The Economy of America is App Based?

Well not yet, but here is an interesting thing you can do.  You can watch the american economy via an app.  There are very few things that excite, but the way the government has been moving to an egov environment (in all administrations) is one of them.

Now I have to get us focused on improving the initiatives particularly in Congress.

Here is some homework for everyone.  Here is Al Franken’s website.  I can make a case that it is “Good Enough”, but I think you should have the ability to comment on every issue to your Senators and Congressman.

Now look at Congressman Scott Garrett’s website and tell me if you think you are getting to tell him what’s on y0ur mind.

For my issues, the Net, Telecom, etc. even the best is pretty bad.

I think we need a better egov strategy for people to express themselves.

What do you think?





Net Neutrality – Careful what you ask for!

As a long-standing tree hugger I subscribe to CREDO, an organization that helps me stay current with issues related to my interests and that helps me take action to influence decision-makers.

CREDO sent me an e-mail asking me to take action to tell the FCC to stop delaying and enact strong net neutrality provisions ASAP.

I sent their corresponding e-mail to several of my friends and received some eloquent replies that I want to share with you. It seems too simple and easy to take sides when it is pointed out that doing nothing would be the best solution.

From Vaughn, the founder of a successful ISP, IT engineering and outsourcing company

The best way to maintain no regulation is to only accept “no regulation”, including any regulation designed to say “no regulation”.

Net Neutrality (from the ISP side of the world) is being seen as a nefarious victimless crime used as a winding key for the mechanical town crier’s call for new tough laws to make sure that none can step on this newly discovered slippery ice other than the federal government (and even that initially in a well intentioned effort to make sure that nobody else steps on).

Once we reach that destination though, there will be clarifications (lawyers) and revisions (slipping on the ice) and compromise (so we can let a few folks on the ice, but protect them so that nobody can knock them down (imagine 8a for ISP’s)). Once it starts the outcome is inevitable – the government gets duped into favoring one party or the other, and then sets about (again mostly well meaning) to fix it. Before you know it we will have a virtual tax code… where the well resourced have time to figure out how to pay nothing, while the middle dolts – too busy working to scheme – pick up the tab, and the bottom struggles in abject poverty.

The FCC is maneuvering and actually does (read comments from the current leadership and shudder – really!) desire to use Net Neutrality as a means to control the publishing of content the way they currently regulate radio broadcasters (sounds like Google in China?). The regulators intentions are not all white hat either. Though there is only 5% arsenic in all rat poison, there is also 95% wheat germ in most – it is what gets them to eat it. The giants in the industry, hungry to create a barrier to entry (and having the resources to find loopholes and use them) are more than willing to create the sense of urgency needed by floating just such trial balloons as you have seen today with Google/Verizon knowing full well that they would be rejected by the market because of competition… as long as it exists anyway.

The current FCC leadership is a radical “use government for social change” bunch, that will care very little if they irreparably damage our industry and as a by-product eliminate all of the small players in 18 to 36 months… it’s “collateral damage” to them. Don’t take my word for it. Research the current commission’s leadership and look for some of their quotes as relates to “making the communications on the Internet politically neutral”. This is bigger than just my industry. Hugo Chavez created a group called the “responsibility in media” commission (or something like that), that sounded very good. Its charter was to make sure that all political information was “fair”. Now, less than a decade later, there are no radio stations left in Venezuela that disagree with Chavez. The efforts that the FCC leaders have proffered as example of what they have in mind for Net Neutrality actually include reference to granting them the right to license content – with exception made of course for the lowly citizen. But what if a few citizens pool their resources and form an association (like CREDO)? Where will they fall? It depends as I see it on who has control of the white house and thereby the FCC and whether or not those organizations agree with them. Not good! It won’t start out that obviously, but it will end up there.

The big Telco and content players want protection on the ice, so they can execute impossibly profitable maneuvers – or sustain them – without the inconvenience of market rejection or commoditizing competition. The commission wants to use regulation to “manage free speech in a responsible way”. This combination of negative liberties is a marriage made in Hades, and if we don’t stop the wedding ensuring that NEITHER Google or Verizon (or anyone like them) gets any official standing when it comes to the Internet, we are all headed for something very bad.

