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Aptos, CA

FCC way out of bounds in its desire

I first learned of this from ba.internet, referring to an article linked below. Here's what I had to say:

(ba.internet posting:)
Subject: Re: FCC to propose faster broadband speeds
The government doesn't propose faster broadband speeds unless it is the service provider itself. Is the FCC becoming a communist government owned "we" machine of the communal manifesto, which itself will dig up our streets, place our conduits, and run our fibers?

Excerpt in the ba.internet posting from the below linked article:
The FCC wants service providers to offer home Internet data transmission speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) to 100 million homes by a decade from now, Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said.
I want a chocolate bar. My desire is more legitimate than FCC's desire, however; I can go buy one right now. But the FCC's "want" for the industry to invest into new product isn't its place, unless there is some sort of fixed resource allocation that goes along with that desire.

Because such a fixed resource allocation is a prerequisite for FCC to have jurisdiction, any article regarding FCC's desires must link such desires to such fixed resource allocations. So, I find the reporting of the desire at fault, as well.

Let's see what the article actually said in full, despite the horrible, horrible title and incomplete excerpt.

Quoting the linked article:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission unveiled a plan on Tuesday that would require Internet providers to offer minimum home connection speeds by 2020
What allocation policy does this link to? What will the ISPs not be allocated if they do not do such a thing? IP#s are reprogrammable, and no one has to use TCP/IP. We have IPv6, with ample IP#s for eons for free. FCC doesn't even pretend to allocate IP#s, but even if it did, it wouldn't have the legitimacy of necessity of a scarce resource with IP#s to be able to control ISP's actions. Once again, no jurisdiction.

"A 100 meg is just a dream," Qwest Communications International Inc Chief Executive Edward Mueller told Reuters. "We couldn't afford it. First, we don't think the customer wants that. Secondly, if (Google has) invented some technology, we'd love to partner with them," Mueller added.
The scarce resource that Qwest takes up is conduit space in streets. It's scarce only because it's prohibitively expensive to build. So its scarcity derived from cost, pretty much. It's really not that scarce: there's enough roadway to put in hundreds of conduits jammed full of fibers, probably enough for millions of ISPs to reach each house simultaneously. It would just be really, really expensive. Also, we might run out of sand first, which would allow the FCC to claim scarcity, but let me know if we would really run out of materials to build fiber when one puts a more reasonable estimate of the number of ISPs that would use that fiber to go to each house.

Mueller's absolutely ridiculous and incorrect statement is proof of the fact that FCC doesn't have jurisdiction in this matter: Qwest is plain wrong, and FCC doesn't have jurisdiction over whether or not Qwest is right or not. All FCC has jurisdiction over is scarce resource allocation regarding communications that cross state boundaries.

AT&T, the top broadband provider among U.S. telecommunications carriers, said the FCC should resist calls for "extreme forms of regulation that would cripple, if not destroy, the very investments needed to realize its goal."
Since when is AT&T the top broadband provider among US telecommunications carriers? Comcast is, with 15.9 million customers at the end of 2009. The only data I found for AT&T said about 14.8 million in Oct 22, 2008. Oh, well, I suppose that's close, but for the article to blithely call AT&T top dog is premature.

Genachowski said speedier Internet service would help create jobs and economic growth.
So does "stimulus money", and the "President". They all "create jobs". Laws that do away with nuclear power also "create jobs". When pressed for what jobs they create, they said "well, theoretically someone could decide to start working for themselves and call the job a "green job"." They never named anybody whose job was created by such actions. I wonder what "jobs would be created" by speedier Internet service?

I agree that it's true that it is easier to have a more meaningful communication with more bandwidth, but the connection between that and "create jobs" is not a direct path. Indirectly, higher bandwidth makes a *potential* for greater amounts of all sorts of things, including such things that may be used in the conduct of jobs. So, theoretically, higher bandwidth availability means less limitations, and create possibilities for jobs. But none of that means create jobs, directly. In fact, there are all sorts of possibilities with higher bandwidth: create jobs, in India because of that higher bandwidth, causing more jobs lost (in USA); create jobs, for work at home people that are more efficient than when they had to go to a common office, thus eliminating far more jobs at those offices. Create jobs, with higher bandwidth that allow computer applications that save work time, thus creating new combined jobs removing the need for prior multiple uncombined jobs. So, there's three possibilities of higher capacity causing created jobs that mean fewer jobs, not jobs gained.

However, the potential for creating jobs from higher bandwidth is also there. The potential. No direct correspondence.

"Despite significant private investment and some strong strides over the last decade, America's broadband ecosystem is not nearly as robust as it needs to be," he said.
Needs to be for whom?

The United States ranked 19th in broadband speed, trailing Japan, Korea and France, according to a 2008 study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Yup. I'm one of the fiercest advocates for higher bandwidth. I'm somewhat tempered by having 50megabit/s inbound and 10megabit/s outbound with Comcast, a larger fraction of fiber speeds than before. It's much less slow than before I had that. Of course, it's not quite show changing, yet, except for some old-world medium-bandwidth Hollywood applications (HDTV) and remote desktop stuff.

USA sucks in broadband, hands down. It is atrocious.

"We should stretch beyond 100 megabits," Genachowski said. "The U.S. should lead the world in ultra high-speed testbeds as fast or faster than anywhere in the world."
Yes, of course. I agree. And the FCC should facilitate that. But to desire it, without context of facilitation, or to require it at all, is patently ridiculous, as far as I can tell. I may be misunderstanding something, so anybody is welcome to explain additional information or alternate information or interpretations. Furthermore, I don't like being a cog in the wheel of progress in an issue I have been extremely annoyed about lack of progress, but how does the FCC changing roles (illegally I'll note) to dictator of communications help?

Despite the problems I point out, if the result is a kick in the ass of those like Qwest, and results in an improvement of the situation, while I will not agree with the means, I will welcome that particular portion of such an outcome, despite me being wholly suspicious of its underpinnings and resultant strength and dependability. Although, once a dark fiber is lit, it's pretty hard to qualify its darkening in context. However, who is it lit for? What light does it carry? The underpinnings do matter.

Brad Allen