DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No. 011109273-1273-01]  RIN 0660-XX13

 

SUMMARY: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) invites interested parties to comment on broadband deployment in the United States. NTIA invites the public to submit comments on several issues including: supply and demand for broadband services; and the technical, economic, or regulatory barriers to broadband deployment. Comments should be submitted on paper and, where possible, in electronic form as well. All comments submitted in response to this Notice will be posted on the NTIA website.

DATES: Interested parties are invited to submit comments no later than December 19, 2001.

 

 

A.           

What should be the primary policy considerations in formulating broadband policy for the country? Please discuss the relative importance of the following:  (a) access for all; (b) facilities-based competition; (c) minimal regulation; (d) technological neutrality; (e) intra-modal competition; (f) inter-modal competition; (g) and any other policy consideration.

 

(a)                 Access for all-?  Yes, I compare the broadband accessibility to that lack of highways during the years following WWII – the US Government began a program (President Eisenhower Administration) that would eventually cumulate to the super-highways that span the North American Continent.  I don’t expect the US Government to fund a like project, in that, this type of deployment, is purely a Private Enterprise venture.  We all walk a fine line when it comes to Broadband deployment – one hand embraces the concept (in fact demands it) of everyone in America having this ability, eliminating the “digital divide”.  And yet on the other we face the hard fact of how do the utilities justify the expense, in a majority of the cases, of being able to provide high-speed connections to certain locations in America especially rural America.

 

(b)                 Facilities-based competition-?  A difficult question that will only involve a complicated answer.  Unfortunately throughout the U.S. and all locations throughout the world, there is only one connection (other than CATV) to the customer.  This connection is through the Local Exchange Carrier (“LEC”) – although there have been many different and creative solutions to this problem, CATV, Satellite and wireless to name a few, the proliferation of broadband connectivity are minimal.   Again, with the exception of CATV, most are more expensive than what could be provided through the existing infrastructure (copper wire) from the LEC.  Competitive access – how unique-!  I believe this is the purpose of the Tauzin-Dingell bill.

 

(c)                 Minimal Regulation-?  Unfortunately, because of the size of the beast – I don’t really see how government can attempt to closely regulate the broadband industry.  Telecom deregulation, which began with the breakup of AT&T, has become a barrel of worms and every attempt to sort through that barrel has only created a bigger barrel.  Private enterprise operates on a basic principal, them who can do succeed and those who try and fail – fail.  I admit that the basic fear of only one or two operating our broadband highway is justified, myself, I’m fearful of these very same (one or two) entities influencing Congress and in the end gaining legal access to what they should compete for -!

 

(d)                 Technological Neutrality-?  I maybe wrong – but I believe that all systems should be constructed to accept all available technology, to the point that they are designed for swift and open acceptance of future technology.  To pick one technology (SONET for example) precludes the development of future technology and its ability to reduce the operating cost of the network.  I really don’t believe this is a concern, as all private-enterprise participants constantly search for methods or technology that will reduce their operating cost.

 

(e)                 Intra-modal competition-?  Yes, competition across transport mechanisms is needed, again I don’t really see a problem – private enterprise is always searching for the least cost alternative, if regulations don’t make the customer pay the bill - regardless.

 

(f)                  Inter-modal competition-?  See (e)

 

(g)                 And any other policy consideration-?  Once again, the lack of government policies will drive the industry.  I understand that it becomes a difficult road when it comes to the government’s role in protecting the consumer with respect to the Broadband issue.  But than again I don’t see the same issues as we see today (as in slamming) emerging in the Broadband battle….might be just the opposite whereas the consumer will change his mode of access because of lack of complete access with one medium.  Special interests will argue, all on the side of giving the consumer every option to gaining less expensive access – but we have been through that.

 

B

How should broadband services be defined? Please discuss (1) what criteria should be used to determine whether a facility or service has sufficient transmission capacity to be classified as “broadband;” (2) how the definition should evolve over time; and (3) the policy implications of how the term is defined.

