Net Neutrality Thursday

I had a couple of people forward me these emails to speak out about Net Neutrality.  Since I do that and have done that, well here is another post on that topic.  I want to start with that everybody that comments on this has an agenda.  So do I.  My agenda is to try to change the primary issue to Universal Broadband Access and away from Net Neutrality.

I want to change this for 2 reasons:

- No Tier 1 has been shown to violate Net Neutrality (Comcast - Netflix was shown to be a problem with Cogent; a Netflix vendor)
- We still have a divide and no plan to provide escalting bandwidth and our existing methodologies have failed

This lack of broadband exists in some city neighborhoods and some rural areas but is generally not a problem in smaller cities and suburbs.  The problem I have with our current version of Net Neutrality is more technical and comes from two places as well.

First, I think we ought to redo our rules around residential service to make them common for all Service Providers independent of last mile technology.  The basic services are converging.  It seems silly to me to have multiple paradigms to regulate this under.  By having a common code, we have a more level playing field.

Second, I think we need to take a closer look at services and spectrum allocation.  Right now all of our broadband technologies support at least 2 and sometimes 3 services.  Many of these have multiple streams running in different bandwidth allocations over the same infrastructure.  For example, Cable Modems occupy 1 or more of the modulation groups on the cable.  The others are occupied by Linear TV and Pay-Per-View services that are not available for broadband.  The thing is that all of our networks would benefit from a retirement of older technologies and using a unified method of deploying services.  That way we can more flexibly allocate bandwidth and provide better service.

My proposal would be 100% penetration and conversion to IP delivery by 2025.  We could use the USF and other support mechanisms to make this happen.  This is the kind of infrastructure investment that we require for the 21st Century.  I would also add into this a requirement that all lines support 100 Mb/s symmetrical service at 2025 and that we have a plan to grow this over time with new numbers set in either 5 or 10 year increments.

This would spur massive investment in the US communications industry and make our network the envy of the world.  So if I were in charge, that is where my focus would be.  There is nothing wrong with making sure we have common carriage for most services.  But we need investment, and this is where it should go.

Have a great day!
 

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

 

Hodgepodge

 

So, there is not one overridding theme to this week's post.  I am going to write about some things that interest me around the topics I cover.

Well, as hot as it is we know that it is now Summer.  One thing I have noticed in the North Bay is that we end up with a week or so every June of very hot weather.  I think this is our "natural air conditioner" starting up.  As you know we are cooled by air coming from the Pacific to take the place of the rising air over the Central Valley.  It is almost like this week is a pre-requisite to getting that machine started.  Enough latent heat and enough temperature differntial.

The fact that it is now summer means that the SMART Train will miss its opening schedule.  There is currently no defined date for starting the regular schedule while a safety review at the Federal level proceeds.  I wonder how long we will continue to support the train after it comes on.  I am a skeptic for ridership.  Riders will need to secure transport at both ends of their commute and it does not extend into SF nor connect to BART.  Given the widely dispersed places that we have employment, I am not sure the right way for a commuter to use this today.  If it continues to exist, maybe a generation from now business will have moved.  Will it be open still?  I don't know.

The Net Neutrality writing I have done was in response to the massive outcry over a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NRPM) at the FCC, which asked many questions about what it should implement for residential Broadband Service.  This resulted in the "Title II Light" that we have today.  I want to note that there are many NRPMs that go on so this was not a unique thing.  For example the FCC just announced one about changing how Payphone Service payments are audited.  I doubt this one will receive much public interest.  It should be noted that the FCC is likely to change a number of rules that you care about.  As things evolve, I will try to keep you informed.

Have a great day!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

 

Net Neutrality Friday

 

Last week I talked about defining a vision of what we want.  Today, I want to outline the major choices for this vision and then we can explore these choices deeper over time.

As we have looked at the problem of getting more universal broadband at higher speeds deployed, there are fundamentally two camps.  The first camp wants this to be done by increasing competition.  The second camp wants to do this with additional regulation.  In order to get additional competition, there might actually be a requirement for increased regulation.  By changing the regulatory paradigm, we might actually get increased competition.  Let me start with the additional competition camp.

You probably have read about or know some folks that want overbuilders or municipal networks to be created.  This is how people see additional competition being created.  Overbuilders are those non-incumbent providers who build their own facilities.  The largest example would be Google Fiber, but there are many regional and local examples of this type of player.  Some of these players work with or are started by the local community.  Project Utopia in Utah is such a network.  There has been mixed results with these types of networks, often blaming the incumbents for the failure of the network. 

The alternative is to go back in time and create a regulated utility network like we had with Phone Service prior to the breakup of AT&T.  In this case, regulators (State PUCs and FCC) would have to build a plan to have the utility follow in order for it to operate effectively.  The challenge with this is structural.  These utilities are now mixed in with non-utility elements of the business.  The good news is that if could define a common way for this network to be built, we might be able to spur additional service competition.

