Policy and regulation

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.

Blackphone is a response to the NSA data capture

The Blackphone is a smartphone based on the Android OS, but with additional layers of security and encryption, giving Blackphone users secure use of email, messaging, and voice telephony.

It maybe that Snowden's leak of NSA data collection may turn out to have a silver lining, as we may see a market for these kinds of devices develop much faster than anyone would have thought.

Knowledge Democracy:

Privacy: It's all gone

Facebook and LinkedIn now appear to be exchanging subscriber information, as I just received a Facebook email suggesting that I friend two business associates. The only way Facebook could know I have any relationship with these people is if Facebook had access to LinkedIn subscribers. I only use Facebook for close family and a few friends, so Facebook could not have made the connection with these people (one of whom is in Asia) by doing a second and third degree of separation search.

Knowledge Democracy:

Bandwidth caps change behavior, discourage use

Georgia Tech and Microsoft have released a study that confirms what most of us already knew: bandwidth caps discourage people from using broadband productively.

USF reform may not have desired impact

Eldo Telecom has an excellent critique of the proposed USF reform. My concern with any USF reform is that it should allow community-owned broadband efforts access to USF funds. There is no reason why a community that builds its own open access infrastructure should be forced to channel their portion of USF funds to legacy networks.

Forbes to rural communities: "Don't bother"

Connected Planet comments on a Forbes blogger has ignited a rich discussion online by saying that broadband in rural areas is a waste of time and money.

Re-assembling Ma Bell: The customer is the loser

Art Brodsky has an interesting article about the T-Mobile/AT&T wireless merger. Brodsky illuminates a wide range of interlocking business relationships that are helping to push the merger forward, even though it would create what amounts to a duopoly in the cellular business, with AT&T and Verizon having about 80% of the U.S. market locked up.

U.S. Broadband Goal: 1/75 as good as Lithuania!

Via Stop the Cap!, some Lithuanian broadband customers are getting bandwidth increases that can range has high as 300 megabits, up from the current 100/40 bandwidth for the Premium plan. There is no price increase for the improved performance.

Since the U.S. Broadband Plan targets 4 meg as entirely adequate, we can imagine a catchy slogan: American broadband! 1/75 as good as Lithuania!

Technology News:

Community news and projects:

Broadband: It's crony capitalism, not free markets that are the problem

The usually excellent Stop the Cap! has a report on the truly awful anti-broadband bill making its way through the North Carolina legislature, but they lost me when they started blaming "free markets" as the problem. Uh, no, the problem is crony capitalism, where the incumbents spread campaign donations liberally to representatives of both parties, to obtain the best laws money can buy. That's not free markets.

Community news and projects:

Rural broadband advocates call for changes to National Broadband Plan

The North Carolina-based Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) filed a public comment to the FCC calling for more attention to community-owned broadband networks. MAIN's executive director, Wally Bowen, has been involved in community broadband initiatives since the early nineties, and is one of the true pioneers of the community broadband movement. Read the whole article.

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Broadband: Why are prices going up when prices are going down?

Stop the Cap! has a great analysis of the slow but steady shift to usage-based charges for bandwidth. The wireless providers have been moving from unlimited data subscriptions to metered subscriptions for about a year.

Technology News:

Camino Coop: Make room for community broadband

The Camino Fiber Network Cooperative, located in a rural part of California, has filed an excellent brief with the California PUC. It does a superb job of providing short, concise answers to a whole range of questions regarding state and Federal utility policy and its effects on local and regional community broadband efforts. This should be distributed and read widely by any locality or community group that is engaged in developing community-owned broadband infrastructure.

Technology News:

New Hampshire governor stresses importance of broadband

It is still rare to have a politician address the issue of broadband in any sensible way, but incoming Governor John Lynch just set the bar a little higher by noting that ubiquitous access to "big" broadband is essential to jobs growth and economic development. Here is what he has to say.

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More on Burlington Telecom (BT)

The always excellent Muni Networks has an article that sheds additional light on Burlington Telecom. The article includes a response from Tim Nulty, who helped start the BT venture.

The FCC and net neutrality

There is plenty of sturm und drang elsewhere about yesterday's net neutrality decision by the FCC, so I am not even going to link to anything. I think that it is extremely likely that Congress or the courts, or both, will force the FCC to withdraw this new ruling, just as the FCC's ruling earlier this year was turned back. While opinions differ, it is not at all clear that the FCC has the statutory authority to do what it wants to do with net neutrality, and so nothing much is going to change until there is a ruling.

Knowledge Democracy:

Email is protected by the Fourth Amendment

Freedom to Tinker reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled that email is protected by the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment requires a search warrant issued by a judge before law enforcement officials can search premises, and has long been applied to opening sealed paper mail.

Knowledge Democracy:

Incumbents continue to try to stop competition

Stop the Cap! has an article about the incumbent fight to kill the nation's most successful open access network: Utopia. Utopia's open access network has thousands of subscribers and fifteen providers on the network, including three TV providers. I've actually had the opportunity to see the Utopia TV provider offerings, and the picture quality of an all digital TV channel delivered via fiber is incredible.

Community news and projects:

Consolidation in the telecom industry

Chris Mitchell has a short but pointed note about the fallacy of the "leave it to the private sector" policies that have received so much attention, mainly because the incumbents have pushed that approach vociferously over the past fifteen years. But Mitchell points out that it has largely failed, with many fewer ISPs than in the late nineties, and overall, fewer telephone and cable companies as the big telecom giants gobble up the smaller ones.

Technology News:

Maybe cellphones don't cause cancer

Scientific American has a short article on the supposed dangers of cellphones. This is something I have always been worried about, but there has never been any convincing data for or against the supposed dangers. Many of the studies I have read about hedge a lot. I'm still not sure about what to believe, but this article provides some of the physics behind electromagnetic radiation, and it is seems to provide some hard science-based justification for worrying a bit less.

Mitchell to FCC: Regulate in the public interest

Chris Mitchell of the Minnesota Institute for Local Self-Reliance testified before the FCC recently on behalf of community broadband projects. Mitchell argued eloquently that state legislators should not be able to preempt local governments from starting and managing community broadband networks. The short video is well worth watching.

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