I am not an alarmist (I think so anyway), but this one really worries me. We can’t give the FCC a sword and then get surprised when they use it. Let Verizon and Google marry. Without the Government officiating, it will be like the marriage of Time Warner and AOL. Remember how frightened everyone was then? “Could they end up controlling content on the Internet?”, and “Will they be able to put a stranglehold on rates?”, and “are they going to join with MCI-Worldcom’s Bernie Ebbers and create a new tiered Internet?”. SO where did that go? Let the market reject them both. They really don’t have any power to force the market to change (without the gov). There are still too many small players. Why? Because without regulation they can compete! With it, they will have to consolidate or fade because of the choking need for resources in order to figure out how to stay “compliant”. I am student of history, and this is how I see it going down.


From Jack “The Dude” a very senior major telco executive.


Your note compels me to comment on the so-called “Net Neutrality” debate.

This subject is grossly misunderstood by the general public and many, if not the majority, of the stake holders in the debate.

First, the Google/Verizon proposal is just that, a proposal designed to “bridge” the two sides of “the debate”. The proposal is flawed in my opinion because it treats differently wireline vs. wireless “broadband” services. While I understand why the difference, the proposal raises the hackles of the wireless user lobby by suggesting that wireless not be regulated in similar fashion to the wired infrastructure.

This debate is in reality not about “broadband” or the internet per se. It’s about the “last mile” of telecommunications service, including the services, applications and management/regulation thereof, to the end user..

Not about Broadband or the internet? That’s right. The internet today is already “broadband” and is provisioned by a consortium of carriers worldwide. In order to access/use the internet, you and I need to do business with a Tier 2 Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc. Those providers offer us a variety of wired and/or wireless services including access to the internet. Those providers in turn contract with the real internet carrier for access to the internet. When we do business with the ISP, we’re buying a service, internet access for example) at a specific speed as delivered by the ISP’s infrastructure, not the internet per se. When the service we purchase is above a certain speed (used to be 56kb, now its 1mb and above) above the capabilities of a dial access copper telephone line, the industry and public deem that “broadband” service. If we purchase wireless internet access, we still use and transition the ISP’s wireless (and wired) infrastructure to access the internet.

The reason that “broadband” and Internet access creep into the debate is simple and relates to the demand, both current and future, for bandwidth across the “last mile”. Bandwidth, or the delivery thereof, is not limitless. That reality applies to both Wired and Wireless last mile connections. The investment required by the ISP’s is tremendous and continuing and very much is determined by the types of services they offer over the “last mile”. Video, streaming video, P2P, Games, Facebook or the so-called social networking services all compete for the same bandwidth when delivered to the end-user. In the wired world, coax and fiber (e.g., Verizon”s FIOS, have mitigated the last mile bandwidth problem for ISP’s and subscribers. The so-called “broadband” wireless infrastructure is still fighting the bandwidth demand problem due to the relative immaturity of the available “wireless” technology. Compounding this problem is the advent of new generation wireless phones every 5 minutes that have the capability of saturating a wireless network with various wireless applications.

The FCC’s role to date has been limited to wired, inter-lata telecommunications, i.e., those telecommunications services that are enabled by Federal Tariff. Also, the FCC says grace over the radio frequencies assigned various types of communications, including TV and “cellular” communications. The FCC has never been involved with below the line ISP operations, including internet access.

So, in order for the FCC to regulate “net neutrality”, they must assume a universal (intra and inter lata) regulatory role for ISP operations and policy, including of course the “last mile” of ISP service. Stand by for the howling from each states PSC.

The morale of the story?

Be careful what you wish for

“The Dude”

Seriously ATT vs. GoogleVoice is a nice way of Asking the FCC for Help

Telling taies out of school let me say that I think alot of the discussion about GoogleVoice is way off track.

Intercarrier Compensation

Here are some of the per minute rates for the same call based on the rules.
As a result of Apple and Google debate, the discussion of GoogleVoice got ATT in a strange position. That of being the only one in the battle the FCC had the ability to really petition about the issue.

That lead to ATT pointing out that GoogleVoice was in an interesting position, while neglecting to mention they were truly a secondary service and not a primary solution, we also ended up with interesting issues of when does an enhanced service start stop or apply.

But none of this is what is on ATT’s mind. They are focused on the right issue. Intercarrier compensation. They are pointing out the blocked calls not to point at Google, but to point at the craziness that the commission needs to address.

