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[Discuss] Competition of broadband

On 12/2/2011 11:04 AM, Rich Braun wrote:
> Kyle Leslie wrote:
>>> many of the cities signed a contract with Comcast so they
>>> would be the only provider of "Broadband" internet
> Edward Ned Harvey<blu at>  wrote:
>>> This is pretty much the way all broadband is deployed nationwide,
>>> and it's done on a per-town or per-city basis.
> Hsuanyeh Chang<hsuanyeh at>  noted:
>> If that is the case, then I might be wrong.  But before AT&T was
>> pierced apart, how many years have they been running their
>> anticompetitive business, nationwide.
> Welcome to the rise of the Chicago School of business thought, which boils
> down to handing all the marbles to the biggest, most boastful kid with the
> expectation that he'll create prosperity for all the rest.

If by "Chicago", you mean "Obama", please say so.

> Another area where anti-competitive behavior came to play was in the
> innovation of wireless gear:  we've all heard about how spectrum has been sold
> off by the government to the highest bidder, with obvious consequences for
> power of big companies over small ones.  But even before that debacle, big
> equipment makers were out buying up and shutting down innovators of
> medium-range wireless gear.

Please provide specific examples of the firms that were bought up, the 
technologies that they were offering or working on, the firms that 
bought them, and
proof that the buyers suppressed the technologies involved.

> WiFi is not practical for deployment over large
> geographic areas, a fact which some entrepreneurs and city boosters didn't
> really grasp until a lot of sweat&  money had been wasted.  Ten to twelve
> years ago there were a handful of companies which made gear with ranges of 1
> to 15 miles, vastly more practical than WiFi and more comparable to the 3G
> gear we see deployed today.  Fastened to the chimney of a house I once owned
> in Somerville, you can still see the antenna for one of those gadgets which
> brought me home Internet for a brief period back then:  it was line-of-sight
> to One Financial Center (the building which symbolically rises over the south
> side of today's Occupy Boston site) where one of those little-guy wireless
> companies struggled to build a business before folding in the face of the big
> guys.

IMNSHO, they folded because they couldn't get their signals to enough 
customers. In
roughly the 1995 time frame, NYNEX Corp. attempted to implement a TV 
system based on Multipoint-Distribution-System (MDS) types of 
technology. The
corporation took a bath on the project, because New England has too many 
and hills and rocks in the way between Boston and the suburban buyers 
who have
cash to spend on entertainment. Every possible combination of transmitter
location(s) and available paths came up against the same bottleneck: the 
in the Greater Boston area does not allow for line-of-sight connections 
to a
majority of home-mounted antennas.

As it happens, i could have told NYNEX that from personal experience: I 
was a Founding
Director of the New England TCP Association during it's rebirth in 1994, 
and I spent month
after month poring over topographic charts, trying to find paths for 
microwave data links
between Amateur Radio digital repeater sites. They just aren't there.

The only viable "line of sight" in this area is to the Clarke Belt, and 
that's why
Dish Network and DirectTV are still in business.

> Fixing the industry to create more competition would be remarkably difficult
> these days.

You are assuming that "the industry" needs "fixing", and I don't think 
"the industry" is
as monolithic or as in need of repair as you imply.

* TV is a non-issue, at least to me: I could care less which tv shows my 
neighbors do, or
don't, have a choice of seeing, whether over-the-air, via-cable, or 
IP-based. Although
I still have a TV antenna and a DTV converter box that I bought with a 
coupon, I have my ten-year-old TV on for less than three hours per week.
After a certain age, you will realize that IT'S ALL THE SAME.

* Telephone access is not a factor; since cellular phones still compete 
with regulated
landlines for those who know the value of a dollar, and I could care 
less if some Yuppie
can or cannot watch episodes of "Dancing In The Stable" on his 
Inch-and-a-half screen.

* Internet is the only area of concern to me, but I don't see any 
concentration in that
segment affecting /ME/, because I don't rely on the world-wide-wait for 
that makes money for any media conglomerate.  I don't foresee email 
restricted to the point that either I or any business user would be 
affected: it's
simply too valuable a tool for business users to tolerate any change 
from the
status quo.

> It's common for a big company to buy up and monopolize a piece of spectrum,
> creating an artificial shortage, and then to go around to property owners and
> write monopolistic contracts controlling all the best antenna and tower
> locations.  (Invariably, the company will demand exclusive access:  if a
> building owner does business with, e.g., Sprint--the contract will be breached
> if the owner signs with, e.g., T-Mobile.)

FCC Rules regulate "Antenna Farms", and prevent any owner or lessee from 
playing "keep away".
Of course, it's possible for lessees to sub-let space, but that's just 
life in the big city: if owners
sign leases that they don't understand, that's their own fault, and it 
doesn't affect the issue:
if there's no other viable site, all radiators get equal space.

> That's why Verizon's wireless
> service works best here, and why no amount of money spent by another company
> can ever achieve a truly competitive cell-phone offering.  So Verizon can
> charge whatever it wants (optimized, as any monopoly does, to pull in the most
> consumers can afford before dropping service entirely), and the prices have
> nothing to do with the underlying cost of operations.

I think /that/ is also life in the big city. You are assuming that 
everybody "has to
have" a cellphone in their pocket and that "someone" needs to regulate 
the availability
and price of all cellular services so that hoi polloi can enjoy low-rent 
phone service,
internet connectivity, and entertainment 24/7/365 at any location they 
might ever

I don't own a cell phone. I've used them when my business needed one, 
but I don't
feel that it's a service that requires more regulation or government 
The great majority of the world's peoples survive quite well without 
having an
electronic leash tied to their side, and that's a lesson you /can/ take 
to the bank.

> In order to reform anything, you'd really need to come up with a
> national-level policy like in some other countries.  But in this country I
> just don't see an even remotely legal or practical way to accomplish that.

And I don't see the /need/ to accomplish that.  The reason people go to 
is that /work/ is an organized environment dedicated to advancing a
corporation's goals. The very notion that everybody can be as productive
on the subway or in their car or sitting on a couch at home, as is 
possible in
an office with support staff, information, and resources *literally* 
is just not credible.

"Smart" phones, or "goes everywhere" cellular connections, or any other 
that promotes the notion that workers might be productive no matter 
where they are
located, just don't fit human nature. This is the reason that car pools 
don't work,
and the reason that automobile advertisements are always filmed on empty
streets or open roads, and the reason that people play golf. Human 
beings need
time away from their responsibilities every day, or they go crazy.



Bill Horne
Copyright (C) 2011 E. William Horne. All Rights Reserverd.

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