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December 11, 2013 7:08 PM   Subscribe

"(TL;DR summary: AT&T is buying entire legislatures to rewrite the laws to allow them to become a fully unregulated company with no wholesale obligations, creating a de-facto monopoly. They can (and likely will) use it to squash or hurt wireless competitors as well, as they're permitted to favor their own subsidiaries with the network built and created over a hundred plus year monopoly, and Comcast is fully on-board because they'd like to split the market created when all their competitors are dead)" Paul Timmins, the telco nerd behind TelcoData.US (Previously), expounds on how the big players in the telecom business (AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast) are ruining the future of connectivity in the US.
posted by c0nsumer (65 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fela Kuti, ITT

It's okay to be pissed off at the telco's, people.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:14 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


They already ruined it for several decades, they're just continuing the trend.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:21 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like a T1000.
posted by indubitable at 7:22 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


So in case people don't know, after AT&T split up, the government set up a bunch of companies called ILEC's, which stands for Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier. AT&T was reconstituted as a long distance only company, and Bell Labs was spun off as Lucent. These were originally called the Baby Bells (Bell Atlantic, Bell South, etc). Since then, there's been a lot of mergers and there are only a few left -- AT&T itself, Verizon and CenturyLink.

ILEC's own all the copper landlines that go to people's homes and business. It's still a monopoly, but as part of the break-up, they're required to lease those to competing local service companies (Called CLEC's) and service and maintain the lines.

Most of those CLECs were responsible for bringing inexpensive DSL over those copper lines to people before the ILEC's were dragged kicking and screaming into the internet business. They're also responsible for lowering costs of phone service, etc. It's been a really good deal for consumers, to say the least.

The ILEC's, for obvious reasons, would like to end those regulations.

I'm not particularly opposed to updating them, given how much the world has changed since the 70s, but it can't be done haphazardly. People need access to basic phone service still, and there still needs to be competition in the market place. Personally, I'd prefer if the RBOC's just sold the physical plant to states and let them maintain them as a public good, and they can lease them from the state.
posted by empath at 7:24 PM on December 11, 2013 [33 favorites]


The part about selling u-verse VoIP and claiming losses on landline service is infuriating to me. We are trading dedicated pairs for shared Ethernet. It's so frustrating, because for 20 years I've been able to build nationwide data infrastructure with a minimum guarantee of ISDN, but most of the time T1 over the copper services. Moves like this limit me to shared data services with highly unpredictable characteristics. Makes engineering global WAN's an extremely frustrating task. On the flip side though, crappy cell data service has conditioned people to accept slow and choppy network experiences, so maybe people won't mind moving from dedicated copper to shared Ethernet and 4g?
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:24 PM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've done some work building out nationwide WANs using MPLS and it's not that hard. I worked for a large CLEC and as long as we controlled the end points, we could set up a nationwide WAN with priority queuing and everything through our network in literally 20 minutes. I guess if you're doing something that depends on super low latency like high frequency trading it might not be enough, but for VOIP and video and regular internet, it worked pretty well -- and at a fraction of a cost that leased lines would have been.
posted by empath at 7:29 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fela Kuti, ITT
Awesome. But now google is spamming me with ads for ITT Institute classes. So much for those fancy algorithms.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 7:31 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Copper! What about all those fiber optics? Are we still all on copper with our Time Warner cable internet then?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:32 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


People need access to basic phone service still,

This is a position contradicted by evidence. Most young people don't even use "basic phone service" on their mobile phones. In a report released at the end of August, Nielsen, the research company, confirmed the trend away from using mobile phones for voice communication and towards the use of texting. The report shows that people under the age of 24 text more frequently than they make phone calls. As age increases, the ratio of texts to voice minutes drops.

The times aren't changing, they have already changed and it makes perfect sense for telcos to change with them. As usual, it is the law which lags reality.
posted by three blind mice at 7:40 PM on December 11, 2013


If you have Time Warner, you're on coax, generally. If you have 'fiber', it's not always fiber to the home. Sometimes it's fiber to the colo and then copper to the home. If you do have fiber to the home, Verizon has been pretty nasty about cutting copper wire when they're installing it, so you couldn't switch to DSL later from a CLEC, even if you wanted to.
posted by empath at 7:42 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the companies I built WANs for weren't willing to pay the prices commanded at the time for dedicated metro-e with QoS services. I've built 4 global MPLS networks on just about every carrier and media imaginable.

