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Re: Another Point Of View (Round 2)
At 08:48 PM 12/1/96 -0500, Charles R. MacDonald wrote:
>On Sun, 1 Dec 1996, Bill Frezza wrote:
>> The sooner this happens, the sooner the bloated, protected, unionized
>> incumbent Local Exchange Carriers will have to fend for themselves rather
>> than run to the regulators to guarantee their profits, doing a little
>> "please don't throw me in the briar patch" dance with the retinue of
>> symbiotic lobbyists like yourself that are helping to perpetuate monopoly
>> in the name of ending it.
>> Any comments?
>Gee Bill... any more to the left and folks will be calling you a pinko
>commey 8->> NOT
Heheheh. Bill's prognostication is in line with the Libertarian (capital L)
model of the world, as routinely applied to telecommunications. The
spectrum becomes private property, just like real estate, and cops enforce
property rights. By inference there are no reserved bands any more for
amateur, CB, radio astronomy (e.g., there is a 6 MHz gap between TV channels
36 and 38), public safety, etc., *unless* somebody pays for them out of the
same per-MHz basis as broadcasters, cellular, etc.
The trouble with trying to apply ideology to the real world is that
historical and physical reality set in. In the case of wireline telecomm,
the government bought off on the "natural monopoly" theory and allowed
today's incumbent carriers to develop that way. They are probably unable to
compete on equal terms, but they are unlikely to see equal terms, because
they are so much more powerful and entrenched, and because the "system" was
built with no expectation of competition. So it takes strong government
regulation to create a competitive marketplace. (Without it, for instance,
the ILECs could simply refuse to interconnect their networks with upstarts.
Would you want a phone that can't call the Bells? Hard to bootstrap a
network that way! Much of the current battling, indeed, is over the terms
of that interconnection.)
Since that will still take years to achieve, we consumers want the
monopolies regulated, to protect us against their power to abuse us. That
was the deal they accepted when they got their monopolies. It's hardly
reasonable to remove the regulation without the reality of competition; the
fiction that compeititon exists because it's no longer illegal is a poor
What kind of competition the ILECs face is in large part the FCC's to
determine. Again the Libertarians avoid this, preferring to auction off all
of the public's spectrum to the highest bidders. That leaves little room
for "public" "free" bandwidth. Who's going to pay for it? Just because the
population at large benefits is no reason to create such commie-pinko stuff
like meaningful unlicensed spectrum, public parks, etc. Fortunately, in
most cases, the Libertarian ideologues don't have much power, so Congress
still appropriates, with the voters' approval, some public (taxpayer) funds
for parks, roads, etc. Unfortunately, the FCC hasn't been so charitable.
Apple Computer petitioned a couple of years ago for an "NII band", sort of a
high-performance digital CB, where anyone could transmit at up to 27 Mbps
(funny coincidence) for a few miles on a band in the 5 GHz range. This
would, of course, have provided a low-cost no-auction-revenue
no-monthly-rental no-bit-per-packet alternative to the super-costly wireless
services being bid on today. So the FCC said No, and created instead only a
"LAN" band, for intra-building wireless links. This isn't libertarian, this
isn't capitalistic, it's (very) old-fashioned mercantilism, government for
the benefit of an elite.
My guess is that Bill would agree with most of us that the NII Band proposal
was a good idea. But in either case, the telco monopoly remains essentially
intact. So if they're going to try to stick it to us, they damn well had
better prove their case.
Recently Bill has been arguing with Mike and me about traffic theory. I
don't think it's a particulaly useful avenue to pursue. Why not? Because
it's a sham issue. The reality is that the telcos are concocting a
cock-and-bull tale for the benefit of the press and the government. They
can claim that long hold time calls hurt them, that non-Poissonian arrival
rates hurt them, that HDLC idle hurt them, that modem tones hurt them,
whatever. It's all crap, designed to scare, no more based on reality than
the "GL-70" in toothpaste or other "secret ingredients". It comes from the
PR side, not engineering.
Yes, fourteen million big ones. Lots of semolians spent to upgrade
California's network this year, just one teeny-tiny state, harmed by those
evil dastardly internet folks who get a break using their modems for less
money than Aunt Tillie can use her rotary-dial phone to call her sister in
Kansas. The fact that it comes to three cents per month per phone is lost
in the shuffle; telco wants three cents per minute for Internet access, and
if it's a little bit like swatting a fly with a nuclear weapon, well, so be
it. The monopoly is still intact. Make hay while the sun shines.
Fred R. Goldstein k1io email@example.com +1 617 873 3850
Opinions are mine alone. Sharing requires permission.