People don't want to work for Verizon, or Comcast, or other such companies. They treat their employees like dirt, and are generally unconcerned with user experience, doing things the right way, and view customer service as a cost center.
All of their products have been developed in a centrifuge of "just good enough" with an eye toward minimizing effort and maximizing profits. Its entirely a cultural thing set by the leadership of these companies and will not change until there is a fundamental (albeit unlikely) shift in leadership at the top.
Not me. They got us a FIOS deal when we got our house. I used them for 2 years. Super fiber speed, except they would throttle youtube. So here I was paying to this supposedly superior quality and speed and getting throttled by them. So I dropped them and switched to a plain old cable provider (just for internet, we don't really watch tv anymore). Cut my costs more than half. On paper the speed is lower, however, the latency and lack of throttling for things like Youtube and other media is better.
Now since Verizon installed their equipment on our premises, they keep coming back every few months, in person -- as in they have someone drive out to our door, begging us to come back. They even offered to match the price we pay for cable currently (but it is always some stupid 2 year contract thing, that I know will go throught the roof when the time is passed).
You can search for more. While it could be a coincidence that somehow after switching poviders Youtube fixed their servers at the same time and got faster, I'd have to believe it was because of Verizon.
Someone from a Verizon forum remember mentioned, defending them, it could have been Google not paying for peering with Verizon enough. But I consider that still Verizon's fault. I don't really care about the details, I was paying a hefty sum to Verizon for Internet connectivity and not getting it. However they setup their peering agreements is their problem, I pay to not have to know that.
Comcast I know went through and systematically shut down private interchanges with major content providers and also refused to upgrade public peering points. There were some peering points that we're seeing 10%+ packet loss. The result was terrible performance to any provider who didn't buy "internet access" from Comcast even when the only access that was needed was to Comcast's own customers.
A friend worked as a peering coordinator for a major content provider at the time and nobody had ever asked to be paid to deliver content to their own customers before. This created a standoff and I'm not sure how it ended but I believe the content providers caved.
Of course I'm pretty sure this is what was the spurred Google Fiber. One thing that Google seems really good at is to ensure that nobody can use their monopoly position to cut them off from the customer (Android, Chrome, Fiber).
The money should flow from the carrier to the content providers, but they saw them initially as a nuisance and later as leechers, despite that they are essentially the product that the carriers are selling and getting paid for in the first place, and they are getting it for free.
Reality TV aside, my general view is that most companies that view original/exclusive streaming media as an "add-on" versus a core competency are more likely to buy in cheap and rebroadcast ideas that were already popular, chasing the trends, and delivering less enduring quality than typical TV/cable stations. For streaming media it's more about cramming as much (exclusive) garbage as you can, and having enough videos that someone can always find something to pass the time on your service. Traditional TV can only offer you one piece of content at a time, so they at least make some effort to put budget and thought behind the quality, even if they often miss.
Comcast, on the other hand, has bandwidth caps at 250 GB, but I think they recently raised them to 1 TB. However, even 1 TB isn't huge by today's standards, especially with everything migrating towards the "cloud".
However, The FiOS TV service isn’t that great. The standard definition boxes are so slow that they are unusable and tend to simply break every year or so (gets stuck in a boot loop and flashes “FPGA” on the front display, which is kind of interesting). The HD boxes are much better, but I don’t want to spend the money. Also, it’s expensive, but I doubt Comcast is any better. They probably compete very tightly with each other in areas where both are available.
YMMV, Anecdote != data, etc.
Not me. Verizon upsold my elderly mother for a bunch of crap services she didn't need or have use for (a "bundle"). Their customer sales, like Comcast's, is nothing more than a slimy boiler-room operation.
Luckily, I was able to back her out of the plan with a solid hour on the phone and a careful appeal to the humanity of the customer service rep.
Or is it 15 euro on top of your phone and tv?
However, this is not a price you would get when you walk in - the price list is 17 EUR for 250/15, upping upload to 100 is 5, upping upload to 250 (from 15, not 100) would be 15. Additional fees if you want TV or phone, or static IP.
This network has been in operation for years - I've been customer for 9 years already, hence the lower price. In the beginning, it was slower of course, about 40/10, but I imagine the network has already paid for itself.
The reason why it is was built in the first place were bad conditions for accessing DSLAMs operated by our ILEC at the time - T-Com. It was impossible for any ISP to offer flat-rate DSL, because the ILEC was asking for data-based charges, quite high at that. So Orange threw it the towel, built its own optical network, set the prices as another DSL providers, but with order of magnitude faster speeds with no data caps - and had a runaway success with it. The other big ISP were in shock, but to remain competitive they quickly built their own FTTH networks, or at least upgraded their HFC (UPC). So in the end we have a cheap Internet thanks to T-Com greed :).
The CEO of Sonic says that being a fiber provider is profitable without any additional services, and that their wholesale cost for upstream bandwidth keeps dropping.
Where I'm at now (prob less than a mile from their fiber service, sigh..), when we first moved in, we got Comcast. Of course, the Comcast service was all over the place. Some days 1Mb, some 100Mb (which I never signed up for, but just received), some 45Mb (what I signed up for). As usual, I had man techs come out to try to fix things and of course, none did and all of them had a different excuse as to why things didn't work. So many support people promised me good service but I never got it.
