November 3, 2010

Scientists unveil moving 3D holograms

Clive Cookson

More than 30 years after the famous Star Wars movie scene in which a hologram of Princess Leia appealed for help from Obi-Wan Kenobi, US researchers have unveiled holographic technology to transmit and view moving three-dimensional images.

The scientists at the University of Arizona say their prototype "holographic three-dimensional telepresence" is the world's first practical 3D transmission system that works without requiring viewers to wear special glasses or other devices. The research is published in the journal Nature.

Potential applications range from telemedicine and teleconferencing to mass entertainment.

"Holographic telepresence means we can record a three-dimensional image in one location and show it in another location, in real-time, anywhere in the world," said Nasser Peyghambarian, project leader.

Existing 3D projection systems produce either static holograms with excellent depth and resolution but no movement - or stereoscopic films, such as Avatar, which give the perspective from one viewpoint only and do not allow the viewer to walk around the image. The new technology combines motion with an impression of genuine solidity.

Posted by jez at 10:15 PM

May 31, 2010

Google has mapped every WiFi network in Britain

Duncan Gardham:
Google has mapped every wireless network in Britain in order to use the information for commercial purposes, it has emerged.

Every WiFi wireless router – the device that links most computer owners to the internet - in every home has been entered into a Google database.

The information was collected by radio aerials on their Street View cars, which have now photographed almost every home in the country.

The data is then used on Google's Maps for Mobile application to locate mobile phones such as iPhones in order for users to access information relevant to the area such as restaurants, cinemas, theatres, shops and hotels.

The project had remained secret until an inquiry in Germany earlier this month in which Google was forced to admit that it “mistakenly” downloaded emails and other data from unsecured wireless networks where they we
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:40 PM

October 2, 2009

Madison Unified Fiber Network, Madison Broadband Initiative

Details appear on the next Madison School Board meeting agenda [PDF].

Good news, if it happens. The Madison lags other parts of the country and world in fiber deployment.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:29 PM

June 30, 2009

US vs. Japan: Residential Internet Service Pricing

Chiehyu Li:
The following chart lists the price, download and upload speeds of residential Internet services in the U.S. and Japan.
NTT (Nippon Telegraph and Telephone) is the major incumbent telephone operator in Japan. NTT has focused on fiber-optic business while Yahoo! BB (a subsidiary of SoftBank Telecom Corp.) has had first-mover advantage for DSL Internet. Due to unbundling requirements, Yahoo! BB and @nifty provide DSL service by renting NTT’s telephone lines at low prices.

Cable/DSL service In the U.S., the price for cable or DSL (1Mbps-7 Mbps) ranges from roughly $20-45/month. Comcast has higher speed Internet, 15Mbps-50Mbps, and costs $43-$140 per month.
In Japan, the typical Internet speed is higher than the U.S. (8Mbps-50Mbps), and costs $30-60 per month. J:COM, a large cable Internet provider, has cable Internet up to 160Mbps, costs $63 ($0.4 per megabit).
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:29 AM

March 16, 2009

Wisconsin: No Fiber to the Home Activity.....

Scott Wilkinson & Benoit Felton:
I have been collaborating with Benoit Felton, a Yankee Group analyst based in Paris, and others on a map of FTTP (fiber to the premises) sites worldwide. For now, I'm doing most of the U.S. sites as time permits. There are still quite a few to add, since the U.S. FTTP deployments tend to be local municipal or utility networks, with the notable exception of Verizon's successful FiOS service.

It’s pretty impressive, and is something to think about when your local telecommunications provider claims that you should be happy with your 1Mbps DSL connection.
The "video competition bill" - largely pushed by AT&T was a major miss for Wisconsin.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:22 AM

October 10, 2008

Judge Tosses TDS Lawsuit Against Minnesota Municipal Fiber Optic Project

Nate Anderson:

When the 12,000 person city of Monticello, Minnesota voted overwhelmingly to put in a city-owned and -operated fiber-optic network that would link up all homes and business to a fast Internet pipe, the local telco sued to stop them. Wednesday, District Court Judge Jonathan Jasper dismissed the suit with prejudice after finding that the city was well within its rights to build the network by issuing municipal bonds. In this case, however, a total loss for the telco might actually turn out to be a perverse sort of victory.

The judge's ruling, a copy of which was seen by Ars Technica, is noteworthy for two things: (1) the judge's complete dismissal of Bridgewater Telephone Company's complaint and (2) his obvious anger at the underfunding of Minnesota's state courts. Indeed, the longest footnote in the opinion is an extended jeremiad about how much work judges are under and why it took so long to decide this case, even going so far as to cite approvingly a newspaper editorial backing more funds for the court.

Bridgewater's basic complaint was that cities in Minnesota are not allowed to use bonds in order to offer data services to residents, because they lack the necessary authority. State statute says that such bonds may be issued for a host of projects (sewers, stadia, playgrounds, and "homes for aged," among others), and they can more generally be used to fund "other public conveniences." But is Internet access a "public convenience"?

More here.

Posted by jez at 3:26 PM

August 19, 2008

Lessig on John McCain's Technology "Platform"

Larry Lessig



I have my doubts - unfortunately - that Obama will be much better on the crucial broadband issue for two reasons:

  • AT&T, very good at spreading the love money, or the king of telco lobbying is sponsoring the Democratic convention
  • Our own Democratic Governor - Jim Doyle, recently signed a AT&T supported "Video competition bill" into law - maybe useful for AT&T, but hardly good for citizens.

Posted by jez at 12:54 PM

August 16, 2008

California Declares Free Market Broken, Recommends Price Controls For Phone Services

The Consumerist:

Verizon, AT&T, and their regulated cohorts love to blab how the "free market" and "competition" will keep prices low for consumers. According to California, it's a big fat expensive lie. The cost of basic phone service has soared since the Public Utilities Commission lifted price controls in 2006, leading the agency to conclude:

"There is no indication of any change in the near future regarding the current state of competition. Market forces have not yet met the challenge of controlling price increases."

Posted by jez at 6:40 PM

July 30, 2008

TDS Telecom sues Monticello over city's plan to build its own high-speed network

Heron Marquez Estrada:

A failure to communicate between Monticello and TDS Telecom, its chief phone and cable provider, is threatening to short-circuit plans to make the city one of the most wired communities in the nation.

Both Monticello and TDS Telecom are constructing multi-million dollar fiber-optic networks that will directly connect to every home, office and business in the city.

When the networks come online in the next year or so, they would be among only about 45 in the country that provide such connectivity.

But Monticello -- a city of about 11,000 in northern Wright County -- also may be the only locale where the public and private sectors are competing so directly for paying customers.

The acrimony from such direct competition has led to the filing of what may become a precedent-setting lawsuit by TDS questioning whether municipalities can use revenue bonds to create fiber-optic networks.

Fascinating. It's not like TDS is building fiber to the home here. We're stuck with (and continue to pay for) nearly century old copper networks. Much like roads, I believe that public fiber networks (open to any player) make sense, particularly when there is no evidence that the incumbent telcos plan to upgrade their infrastructure.

Posted by jez at 2:48 PM

June 27, 2008

Verizon's fiber guru talks strategy

Marguerite Reardon:

Fios also has helped future-proof Verizon's network. While its cable competitors buckle under the pressure of peer-to-peer traffic on their networks, Verizon has enough capacity in its network, thanks to its fiber upgrades, to weather the storm unscathed and work on its own timetable to find more efficient ways to handle peer-to-peer traffic.

Mark Wegleitner, Verizon's senior vice president of technology in charge of broadband and consumer services, has helped develop and drive Verizon's fiber strategy. I sat down with him at the Nxtcomm trade show in Las Vegas last week to talk about a wide variety of topics, including the controversy over Comcast's treatment of BitTorrent traffic, faster speeds for Fios, and what the company plans to do next when it reaches its 2010 goal of passing 18 million homes with fiber.

The Madison area is stuck with an aging telco infrastructure. Neither AT&T, nor TDS have any plans to upgrade their networks to the home. Not good.... Verizon FIOS Deployment Map.

Posted by jez at 2:10 PM

May 18, 2008

Cities Startup Broadband Efforts

Christopher Rhoads:

Internet traffic is growing faster than at any time since the boom of the late-1990s. Places like Chattanooga are trying hard not to get stuck in the slow lane.

Some 60 towns and small cities, including Bristol, Va., Barnsville, Minn., and Sallisaw, Okla., have built state-of-the-art fiber networks, capable of speeds many times faster than most existing connections from cable and telecom companies. An additional two dozen municipalities, including Chattanooga, have launched or are considering similar initiatives.

The efforts highlight a battle over Internet policy in the U.S. Once the undisputed leader in the technological revolution, the U.S. now lags a growing number of countries in the speed, cost and availability of high-speed Internet. While cable and telecom companies are spending billions to upgrade their service, they're focusing their efforts mostly on larger U.S. cities for now.

Smaller ones such as Chattanooga say they need to fill the vacuum themselves or risk falling further behind and losing highly-paid jobs. Chattanooga's city-owned electric utility began offering ultrafast Internet service to downtown business customers five years ago. Now it plans to roll out a fiber network to deliver TV, high-speed Internet and phone service to some 170,000 customers. The city has no choice but to foot the bill itself for a high-speed network -- expected to cost $230 million -- if it wants to remain competitive in today's global economy, says Harold DePriest, the utility's chief executive officer.

Madison's pitiful broadband infrastructure could certainly use a shot in the arm.

Posted by jez at 10:30 PM

March 31, 2008

"Quote du jour"

Brad Templeton:

Cable is not a monopoly. You can choose from any cable company you want in America, just by moving your house.
@ Freedom to Connect.

Posted by jez at 9:06 AM

February 4, 2008

Fixing US broadband: $100 billion for fiber to every home

Nate Anderson:

The US is in desperate need of 100Mbps "big broadband." That's the conclusion of a new report from EDUCAUSE (PDF), a group that represents IT managers at over 2,200 colleges and universities. But these 100Mbps connections are coming slowly; in the meantime, countries like Japan already have them. To avoid falling further behind, the report calls for a national broadband policy to be passed this year, one that includes $100 billion for a fiber-to-the-home infrastructure that will connect every household and business in the country.

The report opens by citing the familiar, dreary facts: US broadband might now be widely available, but it's slow and relatively expensive. Between 1999 and 2006, the US fell from third place to 20th in the International Telecommunications Union's broadband usage measurements. When it comes to average connection speeds, the US isn't beaten just by Japan but also by France, Korea, Sweden, New Zealand, Italy, Finland, Portugal, Australia, Norway, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, and Germany. And it's not about population size or density, either; Finland, Sweden, and Canada beat us on most broadband metrics despite having lower population density. Finally, we're getting beat on price, coming in 18th worldwide when it comes to cost per megabyte.

Posted by jez at 12:01 AM

January 26, 2008

Indian Company to Roll Out Massive WiMax Coverage

Nilay Patel:

Even as Sprint tentatively rolls out the XOHM network here in the States, the largest Indian telecom company is planning to build a mobile WiMax network covering three states on the subcontinent capable of serving 250 million people. State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is leaning on Soma Networks to build the broadband-speed network in response to government requirement that 20 million broadband lines be in service by 2010. The WiMax rollout will first hit the largest and most-connected states, but BSNL is planning on extending the network if things go well.

Posted by jez at 5:45 PM

December 10, 2007

Rolling Over for AT&T: "Video Competition" Bill is a Major Missed Opportunity for Wisconsin

A reader forwarded this full page, color advertisement paid for by large telco (AT&T, etc.) front group TV4us. The advertisement appeared in this morning's Wisconsin State Journal. The State Journal supports the AT&T "video competition bill".
attwisj12102007t.jpg
Click to view a larger version

Brian Clark has more:

Vergin said he's pleased he'll only have to get one state franchise, instead of having to deal with the 33 different municipalities in his service area.

“That’s a big benefit for us and what I think the bill is all about,” he said.

Vergin said his company’s prices won’t be any lower than Charter’s. But he's convinced his firm will be able to offer better service and options to bundle cable, phone and wireless service.

He said he was opposed to proposed rules that would have required his company to serve entire communities. He also rejected suggestions telecommunications firms should be ordered to run fiber optic to homes and businesses.

“The 100 requirement would limit us,” he said. “And we are running fiber optic to new construction, but not existing buildings. I just don’t think the government should tell us what technology we should use. The market should decide that. I also think have 50 percent of any area covered is better than none.”

.....

(Charles) Higley (Citizen's Utility Board Executive Director) said he, too, would have liked to have seen a requirement that companies build fiber optic cable.

“We’ve had promises to build it before and it didn’t come,” he said. “In the future, if not already, broadband is an essential service like telephone and electricity. We think government should require essential services.”

The Governor and Legislature appear to have obtained nothing while giving away significant regulatory changes. A disaster for Wisconsin business, schools residents and public agencies. What a deal for the large telcos: spend money on lobbying and advertising but not fiber to the home. Classic rentier approach: milk the slow copper network that we've paid for many times over as long as possible.

Keep in mind Verizon's FIOS, a fiber to the home product installed in many communities [Service Map] - none in Wisconsin.

I recently had the opportunity to use basic FIOS service while on travel. The service was symmetrical - that is, upload and download speeds are the same. Local dsl services are not symmetrical - AT&T and TDS limit upload speeds to a very slow 768kpbs.

This archaic approach is awful for those of us creating, uploading and backing up media (photos, videos and music, not to mention data heavy scientific applications). FIOS provides at least 5 to 50X the speeds of the fastest dsl service generally available in the Madison area. Slow networks limit entrepreneurial opportunities, particularly emerging home based businesses.

Finally, I spoke briefly some years ago with then Gubernatorial candidate Jim Doyle at a campaign event. I mentioned Wisconsin's very poor broadband infrastructure. He said he understood these issues but could not address them in his first term but hoped to in a second. Will Doyle leave a legacy of aging, slow copper networks? I put a call into Susan Goodwin, Chief of Staff, for an update.

-------

A bit of sugar for AT&T. This giant organization is fully capable of implementing a modern, high quality, fast fiber network. They simply need to make the strategic decision, as Verizon has, to upgrade their network. How much longer must we pay for the old, old copper lines? I've received excellent, economical service from AT&T's cell network.

Background:

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:52 PM

November 7, 2007

Former Technician 'Turning In' AT&T Over NSA Program

Ellen Nakashima:

His first inkling that something was amiss came in summer 2002 when he opened the door to admit a visitor from the National Security Agency to an office of AT&T in San Francisco.

"What the heck is the NSA doing here?" Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician, said he asked himself.

A year or so later, he stumbled upon documents that, he said, nearly caused him to fall out of his chair. The documents, he said, show that the NSA gained access to massive amounts of e-mail and search and other Internet records of more than a dozen global and regional telecommunications providers. AT&T allowed the agency to hook into its network at a facility in San Francisco and, according to Klein, many of the other telecom companies probably knew nothing about it.

Klein is in Washington this week to share his story in the hope that it will persuade lawmakers not to grant legal immunity to telecommunications firms that helped the government in its anti-terrorism efforts.

Perhaps our elected officials might consider this matter vis a vis AT&T's flawed video "competition" bill. unlikely

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:34 PM

October 25, 2007

Broadband Networks Critical For Regional Viability, Growth

Jim Carlini:

If your municipality isn’t looking at creative ways to develop new strategies that include having a state-of-the-art network infrastructure to support economic growth and development, they will be stagnating your property value and quality of life in your area. This was the message I conveyed in a speech on intelligent business campuses at the RTC last week.

Simply put, the three most important words in real estate (“location, location, location”) have turned into “location, location, connectivity” in urban, suburban and rural America.

Corporate site selection committees have included broadband connectivity as one of the top three criteria they are looking for when researching locations for corporate facilities. If your community does not have a good platform for broadband connectivity, it will simply be passed over in favor for one that does.

As a keynote speaker, I also presented these concepts on Tuesday to an urban symposium at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee.

The critical message is the same whether it is for a 5,000-person village in Virginia, a 50,000-person county in downstate Illinois or a 500,000-person city in Wisconsin: “Economic development equals broadband connectivity and broadband connectivity equals jobs.” Without connectivity, there will be little economic development and little if any new jobs.

The table below represents the layers of critical infrastructure that must be taken into account when reviewing regional opportunities.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:12 PM

October 24, 2007

Verizon discovers symmetry, offers 20/20 symmetrical FiOS service

Nate Anderson:

Some residents of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey who live inside the boundaries of Verizon's FiOS network will be the first to be able to take advantage of Verizon's new 20/20 FiOS service. As the name implies, 20/20 FiOS is a symmetrical 20Mbps connection (same speed in both directions), and it's one of the first symmetrical services to target the consumer market.

Available today, 20/20 will cost $64.99 per month and will include Verizon's Internet Security Suite and 1GB of online backup (up to 50GB can be purchased at "competitive rates").

Susan Retta, the company's VP of Broadband Solutions, was quick to compare the new plan to cable. "For more than a decade, the Internet has been defined by how quickly you can download content," Retta said. "Our 20/20 FiOS service changes everything by creating an entirely new category of US broadband where 'fast' means fast in both directions."

We're a long way from this type of service, unfortunately. AT&T sells us slow copper internet services.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:53 PM

August 4, 2007

Community Broadband Act would overturn bans on municipal broadband

Eric Bangeman:

A bill introduced into the House of Representatives this week will attempt to spur broadband development in the US by overturning existing state bans on municipal broadband deployments. Titled the Community Broadband Act of 2007, the bill (PDF) is cosponsored by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI).

Currently, laws in Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Texas, and a handful of other states prevent cities and towns from installing and operating their own broadband networks. Most of those laws were enacted in the wake of heavy lobbying from the telecommunications industry, which doesn't want to see competition coming from local governments.

Last year's attempted rewrite of the Telecommunications Act contained a similar provision but never made it to the floor of the Senate for a vote. With the state of broadband in the US a hot topic of discussion lately, both on Capitol Hill and around the country, Reps. Boucher and Upton may be able to find allies in Congress a bit more easily this time around. The congressmen are hopeful that, should it be passed, the Act would lead to more—and better—broadband options for US citizens.

Posted by James Zellmer at 3:54 PM

July 14, 2007

China's Online Population Explosion

Deborah Fallows:

There are now an estimated 137 million internet users in China, second in number only to the United States, where estimates of the current internet population range from 165 million to 210 million. The growth rate of China's internet user population has been outpacing that of the U.S., and China is projected to overtake the U.S. in the total number of users within a few years.

The influx of tens of millions of new online participants each year can be expected to have far-reaching consequences for the Chinese population, for China itself and for the larger world. At the very least, the internet will offer ever greater numbers of Chinese a much more sophisticated information and communications world than the one they currently inhabit. And because the Chinese share a single written language, despite the multiplicity of spoken tongues, it could have a unifying effect on the country's widely dispersed citizenry. An expanding internet population might also increase domestic tensions that could spill over into China's relations with the U.S. and other countries while the difference between Chinese and Western approaches to the internet could create additional sore points over human rights and problems with restrictions on non-Chinese companies.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:40 PM

June 26, 2007

iPhone: Game Changer

Apple's iPhone has received no shortage of hype since it was announced earlier this year. From a technology perspective, I find the multi-touch interface most interesting. It cleanly addresses many small screen issues, including navigation and zoom in/out.

