Saturday, May 27, 2006

More on last-mile options in Phoenix

I've posted this as an update on the original post, but it's also worth bringing out as a separate posting. I've made a few minor changes here (e.g., to insert the point about Cable America that is made elsewhere in the original post).

Douglas Ross (directorblue) has called this list "bogus" and claimed that only two of the options (Qwest and Cox) actually count. He rightly dismisses Cable America from the list on the grounds that Cox entered into an agreement to acquire them in January of this year--I grant his point and that reduces the number of broadband providers by one.

He dismisses Covad because it uses Qwest last-mile wires, but goes on to say, inconsistently, that he would count other cable resellers if the Brand X decision had gone the other way and providers like Cox were forced to enter into relationships like Covad has with Qwest. My observation is that if those reseller relationships exist and the reseller provides access to its own Internet network, then that is enough to foster a competitive environment. It doesn't matter whether it's government-mandated, it matters whether it exists.

Doug rejects all the wireless options out of hand on the grounds of Verizon's EVDO terms-of-service. (His section about why WiMax isn't viable doesn't actually discuss WiMax at all, only EVDO terms-of-service.) He misses the point that Sprint Broadband and Sprint EVDO are *two different services*--he doesn't actually give a reason to reject Sprint Broadband.

He says he doesn't understand why I put the City of Tempe's municipal WiFi network in the list--I did so because Tempe is right in the middle of the Phoenix metropolitan area (and noted Chandler's metro WiFi in-development, which is just south of Tempe, for the same reason). These are real options for people moving to the Phoenix area and for anyone who is willing to move to get different broadband service. (And certainly broadband options in an area are an important factor in choosing a place to live.)

Finally, he rejects HughesNet because it is unsuitable for VOIP or P2P. At least he doesn't say that HughesNet should be mandated to change the laws of physics in order to provide those services under net neutrality.

Doug's position on net neutrality appears to be that nothing counts as broadband unless it supports every application he wants to use. But it's important to note that the net neutrality bills in Congress *do* count all these options and place regulations on them--they count anything as broadband that is greater than 200kbps in one direction, whether wired or wireless. I don't see Doug volunteering to exempt things he doesn't count as valid broadband options from broadband net neutrality restrictions.

It appears to me that Doug's position is that whoever builds an infrastructure capable of supporting what he wants has to provide it to him, without recovering the costs of that infrastructure by charging any third parties. But I bet he also is unwilling to pay an unsubsidized rate to use such a service.

(UPDATE: I was just looking at Doug's blogroll, and he's pretty strong evidence that net neutrality positions don't necessarily correlate with political positions. Doug's political blog links include Michelle Malkin, Little Green Footballs, and the dishonest nutcases at "Stop the ACLU.")

6 comments:

directorblue said...

>>> Why doesn't Covad count?

Jim, their last-mile service is simple a re-branded RBOC offering. And, unless I see evidence to the contrary, my contention is that the RBOC's ground rules will still apply to Covad on that loop. Ground rules that include blocking, filtering, impeding and other acts of "network protection".

Your post specifically mentioned last-mile alternatives and not backbones, so let's stay within that scope for this discussion.

Regarding cable resellers/Brand-X, actually I never said I would count them as additional last-mile providers. I simply wanted to call attention (for those unfamiliar with the case) to the fact that even Covad-style reselling arrangements had been blown out of the water. What I'm trying to call out is the read lack of separate choices for last-mile connectivity.

>>> I also think your reasons for dismissing EVDO are bogus--if you were consistent in your net neutrality position, you would say that they *do* count as competition, but need to be forced to allow all traffic.

Of course they do! But that's not what your post was about! We're talking about the present, right? You described EVDO as a legitimate alternative to fiber and I'm saying (for reasons good or bad) that it's not. You can't run jack squat on EVDO based upon those TOS. Fighting wireless providers on their TOSes is a separate issue altogether, so let's not confuse the two.

>>> You don't seem to *have* a consistent position.

Sure I do, but I'm not discussing how me might fight EVDO's TOS right now. I'm pwning your list of "nine" last-mile providers.

>>> Tempe is right smack in the middle of the metropolitan Phoenix area...

Well, I'm not counting it because the linked article from the Phoenix media (dated May 9, 2006) specifically notes that muni-wideband isn't available except at the airport and a couple of other locations. Maybe you could correct your local media first. And that doesn't even delve into whether we can run streaming media, P2P, applications, etc. over that connection. My guess is... no, but I'd be happy to evaluate evidence to the contrary.

>>> SRP Telecom has also found a different way to deploy metro fiber--above ground, above their 64Kv power lines.

That sounds promising - and when that's widely deployed and available, I'll gladly count that as #3...

Jim Lippard said...

Covad's service used *Covad's* Internet network. If you buy their service, you don't see any Qwest layer 3 equipment. Your contention that RBOC rules about blocking, filtering, etc. will apply has never been the case to date.

