Unreliable Sources

In my opinion, the work of those listed here is inaccurate as noted. Please do send me examples from telecom reporting and claims. I particularly welcome pointers to mistakes made while supporting my editorial positions; this should not be one-sided.

I recommend not using it without a second, clearly independent source. I will be delighted to remove any name if good evidence is provided the work is accurate or it is retracted. I will not list anyone here I know did substantial additional work accurately. If any listing is disputed, I will remove it for 14 days to allow a careful look at the contentions.  Dave


Hal Singer, Economists Incorporated Kevin Caves, Economists Incorporated Ed Naef, CMA Strategy Consulting Micah Sachs, CMA Strategy Consulting

Assessing the Impact of Forbearance from 251(c)(3) on Consumers, Capital Investment, and Jobs May2018

End-customers will benefit from reduced pricing and improved performance from their next-generation telecommunications services,



Latest issue

Professor Noam’s “Many Internets” http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Until about 2010, everyone agreed the Net was a “network of networks,” not a monolithic entity. There was a central authority, ICANN, keeping track of domain names, but that was a minor administrative function.
Columbia Professor Noam suggests we might be better off accepting that some nations or groups might want to organize their networks differently. It’s easy to see demand for an Internet with much more effective filters against material some think harmful to children. (Any 10 year old can easily find porn today. Many do.)
Internet translation is getting better very quickly. You might want an “Internet” that translates everything into your language. Google Chrome translation isn’t perfect but I was able to research most of this story on Russian language sites. With a few more years progress, I might welcome an alternate that brings me everything in English, including caching for better performance.
De facto, Internet news is already split, as hundreds of millions only get their news from Facebook. Google AMP pages, including for news, also favor selected parts of the net
Centralizing the DNS doesn’t prevent censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. There are many Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists who want to block what they consider blasphemy and limit free speech. See http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/nyregion/ultra-orthodox-jews-hold-rally-on-internet-at-citi-field.html . More from Noam http://bit.ly/ManyNets

Russia Orders Alternate Root Internet System http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS
It’s actually practical and not necessarily a problem.The Security Council of the Russian Federation, headed by Vladimir Putin, has ordered the “government to develop an independent internet infrastructure for BRICS nations, which would continue to work in the event of global internet malfunctions … This system would be used by countries of the BRICS bloc – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.” RT
Columbia University Professor Eli Noam and then ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé have both said such a system is perfectly practical as long as there is robust interconnection.
Actually, the battle over ICANN and domain names is essentially symbolic. Managing the DNS is a relatively insignificant task, more clerical than governing. ICANN Chair Steve Crocker pointed out they had very little to do with policy.
Some will claim this is about blocking free speech but that’s rhetoric. Russia doesn’t need to fiddle with the DNS for censorship, as the Chinese have demonstrated. The wonders of the Internet will continue so long as the resulting nets” are robustly connected. The ICANN and U.S. policy goal should be to help create that system for interconnection.
I expect contentions that “The Russians are taking over our Internet” and “They are splitting the Internet.” The Internet is a “Network of Networks.” It is not a monolith so what would “splitting” it mean or do?
After the WCIT, China realized that ICANN and the DNS are side issues not worth bothering about. They have been building alternate institutions including the World Internet Summit in Wuzhan and the BRICs conferences.  The Chinese have put their main work where decisions that matter are made. Wireless standards are set by 3GPP, where nothing can be approved without China’s consent.
The American battle at ITU is proving to be a historic mistake.
Why does Russia want an independent Internet?
They fear that Western sanctions on Russia could cripple the Russian Net. Communications minister, Nikolay Nikiforov, worries about, “a scenario where our esteemed partners would suddenly decide to disconnect us from the internet.” I think that’s highly unlikely but Nikiforov points out, “Recently, Russia is being addressed in a language of unilateral sanctions: first, our credit cards are being cut off; then the European Parliament says that they’ll disconnect us from SWIFT.”
It makes sense for the Russians to be prepared for such a contingency as the Cold War has been warming up on both sides. “Britain’s top military chief Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach just made headlines warning Russian subs “could CRIPPLE Britain by cutting undefended undersea internet cables.” Much more http://bit.ly/RussiaDNS

