Colosseum may look like a data center, but in reality, it’s a massive radio-frequency emulation testbed that DARPA built for its Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2). SC2 has been a three-year competition to demonstrate the validity of using artificial intelligences to work together in order to use wireless spectrum more efficiently than operating on pre-allocated bands would be.
Initially, the mesh network was powered by a single “Supernode” antenna and hardware array located at 375 Pearl Street in Manhattan. This gigabit fiber-fed antenna connects 300 buildings, where members have mounted routers on a rooftop or near a window. These local “nodes” in turn connect to an internet exchange point—without the need for a traditional ISP.
SpaceX ultimately wants Starlink to grow to include potentially thousands of satellites over the next few years. The company says it could make available low-cost internet for a significant portion of the world’s population that isn’t yet online and offer a competitive alternative for people who aren’t happy with their broadband provider.
The 2015 Order famously outlined clear net neutrality rules. But those rules only passed muster because the Order also explicitly classified broadband service as a “common carrier” service, regulated by Title II of the Communications Act, rather than an “information service” regulated by Title I of the same Act. And that classification has several corollary effects, because Title II isn’t just about net neutrality. It is also meant to curtail the anti-competitive conduct from incumbent monopolists like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. In essence, as common carriers, they are not able to use their power to control the Internet experience, and they are not able to directly harm their competitors in the broadband market.
Google Fiber’s deployment ran into snags in Austin, Texas when those poles were owned by AT&T, because the surest way to prevent competition is to just physically prevent their entry into your market. If a company the size of Google could be stifled without the law supporting them, what hope does a smaller ISP have in entering into a market where the incumbent broadband provider owns the poles that are a necessary component to deploying the network? The FCC Chairman’s plan fundamentally ignores this problem and offers no clear solution to competitors. An incumbent broadband provider that owns a lot of the poles is going to have no federal legal obligation to share that access at fair market rates if broadband is no longer a common carrier service.
See the problem? If people begin noticing that there’s no competition, that Americans are paying too much for too little, and that the entire country is suffering as a result, that’s a big problem for Big Cable.
What really matters is whether, someday, we’ll take on as a country the issue of the dismal state of high-speed internet access in America. If the Title II reclassification holds, it’s more likely that we will take that step sooner. And the carriers know that.
Former Sprint lobbyist Mark Jamison was named this week as one of two telecom consultants guiding the Trump administration’s telecom policy. Alongside telecom-tied think tanker Jeffrey Eisenach, Jamison is tasked with choosing the next FCC boss, and the direction of the new Trump FCC.
But in an October blog post, Jamison indicates he doesn’t believe that telecom monopolies are even real, while making it very clear (as Eisenach has) that the over-arching goal is to gut the FCC completely:
Bell Labs achieved 1Gbps symmetrical over just 70 meters on a single copper pair and 10Gbps was achieved over a distance of 30 meters by using two pairs of lines bonding. Both tests used standard copper cable provided by a European operator. The speeds are impressive but the distance is clearly more problematic, which might mean more of a choir for operators as they’d need to bring the accompanying fibre optic cable even closer to your doorstep at this range you could almost call it FTTB.
The question for some operators will be whether or not it’s even worth following the G.fast to XG-FAST path, as opposed to simply putting fibre optic cable in the ground and having less to worry about in the future.
The joy of being a vertically integrated company is being able to exercise something called vertical leverage. Basically, the bigger Comcast gets, the more extraordinary financial power they wield. The terms they can negotiate upstream and downstream are more likely to be favorable to them, and not to anyone else.
A report [PDF] from the Consumer Federation of America calls these “bottleneck points.” And the bigger Comcast gets, the more of them they have — as in their recent peering dispute with Netflix.
In the end, making Comcast bigger only gives it more leverage — a company that would control the lion’s share of to-the-home information for this country. Until such a time when (and if) wireless and fiber providers begin offering a service that competes with cable Internet on speed, availability and cost, consumers are only going to see the walls around Comcast’s sandbox grow taller, while bottlenecked Internet businesses face higher and higher tolls for access to a huge portion of American homes and offices.
The reason this deal is scary is that for the vast majority of businesses in 19 of the 20 largest metropolitan areas in the country, their only choice for a high-capacity wired connection will be Comcast. Comcast, in turn, has its own built-in conflicts of interest: It will be serving the interests of its shareholders by keeping investments in its network as low as possible — in particular, making no move to provide the world-class fiber-optic connections that are now standard and cheap in other countries — and extracting as much rent as it can, in all kinds of ways. Comcast, for purposes of today’s public , is calling itself a “cable company.” It no longer is. Comcast sells infrastructure subject to neither competition nor a cop on the beat.
The new option takes the fibre to a “distribution point” closer to the customer’s permises, and makes use of the shorter distance, to apply G.FAST technology, a faster version of DSL which can offer speeds of 1Gbps over a distance of up to 250 metres using copper, and deliver faster speeds without the expense and disruption caused by FTTP deployment.