As far as the app mix, yeah, We're talking video, voice, EFT, digital signage, RDP, stateful legacy POS apps and guest wireless. I've had to engineer to crazy requirements on tight budget apertures. With 3 bonded T1's you can deliver a relatively high quality of service for 700 dollars MRC that back then was 5-8 thousand over Ethernet. Prices I'm sure are dropping to the point were metro-e is fiscally competitive, and at some point copper will fade away, but I'll remain a slight bit wistful. A dedicated p2p link is a nice thing to have, and yes I will miss them when they are gone :)

On preview, Re, Time Warner: in my parlance copper means a copper telephone pair, coax means a copper cable.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:45 PM on December 11, 2013


Depends where you are. Some places they're baffled if you want a proper phone line, not a Uverse voice package or whatever. I had to get a phone line for a contract I was working on and bounced around AT&T for about an hour before I finally got someone who thought I wanted copper wire and I was like "No I just need phone service, the thing you guys used to have, remember?" and it finally clicked, but the line was fiber.

And honestly, I'd be perfectly happy with a "phone" that was just a texting and internet device (my cellular iPad is basically The Perfect Gadget as far as I'm concerned) if so many places didn't still make you call to get anything accomplished and so many heathens didn't demand a phone call for work stuff rather than email.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:45 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a position contradicted by evidence.

You pointed to a graph that shows all age groups except the under-24 set using more voice minutes than text minutes and even the highest ratio of texting-to-voice users are still using 20% voice minutes.
posted by jessamyn at 7:46 PM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


This is a position contradicted by evidence.

I haven't had a land line phone in 10 years. Believe me, I get it. But the US is a huge country and cell service isn't everywhere. Earlier this year, I drove out to the Appalachians, just 3 hours from DC, and there just was a single radio station, and not a bit of cell service for miles around. Those people need access to the outside world, and copper POTS lines are still the only game in town for millions of people in this country.

People can't get DSL or cable everywhere. AOL still earns half of its revenue (around half a Billion dollars) from dial-up customers. It's going to be a long, long time before POTS service is no longer necessary to maintain.
posted by empath at 7:46 PM on December 11, 2013 [17 favorites]


But doesn't coax use copper? Where are all the fiber optics? That's glass, right? Weren't we all supposed to get fiber optics by now?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:46 PM on December 11, 2013


"Copper" is just a metonym for the twisted pair cable that telcos use, but yes, coax is generally also made from copper.
posted by empath at 7:47 PM on December 11, 2013


This just really burns me up. If these companies would spend half the resources on developing new and innovative products that they do on new and innovative ways to screw their customers we'd have a colony on Mars by now.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 7:51 PM on December 11, 2013 [17 favorites]


So the big lie was that Sprint was laying fiber optics and it would all be part of our existence by now.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:51 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that while nationwide fiber optic thing is never happening, but the telcos will gladly keep the money we put up for it.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:53 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Earlier this year, I drove out to the Appalachians, just 3 hours from DC, and there just was a single radio station, and not a bit of cell service for miles around.

I don't mean to diminish the idea that there are extremely rural parts of the US, but are you sure you weren't just in the National Radio Quiet Zone?
posted by indubitable at 7:56 PM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just like TDMA, Analog, Digital and CDMA were lies when we could have had GSM for cellphones.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:56 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't mean to diminish the idea that there are extremely rural parts of the US, but are you sure you weren't just in the National Radio Quiet Zone?

Heh, yes, indeed I was. Either way, they still need phone service.
posted by empath at 7:59 PM on December 11, 2013


The truth of the matter is fiber to the home is doable and not really that financial costly to the ILECs it's just that they are making money hand over fist over the old infrastructure so cutting into their profits by upgrading infrastructure isn't something that they really want to do right now. Realistically the only thing that seems likely to force them into the brave new world is demand for higher end 4k HD support which they seem like they are going to struggle to support.

On the other end of the spectrum I'm starting to get concerned that companies like AT&T are going to continue to be insanely expensive to handle 10g ethernet over Sonet and the costs for 40g and 100g are going to make that seem reasonable. This is really really beginning to impact mid to high range research customers that haven't been able to purchase the dark fiber necessary to link their sites. Not everyone is Google or Amazon with money to buy insane dark fiber networks and the DWDM equipment necessary to leverage them.
posted by vuron at 8:06 PM on December 11, 2013


Most young people don't even use "basic phone service" on their mobile phones.