My list is a list of broadband options, irrespective of capabilities or terms of service. Your complaint about EVDO TOS and satellite capabilities don't change that they are broadband. You still haven't answered why, if they don't count as broadband, you don't give them a pass on net neutrality requirements.

You still miss the point on Tempe. The City of Phoenix has free WiFi at the airport, but no muni WiFi. Tempe has (or will soon have) border-to-border muni WiFi. (Tempe's western border is just east of the Phoenix airport.) The article you reference is exclusively about the City of Phoenix; my post was about the entire Phoenix metropolitan area, which includes Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, and Gilbert--areas between which people regularly commute for work and recreation.

By the HR 5417 definition of broadband, there are at least 8 broadband providers in the Phoenix metro area. That was my point, and your reduction of the list to two doesn't mean there are only two broadband providers, it means there are only two broadband providers that you would consider purchasing service from if you lived here.

Jim Lippard said...

My first sentence in that last comment was supposed to say "uses," not "used."

directorblue said...

In your original post, you noted that Covad has exited the residential/consumer DSL business. I'm not sure why you're counting them, especially if Qwest would disallow business-service to residences.

Again, on EVDO, you claim it's an option. Ignoring net neutrality requirements for the moment... it's not an option! I can't stream video, audio, share files, run a server, etc. Put simply - it doesn't count unless it can let us run the apps -- today -- that a real fiber connection does.

I don't know the Phoenix area enough (never had the pleasure of visiting) to comment on whether Tempe is part of metro Phoenix. Suffice it to say that when most of the city proper isn't covered, I'd hardly consider that a viable option for most folks.

I'm unsure why you keep bringing up 5417. That's one of a dozen or so bills in play and it wasn't even mentioned in your original post. That's kind of an arbitrary definition of broadband, compared with some of the other writings out there.

Jim Lippard said...

"In your original post, you noted that Covad has exited the residential/consumer DSL business. I'm not sure why you're counting them, especially if Qwest would disallow business-service to residences."

By shifting to a completely different argument to discount Covad and ignoring my response on the other, are you conceding on the other argument? The reason I listed it even though they are not in the consumer broadband business is because they will provide business service to a residence, and I verified specifically that they can provide service to my home.

"Again, on EVDO, you claim it's an option. Ignoring net neutrality requirements for the moment... it's not an option! I can't stream video, audio, share files, run a server, etc. Put simply - it doesn't count unless it can let us run the apps -- today -- that a real fiber connection does."

Your argument is about something more specific than broadband, then. Why not be straightforward and specific about your argument rather than vague and constantly shifting? If your argument is specifically about "a real fiber connection," then argue for "net neutrality for fiber to the home." Again, I listed these because they are broadband services available to me at my home.

"I don't know the Phoenix area enough (never had the pleasure of visiting) to comment on whether Tempe is part of metro Phoenix. Suffice it to say that when most of the city proper isn't covered, I'd hardly consider that a viable option for most folks."

There are a multitude of mapping programs available on the Internet. You can also verify the claim by searching for terms like "Phoenix Tempe metro" and seeing results like "Phoenix Area Movie Theaters" with addresses in Tempe. City of Tempe and City of Chandler WiFi are not options for people who don't live in those areas, of course. But they *will* have effect on competition in the Phoenix area. (Tempe has a huge student population and Chandler has a huge population of young technology workers and their families. These are both groups that have influence on technology in the area.)

"I'm unsure why you keep bringing up 5417. That's one of a dozen or so bills in play and it wasn't even mentioned in your original post. That's kind of an arbitrary definition of broadband, compared with some of the other writings out there."

I've referred to HR 5417 because it is an example of a broadband bill that you have specifically supported and it's the one that's passed committee. Its definition of broadband is virtually the same as several of the others--they set the 200 kbps bandwidth in one direction as the primary criterion. I haven't seen one that restricts it to wired service. 5417 didn't even appear to restrict it to residential services (perhaps the latest manager's amendment fixes that defect), but my list didn't include providers who can bring "broadband" under that definition to colo spaces and carrier hotels. That list would be several times longer but not relevant to what services I can actually get at my home.

What do you think is a better definition of broadband, and wouldn't you rather see HR 5417 changed to use it?

MoreMobile said...

EVDO Update NOV 06...

Yes, Verizon has horrible "unlimited" TOS, but Sprint does not. I work directly with both carriers, and sell a lot of the KR1 mobile routers, which Verizon does not like. Sprint promotes router usage...they sell one themselves! Additionally, Sprint is now rolling out the Rev A network. This will allow Voip, and all the other apps of true broadband, all for $59.99 a month. Quite a deal.
As far as the Muni Wifi goes, in my experiece so far, it is a joke. Yes, it will certainly be usable for a portion of the users, but if you really need to be "Mobile" forget it. The coverage is like swiss cheese. EVDO is solid...I run my entire business off my EVDO card and never have issues.
Thanks, Steve www.MoreMobileInternet.com