 

1.                    What criteria should be used to determine whether a facility or service has sufficient transmission capacity to be classified as “broadband;”-?   If we step back and look at our technical past for a comparison, any amount of 64 Kbps could be considered “broadband” – just a few years ago a 9.6 Kbps modem was state of the art, and recently a 56 Kbps modem is still considered and utilized by well over 65% of all InterNet users.  They don’t receive a 56 Kbps download (line noise and other factors), usually around 28 Kbps on a good day.  To create a regulation or “artificial speed floor”, would only implement another factor that would create more headaches for all the agencies (State and Federal) in the administration of the field.  Remember “Beauty is in the eye of beholder”…. One definition of broadband is a high-speed connection over 45 Mbps.

 

2.                    How the definition should evolve over time-?  In this is the rub – who makes this determination, the government?  There is this rumor afloat that is discussing “convergence” of all industries on the InterNet.  Streaming video, VoIP, Music, Long Distance Leaning, Medical Applications – now if I (as a consumer) wanted all these applications to appear (without flaws or jerky motions) I need at least a 768 Kbps access pipe if I desired effective two-way communications – and if I decided to expand I need at least a DS-1 (1.544 Mbps), but if I wanted to accomplish much more I might need a DS-3 (45 Mbps).  The question becomes when do I have an effective Broadband connection, and what rate can I afford – technology has a price.

 

3.                    The policy implications of how the term is defined-?  Again, does the Federal Government really want to define Broadband – what a mess?  There are InterNational Committee’s spread across the globe who compose definitions and unless government(s) really want to become the experts and have the ability (and funds) to enforce or police their definitions they should refrain from creating them.

 

C

Several studies indicate that the rate of deployment of broadband services is equal to or greater than the deployment rates for other technologies. What is the current status of (1) supply and (2) demand of broadband services in the United States? When addressing supply, please discuss current deployment rates and any regulatory policies impeding supply. When addressing demand, please discuss both actual take rates and any evidence of unserved demand. Please also address potential underlying causes of low subscribership rates, such as current economic conditions, price, cost-structure, impediments to the development of broadband content, or any other factor. To what extent has the growth in competition for broadband and other services been slowed by the existing rates and rate structures for regulated telecommunications services?

 

1.                    Supply-?  With the exception of rural areas in America, I believe that most people in the metropolitan have access to either CATV or LEC networks.  Systems take time for deployment, the CATV industry has had the most success in recent months – but than again they have had to spend large amounts of cash in up-grading their coaxial plant with a supplemented fiber-optic network.  This to reduce the length of their coaxial plant by placing fiber-optic systems within their network in order increase the capacity of their systems.  While LEC’s have the usual problems with their, not so new, copper plant they also have an additional problem of not being able to provide (even in large cities) a large amount of bandwidth to their customers because of the electrical limitations (distance related) of the small copper wires and the numerous connections between the Central Office (switch center) and the customer.  Another serious problem dealing with the last mile is the access to that mile, many start-ups operating and cashing-up under the 96’ rule change found themselves involved in legal battles with the LEC’s, and on top of these battles they found out that gaining access to these wire-centers was nothing short of impossible – courtroom forays, delays in access and lack of ability to maintain the circuits they promised their customers drove them into bankruptcy.  We have tons and tons of “old” copper plant crisscrossing the United States, plant that to replace would cost billions.  We’re not starting with the placement of concrete as in the 50s’ highway program…eventually when the demand exceeds the capacity of those back roads (copper plant) fiber will leave the Central Office and reach the homeowner.  The chicken and the egg, once again.

 

2.                    Demand of Broadband services in the United States-?  Is there “really” a demand from the economic force in this country – the working couple?  Could there be such a demand?  In my case I wouldn’t or couldn’t do without broadband, but in my case I make my living with broadband.  I’m an individual who has worked in the CATV and the Telecom industry…understanding enough about both to sometimes get in trouble…. I have designed and installed miles of CATV and Fiber-Optic plant, doesn’t make me an expert but I do understand just a bit more than the average couple in America.  Will the “demand” ever be there – my mother who lives in Seattle, WA has over 2.1 Mbps of access through her wideband connection to AT&T (my brother works for AT&T), her e-mail arrives on time.  I have over 300 Kbps (Anchorage, AK) access, which is sufficient for my needs (today).  I have an aunt who lives in Juneau, AK who accesses the InterNet at 28 – 30 Kbps, she is happy.  So, it all depends on what each individual wants and desires.  The real question becomes “content”, and that is what will drive this demand question, today (other than downloading data for schoolwork or business related items) there is really little that someone is going to pay an extra $25 to $30 more per month for access.  I believe the Dept of Commerce has much more data than I when it comes to percentage of access, or revenue streams from the providers.