ICANN Continues Excluding Russia & China From the Board http://bit.ly/CEOPromises
No wonder Russia wants an alternate root. Three years ago, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé promised “a seat at the table” to Chinese Premier Li. ICANN welched and this year added two more Americans.
Almost all the ICANN board is from the U.S. and close allies; only about 4 of the 18 board members are from countries on the other side of the North/South divide in Internet policy.  Claiming ICANN represents the Global Internet is inappropriate. China is 1/3rd of the Internet but has no representation on the board.
I know many of the board members. They are all basically honorable but generally share a strong opinion on North-South issues.
Larry Strickling of the U.S. government knew just what he was doing with the IANA transition. He handed over to a board with similar positions as the U.S. government.
“The system is unsustainable while it excludes half the world,” I have been saying since 2012. More, including the transcript of Fadi’s statements,http://bit.ly/CEOPromises

Sorry, Ajit Pai: Smaller Telcos Did Not Reduce Investment After NN Ruling http://bit.ly/SorryPai
Pai justifies his NN choice with the claim, “The impact has been particularly serious for smaller Internet service providers.” #wrong (Actually, NN has minimal effects on investment, up or down, I’m convinced. Competition, new technology, customer demand and similar are far more important.)
The two largest suppliers to “smaller ISPs” saw sales go up. Adtran’s sales the most recent nine months were $540M, up from $473M the year before. 2016 was $636M, 2015 $600M. Calix the last nine months sold $372M, up from $327M. The full year 2016 was $459M, up from $407M in 2015. Clearfield, a supplier of fiber optic gear, was up 8% in sales in the smaller ISPs.
There is nothing in the data from others that suggests an alternate trend. Anyone could have found this data in a few minutes from the company quarterly reports.
The results in larger companies are ambiguous. I can “prove” capex went up or went down by selecting the right data. The four largest companies’ capex – two/thirds of the total – went up from $52.7B in 2015 to $55.7B in 2016. The result remains positive after making sensible adjustments for mergers and acquisitions. That’s as close to “proving” that NN led to increased spending as the facts chosen to prove the opposite.
Actually, whether capex went up or down in 2016 tells us almost nothing about the choice on neutrality. Everyone knows a single datapoint could be random or due to other causes. Much more, including the source of the errors http://bit.ly/SorryPai

Elders Bearing Witness: Vint, Timbl, & Many More http://bit.ly/VintTim
Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak and more than a dozen true Internet pioneers wrote Congress to protect Neutrality. The best Congress money can buy didn’t listen but I wanted to reproduce their letter.
I hope they are wrong believing “is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create.” My take is the impact will be moderate in the short run.
From the letter:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. … The FCC’s proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order … More, including the full list, http://bit.ly/VintTim


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.


Footnotes to History

Vint Cerf and CNRI led the creation of the Internet Society and covered many of the early expenses. At the first board meeting, Vint offered, “In the event a deficit occurs, CNRI has agreed to contribute up to USD102000 to offset it.”  Bob Kahn emails me that in the event the contribution wasn’t needed, but “We simply picked up the related costs incurred during 1992 as internal CNRI expenses, paid for a substantial portion of Vint’s time during 1993 and may have picked up a tiny fraction of his time in 1994 prior to his departure for MCI. These costs were not reimbursed.”



I’ve had the privilege of meeting many of the people who created today’s telecom world and the Internet. Occasionally, when I discover something little known, I will add it to this page. 

Stupid & Smart


Thinking deregulation will spur much investment. 20 years of dereg has already killed most rules that held things back, so this can’t do much.

Spectrum monopolies beyond the minimum. Obsolete with today’s tech, which allows sharing most spectrum. Telcos may need some for emergency services and for anchoring what’s shared.

Supporting “incentives” for investment without clear evidence they will work. The policy goal is results, not the “incentives” themselves. Most of the time, proposed “incentives” simply go to increased profits,not more investment.

Ignoring company short time horizon. Extending EU spectrum licenses to 25 years will have little impact today. 


Sharing spectrum in all bands. 

Rules needed to make markets work or have important purposes. Protecting competition, good consumer information, reducing spectrum waste, universal service

Outreach to reduce fraud, especially in universalservice. Whistleblower instructions on home page, etc.

