Stockholm and Leverett: Case Studies in Fiber Deployment

Tomorrow morning I’ll end a two-week research trip to Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Stockholm, and fly home. It’s been quite a journey, and I’ll be thinking about it for years to come. I was on several quests, focusing on government innovation, fiber policy, and the effect of high-capacity communications on peoples’ lives. Later posts and reports (and a book) will focus on government innovation. But for today, let’s start with fiber. A recap: Fiber to the home deployments in America will bring both direct and indirect economic benefits to the country…

Verizon v. FCC: Why It Matters

Tomorrow, Monday, Sept. 9, the D.C. Circuit will hear argument in Verizon v. FCC. [FCC links here to filings in the case – scroll down. I was involved in the ‘Natl Assn of Telecomms Officers Assn’ amicus brief. The remarks below were prepared for a public session in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 5, for which CSPAN has video here.] There’s a spray of issues in telecommunications policy and law, and lots of acronyms and shiny objects. So it should be a relief to people here that the case being considered by…

NYT

It’s the first day of school for me here in NYC, and I enjoyed talking to students about the truly excellent three-part NYT series on ESPN that ran this week. The articles were full of useful detail – ESPN as puppeteer, setting times and creating contests – and should raise student heartbeats by invoking billions and billions of dollars flowing across America. It’s great when The Times gets it so right. A recent piece by Edward Wyatt (“Most of U.S. is Wired, but Millions Aren’t Plugged In,” Aug. 18) got it mostly…

OneCommunity Broadband Hero Awardee, Susan Crawford

August 22 – Campus Technology’s Mary Grush references the influence of visionary leaders, like our very own Susan Crawford, on the landscape of broadband’s future. “Susan Crawford is one such leader. Crawford, who is being recognized with the inaugural OneCommunity Broadband Hero Award on September 18, 2013, is an outspoken advocate for broadband equality and for the kind of leadership that promotes better use of broadband technology to achieve community goals. Crawford, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, is…

New Case Study: The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Evolution of CRM in Boston

In 2012, when I was a visiting professor at HKS and HLS, I taught a course called Solving Problems Using Technology. (For the second term, my co-teacher was the wonderful Mike Hooper of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.) The class provided an overview of the use of technology in governance and put students to work with the residents of Dudley (a neighborhood in Boston) designing applications and systems that could be useful in solving particular problems on which the neighborhood wanted to focus – like “How do we involve residents…

Big Telco uses shills to smear book about Net Neutrality and telcoms corruption

July 30 – BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow discusses his take on Susan’s detractors. “Susan Crawford is an eminent telcoms scholar, former government official (who resigned because of corruption in telcoms policy) and the author, recently, of an important book on telcoms corruption and net neutrality called Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. This book has scared the pants off of big telcos”.

The Facts

This past week, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (“The Voice of America’s Mayors in Washington, DC”) gathered in Philadelphia for a summit on innovation. Philadelphia is Comcast Country; as the late Senator Arlen Specter said at a hearing in 2010 about the Comcast-NBCU merger, the tower of Comcast’s headquarters “distinguishes the Philadelphia skyline.” (Sen. Specter also said that day that Comcast was a “really very good corporate citizen” and that “the competency of its management is brilliant.” Specter was well-supported by Comcast.) From Philadelphia, where it has about two-thirds of…

Killing Program Access and Broadband Competition

Another Friday filing by the FCC: 146 pages on program access.It’s a classic on-the-one-hand-on-the-other item. This time around it’s even worse for the public, because the underlying competitive reality of the wires that run to American homes is being hidden, in two ways: First, the entire discussion is focused on the market for pay-TV, because that’s the subject of the rules being examined. That’s the wrong market definition from a consumer’s point of view. Consumers are buying both data and video in bundles, and in that bundled marketplace we don’t…

Killing the copper and income inequality

A hundred years ago, America decided that everyone was entitled to an affordable telephone line. Now some Americans (thanks to muni bright spots and other efforts) are making the upgrade to a fiber-to-the-home connection – the new global standard, the replacement for a standard general-purpose telephone line. But the policies that supported “universal” (all Americans) access to basic, affordable communications are being steadily dismantled and are not being upgraded. Why? Probably because all the people involved in making these decisions are affluent. A bunch of policies supported the idea of…

The Cable Monopoly: Very Short Summary of 185 Pages

Imagine you’re a consumer sitting in your living room. You like sports. You like high-speed Internet access; in fact, you’ve gotten completely fed up with your DSL connection because it’s so awful and you’ve seen how much better a truly high-speed wire would be. So you’re interested in some kind of bundle that includes TV as well as broadband. If you’re that consumer, in 85% of the U.S. your only choice will be your local cable incumbent. If you’re really lucky and live in Verizon’s existing FiOS territory – the…

AT&T plan: Bigger and Better (for AT&T)

AT&T has now joined Verizon in announcing a shared data plan for wireless users. This is the moment that the two companies solidify their already crushing set of advantages over T-Mobile and Sprint. Result: AT&T and Verizon can continue to reap the rewards of their existing market power, without needing to expand their services. That’s bad news for American consumers. CNN has a good story about how the plan works, and how it compares to Verizon’s. (Remember that there are only two companies involved here, and as one tweaks its…

“Survey: Mobile App Privacy Fears Continue to Escalate”

That’s the title of a story yesterday. So you might ask: Well, isn’t the Federal Communications Commission the cop on the beat? The answer may surprise you: Because of the tsunami of deregulation carried out over the last few years, the FCC’s power to do anything about abuses of consumer privacy in the wireless world is murky at best – and arguably non-existent. The Commission deregulated wireless data services on the assumption that competition would protect consumers. Now we have the worst of both worlds: No real competition and no…