Screw the old!
posted by Going To Maine at 8:06 PM on December 11, 2013


empath: " People need access to basic phone service still"

three blind mice: "This is a position contradicted by evidence."

The graph you link to shows people under 18 using, on average, 631 voice minutes a month. That's 20 minutes a day.

(To this introvert who strongly dislikes telephone conversations, that's a huge number. I average 12 minutes a month on my cell and 0 on the land line. (Work doesn't count.) Doing my best to screw up the stats, again. But I'm an old fart so it doesn't matter.)
posted by Lexica at 8:09 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've been saying this for years. For example, VZ has stopped their fiber rollout and couldn't be bothered to replace facilities demolished by superstorm Sandy until they were forced.

Basically, fuck the ILECS with a rusty razor.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:18 PM on December 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Most young people don't even use "basic phone service" on their mobile phones.

Screw the old!


At the rate that regulatory changes tend to happen (and when you add in the amount of time it takes big telcos to react to the regulatory changes), it's very likely that today's "old" won't be a problem to worry about anymore. And tommorrow's "old" will be the young people who don't even use "basic phone service" now.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:21 PM on December 11, 2013


My beef with moving away from copper is that the telco's are not incentivized to make it as reliable as copper pair service. Shared Ethernet is easy enough to set up and makes lucrative money at the expense of reliability and predictability, dedicated fiber is $$$. So we are being forced to "trade down" in order to get more bandwidth, which seems like we are getting slightly screwed around. If moving away from copper meant delivering the same reliable dedicated services via fiber, which we have not discovered the upper bounds of yet for a hundred dollars more MRC (heck, 400 dollars more?), then sign me up. What we are getting now, I'm skeptical.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:23 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sounds like copper/fiber to the home should be a public utility. Own the physical infrastructure, sell the power/data capacity to power companies and data/voice/tv common carriers.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:28 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


But don't we want more bandwidth? How is getting more bandwidth screwing us around?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:28 PM on December 11, 2013


Not all bandwidth is made equal, but I think that trying to get dedicated lines is a losing battle. It's not only expensive, it's wasteful and inefficient.
posted by empath at 8:36 PM on December 11, 2013


Bandwidth without reliability will never cut it for business applications because if you are a business and your phone system craters you could be losing lots of sales. Transitioning from leased t1s to higher speed shared lines isn't always the best especially if you need a low latency connection.

One of the challenges of shared ethernet is that periods of burst might create too much contention for the network resources and thus result in dropped packets which isn't that critical for some applications but can be really bad for others.
posted by vuron at 8:39 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but if you've got the shared ethernet properly configured with priority queuing and so on it shouldn't be a problem in practice. Though as someone that supported voip for a long time, I realize that it's almost never properly configured.

I think my favorite set-up I ever troubleshot was a guy who was using, no kidding, tdm over ip, over ethernet over t1. Because he had a phone system that needed a fractional t1 uplink.
posted by empath at 8:46 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


My ISP, Sonic.net, is one of the CLECs threatened by this kind of stuff. They've seen the writing on the wall and are rolling out their own fiber to customers to replace the copper they lease from AT&T. Unfortunately it's been very slow going: aside from a small area of the small town of Sebastopol, the only announced residential area is in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco, and it was announced two years ago. Since then it's been legal wrangling, and complaints about the boxes they will have to install on the sidewalk to support the service before they can start running to people's houses.
posted by zsazsa at 8:51 PM on December 11, 2013


O hai, is here where I get to complain that AT&T charges me $9.50/month for the privilege of having wires come to my house because I'm a "rural" line, when this line has run to this house since before 1950, I'm in a dense urban area where I'm less than 8 feet from the house next door, and people have lived here for TWELVE THOUSAND YEARS? And European settlers have been here since 1691 and FUCK YOU AT&T PEOPLE LIVE HERE.