 

 

D.           

Should government adopt as a goal “access for all” to broadband service? What would be the costs of such a goal? What policy initiatives, if any, should be considered to achieve that goal? Are there areas or persons that are unlikely to be served through marketplace forces?

 

1.                    Should government adopt as a goal “access for all” to broadband service?  No-!  Why, than you become that policeman we discussed, and if you decide that government should become this all seeing consumer watchdog, the government will have to create a fund to subsidize the population who don’t or can’t get broadband.  Imagine the size of that fund and the policy necessary to administer that fund.  Granted Tax breaks would be one way to guarantee access, but than again you have just created a wonderful new job for the IRS – more government.  Building new highways was simple compared to the mess with Broadband.

 

2.                    What would be the costs of such a goal?  How many households, small businesses, non-profit agencies, churches, car dealerships and special interests groups in American.  Multiply all those by at least $3,500 and you’ll have your cost.  Enormous-!  This is not to say we shouldn’t achieve broadband for all.  There will come a time when everyone will need broadband and not just for entertainment.  As with the communications needs for the Dept of Defense it comes to mind that less than 5-years ago you could get on a mailing list and receive RFP’s, whereas today this “mailing option” no longer exists.  The same will happen with John Q. Public, there will come a day when everything will be on-line and there will be no other option of receiving up-dated, time sensitive material.  At that point the term broadband will have a new meaning.

 

3.                    What policy initiatives, if any, should be considered to achieve that goal?  Here again, any policies would be hard fought, and mostly written and presented by special interests (the players in the industry) – instead of creating a multi-layered play book for these groups the industry should only need an occasional game call by the U.S. Government.  Unfortunately I believe in the Free Enterprise system, even though I been stomped on – I still blame myself for some bad calls, not the government.  In this regulated industry (today) it is the regulations that are hammering the industry, don’t get me wrong in some cases the regulations are protecting the public but in a majority of the cases the providers, some regulations have given them good reason to do nothing.  In the “good-old-days” the FCC used to police the air-waves, being an old radio-operator for AT&T I ran into them a couple of times, but today they have become more legal than technical and in some cases selling spectrum at auctions.  How many employee’s in the FCC can still diagram a Colpits Oscillator?

 

4.                    Are there areas or persons that are unlikely to be served through marketplace forces?  Yes, just like there were people yesterday who were never served by marketplace forces.  Again, what is the government hoping to accomplish by forcing a technology through its normal growing pains – more jobs?  Unfortunately or fortunately the technical industry has waded through the era of selling pure technology – computer sales are down (faster processing is no longer the hook for sales), software sales are down (a spreadsheet is a spreadsheet).  And all the discussion about a “killer application” saving the industry is just that, discussion.  When the combined “service” and “entertainment” industry are able to provide a product that is “really” necessary than the broadband industry will grow on its own terms – not before.

 

E.            

Do the interconnection, unbundling, and resale requirements of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 reduce incumbent local exchange carriers’ (ILECs’) incentives to invest in broadband facilities and services?

 

Only if they can create a revenue base.  And only if in their eyes they are the only ones who can provide that access.  It should have become evident during the past few years that they are reluctant to do so, they are very uncomfortable about having to compete in a marketplace that they have owned for the past century.  No matter the policies set by any organization, including the Congress of the United States, they will fight for their right to control and manage their network.  Yes, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is supposed to be followed to the letter, but one only has to research the archives of any legal firm to find that the battle for local access hasn’t really changed.  It is still a mess and will continue to be until “they” can come to a solid agreement with their competitors – and this will only happen when their competitors begin to “over-build” the LEC’s infrastructure.