Fed up, I saw I could get Sonic FTTN and it's been rock solid for over a year. It's never gone down and just works - as I would expect. It's too bad we don't have more ISPs like them because if we did, access would be a totally different experience.
But in your situation, it sounds like you were likely extremely far from the central office, and probably had lousy indoor wiring as well. 20Mbit/s is basically the "I can see the phone company office from my window" speeds (less than 1000 wire-feet, give or take).
That was my experience with comcast as well. So many friendly people who promised so much and they all delivered nothing. It was maddening. Months after I cancelled, I got a check that returned all my money. I would have preferred internet service given that they were the only provider around, but that was not something their support people could provide.
I expect Cogent will be the next company to be acquired by one of the last-mile providers after Level3.
Even if the so called Tier 1 carriers are losing their prominence due to donut peering of smaller operators and large content providers building their own networks, getting settlement free peering with the big ones remains a challenge. Settlement free peering itself isn't an exclusive club, but being an operator with significant market power is.
While the majority of settlement free peering agreements are informal, studies show that about 10% are more formal with written contracts and conditions.
Even with public peering fabric which is what I think you are talking about and that I've used LINKS, NYIIX and AMS-IX etc,. you still have to backhaul that traffic yourself, its not making a significant dent in Tier dominance.
What studies have shown that there are contractual agreements for settlement free peering? Citation? Links? I would be interested in seeing that. My source was from experience working in the industry.
Transport, crossconnects and port costs apply regardless if you use a public IX or do private interconnects.
Here's a link to the study about settlement free peering:
I had the percentage wrong, or then I may recall a more recent study. This one is from 2011. Of course it depends greatly upon who you peer with, as to whether a written contract is needed or not. As such the sampling may skew the results.
ADSL2+ would be close to Comcast's affordable cable internet plans, and thus interesting competition.
AT&T wouldn't offer anything better than ADSL1 either, so I guess nobody's investing in the copper plain old telephone system.
The only thing that can improve this limit is pulling a new wire. The other providers can't do anything different because their ADSL would be piggybacking of the exact same physical wire.
If someone's going to pull new wire, then there's no reason to not make it an optic wire and skip the copper, since you can provide all services (including landline phone) over that.
So yes, of course, in that sense nobody's investing in the copper plain old telephone system, and never ever will be.
In Los Angeles, as a customer, I got a mailing from them FOR supporting title 2 and encouraging an open internet. Wild...
They might not be able be bought, they are feisty like Theo and for some people (myself included) throwing money in our face won't make us take action that will screw over society.
Preserving freedom is more important than the fanciest of homes and most luxurious car...
They have denied this repeatedly, and seem really insistent that they do want to be an ISP.
The limited deployments at the moment are BECAUSE they want it self-sustaining/profitable to continue to justify roll-outs.
Fiber providers live and die by their uptake rate. Most of the investment is in passing a house, but only about a third of houses you pass will subscribe. The cost of passing all the other houses has to be recovered from those that do subscribe. Historically, a condition of entering a city has been wiring up the whole city, without regard to customer interest in different neighborhoods. Google refuses to play that game. It only builds to Fiberhoods with demonstrated interest. That changes the economics entirely. But it's highly unlikely that approach will work across the country.
When their sole source of income is selling broadband. Part of the profit for google fiber includes the ads served up. If you think they don't track ad serving to their own customers based on the IP addresses they're accessing google from, you're crazy.
While I don't think ANYONE outside of Google knows their end-game - it's entirely possible that the fiberhoods are just proving the business model out before further investment.
The ad income is just peanuts compared to the monthly cost of Google Fiber. We are talking about a few bucks per month for ads versus $70 for fiber. Ads are just not going to move the needle in any meaningful way.
I'm quite confident they have the capacity. They have more than pretty much everyone besides maybe the government.
It was a (poor) business decision not to go for public cloud earlier, but not driven by datacenter capacity.
https://fiber.google.com/cities/sanfrancisco/ Google Fiber is coming to parts of SF using existing fiber infrastructure.
Similar mission to Google Fiber?
Honestly I think Project Fi is amazing and it's the perfect counter to the issues mentioned in the article -- value-added bundling -- because it puts Google between you and your mobile internet provider.
Google is so successful at the OTT/services level that it could easily build out the fiber infrastructure underneath its internet empire if it wanted to. But it doesn't want to because there's no profit in that! And it's a messy, government-regulation-filled industry that is becoming less and less profitable YoY.
It boils down to: Dumb pipes are a cost center. OTT/services are a revenues center.
Why build your own roads when you can use others? As long as the government keeps those roads in good repair. And Google has a lot of friends in Washington D.C. ;)
Verizon makes $10 a gigabyte from mobile data. Multiple news articles lately have pointed out that Verizon makes orders of magnitude more money from running "dumb pipes" than does EVERYBODY else in the mobile advertising ecosystem put together, including the content companies.
In fact, if Verizon rebated 5% or so of the data charges back to mobile web sites, mobile web sites would have a much more lucrative business than they have with advertising today. (And if Verizon did that, they'd have the media in their pocket, just as Google does today -- between the ad revenue Google brings in and the fact they can make your traffic go away, even the New York Times is afraid to confront Google)
The mobile phone and internet business is also highly profitable. If you believe the advertising you see you might think it is competitive, but it is not. Just try using satellite internet and paying the high cost per GB.