Having said that, I believe the real paradigm shift is the activation process. Years ago, while replacing a dead phone, I stood at the usual cell phone counter for quite some time while the customer in front of me went through a long activation process with Verizon's representative. What a waste of time.

Apple has dramatically simplified (assuming it works) the activation process by baking it into iTunes. Buy the phone via bricks and mortar or online, sync and activate with your mac or pc and get on with it.

In many ways, Apple has pulled an identity-ectomy (identiectomy?) on AT&T. They are selling phones via AT&T's channels, but the user experience (and therefore brand and stock price leverage) is all Apple. AT&T will get the fumes, but this is Apple's win. I'm no fan of AT&T [rss].

Finally, two years ago, while on travel, I spoke with someone who should/would know. This person told me that the iPhone was due later that summer (2005). I wonder if Apple scrapped an early version and decided to wait for the right time and place in terms of technology and software? If so, that takes guts, particularly given the pieces that need to be in place for a launch.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:01 PM

June 17, 2007

The "Cashectomy" of AT&T

Cringely makes some useful points regarding the business relationship between Apple and AT&T:
What could AT&T be praying for? Plenty of things, but the most obvious theme I see is how to compete with Verizon, Comcast, and all the national cell phone providers. With Verizon, AT&T has to defend its decision to stick with a copper broadband infrastructure instead of the more expensive optical fiber Verizon has picked. With Comcast, AT&T has to defend its copper plant against Comcast's copper plant, which is about to gain a LOT more bandwidth thanks to new modems using more advanced modulation techniques. And against the other mobile operators, AT&T has to defend its decision not to go full 3G with the iPhone.

Are you noticing a trend here? AT&T is facing a potential bandwidth crisis when it comes to customer perception and it is logical to assume that Apple helped create that crisis. After all, the iPhone could easily have been made to work with 3G. Since AT&T HAS a 3G network, the decision not to use it was probably complicated and some of that complication may have come from Steve Jobs saying, "We don't need it. The iPhone will be insanely great with G2.5, thanks."
AT&T clearly prefers to spend money on lobbying and advertising, rather than substance (fiber to the home).
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:26 PM

June 13, 2007

AT&T: Sticking it to us Yet Again

James Granelli:
AT&T Inc. has joined Hollywood studios and recording companies in trying to keep pirated films, music and other content off its network — the first major carrier of Internet traffic to do so.

The San Antonio-based company started working last week with studios and record companies to develop anti-piracy technology that would target the most frequent offenders, said James W. Cicconi, an AT&T senior vice president.

The nation's largest telephone and Internet service provider also operates the biggest cross-country system for handling Internet traffic for its customers and those of other providers.

As AT&T has begun selling pay-television services, the company has realized that its interests are more closely aligned with Hollywood, Cicconi said in an interview Tuesday. The company's top leaders recently decided to help Hollywood protect the digital copyrights to that content.

"We do recognize that a lot of our future business depends on exciting and interesting content," he said.

But critics say the company is going to be fighting a losing battle and angering its own customers, and it should focus instead on developing incentives for users to pay for all the content they want.
AT&T's complicity in domestic surveillance via an EFF lawsuit. Duncan Riley offers up a name change: American Tracking & Takedown. David Weinberger notes that AT&T is going to "exit the internet". It is disappointing to see our local politicians carrying the water for AT&T.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:00 PM

May 18, 2007

House Dems: Broadband isn't broadband unless it's 2Mbps

Nate Anderson:

Saying that the FCC "has not kept pace with the times or the technology," Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) opened a hearing today into the FCC's methods for measuring broadband availability in the US. The US lags in speed, availability, and value, said Markey, compared to a country like Japan, where most residents can pay $30 a month for 50Mbps fiber connections to the Internet (which some senators would like to see migrate across the Pacific). But without accurate data on US broadband, neither the government nor private industry will be able to put forward a comprehensive national broadband plan.

Problems with the FCC's broadband data collection methodology have been well-known for years, and Congress is finally poised to step in and tell the agency how to fix the problem. The Broadband Census of America Act, currently in draft form, asks the FCC to increase its broadband threshold speed from 200Kbps to 2Mbps and to stop claiming that a ZIP code has broadband access if even a single resident in that ZIP code does. It also asks the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to prepare a map for the web that will show all this data in a searchable, consumer-friendly format.

The mood among the members of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet was jovial; Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) even opened by asking (in reference to the proposed map), "Why do maps never win at poker?" The answer: "Because they always fold." Groan.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:08 PM

May 14, 2007

Clues About the Future of TV

David Isenberg:

A recent article chronicles the telcos' slow start in cable TV. I don't think the telcos stand a chance of succeeding in cable TV. Instead, if they're to succeed at all, they'll probably buy or form alliances with existing cablecos. (Dale Hatfield put it most memorably when he said, "Duopoly is an optimistic assumption.") But they'd better start swimming, because the times are a changing; I think four things will make the video entertainment space different in the near future: new devices, RSS, faster than real-time downloads and the end of the Kontent Kartel. Here's an article I wrote last year for VON Magazine about that:
Informative, particularly in light of AT&T's extensive lobbying to supply "tv" across their old Wisconsin copper network....

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:53 AM

May 13, 2007

True Broadband: Vermont vs. Wisconsin

Tom Evslin:

An hour or so ago the Vermont House and Senate both gave final approval to a bill designed to make Vermont the nation’s first e-state. As defined in Vermont, e-stateness means cellular and adequate broadband coverage – fixed and mobile – everywhere in the state by 2010. The initial definition of adequate fixed broadband is 3 megabits per second service in at least one direction; but the bill contains a mechanism for ratcheting that up as requirements escalate. It is estimated that this requirement may be as high as 20 megabits in both directions by 2013.

Although the bill passed the Vermont House with an overwhelming 132-2 vote more than a month ago, it was by no means assured of passage. Vermont’s citizen legislature is hoping to adjourn for the year sometime tonight. There was a danger that the Senate would not have the time it needed to consider all aspects of this very large bill. But they did!

Quite a contrast to Wisconsin's process, where AT&T's stagnant infrastructure (and more importantly, their lobbying prowess) carries the day. Gotta love our forward thinking politicians.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:30 AM

May 3, 2007

Facing economic realities of muni Wi-Fi

Dewayne Hendricks:

In the movement to blanket cities with Wi-Fi, economic realities are setting in as service providers look to tweak their business models to turn a profit. Since the municipal Wi-Fi movement started taking shape a couple of years ago, politicians, community organizers and the companies building the networks have touted Wi-Fi as a cheap solution to a myriad social and economic problems plaguing cities today. Some cities see it as a way to bridge the digital divide, while others see Wi-Fi as providing a third alternative to a broadband market dominated by the cable and phone companies. Up to this point, the financial risk has mostly fallen on the service providers that have put up the capital to build the wireless mesh networks.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:39 PM

April 23, 2007

A few Suggestions for Governor Doyle Regarding the AT&T "Video Competition" Bill

AT&T's lobbying efforts to change Wisconsin's cable TV regulations has generated a refreshing amount of commentary. 5 years ago, during Governor Doyle's first Gubernatorial campaign, I had a chance to briefly talk with him after a debate with Scott McCallum. I mentioned Wisconsin's poor broadband infrastructure (we continue to stand still, which means we're falling further behind) and how AT&T had failed to invest in fiber networks. Doyle mentioned that he was aware of this, but could not do anything about it in a first term.....

Fast forward to 2007. This map, via broadbandreports.com displays the communities that have Verizon's fiber to the home available. Fiber networks provide much higher speeds and more citizen choice than our aging and long since paid for copper networks (we continue to pay and pay and pay for the old stuff).

Perhaps, Governor Doyle might put citizen's interests first and sign the bill only if:
  • Those who provide service via this bill must do so via symmetrical fiber to the home, and,
  • Customers may purchase the symmetrical fiber to the home service for internet use only (ie, without phone or video service). Such "naked" internet service shall be available at speeds equal or greater to those offered via phone/video bundles.. Cost and terms shall not penalize naked internet buyers vis a vis bundled phone/video purchases
  • Customers shall have complete access to all internet services. Vendors will not restrict any IP services.
What are the odds? UPDATE: A friend emailed simply: "Lotsa luck". Interestingly, this type of an initiative would be quite a legacy for the Governor. The fiber will be connected to our homes for many, many years.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:41 PM

April 22, 2007

AT&T Lobbying Investments (rather than fiber networks)

AT&T, parent of troubled Cingular Wireless, continues to invest in non-network related initiatives, as this article by Steven Walters illustrates:
AT&T doles out $54,000 ahead of cable bill debate

Doyle, lawmakers say money won't affect stands on deregulation legislation

Communications giant AT&T pushed a controversial bill to have state government license cable systems by showering more than $54,000 in campaign cash on dozens of lawmakers and Gov. Jim Doyle over the past 15 months.

Campaign-finance records show that AT&T's political action committee gave a total of $10,000 to four legislators and the Assembly Republican Campaign Committee in the past two months, when legislators negotiated details of the complex package with AT&T's 15 registered lobbyists.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:34 AM

April 17, 2007

Comical Cingular (AT&T)

Where to begin?

Prior to a recent Asia trip, I needed to obtain a SIM Card for my old Cingular (AT&T) phone that would work while on travel. (I now use a Verizon phone due to our experience with Cingular's poor network coverage - dropped calls on John Nolen Drive, for example).

I called Cingular and explained my requirements: a prepaid SIM Card that would work for 30 days while on travel overseas. The telesales representative explained their different services, including data, worldwide calling and various monthly minute plans.

I provided my credit to close the transaction and a few days later, the Cingular SIM card arrived. I also requested the codes to "unlock" my old phone. Unfortunately, despite our prior long term Cingular arrangement, they insisted that I had to use the phone for 90 days before they would provide the unlock keys. This would prove to be a problem when I found that the SIM card Cingular sold me did not, in fact, work internationally.

Fortunately, a friend let me use an old phone, which would accept any SIM Card - easily purchased in most countries.

I called Cingular upon my return to express my disappointment. Farrah in Halifax was as helpful as could be expected, given their organization. She phoned their "sales" department to see if I could obtain a refund. The "sales" person told her that they "don't sell SIM Cards"! I mentioned that while I'm unhappy with Cingular, I'm glad she had that experience with sales, particularly while I was on the line.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a world phone, look elsewhere. I've heard good things about T-mobile, though your mileage may vary.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:07 AM

March 24, 2007

AT&T's Rhetoric on Competition

Mark Pitsch:
Wisconsin residents would lose their rights to cable television repairs within 72 hours, credit for service interruptions and advance notice of rate increases, under a bill on the fast track in the state Legislature.

The proposal, designed to increase competition in an industry dominated by cable companies, is supported by the lobbying muscle of telecommunications giant AT&T.

It's part of AT&T's challenge to cable companies such as Charter Communications, which are licensed by local governments.

There is little agreement on whether the proposal would help consumers or hurt them.
Pitsch mentions this:
But proponents say the bill would lower costs for telecast delivery - whether by cable or AT&T's fiber optic lines - by up to 23 percent by introducing competition and deregulating the industry.
What fiber optic lines would that be? AT&T has done nothing to upgrade it's copper based network to the home (other than spend money on lobbying and advertisements regarding the ongoing resale of the old network, something we've paid for over and over and over...), unlike Verizon in other parts of the country. Nice to see our politicians continue to "stick it to us". `
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:38 AM

March 8, 2007

Chinese Dissident's Wife to Sue Yahoo

Richard Komen:
Speaking with VOA's Mandarin Service Wednesday after arriving in Washington, Yu Ling said Chinese police arrested her husband, Wang Xiaoning, partly because Yahoo's Hong Kong office gave Chinese authorities information about his e-mail accounts.

Yu Ling said she has come to the United States to sue the company for damages and to demand an apology.

Last year, Yahoo provided the Chinese with information about Shi Tao, a journalist who emailed to Western news outlets details of China's plans to handle the 15th anniversary of Tiananmen Square.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:33 PM

March 7, 2007

Publicly owned networks are the key to universal access and healthy competition

Becca Vargo Daggett:
Local governments have taken the lead in U.S. broadband policy. Hundreds of communities of all sizes are making decisions about how to best deliver universal, affordable access to high-speed information networks. Many are offered seemingly attractive arrangements with no upfront cost to the city. They do themselves and their households and businesses a disservice if they do not seriously explore the costs and benefits of a publicly owned network.

In this report, we highlight five arguments for public ownership.

1. High-speed information networks are essential public infrastructure.

Just as high quality road systems are needed to transport people and goods, high quality wired and wireless networks are needed to transport information. Public ownership of the physical network does not necessarily mean the city either manages the network or provides services. Cities own roads, but they do not operate freight companies or deliver pizzas.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:29 PM

March 5, 2007

The Killing of Wifi?

John Dvorak:
There is mounting evidence that the cellular service companies are going to do whatever they can to kill Wi-Fi. After all, it is a huge long-term threat to them. We've seen that the route to success in America today is via public gullibility and general ignorance. And these cell-phone–service companies are no dummies.

The always-entertaining Pew Internet & American Life Project ran a survey, and the results show that 34 percent of Internet users have gone online with a Wi-Fi connection or one of those newly popular and overpriced cell-phone services. Two years ago, this number was 22 percent. Another factoid from the survey: 19 percent of all users have Wi-Fi in the home. This number was a mere 10 percent just one year ago. The last tidbit from the survey worth noting is that only 56 percent of the people who have PDAs that hook to the Internet have actually gone on the Net via their PDA. The same goes for the people who have cell phones with Internet capability; not much more than half have actually used it.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:47 PM

February 20, 2007

Fear and Loathing the Cable Company

Jeff Jarvis:
But then, that’s not news. I’ve been trying to get Joost working at home and was cursing it, but I was cursing the wrong party. Joost works fine at work. I can’t wait until Verizon finishes laying fibre on my street so I can get FIOS. Except Verizon hired the worst contractor imaginable to get the job done. They have been at it for more than two months on a street with fewer than 20 homes; they’ve managed to cut our cable and gas line and a neighbor’s electric line and they’re not nearly done. I’m about to go out with a shovel myself just so I can get rid of Cablevision sooner.
At least Jarvis can look forward to fiber to the home, via Verizon. Locally, AT&T is content to spend money on advertising and resell us the copper lines we've paid for over and over and over.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:16 AM

February 11, 2007

Google's Arrogance in North Carolina: Learning from AT&T?

Ed Cone:
But it turns out that there was a lot more to the story. Google leaned hard on North Carolina lawmakers and officials, not just to get the fattest deal possible but to choke off the flow of information along the way.

According to documents obtained by The News & Observer of Raleigh, the company went beyond reasonable expectations of confidentiality to demand absolute secrecy while negotiations were under way, even asking participants to sign nondisclosure agreements; some legislators and local officials did so, but Department of Commerce officials did not. Google executive Rhett Weiss badgered Commerce Secretary Jim Fain about the state's adherence to process, complaining, for example, when lawmakers wanted an estimate of the cost to North Carolina in lost tax revenue, and threatening to kill the whole thing if Google didn't get its way.

Businesses need some measure of confidentiality when putting together this kind of transaction. Fair enough. But this is the people's business, and Google's high-handedness is an affront to the people of this state.

And then there's that whole "Don't be evil" thing. Google spokesman Barry Schnitt told me that the company's negotiations with the state were "very standard." If that's the case, and this is standard operating procedure for the company, then something has gone wrong in Silicon Valley.
Barry Orton keeps up with AT&T's Wisconsin Lobbying.

Yet another reason to use the excellent Clusty search engine.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:56 AM

February 7, 2007

Missouri Telecom Bill Tunes Out Customer Needs

J. Scott Christianson:

The Missouri Senate is considering one of the best-written pieces of legislation to come before it in some time: Senate Bill 284, the Missouri Video Franchise Bill. It should be a good bill, considering how much money AT&T spent to write it.

The video franchise bill has something in it for every large telecommunications company: reducing public oversight, eliminating local control, cherry-picking high-profit customers and protection from prying public auditors. It would be wonderful - if it weren’t such a complete betrayal of the public trust.

SB 284’s most important feature is to strip local government of its authority to regulate companies that offer video services. Right now, local cable television companies receive their licenses to operate from the municipalities they serve. Cable TV companies get to use a city’s rights of way for running their lines. In return, local municipalities receive a franchise fee and are provided a few channels for local citizens and government to use, so-called PEG - for public, education and government access - channels. Until now, this arrangement seemed like a reasonable exchange for the huge benefit of accessing city rights of way.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:17 AM

January 23, 2007

Sad, But True: Antitrust & AT&T

Steven Colbert on the reconstituted AT&T. We still don't have any prospects of fiber to the home in Madison, much less around the state.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:33 PM

January 11, 2007

iPhone / Apple Phone Tea Leaves

Cringely parses Apple and Cingular as they introduce an interesting new phone:
This leaves us with the mystery of why Apple deliberately hobbled the cellular Internet capability of its iPhone, Apple Phone, whatever. As described this week, when the iPhone ships it will only work with Cingular's EDGE network, which is its 2G Internet service that maxes out at 170 kilobits per second on not just a good day but on a day that is so good it never happens. I've used the EDGE network and it feels like dial-up to me.

The iPhone is this amazing connectivity quad-mode device that can probably make use of as much bandwidth as it can get, so making it suck through the little straw that is EDGE makes no sense from a user perspective. But remember that the parties involved here are Apple and Cingular, neither of which is 100 percent allied with user interests. Cingular has a 3G network called BroadbandConnect or "MediaNet" if you buy Cingular's associated Cingular Video service.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:02 PM

December 21, 2006

"Bad ISP's

Azureuswiki:
Here's a list of ISPs (Internet service provider) that are known to cause trouble for BitTorrent clients or P2P in general and the reason why. If you are using one consider finding a new, better one. If your ISP is not on the list come to the IRC channel and tell the OPs, they can add it. Read about Good settings and NAT problem first though.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:43 PM

December 18, 2006

Some Skype Numbers

Bruce Meyerson:
TeleGeography estimates that Skype users are on track to make over 27 billion minutes of computer-to-computer calls this year, with about half of them used for international long distance (all free). While that sounds like a lot, it still represents just 4.4 percent of total international traffic in 2006, up from 2.9 percent in 2005."
David Isenberg has more:
Even if most of these minutes are new minutes that are only there because C2C Skype is free, this is impressive -- in part, because with new computer devices, e.g., open WiFi phones, it is getting hard to distinguish a C2C call from a Phone-to-Phone call. In addition, the new computerphones are erasing the ease-of-use factor that keeps us glued to RJ-11.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:35 PM

December 5, 2006

AT&T: No Fiber to the Home

Well, we Wisconsinites subject to AT&T's new monopoly can pound sand. No fiber for us.... Reuters:
"Our view at this point is that we're not going to have go 'fiber to the home.' We're pleased with the bandwidth that we're seeing over copper," Chief Financial Officer Richard Lindner told a Credit Suisse conference.