This does get complicated because entwined are the issues of high cost providers, phantom traffic and traffic pumping, but if Google can choose to avoid the cost for a free service, the question that should be asked is what is the harm?

The harm may be to the consumer behind the high cost carrier and therefore competitiion is the answer.

The time is right given the BTOP process to stare down the advocates of the status quo and make a decision.Intercarrier Compensation - source ATT

Net Neutrality Podcast: We Melted the Server, but kept the Record

I want to apologize to my friends at Calliflower for pushing the overload on their system. We have been using it for years and it has enabled us to have a rich media discussion unlike any other. Fortunately the recording function worked.

Here is the podcast. It’s been edited to allow the content to be the focus. I also want to make you aware that the team of Rick Whitt from Google, Hank Hultquist from ATT, Todd Daubert from Kelley Drye and Glenn Richards from Pillsbury Law have all agreed to participate in this session in Miami January 20th.

Special thanks goes to Dave Erickson for for participating in the call. The issues he brought up we will also be discussing in a separate session at 4G Wireless Evolution.

Can the Enhanced Service Provider exemption stay in place?

If the FCC is going to put Wireless in the same bucket as cable and wireline, should we expect that the Enhanced Service Provider exemption still applies?

On the Google Policy Blog Rick Whitt responds to the FCC letter from ATT regarding Google Voice. It is very pertinent to the discussion we are having on the Calliflower call tomorrow about Net Neutrality.

We could say the carriers are suffering from a little enhanced services envy, given the fact that Verizon wanted to be compared to Google at the last wall street conference they attended. In this case ATT wants to point out that GoogleVoice admits that because of tariff anomalies, it is not servicing the rural markets, but does not consider this their battle.

So Let’s see if we come to a common ground tomorrow, about what exactly the FCC is trying to accomplish.

Is it Good Enough? Dog Gone it People like the Internet.

Al Franken, who probably has more to lose from piracy of his movies, and skits than any other senator (well maybe Fred Thompson and the late Sonny Bono are his peers), took up the challenge of Free Speech on the Internet.

While many are calling this the Net Neutrality debate, the issue was recast more to the issues of Media ownership and control. Casting Net Neutrality in this light connects it to concepts such as difference between unserved and underserved as described in the Stimulus package and asked of FCC Chairman Genachowski at his hearings.

Law not only repeating history, but tends to be being glued to it.

Precedent carries over centuries after the metaphor applies. Terms like telegraphic and telephonic are embedded in the discussions we face today. When Senator Franken asked the question of the judge, the issue was not the carriage issue, but that of free speech.

This is a game changing perspective, because despite our friend David Isenberg’s efforts the network is not as dumb as we would like. Packet Inspection, Content Delivery and traffic prioritization point to the fact that the choice is being made based on knowing aspects of the content.

So it’s a valid concern as to what the FCC’s jurisdiction includes when it comes to the the Internet? The days of the three-tone slope are gone and monitoring the wires is not a comprehensive view. On the hand do we want decency to be monitored by the FCC so that every youtube video suffers the scrutiny of the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction?

Congress is wrestling with lots of issues separately, the newspaper’s industry’s collapse with the rules of media ownership. Adding Freedom of Speech into the mix feels strained for traditional phone networks, but perhaps it time to rethink what we are trying to control.

In European law media is not segmented by technologies, (i.e., cable, satellite, wireline, wireless), but viewed as comprehensive whole. But even their goal is to regulate access and not content.

Senator Franken has a good question that has been out of scope. We still do not have ubiquitous broadband access.

If you live near an NFL team you probably have choices in services. If you don’t broadband Internet access is scarce.

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) has expanded on the $7.4 Billion in the stimulus with an incentive strategy that further encourages the deployment by the private sector of broadband services. The tax incentive strategies helps with the operations cost, plus the formation of companies that can benefit from the stimulus, it is also complimentary to strategies for the next generation of networked emergency services as well.

So congratulations to the one Senator who is looking to get broadband where it’s not and to other who is trying to make sure it’s on the behalf of all. I hope they tackle the battle together of what do we want regulated today. Of course they will need to let bygones be bygones.

Remember the stimulus package divided the monies into two buckets and put the FCC in the role of advisor more than administrator. Obviously, Senator’s Hutchison’s incentives are to support localized control.

I think its safe to expect that Judge Sotomayor will hear another Brand X case in her near future.