Google does not want to get into VZ's business because it is a capital intensive business. The great thing about Google, Facebook and such is that they have tiny workforces and a small amount of hardware -- if you can get your users to make content for free you don't have to pay writers, actors, directors, makeup artists, etc.
Telecoms buy spectrum in auctions for the same reason why Google hires so many engineers -- to keep them away from competitors. Wireless as it is is the perfect rent-seeking industry as it has government barriers to entry.
Overbuilding any kind of wired internet infrastructure is a brutal business today because of the latent competition; where I live Frontier charges $95 a month for something that makes cable look like the Jetsons. They are paying huge dividends to the stockholders because they can do that with 0 investment. They could afford to offer the same for $45 or less a month and they would if you brought in anything better.
The other issue is that companies do not enter into mergers rationally. Time and time again you see that mergers destroy value.
Lolwat? Google builds multiple datacenters full of computers, sells access to them to other people, has bought a lot of dark fiber, and sells internet to home consumers in Kansas City. These are fairly capital intensive operations, but apparently Google execs have deemed them sufficiently valuable. It's kinda interesting how Verizon FiOS and other incumbant telco offerings are incredibly unpopular, while people are lining up for Google's Fiber service.
> The great thing about Google, Facebook and such is that they have tiny workforces and a small amount of hardware --
Verizon reports 177k employees, to Google's 51k. Google is smaller, but not as small as people might imagine, and if they continue rolling out Fiber and Fi, I can only imagine their footprint will grow.
> The mobile phone and internet business is also highly profitable. If you believe the advertising you see you might think it is competitive, but it is not. Just try using satellite internet and paying the high cost per GB.
It must be, because the only place I can think of where Google is buying not building is their cellular network offering, which multiplexes Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular. MNOs have made it so easy to be a Virtual, Google would be foolish to bother rolling out their own infra until their subscriber base grows.
Then what is the rationale for buying one of these failing content companies, Yahoo, for $4.8b?
> Google does not want to get into VZ's business because it is a capital intensive business
As is cloud computing, but Google is forging ahead with GCP. This also doesn't square with your previous point that the ISP business is seriously profitable - if it was, Google would be rolling fiber out nationwide, as it has the cash to spend on capital-intensive project if it sees a high NPV in doing so. But it doesn't, so it just rolls out fiber to support select Google endeavors and keep the major carriers somewhat in check.
Man, that era wheen there was just 4 tv networks was something in comparison when thinking about this comment
Every time the government talks about rolling out broadband to poorer neighborhoods they just shove more cash at AT&T/Verizon/CenturyLink/etc, who are then meant to run the wires and profit off of the new customers.
This is likely partly the result of strong lobbying at both state and national levels. But regardless of the reason, all this money could have been used for "dumb pipes" which are non-profit, or only profit enough to expand further.
That's what bugs me, not that the government uses money for broadband expansion, but that they just give it to for-profit companies to use as they please, and to make a profit.
I'm lucky and have solid internet access even if it's not the fasted. It's very reliable and low latency. But I'd still love some google fiber.
However, I don't think it's fair to attribute altruism or happiness to be a dumb pipe to google.
Ding ding ding!
Joel Spoksky wrote s great article on exactly this 14 years ago.
The future of Telco is not in the ground, but through the air.
This is the entire reason Google Fiber acquired WebPass.
It is relatively simple to transmit extremely high connection speeds through radio waves. I have a receiver on the top of my house that is a point to point signal, pumping 1 gig +, and soon to be much higher, speeds.
Google's strategy to expand GF will not longer include a massive ground infrastructure move, but use point to point to get to the neighborhoods. An entire zip code can be offered GF services at a fraction of the cost and a few months, as opposed to the old way...TOS of capital and years.
It will happen fast, and I imagine the giant Telcoms will have to follow suite to keep up.
Folks have tried high-speed fixed wireless for almost 2 decades now, and the only places it has been a viable business are rural areas where hard lines are not an option. Once the housing density gets above a certain level, wires beat wireless for any fixed installation--higher speeds, better reliability.
At very high frequencies, basic physics is working against you. Nothing has changed that.
> I have a receiver on the top of my house that is a point to point signal, pumping 1 gig +, and soon to be much higher, speeds.
To get a point-to-point signal, I would need a ~20m mast on top of my house to clear neighborhood trees, and so would the central antenna, and so would all my neighbors.
As frequency goes up and wavelengths get pencil thin, issues like "do I have clear line of sight" and "is there fog today" are more of a challenge than interference from others using the same frequencies/wavelengths.
There's plenty of bandwidth available in RF, but every option has it's tradeoffs. There's a limited amount of spectrum available at frequencies with convenient propagation properties for certain use cases.
I have been worried about line-owning ISPs trying to become content providers, because it was obvious that they would try to find ways to privilege their content over non-wire companies like Netflix, Google, Apple, Hulu, Amazon, etc.
But with the net neutrality ruling, it might actually be a good thing. If Verizon doesn't want to be a dumb pipe, then the logical extension is: why own pipes at all?? I could see companies like Comcast or Verizon eventually leasing access on dumb cheap fiber like muni or Google, as a cost-saving measure vs. maintaining their own infrastructure. Comcast already outsources most of their installation and network maintenance to contractors.