Continue reading

GGW Good Government Work



Kurth: In spectrum auction, requiring bidders to serve “white spaces on the map” first

Telcos, spending their own money, deployed to the hardest to reach areas for remarkably little. WIK estimated that they barely reduced their bids for the spectrum. Most universal service subsidies are much too high because the government doesn’t have the data to set them accurately and few regulators have the courage to resist telco demands.

The current U.S. CAF II is currently paying telcos about twice what is required, per the cost data developed for the broadband plan. The CEOs of the telcos are telling Wall Street they are seeing substantial cash flow now because CAF is paying above their actual costs. They expect net income from the deployment to be substantial, as the open costs are low once the network is built. (To a large company, opex for broadband is $4-$8/month. Telephony is even cheaper; Skype out charges $2.95 for unlimited calls and I believe is profitable.)

Kenya, Rwanda, and Mexico creating large spectrum blocks for LTE capacity

The quality of the Internet is severely limited LTE is designed for 100 MHz of contiguous spectrum, not the scattered 20 MHz and smaller blocks of most countries. I’d estimate that you more than double the capacity/effective spectrum with a single 100 MHz block compared to 5 carriers getting 20 MHz each. My estimate is informed by Gabrielle Gauthey, then of Alcatel, but I haven’t seen a strong engineering study.

Simply eliminating the guard bands helps, but the primary improvement comes from the sharing of the network. In



Hot Air Feelgood (Haffers)

If any of this is not factual, please let me know. Our satire is http://gnoblog.org/

Clinton promised broadband for everyone, 12 years late and without a realistic plan. WP noted these are old ideas. Except for 5G wireless – still cloudy – most of these ideas could have been recommended in 2008 and they were. In 2004, George Bush promised “affordable broadband for all Americans.” Obama made the same promise in 2008. Since then, our prices have gone up about a third. The U.S. and Canada still have the highest percentage unserved in the developed world. She’s proposing adding more money to BTOP, RUS, and Connect America. The best estimate is BTOP and RUS wasted half their money. Connect America recipients are bragging to Wall Street about how much is going straight to their bottom line.  Nearly all the Clinton advisors are D.C. lawyers and similar. They are often brilliant, all hard-working, and mean well. The fog of D.C. lobbying is blinding and they need people with strong network experience to ground them. Hot air here. 

(I will vote for Clinton as I did for Obama. Readers should know my bias. Several of the people here are old friends and I was tempted to kill the story. But it’s my job to report as closely to the truth as I can.)

U.S. Global Connect Program plans to reduce Internet users by 500,00,000

Kathy Novelli, 18 foreign ministers and a bi-partisan group in the U.S. Congress express extreme pride in their “ambitious” goal of adding 1,500,000,000 more people to the Internet between 2015 & 2020. That’s the heart of the U.S. “Global Connect Initiative. Top analysts had previously predicted > 2,000,000,000 adds; the $50 cellphone is changing the world. I don’t see any way the program will result in 500,000,00 fewer connections. Not to worry; the proposal is so ineffectual it will have virtually no effect in either direction. 

Vice President Biden noted that Global Connect was “…as profound as what happened in our country in the ‘30s in the Tennessee Valley Authority bringing electricity to vast stretches of my country, only it’s more profound because there’s access to education just by turning on your smartphone.” 

(Many staffers at State knew of these figures several months ago and did not contradict them.)




Unreliable sources


Almost all politicians. We all know about politicians and truth.


Robert Atkinson

Tom Power, CTIA

For the record

When I take a public stand or give advice to an official, I record it here. 

March 10 2015 I signed the Change.org petition to bring down Internet prices in Senegal.

Wages, real estate and much more are less expensive in Senegal than in France. The only reason prices are higher is competition is more limited in Africa. It’s particularly troubling because the money is flowing out of Africa to a European company.
France Telecom is profitable in France at much lower prices. The same would be possible in Senegal.

First Looks

11/23 Ericsson predicts mobile data growth
will fall by half. Still high, but no spectrum crisis

11/22 Google calls out WCIT as “governments only,” but 4 Googlers on US delegation. Hysteria
and fear reign, but totally unrealistic. UN not
taking over, expanding censorship, or sending black helicopters. Say hello to Dave in Dubai.
11/22 Almost all WCIT docs leaked at .nxt
by Kieran McCarthy

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