Re: Comcast: A simple remedy?

[Note:  This comment comes from friend Bob Frankston.  DLH]

From: “Bob Frankston” <>
Subject: RE: [Dewayne-Net] Re: Comcast: A simple remedy?
Date: April 6, 2014 at 22:02:50 EDT

How do we get past this “faster Internet” meme to a more generative

I need to start by asking if have a shared understanding of a sustainable
model with a city (for example) having a common infrastructure funded for as
a whole like sidewalks and streets. Adding another “pipe” doesn’t make any
more sense than building an additional electric grid. Actually it makes a
lot less sense because there is no consumable that has to be contained in
billable pipes.

The main reason we don’t have more capacity available is that the business
model of telecommunications is based on selling services. It doesn’t work
for pure connectivity because value is created externally by users. This is
why demand isn’t generating supply as it would in a normal market. In fact
we have lots of untapped capacity in the existing infrastructure and lots
more potential capacity. Just to cite one example – each broadband [sic]
infrastructure can serve the entire city with just the IP portion yet we
have multiple paths and DSL running at 1987 capabilities.

We need to take a strategic approach and choose our venues carefully. One
pragmatic approach is to focus on apartment buildings (MDUs) because there
is an owner or a board that can purchase connectivity as a whole for the
building. There are such already functioning examples (and I’m looking for
more) in which the tenants pay a fee for shared connectivity (or it is
bundled in the rent) for the building just like they do halls and other

A whole city can adopt this approach rather than using the Telco billable
pipe model. But that won’t happen till we can build on examples such as
apartment buildings. Home networking, campus networks, the Farallon Islands
are other examples but neighbors working together is a path towards scaling
to larger areas.

I know this can be frustrating to those who want solutions now but paying
big bucks for more pipes only creates stakeholders in the old model of
having an owner putting a paywall around the pipe to repay investors.
Competing pipes without the content revenues isn’t a viable model.

We have a structural problem. Trying to get providers to be “neutral” isn’t
going to address this structural problem. I realize that separating the
content business from the transport business may be a hard sell but it’s
useful to think about the concept and then act where one can, locally, to
start to shift our understanding and to drive a new dynamic.

From: Tim Pozar <>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Comcast: A simple remedy?
Date: April 6, 2014 at 11:50:11 EDT

This is a start in the right direction but the problem is that you need some
physical infrastructure to deliver broadband at future-proof speeds.
(Wireless and copper are limited, fiber is the best candidate.)

As almost all communities have only one or two providers offering twisted
pair and/or copper.   Un-bundling the content of a cable provider from the
last mile transport doesn’t really solve much as we really need more
competition for the last mile.  You can see this now as AT&T provides TV
content over U-Verse for many metro-areas, but you still have high Internet
broadband pricing and no choice when it comes to issues like network

Who is going to pay for a third provider or one that is open to any L3
provider?  Likely it isn’t going to be a VC or Wall St. funded company as
they need an ROI in 5 to 10 years.  This is why many of us are pushing our
local governments to look at doing it themselves where they can afford
something longer like a 30 year ROI.


From: “Bob Frankston” <>
Subject: Comcast: A simple remedy?
Date: April 6, 2014 at 1:34:40 EDT

How about a simple remedy – require cable companies to offer their contentover any IP connection from any provider. Own TWC would give Comcast special
access or control.
That would create real competition and moot the advantage from owning thewires themselves. Then we would have competition in pure connectivity apart
from competition for content. It would also help level the playing field
with others like Netflix and Hulu?
Of course the pricing for the transport and the content would have to betransparent to avoid special packaging deals that would tie transport and
content together. Content packages would still make sense including services
such as “phone” as long as they are over the common (IP) infrastructure.
I know that today’s cable system and franchise agreements are intended tomake this difficult but as we see with today’s over-the-top, it’s no longer
a technical problem in newer systems.
Next we should ask why TVs are become festooned with a different donglefor Roku, Google, Amazon, Apple, Cable etc. when bits are bits and there is
“one Internet”. But that’s another discussion.

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