"On average, at this point, we're producing about 25 megabits (per second). But in many many locations, we're producing substantially more than that."
Nice to see the status quo - standing still while the rest of the world moves on.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:31 PM

November 21, 2006

Verizon's Blog

Interesting to see the Big Telco jousting with their competitors. Unfortunately, we Madisonians are a long way away from fiber to the home, something Verizon is installing in many markets.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:17 PM

November 19, 2006

A New Take on Net Neutrality

RampRate:
The debate over net neutrality1 has often focused on video as the dominant medium that made the prioritization of packets either crucial or harmful. However, video is not the offering that will suffer the most if net neutrality becomes a wistful memory. Rather, the users that are likely to be most materially disadvantaged are those that utilize the Net for interactive communications – particularly voice over IP (VOIP) and online gaming. Of these two finalists for the dubious title of “innovation most likely to be stifled to the detriment of everyone by loss of net neutrality,” gaming is by far the more irreplaceable and senseless loss.

Unlike video and voice, ISPs are unlikely to have or be able to obtain a viable material stake in the gaming business and have no replacement for the service. As a result, consumers stand not only to lose their choice of the source of this product, but the very value of the gaming service itself.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:40 PM

September 24, 2006

Chicago's Wireless RFP

Esme Vos:
Chicago has finally released its RFP for a citywide Wi-Fi network. In May 2006, Mayor Richard M Daley had announced a plan to provide affordable broadband Internet service to all Chicagoans and to make computers more widely available to low-income residents. The Mayor also offered $250,000 in grants to help community groups come up with innovative ways to help close the digital divide, and he appointed an advisory panel to make further recommendations on the issue.

The City of Chicago’s Department of Business and Information Services (BIS) introduced a Draft RFP for comments on May 30, 2006. The City received many meaningful comments and suggestions, which are incorporated in the Final RFP, which it issued today.
Full RFP [pdf]
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:30 PM

September 13, 2006

AT&T - More Marketing, No Fiber to the Home

Rick Romell:
Opening a new front in its battle with cable companies for the country's Internet, telephone and television customers, AT&T Inc. on Tuesday started selling Web-based TV service.

For $19.99 a month, the telecommunications firm is offering about 20 channels over the Internet, with the promise of more soon. The service is available to anyone with a high-speed, or broadband, Internet connection - wired or wireless.

The rollout is "an example of how we're trying to evolve into an entertainment company," said Sarah Silva, Milwaukee-area spokeswoman for AT&T.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:28 PM

July 27, 2006

What Does $7 Billion in Telco Subsidies Buy?

Thomas Hazlett:
The “universal service” regime ostensibly extends local phone service to consumers who could not otherwise afford it. To achieve this goal, some $7 billion annually is raised – up from less than $4 billion in 1998 – by taxing telecommunications users. Yet, benefits are largely distributed to shareholders of rural telephone companies, not consumers, and fail – on net – to extend network access. Rather, the incentives created by these subsidies encourage widespread inefficiency and block adoption of advanced technologies – such as wireless, satellite, and Internet-based services – that could provide superior voice and data links at a fraction of the cost of traditional fixed-line networks. Ironically, subsidy payments are rising even as fixed-line phone subscribership falls, and as the emergence of competitive wireless and broadband networks make traditional universal service concepts obsolete. Unless policies are reformed to reflect current market realities, tax increases will continue to undermine the very goals “universal service” is said to advance.
Alex Tabarrok adds:
Guess how much would it cost a farmer to get telephone service in a small rural county far from a major city? Let's say $800 for satellite service.

Now guess how much the government subsidizes rural phone carriers to provide this service. The answer? As much as $13,000 per line per year.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:28 AM

July 19, 2006

Teletruth Letter to the Judge Regarding the SBC/AT&T and Verizon/MCI Mergers

Teletruth:
Teletruth believes there exists an inherent contradiction in representations of the SBC-AT&T and Verizon-MCI mergers in the complaints and consent decrees filed by the DOJ October 27, 2005.

The complaints note broad competition. For example - "SBC and AT&T compete in the sale of wireline telecommunications services to retail and wholesale customers in the United States." The complaints note particular concern about Local Private Lines. For example – "the proposed merger is likely to substantially reduce competition for Local Private Lines and telecommunications services that rely on Local Private Lines to those buildings." The DOJ believes the magnitude of these concerns provides sufficient justification to block the mergers. For example – "that Defendants be permanently enjoined and restrained from carrying out the Agreement and Plan of Merger dated January 30, 2005."
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:37 AM

June 29, 2006

North Carolina Daily Paper to Provide Free Local WiFi

PaidContent:
I’ve seen a lot of WiFi models lately but this appears to be the first from a local newspaper. (You’ll let me know if I’m wrong, I’m sure.) The Pilot, which covers Pinehurst and several other communities in North Carolina, will provide free WiFi across Moore County. Publisher David Woronoff explains: “The Pilot’s mission is to serve Moore County and we think the technology has advanced to the point that we can help bind the community together in a dynamic and compelling way with The Pilot’s products and Internet service.” They’ve acquired WiFi equipment, hired a GM and will start the rollout with a transmitter on their own building in Southern Pines. This isn’t a value add for print subscribers — it will be accessible to readers and non-readers. The Pilot plans to launch a fee-based WiMax network later this year.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:13 PM

Verizon's 100mbps Broadband service

This would be funny if it weren't so sad - at least those of us stuck with very slow telco service:
The Actiontec router's 100 Mbps capability allows Verizon to continue to provide higher data speeds to the customer, as they become available in the future, without having to install a new router or other equipment in the customer's home. Verizon's FTTP network is capable of providing such speeds. In addition, the new router allows Verizon to remotely assist customers in configuring it to meet specific needs within the home. Verizon also provides customers a business-class Internet firewall on the router.

"The ability to remotely diagnose problems and help the customer configure the router was a key goal for us," Wimsatt said. "In-home networking can be complex, but we have the right people -- and now the right equipment -- to help the customer."

Verizon is the only major telecom company building fiber-optics directly into customers' homes, paving the way for an array of advanced and reliable voice, data and video services. The company is currently building the network in parts of 16 states. By the end of last year, Verizon had passed some 3 million homes with the new technology and expects to pass 3 million more this year. The company began building the network in 2004.
Where's SBC/AT&T in all of this? They don't seem to be spending their money on infrastructure....
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:23 AM

June 20, 2006

Net Neutrality

Larry Lessig:
Apparent there are now allegations that SBC and Verizon forced the deals through DoJ when the designee for head of antitrust was on Senatorial hold for too activist an enforcement bent. DoJ cleared the deals and the hold was lifted. DoJ then ignored the amended Tunney Act and let the companies close the deals even before the judge did the Tunney Act review.

This is sleazy stuff, and it forms the real basis for being concerned about the games the network owners would play if free to play games. The really striking part of this (to me, a constitutionalist) is how the legislative branch keeps passing laws that the executive branch just ignores. And why ignore the laws? Corporate influence. That’s what this case reeks of.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:25 PM

Cities Shop for Free WiFi Services

Bobby White:
Under the agreement, Sacramento residents would pay monthly subscription fees of about $20 to use MobilePro's wireless service, local businesses would pay $90 to $250, and Sacramento's city agencies would be able to use the service free. The agreement resembled that of many other municipal wireless deals across the country. For MobilePro, based in Bethesda, Md., a full year of service would bring in $2 million to $4 million in revenue, analysts estimate.

But earlier this month, the deal fell apart. The reason: Sacramento city officials had noticed new municipal wireless deals inked in San Francisco and Portland, Ore. The Portland rollout, sponsored by Silicon Valley startup MetroFi Inc., and the San Francisco deployment from Google Inc. and Earthlink Inc., both offered wireless service to those cities with expanded free access for some businesses and residents. Instead of relying on user subscription fees, MetroFi, Google and Earthlink planned to make money off local advertising that would be embedded in their wireless service.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:44 AM

May 14, 2006

Red Bank, NJ: More Telco Fun

Redbanktv Blog:
Verizon infamously hired an ‘astroturfing’ company to send faxes to the mayor of Red Bank proclaiming to be from local residents. Mayor McKenna sensing something afoot with these faxes did a little research and called Verizon out. Verizon wanted it to appear that there was a real grass roots effort in support of them being undertaken by the residents of our small town; but there wasn’t. It was all made up and it backfired miserably.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:12 AM

May 13, 2006

REM Joins Net Neutrality Coalition

REM:
R.E.M has joined a growing coalition of artists and musicians who have signed the Artists and Musicians for Internet Freedom petition. The petition is being circulated in response to a large telecommunications bill Congress will soon vote on, one part of which would gut Net Neutrality, the long held principle that all online speech is equally accessible to Internet users, regardless of its source. In practice, Net Neutrality levels the internet playing field, insuring that small blogs and independent sites open just as easily as the sites of large media corporations. It allows every voice to be heard by thousands, even millions of people (Click here to read an article by Robert Reich in American Prospect for background). This freedom is currently under threat because the nation’s largest phone and cable companies have pressured Congress to give them more control over which Web sites work for users based on which corporation pays them the most! If Congress caves, consumer choice will be limited, the free flow of information will be choked off, and the free and open Internet will become a private toll road managed by these large companies.

Please take a minute to watch this enlightening video which clearly explains the Net Neutrality issue.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:42 PM

May 12, 2006

Passionate Service from AT&T Wisconsin

Kristian Knutsen:
read with great interest the biggest issue burning up the internets today, a USA Today article about the National Security Agency (NSA) collecting a database of phone records with the assistance of AT&T, Verizon and Bell South. "For the customers of these companies," USA Today reports, "it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made -- across town or across the country -- to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others."

Having been an AT&T Wisconsin customer since it was named SBC, I take this news seriously and immediately thought of two questions I'd like my phone company to answer. Were records of my calls made via AT&T included in data provided to the NSA? If so, did this violate the company's privacy obligations as a service provider?
More on AT&T.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:50 AM

William Gibson on the NSA Domestic Wiretapping

Cory Doctorow:
I can't explain it to you, but it has a powerful deja vu. When I got up this morning and read the USA Today headline, I thought the future had been a little more evenly distributed. Now we've all got some...

The interesting thing about meta-projects in the sense in which I used them [in the NYT editorial] is that I don't think species know what they're about. I don't think humanity knows why we do any of this stuff. A couple hundred years down the road, when people look back at what the NSA has done, the significance of it won't be about terrorism or Iraq or the Bush administration or the American Constitution, it will be about how we're driven by emerging technologies and how we struggle to keep up with them...
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:38 AM

May 8, 2006

How To Increase Broadband Competition

David Isenberg points to some ideas.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:16 AM

TBL on Neutrality of the Net

Tim Berners Lee (Father of the web):
Net Neutrality is an international issue. In some countries it is addressed better than others. (In France, for example, I understand that the layers are separated, and my colleague in Paris attributes getting 24Mb/s net, a phone with free international dialing and digital TV for 30euros/month to the resulting competition.) In the US, there have been threats to the concept, and a wide discussion about what to do. That is why, though I have written and spoken on this many times, I blog about it now.

Twenty-seven years ago, the inventors of the Internet[1] designed an architecture[2] which was simple and general. Any computer could send a packet to any other computer. The network did not look inside packets. It is the cleanness of that design, and the strict independence of the layers, which allowed the Internet to grow and be useful. It allowed the hardware and transmission technology supporting the Internet to evolve through a thousandfold increase in speed, yet still run the same applications. It allowed new Internet applications to be introduced and to evolve independently.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:50 AM

May 7, 2006

WiFi at Madison's Airport

Waiting for a flight recently at MSN, I popped open my laptop and, for the first time (for me) ever, a WiFi signal was available. Unfortunately, Madison is years behind other airports in offering wireless internet access. Worse, many flyers now have other types of high speed access, such as Verizon's EVDO, which means given a choice between paid WiFi access (which Madison's airport offers - $6.95/day) or a service that can be used in many places, the pool of paying users is likely not all that large. In my case, I fired up my EVDO access and avoided the 6.95 fee.

Albuquerque's enlightened Sunport, along with many others, offers free WiFi. Madison would do well to simply make it free, perhaps supported by an advertising based splash screen when users logon.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:02 PM

May 3, 2006

Why You Should Care About Net Neutrality

Tim Wu:
The Internet is largely meritocratic in its design. If people like instapundit.com better than cnn.com, that's where they'll go. If they like the search engine A9 better than Google, they vote with their clicks. Is it a problem, then, if the gatekeepers of the Internet (in most places, a duopoly of the local phone and cable companies) discriminate between favored and disfavored uses of the Internet? To take a strong example, would it be a problem if AT&T makes it slower and harder to reach Gmail and quicker and easier to reach Yahoo! mail?

Welcome to the fight over "network neutrality," Washington's current obsession. The debate centers on whether it is more "neutral" to let consumers reach all Internet content equally or to let providers discriminate if they think they'll make more money that way.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:56 PM

May 2, 2006

TBL on Net Neutrality

Tim Berners-Lee:
This is an international issue. In some countries it is addressed better than others. (In France, for example, I understand that the layers are separated, and my colleague in Paris attributes getting 24Mb/s net, a phone with free international dialing and digital TV for 30euros/month to the resulting competition.) In the US, there have been threats to the concept, and a wide discussion about what to do. That is why, though I have written and spoken on this many times, I blog about it now.

Twenty-seven years ago, the inventors of the Internet[1] designed an architecture[2] which was simple and general. Any computer could send a packet to any other computer. The network did not look inside packets. It is the cleanness of that design, and the strict independence of the layers, which allowed the Internet to grow and be useful. It allowed the hardware and transmission technology supporting the Internet to evolve through a thousandfold increase in speed, yet still run the same applications. It allowed new Internet applications to be introduced and to evolve independently.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:09 PM

May 1, 2006

A Word for Governor Doyle on the Broadband Expansion Tax Credit

Wisbusiness:
Gov. Jim Doyle plans to sign the broadband bill passed by both the state Senate and Assembly on Tuesday, a top aide said Wednesday afternoon.

“The governor supports it,” said spokesman Matthew Canter. “In fact, he helped lead the way for it. It’s part of his Grow Wisconsin plan.”

The legislation will give telecommunications companies tax exemptions if they provide high-speed Internet service to parts of Wisconsin that lack it or are underserved – mostly in the rural and northern areas of the state.
I hope that Governor Doyle will insert some language into this bill that requires the recipients of this subsidy - local Telco's - to provide symmetrical internet access, not the odd services they largely provide today where the downstream and upstream services run at different speeds. The internet is not TV. Our generally poor broadband service significantly limits the opportunities for emerging home based internet businesses and services. This is a trivial change and should be a no brainer for the Governor. Learn much more on these issues, including why the US is so far behind countries like Japan and Korea in true broadband (100mbps symmetrical speeds), here. Om Malik tells us why this is important.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:57 PM

April 30, 2006

1500 Square Mile Silicon Valley Wireless RFP

802.11b Networking News:
The Joint Venture Silicon Valley public/private partnership has issued its RFP: The group of cities, counties, governmental bodies, and corporations want a wireless network of some kind--technology isn't decided and could be a broad mix--that would cover Silicon Valley. Winning vendor(s) will be selected from the respondents to their RFP by September, and recommended to the 16 cities, San Mateo County, and 16 other jurisdictions that have signed on. I wrote in January about the scope and nature of this 1,500-square-mile potential project....
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:19 PM

April 28, 2006

Marina Del Rey Gets 45Mbit Internet Service

Poking along with 2mbps service in Madison (and far less than that upstream), Multiband announced that they will begin providing 45mbit/second service to Marina Del Rey fro $24.95 to 34.95/month.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:22 PM

April 21, 2006

Zyprexa for the Phone Companies

Ben McConnell states the obvious with respect to the yellow pages and monopoly telcos:
insanity:
unsoundness of mind or lack of understanding as prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or as removes one from criminal or civil responsibility
Which leads me to the phone companies.

Here's an update to last week's post about AT&T's practice of leaving unwanted 8-pound phone directories scattered in doorways around the nation...
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:51 PM

SMF Switches to Free WiFi

Glenn Fleishman:
The airport has an interesting history with Wi-Fi that I’ve been writing occasionally about since 2003: It’s a fairly small airport, not atypical for state and province capitals that tend to be located in politically expedient places that aren’t often also bustling metropolises compared to the big towns that developed in their political unit. (Olympia? Albany? Austin?)

Sacramento originally contracted with Airport Network Solutions, which said back in 2003 that it would cost $110,000 to add service. I noted in Aug. 2003 that without aggregation and resale they’d never recoup even the modest cost based on their assumptions of users and what they were charging for a day pass ($6.95). The airport apparently bore the cost of installation repaid out of fees rather than requiring its contractor to eat Capx, which is quite odd.
This is Madison's fate as well. The economics will make it free over time - assuming we have wifi at the airport - some day.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:47 PM

April 13, 2006

AT&T Seeks to Hide Spy Docs

Ryan Singel:
AT&T is seeking the return of technical documents presented in a lawsuit that allegedly detail how the telecom giant helped the government set up a massive internet wiretap operation in its San Francisco facilities.

In papers filed late Monday, AT&T argued that confidential technical documents provided by an ex-AT&T technician to the Electronic Frontier Foundation shouldn't be used as evidence in the case and should be returned.

The documents, which the EFF filed under a temporary seal last Wednesday, purportedly detail how AT&T diverts internet traffic to the National Security Agency via a secret room in San Francisco and allege that such rooms exist in other AT&T switching centers.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:27 AM

April 10, 2006

Whitepaper on Telco Promises

David Isenberg:
Here's a very well-written report of the Bell's trail of Rate Relief and Broken Promises. It is funded by Broadband Everywhere, a consortium that's openly funded by small cablecos and the NCTA, who are fighting back against the Bell-flavored franchise reform law moving through Congress. It relies heavily on the work of Bruce Kushnick, but it also cites many relevant local press stories from, e.g., Enid OK (where a promise of 500 jobs led to rate relief and a net loss of jobs), Austin TX (where a new Texas law that assumed "competition" would lead to lower prices and granted rate relief actually led to rate caps), etc., etc., etc.

Really good stuff on a bad story that demands more attention! Mainstream reporters, attention please!
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:18 AM

April 5, 2006

Powell Warns Net Neutrologists Not to Be Naive

Michael Powell:
Former FCC chairman Michael Powell is up on the stage at the Freedom to Connect conference right now, and he warns the tech elite crowd here not to be naive about the dangers of asking Congress for legislation on Net Neutrality. As he explains:

The legislative process does not work well when it has a weak understanding of innovation and tech policy. You are talking about 535 members who need to to get this. They have a very shallow understanding [of Net Neutrality]. If you go give them a quiz about the seven layers of the Internet, good luck.
David Lazurus has more on the proposed legislation.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:47 PM

April 4, 2006

US on Wrong Side of Technology Gap?

eMarketer:
By several measures, the US appears to be less "connected" than many other countries.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:34 PM

April 2, 2006

Paradox of the Worse Network - AT&T: "15Mbps Internet Connections Irrelevant"

Nate Anderson:
At this week's Media, Entertainment and Telecommunications conference, AT&T COO Randall Stephenson told his listeners that increased bandwidth was no longer of great importance to consumers.

"In the foreseeable future, having a 15 Mbps Internet capability is irrelevant because the backbone doesn't transport at those speeds," he told the conference attendees. Stephenson said that AT&T's field tests have shown "no discernable difference" between AT&T's 1.5 Mbps service and Comcast's 6 Mbps because the problem is not in the last mile but in the backbone.
AT&T, formerly SBC is the dominant internet provider in Wisconsin...... Stephenson completely misses the point that bidirectional fast networks to the home will open up many, many small business opportunities.
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:46 PM

Internet Injects Sweeping Change into Politics

Adam Nagourney:
The transformation of American politics by the Internet is accelerating with the approach of the 2006 Congressional and 2008 White House elections, prompting the rewriting of rules on advertising, fund-raising, mobilizing supporters and even the spreading of negative information.