 

Where we see independents constructing smart over-builds we’ll see access opening up on LEC networks, not until.  If they really want to remain in the Broadband field they are going to have to go out and either spend some of their profits, (which is difficult because of the stockholders), or convince lending institutions and private investment houses that their business plan can support the debt.  Historically the LEC’s only had to present their plans to the State Utility Commission, whereas when they proved the concept and the reason why, the State Utility Commission granted them a rate increase from their “locked” in customer base.  There was no question where they would receive funds to construct their network.  Today, with the advent of many diverse CLEC’s and various calling plans, and the regulatory agencies in many States effectively out of the picture, it is a different ballgame.  Totally.  They have to compete for funds, dip into their profits and really begin operating like any other corporation in the Free Enterprise system.  They are finding this to be very difficult.

 

1.                    Are their investment disincentives attributable to the regulated rates for interconnection, unbundled network elements, and resold services? 

 

There has been this fear within the LEC services about the regulations (product of Telecom 96’) that have driven them to lawsuits, which were widely reported, whereas the LEC’s screamed about the unfairness of having to provide access to every Tom, Dick and Harry (CLEC’s) that walked in their door.  This publicity has hurt the local providers, more than they realize.  First, in their filing all these lawsuits they have educated many people, including Mr. Pubic.  People who normally couldn’t or did not want to be bothered began to understand the value of the little device in their living room.  It was huge; being a local telecom was like having a license to print money.  The general public had no idea – the local LEC was making millions and as the regulations of which they had a great deal into making law, began to crumble they screamed louder.  Did they really think that all this would disappear when it came time to go out on the street and raise money….which by the way they haven’t.  No, they really didn’t.   In their latest publications (during the past 12-months) they have been effective in publishing papers, articles on how much they believe it costs to run a network.  They have sat by and watched CLEC’s and other enterprises file bankruptcy, while their private printing presses have continued to run…they will patiently wait and watch and once everything is back in their control they will invest.  Simple, yet true.

 

2.                    To what extent are those disincentives due to ILECs’ uncertainties about their ability to recover the added network costs needed to accommodate potential requests from competitors?

 

All-!  They don’t want to accommodate “potential” competitors.  Why spend millions and have an agency of the State or the Federal Government tell them they have to “only” charge $XYZ for their expanded facility.  Additionally in this case, investment in their facilities is also hindered by the very same entity that wants to create jobs – the federal government, specifically the IRS who (in most cases) is still dictating depreciation on equipment and infrastructure based on 1903 law.  Whereas in reality to keep up with technology (and provide effective broadband rollout) the equipment goes out-of-date in less than 18-month and has to be replaced.

 

 

3.                    What are the magnitude of those additional costs?

 

They could be very large, increasing so as they go further from the large metropolitan areas venturing into rural America.  Also in any facility where they have to expand the equipment space and add areas for provisioning access for their competitors – the list is endless.  It would be difficult to calculate a cost based on their existing customer base, i.e., $40 per customer or wire entering their facility – in other words it would be fruitless to attempt with so many factors looming in the background.  It used to run about $15 –to- $21 per line into a Central Office (what a CLEC could rent it for), I have no idea what that same line is worth today.

 

4.                    What mechanisms could be used to share the risks of those costs efficiently and equitably among ILECs, competitors, or users?

 

A difficult question, you answer – how do we reduce the risks for farmers?  Yep-!  Government-!  But we really don’t want to do that do we? Thought so.  In truth if the government is not going to step forward and take public funds to reduce the risk for “all” business enterprises, they really can’t step forward to make sure that every person in the U.S. is going to get Broadband.  The government can minimize the risk by making the Tax structure more modern, that would be a beginning as would it be that maybe the government would utilize an agency (FCC) that could asses infrastructure being placed or valued for Tax purposes and federal loan guarantees.  Other than something similar there is little that can be done to remove or reduce the risk of doing business in this highly competitive marketplace.

 

3.                    To what extent are the returns on ILECs’ investments in new infrastructure uncertain?

 

Can’t answer-!  Could be minimal under the correct conditions.

 

4.                    Is the uncertainty of gaining an adequate return on each infrastructure improvement (attributable in part to other firms’ ability to use those facilities to offer competing services) significant enough to deter investment?