In my state "urban" (Chicago) lines cost $1.25 or so, suburban lines cost $3, and "rural" lines (which is everything "downstate") cost $9.50. I do not begrudge AT&T the extra cost to run rural lines except for the part where I CAN SEE THE TRUNK LINE FROM MY KITCHEN WINDOW and lots of these "suburban" lines are in far less-dense areas that cost a lot more to wire than my "rural" area which has telephone poles made of actual pine trees stripped of branches because they were not yet making poles when my house was wired, just pulling branches off trees, because OH HEY WE WERE WIRED 100 YEARS AGO.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:59 PM on December 11, 2013 [15 favorites]


I suspect more and more cities are going to see the value in developing middle-mile and last-mile fiber optic networks that can be resold to a variety of CLECs at reasonable rates. Increasingly the ability of a city to support the needed IT infrastructure is going to be a major component about attracting employers to a city instead of just direct subsidies and it's pretty clear that you could do a decent amount of developing a network with Tax Increment Financing. I think cities like Palo Alto are already doing this but more and more tech centric cities will likely follow suit.
posted by vuron at 9:04 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Related, "Dear Seattle: Comcast Doesn’t Want You To Have Fast Internet"
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:08 PM on December 11, 2013


Heh GigE for $80 a month? No wonder people would be interested in that. Set up a cheapo GigE router and a 802.11ac access point in your house and you'd be torrenting like a pro.
posted by vuron at 9:15 PM on December 11, 2013


I suspect more and more cities are going to see the value in developing middle-mile and last-mile fiber optic networks that can be resold to a variety of CLECs at reasonable rates.

That's awesome, but still doesn't help people who don't live in cities.
posted by empath at 9:18 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I suspect rural and suburban America is just going to have to depend on LTE rollout being somewhat aggressive.
posted by vuron at 9:30 PM on December 11, 2013


Yeah, dedicated isn't so important and VLANs are nice for delivering differentiated services over a single wire. But still, a strip mall on the edge of Spokane is hard pressed to get half-decent Ethernet. It's either consumer DSL or TI or cable. Take the T1 away and I've lost any and all SLA's. It's best effort consumer class service with no guarantee of uptime.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:31 PM on December 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Related, "Dear Seattle: Comcast Doesn’t Want You To Have Fast Internet"

What Comcast did in Philadelphia was just a warmup. In Seattle, this past year, Comcast demonstrated to everyone how to buy a city's mayor in order to run a business without any regulation. In a few years, it won't even be a cynical joke progressives tell each other, but just a textbook example to be passed around from corp to corp across our great nation, as Comcast swallows up yet another city.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:44 PM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


TBH from a cost-benefit analysis going all in on a mayoral race is chump change in comparison to having their local monopoly threatened by Municipal fiber networks. It would be stupid not to buy the elections if they are possibly for sale.
posted by vuron at 9:49 PM on December 11, 2013


Historically, the phrase "Ma Bell Is A Cheap Mother" summed the situation up.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.
posted by mikelieman at 10:14 PM on December 11, 2013


When I look at what Europe has generally in terms of comms infrastructure and service to the consumer compared to the oligolpoly of dunces in the US, I just marvel at the harm done by regulatory capture. Y'know, wake up sheeple and everything, but I honestly don't know what it's going to take before we decide that Comcast and Verizon etc. controlling every bit of data transiting North America is a fucking stupid idea.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 10:34 PM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it won't "take" anything, as in nothing will cause American consumers to demand better service or breaking up the monopolies. What will happen is that American data infrastructure will continue to fall behind the rest of the world until at some point, the cellular phone carriers will decide that it won't be worth the effort to make phones for both the American market, and the worldwide market.
posted by happyroach at 11:32 PM on December 11, 2013


There will be, not yet but one day technology that renders companies like these obsolete. Unfortunately that technology will be in the hands of another company that professes not to do evil, but, y'know, shareholders, bottom line and all, will just be as monopolistic and cut throat as the those it supplanted - indeed more so.
posted by mattoxic at 11:59 PM on December 11, 2013


Jail these telco criminals - strip every one of their senior executives of everything s/he owns! ATT and Comcast are traitors to America; they have purposely placed profit ahead of the common good, using something (bandwidth) that is theoretically unlimited. Add to the above the Federal, State, and Municipal officials who have colluded with these scum to limit possibility in America.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:06 AM on December 12, 2013


so many heathens didn't demand a phone call for work stuff rather than email.

A woman at my office recently emailed me an Excel document. The body of the email was blank. She left a post-it note on my desk informing me that she had emailed me the info for a project.
posted by Fleebnork at 3:27 AM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I look at what Europe has generally in terms of comms infrastructure and service to the consumer compared to the oligolpoly of dunces in the US, I just marvel at the harm done by regulatory capture.

