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RE: Way OT: RE: @Home's 119 domain names up for sale

  • From: Frank Coluccio
  • Date: Thu Aug 11 18:05:56 2005

Responding to all previous messages in this and the original thread:

I note that "Way OT" was added to my original subject heading, and
indeed for good cause because this discussion has veered off the course
it could have taken in some ways, and that's okay, too.

My associating the name "access@home" and the news release about former
cable ISP @Home's sale of its domain names was more a matter of
curiosity than it was actually suggesting there was a connection between
the two. Although, the timing of both leaves me wondering, still,
because up to this past week I had not seen the name @home, or even
@work for that matter, used in almost five or six years, anywhere
outside the context of discussions that were historical in nature.

IMO, there's more to be considered here than whether this is just
another example of pork distribution, which I suspect it is, in the
accepted vernacular. Meaning, the spending of funds that result from
marathon congressional horse trading and voting in order to get rid of
funds that have been allocated for certain (in some cases, new) causes,
lest those funds be lost forever in the spirit of "use it or lost it,"
both now and forever more.

Sometimes the ends to these rituals actually turn out to be noble, and
sometimes they can be seen as a cause for outrage. In the case at hand
I'm neither showering Rubin and Clinton with praise nor condemning their
motivations in any way. Rather, I have serious questions as to what they
are doing and how they have set out to accomplish their goals, and
probably just as importantly, the fact that have they labeled their
initiative as one that would bridge the digital divide.

I see two issues I may want to pursue further --elsewhere of course,
since this is indeed "Way OT" for this venue-- because they may prove
detrimental to the cause of end-to-end networking, even if a relatively
few more broadband lines do get built in the process. 

If you have been following the tightening noose around anything that
smacks of being open lately, and view the timing of this action against
the backdrop of recent FCC rulings, which are causing some ISPs to
seriously begin wondering about their very survival and where they will
get their next HSI lines from to provide to their customers, you must
then conclude that the secondary beneficiaries of the initiative will at
some point be incumbent service providers. For, who else will be left to
provide fiber and cable services by the time these homes are built and
ready to be inhabited, save for the small number of muninets that have
already been built, and maybe to a similar degree, those of WISPs?

When such an initiative is announced proclaiming that $1 Billion dollars
will be spent on "bridging the digital divide," when in fact it is
federal housing and urban development projects that happen to include
the installation of residential inside wiring and an undisclosed plan
for how "broadband" service providers would be paid, (without also
mentioning that it will ensure that structural foundations, carpentry,
plastering, plumbing, lighting and electrical work will also be
covered), it gives cause to detractors of municipal networking to shoot
down further, legitimate proposals that are relatively "undiluted" in
comparative terms, efforts to promote Internet access. In effect, it
gives the nay sayers of muninets something to point to when proclaiming
"enough is enough", and that sufficient public funds have already been
spent on such programs. 

As a consultant who at times receives feelers and RFIs from landlords of
housing complexes, community leaders and apartment owners' boards of
directors who are applying for local, state and federal development
funding to upgrade their properties (which are sometimes nothing more
than slums that they picked up for a song), I can state unequivocally
that one of the first bullet points to appear in their executive
summaries in order to receive meritorious recognition from those who
hold the purse strings is the fact that their newly re-done units will
be "Internet ready." Internet read is a euphemism that means that those 
units will be fully wired with Cat6 and coaxial cabling. It's gotten
competitive to the point where some take it a step farther and enter
into agreements with the incumbent telco and cable operators, or they go
to both the telco and the National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC)
and create their own private cable companies (PCOs) to ensure that
residents who desire triple play services can have it delivered to them
at the stroke of a couple of keys and a credit check.

Which leads me to my last point of skepticism in this post. Where and
what percentage of the funds being allocated under this access@home
initiative is the money going? I'd be surprised if the in-home wiring went
above 1% of the total Billion cited. How much of it will be spent on
recurring rental fees for broadband lines? Computer hardware and terminal
gear? Will said funding lead to another round of abuses, such as the E-Rate 
abuses we've seen in the past? Will residents be given broadband access even 
if they don't have ample terminal gear to utilize it? Perhaps, even if they
don't want or need it? After all, Luddites have rights, too. Comments here
or via mail welcome.

frank@fttx.org




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