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Al Jazeera story

Cable companies: Add Al Jazeera English *now* Jeff Jarvis commands, correctly, on his blog — and also in , under the headine . For me now was a few minutes ago, when I read both items on the family iPad, which has been our main news portal since the quit coming and I suspended my efforts to reach them by Web or phone. (The Globe also wants a bunch of ID crap when I go there on the iPad, so they’re silent that way too.) So I went to the App store, looked up , saw something called Al Jazeera English Live was available for free, got it, and began watching live protest coverage from Cairo.

We don’t have cable here. We dumped it after network news turned to shit, and we found it was easier to watch movies on Netflix. We still like to watch sports, but cable for sports alone is too expensive, because it’s always bundled with junk we don’t want and not available à la carte. (You know, like stuff is on the Web.) When we want TV news, we go online or get local TV through an gizmo plugged into an old Mac laptop. Works well, but it’s still TV.

And so is Al Jazeera on an iPad/iPhone, Samsung Wave or a Nokia phone. (See http://english.aljazeera.net/mobile/for details. No Android or Blackberry yet, appaerently.) The difference is that real news s happening in Egypt, and if you want live news coverage in video form, Al Jazeera is your best choice. As Jeff puts it, “Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one — not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media — can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can.”

And it’s very good. , “If you’re watching Al Jazeera, you’re seeing uninterrupted live video of the demonstrations, along with reporting from people actually on the scene, and not “analysis” from people in a studio. The cops were threatening to knock down the door of one of its reporters minutes ago. Fox has moved on to anchor babies. CNN reports that the ruling party building is on fire, but Al Jazeera is showing the fire live.”

In fact six Al Jazeera journalists are now being detained (I just learned). That kind of thing happens when your news organization is actually involved in a mess like this. CNN used to be that kind of organization, but has been in decline for years, along with other U.S. network news organizations. As Jeff says, “What the Gulf War was to CNN, the people’s revolutions of the Middle East are to Al Jazeera English. But in the U.S., in a sad vestige of the era of Freedom Fries, hardly anyone can watch the channel on cable TV.”

And that’s a Good Thing, because cable is a mostly shit in a pipe, sphinctered through a “set top box” that’s actually a computer crippled in ways that maximize control by the cable company and minimize choice for the user. Fifteen years ago, the promise of TV was “five hundred channels”. We have that now, but we also have billions of sources — not just “channels” — over the Net. Cream rises to the top, and right now that cream is Al Jazeera and the top is a hand-held device.

The message cable should be getting is not just “carry Al Jazeera,” but “normalize to the Internet.” Open the pipes. Give us à la carte choices. Let us get and pay for what we want, not just what gets force-fed in bundles. Let your market — your viewers — decide what’s worth watching, and how they want to watch it. And quit calling Internet video “over the top”. The Internet is the new bottom, and old-fashioned channel-based TV is a limping legacy.

A few days ago, President Obama spoke about the country’s “Sputnik moment”. Well, that’s what Al Jazeera in Egypt is for cable TV. It’s a wake-up call from the future. In that future we’ll realize that TV is nothing more than a glowing rectangle with a boat-anchor business model. Time to cut that anchor and move on.

Here’s another message from the future, from one former cable TV viewer: I’d gladly pay for Al Jazeera. Even when I can also get it for free. All we need is the mechanism, and I’m glad to help with that.

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To their credit, fixing my problem has become a higher priority with Cox. A senior guy came out today, confirmed the problem (intermittent high latencies and packet losses), made some changes that adjusted voltages at the modem, and found by tracing the coax from our house to the new pole behind it that the guys who installed the pole nearly severed the coax when they did it. So he replaced that part of the line and brought the whole pole situation up closer to spec… for a few minutes.

Alas, the problem is still there. The engineer from Cox duplicated the problem on his own laptop, so he told me the ball is still in Cox’s court.