Comcast won't even take government subsidies to build out to unserved areas.
Tele2 advertises to business users as a "flat data pipe". To consumers, it profiles itself as a cheap provider offering a lot more data in it's packages. It slowly looks like it started a data-war among the providers. The past year, there has been a lot of movement in the dat package offerings, while in the era of 2005-2015 about the only movement was "Unmetered access for €10" to data-packages.
I'm very curious to see Dutch subscriber numbers over the first half of 2016. I expect them to go up slowly but steadily.
They're a big, big network and getting bigger all the time and they run their business just like I like to run mine: provide simple, boring services that just work.
They are the best dumb pipes around.
 rsync.net uses he.net in Fremont, Denver and Hong Kong and Oh By (0x.co) uses he.net in Fremont.
As consumers we like it, but I don't think there's anything redeeming about it from the business's point of view. Heck, step #1 in the business playbook is "differentiate".
The telcos already have the commodity aspect of their business handled. AT&T and Verizon aren't going anywhere. They just want to line their pockets. Demand is fixed in a commodity market. The world only needs so much wheat and there's not much you can do to make it need more. So you sell your wheat in a fancy new package. That's essentially what a cable network is. The label on your can of green beans.
People can eat wheat or meat. You can make meat from wheat. Lots of poor people are happy to eat more meat (or any meat at all), if the price comes down. Demand for wheat is elastic.
Sure, but what makes the price come down? Industrial production is absolutely aimed at ensuring a solid, steady supply. Sharp fluctuations are rare, and are usually due to political upheaval. Prices might spike, but they rarely drop dramatically, because technological advances that lead to increased supply are usually already priced into the market.
It's like that with any commodity market. There are so many people's lives and pocketbooks relying on stability in production and pricing that checks are built right into the market at every level, from production to end-consumer purchasing.
Speculators lose their shirts in commodity markets because they aren't established players, they're gamblers. That gives the segment the illusion of being way more volatility than there really is. Everybody else is insulated very well from random shocks.
If there's more wheat (and the price drops), the economy will consume more---even if people won't eat more wheat directly.
Hey Verizon! Try being the bestest dumb pipe that anyone ever saw! Best value for the price. Best service. See what happens. It seems like a lot of successful business have been built that way instead of trying to be the most hated companies.
If Google wanted to become AT&T or Verizon, nothing is stopping it. It has the capital, and even on the regulatory lobbying front--Google is winning. While Verizon is getting pilloried for not meeting buildout requirements in New York, Google won't even agree to buildout requirements in Fiber cities.
But Google doesn't want to build dumb pipes either: http://www.techpolicydaily.com/internet/whos-making-money-in....
At this point I'd bet on a GSM carrier like T-Mobile to get there first.
Those duopolies business models are contingent upon have access to public right-aways. The resources are owned by the general public/tax payers in the municipalities the operate in. There is technical reason we can't have near universal and affordable dumb pipes, just political.
I personally see this as going to be a success for either Verizon or its share holders, quite the opposite. It will be paid for by end users in the form of increased fees.
In 2014, the GON increased its revenues from $80.7
million to $99.9 million.53
Revenue from Internet access sales in particular saw a net increase of about
$17 million,54 much of which was due to residential customer growth.55 Overall, residential services
accounted for two-thirds of EPB Fiber’s revenues in 2014.56 Expenses and transfers to the city of
Chattanooga totaled $84.7 million.57"
This sounds OK to me, what am I missing?
Why is it important that their electricity monopoly subsidized anything? How is that any different than any other new enterprise that has gotten funding from a VC? You don't hear anybody criticize that some star up is only possible because they got money from an investor. How is the source of funding relevant?
"Recent reports estimate that those numbers have risen to over 65,000 residential customers and about 5,500 commercial customers so far in 2015.48 This represents about a 45 percent share of the local residential market for broadband, video, and telephone service. 49 Despite being available to all potential customers, only about eight percent – or fewer than 5,500 – of residential customers that purchase Internet access
subscribe to its signature gigabit service.5"
This venture is only 5 years old(2011) and the bond has a maturity length of 25 years! Lastly only 162 million out of the bond issue was used to build out the fiber network, the rest was used to build a smart grid.
I think in such a situation I would perhaps try to play on people's pride and make an emotional appeal.
And/or sell equity to customers. Some are happy to hold part of an enterprise they believe in, and will accept submarket returns. Come to think of it, a cooperative wouldn't be too different.
The source of the funding is a bond, not a subsidy from the power company.
EPB Fiber is profitable, is servicing it's debt in full and is not subsidized by electric ratepayers.
Not only are electric rate payers not subsidizing the fiber network, the fiber network is subsidizing the electric side!
The EPB fiber made $15M profit (FY14) is after debt service. EPB paid $19M in debt service (FY14).
Your link shows less than $1 million of debt service on a network that cost $400m. Interest rates are low, but they're not that low!
I can't tell if you are joking or merely being frivolous, but of course municipal bond interest rates aren't that low. The base fallacy in your comment is that you are comparing the interest payment to the total network build cost and not the outstanding debt. These two are obviously not the same thing and only outstanding debt affects the size of the interest payment.
