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Obama's Seven Percent Broadband Plan
Tuesday, 13 January 2015 21:19

Obama in the Oval Office Program will help far fewer than 10%. Barack has a delightfully folksy video chat about needing better and more affordable broadband. http://bit.ly/WHbunkum He flew out to Ceder Falls to make a second speech. http://bit.ly/WHCedar Unfortunately, his proposals are highly unlikely to impact 5% of Americans and almost certainly won't reach 7%. (Proposal below)

The only item of apparent substance is Obama's plan to override state laws in a minority of the country that prevent cities from building municipal systems. That's the right thing to do, but won't affect many people. Even if the proportion of municipal broadband in the states affected doubles or triples, that's less than 5% of U.S. homes. Doubling or tripling would be a surprise.

If you want to help more than 10% or 20% you therefore have to make the incumbent bring down prices. This is very hard politically in the U.S. and Obama didn't even try. 

Which means that Obama's plan will help very few. I'm calling it the seven percent solution, because it probably won't have any impact on more than 7% of homes. Almost no one in the U.S. is willing to look at the kind of policies that help even a third of the U.S. population.
To really make a difference, you have to find policies that work when competition has and will fail. Possibilities go far beyond the obvious price controls and unbundling. The FCC right now can bring the cost for a reasonable service down to ~$10/month for millions of poor people. Comcast already offers that; AT&T should as well. Wheeler should look AT&T CEO Randall in the face and say, "If you want your $50B AT&T merger, you have to match Comcast's $10 offer for the poor."

Not getting that concession from AT&T would be unconscionable.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 January 2015 22:14
CEO: Verizon Dumping DSL for LTE
Friday, 09 January 2015 03:07

Verizon LTE claims Dropping 10M wired homes, 50-75% of territory. Please don't shoot the messenger - I still support DSL. CEO Lowell McAdam intends to shut most copper served homes, 10-15M. This is not because those homes aren't profitable, but they will be even more profitable if served by Verizon's LTE. 

Here's what Lowell told the CITIBANK conference.

"We're moving a lot off of copper onto wireless, as well, especially for voice services and lower speed DSL. And that allows us to have the maintenance savings and gives the customers frankly better service than they would on antiquated copper. So we're doing a number of things to sort of prune the assets down and be a bit more focused."  

Last Updated on Friday, 23 January 2015 22:16
300 Megabit 3 Band LTE in Korea
Tuesday, 30 December 2014 00:00

SK hundreds of meg LTEThe world is on the way to gigabit LTE. Using 40 MHz, Korea's largest mobile company is upgrading 26,000 cell sites over the next few months. The maximum speed is 300 megabits, shared; if the cell site is crowded or you're far from the tower, the speed is lower. 95+% of the time, however, you can expect 50-100 megabits. SK is using 20 MHz in the 1.8GHz band, 10 MHz in the 800MHz band, and 10MHz in 2.1 GHz band. 

SK claims this is the first commercial 3 band deployment, but there are dozens to come. LG, Korea's #3, intends to deploy next month and KT is in trials. http://bit.ly/1BoDP7N. SK's 26K cellsites for 51 million people is about three times  the density of AT&T or Verizon's network. The American giants have < 50,000 cellsites for 315 million people.

Verizon was first, after Scandinavia, to LTE but now has a distinctly inferior network. While Germany has peak speeds often at 100 megabits, Verizon is still advertising 5-12 megabits. England, France, Finland and many others soon roll out common speeds of > 100 megabits.

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 January 2015 19:38
AT&T U-Verse slows when watching 2 TVs, trouble at 4K
Monday, 01 December 2014 19:04

4K for 699Doesn't always happen. AT&T U-Verse was designed so most customers can get 25 megabits. HD channels use 3-6 megabits each at AT&T, probably closer to three. When streaming 2 HD signals, a 25 megabit line cannot deliver AT&T's promised 16-24 Mbps services and TV. Two and more HD TVs are becoming common in the U.S. as prices plummet. Fry's is selling a 32" HD TV this week for $250.