At its worst the problem is so bad, in fact, that this was as far as I got with my last ping test:

PING google.com (74.125.67.100): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 74.125.67.100: icmp_seq=2 ttl=56 time=101.462 ms
^C
— google.com ping statistics —
9 packets transmitted, 1 packets received, 88% packet loss

The guy from Cox said my plight had been escalated, and has the attention of higher-up engineers there. He also said they’d come out to continue trouble-shooting the problem. “Probably by Thursday.”

We’ve had the problem  since June 17.

Meanwhile, I’m connecting to the Net and posting this through my Sprint datacard, just like I did last week in Maryland. Same results: good connections, adequate speeds and awful latencies:

dsearls2$ ping harvard.edu
PING harvard.edu (128.103.60.28): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=0 ttl=235 time=1395.515 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=1 ttl=235 time=750.396 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=2 ttl=235 time=295.272 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=3 ttl=235 time=823.698 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=4 ttl=235 time=1404.692 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=5 ttl=235 time=1360.761 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=6 ttl=235 time=803.610 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=7 ttl=235 time=446.081 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=8 ttl=235 time=554.643 ms
64 bytes from 128.103.60.28: icmp_seq=9 ttl=235 time=425.423 ms
^C
— harvard.edu ping statistics —
12 packets transmitted, 10 packets received, 16% packet loss

For work such as this blog post, which seems to require lots of dialog between my browser and WordPress at the server, the latencies are exasperating, because there’s so much dialog between server and client. I watch the browser status bar say “Connecting to blogs.law.harvard.edu…”, “Waiting for blogs.law.harvard.edu…” and “Transferring from blogs.law.harvard.edu…” over and over and over for a minute or more, every time I click on a button (such as “save draft” or “publish”).

So don’t expect to read much here until we finally get over this hump. Which has been in front of me since 17 June. Meanwhile I’m hoping to get back to editing in .opml soon, which should make things faster.

But I’ll need real connectivity soon, and I can only get that from Cox. (Don’t tell me about Verizon. They’re great back at my place in Boston, where I have FiOS; but here in Santa Barbara I’m too far from their central office to get more than mimimal-speed ADSL.)

The good thing is, Cox knows the problem is one they still have to solve, and they seem serious about fixing it. Eventually.

Meanwhile, for interested Cox folks, here’s how pings to Google currently go:

dsearls2$ ping google.com
PING google.com (74.125.127.100): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=0 ttl=45 time=110.803 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=1 ttl=45 time=164.317 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=2 ttl=45 time=204.076 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=3 ttl=45 time=259.795 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=4 ttl=45 time=397.490 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=5 ttl=45 time=581.123 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=6 ttl=45 time=506.292 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=7 ttl=45 time=128.939 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=8 ttl=45 time=328.000 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=9 ttl=45 time=160.761 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=10 ttl=45 time=176.398 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=11 ttl=45 time=187.511 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=12 ttl=45 time=188.291 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=13 ttl=45 time=347.966 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=14 ttl=45 time=285.017 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=15 ttl=45 time=389.641 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=16 ttl=45 time=399.993 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=17 ttl=45 time=113.803 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=18 ttl=45 time=153.111 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=19 ttl=45 time=147.549 ms
64 bytes from 74.125.127.100: icmp_seq=20 ttl=45 time=198.597 ms
^C
— google.com ping statistics —
21 packets transmitted, 21 packets received, 0% packet loss

And here’s how they go to the nearest Cox gateway:

ping 68.6.66.1
PING 68.6.66.1 (68.6.66.1): 56 data bytes
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=0 ttl=239 time=676.134 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=1 ttl=239 time=263.575 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=2 ttl=239 time=429.944 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=3 ttl=239 time=470.586 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=4 ttl=239 time=473.553 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=5 ttl=239 time=416.172 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=6 ttl=239 time=489.699 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=7 ttl=239 time=471.640 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=8 ttl=239 time=349.825 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=9 ttl=239 time=588.051 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=10 ttl=239 time=606.703 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=11 ttl=239 time=573.560 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=12 ttl=239 time=454.920 ms
64 bytes from 68.6.66.1: icmp_seq=13 ttl=239 time=259.428 ms
^C
— 68.6.66.1 ping statistics —
14 packets transmitted, 14 packets received, 0% packet loss