Democrats and Republicans are sharply increasing their use of e-mail, interactive Web sites, candidate and party blogs, and text-messaging to raise money, organize get-out-the-vote efforts and assemble crowds for a rallies. The Internet, they said, appears to be far more efficient, and less costly, than the traditional tools of politics, notably door knocking and telephone banks.

Analysts say the campaign television advertisement, already diminishing in influence with the proliferation of cable stations, faces new challenges as campaigns experiment with technology that allows direct messaging to more specific audiences, and through unconventional means.

Those include Podcasts featuring a daily downloaded message from a candidate and so-called viral attack videos, designed to trigger peer-to-peer distribution by e-mail chains, without being associated with any candidate or campaign. Campaigns are now studying popular Internet social networks, like Friendster and Facebook, as ways to reaching groups of potential supporters with similar political views or cultural interests.
No Doubt.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:27 PM

Korea - The World's Most Wired Country

Norimitsu Onishi:
Reeling from the Asian financial crisis of 1997, South Korea decided that becoming a high-tech nation was the only way to secure its future.

The government deregulated the telecommunications and Internet service industries and made investments as companies laid out cables in cities and into the countryside. The government offered information technology courses to homemakers, subsidized computers for low-income families and made the country the first in the world to have high-speed Internet in every primary, junior and high school.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:15 PM

March 30, 2006

Google's WiFi Privacy Ploy

John McMullen:
What this means is that Google and Earthlink plan to use online files (known as cookies) and other data-collection techniques to profile users and deliver precise, personalized advertising as they surf the Internet. (Earthlink is working with the interactive ad company DoubleClick, which collects and analyzes enormous amounts of information online to engage in individual interactive ad targeting.)

Not everyone is enthused by the Google/Earthlink model. San Francisco was advised by a trio of privacy advocates to develop policies that would respect personal privacy. In letters to the city, the ACLU of Northern California, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) urged the adoption of a "gold standard" for data privacy (pasted in below from http://epic.org/privacy/internet/sfws22106.html), insuring that its Wi-Fi system would "accommodate the individual's right to communicate anonymously and pseudonymously." The groups also suggested that the city require any Wi-Fi company to allow users to "opt in" to any data-collection scheme. [Full disclosure: I rent office space in Washington, DC, from EPIC].
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:39 AM

March 29, 2006

The Real US Broadband Problem

Maynard Handley writes:
The issue of importance is not the cost of broadband; that is higher than it should be in the US, but it will fall. Neither is the issue of importance the speed. Higher speed is nice, but what's available in the US is adequate for now.

What is important is the extent to which home users on the internet are empowered: Do their terms of service allow them to run their own web pages off their home machines? Can they run personal blogs and wikis for their friends to visit? Can they log into their home machines from somewhere else? And so on.

The common place TOS in the US prevent such activities; the powers that be in the US are interested in making the US an alternative form of television, and very much a one-way medium. Not only is this profoundly immoral, it is profoundly undemocratic, and profoundly stupid (since it is yet one more attempt to freeze an existing business model rather than looking at the big picture of how to take advantage of new, as yet undreamed of possibilities); but of course, this sort of trifecta is about what one expects from US business these days.

The point of my writing is to express my disappointment that these issues were not raised; either in the context of the US or in the context of France. I would like to hope that French companies are being better citizens about this than their US counterparts, but I have no reason to believe so. I would, however, hope that a newspaper article would include at least some nod to issues more important than saving a few bucks on one's cable bill.

Yours sincerely,

Maynard Handley
Handley is correct. www.schoolinfosystem.org is a very small attempt to address some of these issues.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:05 PM

March 28, 2006

Surfing Faster

Leila Abboud:
For years, France's telecommunications industry was a state-owned monopoly with one of the world's most backward broadband markets. But thanks to deregulation six years ago, French consumers have access to high-speed Internet service that is much faster and cheaper than in the U.S.

One telecom company in particular has exploited the changes and created competition in France -- a start-up called Iliad. Over 1.1 million French subscribers pay as low as €29.99 ($36) monthly for a "triple play" package called Free that includes 81 TV channels, unlimited phone calls within France and to 14 countries, and high-speed Internet. The least expensive comparable package from most cable and phone operators in the U.S. is more than $90, although more TV channels are generally included.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:08 PM

March 5, 2006

Bad News: AT&T / BellSouth Proposed Merger

Via Dave Farber:
It will be interesting to see what happens when the FCC begins reviewing thereported and alleged merger of the AT&T/BellSouth deal. As it may be a much different Commission body with the hopes of Robert McDowell's confirmation by the Senate.

Mr. McDowell is a telecom lawyer who currently serves as assistant general counsel at Comptel and opponent of the AT&T and Verizon mergers last year. Mr. McDowell is scheduled to appear before a Senate committee on Thursday for his confirmation and is likely to be asked about the merger.
I can't imagine this will be, in any way positive for our lagging broadband services. Read "We thought you said spend the $200 billion on dark fiber" for more on this mess.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:29 AM

March 1, 2006

Philadelphia's Municipal WiFi Plans

Glenn Flieshman:

The finalization of the deal hinged on a separate contract for access to light poles: I’m not sure why this wasn’t reported earlier, but the first I heard about this utility pole arrangement being a gating factor is in this article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. The agreements could be introduced to the city council for approval tomorrow. Details of the main contract for service have been only sketchily released. For instance, I found out a few weeks ago—and had confirmed by city CIO Dianah Neff—that a 15-square-mile pilot network has to be built by EarthLink and tested through early users and independent evaluation before the full network is built. This is a prudent step.

Posted by James Zellmer at 2:53 PM

February 24, 2006

Tauke but no Action on Network Neutrality

David Isenberg:
The principle seems to be, "If it helps the Bells, leave it in. If it hurts them, take it out."
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:56 AM

February 18, 2006

Muni WiFi Updates

Kristian Knutsen notes that Madison's embryonic wifi service is planning to include a "walled garden" of free sites. I'd rather they not do this. The service should either be on or off, frankly. Rone Sege argues that we should not tax municipal wifi.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:46 AM

February 12, 2006

Freedom To Connect

Via Frank Paynter:
The need to communicate is primary, like the need to breathe, eat, sleep, reproduce, socialize and learn. Better connections make for better communication. Better connections drive economic growth through better access to suppliers, customers and ideas. Better connections provide for development and testing of ideas in science and the arts. Better connections improve the quality of everyday life. Better connections build stronger democracies. Strong democracies build strong networks.

F2C:Freedom to Connect begins with two assumptions. First, if some connectivity is good, then more connectivity is better. Second, if a connection that does one thing is good, then a connection that can do many things is better.

F2C:Freedom to Connect belongs with Freedom of Speech, Press, Religion and Assembly. Each of these freedoms is related to the others and depends on the others, but stands distinct. Freedom to Connect, too, depends on the other four but carries its own meaning. Unlike the others, it does not yet have a body of law and practice surrounding it. There is no Digital Bill of Rights. Freedom to Connect is the place to start.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:07 PM

"We Thought You Said Spend the $200 Billion on Dark Fiber"

John Paczkowski:

The United States is the 19th ranked nation in household broadband connectivity rate, just ahead of Slovenia.' Want to know why? Because, contends telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick, the Bell Companies never delivered symmetrical fiber-optic connectivity to millions of Americans though they were paid more than $200 billion to do it. According to Kushnick's book, "$200 Billion Broadband Scandal", during the buildup to the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act, the major U.S. telcos promised to deliver fiber to 86 million households by 2006 (we're talking about fiber to the home, here). They asked for, and were given, some $200 billion in tax cuts and other incentives to pay for it.' But the Bells didn't spend that money on fiber upgrades -- they spent it on long distance, wireless and' inferior DSL services.' Some headlines from Kushnick's work:

  • By 2006, 86 million households should have been rewired with a fiber optic wire, capable of 45 Mbps, in both directions.
  • The public subsidies for infrastructure were pocketed. The phone companies collected over $200 billion in higher phone rates and tax perks, about $2000 per household.
  • The World is Laughing at US. Korea and Japan have 100 Mbps services as standard, and America could have been Number One had the phone companies actually delivered. Instead, we are 16th in broadband and falling in technology dominance.
Wonderful... More here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:25 PM

February 10, 2006

Lessig on Network Neutrality

Larry Lessig, testifying before the Senate Commerce Committee this week [pdf]:
To answer that question, this Committee must keep in view a fundamental fact about the Internet: as scholars and network theorists have extensively documented, the innovation and explosive growth of the Internet is directly linked to its particular architectural design. It was in large part because the network respected what Saltzer, Clark and Reed called “the ‘end-to-end’ principle” that the explosive growth of the Internet happened. If this Committee wants to preserve that growth and innovation, it should take steps to protect this fundamental design.
Lessig makes sense, while the incumbent telcos do not. Cringely has more.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:43 PM

February 9, 2006

Net Neutrality: Rick Boucher Makes Sense

Rep Rick Boucher:
Recently, executives at some telephone companies have indicated that their business models for providing broadband service include not only charging their end-user customers for an Internet connection but also assessing a fee on websites for users to reach them more quickly. They claim that to offer advanced content such as multiple video-programming channels in competition with cable they need to prioritize their bits to deliver quality programs. They then propose that they will give the same priority access to other companies that pay them for it.

Essentially, what these executives are proposing is the creation of a two-lane Internet where larger, more established websites with financial resources could squeeze out smaller, emerging websites. One clear victim will be the innovation that has thrived on the open Internet. Startups simply could not afford to pay for fast-lane treatment nationwide. One must ask where the next Google or Yahoo will come from if new innovative companies can receive only inferior, slow-lane Internet access...

In countries such as Japan and Korea, network speeds over the last mile of 100 megabits per second (mbps) are common. In the United States, our typical speed is less than 1 mbps. If broadband providers would increase their network speeds to approximate those in other countries, all content would reach consumers with assured quality. No prioritization of bits would be needed.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:02 PM

February 6, 2006

Shared WiFi: FON

What is FON?:
FON is a Global Community of people who share WiFi. Share your WiFi broadband access at home/work and enjoy WiFi all over the world! FON: small cost, great benefit!

To become a Fonero, all you need to do is register with us on our website, have broadband connection, and download the FON Software onto your WiFi router. It’s that simple. Just share your connection and the rest of the Community shares back with you. Join FON and enjoy connecting from anywhere within the WiFi World.

To start sharing, set up your access point where you can receive the most coverage, generally close to the window or outside your home. The rest of the Community will be thankful.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:48 AM

February 2, 2006

The End of the Internet?

Jeff Chester:
The nation's largest telephone and cable companies are crafting an alarming set of strategies that would transform the free, open and nondiscriminatory Internet of today to a privately run and branded service that would charge a fee for virtually everything we do online.

Verizon, Comcast, Bell South and other communications giants are developing strategies that would track and store information on our every move in cyberspace in a vast data-collection and marketing system, the scope of which could rival the National Security Agency. According to white papers now being circulated in the cable, telephone and telecommunications industries, those with the deepest pockets--corporations, special-interest groups and major advertisers--would get preferred treatment. Content from these providers would have first priority on our computer and television screens, while information seen as undesirable, such as peer-to-peer communications, could be relegated to a slow lane or simply shut out.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:40 PM

January 31, 2006

The $200B Broadband Scandal

David Isenberg:
My friend Bruce Kushnick is a man on a mission. In The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal, he writes:
. . . in the early 1990's . . . every Bell company . . . made commitments to rewire America, state by state. Fiber optic wires would replace the 100-year old copper wiring. The push caused techno-frenzy of major proportions. By 2006, 86 million households should have had a service capable of 45 Mbps in both directions . . . In order to pay for these upgrades, in state after state, the public service commissions and state legislatures acquiesced to the Bells' promises by removing the constraints on the Bells' profits as well as gave other financial perks . . . The phone companies collected over $200 billion in higher phone rates and tax perks, about $2000 per household.
The manipulations, deceptions and broken promises are documented in detail in New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, California and Massachusetts. Book synopsis here.
More here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:35 PM

January 22, 2006

Getting the Telco Story Wrong

Doc Searls rounds up the latest discussion on large telco attempts to end "net neutrality" (the current internet does not give performance preference to any site or service).
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:57 PM

January 14, 2006

The Fiction Zone that DC Has Become

Lessig explains why we're (the US) so far behind in terms of broadband performance and economics:
How did France get it so good? By following the rules the US passed in 1996, but that telecoms never really followed (and cable companies didn’t have to follow): “strict unbundling.” That’s the same in Japan — fierce competition induced by “heavy handed” regulation producing a faster, cheaper Internet. Now of course, no one is pushing “open access” anymore. Net neutrality is a thin and light substitute for the strategy that has worked in France and Japan.
It will be interesting to see where our Wisconsin politicians land on this matter.
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:50 AM

January 6, 2006

Telco Double Dipping

Fred Wilson:

Today's Wall Street Journal had a cover story on the Telco's desire to charge consumers extra to download video from Google or a song from iTunes.

Sure, the Telcos might be able to get more money from people who need super fast, six sigma reliability Internet connections. There has always been a business model around super high performance networks.

But this is really just marketing spin. What's really going on is the CEOs of Verizon, AT&T, Bell South and the other Telcos are looking at their margins going down month after month while the service providers like Apple and Google, who deliver their services to consumers over the Telco's networks, are watching their margins go up and up.

Jarvis calls the Telcos "robber barons" and Om Malik calls this hairbrained scheme a "chimera".  I had to look that up.  Om's either calling this money grubbing scheme a "fire breathing she monster" which sounds about right, or a "creation of the imagination" which it clearly is.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:56 PM

January 1, 2006

List of Airports Offering Free WiFi

WiFi Free Spot:
Many Airport authorities are adding Free Wi-Fi high speed internet access as an amenity for travelers. Some offer access in the entire airport while others may limit access to specified terminal or waiting areas. In addition, many airline club lounges may have their own free access available.
Green Bay's airport offers free wifi, while those of us in Madison are still waiting....
Posted by James Zellmer at 4:47 PM

Internet Gatekeepers

Dustin Staiger:
Like I said, this isn't about having/not having a tiered Internet. It already is tiered. This is a battle over whether or not we have an OPEN Internet. The Ed Whitacre's of the industry want it to be a RESTRICTED Internet. A restricted Internet where they not only hold the keys, but where they're free to swing their swords as well.
I have many more posts and links on this issue here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 1:25 PM

December 24, 2005

San Francisco WiFi RFP

802.11b Networking News:
San Francisco's request for proposal for its citywide network is out: The city published a PDF of the RFP today; responses are due Feb. 21, 2006....
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:11 PM

December 12, 2005

Fibre in Fitchburg

Props to TDS for taking the plunge locally. TDS's fibre to the home service supports 10mbps down and 4mpbs upstream. Not a bad start. Jeff Richgels . Bundles range from $64 to $89/month.

David Eisenberg notes the need for net neutrality amongst the telco's.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:19 AM

December 7, 2005

The Costs of Asymmetry

Doc Searls is right on:

How many small and home office (SOHO) businesses would be made possible by services that let people produce as well as consume?

How many small service businesses can't grow because people can't (or don't bother to) run servers in their homes? How many business-building activities are strangled before they are born by prohibitively narrow upstream bandwidths?

Amen

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

November 29, 2005

Network Neutrality

David Isenberg:

There's a consensus emerging among my friends Brough Turner, Bill St. Arnaud and Martin Geddes, that Network Neutrality by regulation is not practical. Each has their own reasons, but the conclusions converge inescapably with mine -- given current industry structure, the incentives are all wrong. Vint Cerf's fervent wish (hey, mine too, were it possible!) for a "lightweight, enforceable Network Neutrality rule" is a pipe dream. Any such rule I could think up would put today's carriers in an untenable, self-competitive situation.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:17 AM

November 28, 2005

More on Telco's Entering the TV Business

Local incumbent telco SBC (now known as AT&T after the acquisition) is evidently not going to bring fiber to the home. Rather, they are planning to use the long since paid for by us copper to the home infrastructure to send TV to subscribers.... competing with the cable companies (Verizon is installing fiber to the home). This all seems to me to be ill-advised. Why not help all of their customers grow their own media. That's where the market is going... Lorne Manly and Ken Belson have more:

"It's awfully difficult to see how a late entrant operating at a dramatic cost disadvantage and employing a strategy of charging less for more has any shot at earning acceptable returns," said Craig E. Moffett, a cable and satellite analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Company.

Verizon's decision to run fiber-optic cable all the way to customers' homes is a calculated - and expensive - risk, and a counterpoint to AT&T's television strategy. Verizon will spend an estimated $22 billion through 2010 burying high-capacity cables, according to Sanford C. Bernstein research. But that substantial investment gives Verizon the flexibility to add data-hungry high-definition programs, faster broadband speeds and other features that customers like Mr. Rodges are already enjoying. Though costly, these fiber connections are seen by Verizon as the only way to reliably leapfrog the competition. By the end of 2006, the company expects to make these fiber-based services available to six million homes in its territory, including Fairfax, Va., and Huntington Beach, Calif.

By contrast, AT&T is installing fiber cables only to within 3,000 feet of homes and using compression technology to make sure that television, phone and broadband signals can travel the rest of the way over older and narrower wire already in the ground. That will save billions of dollars in construction costs and help AT&T start selling television faster. Sanford C. Bernstein estimates that AT&T will spend more than $7 billion through 2010; the company has said that it will spend about $4 billion through 2008.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

November 18, 2005

Verizon Fiber Service to Pass 3M Homes by Year's End

Staci:

Verizon: FiOS On Schedule To Pass 3 Million Homes By Year End From a client note by UBS analyst Aryeh Bourkoff: Verizon CFO Doreen Toben told attendees at the UBS Global Communications Conference Thursday that the Keller, TX launch of FiOS was on track for double-digit penetration by the end of the year, ahead of expectations. Verizon still expects to cover 3 million-plus homes passed by the end of the year with launches coming in New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Florida and California, and 6 million or 20 percent of the footprint by the end of '06.
Presentation (pdf) | Webcast

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

November 16, 2005

Searls: Saving the Net: How to Keep Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes

Doc Searls:
The subjects covered here are no less enormous than the Net and its future. Even optimists agree that the Net's future as a free and open environment for business and culture is facing many threats. We can't begin to cover them all or cover all the ways we can fight them. I believe, however, that there is one sure way to fight all of these threats at once, and without doing it the bad guys will win. That's what this essay is about.

