consultants are sandburs

Friday, December 13, 2013

Trail history -- "They sometimes traveled in lengthy convoys as long as two miles and the screeching of the axles could be heard for miles."

Yesterday I saw a train stopped along BNSF tracks paralleling Hwy 10. More than two miles long. All Nodak oil cars.

At any rate, the headline quote is from an ABC Newspapers item, online here.

We have come a long way since then. We have broadband and cell phones, state of the art, sort of. Some more than others. There always will be pioneers and laggards, and private sector buck-chasing, aka maximizing profits, aka exploiting political lobbying and monopoly power.

There are ox-cart digital age options, costly to consumers long term, as well as our having more advanced thought.

UPDATE: Book links, here and here. The Anoka County Library should shelve the two books. Hardcover or e-book. Actually I have not checked via a library website search. They may already be in the collection.

Last, some may be more attuned than others to what the balance of this century likely may entail; this link. Is this a factor? If so, who influences that, with what objectives in mind?

______________UPDATE______________
The Brits, lower priced communication services, (and worth mention, saner and better societal healthcare provisions). Should we have rebelled?

____________FURTHER UPDATE___________
Here, linking here. The data seem trustworthy, unlike the service providers. Gigaom's report concluding:

Even if you do buy into this idea of just-in-time broadband investment and advancement, you’d need a more competitive environment to ensure that it actually happened. Duopolies and monopolies are not the fast-moving, responsive organizations that a competitive environment produces. So even if we ignore the time frame that investment in broadband requires (years, not weeks) and the fact that some “just-in-time speed effort might miss a huge jump in demand caused by a new service, believing that an uncompetitive market can deliver highly reactive services is tough.

Which is why we need the data that this report provides. Yes, the U.S. may have some impressive broadband success stories that are already influencing other providers, but since broadband is inherently local and inherently uncompetitive, to get anywhere we need data that puts pressure on the incumbents to keep pushing the envelope. Otherwise, a few cities will have better broadband, and the rest of the country will have to wait until their ISPs think they need faster speeds.

Mashable, here. BBC.

Endgaget, noting:

The UK's administration hasn't invested a penny in broadband infrastructure, and most of the network in the Netherlands has been built with private capital. (The city government in Amsterdam took a minority stake in the fiber network there, but that's an investment that will pay dividends if the network is profitable -- and the private investors who own the majority share of the system plan to make sure that it will be.)

The game-changer in these two European countries has been government regulators who have forced more competition in the market for broadband.

The market in the UK used to be much like ours here in the U.S.: British homes had two options for broadband service: the incumbent telephone company British Telecom (BT), or a cable provider. Prices were high, service was slow, and, as I mentioned above, Britain was falling behind its European neighbors in international rankings of broadband service.

The solution, the British government decided, was more competition: If consumers had more options when it came to broadband service, regulators reasoned, prices would fall and speeds would increase. A duopoly of telephone and cable service wasn't enough. "You need to find the third lever," says Peter Black, who was the UK government's top broadband regulator from 2004 to 2008.

Starting around 2000, the government required BT to allow other broadband providers to use its lines to deliver service. That's known as "local loop unbundling" -- other providers could lease the loops of copper that runs from the telephone company office to homes and back and set up their own servers and routers in BT facilities.

BT dragged its feet and very few firms stepped up to compete with the telephone giant. "The prices were too high," Black says. "There were huge barriers to entry. The processes were long and drawn out."

When Black was named Telecommunications Adjudicator in 2004, he fought on two fronts to break the BT logjam. First, he used his own experience as a former employee of the telecom giant to push for change from the inside. When that wasn't enough, he used the bully pulpit provided by his government post to embarrass BT in public. He publicized the company's failure to meet goals. Reporters loved the story of the government regulator holding the giant firm's feet to the fire.

"Embarrassment works, you know?" he laughs.

[bolding added]. Deregulation advocates, I think of the Gipper, they have smoke, they have mirrors, they have an interest apart from consumer well being. Deregulation seems to have fostered a "Sheep need fleecing" attitude, and it WAS an inadequately regulated/deregulated market that brought on the Wall Street crash of September 2008 [i.e., during late Bush lame-duck presidency time, bless his deregulated heart - Cheney at least has a pacemaker regulating his].

More links could be added to the parade, making it two miles long, but the point has been sufficiently buttressed. What is interesting is the "Let the storm clouds blow over" silence of the service provider community in answer to reports of their wretched excesses and exploitative bent. They know what they can get by with, especially so, absent true consumer friendly regulation.

Back to that ox cart report - there, for reasons of wear and tear, the wheel that squeaked did not get the grease. But that does not mean communications service consumers should abandon squeaking. We're not talking ox carts, after all. Now, why is mainstream media not holding anyone's feet to the fire? Look at ownership. Stanley Hubbard, whose side of the fence does he stand on? Etc. The online cottage industry tech press covers things getting a nod and wink elsewhere. Bless Montecello seizing and holding onto initiative, lawsuits as impediments, and all.

Last, U.S. Ignite, and this website. Besides Monticello in Minnesota, it appears Kansas City, Chattanooga, and Lafayette, Louisiana, are trailblazing communities. Ones that others can consult, and follow. If private sector for-profit providers fail the public by running us aground, then public sector competitive solutions may float the ship.

Something is needed.

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