And here is a traceroute to the same gateway:

traceroute to 68.6.66.1 (68.6.66.1), 64 hops max, 40 byte packets
1  10.0.2.1 (10.0.2.1)  2.376 ms  0.699 ms  0.711 ms
2  68.28.49.69 (68.28.49.69)  109.610 ms  78.637 ms  73.791 ms
3  68.28.49.91 (68.28.49.91)  84.093 ms  161.432 ms  84.844 ms
4  68.28.51.54 (68.28.51.54)  187.814 ms  166.084 ms  181.780 ms
5  68.28.55.1 (68.28.55.1)  126.050 ms  100.136 ms  239.987 ms
6  68.28.55.16 (68.28.55.16)  80.512 ms  147.347 ms  373.152 ms
7  68.28.53.69 (68.28.53.69)  121.593 ms  265.198 ms  323.666 ms
8  sl-gw10-bur-1-0-0.sprintlink.net (144.223.255.17)  331.535 ms  346.841 ms  279.394 ms
9  sl-bb20-bur-10-0-0.sprintlink.net (144.232.0.66)  397.594 ms  542.053 ms  546.655 ms
10  sl-crs1-ana-0-1-3-1.sprintlink.net (144.232.24.231)  986.040 ms  451.456 ms  630.898 ms
11  sl-st21-la-0-0-0.sprintlink.net (144.232.20.206)  726.689 ms  452.451 ms  235.828 ms
12  144.232.18.198 (144.232.18.198)  194.067 ms  295.496 ms  99.809 ms
13  64.209.108.70 (64.209.108.70)  262.008 ms  93.663 ms  114.594 ms
14  68.1.2.127 (68.1.2.127)  145.956 ms  123.435 ms  345.784 ms
15  ip68-6-66-1.sb.sd.cox.net (68.6.66.1)  346.696 ms  654.332 ms  406.933 ms

Draw (or re-draw) your own conclusions.

Maybe somebody out there in geekland can see the problem and help offer a solution. Thanks.

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When we went looking for an apartment here a couple years ago, we had two primary considerations in addition to the usual ones: walking distance from a Red Line subway stop, and fiber-based Internet access. The latter is easy to spot if you know what to look for, starting with too many wires on the poles. After that you look for large loops among the wires. That means the wiring contains glass, which breaks if the loops are too small. The apartment we chose has other charms, but for me the best one is a choice between three high speed Internet services: Comcast, Verizon FiOS and RCN. Although Comcast comes via coaxial cable, it’s a HFC (hybrid fiber-coax) system, and competes fairly well against fiber all the way to the home. That’s what Verizon FiOS and RCN provide.

fiber

We chose Verizon FiOS, which gives us 20Mb symmetrical service for about $60/month. The 25 feet between the Optical Network Terminal box and my router is ironically provided by old Comcast cable TV co-ax. (Hey, if Comcast wants my business, they can beat Verizon’s offering.)

My point is that we live where we do because there is competition among Internet service providers. While I think competition could be a lot better than it is, each of those three companies still offer far more than what you’ll find pretty much everywhere in the U.S. where there is little or no competition at all.

The playing field in the skies above sidewalks is not pretty. Poles draped with six kinds of wiring (in our case electrical, phone, cable, cable, fiber, fiber — I just counted) are not attractive. At the point the poles become ugly beyond endurance, I expect that the homeowners will pay to bury the services. By the grace of local regulators, all they’ll bury will be electrical service and bundles of conduit, mostly for fiber. And they won’t bury them deep, because fiber isn’t bothered by proximity to electrical currents. In the old days (which is still today in most fiber-less places), minimum separations are required between electrical, cable and phone wiring — the latter two being copper. In Santa Barbara (our perma-home), service trenching has to be the depth of a grave to maintain those separations. There’s no fiber yet offered in Santa Barbara. At our house there the only carrier to provide “high” speed is the cable company, and it’s a fraction of what we get over fiber here near Boston.

