Cell phones don’t work behind concrete walls. ?12 million people with Internet connections are without Internet. NY Times more


It is also more powerful than cellular service because the frequencies can penetrate concrete walls and other obstacles.

Promoting the white-spaces technology could reap rewards for tech companies: The remaining 24.3 million people in rural areas without internet are potential customers of cloud applications, search and other digital services.

Unlikely reporting

Cell phones don’t work behind concrete walls. ?12 million people with Internet connections are without Internet. NY Times

[White spaces are] more powerful than cellular service because the frequencies can penetrate concrete walls and other obstacles.” Anyone who has used a cell phone inside a concrete-walled building knows otherwise. White space radios possibly can penetrate more effectively because they use lower frequencies. LTE using more bandwidth and MIMO beamforming will often be better.

“The remaining 24.3 million people in rural areas without internet.” The 24.3 million figure is from Microsoft’s pr. It’s from 2014. Things have improved substantially as many of them can now get LTE, nominally “unlimited.” Others have long been able to get Internet, often fast enough for HD TV and other demanding applications. Microsoft’s figure does not include anyone with Internet below 25 megabits. 25 megabits is a reasonable test for “robust Internet” but someone with only 10 or even 3 megabits is not unconnected. When Jennie only had a 3 megabit Verizon connection, The Tudors to my surprise looked great on a 50 inch HD TV.


Microsoft Stops the World in 2014: Claims No Improvements in Broadband in 30 Months

Brad SmithMicrosoft President Brad Smith was wrong claiming “Today 23.4 million Americans in rural areas still lack broadband internet access.” The figures are from 2014. Since then probably half or more have been reached by AT&T or Verizon LTE. Each report 98% LTE coverage, with T-Mobile close. LTE speeds are higher than the proposed White Space radios.

He also was almost certainly wrong claiming White Spaces would be, “Over 50 percent cheaper than the cost of current fixed wireless technology like 4G.” By almost any appropriate comparison, WS would be more expensive and slower than LTE. The Microsoft/BCG figure assumes that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon would not be part of an LTE rural plan. All four have massive amounts ofcompletely unused rural spectrum as well as existing facilities that would bring down the cost. (AT&T has 60 MHz of spectrum unused nationwide, enough to more than duplicate the entire Verizon network.) 

M/BCG instead assumes LTE would come from a new company New entrants might have high costs for spectrum and would need to be much more heavily subsidized than existing carriers.  

Their estimate for the cost of the LTE cell is based on a tower cell site sized for 300-1,000. They compare that with a WS radio sized for a few dozen at most. An LTE cell of similar size and capacity would be cheaper than the likely WS radios rather than many times more expensive. LTE gear is produced in billion quantities, a thousand times more than even an optimistic WS plan. This almost certainly will keep LTE gear less expensive.

Continue reading

6 Phone Calls Can Predict US Investment Without B________

PhoniesMillions of dollars are being spent to persuade Ajit Pai FCC decisions on pole attachments, broadband paperwork, local regulations, neutrality and backhaul prices will “incent investments and more broadband deployment. I’ve listened to CTO’s, CFO’s and CEO’s explaining investment strategy for nearly two decades. I’m convinced none of his policy proposals will have significant impact on actual investment or deployment. Pai can determine whether I’m right by making six phone calls and asking one question on each. Just call the CEOs or CFOs of AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile, & Verizon. They control 90% of mobile and 65% of landlines. 

Ask them, “If I make these changes, how much will you increase your capital spending and rural deployment?” Verizon made a point of telling Wall Street that despite the 5G build, they wouldn’t increase capex in the coming years. Charter/Time Warner has said they will cut and I believe AT&T similar. Sprint has said they will not come close to their fiscal 2016 capex. Most of the remaining companies – Century, Frontier, Altice – are financially weaker and even less likely to invest.

Capital spending is mostly driven by technology change, competition, market demand, underlying financial problems, and equipment cost.

Continue reading

FCC Plan May Reduce 4G Deployment (Not Satire)

adelsteinWith subsidies in sight, telcos reduce investment. There’s no firm data, but the net result of the $7B broadband stimulus may have been fewer unserved homes connected. Since 2009, carrier investment in broadband in rural areas has gone down drastically.  Ajit Pai is moving forcefully on his plan to promote rural broadband, for which I applaud him. 

Takeaway: Pai wants to spend $billions to bring broadband to the unserved. Under current plans, most of the money is likely to go where telcos would build without a subsidy, buy obsolete technology, or give the telcos two or three times what the job should cost. Any spending on wireless except where towers or backhaul is unavailable should be assumed wasteful until proven otherwise.  Realistic costs need to be developed and subsidies allocated on that basis.

Pai is putting $4.5B on the table this week to bring 4G wireless to those they project won’t be served without it. I believe Pai is honorable but is being misled by staffers and lobbyists. He proudly signed his name to a statement below that the $200M he approved for New York State would go to “the deployment of broadband infrastructure to unserved areas of rural New York.” (Emphasis added.) Most of that money will not go to unserved areas.

Continue reading

Rosston’s Nightmare: Broadband Prices Go Up, Up, Up

Prices in the U.S. have about doubled since 2010, when the Stanford economist’s paper predicted people want broadband so much doubling was possible.

Morgan Stanley found average prices of $66 in 2017, up 12%. Hidden fees often raise that. When Rosston wrote in 2010, most prices were $30-$45. An economist reading Greg’s paper could predict prices likely would double if the companies could just signal each other to raise prices. The paper was written for the Broadband Plan where the staff could see large increases coming. Since costs of delivering broadband are down, regular price increases imply we only have weak competition.

Rosston found people were willing to pay ~$45 more for better broadband, which would increase if broadband became even more essential. (It has.) The only way to stop that was strong competition or regulation. Plan leader Blair Levin could see that, but he told me action for either was blocked at a higher level. I guessed that was Larry Summers in the White House, but never could confirm that.

The disease of monopoly-like price increases is spreading to Germany and Britain. Mike Fries and Liberty Global are doing regular price increases and Deutsche Telekom is following. In Britain, BT has just raised prices and I’m watching the others to see if they match. The strategy is like the Americans. Increases that aren’t so high the regulator would step in but enough to lead to much higher prices in a few years.

Half the U.S. has only one choice at 25 megabits or better. Few of the rest have more than two.

Continue reading

Stupid DC Tricks

Reporters wearing sleeveless dress or open toed shoes are forbidden in the House Speaker’s Lobby, per Paul Ryan

No one needs broadband, AT&T VP Tim McKone told Congressmenobjecting to AT&T’s arbitration clause. It effectively limits lawsuits when AT&T lies to and cheats customers. He claims no one is forced to buy from AT&T and hence be stuck with an almost worthless arbitration system. True, no one is “forced” unless they want a decent Internet connection. Randall also has made clear that AT&T deliberately misleads customers. “Don’t look at the price we advertise,” he warned Wall Street years ago. “It’s misleading. Look instead at our ARPU.”  More



Scroll to top