Here's a brief outline of the article. If you want to go straight to the solution, skip to the third section:
  • Scenario I: The Carriers Win
  • Scenario II: The Public Workaround
  • Scenario III: Fight with Words and Not Just Deeds
More here.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:35 AM

November 13, 2005

How To Get Faster Municipal Service from Incumbents

How To Get Faster Municipal Service from Incumbents:
"Lompoc, Calif., may have three options for broadband, accidentally: The city is at the center of this long and fair look at why municipal wireless is becoming a widespread phenomenon, and the reporter covers the warts and fair skin equally. But there's a gem in this article, because it explains how any smaller town could get its service upgraded by incumbents at no expense. First, the mayor or city manager along with the council announces a surprise plan to offer subsidized or free wireless throughout the town with a private contractor handling cost and risk. Second, they fight back attacks by the incumbents to scotch the plan in the media or through special elections. Third, the incumbents commit upgrade resources to serve the town. Fourth, the town decides not to build, and enjoys its 21st-century broadband upgrades. Now, Lompoc can't be accused of this strategy, but the incumbents should have egg on their face when they describe the expensive upgrades to cable and DSL installed in the city--only after the city's plan to put in wireless first and fiber later was well underway. The head of the town's wireless project said Comcast promised service upgrades for 10 years--probably from analog to digital cable for starters--and that the work to upgrade the network (which was finished this year) was done only in response to Lompoc's plans. Likewise, Verizon admitted in this article that Lompoc was low on its list for improving DSL service and performance. This is interesting when you contrast it with the complaint of incumbents that those who 'regulate' them will compete against them. Regulation is a funny animal. Most telecom regulation is at a national level; franchise regulation is local. The 'regulation' they're talking about is not whether a company has the right to provide service, but rather the rules and fees by which a company can use city facilities, such as light poles, conduits, and so forth. This form of regulation is really another aspect of a city's right to self-determination. It can be used as a blunt instrument. In fact, Philadelphia reportedly prevented the entrance of a competitive cable company for years, restricting customer choice and favoring an incumbent franchise holder. But should the converse be true--should towns and cities be required to offer free or regulated (that word again) access on a non-discriminatory basis to everyone? We've seen that: that's the trenching regulation. If you lived in, say, Palo Alto, Calif., during the dotcom boom, you have already seen trucks open up your street, put in cable, close it up, and then another set of trucks come in the next week. It may be that local bodies 'regulate' the incumbent cable and telecom providers, but they apparently have no leverage over them, otherwise Lompoc would have no reason (and no citizen support) for their fiber and wireless buildout...
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:08 PM

November 12, 2005

Google's Free WiFi Offer to Mountain View

Silicon Beat:

As we noted earlier, Google wants to deploy free WiFi in its home town of Mountain View, and it'll go before the city council next week to discuss its plans. Below is a link to a copy of the staff report that's going to the city council (the city staff is endorsing the proposal), along with an attached letter from Google. Note the unusual candor with which Google explains its motives.

"In our self-interest, we believe that giving more people the ability to access the Internet will drive more traffic to Google and hence more revenue to Google and its partner websites.''

Proposal (PDF)

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

November 11, 2005

Municipal Broadband: Princeton Ilinois Moves Forward

eprairie:
Two years ago, Princeton, Ill., a town of about 7,500 people two hours west of Chicago, was staring at a potentially grim future. One of the town’s largest employers had just moved its manufacturing facilities to Chattanooga, Tenn. LCN, a division of Ingersoll Rand, had just hired a new plant manager for its Princeton factory He had a wake-up call for the town’s industrial board.

“He said that if Ingersoll Rand was looking to relocate a new facility, Princeton would not be on the list,” recalled Jason Bird, superintendent of the town’s electric and telecommunications utility. The town simply did not have the communications capacity that modern companies need.

That conversation was enough to scare the town council and the mayor into action. Last October, the town started construction of a $400,000, 12-mile fiber-optic network. On Dec. 15, it announced it would take the fiber to any customer wanting it.

Since then, Ingersoll Rand has made a $6.5 million investment in its Princeton facility, according to Bird. The fiber network was definitely a factor in that decision, he said. The town has also received a $675,000 economic development grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for development of its technology park, which is based partially on the town’s deployment of the fiber network.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:30 AM

WiMAX?

Interesting look at the problems with WiMAX (long distance, high speed wireless internet access) along with some alternatives.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:41 AM

November 1, 2005

"Free American Broadband!"

S. Derek Turner:

Next time you sit down to pay your cable-modem or DSL bill, consider this: Most Japanese consumers can get an Internet connection that’s 16 times faster than the typical American DSL line for a mere $22 per month.

Across the globe, it’s the same story. In France, DSL service that is 10 times faster than the typical United States connection; 100 TV channels and unlimited telephone service cost only $38 per month. In South Korea, super-fast connections are common for less than $30 per month. Places as diverse as Finland, Canada and Hong Kong all have much faster Internet connections at a lower cost than what is available here. In fact, since 2001, the U.S. has slipped from fourth to 16th in the world in broadband use per capita. While other countries are taking advantage of the technological, business and education opportunities of the broadband era, America remains lost in transition.

How did this happen? Why has the U.S. fallen so far behind the rest of its economic peers? The answer is simple. These nations all have something the U.S. lacks: a national broadband policy, one that actively encourages competition among providers, leading to lower consumer prices and better service.

Via David Isenberg.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

October 30, 2005

SBC's Whitacre on "His Pipes"

SBC, Wisconsin's largest incumbent telco, evidently does not believe in the open internet. Chairman Ed Whitacre expects internet firms to pay to send content to local customer's homes (that TV thinking again). Perhaps I'm missing something, but I've not seen any SBC Fibre deployed to the home. We're still using the copper networks, paid for by all of us, during the regulated telecommunications era. Fortunately, I think by the time SBC gets around to fibre (will they?), wireless will perhaps, be pervasive.

The telcos should be investing in personal web services to use these pipes.

Bob Berger has more.
Posted by James Zellmer at 2:41 PM

October 28, 2005

Internet Use is Up!

Stephen Ohlemacher:

Internet usage increased with education, income and the presence of school-age children at home, the report found. It was lowest among adults who have not graduated from high school.

School-age children are most likely to use home computers to play games or do school work. Adults are most likely to use home computers for e-mail, to search for information about products and services, and to read news, weather and sports information.

The report is based on data from the bureau's October 2003 Current Population Survey, the country's primary source of labor statistics. It is the bureau's latest information on computer and Internet use, though it is two years old and experts say Americans' computer habits are quickly evolving.

"We actually think the (Internet) penetration in households is higher," said Greg Stuart, president and CEO of the Internet Advertising Bureau, which helps online companies increase revenue.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:04 AM

October 26, 2005

Exclusive Municipal Broadband Franchises

802.11 news:

Anaheim, Calif., will consider franchising EarthLink to operate a municipal network: This is the clearest proposal I've heard to date regarding the franchising and exclusivity aspect of municipal broadband networks. Many requests for proposals (RFPs) hint at or ignore the fact that a winning bidder may ask for or be granted exclusive use of facilities like poles, towers, building tops, and other city resources. This article from Government Technology notes that Anaheim's City Council will consider a 20-year agreement with EarthLink that will award the company an exclusive franchise. Anaheim has some fiber, and EarthLink would gain access to that.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

October 24, 2005

A Basic Right to Broadband?

Charles Cooper:
We won't stop until every San Franciscan has broadband access," says Chris Vein, the senior technology advisor to San Francisco's Mayor Gavin Newsom. It's not only rhetoric. His boss is one of the nation's most visible proponents of so-called muni Wi-Fi. Because he runs San Francisco, Newsom probably gets more than his fair share of ink. Some think that he also harbors ambitions to one day run for U.S. president--and nothing would look better on his resume than a line about how the city extended affordable broadband access to all its residents.

But Newsom is only picking up on a theme increasingly sounded by politicians elsewhere. The city of Philadelphia has also announced a high-profile plan to provide Internet access to its citizens. From its point of view, broadband is a necessity, not a luxury. With the United States' ranking for broadband penetration plummeting from third place to 16th in just four years, this is more than an academic concern. The fear is this will translate into massive job losses to other nations.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:58 PM

October 22, 2005

Mobile WiMix Discussion

Glenn Fleishman:
In his latest informal white paper, Belk takes aim at mobile WiMax, a not-yet-finished standard that’s not expected to appear in base stations for deployment until 2007, although all tea leaves I read look like 2008 for any carrier deployment. (My only quibbles have to do with how he compares Wi-Fi usage to cell data usage, and how he boosts ubiquity over speed—but they’re not worth going into in length as the quibbles are small compared to agreement.)
WiMax "could" radically change wireless internet services. On the other hand, it's been just around the corner for awhile....
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:37 AM

October 17, 2005

Rural Oregon Leads the Way in Large Scale WiFi

Wired:
The privately funded $5 million dollar wireless network services a modest 700 square miles and seems to be the only show in town.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:19 AM

October 15, 2005

Telco and Cable Companies in the Internet Era

Doc Searls is correct that internet providers should be racing to offer internet services rather than trying to resuscitate dying products:
Phone and cable companies will never be Internet companies. Never. Nor will Newspapers or TV networks. But the latter don't matter as much, because they don't deliver Internet service to homes and businesses. Phone and cable companies do. The Net depends on them.

If Phone and cable companies took the trouble to provide unencumbered symmetrical service — same speeds up and down — and stood prepared to help individuals and businesses of every size use the Net in original ways that they see fit — to engage in Free Enterprise in the open marketplace the Net truly is — countless ways of making money on service to those customers would manifest themselves to the providing companies.

For example, I would gladly pay $100 per month for a block of six IP addresses, no port blockages, and 1Mb of symmetrical service to my home. I would also gladly pay more on a tiered basis for higher levels of traffic and higher grades of provisioned service. Also perhaps for hosting. Offsite data backup (a potentially huge business for which high upstream speeds are required). And perhaps much more. And I'm sure there are millions of small businesses out there that would be glad to do the same. But most of us are stuck with a choice between 1) a shitty asymmetrical service from a phone company that wishes it could still charge for time and distance; and 2) and a shitty asymmetrical service from a cable company that wishes it were still just in the TV channel delivery business.
Locally, TDS, to their credit does offer 4MB symmetrical dsl service (4mbps up and down).
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:54 AM

October 14, 2005

Bob Iger and Apple Save Network TV?

Mark Cuban:
On the ITunes Store, you can buy the latest episode to Lost and some other shows the day after they air on Network TV. in this case ABC, for $1.99. Sounds simple and reasonable. Not anything earth shattering right ?
I think this is correct - but - I'm not sure about the pricing. Some of it is not worth much, while other shows/documentaries (PBS?) are quite well done.
Posted by James Zellmer at 5:51 AM

October 13, 2005

Milwaukee negotiating for citywide wireless network - 2005-10-12

Milwaukee working on citywide wireless network - 2005-10-12

The city of Milwaukee is in negotiations with Midwest Fiber Networks, Milwaukee, to have the company install a citywide wireless network at a cost of $20 million to $25 million.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:36 AM

October 8, 2005

WiFi America

OnPoint:

How does free wireless broadband access and phone service everywhere sound to you? Google has a plan for San Francisco -- it's got telecom and cable companies worried.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

October 4, 2005

WiFi Benefits All Madison Residents

Sarah Howard makes the case.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:38 AM

September 30, 2005

Tammy Baldwin: Telco Influence?

Public Integrity's site has some very useful lobbying data. This link shows the organizations that have contributed to Tammy Baldwin along with the amounts. Perhaps this lobbying is why we are stuck in the mud on true broadband?

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

September 29, 2005

Grand Rapids Tests Downtown WiFi

Glenn Fleishman:

The seven vendors who built test hotzones for Grand Rapids, Mich., all showed they had the right stuff: The local paper reports that the city was very satisfied with the results of their vendor face-off. The next goal is figuring out how to set up a no-taxpayer-dollar network, as is the charter of all new municipal efforts. They’re looking at a public/private partnership with a plan ready to bid by December. The town is eyeing local and federal legislation that might restrict their ability to deploy.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

September 27, 2005

Broadband: Falling Farther Behind

UK citizens can now order 24mbps broadband for about $43/month. These speeds are 60 to 40 times as fast as those available in Madison, at similar prices.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:19 AM

Municipalities to Spend over $700M the next 3 years on Wireless

Glenn Fleishman:

Muniwireless’s latest report is out on the scale and composition of the municipal wireless broadband market: This latest report states that $700 million will be spent on muniwireless over the next three years in the U.S., with $400 million spent in 2007 alone. Esme Vos, operator of Muniwireless.com and the organizer of the MuniWireless 2005 conference this week in San Francisco, writes that the growth of networks is irrespective of the size of the town or city. As is often overlooked, public safety operations remain the number one application for these networks, despite the focus on public-access broadband for free or fee.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:27 AM

September 22, 2005

Regulation Destroys Competition

David Isenberg:

At the August 5, 2005 meeting of the FCC, following the Supreme Court's decision that cable modem connectivity is an information service, the FCC leveled (lowered) the playing field by declaring that DSL, too, is an information service. These decisions remove the common carrier obligation of the line owner to share -- non-carrier ISPs like Earthlink are left to twist slowly in the wind. The industry is, for all intents, re-verticalized.

The central idea of the Telecom Act of 1996 -- that competition would replace regulation -- is all but dead. Regulation has systematically fought competition since 1996. Regulation has won.

More worth reading on blocking useful network apps here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

Pew Internet: Technology & Media Use

Pew Internet:

The report argues that, while broadband adoption has grown quickly in recent years, there are reasons to believe that it is slowing. The report develops a model of broadband adoption that hypothesizes that the intensity of online use is the critical variable in understanding the home high-speed adoption decision and the trajectory of the adoption curve. Using national survey data from 2002 and 2005, the paper shows that the role of online experience in explaining intensity of internet use has vanished over this time frame; the explanatory effect of having a broadband connection has grown. This suggests that relative to 2002 there is not much pent-up demand for high-speed internet use at home.
[PDF]

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

September 21, 2005

Google Free WiFi: Doing Evil?

Seth Jayson:

This is big and potentially scary news, for a couple of reasons. The first is fairly obvious: If the reports of Google's purchasing of "dark fiber" -- unused bandwidth and network infrastructure -- are true, the firm could conceivably roll out a "last-mile" Internet delivery service. Maintaining and operating all that infrastructure (along with servicing all those WiFi hubs) would be very expensive. But the idea makes more sense if you assume that the company will deploy its real capital once the new WiMax standard, which broadcasts wireless Internet over a much wider area than WiFi, rolls around. Coupling this with an upgraded version of Google Talk could conceivably make the tech startup a force in telecom
Google WiFi traffic is subject to their privacy policy, which everyone should be fully aware of.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

September 16, 2005

House Floats New Broadband Bill

Grant Gross:
The 77-page draft legislation, released to generate discussion from broadband providers and other stakeholders, would also require broadband providers to allow subscribers access to lawful content, even though some broadband providers have suggested a so-called 'Net neutrality requirement isn't needed.

Representatives of Verizon Communications and SBC Communications in the past have said a 'Net neutrality requirement could prevent them from cutting off service to bandwidth hogs or customers posing a security risk.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:58 AM

September 13, 2005

The Broadband Explosion, Thinking About a Truly Interactive World

Sara Grant:
Robert Austin: By "broadband explosion" we mean the coming together of real-time communication and rich media technologies to produce a truer form of interactivity across geographic distance than has been possible up until now. We've had some forms of interactive technologies for a long time (e.g., telephone) and many kinds of media too, but real-time interactivity at a distance that comes anywhere near what we experience in face-to-face communication has been elusive. That's too bad, because people have been anticipating profound effects from the ability to collaborate in real time at a distance for a long time. One of our favorite examples of this is described in a paper written in 1968 by Internet pioneers J. C. R. Licklider and Bob Taylor, called "The Computer as a Communication Device." These guys imagined human capabilities moving to a new level when real-time interactivity was realized. They expected an acceleration of our abilities to innovate and work creatively. The vision is compelling. The only thing they got wrong was how long it would take us to get there. We are suggesting that the day may finally be arriving. The implications, if so, will be numerous and important. Various chapters in the book describe how business strategy, production technologies, and marketing—to name just a few—may be changed dramatically.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:54 AM

Qwest Sues Portland over Muni Network

David Isenberg: Qwest -- the former disruptive fiber player that wisely bought an ILEC so it'd be too big to shut down -- is suing the City of Portland for running a municipal network. The Oregonian reports.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

September 9, 2005

Philadelphia WiFi Update

Andy Kessler:

But it turns out cities get to sort of cheat, cite eminent domain, and place a lot of gear on their own light poles and radio towers. No startup gets that deal. And new mesh technologies mean Philly can plug into the Internet just once, paying wholesale rates, unlike the folks that run Starbucks or hotel hotspots, who overpay (probably to Verizon) for the Internet connection their Wi-Fi users share.

But the real whopper is that - as Ms. Neff claims - by the third year, Philly will be saving $2 million a year on their $150 million IT budget by not having to pay Verizon for Internet access at their 24,000-employee city offices. Hmmm. That whole disadvantaged thing is just icing. Sounds like some sort of arbitrage.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

August 25, 2005

Isenberg: Predatory Pricing for Broadband in Utah?

David Isenberg:

In Utah, if you live in a UTOPIA (muni FTTH) city, you can get 10 megabit symmetrical Internet service for $40 a month. Or you can get Comcast Internet service for $29.95. If you don't live in a UTOPIA city, Comcast Internet costs $45.95 a month. One thing is sure; Comcast can afford to lose money longer than UTOPIA.
More here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:01 PM

August 22, 2005

5Mbps for $50 - Move to Iowa

Madison continues to fall behind in true 2 way broadband, as Jon Van illustrates:


The Mudd Group uses high-speed optical fiber lines supplied by the Cedar Falls Utility, a municipal operation that offered affordable high-speed data connections years before the local cable TV operator or phone company made such services available.

Municipalities from Lafayette, La., to Philadelphia are moving to provide residents with broadband connections, while in others, such as Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles, voters rejected the idea. The initiatives, which proponents say boost local economic development opportunities, are spurring intense battles across the nation with cable and phone companies, which believe the competition is unfair.

The issue is whether it's appropriate for government entities to use taxpayer money to invest in infrastructure that is also a commercial technology because it's offered by cable and phone companies.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

August 20, 2005

More on Municipal WiFi - Intel

Intel along with several large firms announced a project with communities around the world to make municipal WiFi a reality:
Cleveland, Ohio; Corpus Christi, Texas; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; Duesseldorf, Germany; Jerusalem, Israel; Taipei, Taiwan, are among the urban communities participating in Intel’s project. Other participants are Mangaratiba, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Gyor, Hungary; Principality of Monaco; Seoul, South Korea; Osaka, Japan; and Westminster in London.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:33 AM

August 19, 2005

VOIP Users Soar

Brian Bergstein:

The number of consumers bypassing the traditional phone network and opting for Internet voice service is soaring beyond expectations.

An analysis by the TeleGeography research group found 2.7 million subscribers nationwide in the second quarter, compared with just 440,000 a year earlier.

I've used Packet8 for a couple of years - quite successfully.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

August 6, 2005

Boston's Logan Airport Blocks Free WiFi

Boston's Logan International Airport is trying to kill Continental Airlines enlightened free WiFi service.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:47 PM

August 4, 2005

Broadband Luddites

Thomas L. Friedman:

But don't worry - Congress is on the case. It dropped everything last week to pass a bill to protect gun makers from shooting victims' lawsuits. The fact that the U.S. has fallen to 16th in the world in broadband connectivity aroused no interest. Look, I don't even like cellphones, but this is not about gadgets. The world is moving to an Internet-based platform for commerce, education, innovation and entertainment. Wealth and productivity will go to those countries or companies that get more of their innovators, educators, students, workers and suppliers connected to this platform via computers, phones and P.D.A.'s.