All this comes to mind after reading D.C. Court Upholds Ban on MDU Contracts: FCC prevents new exclusive contracts and nullifies existing ones, by John Eggerton in Broadcasting & Cable.  It begins, “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Monday upheld an FCC decision banning exclusive contracts between cable companies and the owners of apartments and other multiple-dwelling units (MDU).”

The rest of the piece is framed by the long-standing antipathy between cable and telephone companies (cable lost this one), each as providers of cable TV. For example,

Not surprisingly, Verizon praised the decision. It also saw it as a win for larger issues of access to programming:

“This ruling is a big win for millions of consumers living in apartments and condominiums who want nothing more than to enjoy the full benefits of video competition,” said Michael Glover, Verizon senior VP, deputy general counsel, in a statement. “In upholding the ban on new and existing exclusive access deals, the Court’s decision also confirms the FCC’s authority to address other barriers to more meaningful competitive choice and video competition, such as the cable companies’ refusal to provide competitors with access to regional sports programming.”

Which makes sense at a time in history when TV viewing still comprises a larger wad of demand than Internet use. This will change as more and more production, distribution and consumption moves to the Internet, and as demand increases for more Internet access by more different kinds of devices — especially mobile ones.

Already a growing percentage of my own Internet use, especially on the road, uses cellular connectivity rather than wi-fi (thanks to high charges for crappy connectivity at most hotels). Sprint is my mobile Internet provider. They have my business because they do a better job of getting me what I want: an “air card” that works on Linux and Mac laptops, and not just on Windows ones). Verizon wanted to charge me for my air card (Sprint’s was free with the deal, which was also cheaper), and AT&T’s gear messed up my laptops and didn’t work very well anyway.

In both cases — home and road — there is competition.

While I can think of many reforms I’d like to see around Internet connectivity (among citizens, regulators and regulatees), anything that fosters competition in the meantime is a Good Thing.

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So our Verizon FiOS home bill has been about $160/month. We were looking to chop that down a bit when I called Verizon this morning.

To put it as simply as possible, it’s complicated.

What I care about most is keeping the 20/20Mbps down/up Internet service. That’s $69.99/mo.

What I don’t care about is POTS, or Plain Old Telephone Service. So I canceled that. We use cell phones, and we’ll find another way to fax, as rarely as we do that.

That leaves TV.

What we still call TV isn’t what it used to be: channels on a dial. They are digital program sources that are organized by “channels”, but that’s a legacy convenience. A few are available over the air, as DTV signals. Those are…

  • WGBH-DT (still called Channel 2, actually on Channel 19). It also has an SD (standard definition) version. These are called 2-1 and 2-2, or WGBG-DT1 and WGBH-DT2. Affiliated with PBS.
  • WBZ-DT (still called Channel 4, actually on Channel 30). Affiliated with CBS.
  • WCVB-DT (Still called Channel 5, actually on Channel 20). Affliiated with ABC.
  • WHDH-HD (still called Channel 7, actually on Channel 40). Also called 7-1, It has a second channel on 7-2 called This TV. It’s SD. Affiliated with NBC.
  • WFXT-DT (still called 25, actually on Channel 31). Affiliated with Fox.
  • WSBK-DT (still called 38, actually on Channel 39). Independent. Owned by CBS.
  • WGBX-DT (still called 44, actually on Channel 43). Four SD channels, labeled 44-1 through 44-2. Called WGBX, World, Create and Kids. Affiliated with PBS.
  • WYDN-DT (still called 48, actually on Channel 47) with a directional signal). The picture is SD. Affiliated with Daystar. Evangelical Christian.
  • WLVI-DT (still called 56, actually on Channel 42 with a directional signal). Affiliated with CW.
  • WMFP-DT (still called 62, actually on Channel 18 with a directional signal). Labeled 61-1 and 62-2. The second is currently dark. Affiliated with Gems TV. Home shopping.
  • WBPX (still called 68, actually on Channel 32, with a directional signal). It’s four channels in one, all SD: WBPX Digital Television, Qubo, Eye on Life and Worship. Identified on the tuner as 68-1, 2, 3 and 4. Affiliated with ION Television.

