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The Big Questions Facing the Telecom Industry

I took a pause the other day to think about the big issues facing the telecom industry. When I've done that in past years, I always came up with a few major issues and more smaller ones. But we are in such turmoil right now that I rattled off the following list quickly. I can't remember a time when our industry was wrangling with so many major issues at the same time. The industry's performance over the next decade is going to depend upon how we handle these issues. more

Ireland’s Solution to the Rural Divide

The pandemic has given the whole world a pause to consider if we should return to business as usual when the pandemic is behind us. Ireland has a unique reaction and is something that could make sense here. Ireland plans to provide incentives to lure people from cities back to smaller rural towns. Like much of the world, Ireland has seen decades of young people moving to cities to find work, leaving behind shrinking and aging rural towns. more

Let’s Not Forget the Lobbyists

Common Cause recently released a report, Broadband Gatekeepers, that describes the influence that lobbyists have on broadband policies. The numbers are staggering -- the ISP industry spent $234 million lobbying the 116th Congress (2019 and 2020). That number is likely understated since the rules on reporting lobbying are lax, and enforcement is almost nonexistent. That number doesn't include the huge amounts of lobbying efforts at State legislatures. more

Let’s Get the Politics Out of Infrastructure

I believe the infrastructure of our country, states, and counties is critically important to our future. If we can get focused on infrastructure and global warming, the future for our kids and grandkids will be bright. All it takes is vision, leadership, and investment. Unfortunately, the issues have become politicized. In the case of infrastructure, the politicians have a tough time just defining what infrastructure is. more

Beavers Kill Fiber Route

An article from CBC earlier this year reported that beavers had chewed through an underground fiber and had knocked 900 customers in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia off broadband for 36 hours. The beavers had chewed through a 4.5-inch conduit that was buried three feet underground. This was an unusual fiber cut because it was due to beavers, but animals damaging fiber is a common occurrence. more

Satellites and Cellular Backhaul

Elon Musk recently announced that he was going to be providing cellular backhaul from the Starlink constellation of satellites. This makes a lot of sense from a financial perspective in that it avoids the costly wired fiber networks needed to reach rural cell sites. This is clearly a shot across the bow for companies that currently bring fiber connectivity to rural cell sites. more

President Díaz-Canel, Cuban Internet Is More Than Facebook on Cell Phones – Don’t Be Afraid of It

As a result of Internet service interruption during the recent anti-government protests in Cuba, Florida Senator Rubio and Governor DeSantis and President Biden have called for measures to strengthen and guarantee Cuban Internet connectivity, but that won't happen until the Cuban government recognizes that doing so is in its long-run interest. I have seen several suggestions that we smuggle end-user satellite terminals from services like SpaceX Starlink into Cuba but attempts to... more

Another Portent of the Decline and Fall of the Telco

The Swedish carrier group Telia has recently announced the sale of its international wholesale business to Polhelm Infra, an infrastructure investment manager jointly owned by a number of Swedish pension funds. Why would a telco operator sell off what was a core part of its operation to a pension fund? The Internet was originally conceived as a telephone network for computers. (I should mention that this was not a concept that was unique to the Internet at the time. more

Computing Clouds in Orbit – A Possible Roadmap

Last week, I predicted that much of the Internet and most cloud datacenters would launch into space in the next ten years. Today the only part of the Internet in space is a very small amount of "bent-pipe" access: signals which go from a user to a satellite and bounce back down to a ground station which feeds them into the terrestrial internet where all processing is done and all queries answered by internet-connected servers, many of them in cloud data centers. more

The Dumb Pipe Question

Every few years, I read something that resurrects the old question of whether ISPs should be dumb pipe providers or something more. Some ISPs have fought against the idea of being dumb pipe providers and want to believe they are far more than that. The latest event that raises this question anew is AT&T's debacle with ditching DirecTV and WarnerMedia. AT&T was clearly not content with being considered as only a dumb pipe provider. more