 

Again, bearing in the mind the cost of placing new infrastructure has a great deal to do with the ability to recapture the investment through the companies ability to charge and depreciate sufficient amount that would allow them to recoup their costs over a reasonable amount of time.  With the normal depreciation rates stretched out over a long-time and the actual cost associated with remaining in-step with customer demands short, the cost of doing business is not very encouraging.  This especially becomes a big factor if an outside entity dictates the fair market value for access to that re-built or new plant.

 

5.                    What are the principal strengths and weaknesses of the FCC’s total element long run incremental cost (TELRIC)(1) methodology?

 

I don’t think that the Telco’s should be able to value their “old” plant at the same rate as the “new” plant – in principal and for creating accounting it makes a good deal for the LEC’s.  But again, they have been asking for accelerated depreciation from the IRS and haven’t received but a pittance in return and now the government is telling them you “can’t” charge these values even though we say they’re worth that much.  Something has got to change, and in this case I don’t think it is the LEC’s who have to make an adjustment.

 

6                     What changes could be made to render TELRIC an effective deterrent to the exercise of market power and conducive to efficient infrastructure investment?

 

Agencies have got to begin talking to each other – the regulating agencies that is.  Maybe we need a Homeland Telecommunications Agency-?  You know there used to be a non-partisan agency run by Congress.  Office of Technology Assessment or something, they were disbanded just about the time the Telecommunications Act of 96’ was making its way through Congress – why?

 

 

 

7.                    Would it be possible to construct an alternative methodology that would not depend on cost information controlled by regulated firms?

 

There is such an agency (methodology) the IRS and the CFR that dictates this aspect of Telecom operations, I really don’t think the wheel needs re-inventing – just some grease on the axle.

F.            

Some have suggested that a regulatory dividing line should be drawn between legacy “non-broadband” facilities and/or services and new “broadband” facilities and/or services. Is this a feasible approach? If so, how would it work?

 

1.                    Is this a feasible approach?  This might work in the short-term, but I really don’t think it will be applicable in the future.  For instance, do we re-create another category when “all” lines have the capability of providing broadband to the home, and will this “new” agency expand or will it have to change or be added to in the future when some other idea jumps from the box-?  You might be able to apply a “sunset” provision on the regulations, but than again who is going to confirm or deny the converted lines….I’m assuming they are going to want a break from “something” as they make this huge investment in their plant.

 

2.                    If so, how would it work?  If the government offers a “tax break” for corporations who separate their legacy systems from their newly created “broadband facilities”, who are you going to depend on for tax purposes – the FCC-?  Might be you could create an agency that would provide a site whereas as each customer receives broadband access they could participate in a test that would show them how much access they have, like

a site that will give you a speed result on your connection, while logging your address onto a database.  Then you would match their number to the number submitted by the provider.

 

3.                    What effects would changes in the regulatory structure for broadband services and facilities have on regulation and competition with respect to voice telephone and other non-broadband services?

 

Would there be any change – why?   I’m under the impression here that what we’re attempting to do is create a condition that will promote broadband, which in turn will permit the local provider (competitors) to charge more and provide more services.  Now if these services permit the user to access less expensive access to the worldwide voice-cloud, that is what they’re offering, multi-purpose broadband.  The existing regulations and pricing for those who cannot or do not want these services should feel no effect.  Unless, like the payphones throughout the land, with the advent of cellular technology, the low-speed access customers are disconnected because they are no longer a profit center – the regulations should remain as is.

 

4.                    If ILECs deploy broadband services using a mixture of new and old facilities, will competitors be able to use the older shared facilities that they previously had access to? 

 

Why not-?  Haven’t they been paying for this access all along – now if the provider entices them away to a much simpler up-dated technically efficient central office, good.  But, they should be permitted to remain where they are connected today, as long as that facility exists, albeit simple sleigh of hand for the provider to change things in their facility I believe the user would detect such maneuvers.

 

5.                    If ILECs deploy broadband facilities to replace portions of their existing copper plant, will the displaced copper plant give competitors a viable opportunity to offer alternative services?