For what it’s worth, I get all those on my laptop with a little adapter. Meaning that I don’t need cable for them. They’re free. They cost $0.00.

Okay, so Verizon offers two channel lineups in our region: Essentials for $47.99/mo. and Extreme HD for… I can’t find it now. $57.99/mo, I think. Essentials has the about same minimun channel line-up I get for free over the air. Extreme HD has what you want if you watch in HD: all the main cable and sports non-premium channels. Add DVR rental (for which one has no choice) for $12.99 and I’m at $140 or so, if I want the Extreme HD.

TV now is an HD deal. If you want TV, you want HD, because that’s the new screen you’ve got, even if you’re watching on a laptop.

The problem is, HDTV costs you. Unless you want the minimal legacy lineup of local over the air channels.

Anyway, here’s what I want: a la carte. Across the board. I’m glad to do Pay Per View for everything.

And right now I’m thinking hard about cancelling the Extreme HD I just ordered. We like the sports and the movies, but we can go to a bar for the former and get the rest from Netflix or something.

Meanwhile, kudos to Verizon for providing fiber, and the 20/20 connection. Here’s another message: I’d gladly pay more for even more speed. Especially upstream.

[Later...] Now I’m looking at the Verizon Massachusetts channel lineup and it seems like the only thing extra I get with Extreme HD is some sports channels. Is that right? Sports-wise, all I care about are NESN, ESPN, TNT and other Usual Suspects.

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In The Office of Connectivity Advocacy, Bob Frankston argues for something we’ve needed a long time: prying the Net from the regulatory grips of telecom and cablecom, both of which are inside the FCC and part of a regulatory mess that traces back past the 1996 and 1934 telecoms acts, all the way to the railroad thinking and legislation that modeled those acts.

What we need, Bob says, is to re-frame the Net outside of telecom (which includes cablecom as well). The Net needs to be more than just the third act in a “Triple Play” sold by phone and cable companies. It needs to be more — and other — than just a “service” we get from monopolists operating in an old regulatory habitat.

Inside our homes we do not negotiate with, or pay, a “printing service” to use our printers. Nor are our phone and cable companies required to hook our computers and other appliances together inside our homes. As a result, there is no issue of speed, no need for “broadband”, because we enjoy much limitless network speeds without a “service provider” in the middle.

Some specifics:

We need a “Connectivity Strategy” with a champion; a “Connectivity Advocate” who is outside the FCC and is thus can focus on a positive agenda. “Internet Connectivity” is not a telecommunications service but something new. It is based on the idea that we can create our own solutions out of imperfect resources. And it has proven to be an exceptionally powerful idea.

It has allowed us to create new solutions by focusing on the end points of relationships rather than all the myriad points between. We’ve seen a similar dynamic with the interstate (defense) highway system that has been credited with adding trillions of dollars to the economy. The Internet-connectivity has the potential to do far more because it doesn’t have the limits of the roads and demand creates supply.

The challenge is to overcome the artifacts that we confuse with the powerful idea. We happened to have repurposed existing telecommunications infrastructure and thus the idea has become captive of the incumbents whose business of charging for transporting bits as a service is threatened. To add to this confusion we can easily spoof existing telecommunications services ourselves but still act as if only a carrier can provide the services.

Instead of spending so much time and effort forcing connectivity into a service framing we need to be able to focus on connectivity from first principles. After all, the Internet (as connectivity) and Telecom have no intrinsic relationship beyond their common use of electromagnetism to transport bits.

By having an Office of Connectivity Advocacy (I’m open to a better title) outside the FCC we can have a positive and proactive strategy. We have abundant existing resources that are lying fallow either because we don’t recognize what we have or are forbidden from competing with those who control are very means of communicating and the vital information paths we use for commerce.