I want to note that this is focused on Residential Networks.  Business networks have had both a wholesale and retail component for some time.  The question is how do you choose which path to follow.  By default, we are on the attempting to increase competition path.  I would argue that not much is going to change on this front unless people get exasperated by the cost and availability of high speed networks.  For all the complaining about this topic, it has not actually generated a lot of will for change. 

So, I will expand down this branch first.  Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

 

Net Neutrality Friday

This has been an extremely busy week in the regulatory issues in for the Internet and Telecom.  I am going to start with the smaller of the two largest pieces of news and then move to the smaller.  There is enough to talk about for a few weeks here and we will have lots of ground to cover.

The small news is that Google Fiber has pulled back on its expansion plans and is laying off around 9% of its staff.  This makes a lot of sense to me, as I always thought that this was an experiment.  People call it a science experiment, but I call it a business experiment.  Google makes so much money that they look for ways to deploy their capital effectively.  This leads them to try lots of things.  When I was at Red Condor, we competed against a company named Postini.  Postini became part of Google and is the spam filter for Gmail.  After spam filtering became an extreme commodity, Google stopped selling Postini as a separate product.  You can only get Postini if you use Google Docs.  I used to use a login landing portal called iGoogle and Google sent me an email and turned it off a year later.

Why does Google do this?  They are all about advertising dollars.  They are willing to invest and play to figure out to see if a technology or method will eventually get them those dollars.  Youtube is an example of this.  At one point, Google was losing $150M per month on Youtube.  Things are now very much different and Youtube is a great money maker for Google.  But if the investment does not pan out, Google exits.  I suspect that Google will look for a buyer for Google Fiber over time.  One of the overbuilders might be interested, it is too sporadic of a network for an incumbent to purchase.  The better option, to sell to incumbents, would be to sell one property at a time.  The incumbent for that territory can choose to use that construction instead of doing its own.  More to come on this in the future.

The larger news is that AT&T is buying Time Warner for $85B.  The deal is 1/2 stock and 1/2 cash.  I think that is interesting as I am sure that came from Time Warner.  The idea would be to provide a huge benefit now, with upside that Time Warner is not sure of.  If they thought AT&T was a growth stock, it would be an all-stock deal.  More importantly for us, this is a move similar to Comcast's purchase of NBC-Universal.  There will be plenty of uproar over it, but I think the deal will go through.  All AT&T will have to do is point at Comcast and nobody (okay Trump has called for it) has asked for Comcast to be broken up.  Comcast has a lot more broadband subscribers and so it will be hard to say that the combination will impact consumers more than Comcast did.  There is a lot here as well to discuss whether this is a good idea to why it is happening to what we should expect next to how Google, Verizon, and other companies might react.

Have a great weekend!

Jim Sackman

Focal Point Business Coaching

Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

 

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!

 

 

 

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

Focal Point Business Coaching

Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business

 

Net Neutrality Friday

There have been rumors floating around about cutbacks and potential freezes of Google Fiber. The company has announced that it is not moving forward in some parts of the business until it has had a chance to understand and integrate Fixed Wireless as an alternative last mile architecture.

Separately, Google is trying to get Nashville to loosen up the rules for utility pole attachment. This is all part of this whole picture and I want to talk a bit today about what Google is facing.

When you want to use the utility easements that a municipality has, there are rules. These rules are different for every community. Sometimes there are height restrictions. Sometimes you have to put shrubs around structures to hide them. Wireless antennas have to look like trees or other natural elements. There might be coverage obligations. In other words, you can't just cherry pick the nice neighborhoods and deliver service. You have to do it to all of them. When Google Fiber started, it was trying to work around all of these challenges. It was attempting to use its cachet to get cities to waive many of the social obligations that other service providers have to abide by. You can imagine that these workarounds did not make the other service providers happy.

This is only going to get worse. The problem is coming with 5G Wireless technology and small wireless cells. You have to remember Shannon and Nyquist still rule the roost in data transmission capacity. The basic concept is that the higher the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) in any channel the more information can be passed through it. Fiber Optics has the highest SNR, so it has the best capacity. Below Fiber you have (in order) coaxial cable, twisted pair copper, and lastly wireless. There has been a lot of work done to improve wireless capacity through smart control and use of antennas. We can't really increase the signal more (do you really want a higher power microwave transmitter next to your brain?). So, the best thing we can do is reduce the noise. The easiest way to do this is to reduce the distance between transmitter and receiver. So, there is a lot of thinking around how to deploy smaller cell sites to provide better quality wireless coverage.

But where do you put them? I know of some work to potentially put them in street lights. But there will be a lot of work to build a bandwidth distribution network to get what we want out of this. So, expect to hear more in the future about the use of rights of way and utility easements. This will be on top of all the other things that impact how networks get built.

Have a great Labor Day Holiday!

Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business - Change Your Life!

Visit the FocalPoint Norcal Forum - We have many tools for helping your Business!