Does not compute

Jeff Pulver tries to make sense of the FCC’s broadband and VOIP policies… and fails. VOIP gets regulated, while broadband access gets deregulated, for seemingly contradictory reasons. Jeff wonders aloud if the FCC is simply engaged in “a simultaneous effort to twist words and statutes to suit its own ends.” I’m not as shocked as Jeff at the FCC’s actions, but I do question the Commission’s decisions. The best way ...

Flipping the pricing model

The traditional telecom pricing model is to charge for the basic service (voice connectivity), and you get other things on top for free. That model has largely been replicated on the Internet — users pay access providers, and applications like Yahoo!, Google, and Amazon.com have to find ways to monetize something other than access. A good part of the dotcom bubble was due to the fact that Web-based companies couldn’t ...

The telco mindset

From a revealing BusinessWeek interview with SBC CEO Ed Whitacre (Emphasis added): Q: How concerned are you about Internet upstarts like Google (GOOG), MSN, Vonage, and others? A: How do you think they’re going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain’t going to let them do that ...

Colloquial

Today was the start of a small academic colloquium I organized on media and communications law. It was quite a stimulating afternoon. We’re having dinner at Striped Bass, one of the best restaurants in Philly, and then back to presentations tomorrow morning. I mentioned in the opening that it was appropriate we had this meeting on the day the FCC approved the SBC/AT&T merger, thus closing a chapter in telecom ...

Kill the Competitors…, er, Parasites!

When I wrote the other day about P2P file sharing being the justification for broadband access providers blocking or filtering certain Internet-based applications, even I didn’t think it would happen so soon. Hasta la vista, Internet freedom!

Free Voice

Why is it so shocking for eBay CEO Meg Whitman to say that users will expect voice phone calls to be free in five years? Does anyone today expect to pay for email messages or instant messages? One can quibble over the timing, but not the ultimate outcome. So the question for the telecom sector becomes, how to make money when you can’t charge for a wired phone call? (Mobile ...

Blame it on the Parasites

Today, it’s the ISPs complaining — understandably — about the bandwidth demands of video file-sharing. Tomorrow, it will be the telephone and cable companies who dominate broadband access. And they will use it as justification for breaking the neutrality of the Internet, by throttling or blocking certain traffic. Mark my words.

Venture capitalist Ed Sim laments the Web 2.0 hype wave: I am starting to get extremely tired and frustrated about every pitch that I see now where a company claims they are a Web 2.0 company and lists their principal reasons for being Web 2.0. It reminds me of the mid-90s when everyone said they were an Internet company and sprinkled their pitch with wild growth expectations from Jupiter Communications. ...

Breaking Apart at the Seams

Major publishers have joined the legal challenge to the Google Print service, arguing that it represents wanton copyright infringement. This as another battle in the ongoing conflict over intellectual property in the digital world, but I’m concerned it suggests something else: a challenge to the stability of the Internet as we know it. The Net works because of a series of informal agreements. Root server operators voluntarily point to the ...

Fiber or bust

Om reports a reader’s post that Verizon is literally removing the copper wires from homes that subscribe to its FIOS fiber optic services, making it impossibel for users to switch back to DSL. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is true — why should Verizon run the risk of cannibalizing itself? I’m reminded of what United supposedly did when they opened the new Denver airport. Several years before, Southwest had ...