So look at it this way. What we have inside the free spaces of our own homes is connectivity. What we have outside of our homes, through telco and cable systems, is broadband. The latter may seem desirable, but only in the absence of free (as in liberty, not price) alternatives.

Bob sees the Internet less as a physical infrastructure of CFR (copper, fiber and radios) than as a “bit commons” to which we all contribute. It’s an ocean rather than canals across a desert. Its nature is one of abundance, not scarcity. One can only make it scarce, which is what phone and cable companies do, even as they increase our broadband speeds to larger fractions of what we have at home for free.

Bob has specific recommendations for what an Office of Connectivity Advocacy would do. Read them and give Bob (and the Transition Team) constructive feedback. Here’s part of his post:

Initially the OCA would be charged with:

  • Empowering communities and individuals to create their own solutions using common facilities – the bit commons.
  • Education and research focused on achieving and taking advantage of end-to-end connectivity.
    • Educating Congress to understand the meaning and value of connectivity. Ideally it would play the role of providing a first-principles reality check rather than just checking for conformance to regulations. For example, a call is completed when the message gets through, not when a phone rings.
    • Assist the government in its own use of technology both for its own use and as an example for others. It could encourage technologies that have wide market appeal rather than just those that can conform to government RFPs.
    • Developing enlightened investment strategies which don’t try to capture all of the value.
    • Supporting research in using networking rather than the networks themselves.
    • Supporting research in how to get more out of existing physical facilities as well as encouraging new technologies.
    • Developing decentralized protocols for connectivity rather than today’s provider-centric IP
    • Working to simplify building applications using public connectivity (the bit commons). This could be mundane telemedicine, community information or …
  • Acting as an advocate for a transition from a telecom framing to a connectivity framing:
    • Evaluating existing assets and business practice afresh without the century old technical and policy presumptions.
    • Working towards a bit commons or common infrastructure including removing the artificial distinctions between wired and unwired bits.
    • Assisting in transitioning the existing telecommunications industry to industries supporting and taking advantage of connectivity.

At first glance the idea of the OCA may seem fanciful but it’s far easier to start afresh than trying to struggle out of the mire of the existing Regulatorium. We didn’t build the automobile by modifying stage coaches – we just used our understanding of wheeled vehicles to start afresh.

Starting afresh is essential to the telcos and cablecos as well. They need to see the Internet as something more, and other, than just a “service” they provide. Their existing phone and cable TV business models are in trouble. Charging for Net access is no gold mine, either. They need to start looking for ways of making money because of the Net and not merely with it. This is what Google and Amazon have done with “cloud” services. (Many of Google’s are in this list here. Amazon’s are here.) The only thing keeping the phone and cable companies from being in similar or allied businesses is a lack of imagination. Also a lack of appreciation for advantages of incumbency other than the ability to charge folks for broadband alone. These companies have waterfront property on the Net’s ocean. They also have direct relationships with customers. Those relationships can be used for much more than billing and essential services alone.

It would be much easier for these guys to start thinking outside their boxes if the Net were split off from the phone and cable regulatoria. And that Nick Carr’s Big Switch would happen a lot faster. (By the way, for thinking outside the box, it’s fun to read Nick’s post on Microsof’ts “trailer park” based cloud infrastructure.)

I wrote here,

Phone and cable companies today are in a lousy position to run the Internet business. Telephony and Cable TV are railroads and steamships. They “carry” the Net as a “service”, but the Net isn’t essentially a service. It’s just a way to connect things. Connectivity is what matters. Not “broadband”, much as it appeals within the context of phone and cable companies’ limited offerings and imaginations. Who will imagine what can be done when connectivity is freed up? Phone and cable companies? I’d rather bet on the people leaving those companies.

If phone and cable companies want to attract rather than lose its most original engineers, they it would help if they got out of the old regulatory frame and into a new one that separates the Net from their legacy monopolies.

More about Bob.

Bonus link: Beyond Telecom: Bob Frankston on the Future We Make for Ourselves. It’s is an interveiw I did with Bob earlier this year, for Linux Journal.

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