> Read page 14 of the article you linked in light of page 3 of the article I linked. The vast majority of the debt used to build the fiber system is ascribed to EBP, not the fiber division. So it doesn't appear in EBP fiber's profit calculation
You are correct in noting that the majority of the debt is ascribed to EBP and not directly to EBP fiber. This does not, however, mean that EPB fiber gets a free ride or receives a subsidy from the electric side. Quite the opposite in fact! As clearly noted also in the research paper you linked to, it is the electric side that receives a subsidy from the fiber side. So not only is the fiber side pulling its weight, it's also creating and sharing the wealth!
Normally how this is done in cases like these, is that the department that carries the debt gets an internal transfer from the department utilizing and profiting from the asset that was constructed with the debt financing. In other words, EPB fiber would pay EPB for the use of the fiber network and EPB would use the payment to service the debt.
Referring to the EPB financial report, EPB fiber certainly has the money to do so. In addition to their FY15 $17M profit, they have booked a $15M Provision of Depreciation. This $15M is a non-cash expense, so they are basically just sitting on $15M in cash on top of their profit. I'd expect this would be used for the internal transfer to EPB to service the debt.
Now for arguments sake, let's assume that EPB fiber was just sitting on that $15M in cash and not sharing with EPB, content in just collecting a mountain of cash. Even so, with EPB fiber making a profit of $17M FY15, that profit is more than enough to cover the debt service in full on EPB fiber's part of the debt (originally $162M). In fact that $17M is almost enough to cover the debt service in full for the whole of EPB, electric utility and all.
So, while you may reasonably and justifiably criticize Chattanooga's fiber project for a lot of things, being unprofitable and subsidized is not one of those things.
From the article:
> One unique and important advantage for EPB of such a close relationship between the electric division and its fiber-optic division is that investment in fiber by the utility for the ostensible purpose of bolstering its smart grid can be socialized amongst its captive electric ratepayers (i.e., every resident and business in its service territory). In practice, this means that at least some percentage of the GON is being subsidized by the parent utility.42 The benefits flow the other way as well. For example, EPB readily admits that “
“cover increases in operating costs.”44 Whether and how these increased rates might be used for the benefit of the utility’s broadband network remains to be seen.
revenues from [its] Fiber Optics division have allowed the utility to defer rate
increases that would have totaled 5 [percent] over the last four years.”43 Nevertheless, EPB recently
raised its rates by 3.5 percent for customers to
You are correct that no such transfer is explicitly shown. I don't know if it's done or not behind the curtain, but you may recall that I explicitly accounted for this scenario in my fifth paragraph of my previous post.
So summarize, EPB fiber's profit in itself is enough to pay for debt service regardless of if an internal transfer is made or not. Furthermore the money doesn't simply disappear, just because it isn't transferred. The profit is still there, regardless of how it is accounted for and where it is kept.
EPB fiber is making money, EPG's debt is being paid off (in advance I might add), EPG fiber is not being subsidized (the power side is) and cash is being accumulated.
No matter how you look at it, EPB fiber is both profitable and sustainable.
> Moreover, it's not the debt outstanding that matters, but the original capital investment.
Oh, so we are moving the goal posts now, eh?
Not being able to claim that EPB fiber is unprofitable, you are now instead taking issue with it not being profitable enough.
But, to address your original point directly, no, the original capital investment does not matter. Only and only the debt outstanding matters if part of the original investment was funded by other means.
It's preposterous to claim that an expansion of a project would have to produce returns twice; once on the original project and again in full when the project is built upon via an expansion.
> A real company would be expected to generate a return on the original $390 million that exceeded the weighted average cost of capital.
This is provably false.
If a company built a national network to serve it's own internal communications needs, it would then not be expected to show (additional) returns on that national network, if it later decided to build out a local network in one of the markets in order to expand it's business.
The company would only be required to show returns on the additional investment it made in the local market. Doubly so, if the company received a federal grant to build out the original national network.
> Having a big chunk of that money fronted internally without imputing an interest rate to it is a subsidy.
No money was fronted internally without any interest. EPB made out a $50M loan to EPB fiber which EPB fiber later repaid in full with interest.
EPB did receive a $111M federal grant to build a smart grid, which it did. The grant was not used to build EPB fiber's network. That capital was raised separately through a bond.
I'm happy to concede that if you don't have to actually pay for much of your fiber network, you can indeed show a "profit."
Very well then, but why did you start of this thread with provably false claims? EPB fiber is not subsidized by the electric side (refer to your own research paper if you don't believe me) and Chattanooga is most definitely servicing their debt in full (again check your paper).
> The question is--could Baltimore go out and do this?
Perhaps, I haven't looked into it, so I don't know. But, why Baltimore? Different state, different laws on municipal broadband, much larger metro area and a very different socioeconomic mix.
> Or, what's stopping a private company from doing this in Baltimore?
Nothing much if they have the money and inclination to do so, assuming they can get the appropriate permits and franchises. Apparently Verizon did consider doing it.
> And what's relevant to that is the real capital expenditure to build the fiber network--not just extending a fiber network you had lying around.
So if Verizon decides to build out FiOS in Baltimore, which part of their existing (national and local) fiber network should they according to you include in their network build budget and show an additional return on?