A new generation of politicians is waking up to this issue. For instance, Andrew Rasiej is running in New York City's Democratic primary for public advocate on a platform calling for wireless (Wi-Fi) and cellphone Internet access from every home, business and school in the city. If, God forbid, a London-like attack happens in a New York subway, don't trying calling 911. Your phone won't work down there. No wireless infrastructure. This ain't Tokyo, pal.

I've seen no serious movement on true 2 way broadband in Wisconsin. We're stuck with slow service, unfortunately.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

July 30, 2005

Television & The Internet: War of The Wires

The Economist takes a look at the incumbent telco's ill advised expensive IPTV plans (turning 2 way broadband internet into a one way TV dump) and the possible, subtle methods used to derail competitors:

Stoyan Kenderov, an IPTV expert at Amdocs, a firm that makes back-office software for telecoms companies, says that the telecoms firms are building into their residential gateways new technology that will inspect the packets of zeros and ones passing through. This will let them identify traffic from third-party rivals, which might then end up at the back of the queue and thus be slow and patchy. The only hint that users might have of that going on, says Mr Kenderov, would be some very fine print on their bills explaining, in turgid legalese, that the provider guarantees the quality of its own services only.

The telecoms firms counter such suggestions with well-rehearsed indignation. In a hearing before the judiciary committee of America's Senate in March, Edward Whitacre, SBC's chairman, said in emphatic Texan that “SBC would not block any Vonage traffic or anybody else's and has never done that, would not do that. That's not the way we do business, and it's just not going to happen.”

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:06 AM

July 24, 2005

Racine's Artist Colony

Robert Sharoff:
IF Racine, Wis., is not yet the Hamptons of the Midwest, it's not for lack of effort.

This formerly gritty industrial city roughly 70 miles north of Chicago and 30 miles south of Milwaukee on the shores of Lake Michigan has been trying for much of the last decade to reinvent itself as an artist's colony and tourist destination.

The efforts have included the opening of the $11 million Racine Art Museum on Main Street in 2003 and the creation of a gallery district centering on nearby Sixth Street, currently home to about a dozen galleries.
Racine Map. Madison based Gorman & Company, developer of the Mitchell Wagon Factory Lofts is mentioned in Sharoff's article.

Racine is considering county-wide WiFi. Perhaps they'll have it in place before we Madisonians do?
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:12 AM

July 19, 2005

Butman & Petersen Question SBC's AT&T Acquisition

TDS Metro's Jim Butman and Drew Petersen raise many useful questions regarding the proposed SBC/AT&T merger:

The proposed purchase of AT&T by SBC has the potential to demonstrably alter the way a majority of our state's commercial and residential telecommunications customers conduct their daily affairs. For most urban U.S. consumers today, especially residential and small business patrons, the communications market is rapidly deteriorating into a duopoly dominated by the Bells and cable operators. Wisconsin, however, due to a fledging economy and classic entrepreneurial spirit, is fortunate to have some very credible competitive alternative providers operating in the state's more urban markets like Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Waukesha, Janesville, Kenosha and Racine.

Competition in the telecommunications industry has done wonders for consumers and businesses across Wisconsin, resulting in small business savings of roughly 30 percent annually. Competitors have led the way in accelerating the deployment of world-class technology such as high-speed Internet and the provisioning of outstanding services at value-based pricing. Competition benefits anyone that has selected an alternative provider and even those who have not.

A uniquely large and historically significant business merger is beginning to receive important regulatory scrutiny in our nation's capital. This merger will combine SBC Communications, Wisconsin's largest local phone and data provider, with AT&T, the undisputed telecommunications service leader to Fortune 1000 corporations, and the largest long distance and competitive provider challenging the former Bell operating companies for customers nationwide.

The proposed purchase of AT&T by SBC has the potential to demonstrably alter the way a majority of our state's commercial and residential telecommunications customers conduct their daily affairs. For most urban U.S. consumers today, especially residential and small business patrons, the communications market is rapidly deteriorating into a duopoly dominated by the Bells and cable operators. Wisconsin, however, due to a fledging economy and classic entrepreneurial spirit, is fortunate to have some very credible competitive alternative providers operating in the state's more urban markets like Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Waukesha, Janesville, Kenosha and Racine.

Competition in the telecommunications industry has done wonders for consumers and businesses across Wisconsin, resulting in small business savings of roughly 30 percent annually. Competitors have led the way in accelerating the deployment of world-class technology such as high-speed Internet and the provisioning of outstanding services at value-based pricing. Competition benefits anyone that has selected an alternative provider and even those who have not.

Since 1996, telecommunications competition has generated more than $150 billion of investment and created 77,000 new jobs nationally - thousands here in Wisconsin. Our company, Madison-based TDS Metrocom, has invested almost $500 million in the state over the past six years and added nearly 1,000 high-paying jobs to the Wisconsin work force and tax base.

If you agree local phone competition from new entrants such as TDS Metrocom has produced lower prices for all consumers by challenging companies such as SBC to lower their own retail prices and improve their sluggish customer service, you would do well to be skeptical of the claims of SBC and AT&T that "bigger is going to be better."

History reminds us in previous merger deals, like SBC's acquisition of Ameritech, the lists of commitments and future benefits were long and attractive to regulators, yet the results were fraught with broken promises and the benefits are yet to come. In fact, SBC paid millions of dollars in fines and penalties rather than change its behavior or meet the conditions to which it previously agreed.

Breathless commentary about new technologies and changing markets cannot change basic economic facts. Companies like SBC and AT&T, with massive market power and control of bottleneck, "last mile" facilities and huge chunks of valuable wireless spectrum, have both the incentive and ability to use their market power to harm consumers, competitors and even product vendors, some of whom operate small entrepreneurial businesses right here in Wisconsin.

SBC and AT&T also offer contrived arguments that there is already plenty of communications competition coming from wireless and cable providers. If you work for or own a business in Wisconsin, have a home or rent an apartment, simply ask yourself if you are ready to forgo the network reliability, the customer care and the historical quality of wireline communications for something that may or may not work in a rainstorm, in certain locations within your office or residential building, or even allow you to call 911 in an emergency situation.

We believe and hope Wisconsin consumers will begin questioning whether or not the public interest is being served by this corporate consolidation.

If you have reservations on the merits of the SBC/AT&T merger and what it means for telecommunications consumers in Wisconsin, get involved. Send a letter to the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, or better yet an e-mail, highlighting your views. The FCC can be reached at www.fcc.gov. Additionally, tell your congressional representative to do what's right for consumers.

Contemplate for a moment how this proposed corporate marriage, literally the rebuilding of the previously fallen telecommunications Humpty Dumpty, will affect you as a business or residential consumer, not to mention your finances. Simply put, the irony of a Baby Bell acquiring Ma Bell should not be disregarded.

Jim Butman is president of competitive telephone operations and Drew Petersen is director of legislative affairs for TDS Telecom, which is the parent company of local competitor TDS Metrocom, headquartered in Madison.

Published: 9:39 AM 7/16/05

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:05 AM

July 17, 2005

LaFayette's City Fibre Network Passes; where's Madison?

LaFayette, LA will soon start constructing a municipal fibre network (a citywide referendum passed Saturday). Madison, unfortunately, continues to lage far behind in the broadband game.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

July 12, 2005

Falling Behind in Broadband: Orwell's FCC

Dana Blankenhorn:

Americans pay more for less broadband service than citizens of any other industrial country, and our take-up rate for fast Internet service is approaching Third World levels.

The reason? Lack of competition. Phone and cable networks, created under government control, have been made the private monopolies of corporate interests whose lobbyists dominate all capitals against the public interest.

David Isenberg has more.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

July 5, 2005

FTTH brings Democrats and Republicans Together - Locally

David Isenberg: FTTH brings Democrats and Republicans together:
"In the U.S. Congress, both parties are enemies of Internet-based progress. The Republicans support the telcos and cablecos while the Democrats side with the Kontent Krabs.

In Lafayette, Louisiana, though, it is a different story, both parties support Lafayette's Fiber to the Home municipal networking effort!

A joint, bipartisan letter to Lafayette's voters, authored by the city's Republican *and* Democratic leaders, says
Posted by James Zellmer at 6:09 PM

July 1, 2005

An Open Letter to SBC's Ed Whitacre and Yahoo's Terry Semel

I find it ironic that SBC, a regional "Baby Bell" and the dominant telco in Wisconsin, that makes its money on two way voice conversations and a growing data business would invest heavily in legacy one way media (more cable TV). SBC is offering customers bundling deals with satellite tv providers along with their Yahoo DSL service. [Stephanie Mehta's article]:
Whitacre may well be honing his schmoozing skills for his newest—and unlikeliest—role: aspiring media mogul. In a few short months, SBC will unveil what it hopes will be the ultimate weapon in the war between cable and the Bells—a high-tech TV service that Whitacre insists will offer viewers as many channels as they currently receive from regular cable and then some. SBC has anted up $4 billion just to get its network ready to offer the service, known as Internet protocol TV, or IPTV, and it will spend additional hundreds of millions to acquire TV content. But much more is at stake: SBC’s future as a major player.
Ironically, and with perfect timing, it appears that true high speed fiber networks are starting to appear (The US lags well behind other countries on broadband costs and performance).
  • Cablevision is implementing 50Mbps service in NY (slashdot discussion)
  • LaFayette, Louisiana is going to a local referendum to fund a municipal fibre network July 16, 2005
  • Verizon, far more aggressive than SBC in broadband implementation is actually rolling out fiber to the home in some markets.
SBC, in trying to become a TV player when there is little meaningful growth in that market, evidently refuses to spend the money required to upgrade its network (keep in mind that we, the ratepayers, paid for the copper network years ago). Why Yahoo, ironically, a major beneficiary of the two way web, would spend any brand capital on this is a mystery.

SBC, in an effort to keep the cash flowing for these forays, still requires that the purchaser sign up for traditional phone service as a tax on the dsl product. This is a blatant attempt to stifle VOIP service across sbc dsl service.

Meanwhile, IEEE Spectrum says goodbye to AT&T (SBC plans to acquire what's left of AT&T).

Update: Bellsouth plans to accelerate their fibre rollout.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:57 AM

June 30, 2005

Madison Should be Out Front on this.....

David Isenberg on Lafayette, Louisiana's 7/16/2005 referendum to fund a municipal fiber network:
Following the Brand X decision, the future of U.S. networks weighs more heavily on municipal network initiatives.

As Lafayette, Louisiana's muni FTTH proposal approaches it's July 16th referendum on the necessary $125 million bond issue, the following organizations have stepped up to support the plan, including, The Realtors Association of Acadiana Downtown Development Authority Downtown Lafayette Unlimited The Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce Lafayette Economic Development Authority Rebuild Lafayette North Committee Acadiana Home Builders Association parish executive committees of both Democratic and Republican parties, The Louisiana Municipal Association and several others
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:13 AM

June 27, 2005

Orlando Drops Municipal WiFi - What's the Story?

802.11b news:

Orlando shut down its expensively operated free Wi-Fi service, and Esme Vos asked why: A number of commenters had responses. I noted that for the area in question, $1,800 per month seems incredibly high. One commenter who lives there says that they couldn't get on the network across a dozen attempts. Others point out the compromises in location and signal. Another suggests that Orlando is about to launch a larger-scale network....

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

June 26, 2005

Broadband Nation?

Thomas Bleha on our lagging broadband capabilities. In essence, we're falling further behind. Our "broadband" - DSL or cable modems are much slow than those available in Japan and Korea. Their services are priced similarily, yet 20X+ faster.
In the first three years of the Bush administration, the United States dropped from 4th to 13th place in global rankings of broadband Internet usage. Today, most U.S. homes can access only "basic" broadband, among the slowest, most expensive, and least reliable in the developed world, and the United States has fallen even further behind in mobile-phone-based Internet access. The lag is arguably the result of the Bush administration's failure to make a priority of developing these networks. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized state without an explicit national policy for promoting broadband.
We Madisonians lag the rest of the country as well. We have very little public wifi. Our airport remains without wifi, years after others have implemented these inexpensive services.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:21 AM

June 25, 2005

Objections to the SBC AT&T Merger

Ryan Kim:

The proposed marriage of telecom titans SBC and AT&T would eliminate competition on the wholesale market and could lead to increased prices for business and residential customers, corporate rivals and consumer groups argued in briefs filed on Friday.

In written testimony presented to the California Public Utility Commission, critics of the planned merger spelled out why the deal would be bad for ratepayers and what conditions should be imposed to limit its negative impacts.

SBC dominates Wisconsin's telco business.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:06 AM

June 24, 2005

McCain-Lautenberg Community Broadband Act

802.11b Networking News:

Two senators counter Rep. Sessions's pro-incumbent bill with a pro-community networking bill: Pete Sessions, former SBC employee whose wife works at the company and who maintains direct ownership of large Bell stock and option holdings, introduced a brief and terribly broad bill that eliminates essentially all forms of municipal ownership and outsourcing of broadband. The bill he wrote is broad enough to shut down future airport Wi-Fi and other projects beloved by private forms.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:08 AM

Phone Giants Lobby to Block Town's Wireless Plans

Jesse Drucker and Li Yuan:

After years of waiting for a local phone company to roll out high-speed Internet access in this growing lakeside town of about 6,400 people, municipal information-technology director Tony Tull took matters into his own hands. The city last year invited a start-up telecom firm to hang wireless equipment from a water tower and connect the town.

The network now provides high-speed wireless Web access to most of Granbury, and the town is negotiating to buy some of the equipment. But Granbury's foray into the wireless business has propelled it into a battle between cities and technology companies on one side and big telephone companies on the other.

SBC Communications Inc., the dominant phone company in Texas, and other big phone companies say that cities should not be allowed to subsidize high-speed Internet connections -- even in areas where the companies don't yet offer the service.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

June 22, 2005

Dane County/Madison Airport: Still No WiFi

Greensboro's airport joins many others in supporting WiFi. Madison, a community attempting to grow it's tech business base, still lacks it.... I cannot think of one reasonable explanation for this.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:28 AM

June 18, 2005

SBC Seeks Price Regulation Removal

Thomas Content:

SBC seeks to remove price regulation on basic local phone service in 77 exchanges across the state. The Wisconsin Citizens' Utility Board, a customer advocacy group, has warned that the proposal could lead to price increases. SBC Wisconsin countered that the competitive landscape in the telecommunications industry means the regulation is no longer needed.
I don't think we should remove any regulations from SBC. SBC requires local telephone service with a dsl line purchase, which essentially taxes VOIP service on dsl lines.

Posted by James Zellmer at 6:36 AM

June 4, 2005

Nationwide Municipal WiFi Ban?

Glenn Fleishman:

The language of the “Preserving Innovation in Telecom Act of 2005” is so hilariously broad and ill-defined that it could kill all kinds of projects that the incumbent carriers this is meant to protect would support or are involved in deploying. It has such a broad grandfather clause that it could allow massive projects to continue if even a tiny portion of the service was in use.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

May 25, 2005

Is Low Cost WiFi UnAmerican?

Timothy Karr:
We have Big Media to thank for saving Americans from themselves. Just as the notion of affordable broadband for all was beginning to take hold in towns and cities across the country, the patriots at Verizon, Qwest, Comcast, Bell South and SBC Communications have created legislation that will stop the creeping socialism of broadband community Internet before it invades our homes.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:39 PM

May 24, 2005

Verizon's Fiber Broadband Pricing (not available here, of course)

Zawodny:
5 Mbps down /2 Mbps up = $39 15 Mbps down /2 Mbps up = $49 30 Mbps down /5 Mbps up = $199
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:30 AM

May 18, 2005

Illinois Tri-Cities Municipal Broadband Battle - Mother Jones

Via Glenn Fleishman:

Read the full Mother Jones article on municipal broadband (enter code MJZL6Y to read full article): The fine folks at Mother Jones sent me an access code and permission to post it so you can read the full article they published in this month’s issue about the Tri-Cities, Illinois, battle with SBC and Comcast on one side and the city’s business-backed goals of providing municipal broadband on the other.

Interestingly, the Tri-Cities now have substantially greater broadband services: the two incumbents spent hundreds of thousands to defeat two ballot initiatives, and then probably tens of millions to upgrade their networks.

David Isenberg has more on Japan continuing to kick our butt in FTTH (fiber to the home), including some interesting numbers to single family homes.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:03 AM

May 13, 2005

Shawano WiFi!!!

Hmmm. I wonder if Shawano will have WiFi before the Madison (Dane County) Airport?

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

May 4, 2005

Municipal Broadband & Wireless Project Map

Very useful interactive map that includes project and legislative information. Wisconsin comparatively, has very little activity, despite recent stories that we are at the "center of the wired world".

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

May 3, 2005

Mother Jones on the Municipal Wireless Battles

Mother Jones covers SBC & Comcast's efforts to "scare local voters" to vote against a broadband initiative. Seems counter-intuitive. Read on. Via Glenn. More on municipal efforts to promote local broadband.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 30, 2005

LA: Filling in broadband gaps

LA Mayor releases a report on gaps in broadband coverage. We're still working on getting rolling in Madison. When on travel, I continue to be pleasantly at the amount of free wifi available around the country.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

April 28, 2005

Who's the Biggest Bell of Them All?

Daniel Berninger:
There appears to be an anomaly in the relative market valuations of SBC and Verizon due to differences in how they report wireless results.

I am challenging anyone to account for the 25% premium enjoyed by Verizon shares over SBC.

Everyone seems to think Verizon is the larger company, but SBC is larger by revenues and customer counts for celluar, LD, DSL, and Data. The two report the same number of total access lines. SBC has somewhat better overall margins.
Posted by James Zellmer at 11:46 AM

April 27, 2005

The Internet as a Public Utility

Talk of the nation covers municipal networking. This was a useful show - very pro consumer/municipal broadband.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 26, 2005

Madison Center of Wired World?

Andrew Wallmeyer argues that "Madison-area consumers have a ringside seat" to telco battles between cable, phone and internet firms. Is this true? I think not. Here's why:
  • Madison lacks wifi at the airport - lagging other communities who have had this for years.
  • There is no production fiber to the home or premise happening here.
  • Currently available "broadband" services (Charter cable, SBC DSL and TDS DSL) substantially lag those available in Japan & Korea, in terms of performance and cost.
I have quite a few links on broadband - click to check them out. I think Wallmeyer should revisit this with a comparison of services available elsewhere - in the US and around the world. Fiber is coming to the home, in a few places, just not Madison. WiFi is widely available in some communities now, just not generally here. We're behind, it's as simple as that.

UPDATE: Japan's NTT is now offering 100mpbs to the home for Y4,700/month ($45).... We're further behind....
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:17 AM

April 20, 2005

San Francisco's Werbach on Municipal WiFi

Adam Werbach:
In the coming weeks, the city of San Francisco will request proposals for a plan for a community broadband network -- a network that can provide the people of San Francisco a blisteringly fast connection to the Internet at a fraction of the cost of Comcast and SBC.

That's the good news: The technology is here, it's cheap and cities across the country are doing it already.

But here's the bad news: During the next year of planning, you're going to be bombarded with messages about how the incompetent, bloated city bureaucracy is going to chase businesses from our town and waste millions of dollars on a fool's quest. It's not surprising; the cable and phone companies have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a wired infrastructure that the people of San Francisco can leapfrog for a fraction of the cost.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:04 AM

April 17, 2005

Verizon CEO - Muni Wireless a "Dumb Idea"

Todd Wallack visits with Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg:
The head of the country's largest phone company ridiculed San Francisco's interest in building a municipal Wi-Fi network that is designed to offer cheap or free Internet service throughout the city.

