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  • Wireless carriers using seriously out-of-date data to demand tens of billions in unnecessary subsidies for 5G.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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Biden’s Executive Order: Modest but sensible

With Tim Wu in the White House, Jessica Rosenworcel at the FCC, and other appointees with a clue, some less obvious but valuable ideas are moving forward in the President’s order.

Spectrum auctions under rules that are designed to help avoid excessive concentration of spectrum license holdings in the United States, so as to prevent spectrum stockpiling, warehousing of spectrum by licensees, or the creation of barriers to entry,

 Everyone following US policy knows that AT&T & Verizon spent $10’s of billions to keep spectrum out of the hands of potential competitors. Until recently, literally half of the Bells’ spectrum was unused. Adelstein’s “Use it or lose” should be law. Calabrese’s “Use it or share it” is even more powerful.

 Prohibiting unjust or unreasonable early termination fees for end-user communications contracts, enabling consumers to more easily switch providers;

Requires broadband service providers to display a broadband consumer label,

15 years ago, Republican FCC Chair Kevin Martin called for Truth in Advertising. “If they advertise 3 megabits, they should deliver 3 megabits.” That would be an important step towards net neutrality, preventing AT&T from degrading competing services. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have made it so.

Service providers to regularly report broadband price and subscription rates

Believe it or not, websites of even large carriers make it impossible to find prices. Verizon wouldn’t even tell me the fees to expect in a call to order service.

Prevent landlords and cable and Internet service providers from inhibiting tenants’ choices among providers.

Makes sense, although I haven’t found data to suggest this is a large problem

Continued development and adoption of 5G Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN)

O-RAN is a good thing and research should be supported. But DC is fooling itself about what it will do. 5G radio prices are down to $13,000 in large quantities. O-RAN 4G radios are currently 4 times more expensive per Mavenir to the FCC.

Jessica Rosenworcel and others think O-RAN will be led by the U.S., but India and Scandinavia are rapidly pulling ahead of the U.S.

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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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Ask Senator Markey: How to fix the infrastructure spending

Ed Markey is a champion for consumers and Internet users. He’s one of only three candidates I’ve endorsed in the last few years. He’s doing a live session with The Verge Wednesday May 12 I hope to attend.

The fog of misinformation in DC is overwhelming and likely to bring enormous waste in infrastructure spending. Those who understand broadband in DC see the logic of not spending more than$10-20 billion in the next four years or so. Biden and most of Markey’s allies haven’t realized that yet. Asking the right questions is a good way to get people – even Senators – to look more closely. My questions, below, in italics.

$10-20 billion could be spent in a way that brings fast connections to those who don’t have them available. Bringing down the prices for the poor is obviously necessary. Comcast has connected over a million with low prices.

But the evidence is that overbuilding cable with fiber does not lower prices; that 100+ Mbps cable upstream will reach 85% of the US quickly because the upgrade is ~$200; and that the US is building just about all the fiber the industry can already in the next 2-3 years and will need at least that long to mobilize for a large increase in funding. The broadband experts are putting this together but the politicians need education

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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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Twitter agrees to heavy censorship in Turkey & elsewhere

Turkey has requested Twitter delete 45,800 tweets, 31 percent of all requests globally. Many of them would be protected by freedom of speech laws in most countries. I’d bet many were reasonable, non-violent political statements. Erdogan is not as authoritarian as the Saudis, Omanis, or Syrians, but the government is harsh on any opposition.

Facing a likely ban, Twitter has now agreed to honor government takedown notices within 48 hours. It was already blocked from selling ads in Turkey and fined $5M.

Facebook, VKontakte (VK), YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Dailymotion have also established local offices and agreed to obey the government. They will also store users’ data locally.

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Telcos demand tough review of rural subsidies

The Presidential election losers wanted to overturn the victory, with results we all know. Now. the telcos have persuaded key Congressman Jim Clyburn and 25 Senators to ask the FCC to overturn some of the results of the recent RDOF auction. The draft letter, circulated by Gary Bolton of Adtran and the FBA, says

We urge the FCC to validate that each provider in fact has the technical, financial, managerial, operational skills, capabilities, and resources to deliver the services that they have pledged for every American they plan to serve regardless of the technology they use. We also strongly encourage the FCC to make as public as possible the status of its review and consider opportunities for public input on the applications. Such transparency and accountability will be essential to ensure the success of this program and to minimize any opportunities for fraud or abuse.

The letter was organized by Seth Ismail in Rep Clyburn’s office, with strong support from Gary Bolton of the Fiber Broadband Association. Gary has left Adtran to work full time at FBA. Getting this kind of support in DC is a tribute to his ability.

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