> I'm happy to concede that if you don't have to actually pay for much of your fiber network, you can indeed show a "profit."
Which parts of the EBP fiber network do you feel have not been paid for? And what do you mean by "profit"? Are you claiming that EPB is cooking the books and not really making a profit?
Muni fiber could certainly be unprofitable or unworkable, there's no magic reason why it has to work in practice.
Outside of that, I think google cares less
All the reliable data I have seen shows the opposite.
Note, returns very a lot by company the industry average is ~6%, but that includes a lot of poorly run lemons.
Also, there was a huge bubble that put in a lot of dark fiber, but that glut has passed.
PS: Yes, those returns look low compared to say MS. But, software company's have larger issues borrowing money at very low rates.
The Chattanooga network is illustrative: http://www.nyls.edu/advanced-communications-law-and-policy-i....
Revenues are about $100 million, with operating expenses being $85 million. That's about $15 million profit, on about $400 million invested, or under 4% ROIC. The system was funded with bonds issued at 4.5%, meaning it would never break even without being subsidized by electric ratepayers.
As to Chattanooga network, economy's of scale are huge in this business and those 4.5% bonds are well above the industry average right now. Still, a city breaking even is not bad if their debt is growing slower than inflation. It's a question of deprecation of assets not rate of loan repayment.
PS: They city may also not be trying to make much in the way of direct profit, it would be interesting to take a closer look at their books.
Your is assertions are incorrect. EPB Fiber is profitable, is servicing it's debt in full, pays less than 4.5% in interest in their bonds, is not subsidized by electric ratepayers and would have broke even even without the grants it has received.
Looking at the finances, about $400M was invested, but EPB fiber only has ~$260M in debt left due to a $111M grant for smart meters. Furthermore the $15M profit is after debt service. EPB paid $19M in debt service (FY14).
I feel the municipal internet infrastructure should be publicly owned, like streets, but service on those pipes is carried by competing companies. These turf wars are getting old.
10K Google Wi-Fi kiosks are collecting millions of faces and MAC addresses
The issue with this sort of infrastructure is that it is very capital intensive to build and maintain, and require that the companies invest in real estate rights (telephone poles, utility trenches) that are powerful bargaining chips.
The return of Ma Bell?
The modern version of Ma Bell would be if Verizon owned or licensed every iPhone, computer, and server connected to their network.
As a customer and an investor, I'm a fan.
All the sum's I've ever seen (or done) end with 20 year+ paybacks, followed by lots and lots of money.
This breeds real shareholder fear - everyone who ever built this kind of network (rail, phones...) was either the government or went bust and then watched someone else (banks) cash in on the distressed asset at 0 risk.
So - agree, the red tape is a big issue.
But while modern organisations and investment structures can do 50 years of work for you, the capital is an issue. It can, and will, be done, but it will be quite some doing.
Eventually after the contract expired and much searching and begging we had a glimmer of hope. TimeWarner offered to drop fiber to us for something like $300 a month, 100/100. Couple months later they bailed out. AT&T later stepped up and actually went through and dropped the fiber, still 100/100, but at $1500 per month.
So yup, we're paying almost a full-time, minimum wage employee's salary just for 100/100. I get 100/20 at home for $50. I cannot think of the words to express how I feel about this...
100 Mbps for $1500? You should be seeing gigabit fibre for that price!
If you move to a location that doesn't have service already the answer you receive from the provider is near useless. They will tell you they are able to service the location, doesn't matter if they can or not.
Is the whole argument (from the telecoms) here that they can't differentiate the service as dumb pipes? Like offering decent speeds (1 Gbps … please? Heck, even 100 Mbps for not an insane price), decent service (customer support that knows what "ping" or "latency" means? Not requiring weeks of back-and-forth with customer support to debug issues?), IPv6 support, a router that routes corner cases, optionally paying for a static IPv4 address, being able to reverse DNS my IP to a name of my choosing, no "no servers" BS in the agreement, not MitM'ing data, not selling my data?
Some of this is perhaps them not being dumb pipes: I could purchase my own modem; the "no servers" and MitM'ing are directly not being a dumb pipe.
: I finally have this as a Comcast customer. My parents (also Comcast) are still waiting.
: My router fails at correctly routing packets bound for its public IP if they originate inside the private LAN and are bound for a destination under port forwarding. Comcast considers a router not exhibiting this bug a "feature" called "NAT loopback" … which they don't support.)
: my understanding is that Comcast does not offer this to residential; they do to business class, but this hampers people like me that love experimenting, but aren't businesses.
: Most ISPs intercept at least DNS queries and respond with forged results (to serve ads); this can cause software to fail with error codes different from the actual problem (because the ads mask the underlying issue).
I still find the ISP one questionable, though I suppose there is a difference between running your own (as the default that most people will not know how to opt out of) and outright intercepting.
Sentence of the week.
Some of his attributed quotes are real gems: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jean-Louis_Gass%C3%A9e
I would love to have some wine with this guy and talk tech!
Google's strategy to expand GF will not longer include a massive ground infrastructure move, but use point to point to get to the neighborhoods. An entire zip code can be offered GF services at a fraction of the cost and a few months of labor. Google, along with many other broadband startups will hit the big telco's very hard. I'm not even sure if they see it coming yet. I'd imagine they would, but after dealing with AT&T for the last two months on something, I'm not very confident in there being any single person in the entire organization who has a clue about what they are doing.
