We All Make Mistakes: A biologist explains why to correct them

Nature pointed me to an eloquent correction by a biology researcher. “What really matters is the science and getting it as right as possible.   Avoid mistakes with careful science.  Correct them with honesty and humility.”

Research in telecom often needs correction but that rarely happens. Currently, I am researching

  • A professor who thought data dominated by in-home Wi-Fi showed broadband problems and made policy recommendations based on the misunderstanding.
  • Wireless carriers using seriously out-of-date data to demand tens of billions in unnecessary subsidies for 5G. Everyone in the industry knows that T-Mobile committed to 99% 5G coverage, with Verizon & AT&T likely to come close to matching. Subsidies for 5G, except in the very few areas without towers, are almost always waste. Big in Europe.
  • $5-15 billion NTIA might spend for homes that have a perfectly fine broadband connection via cable. This is due to errors in the FCC broadband fabric due to incorrect measures of broadband capacity. Davidson & Rosenworcel know this but don’t appear to be fixing it. Not good enough for government work.
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Verizon Trying to Block Community Networks & Schools From ACP Money

Local networks, schools, and new competitors were at the heart of the advocacy for infrastructure spending. Verizon wants to make sure they have no real chance.

That’s my reading of

“Certain proposals in the record, such as using the ACP to
support the ongoing cost of in-building Wi-Fi installed with Broadband Equity, Access,
and Development (BEAD) Program support2 or to replace Emergency Connectivity
Fund support for schools’ bulk purchases,3 raise statutory and implementation issues
that are too complex to address in this accelerated proceeding.”

which Tamara Preiss and Alan Buzacott of Verizon told Trent Harkradar of the Chairwoman’s office.

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For The Record: FOIA and other requests

Elizabeth Andrion

Julie Veach and John Nakahata, two respected DC lawyers, requested the FCC keep secret (redact) the amount John Malone’s Alaskan telco GCI is asking to recover after a mistake in their EBB filing.

They claim that revealing roughly how many subscribers GCI has would give competitors a major advantage. The information is readily available and would only have a trivial effect on marketing. I filed a FOIA  FCC-2022-000153.

Charter SVP Elizabeth Andrion also likes keeping a secret. She met with the FCC about the broadband subsidy and was required by law to report what she said. Instead, she wrote something meaningless.

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Deterministic Networking Moving Ahead

The four Chinese carriers, Huawei, and the government came together at the 5G Deterministic Network Industry Alliance’s meeting on July 30 in Beijing.  Dai Jisheng, Chairman of the Alliance and President of Huawei Cloud Core Network Strategy, said:

“In the past two years, the alliance has made great progress with the strong support of various members. As a link between technology and industry, the alliance has promoted a virtuous cycle of demand and supply. “

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Killer study: Two broadband providers results like a monopoly. $100B infra spend endangered

Scott Wallsten, who was Chief Economist of the US Broadband Plan, has just published Does Competition Between Cable and Fiber Increase Adoption? His conclusion:

the data shows [a second carrier] won’t bring down prices on the low-income end given that that’s the place we would get new adoption. … broadband adoption, all else equal, is not higher in tracts with cable and fiber providers than it is in tracts with only a cable provider or only a fiber provider.


Comcast demonstrated how low prices can increase demand. The obvious explanation why adoption didn’t go up is two carrier markets have pretty much the same prices as pure monopolies. US cableco charge the same prices whether or not they have to compete with fiber.

For the last 15 years, I’ve watched cablecos and telcos raise prices in lockstep, generally at 3-5% per year. Ajit Pai became FCC Chair with a promise to bring down prices but instead saw an increase of 10%-20%, depending on what you measure,.His advocates answer back that prices had also gone up under his Democratic predecessor, Tom Wheeler.

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Building towers in new areas the smartest infrastructure subsidy

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are about to spend tens of billions unnecessarily building duplicate networks. The wireless industry is demanding subsidies for areas that almost certainly will be covered by 5G without government money. Essentially every cell tower with backhaul will be upgraded with a 5G radio.

But there are very few towers being built in areas not already covered. A 25-75% subsidy would make many profitable. It’s the only broadband spending unlikely to duplicate things.

Mark – Verizon CTO Dick Lynch in 2009 building LTE decided to put a radio on any tower with backhaul that wasn’t overpriced. The result was the side by side maps showing Verizon coverage much better than AT&T, which had to scramble to catch up.

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Net Neutrality is Coming Back. So What Will That Change?

Bringing back Net Neutrality is a high priority for Biden, which is great. However, it will make little practical difference for the next few years. There have been no abuses of Net Neutrality with a big impact, although AT&T should never have favored HBO in its wireless plans.

Legendary AT&T lobbyist Jim Cicconi years ago said they could give up NN so long as gov didn’t force prices down. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Charter and the other dominant carriers do not want DC to make new rules on fees. So they have behaved and avoided controversy on neutrality.

The US has the highest Internet prices in the developed world and claims otherwise have been exposed as politicians’ truths. Pai, who has made smart moves on spectrum, has completely failed on his promise of affordable broadband for all. I’d like to think the Dems will do better, but they didn’t under Obama.   

I’ve supported what we call Net Neutrality since 1999, when I had a very public disagreement with Jeff Waldhuter of Verizon. I’m glad it’s coming back. 

Any competent engineer could connect 80%+ of the unserved schoolkids to 25/3 in 2 or 3 months. Wireless technology has been improving so rapidly the carriers have massive unused capacity. So do the cablecos. Chicago is doing it, at a total cost of 1/2 of 1% of the school budget.

It’s criminal we haven’t done that already.

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