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Comments from Frankston, Reed, and Friends

Monday, August 15, 2005

DanB at 6:40 PM [url]:

Podcast with Donna Dubinsky about Palm, Handspring, and the Treo

We've just posted a podcast with Donna Dubinsky who was CEO of Palm and Handspring. People interested in telecom, computer history, the Palm Pilot, the Treo, and lots of other things will find it of interest. (I go into a little further depth describing it on my blog.)

See "Donna Dubinsky, ex-CEO of Palm and Handspring" for information on how to download the podcast.

BobF at 5:31 PM [url]:

Why Are We Fighting Over The Last 1%?

I’ve got to hand it to the carriers – I have no choice. They’ve taken 99% of their assets off the books and ask us to be thankful they are allowing the other 1% to pass relatively unmolested.

We’ve been snookered – all these arguments over broadband policy and whether the carriers are going to block traffic or not is stupid. I’m embarrassed about the spectacle of supposedly serious people arguing over who will get the crumbs while the carriers have taken 99% of their assets of the books.

Video bits are no different from any other bits so why should they be allowed to get away with it? Why do we waste time arguing whether the 1% is classified as an information service when the rest of it is reserved for the carriers’ own use? Sure, they want an exclusive on offering video streams but why do we let them get away with it?

Why do we allow them to get away with building a new Cable TV service in the guise of deploying broadband? The 1% they allow us to use for connecting to the Internet is tiny. They retain control over what we are allowed to watch and they rake in the profit by taking an 85% cut of what we pay for cable content!
Yet the 1% we get has been enough to not just replace land line telephone service with voice over IP (VoIP) – it has spawned new kinds of social interactions such as shared conversations on Xbox live where kids around the world can play together. It’s not just better telephony – it’s something new and powerful. Imagine what we could do with 100%!

By taking the other 99% off the books and using it to maintain stifling control over video we find ourselves choosing between among a handful of offerings and old movies. We are not allowed to be full participants. We are not allowed discover the possibilities of symmetric connectivity to share our experiences and create new communities and new enterprises.

It’s not just that 99% of the capacity is locked into carrier-defined services; the remaining 1% is only available as a high-priced for-profit service. Because we cannot assume that connectivity is available we are stuck with 1950’s style emergency services such as E911 based on traditional telephony. We can’t do something as simple as enabling our doctors to be quickly alerted if we have a heart attack and can’t even dial E911. Even if have connectivity at home we cannot assume it is available everywhere – especially with strange concept that we have to ask permission when we don’t use wires to communicate over the air. We are still stuck with the same communications systems that failed us on 9/11.

99% of the rights of way have been taken by eminent domain and handed to private companies for their own gain with little pretense that it is for the public good. We have to pay them to simply watch video streams!

We must demand that 100% of the capacity be available for the public good as utility. The carriers would offer services but so can everyone else.

I need to emphasize that I am narrowly focusing on connectivity is fundamental infrastructure. This is different from a service such as Cable TV. Municipal TV is not the same as connectivity. TV can be funded by charging for the contents – the infrastructure must be funded as a public good because we can more tax each application than we can put tollbooths on every street corner. As much as we are reluctant to trust communities with complex services the can and do provide simple standard infrastructure – roads, power, garbage collection and, now, connectivity.

We Must Demand Access to 100% of the Public Rights of Way.
More on the carriers’ 1% solution.

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