A good practical example is to compare 2.4GHz WiFi to 5GHz WiFi. At the same power level (both are restricted to 1W in the US for unlicensed operation), 2.4GHz will cover approximately four times the distance ~(5/2.4)^2. However, much more spectrum is available in the 5GHz range, and signals cant travel as far which leads to less interference given an equal number of transmitters. Those factors give higher throughput, but free space path loss constrains coverage on 5 vs 2.4 GHz WiFi.
Another example would be cellular: low frequency towers are used to expand coverage and improve building penetration, high density high frequency towers are used to improve speeds.
Feel free to email me at my profile address -- I work in the sub-GHz narrowband radio industry.
I don't know much about WebPass, but I'm not sure that the future is in the air. I'm not convinced that companies have yet built up the infrastructure to e.g. monitor customer link quality, and deal with issues like weather, antenna orientation, etc proactively. The beauty of a cable in the ground is that it pretty much stays the same over time, at least relative to antennas.
I would really love to hear more about how WebPass manages these things.
So there's cost if you want to own one. Plus you need to convince someone (Webpass I guess?) to point one of theirs at you to complete the link.
It's probably easiest to convince the owner of your new apartment to pay Webpass's setup fee, where they own the equipment and wire the building. Although having tried that a couple of times, it's a pain in the ass.
Perhaps because of this: https://backchannel.com/the-new-payola-deals-landlords-cut-w...
At Least, that will be the business model under Google Fiber.
I currently have this set up and operating. Infact, we have one transmitter transmitting to 3 separate, close proximity buildings. To call it ignorant when this is what we are already doing is odd.
As to density arguments, you don't need to cover every square foot of the US with fiber only where people actually live. We build Roads to just about every house which cost 50+ times what broadband does. (2-3 million per mile in rural areas per mile vs ~50k per mile for fiber.)
There's a reason for that. We have enough electricity to power our things. We have enough gas pressure to create a flame. Delivery, price, performance, etc are all pretty good. They're solved problems.
Not too long ago Edison was running filthy coal plants in downtown city centers and running thick-gauge DC wires to businesses. That's where we are today with the mish-mash of cable and copper for last-mile internet. Half-assed, but profitable, efforts by players incentivized by the wrong things.
The last mile problem is largely solved via municipal fiber. The real question is do we have the political will to socialize/monopolize these things like we did in the past. It seems that we don't. We have the innovations and we know how to fix this. Its getting there politically that is the problem.
This sketch of a sketch of an argument that you have laid out it a total non sequitur. It seems to me that you're pointing to the Flint water crisis as proof either that all municipal infrastructure efforts are disastrous, or that enough of them are that the public utility alternative is essentially dead. If that is the "argument," then the easiest way to defeat this is just to say, "Flint was news because it represented a rare and egregious failure."
That's it. That's all we need to say to rebut that in its entirety.
If we stop there, however, we miss the opportunity to point out the converse: It's not news when customers get gouged for sub-par service, because corrupt and monopolistic practices are rampant within capitalist institutions, especially around lock-in. Cable companies. Phone companies. Privatized utilities. Airlines after deregulation. Military suppliers. It's just not news.
We'd also miss the opportunity to point out that the tactic of pointing to one criminal failure of a civic organization as proof positive that private industry is universally better is a favorite tactic of a certain obnoxious kind of 20-something free-market fanboy set.
HN is better off when that set either stays home or ups its game.
Flint is an extreme example, but almost all municipal water systems are a disaster. In Atlanta, the sewer system dumps raw sewage in the Chattahoochee when it rains. In Chicago, old lead pipes are poisoning kids. It happens because rates are set by elected boards, not by markets, and because municipalities are not forced to bear the external costs of poor infrastructure.
In Chicago, old lead pipes are actually becoming an issue due to the city replacing the pipes themselves. Can't win 'em all.
I thought it was interesting that for the % of homes with at least 4mbps service, Akamai ranked the U.S. 44th globally at 88%. That's another way to look at infrastructure: how many folks have broadband at all?
Whether these numbers count as "lagging" is in the eye of the beholder, obviously. We're not top ten in any category.
DSL is still the primary broadband technology in the UK, Germany, France, and Spain, while cable is in the US: http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/fast-fiber-optic-broadband-sprea...
And that's for infrastructure like roads and water delivery where technology is largely static. The problem would likely only be worse for more dynamic infrastructure like broadband.
I've built and ran fiber networks for over 10 years and operations and maintenance is no big issue.
On the past 10Gbe point : contention is the killer, there is a rise of "super users" for example video editors shipping to and from the cloud, which drives the need for > backhaul - are you not seeing that?
Also on the bigger points; small providers have to peer, like everyone, but do they get good deals? How about prices on kit? Strategic deals with Huweii / Cisco are hard enough for tier one, do you not think that you'll get squeezed ?
The deeper you put it the safer it is and when we put in fiber we put it in deep. The rate faults that occur are fiber cuts and these fiber cuts are usually the result of some contractor not using call before you dig or being sloppy about it.
