Exploring the impact of broadband and technology on our lives, our businesses, and our communities.

The myth that wireless will replace fiber

AT&T has just announced another price increase for their cellular data services. They have increased the cost of their unlimited data plan from $40/month to $45/month.

But here is the most interesting thing in the announcement: "Consumers are using mobile data at record levels and the trend is expected to continue."

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Why deploying broadband takes so long: Part I

There is a huge fight looming that is already begun in many localities, which involves the deployment of 5G cellular radio equipment. Both residents and localities are wary of the dramatic increase in the number of poles and towers that are needed.

There are various numbers floating around about the spacing for 5G cellular equipment, and they range from a low of around 500 feet apart to a thousand feet apart. Compare that to the current typical separation distance of 3G/4G towers of 1-2 miles.

The tech giants are getting creepier than ever

Less than five minutes after I clicked on an Amazon link to look at a flashlight on sale, I got an email from Amazon saying, "...based on your recent activity, you may be interested in this other flashlight..."

Really? Is business so bad for Amazon they have to spam their customers? If they are doing this to me, they must be doing it to all their customers, so every day, they are sending out hundreds of millions of unsolicited emails.

These companies are abusing their customers, and it won't turn out well.

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The death of privacy

I have been writing about the dire threats to privacy for many years, and the recent disclosures about the extent of Facebook privacy abuses is, perhaps, finally raising more awareness that Facebook is not actually "free" in the sense that Facebook users don't pay a price. Facebook users pay with their personal information, not only when they register for an account, but every time they post anything.

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Work from home continues to increase

This article on why Millenial workers quit their jobs has an interesting nugget of information half way down the page.

The ability to work remotely was also an important factor for 63 percent of Millennials surveyed, who said they might not be interested in future jobs if working remotely wasn’t an option.

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5G needs fiber

There is a tremendous opportunity for community-owned networks to leverage spare fiber by working with 5G cellular providers to identify where 5G small cell poles are going to place and getting fiber to them.

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I welcome our robot overlords...

Two stories today suggest the future may be exciting, but not in a good way.

In Las Vegas, a driver-less shuttle bus had an accident less than a hour after starting service. No one was hurt, but the bus failed to notice that a large truck was backing up and failed to move out of its way.

Is the dumbphone now smart to own?

According to this article, some people are ditching their smartphones and replacing them with "dumbphones." The typical dumbphone offers phone calls and texting, and that's it. All of the distractions and "there's an app for that" are gone.

If this trend gets people back to using the phone to actually talk to people again, it would be good thing.

In other news, Apple's iPhone X, which costs $1,000, is selling like hotcakes. So I don't hold out much hope for the dumbphone trend.

5G wireless is going to deliver the promises

This article is long but readable, and it is a real eye opener. Many have been hoping that fiber could be ditched in favor of 5G wireless. The cable companies have been testing a variety of "5G" frequencies, and found that they all have significant shortcomings. The much-touted "...5G will deliver near Gigabit speeds..." turns out to be "mostly true" in a Billy Crystal "mostly dead" kind of way.

Happy birthday, iPod!

The iPod is ten years old, and in that short time, the concept of a multi-function device that fits in your pocket has transformed the way we work and play--not necessarily always for the better. There were other pocket size music devices before the iPod, but Apple provided easy to use software (iTunes) with an easy to use interface on the iPod itself that lent itself to rapid and easy browsing of your music library.

The decline of the West: cellphone airbags

In a sure sign of decline, the city of Salzburg, Austria is putting airbags on lamp posts on city streets because so many people were bumping into them while looking down at their cellphones.

Yes, it is a publicity stunt to raise awareness of the problem of "smartphone zombie," but even having to use that phrase is an sad indictment of our culture, in which we are so obsessed with our technology that we can't walk down the street without bumping into something.

Death of TV: Part LXXIX: Google drops TV

Google Fiber has announced that it is dropping TV packages from its content offerings in Louisville and San Antonio. The wide range of content available from OTT services like Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, and other services makes the traditional cable/satellite TV packages seem quaint by comparison.

iPhone 8, iPhone X, Apple TV, and LTE, cellular

Apple announced new iPhones yesterday. Faster, brighter displays, and better cameras. Ho hum.

What interested me was the Apple TV announcement--the new Apple TV supports 4K video, which uses FOUR TIMES more bandwidth than HD video. Apple continues to improve the user experience with its products, but many Internet services are not going to be able to deliver 4K streaming video, or at best, only one stream at a time. Meanwhile, the average household has more than ten Internet-connected devices, and that is going to keep growing.

Eldo Telecom: Rural copper won't be replaced by small cells

Eldo Telecom points to an article that suggests that small cell cellular access points won't be the cure-all for rural residents.

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The emerging Space Economy

It's been a long time since I wrote anything about the Space Economy. I was, perhaps, overly optimistic about the timing, but lately all the signs are that the private sector now has sufficiently mature payload to space technology to completely change the nature of space research and business.

Google will stop reading your email

In a win for personal privacy, Google has announced that the company will no longer read the email of their personal Gmail account users.

Google has been scanning Gmail email to identify what kind of ads to place in Web browsers for its users.

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Death of TV: Part LXXVIII: More churn in the TV space

YouTube (part of Google) has launched a streaming TV service, making the whole video on demand space an even more confusing array of services and options, which include Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Roku, offerings directly from some of the alphabet networks, and many others. But competition is a wonderful thing.

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The tragic state of the telecom industry

This article has a lot of inside baseball and makes for dense reading, but the bottom line is that telecom industry has learned nothing in the past twenty years.

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The Xerox nightmare

Design Nine has a tiny service contract for an old Xerox printer. I had a billing question about a late fee that was assessed for the first time in more than twelve years. I wasted more than forty minutes on the phone with various Xerox reps, none of whom were helpful. Of the forty minutes on the phone, I spent about twenty-five minutes on hold, and I had to call three different numbers and had to talk to four different people.

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Apple's Augmented Reality software very near

Apple announced the availability of its new augmented reality software for the iPhone and iPad at its recent Worldwide Developers Conference. The software kit enables third party app developers to place computer-generated information over real-time images. For example, map information could be superimposed over a live camera feed on an iPhone pointed out the front of a vehicle.

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