    Fry's is also selling a 4K, 40" TV for $699. The day U-Verse turns on 4K TV, problems will become fierce.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 December 2014 13:02
Pepper of Cisco: Traffic Peaks are More Extreme
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 13:32

Starr's novelMonthly traffic growth dropping fast but networks need to be designed for peaks. Total traffic growth is rapidly falling from the historic ~40% per year, when measured in average gigabytes per month. 

“But the problem is, averages don’t work any more. in [the APAC] region, peak-hour traffic is already 2.5x average-hour [traffic] and we’re forecasting this to be about 3.2x average [by 2018],” Pepper

Busy-hour Internet traffic is growing more rapidly than average Internet traffic. Busy-hour (or the busiest 60‑minute period in a day) Internet traffic increased 32 percent in 2013, compared with 25 percent growth in average traffic. Busy-hour Internet traffic will increase by a factor of 3.4 between 2013 and 2018, while average Internet traffic will increase 2.8-fold. Busy-hour Internet traffic will reach 1.0 petabits per second (Pbps) by 2018, the equivalent of 335 million people streaming a high-definition (HD) video continuously.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 2014 07:38
Deutsche Telekom, Telstra didn't know NSA had cracked them
Saturday, 11 October 2014 13:47

Sckipio's little boxPossibly using spies and black bag jobs. Update: Further Snowden documents confirmed NSA used spies in Germany & Korea. The undoubtedly excellent engineers at Deutsche Telekom couldn't find how the NSA was tapping them. "Reporters for Der Spiegel, working in collaboration with The Intercept, contacted Deutsche Telekom and NetCologne several weeks ago in order to give them an opportunity to look into the alleged security breaches themselves. The security departments of both firms say they launched intensive investigations, but failed to find any suspicious equipment or data streams leaving the network." Those NSA guys have to be really good to fool the Germans.

    We all "knew" that surveillance was everywhere, but continuing revelations from Laura Poitras & Edward Snowden remain startling. The latest report suggests heavy use of undercover agents and physical intrusion. That's what spies do, after all. England's GCHQ is deeply involved, along with the Aussies and the Canadians. 

Last Updated on Monday, 13 October 2014 22:19
Ten days to nominate DSL pioneers for the IEEE Ibuka Medal
Monday, 12 January 2015 00:00

Wiegand's other award

The 2012 Ibuka Medal went to three people on the video standards committee for H.264/MPEG4-AVC. The 2013 award went to three on the High-Efficiency Advanced Audio Coding committee. For more than 20 years, the DSL Standards group has been advancing broadband from 1.5 megabits in the pre-DMT days to G.fast’s hundreds of megabits. It’s time to put together a nomination. This year's nominations are due January 31. The chair of the committee is Kenneth Wiegand of Fraunhofer, one of those who won the award for video standards. Balan Nair, also on the committee, installed millions of lines of DSL as CTO of Qwest.

The 2014 Award went to Marty Cooper, cell phone inventor and friend to many of us. Marty’s Marconi Panel in D.C. in October upended many people’s thinking about spectrum. Two dozen of the most influential in D.C. were in the audience to hear “We’ve never had a spectrum shortage and we never will.” The video is well worth watching http://bit.ly/Marconispectrum

For information on the award, http://www.ieee.org/about/awards/tfas/ibuka.html If we don’t get this together for this year, let’s make sure to do it next year.


Last Updated on Friday, 23 January 2015 22:16
$45 Billion for Spectrum? Cheap!
Wednesday, 31 December 2014 23:06


"Even on a cost avoidance basis, the AWS3 bids could reflect economic values," a reliable source emailed me. More spectrum makes it cheaper to add wireless capacity, especially now that LTE-A aggregation is widely available. I ran some numbers and to my surprise even $45B is plausible - if not exactly cheap!

AT&T certainly didn't intend to pay $15-20B for about 40% of the 50 MHz available. John Stankey put $10B on the table for the auctions. That seemed like enough to scare off smaller bidders.  Someone wasn't scared, probably Charlie Ergen, and pushed the bidding up. 

