My analysis of U.S. telecom in 2020 & 2021 is dominated by the power of the T-Mobile build at 2.5 GHz.Verizon added $billion to keep up. David Evans and Jeff Eisenach included it in T-Mobile merger filings long before I separately came to the conclusion.
I can respect those who don’t share my progressive politics. Send me suggestions.
Randall Stephenson testified AT&T would add 7,000 jobs if Trump’s tax cut passed, worth $billions to them. Instead, he has cut 37,000 positions. Randall’s going away, but his successor John Stankey is committing to even more cuts.
Almost everyone ignored the 2016 company plan to shed 80,000 positions, although my primary source was a top company executive to the NY Times. That’s a cruel, heartless cutback, possibly the largest since Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.
It’s probably a good strategy for shareholders, however. Many other telcos are losing fortunes trying to grow in a low growth industry. Much of the 5G hype comes from Nokia & Ericsson trying to persuade telcos to invest in products unlikely to pay off. Until the DirecTV and Warner purchases, AT&T was avoiding stupid investments.
AT&T’s shareholders have been hit by the $20-30 billion dollar overpayment for the TV companies. Randall is a financial wizard and has long obscured AT&T’s underlying business. It now is borrowing money to raise the dividend and buy back stock. Top analyst Craig Moffett has a very rare sell on the stock.
America is a very cruel country to anyone over 40 who loses a job.
Tim Berners-Lee, over 10,000 at https://savedotorg.org/#add-org, slews of reporters, 3 ISOC Chapters and almost all well-informed independents are strongly opposed to the deal. The Internet Society just revealed it would get 1.13 Billion from very rich US investors for .org. That is enough money that honorable people have decided the damage to the Internet from the deal should be overridden. The deal will die if Pennsylvania or ICANN blocks or even delays.
If I were on the board, I might have voted for the deal. I’ve been among the most skeptical, partly because the amount and many other key details were totally secret. I would have demanded much more information and public discussion.
I’m strongly advocating ISOC now take extraordinary steps to heal the rift with the chapters and restore the public perception of ISOC.
“The Internet Governance Forum does need to evolve,” ICANN & ISOC-NY board member Avri Doria emails. “Speaking personally, I do not believe the IGF would disappear. If something were to happen, or if in the future it was not renewed by the UN General Assembly, then it could be recreated in a bottom-up manner as an international place to bring the various groups together. I also said that I considered the National and Regional Initiative one of the greatest outcomes of the IGF because they brought “Internet Governance” to the national and regional level.”
The most common criticism of the IGF is that all it does is talk, talk, talk. That’s valuable, but many hope for IGF to have direct results. Monika Ermert, the best-informed commentator on “Internet Governance,” writes, “In Berlin, the hosts want to work hard to lead the IGF out of the crisis, which has been around for a few years because it only debates and does not act. … Die Machtlosigkeit ist dabei ein Geburtsfehler.” Ermert describes a highly chaotic program.
From the beginning, governments did not want to give away power. I’ve reported that the non-government participants have come overwhelmingly from the US and allies, as well as some others in general agreement. The non-government attendees rarely spoke from the point of view of the global south, which now represents the strong majority of Internet users. Two-thirds of the world want a more internationally representative group in charge, presumably the ITU.
10’s of millions of Americans have only second rate Internet because our regulators have no courage. The US Broadband Plan found 44/100ths of 1% have truly brutal costs, $10,000 or much more per home. Everyone assumed the last 1% would be served by satellite, although we couldn’t say that for political reasons. But all the others poorly served are a failure of the politicians. In the US, that’s 5-10 million homes who have no decent offering. Almost half the country has at most one decent choice, the cableco.
The situation is the same or worse in countries like Germany, where DT offers only lousy service to about 20%. In Germany and the US, the most important reason for the lack of service is the possibility of getting government money, not high costs. In 2008, it became clear the government would pay for rural deployments in the US. Promptly, the telcos essentially cancelled their previous plans to cover most of the poorly and unserved homes. They weren’t stupid; if the government was going to pay for it, why spend the money? Result: the prospect of subsidies actually resulted in fewer unserved connected. Really.
By Doug Dawson
It’s clear that even before the turn of this century that the big telcos largely walked away from maintaining and improving residential service. The evidence for this is the huge numbers of neighborhoods that are stuck with older copper technologies that haven’t been upgraded. The telcos made huge profits over the decades in these neighborhoods and ideally should not have been allowed to walk away from their customers In the Cities. Many neighborhoods in urban areas still have first or second-generation DSL over copper with fastest speeds of 3 Mbps or 6 Mbps. That technology had a shelf-life of perhaps seven years and is now at least fifteen years old.
Telco CEOs worldwide are discovering something they should have learned in kindergarten: Share everything. One network is cheaper than two. Two are cheaper than the 4-7 usually needed for competition to work its magic. In China, the government has directed the telcos to work together to reduce the cost of 5G. When the Minister speaks, the telcos listen.