Bandwidth usage is always growing, but then again the cost of IP transit is constantly going down too. Heavy users aren't really an issue and end user 10G connections are rather rare. Those that really need dedicated 10G connections buy leased lines or wavelengths and pay accordingly. More bandwidth usage isn't a problem, it's a good thing that drives more business.
Peering is easy and cheap to small and large providers alike. Transit is also so cheap that it often is cheaper to buy more IP transit than to build out more peering capacity.
Access to networking hardware is not a problem and there are products for every need and price point. The largest issues are access to capital, barriers to entry and competition.
The government should lay fiber just like they lay water pipes and pave roads. Anyone can connect on either end of the fiber, providing a nice competitive market for ISPs... just like the original days of dialup ISPs.
Well, played out to the full extent of electric and gas utilities, I doubt few of us actually want telecom to go the same way.
With the utility companies - you often get zero choice of which company services your home. Usually these are government sanctioned monopolies, without competition.
Yes, the government may set the maximum rates, but they can't force a utility company to actually be a "good" company. Customer service, willingness to problem solve, be flexible for customers, provide better service at the same price - let alone reduce rates, etc.
With a telco acting as a utility, over the long term, there's little incentive to provide better service... which essentially is the core issue of the Net Neutrality movement.
What we need instead, is to foster an environment in which every city has 5-6+ telco's capable of servicing every home. We need to get out of the 1-2 telco company system, and create a competitive environment in which consumers have massive choice.
The ability to leave a company and take your business elsewhere is what keeps companies performing and doing better by their customers. They offer cheaper rates, along with better service, etc.
We've seen this working to great effect in the wild. Every city Google Fiber has encroached on, suddenly saw the incumbent telco's massively upgrade service offerings at cheaper rates.
We need more competition - not government sanctioned monopolies.
I can then choose my actual provider who will hook up at the CO (either virtually or physically), and connect me to the internet (or their service) at whatever speed we agree on. The utility part is nothing more than a long cable between me and the provider.
The provider could give me nothing more than a public IP and route to the internet, or they could give something 'value-added' like an e-mail account and content filtering. It could even be a closed non-internet service like Facebook Free Basics or maybe Verizon wants to dust off the old AOL service. The thing is, as a consumer I get the choice.
That works well in theory; in practice, a lot of industries - telcom being a prime example - hacked their way around this. You can't "take your business elsewhere" when a private company owns the last-mile infrastructure your apartment is connected with. Or when your landlord decided to sign an exclusive agreement with one.
When I see residential electric/gas utilities, I see a service that pretty much always works as advertised. A service that does what it's supposed to and nothing more. No deep electromagnetic inspection to offer me "zero charge" electricity for my ACME appliances. No "smell packets" injected into the gas line the way ISP inject ads and bullshit into HTTP connections now. I don't even care much which company logo is present on my monthly bill; the total monthly savings I could make by switching providers are worth around two or three standard Starbucks lattes, at best.
The core issue is that Internet access should be a commodity. Telcos are doing everything in their power to avoid that. Like so many other companies, they forgot about the concept of "honest business", in which a customer pays them money in exchange for a valuable service, no bullshit attached.
To be fair, Verizon is pretty good to me as well, but that's probably because I'm paying $$$ for a high-end business account.
With a telco acting as part of an entrenched duopoly there is also no incentive for the provide better service or better pricing either.
Getting it without many of the tricks advertising uses to extract more money out of customers than the advertised pricing is a struggle though.
Yes, yes you can.
P.S. It would be cool if you stopped tracking us, while you're at it.
It seems like it would be a simpler business to be in, rather than trying to be a media company.
By the way somebody made it, starting from the device and not from the network. Look at this:
> You, the entrepreneur, provide a Minitel service: e-commerce, banking, entertainment. The French phone monopoly does the billing and collecting for you by adding a few items to the end of François Dupont’s monthly phone bill. For this service, France Telecom takes a 25% vig.
s/French phone monopoly/Apple and others/
Best bets about who's going to snatch those money from them in the same way they eventually snatched them from France Telecom?
Replace Minitel with iPhone and call me in 10 years.
The iPhone certainly costs more than its competitors (even, perhaps, its technically superior competitors), but it's a mistake to think that this cost isn't purchasing value. An iPhone customer is buying the ease of use and universal compatibility of the iPhone -- and I invite anyone who thinks that this is overvalued to contemplate the phrase "Linux on the desktop." (Thinking about Linux also highlights a basic principle of the technical market that techie types often miss: "power" tends to inversely correlate with ease of use, and the majority of people would much rather have their device work than have their device be receptive to hacking that they'll never even contemplate.)
The purchase of an iPhone is also a very explicit investment in social capital. Sneer all you want at status symbols -- they're an effective form of social currency, and dismissing them is highly irrational.
Apple wants to become AOL/minitel, just like everyone else (desperately) wants to become AOL/minitel. That's the goal - it's the end-game.
Provided nobody gets in their way, and they don't screw it up, that's what they will try to become.
It's all laid out very clearly with more than a century of research and backup data in the book _The Master Switch_ by Tim Wu.
Ever since KDE 2.x Linux has been just as good as Windows from a technical standpoint (and likely easier to fix once the inevitable error comes up, as there are few to none opaque binaries involved).
Ease of use is a smokescreen, as there is no "tabula rasa" users running around any longer.
I need an ISP who does not touch the dumb pipe.