Saturday, February 24, 2007

Eulogy for BellSouth

There is always more than one side to a story. My posts about how BellSouth's absorption into the new AT&T made perfect sense from a business perspective and someone that was part of the mother ship. Dick Yarbrough, a retired Vice President at BellSouth, presented the perspective of some very hard working, industrious, loyal, and proud employees that thought the old corporate entity had a better future. Maybe it did. Like most entities of the former AT&T, inadequate management and economies of scale reduced it to three surviving entities.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with the people of BellSouth over the years. I too am sad to see it go, but it is the people that make the company. Let's hope that the attitude and dedication of the people that are left make an indelible impact on the new AT&T.

Link to Dick's article on January 15, 2007

Save the Internet : Fighting for Internet Freedom

Save the Internet is a well meaning web organization intended to create a level playing field for all sites on the Internet.  Too bad that its efforts are misguided by spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD). They state that the access providers want to increase charges for access to Google, Yahoo! and other content providers and restrict free speech.  They want the government to regulate the Internet by forcing Internet access providers to treat all traffic equally.  In principle this effort sounds great, but in practice they will actually achieve the opposite amounting to a win for AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and other incumbent Internet access providers.

First of all, the government has not proven to be an effective regulator of anything.  Name one thing that they have efficiently managed.  Congress, the Executive and Judicial branches barely even know what the Internet is all about.  So how can we expect them to properly regulate what they don't understand?

Second, the Net Neutrality legislation currently proposed will actually set up the same walled garden that it is trying to prevent.  The legislation will force all packets for Internet access to be treated equally.  That means that AT&T's VoIP service receives the same priority as Vonage's VoIP service.  So far so good, but it also means that those packets are the same as a Bittorrent transfer.  Not so good for any provider of time sensitive traffic whether AT&T, Google, or Vonage.

AT&T can easily avoid having their time sensitive VoIP packets delayed by not running them over their high-speed Internet service.  They can use bandwidth outside the service just as they do their video traffic.  By not running their VoIP traffic over their Internet access, they can offer a better quality experience than Vonage or other VoBB providers.  Vonage and other competing content effectively are now in the slow lane while AT&T and the other access providers have a fast lane.  Isn't this what Net Neutrality was trying to prevent?

Why do you think that AT&T was so quick to agree to the provision in their merger with BellSouth?  They know that the rule will now legally allow them to give preference to their own services.  So goes the law of unintended consequences.  So well meaning organizations like the EFF and Save the Internet are actually hurting equal access instead of helping it.  The Internet needs a hands-off approach with more competition for access which will ensure Net Neutrality better than the FCC ever could.

Source: Save the Internet : Fighting for Internet Freedom

Thursday, February 22, 2007

DTP 2007 Future of Communications

This picture was taken at the annual Denver Telecom Professionals' Future of Communications panel.  Too bad my phone case obstructed the edges of the picture.  There were the predicted discussion of FTTx, net neutrality, VoIP, and competition.  The panelists were very entertaining and informative, but predictably stated their companies' positions on these topics. Often the discussion centered on residential services that do not drive the industry, but Michael Rouleau, Senior V.P. Business Development and Strategy from Time Warner Telecom, always jumped in to provide a welcomed the enterprise perspective.  Qwest, along with AT&T, still contend that 20 to 30 Mbit/s to each residential subscriber is enough to meet their triple-play needs.  This approach is short-sighted and will leave them at a competitive disadvantage to Verizon and the cable companies.  Cable companies like Comcast are actively charging ahead with DOCSIS 3.0 that can deliver 100 Mbit/s symmetrically just for Internet access. 

I agree with Donna Jaegers' of Janco Partners assessment that Time Warner Telecom has a bright outlook along with the cable companies.  These companies are pursuing business' desire to communicate more effectively with VoIP, Ethernet, and IP solutions.  Level 3 Communications has deferred their debt but added to it greatly in its recent acquisition spree.  Time will tell if they can execute on this sound strategy.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Broadband Penetration Projected to Reach Half of U.S. Households by 2008

Parks Associates today released their estimate that the U.S. may finally reach that 50% mark for broadband penetration by the end of the year. High Speed Internet connections grew by 20% last year hitting 47% of all U.S. households. While it is good news that broadband penetration is becoming a mainstay in the American home, we still lag behind Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, Korea, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Canada, the UK and Belgium in per-capita broadband deployment. The U.S. still lags greatly in the number of fiber connections with just over 500,000 while countries like Japan have 6 million or more. Although Verizon is driving FTTH deployment in big numbers, AT&T and U S West are not contributing much. Surprisingly enough independent telephone companies and municipalities are not waiting for the telcos or cable companies. Many of them are building their own open access broadband networks like Bend, Oregon. We still have a long way to go. Remember that fiber glut we had coming out of the bubble? Funny how we do not hear much about it any more. Could be because we are exhausting it in many places.

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