argued, but with the help of stats provided by IBM and the ITIF, it will create (or maintain) jobs. The number that was floated for a $10bn investment came to just under 500,000 jobs created or maintained within the first year of the investment, but only a little less than 64,000 of those jobs would be created or maintained at ISPs and equipment providers who are involved in the Internet buildout. Most of the jobs that came from the $10bn investment were indirect or induced jobs because of the employment of those workers, who spend their paychecks on all manner of things.
Clearly, IBM, the telecommunications companies, and cable operators in the States who were loving all of this talk did not get as much dough as was hoped. But billions are billions, and they will make a beeline to get some of that stimulus sugar.
This is actually good news. Most unusual that it is charted under the auspices of the Dept of Agriculture. But hey, it if gets BPL kick started I am all for it.
Femtocell providers are you listening? This is a naturally synergistic market for you guys. A lot of dead zone opportunity where your products would shine.
Harold Feld over at WetMachine has proffered some observations as to proposals for a nationwide network upgrade. Angst wells within me noting some of the observations without an anchor. Herein is a light rebuttal –
“But a really good communications system is a matter of continuous non-stop upgrade. Even with fiber, you are not going to just pull glass and go away for 20 years with regular maintenance and easy to predict upgrades. It’s going to be dynamic.”
Harold, actually you could. Do you really think that Verizon installed all that fiber to just make things faster?? Far from it. The delivery of FIOS is as much a Union Busting tool as anything that management could think of. Look, copper plant is subject to moisture infiltation. To defeat that the lines in areas of moisture are pressurized with nitrogen at about 2psi above ambient. (That’s why you see cylinders along the roads in some areas.) It takes labor to maintain those lines. Now if you come along and lay down fiber the labor has been reduced by at least a factor of 4 over the life of the installation so your outside union labor drops accordingly. Fiber is also impervious to wet so you eliminate all the pressurization plant and contractors. Short of a backhoe or gopher mating with the cable that transport plant could last 20yrs easily. I direct your attention to page 19 of this report. Corning already provides a 25 year life on its plenum rated fiber.
You also do not need to do much with the fiber in regards to capacity. Most of the fiber laid today does not take advantage of spread spectrum or wave division multiplexing in the last mile. So the maxiumum capacity of the current installed base is not even tapped for the most part. What you are suggesting is not the outside plant but CO based interior facilities. To take advantage of WDM one needs WDM capable cards in the CO adjunct systems. Buildout would not even be the right term in my view.
“Worse — from the point of view of the network manager, better for society as a whole — that expanded capacity has real use. Build fatter pipes, and people build better and more productive applications for fatter pipes. Sure, you can get by with dial up or dinky FCC-style “broadband” for a lot of things even today. But is that really our measure of success?”
That is the field of dreams approach to network design. Review any technology advance of the last 30 years and you will note that the Application demand came first then the technology to handle it more efficeintly came afterwards. The classic of course is Visicalc spurring the demand for AppleII’s, Postscript pushing the demand for laser printers and bicycles pushing the need for paved roads in the bygone era of two centuries ago. The reason ‘why’ must be defined in the public eye before the supply of ‘what’ can be addressed. It is not sufficient that you just get all your mail faster. There are only two applications that would push the demand button — TVoIP and multihead video conferencing. Problem is the latter is confined to business use in the public’s mind right now. The former has the issue of being tied at the hip to entertainment. That is a poor poster child to hang a public policy on for what is such a massive expenditure. (“Senator, you propose to spend $350B so that everyone can see ‘Santa Barbara’ on TVoIP HD?” The answer would be a doozy!) Higher broadband is in need of a ‘killer ap’ and right now I don’t see one that you can hang your hat on.
“…It focuses primarily on rural build out (although I am hoping that other pots of urban agenda and health IT reform money can go toward getting our poor and unserved urban folks connected). It boosts speeds, but remains asymetric and, no surprise, most of us would like to see better than 3/1 for wireless or even 45 mbps for wireline.”
A wireline rural buildout is Seward’s Folly. Anything that is below a 100 households per buried mile has little chance of being either profitable or good use of tax dollars. Better that WiMax or LTE wireless be fostered for that purpose. Or alternately BoPL be pushed. As to unserved regardless of economic status, that albatross should be laid around the necks of the municipalities that believed a tooth fairy was going to delivery it all. I speak of failed deployments in Chicago, SanFran, Philly, Atlanta, etc. All municipal targeted ideas that lacked planning and support and too much pollyanna from mush headed bureaucrats that don’t know the difference between a bauln and a NIC card.