Related, some interesting research came out from the UK communications regulator Ofcom today:

International Communications Market Report 2013

Lots of interesting data in the report that highlights the relative poor performance of the US telecom markets against the UK and other comparison countries. Just looking at the pricing section, here are a few charts that illustrate this point nicely:

The US has the highest minimum pricing available for the ‘connected family’ household

The US has the highest minimum pricing available for the ‘basic needs’ household

The US had the highest ‘weighted average’ prices for three out of five households and the lowest price available for two households in 2013
posted by KatlaDragon at 4:29 AM on December 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Most young people don't even use "basic phone service" on their mobile phones.

If the audio quality came close to a POTS line, maybe they would. As it is, even this old fart cringes any time I have to use my cell to talk with someone. My close-to 40-year-old POTS line to the house still provides orders of magnitude clearer, cleaner audio, complete with full duplexing for a natural conversation. Talking to someone on a cell is akin to having a dull ice pick driven into my head.

To me, cell service stands as a metaphor for our brilliant digital age...Twice as convenient and half the quality.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:57 AM on December 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


Jail these telco criminals - strip every one of their senior executives of everything s/he owns! ATT and Comcast are traitors to America...

The question is which one of the companies that charge "life taxes" on everyone is the most hated?

() phone/cable/internet
() electric
() gas or oil

Now, that you've answered. Which one is the least regulated? What is the elected body that is responsible for making regulations? You'd think with the passionate feelings people have about their communication providers, it would be of benefit to some congress-person to jump on that bandwagon.

Now, ask yourself why no elected official is jumping on that bandwagon. I bet I could get elected to congress based on a platform of tar and feathers for Verizon execs... or the rail. But, being as this is the 21st century, you could ride them out of town on a fiber optic line instead.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:52 AM on December 12, 2013


A woman at my office recently emailed me an Excel document. The body of the email was blank. She left a post-it note on my desk informing me that she had emailed me the info for a project.

I used to have a boss who would regularly go on vacation on the opposite coast. While on vacation, I would print out his e-mails and overnight them to him. He would hand-write out a reply, overnight it back, and then I would type it up and send it under his name.

The moral of the story is, you can't ever really predict the bizarre ways people will use or not use technology.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:04 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just another city-dweller concerned for people who actually live and work in truly rural areas and need phone service for business and emergencies. Not counting on an "aggressive roll-out" to help them.

Maybe we could provide them all with flare guns and pre-programmed "Timmy fell down the well" drones that will fly to the nearest courthouse square to alert county emergency services.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:22 AM on December 12, 2013


This was actually the thing that pushed some of the cell/LTE build out near me. The town next door actually had the downtown area having no cell service which was keeping people from wanting to build businesses there and meant that if your house was burning down and your land lines were out, you'd have to get in your car to get to a place where there was service. I actually had a chilling situation where I saw a barn on fire and tried to call 911 and couldn't get a signal for a mile or so.

So towns have to court cell companies who aren't actually that keen to do business with them, filling in the dead spots which are not particularly lucrative. Fairpoint (the nearly-bankrupt company that took over for Verizon when Verizon fled) has a big PR blitz talking about how they're within reach of getting all of Vermont wired but we all know people who live places without broadband OR cell service who can read between the lines of what the PR announcements say and what they really mean. And some of the locales they have to wire up are basically only accessible to draft horses? It's very very hard to make a case for this being cost-effective for anyone.

In our state it's a bit of a leadership problem and too many people at "the top" who don't quite understand the consequences of the digital divide and have a tradition-bound culture in some ways. It's challenging to both honor the past and also argue with people who may be living somewhat in the past about how they need to tolerate disruption to their scenery or tax base because of this thing that other people want.
posted by jessamyn at 7:45 AM on December 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I know of a business in New England that wanted to try using Sprint for cell service. They knew their coverage sucks, so they shipped a crate of home microcells along with the new phones. *boggle* Yes, again yes: cheaper than providing real coverage!