 

This is tricky, reminds of the old battles between CATV and the Telephone Companies when CATV wanted to place cable on the existing poles…new rules where written to create space on the telephone pole and in most cases the pole was owned by the phone company.  Now you’re asking what will happen to the “old” copper that is hanging on these poles and should the competitor have access.  Do you really believe that the local provider is just going to (for a low-low price of) grant access to their competitor, I don’t think so.  If they do there are going to be so many costs attached to that copper that they (the local provider) will be able to give their his new service away on the fiber.  In addition to the lease costs, numerous other “technical and physical” will surface.  A typical “copper plant” circuit from the Central Office to the Customer contains many physical connections – normally you would find a very large bundle of copper leaving the CO on a main cable (500 to 1500 pairs), reaching its first splice point (another crossroads).. 125 pair might be broken out to feed another neighborhood leaving a lesser amount of copper to continue on.  Now lets assume that somewhere in this trunk circuit (probably at the end because that is where most of the problems are occurring (distance) – this neighborhood receives a fiber-optic upgrade.  Assume that there were 150 homes with 2 phone lines each (4 pairs), we’ve gained a tremendous amount of copper – correct?  Not quite, what if the local exchange is experiencing problems up-stream from the 150 homes, and they want to take over some of the “old” copper – problem!  Besides, what other company is going to waltz in and take over old plant that had problems, while paying top dollar to compete with a customer base that now has fiber?

 

6.                    What would be the annual costs to the ILEC (or to a purchaser of the displaced copper plant) of a continuing obligation to maintain that plant?

 

I believe that the cost will run about 15 to 20% over what it cost the provider, no matter what.  I don’t think cost is really going to be an issue, what will be the issue is when-?  “Unless” the ILEC creates its own maintenance division (which would be a nightmare, and more than likely the LEC won’t let them near their infrastructure) the ILEC will run the risk of not being able to service their customer in a timely manner.  Not meaning to, they’ll will create a scenario that will drive everyone involved crazy.  The customer will call in with a problem.  The ILEC (if they have one available) will send a technician out to check the problem – he walks in and determines that there is a fault in the line coming into the house.  He files a trouble-ticket with the local provider (it is pouring outside).  The local provider has 16-miles of plant swinging in the breeze in the south part of the county – his tech’s are busy.  The ILEC technician tells the customer he has notified the LEC, they shake their head – Okay, and he leaves.  The ticket sits for a week, the customer has been calling everyday and the dispatcher at the ILEC repeats that it is not their problem.  End of month, ILEC gets bill from LEC – bills customer, customer won’t pay says its been out for a week.  ILEC calls LEC for credit, no dice ---- and on it goes. 

 

7.                    What regulations, if any, should apply to new broadband facilities and/or services to ensure a competitive marketplace?

 

Access only.  If a facility, when constructed, is made available to all,  the builder or provider will not loose.  I assume we’re discussing a fiber-facility…the primary facility (distribution) will provide transport for thousands of customers, whereas the only facility that will remain elusive is the one from street to the house – the paying customer.  If the ILEC can pay the freight for that access, fair and reasonable, he should have it.  The task will be to determine the access rate, how that is determined is a question that really can’t or shouldn’t be answered with a regulation.  Profit or loss, as determined by records filed with the IRS should establish plant value.  It will be nightmare no matter the schemes set forth by any committee, lets face it.  Where there is only one good road in and out of a community and it contains a gate, we’ll pay to travel that road (if the trip is worth it).

G.           

To what extent have competitive firms deployed their own (a) transport, (b) switching, and (c) loop facilities? Are those investments limited to particular areas of the country or to particular portions of communities and metropolitan areas? What market characteristics must exist for competitors to make facilities-based investments? Do competitors have the ability to deploy their facilities in ways that minimize costs and facilitate efficient network design?

 

1.                    Transport-?           There have been numerous long-haul fibers installed across the country – part of our fiber long-haul bandwidth excess.  The exact percentage vs. established pre-1982 corporations is beyond my database.

 

2.                    Switching-?           There are some local IntraNet switching locations, most found in large population areas or at particular places that hand the distribution of large blocks of bandwidth.  Again, beyond my scope.

 

3.                    Loop Facilities-?   Most system built during the past 18-months are ringed this being the major alternative to their customers, having a secure transport path.

