US broadband: Overpriced, Underpowered and (for once) Over There

Martyn starts his recollection of the history of ISP a bit late in time. We once had a vibrant ISP market before the telcos and MSO demolished the competition with superior speeds at competitive prices. Now we mostly have duopolies. Although Tim Wu’s report is generally accurate, he did not write anything about our static market that was not known before his report. Martyn’s typically European solution is more regulation, but it is the regulation and laws that have been put in place that prevent carriers and cities from building open-access fiber infrastructure by forming consortia or partnering along with arcane franchise regulation. 

We are challenged by geography in the U.S. that makes deploying fiber much more expensive than in most other countries. Elimination of the barriers that will allow carriers and cities to work together to build and share the last-mile infrastructure would encourage competition that will benefit all stakeholders.

By Martyn Warwick

As an Englishman and therefore, a European (by dint of geographic proximity if nothing more)  who is a very frequent visitor to the United States, I have, over many years now, been able to make my own informal comparative study of the state of the Internet on both sides of the Atlantic. My conclusion is this: in almost all circumstances the US Internet is slow, cumbersome and damnably expensive and in the Global Broadband Stakes, it comes in way down at the end of the field, a knackered, blowhard also-ran. Continue reading

NYC Launches Free Gigabit Speed Wi-Fi Network

That’s right, New York City’s public spaces are going wireless thanks to a public-private consortium that’s bringing gigabit wi-fi connectivity through something called the LinkNYC network. The city estimates that the new Wi-fi capability, funded by advertising, will generate at least $500 million in revenue over the next 12 years.

The LinkNYC network is being put together by a consortium called CityBridge together with city government. CityBridge’s main players include the transit advertising company Titan; the advertising and design agency, Control Group, networking giant Qualcomm; and hardware manufacturer Comark. Partners on the New York side include the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Continue reading

Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability

Not often will I agree with opinion from “The New York Times,” but in this case they are pretty close to getting it right. After you dig through the comparison to other cities and slamming of our communications service providers they get to the heart of the matter by saying that a duopoly is not competition and competition will lower prices and improve the quality of service. Note that I did not mention “speed.” 

here are structural differences that make the U.S. different from Asian and European countries such as our lower population density and more people living in single-family dwellings. These two facts dramatically increase the cost to build a network to where at best two providers can make a decent ROI. Why do you think that AT&T and Verizon keeps shedding their rural territories? Where we see competition, we see lower prices and better services. Another reason many of these countries have lower prices is that governments have subsidized building of these networks with taxpayer dollars easing the challenge of turning a profit to service providers. In many of these countries service providers use to be owned by the government so they still have a cozy relationship. Continue reading

The Empire Strikes Back: AT&T threatens to pull Paltry US Fibre Investment

Whether or not you think that AT&T is bluffing on halting or slowing its capital investment, the reason that they are investing in residential services is that it is not regulated and they are finally facing some competition. Implementing Title II regulation will limit their return-on-investment and drive up their costs so naturally they will start investing in areas where they can make more money just as they have done since divestiture. Look at the amount of money that they invest in business and wireless services that are not subject to regulation. 

People are naive to think that introducing regulation will make service better and lower prices. Only competition will do that. Regulation will bring you consistent price increases each year and a lower quality of service with little to no innovation. Look at any of the utilities that your city or county provide. What new and exciting services has your water or trash company offered lately? Have you seen your price go down? The same goes with the electric utility. The only innovations that have creeped into their services are to lower the cost of providing electricity so they can achieve higher profits.

Once again I caution, “Be careful for what you wish. You just may get it.” 
Continue reading

Net Neutrality: How San Francisco Could Create Its Own “Open Internet” Island

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website and some publications since the early 2000s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leasing fiber to service providers is the right idea, but most cities that have fiber in the ground have it in limited areas. The big cost of building broadband networks that tends to be overlooked is running the fiber down every residential street to every home. I know cities with about 100,000 residents that have as much fiber as San Francisco, and they are a long way off from offering it to anyone.

All of the supposed throngs of people chanting for government control of the Internet don’t remember the Bell System days when they only had one dial telephone in the house. When you let the government control and regulate and industry, you get the lowest common denominator of service. We are seeing that with the ACA.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 7:09 AM

President Obama created a seismic wave in the blogosphere after taking a bullish stance on net neutrality Monday, urging the FCC to adopt a strict set of rules for cable service providers. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to wantonly block off websites, Obama argued, and they shouldn’t be allowed to charge fees for priority access (what’s known in the business as “an Internet fast lane”).  Continue reading

First Day of Longmont Fiber Optic Sign-up Sees High Demand

TCS Communications operator Alberto Lucio uses an underground drilling machine to install lines for Longmont’s NextLight fiber optic broadband

TCS Communications operator Alberto Lucio uses an underground drilling machine to install lines for Longmont’s NextLight fiber optic broadband network on Monday in the Southmoor Park neighborhood. (Matthew Jonas / Longmont Times-Call)

As Longmont Power and Communications opened up NextLight municipal Internet to roughly 500 homes in Southmoor Park for the first time Monday, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

LPC customer service reps worked from 7 a.m. and through lunch answering questions from would-be first customers about billing and installation. Some administrative assistants also pitched in to handle the call volume. Continue reading

Google considering bypassing its ‘fiber’ – only to replace it with ultra-fast wireless!

Aspen Communication's wireless access point in...

Aspen Communication’s wireless access point in Tyler, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Google is known across the world as the company whose best, perhaps only, interest is to get as many people online as possible. It is perhaps due to this reason that it has launched its highly-revered high-speed ISP service in select US locations where demand seems to be extremely high.

In its latest initiative, Google is about to test new technology that will deliver ultra-fast wireless internet by bypassing the physical fiber cables that are needed for their high-end internet service. Google has filed an application with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission wherein it has asked the agency for permission to perform tests over various wireless spectrums across California. The filing has also requested the utilization of rarely-used millimeter-wave frequency that has the potential to transmit substantial amounts of data. Continue reading