This is a worldwide trend. Vodafone is cooperating with Telecom Italia and UK’s Telefonica O2. In Rwanda, the government has only allowed a single 4G network, wholesale only. The result: one of the poorest countries in the world better 4G coverage than many European nations.
China Unicom CEO Wang Xiaochu Wang Xiaochu hopes for a deal with the new 4th operator, China Broadcast. He’s also talking to China Mobile & Telecom.
• Strive for network “co-build co-share” & synergy to speed up 5G deployment
• “Co-build co-share” could deliver material savings in CAPEX, tower usage fee, network maintenance expense & power charge
• Customer could experience seamless service upgrade without replacing SIM & mobile number for 5G service
• Resources sharing could allow customers to enjoy compelling experience & raise subscriber quality
Verizon and T-Mobile believe 5G speeds are not necessary in many of the districts in which poorer people live. The pink areas in the Manhattan map at left are where T-Mobile is offering its 5G. The darker, more purple areas, are not served with T-Mobile’s generally excellent 5G. The upper part of Manhattan, mostly purple, includes Harlem and the mostly Latino Washington Heights. The Brooklyn area on the lower right also shows many areas not covered. (Much but not all of the pink are fairly commercial or wealthy areas. I do not think T-Mobile specifically intended to exclude people of colour, but that seems to be the practical effect.
Verizon Consumer CEO Ronan Dunne is blunt. More than half of Verizon customers will get 4G speeds, 70% to 90% slower than the other half getting the gigabit 5G.
So we’ve taken a very clear view that we want to have both a coverage strategy and a capability strategy. And a very large majority of the volume of data that we carry on our networks goes to large, dense urban environments. So from a population point of view, it’ll be significantly less than half of the customers. But from a data traffic point of view, it’s significantly more than half. So when it comes to the ability to use 5G as a significant capacity enhancement, there’s more of an opportunity to leverage that in the urban areas. Secondly, from a use cases point of view, while we can deploy, and we will deploy a 5G nationwide offering, the lower down the spectrum tiers you go, the more that will approximate to a good 4G service. …
Millimetre wave gives you between 1- and 2-gig download speeds. The mid-bands and lowers are giving you in the low hundreds. So it’s already very clear, the distinction between the 2.”
Guess who will get the slow stuff.
Outside of China, very few governments would expect a saving in spectrum costs would mostly go to investment. Corporations have other priorities, including advertising and executive salaries. Stockholders come above everything at most companies.
Rarely would even 1/3rd of the saving go to capital spending. The U.S. under Trump had a massive tax cut, worth literally billions to Verizon and AT&T. Verizon actually cut investment. AT&T’s increase in capex was far lower than the tax saving. Investment levels in telecom are primarily based on technical improvements and competitive need. Only a modest amount of an increased profit will go to capital spending.
Thomas Noren, Ericsson’s respected chief of 5G, should not have said, “Operators need to be allocated spectrum on friendly terms. It needs to be allocated, not for the benefit of the taxman, but for the benefit of building out and supporting the network,” unless he had a plan to make sure it would be spent on “building out and supporting the network.” Noren can be expected to echo the ideas of customers spending billions with Ericsson.
“It’s a time of worry, a time of fear,” Tim Berners-Lee said on 10 Dec. Vint Cerf chimed in with, “We may be building a fragile, brittle future …What happens when we fail?” I believe that on balance the Internet is a good thing; ten years ago, I never imagined that would be questioned. Now, TIMBL is less sure. “We’ve got to get to where the internet is a net benefit to humanity.”
Tim and Vint convened a remarkable Our People-Centered Digital Future Event. At the event, David Bray and Hu-manity introduced a “Data-Focused Magna Carta.”
We wish to speak directly to all organizations both public and private to ensure they agree with the statements expressed in this Data-Focused Magna Carta. Given everyone has the right to legally own their inherent human data as property and we need organizations to be good data stewards. We seek to obtain the certainty that our personal data is respected and not used without our choice, consent and authorization. Everyone has the right based upon the following promises:
(1) Data of an individual will only be used if that person gives explicit permission for the intended purpose.
In 1995, 77-year-old Nelson Mandela electrified ITU Geneva predicting, “in the 21st century, the capacity to communicate will almost certainly be a key human right. … Justice and equity demand that we find ways of overcoming the division between the information rich and the information poor. If more than half the world is denied access to the means of communication, the people of developing countries will not be fully part of the modern world.” Journalist and former rocket scientist Lee Goldberg tells me he will never forget that day.
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao reminded ITU Telecom World 2018 in Durban that Mandela’s dream has not been fulfilled. Four or five billion people cannot afford the Internet. The technology is ready; Reliance Jio is making a profit selling gigabytes of 4G to 250 million Indians for about US$4.
One easy way to make a difference is to join me on ITU Focus Group 2030, working towards 6G. Some of the work is about carrying holograms and sub-millisecond latency. There also is a proposal to continue to enhance mobile broadband by making sure standards include ways to deliver affordable broadband to everyone. Sign up in minutes at http://bit.ly/6Gfuture, lower right corner. Email me for help [email protected].
Click through for Mandela’s words. They remain crucial 23 years later