 

4.                    Are those investments limited to particular areas of the country or to particular portions of communities and metropolitan areas?  In all cases, where there is either a large concentration of people or other operating cables for instance San Luis Obispo where there are numerous Pacific Ocean cable landings.

 

5.                    What market characteristics must exist for competitors to make facilities-based investments?  Access to a customer base within a reasonable accessible distance.

 

6.                    Do competitors have the ability to deploy their facilities in ways that minimize costs and facilitate efficient network design?                       There are some methods today that permit less expensive alternatives to the new guy on the block, but they are still at a disadvantage when attempting to access the last mile.  Only in the large areas where businesses are crowded together is there really an opportunity for a return on their construction dollar.  If they have the opportunity to merge with a wireless provider for distribution they could generate more for than dollar than trenching in new fiber to the home.

 

H.

What cable companies are currently conducting trials to evaluate giving multiple Internet service providers access to broadband cable modem services? Describe the terms and conditions of ISP access in such trials. What technical, administrative, and operational considerations must be addressed to accommodate multiple ISP access? How can cable firms manage the increased traffic load on their shared distribution systems caused by multiple ISPs?

 

1.             What cable companies are currently conducting trials to evaluate giving multiple Internet service providers access to broadband cable modem services?                  ( ? )

 

2.             Describe the terms and conditions of ISP access in such trials?                 ( ? )

 

3.             What technical, administrative, and operational considerations must be addressed to accommodate multiple ISP access?                            Being able to accommodate all the traffic is critical.  All cable systems suffer a limiting factor based on the ability of the RF system to carry wide bandwidth….most cable systems that have reduced their cascade lengths are still operating their CATV plant around 1 Ghz.  Mixing or adding additional ISPs in their headends is a no-brainer, but it all comes back to the transport medium. Hence, the adding of fiber to their networks.

 

4.             How can cable firms manage the increased traffic load on their shared distribution systems caused by multiple ISPs?   They would either have to change their active units in the bridging and line extender units, maybe gaining another couple of MHz or overlash additional coaxial cable over their existing plant or run another drop into the customers’ home or business.  This addition of another cable would demand a new device in the home or business that would combine these two signal paths before the customers access device.  Or, where is existing fiber converters, begin installing fiber from this location to the homes.

 

I.             

What problems have companies experienced in deploying broadband services via wireless and satellite? What regulatory

changes would facilitate further growth in such services? Is available spectrum adequate or inadequate? What additional

spectrum allocations, if any, are needed?

 

1.                    What problems have companies experienced in deploying broadband services via wireless and satellite?        Just the normal physical limitations, line-of-sight, snow, rain and extreme wind conditions and electrically the up-link to the ISP or InterNet cloud.  Satellite works okay in the download configuration, but is limited if a small organization or village wants to host a service – in Alaska the pricing is way out of line for Satellite connectivity, as this is the only way to communicate in any manner with the rest of the world.

 

2.             What regulatory changes would facilitate further growth in such services?            None

 

3.             Is available spectrum adequate or inadequate?              Inadequate for Satellite, iffy for wireless

 

4.             What additional spectrum allocations, if any, are needed?          As much as can be mustered

 

J.            

How should the broadband product market be defined? What policy initiatives would best promote intra-modal and inter

modal broadband competition?

 

1.             How should the broadband product market be defined?              You know, Broadband in Newton’s is defined as anything over 45 Mbps – if you stick to that definition this means anything less than 45 Mbps into the customers location in not broadband.  Broadband could be defined as at least a DS-1 (1.544 Mbps) into the customer premise, and anything less than that would be priced accordingly.  Whereas today CATV charges $45 today for a “broadband” signal it could only charge $11.29 for a 384 Kbps connection and for a 768 Kbps connection a charge of $22.38.

 

2.             What policy initiatives would best promote intra-modal and inter-modal broadband competition?     None

 

K.           

Would it be appropriate to establish a single regulatory regime for all broadband services? Are there differences in particular broadband network architectures (e.g., differences between cable television networks and traditional telephone networks) that warrant regulatory differences? What would be the essential elements of a unified broadband regulatory regime?

