Net Neutrality Thursday

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

I want to change this for 2 reasons:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day!
Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Leadership Training, Sales Training, Strategic Planning

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

Advertisements

Hodgepodge

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

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

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

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

Have a great day!

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

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

Net Neutrality Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

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

Net Neutrality Friday

As we enter 2017, there is a big change coming. We have a new FCC coming with the new Administration. There will probably be some changes coming with that new FCC. Instead of a 3 – 2 Majority for Democratic Politicians, it will be a 3 – 2 Republican majority. By the way, that should tell you something. Being an FCC Commissioner is a political position. In general, those folks are worried about being reelected or positioning themselves for their next appointment. We don’t have 5 Engineers there that make the best technical decisions. We have 5 Politicians that make political decisions. They are backed up by a Bureaucracy. That is called the FCC Staff and it is mostly lawyers. Very little technology understanding goes on there either, but at least they have no formal ties to parties or next steps up the political ladder. If it is not blatantly obvious, I am highly cynical when it comes to politicians. I have visited the FCC many times and have not come back with a great deal of respect.

The one thing that we do know is that President-Elect Trump has taken a negative view on the AT&T-Time Warner Deal. People in communications services probably forget that the FCC has jurisdiction over the broadcast industry as well. I am not sure if it will go through, be modified, or blocked by the FCC or DOJ.

What I hope we don’t see is a repeat of CAF and CAF-II. CAF stands for the Connect America Funds and was intended to help get us to Universal Broadband coverage. We have allocated Billions of dollars and essentially nothing happened. There were some networks built but in the grand scheme of things we have not seen the kind of gains on this.

I have recently run into the second push I have seen for Open Access, particularly funded by Municipalities. This time it comes from the MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum). One of the problems with Forums like this is that they try to keep going after they have won. They want this notion of services over Ethernet instead of over the Public Internet. For residential services, I think this is a failed approach equivalent to the old walled garden services of the feature phone era of cell phones. That ship has sailed and we now have completely viable OTT (Over The Top) video services on the public Internet including Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV and many others. That kind of approach is a step into the past and I think it is a bad idea. The MEF should probably just throw a victory celebration and declare itself defunct. The former CEO of Vinci Systems had an ATM concentrator company that he exited out of cleanly as ATM died. There was no bankruptcy and all the employees were laid off with severance. Now that is a clean death for an organization that has lived past its useful life. The MEF should do the same. It created standards, promoted them and got them adopted by the industry. It won and that means it is done.

So, we are probably up for another eventful year. I look forward to sharing it with you!
Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

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

 

 

Net Neutrality Friday

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great Labor Day Holiday!

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

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

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

 

 

Net Neutrality Friday

A couple of things happened this week that I want to write about.

First, LightReading was sold again. That online publication came about just as the dot.com bubble was about to burst. It has been around ever since. It was founded by a gentleman named Steve Saunders. He sold the publication in 2005, when telecom was at its lowest point. He bought back the site in 2014 and has sold it one more time! We shall see how things evolve. The publication started in a much more cheeky fashion and became a more business oriented publication over time. I recall the first time I was quoted there. I was at a conference called “Turning Copper into Gold” and I noted that the State PUCs were more concerned with the costs of telephony than in the deployment in broadband. The quote on the site sounded like I was attacking Grandmothers. I called the author, Phil Harvey. He and I became friends over our time working in Telecom.

The other event was Verizon buying Yahoo! for over $4B. That is added to the purchase of AOL earlier this year. I have done some due diligence in this space and thought I would add what I think is going on. There is a lot of money in the infrastructure of the Internet. Yahoo! has some excellent content (Sports for example). Yahoo! is the default Search Engine for iOS devices and has a significant mail engine. Many of these capabilities are great opportunities for advertising. If you haven’t noticed the advertising in Gmail, then you probably just not looking.

These older companies have businesses with significant cash flow if managed correctly and are a lot cheaper than buying Microsoft or Google (the other primary search providers). If Verizon can get Yahoo! to be the default search engine on its phones, I think the purchase will pay for itself. All of that leads to greater advertising possibilities. Advertising has great margins and can be a significant revenue and profit gain. Verizon will have to optimize the businesses to make them useful in its future.

The positive thing for Verizon is that they have recognized that they can not make these businesses organically. The way Telcos work is just not conducive to the way that Internet companies work. Has Verizon chosen good properties to buy and exploit? I don’t know if it will work out for them. But I think their head’s are in the right place. The future is in content and applications not hardware. You can’t turn a Telecom company into one of these new firms. But you can use the money that they make to buy into the right spaces. The question is how do you buy companies and how do you operate them to make them work in your future?
Jim Sackman
Focal Point Business Coaching
Business Coaching, Executive Training, Sales Training, Marketing

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

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

 

 

Net Neutrality Friday

You have probably noticed my silence on Net Neutrality of late. There is a reason for that. Not much has really been happening. The question we need to ask is that good or bad? On the positive side of things we have stability. People should be no less happy with the state of their Internet Service than a year ago. But they were complaining then about prices and speeds. So, are they happier? Not sure. Given all the stuff that is going on in the world from Shooting to Brexit to ISIS to the US Presidential Race to the Zika Virus, Internet Service issues has fallen pretty far down on folks radar. That is the way of things. Especially today, we move from Crisis to Crisis in the News cycle. It wasn’t that long ago that the world was going to fly apart because of Brexit. Now that doesn’t even make the news.

What does that have to do with Net Neutrality? It is mostly that I want people to be thoughtful when we have the News Cycle. Our current changes on Net Neutrality left a lot of things unsolved. Top of my list is Universal High Speed Broadband in the US. However, it will likely be years before we get a shot of enough visibility to do anything about it. We spent our energy last time on Net Neutrality. Nothing against it, but I thought it was the wrong fight. Not because I don’t want fair access, but because universal access is more important in my mind. I don’t have John Oliver behind my issue, so I lose out. The worst part is what he said on his episode that caused Net Neutrality to be a thing was wrong. And nobody questioned him on it.

Why is that? Hey with all respect to John Oliver and John Stewart, they are not experts in the fields that they bring to light. Some of the issues that they talk about are much more nuanced than was discussed on their shows. They only have at most 15 or 20 minutes to bring people up to speed on something that people spend years studying. They make a few smart comments and present a point of view. It is hard to be on the other side or somewhere in the middle as you don’t have the platform.

If you think that kind of simplification is okay, let me point out that this is the same complaint that the general news market has about the way that Brexit went or that the Trump campaign is going. The Internet has a large number of technical, business and social challenges. We have to face them in a way that will not make everyone happy. But we do need to understand the issues of others so that we can come up with an effective solution that works for as many people as we can.

Have a great weekend!

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

Change Your Business – Change Your Life!

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