As to the speed angle there is nothing wrong with asymmetric. The typical end consumer is a heck of a lot more down than up. The typical 6:1 ratio is reasonable in practice. What needs to happen (hence I agree with you) is that the overall bandwidth has to rise.
In the Beltway speak what is happening with all the funding proposals is that it is not ‘Comprehensive’. Seems to be the vogue buzzword right? Well let me tie one on for you. Why would we spend billions for both a upgraded network and a upgraded road system at the same time? If one is rationale one would not. What one would do is use the network upgrade to justify a reduction in road building by reducing the demand side of the commute cycle. You encourge substitution –
What’s not to like?
Well the Chaos Conference is now in full swing in Berlin this year to the 30th. They tend to have at least one or two interesting themes going on. One of them this year is PLC (Power Line Communications). A keynote being the development of an Open Source audit tool for PLC devices –
PLC (PowerLineCommunications) had been widely used currently for the in-home LANs and for Internet access over PowerLineCommunications based on the market standard called HomePlug. Electricity is a great medium to transport data over existing cables in-home and outdoor but gives the network an old-school flavor of the behaviour of the hub where all stations share the medium. In this lecture, we present the freshly released FAIFA open source software that can be used to audit the security of PLC networks and script some flawnesses of the PLC devices.
PLC will definitely be one of the main LANs technology for in-buildings, in-home and collectivities IP connectivities in developed and undeveloped countries. PLC describes the technology used to developp MAC layer networks over existing power cables (110/220V – 50/60Hz) and TV cables in-building, in-homes and over public electrical networks.
Unless you happen to be a resident of the US. I will grant that PLC is used here. But not as prevalent as say in France, India or Russia. We in the US have gone the WiFi route for the most part. However there are advantages to PLC of the HomePlug AV variety. Double the rate of N class wireless. Comparable cost of the devices. Near plug and play functionality. One of its key disadvantages here is our use of 3phase split here. One half of your house may not be able to talk to another being on a different phase of the power circuit.
But PLC still has a use. If you only have a couple of desktops you need to connect. Or you have a lone PC sitting upstairs that needs access a pair of PLC’s can be cheaper then a N router and a wireless card and one heck of a lot easier to set up.
The new catalyst for BPL (broadband over power lines) in the US may very well be rural electric coops. It’s a great way to leverage existing infrastructure to generate new revenue in a woefully under served market. A contract with Big Blue to do 13 networks in seven states is significant. While ink on a contract does not guarantee a successful implementation, it is a vote of confidence for the technology to move forward. The great unknown is how the tiny but powerful ham radio lobby will respond. I hope that common sense will prevail with hams to work with BPL providers to resolve any interference issues rather than deny rural Americans the opporunity to join the 21st century.
IBM has signed a contract with International Broadband Electric Communications Inc. to provide broadband over power lines might be, as the Wall Street Journal says, a “sign that using the electricity grid for communication … has finally matured.”
Or it might be yet another news release that represents just a nibble at the goal of rural delivery of broadband.
The contract is for IBM to manage installation of broadband at 13 utility cooperatives in seven states. IBM anticipates picking up more of this business from the 900-some rural coops around the country.(ZDnet government)
Ready Kilowatt may be on his way back as an access provider in Western Michigan if an electric coop has its way. Other US deployments of the promising technology has been scuttled under pressure from ham radio operators who claim that BPL transmission interferes with communications on their allocated frequencies. I’m taking a more skeptical outlook for success than I have in the past regarding the potential of BPL since the hams have proven to be so formidable. I do hope this project will get a chance to be completed and operates as advertised, or at least have an opportunity to work through interference issues if it does not. We’ll keep you posted on progress.
Some of Midwest Energy Cooperative’s 36,000 customers will be able to get broadband Internet service through their electric wall sockets as early as next March.
Cassopolis-based Midwest Energy is the only electric cooperative in the state to win a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for BPL service. The agency last month announced $50 million in loans to 13 projects in six Midwest states; Midwest Energy, in partnership with International Broadband Electric Communications of Huntsville, Ala., will get $5 million to deploy BPL.
Midwest Energy has scheduled deployment through its 12-county service area from the first quarter of 2009 through 2010. (mlive.com)