 

1.                    Would it be appropriate to establish a single regulatory regime for all broadband services?               

I need to think about that, my first reaction is no-!  My reasoning if two-fold, one is that we’d be living under one more regulatory agency we don’t need and the other is we have regulations on the books that we have a hard time abiding with today.  Yet both answers contradict each other.  It is certain that someone is going to have to sit down with the existing regulations and run a fine-tooth comb through them.  After sorting out what doesn’t apply and incorporating what does apply it should become easier to administer and enforce, I don’t think this can be done through a bill in Congress…..we’d have new technology by the time they were finished.

 

2.                    Are there differences in particular broadband network architectures (e.g., differences between cable television networks and traditional telephone networks) that warrant regulatory differences?

No-! Basically all transmissions still do the same job as when Marconi sent a message through the ether or Bell expounded over the wire back when…. information is exchanged.  That is all we’re attempting to do, exchange information.  Whether it is an analog interpretation of our voice pushing wind against a carbon diaphragm or sitting at a computer watching letters or numbers appear before us because of digital conversion, we’re just moving information.  If we go out and create a mystical regulation that separates this medium out on its own, we’ve only created a new billing mechanism for the provider and another regulation that would have to be enforced.  The industry is very capable of working (if they want to) within the present set of regulations.  The reluctance with industry today is that desire the government to produce regulations that “limit” competition, after-all do not most regulations do just that.

 

3.                    What would be the essential elements of a unified broadband regulatory regime?

If, I say if regulations are created for a unified broadband regulatory regime they would have to include flexible elements that would permit expanded broadband operations.  They would have to diverse and as chaotic as the expanding technology broadband represents, no limits – regulations that will surely create many headaches for generations that follow.  You see the problem.

 

 

L.   

Are there local issues affecting broadband deployment that should be addressed by federal policies? Please provide specific information or examples regarding these problems. Should fees for rights of way and street access reflect costs in addition to the direct administrative costs to the municipalities affected? To what extent do state laws and regulations limit municipalities’ ability to establish nondiscriminatory charges for carriers’ use of public rights-of-way? Please discuss the most appropriate relationship between federal, state, and local governments to ensure minimal regulation while removing disincentives or barriers to broadband deployment.

 

1.                    Are there local issues affecting broadband deployment that should be addressed by federal policies?

I assume you mean by local (city or county issues) – and if so, than I say that the local entities must be able to solve their own problems.  That is with the exception of lines or infrastructure that effects cross state or country access.  A national border crossing or the installation of a international undersea cable.

 

2.                    Please provide specific information or examples regarding these problems.

None

 

 

3.             Should fees for rights of way and street access reflect costs in addition to the direct administrative costs to the            municipalities affected?

                Yes-!

 

4.                    To what extent do state laws and regulations limit municipalities’ ability to establish nondiscriminatory charges for carriers’ use of public rights-of-way?

Not sure-!

 

5.                    Please discuss the most appropriate relationship between federal, state, and local governments to ensure minimal regulation while removing disincentives or barriers to broadband deployment.

 

It all depends on what you’re attempting to accomplish, if, for example,  your trying to land an ocean cable on the coast of California in today’s regulatory environment you’re going to have a problem, several of them.  Especially if you’re attempting to land a cable in the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, a couple of large companies spend over $7 million attempting this and even after hiring a numerous Clarence Darrow’s they ended up walking away from the project.  It wasn’t that they lost – it was just that they couldn’t get an answer from any of the three federal agencies involved, the two state agencies and two independent Monterey entities.  True story.

 

M.  

Are there impediments to federal lands and buildings that thwart broadband deployment? Please provide specific data.

What changes, if any, may be necessary to give service providers greater access to federal property?

 

1.                    Are there impediments to federal lands and buildings that thwart broadband deployment?

None that I know of- must be a local problem.

 

N.   

With respect to any proposed regulatory changes suggested in response to the above questions, can those changes be

made under existing authority or is legislation required?

 

1.                    Another question for the people in law or on the banks of the Potomac providing the oversight on existing regulations.

 

 

 

James L. Bradley

Anchorage, AK  99516

(907) 868-4849

jbradley@unat.com