When I think of all the money that went to telcos to bring broadband to America, and how little of it was ever wired, my blood boils.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:14 AM on December 12, 2013


Here in Toronto, we have a choice between Rogers and Bell for last mile plant. Well, sometimes we have a choice. Where I work, it's only Bell, because the neighbourhood is low density commercial/light industrial so cable TV never made sense. Bell takes advantage of this to no end. The cables were all laid down ages ago, and are in uniformly terrible shape. Pricing is absurd. The previous tenant had a call centre, as evidenced by the Nortel PBX they left behind. Instead of being fed by a T1, a 25 pair cable was wired up for outbound connections. When I wanted to upgrade our ludicrously unreliable and slow consumer DSL connection, I found out why. T1 pricing was insane, as in $1000 setup, over $500/mo. We could get 10M ethernet, provided we felt like paying $5000 up front and $1000/mo afterwards. Wireless ISPs offer a somewhat cheaper solution, but don't offer SLAs because weather.

So we're stuck with 2x DSL and MLPPP. It's okay, I guess. We get 10M down and 1.2 up pretty reliably, which is fine as long as three people aren't working remotely, or two people if one of them is the graphic designer. We pay TekSavvy, a CLEC, $120/mo for this service.

Oh, did I mention there is a Bell CO and Colo facility four blocks away?! It's not like this is the boonies or anything. We are close to a major university, and I take the subway to work.

It's way beyond time this shit was nationalized and treated like the public utility it always was.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:26 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's way beyond time this shit was nationalized and treated like the public utility it always was.

True shit.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:34 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's way beyond time this shit was nationalized and treated like the public utility it always was.

Get back to us once we're done destroying the post office, then, eh?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:38 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I suspect more and more cities are going to see the value in developing middle-mile and last-mile fiber optic networks that can be resold to a variety of CLECs at reasonable rates.

And states will pass laws bought by phone and cable companies that outlaw exactly that.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:46 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the audio quality came close to a POTS line, maybe they would. As it is, even this old fart cringes any time I have to use my cell to talk with someone. My close-to 40-year-old POTS line to the house still provides orders of magnitude clearer, cleaner audio, complete with full duplexing for a natural conversation. Talking to someone on a cell is akin to having a dull ice pick driven into my head.

To me, cell service stands as a metaphor for our brilliant digital age...Twice as convenient and half the quality.


Preach on brother. There is no reason that a phone call in 2013 should sound like you're calling from the dark side of the moon. (Though maybe the current cellular experience would be improved if we had Quindar tones.)

If you have an iPhone, I have noticed Facetime Audio is much better quality than cellular voice, but I'm not sure if is truly full-duplex.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:16 AM on December 12, 2013


...and in related news...Austin City Council set to vote to force ATT to allow Gooogle to use their poles in Austin Texas.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:20 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and in related "Death to AT&T" news, AT&T is strongly hinting cell phone subsidies are going bye-bye. Who here thinks they will lowering monthly rates to reflect the savings of not subsidizing phones?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:21 AM on December 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ars Technica:
500Mbps Internet over phone lines might solve fiber’s “last mile” problem
G.fast promises fiber-like speeds without fiber to the home.
posted by XMLicious at 12:11 PM on December 12, 2013


this is truly sickening. I design large-scale phone systems for a living, and lemme tell you the telcos do not make it easy. [obligatory samuel clemens quote]

slightly-outside-america, we have done our damnedest recently, for local/city governments, emergency/fire/police, remote offshore places like Nantucket and the Vineyard, and eventually individual customers (who are sick of Verizon DSL and/or Comcast cable internet) to all integrate on a highly redundant source of network that does not rely on ILECs or even CLECs when possible. yeah, sure, we had to pay Verizon and the Army a shit-ton of money for right-of-way for dark fiber over the bridges, but it was worth it.

the telcos all whine about having to pay tax into USF (not just US/NA, this is a worldwide thing. feel free to look into what good India has been doing with theirs). well guess what, that universal service fund is meant to provide last mile not just random lone highway payphones, but broadband too.

there are already some great solutions for last-mile voice, like mesh potato. and not even last-mile, this sort of tech is designed to work completely non-integrated just between local communities. not to mention I've used it myself in autonomous/solar/weatherproof emergency boxes.

the real culprit here, that everyone seems to look over, is directory services. there's enum, ARPA has had e164 forever, every single little fly by night "free DID" company has their own directory. internet2 and sip.edu have been trying this forever. but no one seems to want to agree on a single directory.

a directory, is really all we need, to ditch the telcos. this is what enum/164 have been trying to do - your email address, or some other arbitrary URI, should be your phone number.

again this obviously comes back to some last-mile situations, places where there may or may not be voice, but there is no broadband. but again this is where USF is exactly meant to be.
posted by dorian at 5:25 PM on December 12, 2013


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