Net Neutrality Friday

Pretty soon the FCC will be getting some new commissioners after the election.  The big change in the past term was the imposition of Title II on Residential Broadband Access.  Anybody notice a difference?  I don't think so, and I have considered this a big waste of time standing in the way of Universal Broadband Access.  Nothing wrong with Title II.  Just not the biggest issue.

On a more positive note, the FCC has a mixed record on mergers -, especially in cable.  Some have gone through, other's haven't. I think Comcast is a bit of a problem as it is the outlier owning significant amounts of content.  Allowing Comcast to get bigger worries me.  The company is by far the largest ISP in the US and has extensive media properties.  I would like to see its growth come from something other than M&A.

On the topic of cable, Adtran bought some EPON assets this week from Commscope.  That is news because Adtran is primarily a telco vendor.  They might be trying to expand into cable and this would give them an edge in.  Cable has been a relatively closed vendor community and has not really accepted telco vendors in the past.  But given the limited growth in telco access, this could be a good hedge for Adtran if it works.  The other thing to ponder is the NG-PON RFP at Verizon.  Calix and Adtran are the front runners and this could be a sign that Adtran is not counting on this deal at all.  Could it mean good news for Calix or is this independent of that decision?  Only time will tell.

I want to go back to the commentary of physical access rules.  This is super important for the 5G builds, especially if we are expecting small cells to be able to boost wireless transmission speeds.  There are 2 problems to solve.  First, where do the antennas get placed?  There are going to be a LOT of them if we are going to significantly change the speed that most of us see.  Secondly, how do wireless companies get bandwidth out to these antennas?  That depends on a lot on where you are going to put them but imagine that you might have one on every corner of a major city.  Then make it denser like say one per street light. And then you have to figure out how to get bandwidth to each of them.  This build is where I see NG-PON technology fitting at least to solve the bandwidth issue.  Now we still have construction challenges, but that is "only money".

FYI, the EC is facing similar challenges with seeing how all this construction is going to get done by private firms.  The question I want you all to think about is as follows.  A long time ago, roads were sometimes made by private companies and they billed for usage.  Governments realized that the roads stimulated economic growth so started building them.  Are networks not our roads in the future?  Are we sure that we still want network access to be a private concern?

Have a nice weekend!

Jim Sackman

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