Telcos need to keep up with traffic increasing at 30-70% per year. They can increase capacity with more cell sites, more antennas, and network efficiencies instead of spectrum. They calculate how much less they could spend on capex if they had additional spectrum available. They calculate cost avoidance numbers from that and develop a maximum bid range. Then they hire nobel-calibre game theorists and auction economists to ensure they spend much less.

The savings in capex just might justify the high prices. AT&T has just cut capital spending by $4B, the largest decline in the last decade anywhere in the world. Just a quarter of that, $1B, would support over $30B in spending on spectrum, at 2.8% effective interest rate.

Last Updated on Monday, 05 January 2015 15:59
Last Bow for "The DSL Committee"
Thursday, 18 December 2014 23:44

Starr's novelAmerica's role changes. DSL speeds would be much lower and tens of millions of current DSL customers wouldn't be served without the extraordinary work of Tom Starr and dozens more on "The DSL Committee." We'd have far more problems with interference if the T1E1.4 committee hadn't developed a set of rules 20 years ago. Tens of millions of homes that today get 3-6 megabits would probably have been capped at 1.5 megabits if they didn't create competition for the first ADSL modem. Literally hundreds of problems were prevented or resolved by the work they've done.

     America is no longer the center of the telecom world, so perhaps it was inevitable that the American standards committee would fade away.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 December 2014 18:18
WTF Unbelievable $40B U.S. Spectrum Auction
Friday, 28 November 2014 20:21


Crazy poker player Charlie Ergen has put $43B on the table in a bid to corner spectrum around 1800 MHz in the U.S - apparently. ATT + VZ could call a bluff by ceasing to bid but apparently don't want to take the chance.

So goes the most persuasive analysis, by the very sharp Tim Farrar http://tmfassociates.com/blog/. Ergen has three entities bidding and Farrar sees patterns that strongly suggest three companies are implicitly working together. Tim makes clear he isn't sure this is the true story. The bids are anonymous and the FCC is holding identities tight. Usually the top guys on Wall Street get information somehow but they tell me they don't really know either.

Most of us expected that AT&T and Verizon would take 20 MHz each, leaving 10 MHz for T-Mobile. I thought they were effectively signaling each other to minimize competitive bidding. http://bit.ly/VZTdeal. I was wrong, as the bidding proves.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 January 2015 14:08
Capex flat, not rising, across Europe
Monday, 13 October 2014 11:49

EU investment "incentives" already failing. The latest Dell'Oro projection is that capex in Europe will be flat in 2015 despite a strong turn in EU policy in favor of the telcos. Julie Learmond-Criqui of Dell'oro emailed me  In 2015, we expect Capex in Europe will be flat." That's consistent with what the larger carriers are telling investors about their plans for the next several years. 

    I've found that the three most important factors in the level of capex are competition, new technology and direct return on investment. Policy changes rarely make much of a difference unless far more forceful than what most Western regulators would consider. The exception are policy changes that create or protect competition.  

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 18:40
Let's make a deal: Verizon & AT&T looking for auction strategy
Friday, 10 October 2014 23:38

5G is comingPresident John Stankey and Verizon CFO Fran Shammo didn’t get together in an exclusive club and cut an auction deal.  They could go to jail. As a former Time Warner VP explained a while back, “We’ve become so good at signalling we don’t have to meet in airport motels anymore.” Stankey at a public conference said they would bid $10B in the 2015 auction but weren’t particularly interested in the 2014. Soon after, Shammo told Wall Street they were focusing on the 2014 auction and wouldn’t commit to even entering 2015.

   These are incredibly able executives likely to find a way to “bid rationally.” I don't see how I could prove anything without subpeona power but perhaps emerging star D.C. reporters Gautham Nagesh or Brian Fung might find a way. A remark by FCC Chair Tom Wheeler suggests he fears what I'm seeing; maybe someone at the FCC has perspective.

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 October 2014 05:53
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