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Subject: [IP] more on Powell: Don't Rewrite Telecom Act

  • From: David Farber <>
  • To: Ip <>
  • Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005 08:03:28 -0500

------ Forwarded Message
From: Bob Frankston <>
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2005 00:52:24 -0500
To: <>, 'Ip' <>
Cc: Dewayne Hendricks <>, Kevin Werbach
Subject: RE: [IP] Powell: Don't Rewrite Telecom Act

The headline sounds more negative that it is -- the point is that a simple
statute presuming IP is a positive step and the only viable choice. I was
pleased that he started his talk by emphasizing the goal of IP connectivity
and the effort to educate the FCC about IP.

He made a good point about lawyers being incrementalists and I appreciate
his attempt to move things forward but it's hard to take a giant step after
having your feet bound in regulatory minutia for so long.

When I spoke to him afterwards I asked about the implications of IP given
that the &quot;communications&quot; function of the FCC is premised on the assumption
that the transport and social policies are tied together. With IP they are
distinct. Whatever one thinks of the social policies (even as he emphasized
it was the &quot;will of the people&quot;), an IP layer would force the policies to
stand on their own. He didn't seem to have a response for that.

I also commented that IP fungiblity would lead to a local utility model and
that the FCC should allow that option. I'm not surprised that he didn't have
a ready answer for that but I am surprised that more attention hasn't been
paid to the implications of separating out IP beyond a complex layer regimen
within the framework of the Regulatorium.

I liked much of what he said as I listened and don't mean to come across as
too negative but I feel as if he is close to getting things right but
ultimately he is a lawyer (and a moralist). He is impressed by TiVo and cell
phones while I find them as closed platforms that are useful but not
platforms as they could be.

Overall, it was a wonderful conference even if, from my biased perspective,

While there was much discussion of spectrum policy and possibilities such as
agile radio I found myself most intrigued by Bob Pepper's comments about the
innovation in Wi-Fi and the rise of WISPs (wireless ISPs). With all the hype
about Spectrum auction I can't see how innovations could participate prior
to demonstrating their value. They have to go to the free junk spectrum and
there seems to be an unbounded capacity available whereas the single
frequency shouting match ( can't
be anything but a dead end -- at least as I see it. This is my
extrapolation, not Bob Pepper's. In the short term exclusive shouting room
has its advantages.

While I appreciate the effort that you and others are putting into making
our current spectrum regimen more effective ultimately the goal must be
provide fungible connectivity. It's hard to patch up what is either not
broken or hopelessly broken depending on your point of view.

I had a number of interesting side discussions, in additional to listening
to panel comments, about the future of TV broadcast and cable TV (and,
perhaps IPTv which may be more cable than IP). The whole broadcast world is
aimed at a shrinking audience that is still buying analog TVs. The rationale
for the policy is questionable -- apparently a key senator thinks HDTV is
&quot;Hard Digital TV&quot; and the 15% of the market that is left represents a
decreasingly interesting marketplace.

The future is in IP-based delivery since we are already getting the capacity
for streaming, let alone precaching. The cost of backbone connectivity may
seem to be an issue but if increase the usage that doesn't result in a
corresponding increase in the cost of connectivity as the backbone is empty
and the money has been spent. There seems to be a sharp difference of
opinion between the CableCo' -- the capacity is essentially free.

The CableCos complain about the price of connectivity but one of the
backbone people said that's because they are building their own networks.
This does seem strange considering all the fiber that lines today's highways
and byways. (I am leaving out names of individuals as I don't want to quote
them out of context -- but I did verify the contentions).

There is some awareness of the concept of selling content directly over IP
by having brokers that act like facilityless CableCos -- we see a version of
this in the requirement that large dish satellite owners be able to buy
programming. It's just a question of when, not whether, that business model
will come to the fore.

My basic point, in questions and conversations, is that IP as a protocol
created the abundance of connectivity (at least for now). I can also cite my
personal experience making a few leveraged tweaks that enabled home

I agree with Powell that petitioning Congress is not just futile, but very
risky. They are looking at the industry as a way to balance the budget while
we are rapidly removing the value from &quot;telecom&quot; and shifting it into the
applications outside the purview of the Regulatory and thus even the current
stealth taxes (Universal Service) et all is going go to zero.

Unfortunately the fear of the T-word is so great in Washington that it will
be difficult for Congress to face up to revisiting the social policies
currently co-mingled with communication policy once it's detached from the
transport policy.

Next year's conference should be very interesting as these issues come to
the fore and we face up to failure of incrementalism in face of inexorable
technology/concept-drive changes.

In the end, it's about evolution. We have millions of experiments yielding a
bounty of opportunity but are trying to cope with it as if it we were just
following the imperatives of an intelligent design.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of
David Farber
Sent: Monday, February 14, 2005 18:34
To: Ip
Subject: [IP] Powell: Don't Rewrite Telecom Act

------ Forwarded Message
From: Dewayne Hendricks <>
Reply-To: <>
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 2005 15:03:15 -0800
To: Dewayne-Net Technology List <>
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Powell: Don't Rewrite Telecom Act

Powell: Don't Rewrite Telecom Act
By Brad Smith

BOULDER, Colo. -- Outgoing FCC Chairman Michael Powell said today he
thinks the Telecom Act of 1996 is broken but to completely rewrite the
law would be a mistake.

Speaking at a Silicon Flatirons telecom program at the University of
Colorado, Powell said a better course of action would be to write an
IP statute that will take the industry forward. Powell said reopening
the Telecom Act to a total rewrite could take seven or eight years and
would open it up to a wide range of political influences.

He admitted this might leave some companies -- and he specifically
mentioned VoIP provider Vonage -- with an early competitive advantage.
But he said it would also provide a business reason for incumbents to
embrace VoIP.

If an IP statute isn't enacted, Powell suggested it could dampen a
renewed interest in telecom from Wall Street. An IP statute would make
it more attractive for incumbents to get into such things as VoIP

VoIP is only a beginning of what's going to happen with IP networks,
he said; next year, video will be the hot application for IP networks.

&quot;The future [of VoIP] is very bright,&quot; Powell said. &quot;But it's
emblematic of something bigger. We need to get past VoIP.&quot;

Powell said he disagreed with much of the talk about a telecom triple
play. &quot;It's all data,&quot; he said. &quot;VoIP is just the first application.&quot;

Wireless Week

Archives at: <http://Wireless.Com/Dewayne-Net> [Note: Requires
Weblog at: <>

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