"That could be one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard,'' said Ivan Seidenberg, chief executive officer of Verizon Communications, during a meeting with Chronicle editors and writers on Friday. "It sounds like a good thing, but the trouble is someone will have to design it, someone will have to upgrade it, someone will have to maintain it and someone will have to run it."
I might agree with Seidenberg IF the incumbent telco's provided true broadband, which they don't (we're stuck at very slow, costly speeds compared with Japan & Korea).
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:50 AM

April 16, 2005

Is Cheap Broadband Un-American?

Tim Karr:

We have Big Media to thank for saving Americans from themselves. Just as the notion of affordable broadband for all was beginning to take hold in towns and cities across the country, the patriots at Verizon, Qwest, Comcast, Bell South and SBC Communications have created legislation that will stop the red menace of community internet before it invades our homes.

And to think that Americans might want to receive high-speed access at costs below the monopoly rates set by these few Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Slashdot discussion

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 10, 2005

Philadelphia Municipal Wireless Plan

Esme Vos:

Philadelphia has officially released the business plan for "Wireless Philadelphia", the citywide wireless broadband network, and the RFP. They are using the Cooperative Wholesale model (similar to the model used by UTOPIA in Utah). You can also go to www.phila.gov/wireless to view these documents. There will be a web conference today at 15:00 Eastern time - details for joining the conference are here.
via wifi net news

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 6, 2005

Colorado Municipal WiFi

The DenverChannel writes that the Colorado senate is voting on a bill that would support local municipal wifi.... (still no wifi at the Madison airport...)
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:49 AM

Vint Cerf on the Internet's next step

Alex Goldman:

"My initial job was getting IP on everything," Cerf said. That's been done by now. IP is on every device from the smallest handheld to the largest supercomputer.

"Now we need IP under everything," he added. By this he meant that now that the computers are all connected, we need to make sure that every device can use and access any service or product available to any one device.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

April 4, 2005

Municipal WiFi - San Antonio & West Virginia

802.11 News:

an Antonio considers municipal broadband network: A non-profit is working on a plan to offer low-cost Internet access to poorer residents of San Antonio and wants to work with the city to offer free wireless hotspots. The Texas house bill that prohibits municipal networks would disallow this kind of cooperation.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

March 29, 2005

Florida WiFi: The Telco's Play Hardball

via isen.com

Under the [three bills pending before the Florida Legislature], if the phone or cable companies don't offer a proposal, the cities can go ahead with their own, but only after doing a feasibility study and asking residents to vote on the project at least once twice if bonds would be used to finance it.

That would take anywhere from two to four years, one group says.

"No city would look at that process and say, 'Yeah! We're going to go down that road,' " said Barry Moline, executive director of the Florida Municipal Electric Association, which represents cities that own utilities

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

March 23, 2005

Werblog: The End of Broadband Service?

Kevin Werbach muses on a recent anti-consumer broadband FCC decision that will prolong our slow broadband service....

The FCC reached a decision this week that could effectively end broadband service as we know it. The order hasn't officially come out yet, but the result was leaked.

The FCC granted a petition by BellSouth to pre-empt state regulators from requiring "naked DSL." The procedural aspects are convoluted, so the effect of that action may not be clear. Here's what the FCC is saying. The local phone companies (and, although the ruling doesn't specifically cover them, cable companies) are free to force customers to buy pay for phone service in order to get broadband. Whether or not you use the phone company's voice service is immaterial -- you have to pay for it. Although there are a few telcos willing to sell DSL as a stand-alone service (notably Qwest), one wonders if they will continue to do so.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

March 20, 2005

Paying for Phone Service You Never Use

Matt Richtel:

"I have to pay for a service I'm never using," he said.

He has no choice. His telephone company, SBC Communications, will not sell him high-speed Internet access unless he buys the phone service, too. That puts him in the same bind as many people around the country who want high-speed, or broadband, Internet access but no longer need a conventional telephone. Right now, their phone companies tend to have a "take it or leave it" attitude.

Local telco provider TDS Metro has the same policy: you must purchase legacy phone service with dsl internet access.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:09 AM

March 17, 2005

Municipal WiFi - Springfield, MO launches

Springfield's system cost 70K to setup, according to Glenn Fleishman. Meanwhile, fighting municipal broadband on the one hand, SBC and Alltel are seeking government subsidies with the other.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

March 13, 2005

Tim Draper on Skype, Telco's and the VC Business

Draper is acknowledged as the inspiration behind the term "viral marketing" via his hotmail investment. Interesting interview.
We often list all the problems in society, and the politicians would make you believe that they're going to solve all those problems.

Generally, I'd say it goes the other way. Businesses solve a lot of the world's problems. The next big energy breakthrough will happen through a business.

The next big environmental breakthrough similarly could happen through a business. Medicine has been advanced through business. It turns out that it's the businesspeople that tend to be the ones who solve all this stuff.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:56 AM

South Korea: World's Most Wired Society

While we fiddle with poor (slow) broadband penetration and the incumbent telco's try to stop any other approaches, such as municipally backed networks, South Korea surges (the US is currently 13th in global broadband penetration). Birgitta Forsberg takes a look at South Korea's winning ways.
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:41 AM

March 4, 2005

Telco's have failed US on Broadband

Lessig:

Broadband is the perfect example. The private market has failed the US so far. At the beginning, we led the world in broadband deployment. But by 2004, we ranked an embarrassing 13th. There are many places, like Philadelphia, where service is lacking. And there are many places, like San Francisco, where competition is lacking. The result of the duopoly that currently defines "competition" is that prices and service suck. We're the world's leader in Internet technology - except that we're not.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

March 3, 2005

SBC Pushes Municipal WiFi Ban in Texas

Michael Geist:
A Texas legislator has filed a massive telecommunications bill in Austin this session that, in part, bans Texas cities from participating in wireless information networks. SBC Communications said cities should be allowed to offer wireless Internet access in public places, such as parks and libraries. But a company spokesman said they should not directly compete with private enterprises by providing services to residents and businesses.
SBC is our local monopoly telco provider.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:06 AM

March 1, 2005

Madison WiFi - SkyCable TV/AOL

Andrew Wallmeyer and Dinesh Ramde report that the City has begun negotiating with SkyCable TV of Madison for local WiFi coverage. I've emailed Mayor Dave and County Exec Kathleen Falk urging them to make sure that the connectivity is fully asymmetrical (full speed, BOTH directions). This is essential for knowledge workers (video conferencing, vpn, telnet, ftp and multimedia). I hope they don't blow it and view internet access like TV, as SBC is doing (spending big bucks from their installed base trying to shove video down everyone's throats).
Posted by James Zellmer at 7:58 AM

February 24, 2005

Municipal Wireless - Ron Sege on the politics

Interesting look at the politics and lobbying behind efforts to stop the spread of municipally owned broadband networks. Glenn Fleishman.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

February 18, 2005

Indiana's Anti-Municipal Broadband Legislation (Did not pass)

News.com on the lobbying behind the failed Indiana bill that would have killed any type of municipal broadband (Local telco monopoly SBC was behind this).
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:04 PM

February 10, 2005

Philadelphia WiFi: Why are the incumbent telco's fighting this?

Dianah Neff (Philadelphia's CIO):
Why are Wireless Philadelphia and other city wireless programs such a big threat? More precisely, why do the big boys keep trying to kill our Wi-Fi networks?

Tell me who among incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs)--have deployed ubiquitous, high-speed wireless networks that support roaming/mobile capabilities. No ILEC. Who provides high-speed, broadband, ubiquitous services at dial-up rates for the underserved populations? No ILEC. Who is working to get equipment and training into the homes of low-income and disadvantaged portions of our community? Again, no ILEC.
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:37 PM

February 6, 2005

Madison WiFi/Broadband: Incumbent Telco's Dirty Bomb

Glenn Fleishman on incumbent telco's (SBC & Verizon) latest lobbying/pr efforts to thwart municipally owned broadband systems:
There’s a lot more readily available details about the New Millennium Research Council than I realized: The NMRC is the co-publisher of a report that says municipal broadband is anti-competitive and a waste of taxpayer dollars. eWeek broke the news yesterday that they’re a division of Issue Dynamics, Inc., a group that specializes in creating the appearance of grassroots and independent support for ideas on behalf of their clients. They don’t hide this speciality. The NMRC lists this relationship on their About page; I’m embarrassed that I missed noting this: “The NMRC is an independent project of Issue Dynamics, Inc. (IDI), a consumer and public affairs consulting firm that specializes in developing win-win solutions to complex policy issues.” (IDI lists the US Internet Industry Association as a client; the head of the USIAA wrote part of the NMRC report.) An email correspondent who prefers to remain anonymous but has had dealings with the NMRC and IDI wrote in to note, “If you need an ‘independent’ third party to provide support for your particular issue interest, IDI will find an independent expert who will write a supportive piece for you—the report will then be issued by the NMRC or another front org. There is no direct money passing from the corporation to the person writing the research, and as a technical matter, the funding for NMRC comes directly from IDI. However, people like Verizon pay IDI a pretty stiff retainer, and IDI essentially uses part of that to fund NMRC.”
Glenn also takes a look at fiber to the home projects in Palo Alto, Provo, UT and Lafayette, LA. Keep in mind that the US lags many other countries in true high speed (20mpbs+), economical two way broadband.
Posted by James Zellmer at 8:08 AM

February 3, 2005

Australian Broadband: 8mbps for 29.99/month

We continue to fall behind true broadband adoption, with Australians soon to receive 8 to 20mbps service.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

February 2, 2005

SBC & AT&T: A Merger of Disappointment with Disaster?

Kathleen Pender:
What happens if you merge a disappointment with a disaster?

You get SBC-AT&T.

In most corporate mergers, the shareholders of at least one company rejoice. But it's hard to find a clear winner in the proposed acquisition of AT&T by SBC Communications.

AT&T, the nation's once-proud phone monopoly, is a shadow of its former self. It lost $6.1 billion last year, and its sales have shrunk for five consecutive years as it has shed most of its operations except for business services. Its stock has fallen by almost 72 percent during the past five years.
I have a hard time seeing much good coming from this, other than a more concentrated lobby machine which ultimately works against the public...
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:27 AM

January 26, 2005

Madison Broadband: Fiber to the Home in Morristown, TN

Another community making true two way broadband happen, Morristown, TN:

Morristown, Tennessee, population 24,965, is building fiber to the home. According to an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel, the city responded to a doubling of commercial cable TV rates by chartering its municipal utility to build a fiber network. Morristown's first customers will come on line in June, 2005. The build will cost $18,000,000, or $720 per person, or $1400 per home. The article says

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 24, 2005

Politicians Revolving Door

Frank Muto forwarded an interesting look at the ongoing revolving door where officials turn into lobbyists:
Editorial: Throw sand in the revolving door

Two more, this time Democrats
Officials continue to turn into lobbyists at an alarming rate. Gregg Rothschild, key aide to Democrat John Dingell, is becoming a lobbyist for Verizon. Before Dingell, he was John Kerry's telecom aide. Rothschild took the Dingell job in 2003, replacing Andrew Levin, who in turn had left to lobby for Clear Channel. David Svanda, former Michigan Commissioner, is persuasively arguing on behalf of the AT&T backed VON Coalition. Svanda earned respect for promoting competition in Michigan and leadership among state regulators as President of NARUC. They join a long list, including far too many FCC officials, who went directly into well paid jobs influencing their former colleagues.

Does the prospect of such lucrative careers influence the decisions of even ethical officials? Did they modify their actions in the preceding year, wondering if they were affecting their chances of a job? I have no reason to speak ill of either Rothschild of Svanda, both considered ethical. But I know how I am constantly pulled, having to report the news about advertisers that pay my rent, and think top officials do not need their consciences challenged by equivalent temptation if avoidable.
via Dave Farber
Posted by James Zellmer at 9:36 AM

Lafayette, LA Pro Fiber Blog

Mike Stagg:

"Whoever builds a fiber to the home network is going to have a monopoly - whoever builds it. As a practical matter, I am opposed to monopolies. But I would much rather have a monopoly that I can touch and see and feel and affect, which is [Lafayette, Louisiana municipal utility operator] LUS."
Via David Isenberg

Madison should be thinking like this as well.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 22, 2005

Lafayette, LA: Fiber to the Home; One time $1,079 per person

David Isenberg summarizes the latest news from LaFayette, Louisiana's community fiber network plans (Madison should be so forward thinking!)
Finally, the price tag on the project is $125 million. The population of Lafayette is 116,000. That's $1077.59 per person. Would you pay $1100 once to have fiber in your town forever after? N.O.B.R.A.I.N.E.R.
Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 12, 2005

Madison WiFi: Indiana Squelches Muni Wireless

More incumbent telco (SBC) lobbying power. Meanwhile, Intel decides to back muni broadband.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

January 6, 2005

Madison WiFi: More links on politics & incumbent telcos

Reader David Lehane forwarded several useful links on incumbent telcos & broadband:

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

January 5, 2005

Madison WiFi: Bells Blocking Broadband Competition

Interestingly, we paid to build the original networks that the SBC's and Bellsouth's of the world are using as cash cows. Now, with our country quickly falling behind in true 2-way broadband (Japan and Korea offer 30Mbps service for less than $50/month while we're stuck at speeds in the range of 500kbps to 1.5mbps) some communities have tried to build their own fiber networks. Leslie Cauley visits LaFayette, LA, where the city is trying to build their own fiber network, BUT, legacy telco Bellsouth is trying to kill the project. Slashdot discussion. David Isenberg comments on Cauley's article.
Posted by James Zellmer at 10:03 AM

January 4, 2005

Madison WiFi More Telco Dislocation - Maybe. Vonage Ships WiFi VOIP Handset

Glenn Fleishman:

The handset will work over hotspot networks allowing Vonage customers to use their service while roaming. Boingo and Vonage had a deal in place to test out VoIP over Wi-Fi hotspots, but its unclear here in the late evening how that ties together. Also, Vonages site doesnt yet list the announcement, so we dont know if theyve partnered with various networks to ease authentication.
Skype is another option.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:18 PM

December 30, 2004

Madison WiFi RFP: Cities Should Control Their Fate

Carol Ellison: "Opinion: Pennsylvania has given Big Broadband too much control over municipal wireless installations. Other states should not repeat the error."

The holidays, it seems, can't pass without a Scrooge story.

This year's comes from the state of Pennsylvania where early this month Gov. Edward Rendell [Democrat] inked legislation that effectively left the future development of municipal wireless broadband services in that state in the hands of Big Broadband.

The bill lets incumbent carriers (in Pennsylvania, that would be Verizon) determine whether Pennsylvania cities can create and charge for municipal wireless access services. The new law came hot on the heels of Philadelphia's announcement that it planned to do just that. Now, it's up to Verizon to exercise thumbs-up or thumbs-down on Philadelphia's wireless ambitions. The company claims it won't scotch the city's plan. But what happens when Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre, Scranton or Harrisburg decide to unwire?

Via Glenn Fleishman. I have a bit of hope that someone other than SBC will win Madison's WiFi RFP.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

December 24, 2004

SBC: Fiber close to the home (Node) test in Connecticut

Julie Fishman:

Extending optical fiber into the home wasn't labor intensive, she said. The most crucial part of the experiment was the testing to make sure the new equipment and network were reliable, she said.

The next step for SBC is to begin a $4 billion installation project that will put fiber in the company's networks throughout the country. Connecticut is very much part of that project, which is why Norwalk was part of the field test, Esposito said.

In existing neighborhoods, SBC says it plans to use FTTN architecture, which means "fiber to the -node." That system brings optical fiber to a central point in a neighborhood, within 3,000 feet of homes already being served.

Note that this is NOT fiber to the home, rather it's fiber to the node. DSL speeds will be faster, but hardly competitive with the services now available in Japan, Korea and other more advanced countries. SBC can certainly do better. Note that the speeds should be 2 way.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:02 AM

December 22, 2004

An answer in search of a question: TV over phone lines

I wonder if this is what we'll get from local telco monopoly SBC if they win the Madison WiFi RFP:

If everything goes as planned, the telephone industry will be all about television in 2005. TV over your home phone line. TV on your cell phone. Few topics have been as popular this past year among phone companies and their technology partners.
I don't think shoving conventional TV down SBC customer's throats via DSL (will it ever be as fast as Japan or Korea's service?) makes any sense.... As I said, an answer in search of a question. Clueless.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:31 AM

December 20, 2004

Madison WiFi: Anti Municipal Broadband Kit!

Esme Vos:

To make it easier for state legislatures to pass anti-municipal broadband laws, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a piece of anti-municipal broadband model legislation entitled the "Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguards Act". You can view the document here (Word format).

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:22 PM

December 18, 2004

Madison WiFi: Ohio Tries to Block Municipal Telco Services

Falling further behind in true broadband services (2-way high speed internet), Ohio is evidently giving it up to the incumbent telco's (SBC and others) via a bill to prevent municipal high speed networks.

Posted by James Zellmer at 9:43 AM

US/Wisconsin Broadband: Falling Further Behind

John Borland reports that NTT/DoCoMo is testing wireless cell system downloads with speeds up to 1GBPS..... We're far, far behind that.

Meanwhile, David Isenberg notes that we're now 15th in per capita broadband penetration.

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:24 AM

December 14, 2004

Atlanta Commits to WiFi Network

Atlanta is rolling out wifi across municipal facilities, according to Glenn Fleishman:

A big chunk of City Hall unwires this month, and chunks of the Atlanta airport by March 2005. A private firm has contracted with Atlanta to add Wi-Fi to city buildings, but will also continue its own rollout at private locations like hotels and retail stores. This is an interesting partnership, because the citys stamp on the Wi-Fi carrier, Biltmore Communications, and the branding of the service as Atlanta FastPass should make it a much easier sell for private parties to want to climb on this particular bandwagon.
Meanwhile, Megan Costello has more on Madison's WiFi plans.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:17 AM

December 13, 2004

Madison WiFi Paid or Free Service?

David Isenberg emailed me and PLEADED that the Madison folks make this a free WiFi service as he rarely pays for it any more (other than hotels). That is largely my experience. There's often a free hotspot available in the big cities (I parked recently in San Francisco prior to a meeting and fired up my laptop, only to find several free WiFi hotspots).

I think any local WiFi network based on subscriptions will be a challenge.

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:59 AM

December 11, 2004

Madison WiFi RFP

The State of Wisconsin Department of Administration Friday issued this RFP:

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP) For CITYWIDE WIFI ACCESS And DESIGN, INSTALL, OPERATE, MANAGE, MAINTAIN AND MARKET A COMMON WIRELESS ACCESS SYSTEM (CWAS) for DANE COUNTY REGIONAL AIRPORT [654K PDF]

I'll post some comments after I've had a chance to review the document. Let's hope this flies in a citizen friendly way (rather than the recent anti-citizen legislation that was passed in Pennsylvania).

It's due January 10th, 2005. I wonder what the odds are on a SBC win (SBC is the incumbent, all powerful local telco. Local player TDS perhaps has a shot, along with others).

Esme Vos has already posted comments on the RFP. Via Glenn Fleishman

Posted by James Zellmer at 11:11 AM

December 10, 2004

Broadband/Telecom: Pennsylvania: Companies ahead of Citizens Interests

Something for local officials to consider as they attempt to deploy pervasive wireless internet (2 way) across Dane County. Scott Bradner sees Pennsylvania Democrat Governor Ed Rendell's signature of a law that requires cities to ask permission from telco's before deploying their own networks as an ugly indicator of things to come. Via David Isenberg.

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:34 AM

December 3, 2004

10 Gigabits Per Second to the Home - Free!

This makes sense. True, 2 way broadband should be a public good, like roads and local utilities. Danish IT executive Finn Helmer has urged his government to bring fiber to every home. David Isenberg has more.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:01 AM

December 2, 2004

Broadband Shackles, or the power of telco lobbying

David Isenberg references a broadband report that tells us that Japan, with half the population has about 10 times as many fiber to the home installations as the US.

At the same time, naturally, entrenched telcos are successfully lobbying to kill local givernment's ability to deploy municipal broadband services. This is bad news all around. SBC certainly has not been rushing to bring Wisconsin broadband services up to 21st century standards. Nope, we're stuck in the 1990's here. Jonathan Kim takes a look at the telco lobbying... Xeni has many links on Philadelphia's plans to offer free or low cost wifi access and the deal that Verizon cut with Ed Rendell, Pennsylvania's Democratic governor to give them the right to veto any other municipal broadband plans.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 30, 2004

FCC Chairman Michael Powell on Broadband Politics

Larry Lessig interviews FCC Chairman Michael Powell on our nation's poor broadband penetration:

Lessig: The latest statistics say that were number thirteen. So whats happened in the last four years that this place where the internet really started and took off seems to be falling behind so quickly?

Powell: I think this situation should be unacceptable to us. Fortunately, I think were beginning to have some success in making our national leadership understand that this is something they should care about. This is something that will impact and control the economic prosperity of our society in the Information Age. It should be debated in the halls of Congress. It's that critical.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 23, 2004

Why Compete When You Can Lobby?

Telecoms giants oppose cities on web access. Once again, the SBC's of the world would rather play politics than provide true high speed connectivity. 100mbps (100x faster than my home dsl line) is available in Japan and Korea for 35/month..... I wonder what the implications are for Madison and Dane County's wireless plans?

November 23, 2004
TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Telecom Giants Oppose Cities On Web Access
http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB110116864041881375,00.html
By JESSE DRUCKER
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
November23,2004;PageB1

Dozens of cities and towns across the country are rushing to provide
low- or no-cost wireless Internet access to their residents, but the
large phone and cable companies, fearful of losing a lucrative market,
are fighting back by pushing states to pass legislation that could make
it illegal for municipalities to offer the service.

Over the past few months, several big cities -- including Philadelphia
and San Francisco -- have announced plans to cover every square block
with wireless Internet access via the popular technology known as
Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity. Cities say these plans will spur
economic development and help bridge the digital divide, making Web
access nearly ubiquitous.

But that's bad news for the large Bell telephone companies and cable
operators, who are looking to their digital-subscriber-line (DSL) and
cable-modem businesses for growth. Wi-Fi, technically known as 802.11,
takes existing high-speed Internet connections and wirelessly extends
them by several hundred feet, allowing dozens or even hundreds of
people to share one subscription.

Philadelphia announced during the summer that it would hook up the
entire city with Wi-Fi. Its current Wi-Fi service is free, but it
hasn't decided whether that would continue with wider deployment; it
may charge a small fee. "There are some very specific goals that the
city has that are not met by the private sector: affordable, universal
access and the digital divide," says Dianah Neff, the city's chief
information officer. She says that less than 60% of the city's
neighborhoods have broadband access.

However, last week, after intensive lobbying by Verizon Communications
Inc., the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed a bill with a deeply
buried provision that would make it illegal for any "political
subdivision" to provide to the public "for any compensation any
telecommunications services, including advanced and broadband services
within the service territory of a local exchange telecommunications
company operating under a network-modernization plan." Verizon is the
local exchange telecommunications company for most of Pennsylvania, and
it is planning to modernize the region using high-speed fiber-optic
cable. The bill has 10 days for the governor to sign it or veto it.

The Pennsylvania bill follows similar legislative efforts earlier this
year by telephone companies in Utah, Louisiana and Florida to prevent
municipalities from offering telecommunications services, which could
include fiber and Wi-Fi.

Critics denounce this legislative tactic, arguing that the U.S. lags
behind other countries in broadband Internet access because the phone
and cable companies have been slow to roll out the service in some
areas.

"We should be encouraging our municipalities to take a major role in
broadband, the way other countries are doing," says James Baller, an
attorney in Washington, D.C., who represents local governments on
telecommunications issues.

The telecom companies argue that it is unfair for them to have to
compete against the government. They say that the legislation enables
them to improve service to their customers by investing in their
networks. "If we put that money at risk, and here comes government to
compete against us, with advantages that government has -- not paying
taxes, access to capital at good rates ... that severely limits the
opportunity and limits our interest in taking the risk," says Eric
Rabe, a spokesman for Verizon. Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell has
until November 30 to act on the bill, and hasn't said yet which route
he will choose.

Telephone companies have long used local legislative muscle to stave
off competition. After Congress passed the landmark Telecom Act in
1996, which required local telephone providers to open their networks
to allow competition, several municipalities, including some municipal
power companies, sought to offer telephone service. After extensive
lobbying by the Bell telephone companies, roughly a dozen states passed
laws prohibiting municipalities from offering telecommunications
services. Currently, 621 municipal power utilities around the country
provide some kind of advanced communication service, including
telephone, high-speed Internet access and cable television, according
to the American Public Power Association; a minority of these utilities
sell those services to the general public.

The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year found that such legislation
was legal, so cities and towns are particularly anxious to quash such
legislation before it gets passed.

The tactic is being revived by the increasing interest in using Wi-Fi
to spread broadband access, as well as interest in fiber. Wi-Fi
equipment maker Tropos Networks Inc. says it has supplied gear for
public networks in roughly 50 towns and cities, including Philadelphia,
Los Angeles, and Corpus Christi, Texas. Scottsburg, Ind., last year
built a network using a different type of wireless technology that
covers nearly all of the surrounding county's residents, using
equipment from Alvarion Ltd.

Earlier this year, the attempts by local telephone companies BellSouth
Corp. and Qwest Communications International Inc. to push for severe
restrictions on municipal broadband service in Louisiana and Utah ended
in compromise, in some cases with existing plans being allowed to
continue but new plans limited.

The legislative provision in Pennsylvania -- a small portion of a much
larger telecommunications bill that gives telephone companies
incentives to modernize their networks -- was originally prompted by
the fiber deployment of a small town called Kutztown. But people
involved in the legislative process say the provision took on added
importance for legislators and the state's big phone companies after
Philadelphia announced its Wi-Fi plans.

Cities have been able to deploy Wi-Fi relatively cheaply: Philadelphia
says it set up its initial wireless zone for $85,000, paid out of the
city's budget. The city-wide offering is expected to cost $10 million,
and could be paid for by a combination of borrowing, private donations
or selling rights to the poles on which the Wi-Fi equipment will be
deployed.

The annual cost of operating the system is expected to be roughly $1.5
million. Since the city has said the plan would be "cost neutral," a
prohibition on levying any fee for the service could make it tough to
deploy. "That's been made more difficult by current legislation," says
Ms. Neff. However, she adds: "It's not stopping us. It may have
eliminated some options."

The city deploys its current system much like a larger version of a
wireless setup in a Starbucks coffee shop: A high-speed line connects
to a wireless antenna mounted on a light pole that essentially sprays
out the connection for several hundred feet.

Unlike high-speed connections into people's homes -- a service
dominated in Philadelphia by Verizon -- the city could choose a variety
of high-speed access providers for its Wi-Fi offerings, including MCI
,Sprint Corp. and Level 3 Communications Inc.

The Pennsylvania bill, first introduced in 2003, was passed by the
state Senate late Thursday night and then passed for a second time by
the state House of Representatives late Friday night by wide margins.
Senate supporters agreed with Verizon's view of the legislation. Don
Houser, a spokesman for Senator Jake Corman, the Senate sponsor of the
bill, said "the thinking was the telephone companies didn't want to
have local municipalities using tax dollars to compete with private
dollars."

Verizon spokesman Mr. Rabe says the legislation is not a giveaway -- it
also contains incentives for the phone company to deploy broadband
service throughout the state, which he says will cost hundreds of
millions of dollars. The bill also has a grandfather clause, giving an
opening to providers who have some types of service in place before
Jan. 1, 2006, but it is unclear how that would affect Philadelphia's
plans.

Write to Jesse Drucker at jesse.drucker@wsj.com 4

Posted by James Zellmer at 10:11 AM

Brad Livingston: Madison Airport WiFi News

Brad Livingston, Director of the Dane County Regional Airport sent me this note today regarding their plans for WiFi (Wireless Internet) access. Let's hope this happens as it has been a long time coming. Meanwhile, IATA Director-General Giovanni Bisignani is taking on the monopoly, high margin suppliers around the air transport industry. The Economist takes a look at Bisignani's interesting initiatives.

November 22, 2004


Mr. Zellmer:

I have been asked by County Executive Falk to respond to your e-mail concerning progress with respect to the airports installation of improved cell phone and Wi-Fi connectivity within the terminal building. The State of Wisconsin Department of Administration is currently developing a Request for Proposal document for the purpose of soliciting proposals from interested companies that wish to provide cell phone and Wi-Fi access services for various locations throughout the city and county, service within the airport terminal will be included in the scope of this project. This process is occurring in an expeditious fashion and will conclude with vendor selection and specific site implementation in the first quarter of 2005.

Thank you for your interest with this facility improvement.

Sincerely,

Bradley S. Livingston, AAE
Airport Director

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 19, 2004

Connectivity = Jobs

From the "obviously" department: David Isenberg notes that Auburn, Indiana stepped up to provide fiber service to a local business and preserve 75 jobs. The city did it because no private firm would.

Hong Kong broadband network now available (100mbps!!!!) for $35.00/month.

Posted by James Zellmer at 5:07 PM

November 17, 2004

SBC Moves (slightly) closer to reality

Customer choice, in small steps, gets a win with SBC's announcement that they will begin selling VOIP services to DSL only clients in 2005. Up to this point, many telco's have required a conventional POTS (Plain Old Telephone System or land line for local calls) be part of a dsl agreement. Some consumers get around this by paying more for DSL only service (like me; in this case, I can upload files at the same speed I download them) and using a VOIP provider such as vonage or packet8.net (which I use and has provided generally good service).

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 13, 2004

Verizon's Fiber to the Home - Yesterday's Architecture

While SBC raises rates in Wisconsin for a long since paid for copper network, Verizon pushes forward with fiber to the home. David Isenberg notes that they are installing broadband fiber with speeds up to 60Mbps; that's over 60X the speed of my DSL line. Isenberg also notes that Verizon may have chosen a difficult to scale architecture (that 60Mbps may be set for decades...)

Wisconsin politicians evidently continue to drink SBC's Kool-Aid, as there's no evidence of progress here.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

November 5, 2004

Save Obsolete Business Models of the Traditional Phone Companies

From "the Empire Strikes Back" department, Tuesday's tri-cities referendum on a municipal fiber to the home plan for three Illinois cities (Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles) was defeated, largely, according to Northwestern Business Professor James Carlini by a massive misinformation campaign, funded by the incumbent telco's:

According to SBC and Comcast, virtually 100 percent of the region can sign up for DSL and access the Internet via cable modems. In addition, T-1 service is available to businesses throughout the Tri-Cities over existing telephone lines and wireless service is available from several dealers.

T-1 service has been around for years. To be accurate, the first T-1 circuit was put into service for Illinois Bell in 1963 in Skokie, Ill. Were not talking about what could be available today. People arent looking for 1.544-megabit service if 10-gigabit service is available.

Basts small knowledge of network technology seems to have been spoon fed to him by SBC and Comcast. His arguments lack depth of knowledge and its very clear from his position paper that he doesnt know much about fiber-optic capabilities once they are in place.

Carlini also notes that local journalists ran with the wrong message... Read the article here. James Carlini links. Working on the road recently, a group adjacent to me was discussing Verizon's larger than expected subscription success of their fiber to the home initiative..... Our politicians need to push the SBC's of the world, or more practically, truly open the networks we all paid for.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:28 AM

October 27, 2004

Verizon is starting to install fiber to the home

Still lagging Japan & Korea (price & performanc), Verizon is starting to offer fiber internet access to the home. Speeds range from 5MB to 30MB down and 2 to 5MB up (the difference makes no sense, it should be identical). Once again, Wisconsin lags significantly behind...

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

October 19, 2004

SBC Bundles WiFi with DSL Service

Wisconsin Telco Monopoly SBC launches an inexpensive, bundled WiFi option for their DSL subscribers:

SBC officially announces $1.99 per month unlimited hot spot services: If you subscribe to SBC's DSL service at a rate as low as $26.95 per month for their cheapest service, you are entitled to unlimited Wi-Fi hot spot service for $1.99 a month with a one-year commitment -- after receiving free service until April 2005.

This gives SBC a giant sledgehammer to wield against the cable vendors trying to encourage people to sign up for ever-slower cable service. I'll confess that I'm biased against cable because of the pooled bandwidth/pooled network approach. Cable modem providers initially had no protection against entire neighborhoods seeing each other's networks. Then they restricted upload speeds to 128 Kbps on most links to defeat "servers." Because bandwidth is pooled, it means that each neighborhood on a cable head end has a finite amount of bandwidth--the more subscribers, the more frustration.

WiFi News

Keep in mind that US broadband service significantly lags systems in Asia in terms of speed and price/performance. Korea and Japan citizens have access to broadband at speeds up to 20X faster than services we can purchase.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

October 16, 2004

The Politics of a San Francisco City Wide Broadband Study

Matt Smith:

As San Francisco boondoggles go, this $300,000 study -- and
who-knows-how-many-million-dollar fiber-laying project -- is a mere whisper in the wind. Yet it becomes more of a screaming fit in the library when one considers that Ammiano and his fellow supervisors are proposing we throw a tax fortune at the idea of providing better local telecom
options for consumers, when for the past six years they've advocated policies that ensure the grip of local monopolists SBC and Comcast on our digital information systems.

For reasons I'll explain, Ammiano's advocacy on behalf of small groups of neighborhood activists who believe, without evidence, that new cell-phone antennae harm their children's brains may have helped preserve SBC and Comcast control over San Francisco data and voice networks. Widespread
substitution of cell phones for local home lines represents one of the greatest threats to SBC's monopoly. New wireless broadband technology being implemented this year could threaten the dominance of Comcast and SBC over fast Internet access.

Yet Ammiano's anti-antenna campaign has made San Francisco cell service some of the worst in the world.

"If they would spend the same energy on encouraging new entrants into the local telecom market" as they have on city fiber optics, notes Daluvoy, the city Telecommunications Commission VP, "the economic benefit to the city would be tenfold."

Smith's article highlights the politics of true broadband. SBC is similarily entrenched in Wisconsin, both physically and politically. Our politicians need to move on from this legacy telco thinking and open up the publicly financed networks to true competition AND encourage FTTP (fiber to the premise or home).

Posted by James Zellmer at 1:03 PM

October 7, 2004

Japan: one Gigabit/sec for $40 a month

Norie Kuboyama and Tomomi Sekioka:

Softbank, the second-largest provider of high-speed Internet access in Japan, said Monday that Yahoo Japan and Softbank BB would start offering a new optical fiber-based broadband service. Softbank will provide the service at speeds of up to one gigabyte per second and charge users 4,200, or $38, a month, the company said in a statement.
(Surely this is a typo -- the word here has to be Gigabit.)

Softbank and NTT, the nation's former state monopoly for domestic telephone services, are competing to become Japan's largest provider of high-speed Internet access . . . NTT last week said that it would cut its basic monthly fee by 50 in order to compete with Softbank and KDDI, Japan's second-largest mobile phone company.

Via David Isenberg

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:20 AM

Cisco CEO Chambers calls for education reform & broadband push

Chambers did not get specific with respect to education reform, but did mention some problematic data:

  • Fewer than 6 percent of master's degrees issued in the U.S. in 2001-02 were in engineering, and fewer than 1 percent were in math, Chambers noted.

  • The U.S. is also lagging behind most industrialized nations in broadband adoption, Chambers said. Japanese consumers have access to broadband speeds 400 percent to 500 percent faster than in the U.S., he said. "We've got to move faster," Chambers added.
David Isenberg summarizes Japan's successful broadband approach here. He also notes that the US has fallen to thirteenth vis a vis other nation's broadband adoption rate.

Posted by James Zellmer at 12:00 AM

July 22, 2004

Wisconsin State Priorities?


The State Journal editorial page takes Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager to task for joining with six other states and New York City to sue five of the country's largest power producers to force them to cut carbon dioxide emissions. This is the same organization that, under Democrat Jim Doyle signed us up for the Matrix personal data mining project - then later withdrew.

Keeping the environment clean is certainly important, but the WSJ raises some useful issues on this topic. I believe that our state leadership is ignorning (for political reasons) the most important economic issues of our time, such as the construction of true high speed networks.

High speed data networks are the rails and roads of the future. Yet, today, we are saddled with slow services supported by local telco monopoly SBC.

Verizon just announced that fiber to the premises ("fttp" or to the home) will be available in Keller, Texas, parts of Southern California and Florida. Prices will range start at $40/month for 2 to 5mbps service; with optional speeds up to 30mbps. (Currently, many state residents can choose from 384kbps to 1.5mbps DSL or cable service - 1/10th the speed, or less of the fibre based products).

These speeds make high quality personal video conferencing a reality (family & friends), new small businesses from the home possible and most importantly, will reduce the cost of true high speed access for all residents.

Nice to see our politicians are paying attention.

David Isenberg has some useful examples of "value-subtracted" telco business models. Isenberg also discusses a May, 2004 study that shows a dramatic reduction in telco operating expenses after they switch from a copper wire based network to a fibre system.

Posted by James Zellmer at 8:49 AM

July 4, 2004

Fiber to the Home?

Stanley Miller's article on SBC's Oconomowoc fiber to the home project (Paved over Pabst Farms new developments only) provides a useful look at what's possible, if the monopolistic telco's ever are motivated to provide reasonable internet speeds (Japan and Korea already have very large scale, inexpensive deployments at these speeds). We in the tech industry refer to these type of projects as demoware.

David Isenberg reviews an interesting recent study (May, 2004) by Telcordia and Sanfor Bernstein (investment houses) called Fiber: Revolutionizing the Bell's Telecom Networks. The study claims that fiber to the premises (FTTP) would reduce (by 30 to 90%!! the telco's operating expenses (in other words, pay for itself over time, vs. the high costs of maintaining their aging copper networks. Interesting reading.

This is a critical economic development issue. Unfortunately, our politicians seem to have their head in the sand on this (SBC status quo lobbying helps, no doubt). I mentioned this issue to then candidate Jim Doyle at a pre election debate: "SBC's telco stranglehold on Wisconsin is a major economic development problem" He replied (paraphrased); "you're right, but we have other economic problems to address first". I think he has this wrong. True high speed bi directional connectivity opens up enourmous new business opportunies.

Posted by James Zellmer at 7:38 AM